A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
The Pentagon had a tough decision with what to do about Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who ran Guantanamo Bay and oversaw insurgent detention in Iraq. After all, Miller led a team to advise on operations at Abu Ghraib just weeks before the infamous prisoner abuses, or at least when it was reported. Even Miller knew that he didn't have a chance for a promotion and another star.
But instead of giving him a court-martial like the soldiers who followed his orders, the Army gave him an honorable discharge yesterday along with its fourth-highest commendation, the Distinguished Service Medal.
Miller had actually tried to retire months ago, but the Senate made the Army block his request because of pending investigations into his war crimes. He has taken the Fifth before the Senate Armed Service Committee and a court-martial for an Abu Ghraib dog handler, and the Army only let him quit on the condition that he agree to testify in the future before the Committee.
Military investigators held Miller responsible for the abuses and sought punishment, but higher-ups dismissed the charges. In May 2004, Miller told a Senate committee that he had not talked to Donald Rumsfeld or his top aides about his trip to Abu Ghraib, but changed his story in a sworn statement three months later, saying he had in fact given Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz a briefing and his recommendations. In May 2006, Miller testified he had instructed dogs be used "only for custody and control of detainees," but was directly contradicted the very next day by the commander of Abu Ghraib's Military Police detachment, Lt. Col. Jerry Phillabaum.
With the award and prestigious ceremony before 200 people in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes, the Army is hoping to erase the past. But no medals can remove the stain Miller helped place on America in the eyes of the world. In fact, the nature of his retirement, covered by the foreign press, serves only as a further embarrassment.
Even the Senate seems determined to hold Miller accountable, so could it be that he has a friend with even more power? If there's anyone who wants the scandal to go away, it's George Bush. After all, he's still pushing for further curtailments of prisoner rights. Donald "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours?" Rumsfeld surely had a hand in the matter, and he's never seemed to care about human rights or the law. Don't put it past this administration to have worked out a deal with Miller to take the bullet for them.
Giving the Distinguished Service Medal to Geoffrey Miller is a slap in the face to every man and woman who has ever honorably earned the award, and it's a disgrace to justice.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS