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The Trials of Abu Ghraib


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Table of Contents

1. The Few Rotten Apples Theory 2. The Poisoned Orchard 3. The Orchard Keepers 4. The Court-Martial of Javal Davis: The Soldier Who Snapped for Ten Seconds 5. The Court-Martial of Sabrina Harman: Why Didn't Smiling Girl just Walk Out the Door 6.The Court-Martial of Lynndie England: The Story of "Leash Girl" in Love with the Ringleader of the Night Shift 7. What the Trials Revealed: Abu Ghraib as Hell on Earth 8. Recognizing and Overcoming Dysfunctional Responses to Abu Ghraib 9. Detox for the Contaminated Apple Orchard

About the Author

S. G. Mestrovic was one of the few civilians present at the Abu Ghraib trials. He is Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University and the author of many books, including This Time We Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia. He was an expert witness at the International Court of the Tribunal for Yugoslavia in The Hague as well as the Abu Ghraib courts-martial of Javal Davis, Sabrina Harman, and Lynndie England.


Behind the headlines at Abu Ghraib ... Mestrovic's study offers a front row seat at the courts martial of those accused in America's notorious prison abuse scandal. The only non-military expert to both attend the Abu Ghraib trials, and participate in them as an expert witness, Mestrovic's up-close observation of the the court-room drama highlights a key question: Should a handful of enlisted soldiers, the so-called `bad apples,' be assigned sole responsibility for Abu Ghraib, or does the blame go higher? -- Adam Zagorin, Senior Correspondent, Time
Even after seeing the pictures, we could not believe it. How could the "liberators of Iraq," as the U.S. government had labeled its occupying forces, be engaged in sadistic acts of torture? S. G. Mestrovic argues, based on interviews, government reports, interviews with soldiers, and records of soldiers' trials, that the actions of U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib were the product of a general `poisoned social climate' of abuse and disregard for the Geneva Conventions that had migrated from the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and the bases at Guantanamo and other places in Iraq. Thus, rather than the government's `few rotten apples theory,' Mestrovic shows that the acts of torture we saw were the product of a `poisoned orchard.' I hope this book becomes the perfect pesticide to eradicate the pest of torture afflicting our so-called `War on Terror.' -- Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
In this truly extraordinary book, Stjepan Mestrovic frames his narrative around the accounts of three Abu Ghraib court martial trials. As an expert social science witness in each of these trials, he brings a unique insider perspective to his analysis, but what makes this a great work lies in Mestrovic's deep wisdom about human motivation and his understanding about how it is that immoral authority often goes unchallenged. The reader will no doubt conclude that we, as citizens, must blame our military commanders for their refusal to accept responsibility and blame our leaders in Washington for an immoral war, but we must first blame ourselves for our laziness and gullibility. We fall for scripted performances and political rhetoric. This is a disturbing book, beautifully written, and a testimony to the importance of social conscience in the social sciences. -- Judith Blau, President, Sociologists without Borders
A truly remarkable book. The Trials of Abu Ghraib is written with compassion, but offers a judicial and convincing assessment of the failures of the American military in its war on terrorism as illustrated by the Abu Ghraib trials. -- Bryan S. Turner, Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore
A must read for all those committed to restoring a sense of honor to our country and the Armed Forces of the United States following the national embarrassment of Abu Ghraib. The unlawful directives and policies issued by the senior civilian leaders in the Department of Defense, and their flawed strategy which took our nation to war set the conditions for abuse which would have disastrous consequences on the war in Iraq and the future of the Middle East. Amazingly, as of this writing, senior leaders have yet to be held accountable. Read this book, become better informed, and energize your elected officials to do the right thing." -- Major General John Batiste, U.S. Army (Retired)
Unsatisfied with the military justice that ensued, Mestrovic notes that no officers were tried, the command climate was pernicious, a variety of existing guidelines were ignored or contravened, and conditions at Abu Ghraib were hellish for inmates and guards alike. -- Library Journal

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