Is There a Future for Leniency in the U.S. Criminal Justice System?

The spring 2004 release of the gruesome pictures of sexual humiliation and torture at Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad revealed how some U.S. troops, intelligence officers, and private contractors treated Iraqi prisoners taken during and after the war. High-ranking government officials may have condoned, if not encouraged, the abuses. Only reluctantly have they agreed to extend protections customarily accorded civilians and military fighters during a war to individuals detained in Iraq and Afghanistan. As Congressional investigations appear to have stalled, military inquiries have been manifold but resultless. Only a handful of low ranking soldiers have been court-martialed, and a few have received relatively minor penalties. The public outcry has subsided, and no further charges or operational changes can be expected.