Last Modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 3:20 p.m.
An expert on detainee mistreatment, Deborah Pearlstein, testified recently before the House Judiciary Committee that, as of 2006, the U.S. government had documented 330 cases of detainee abuse at the hands of U.S. personnel, including 34 reported to be homicides. The witness testified that at least eight "were tortured to death."
The testimony received scant attention, at least in this country. Meanwhile, a great deal of attention was paid to the war-crime trial of Salim Hamdan at Guantanamo Bay. Hamdan, a Yemeni captured in Afghanistan, was a driver for Osama bin Laden. Waiting in the wings for war crimes prosecution are some 80 other Guantanamo detainees.
Granted, Hamdan's prosecution warranted attention as the first test of the military commission system, Still, Americans ought to wonder about the double standard of a minor foreign figure who was locked away for more than five years while he awaited trial and faced life in prison as a war criminal while Americans who commit crimes against detainees escape notice and do the crimes virtually with impunity.