Abu Ghraib A Case of Moral and Administrative Failure

Saundra J. Reinke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The special expertise of the military professional is in combat--the controlled application of violence to achieve political goals. This unique expertise gives the military a special social responsibility to apply violence only for socially approved purposes in a socially approved manner. However, the violence of combat also places extreme pressures on individuals to depart from accepted values and professional standards. When such stress is combined with administrative failure, the stage is set for atrocities. This article seeks to understand the role of administrative failure in creating the conditions leading up to the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. It is not intended to excuse the behavior but to illuminate the relationship between administrative failure and individual behavior. The systemic problems identified in the many investigation reports paint a picture of administrative failure that stretches from Abu Ghraib prison to Washington, D.C.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-147
Number of pages13
JournalPublic Integrity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Law


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