Up the Command Ladder

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This update in today’s New York Times on the prosecution of soldiers involved in two deaths at Bagram base in Afghanistan raises a vital question: “What is the responsibility of more senior military personnel for the abuses that took place?” As it turns out, the soldiers involved in the Bagram deaths (two are at issue here—both stem from the application of “severe trauma to the men’s legs”) have relatively strong claims that they were trained to treat the prisoners in a way that ultimately resulted in these two deaths. That could mean that the military will have more difficulty portraying these abuses as wildcat actions by a few bad guards or interrogators.

Of course, we know that the culture that promoted the actions leading these deaths goes right to the very top. But so far this hasn’t meant any responsibility for commanders or civilian policy makers. I won’t hold much hope, but maybe the little noted Bagram deaths can net some bigger fish.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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