Human Rights First Statement on U.S. Military Mental Health Report

NEW YORK – Maureen Byrnes, executive director of Human Rights First, a New York-based advocacy group, issued the following statement today regarding findings on battlefield ethics in the U.S. Military Mental Health Report.

“The report presents an alarming picture of the continuing confusion by U.S. soldiers on rules governing interrogations and the treatment of prisoners. The responsibility for these failures rests squarely with senior civilian leaders, including former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.

“It was their insistence that the 9/11 attacks justified throwing out the rulebook, and their admonitions to military commanders to “take the gloves off,” that led to confusion. With its endless equivocation about what constitutes torture and other cruelty, the administration fueled the continuing belief by many that it is acceptable for Americans to engage in this conduct.

“These problems will continue until senior administration officials make clear that there is one standard for all U.S. personnel — a standard consistent with our values and based on a commitment never to engage in torture or other forms of official cruelty. From the President on down the message must be clear: No abuse, not ever, and with no exceptions.”

BACKGROUND Key findings from the U.S. Military Mental Health Report:

  1. All non-combatants should be treated with dignity and respect – soldiers: 47%; marines: 38%
  2. All non-combatants should be treated as insurgents – soldiers: 17%; marines: 17%
  3. Torture should be allowed if it will save the life of a soldier/marine – soldiers: 41%; Marines: 44%
  4. Torture should be allowed to gather information about insurgents – soldiers: 36%; marines: 39%
  5. I would risk my own safety to help a non-combatant in danger – soldiers: 25%; marines: 24%
  6. I would report a fellow soldier/marine for injuring or killing innocent non-combatant – soldiers: 55%; marines: 40%

Published on May 4, 2007


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