"The pictures of them treating the inmates in Iraq like they did, if them wouldn't have never came up, they would have never knew about it, just like the tape of the Texas incident," he said. "If the tape wouldn't have never come up, they'd have never knew about it."
Elsner says there are similarities between the Texas and Abu Ghraib cases. "Some of the parallels that I noticed immediately, [include] the use of nudity as a means to humiliate and, and to abuse the prisoners. That goes on in the United States in almost a routine manner in some places. The use of guard dogs to intimidate; that also happens in the United States. But I think the most important parallel was a sense that the guys in Abu Ghraib viewed the prisoners as almost of a different species."
The matter of blame is also interesting to consider. President Bush told Alhurra "people will be held to account. That's what the process does. That's what we do in America. We fully investigate, we let everybody see the results of the investigation, and then people will be held to account."
But in both the Brazoria County and the Abu Ghraib cases those facing charges were — and are — low-level officers. "In both cases the jailers or the MPs were following orders that they felt to be lawful," says defense attorney Womack. "In both cases the superiors who gave the orders, who planned everything that was done, were never charged at all."
Though the report about Abu Ghraib issued Wednesday by three Army generals offered a scathing indictment of failures throughout the chain of command, no direct blame was assigned to top military or civilian leaders. The report identifies 35 military intelligence personnel, 11 MPs and two medics as either committing or failing to report abuse. As of today, seven MPs are the only ones who have been charged with criminal conduct.
The View of a Texas Prison Guard
David Cisneros, one of Womack's clients from the Brazoria County case, was a patrol deputy in charge of one of the German shepherds.
"It still makes me mad," he told ABC News, "because the senior people that were involved in this, that were in the background, they were the ones that were pumping us up. You know, they were the ones that were telling us that, how bad these inmates were, the threats that they had made. They led us in blindly and I think they really pumped us up to make us believe that we were going into a dangerous situation, and that's what we believed."
Lon Bennett Glenn, a retired Texas prison warden, cautions anyone who would be overly critical of any prison guard.
"It's not a benign system," said Glenn. "It's dangerous and some of the stuff that happens is not nice. There are use of force that occur regularly. Employees get hurt. Inmates get hurt. It's part of the job."
"There's a sign on the gate of every facility," he said. "It says — and I'm paraphrasing — but it basically says that if, if you are taken hostage inside this facility we are not going to deal for your freedom. It doesn't matter if you're an officer, a visitor, the governor, or whoever you are, we don't negotiate for hostage release. So that, right there, should tell you something about the nature of the environment that you're entering when you walk past those compound gates into a, into a prison facility."