Friday, May 7, 2004


Board of Regents
should keep tabs
on UH Foundation


A report by the state auditor recommends that the board and university officials oversee the fund-raising organization.

ALTHOUGH the University of Hawaii Foundation is a private entity, its use of state funds and facilities and its identification with the state's institution for higher education require that it be overseen by the Board of Regents.

Established specifically and exclusively to support and raise funds for the university, the foundation should submit to the board's scrutiny of its operations. As recommended by the state auditor, the UH administration and regents should make clear their expectations, standards and measures of accountability for UH's $3 million annual contract with the foundation.

The board also should adopt state Auditor Marion Higa's advice to set up policies and rules for all of the university's fund-raising organizations and activities and a means by which regents can monitor their practices. Donors may then be assured that their money and other gifts are being used in the best interests of students and UH enterprises.

The audit report issued this week was a follow-up to an earlier one, prompted when state legislators questioned UH President Evan Dobelle's use of foundation money to treat two dozen donors and staff members to a Janet Jackson concert at Aloha Stadium.

The foundation, maintaining that spending is at its discretion since it is a private nonprofit organization, resisted Higa's requests for information and documents until she threatened subpoenas. The foundation relented by degrees, but the auditor is unsure that she has seen all she needed to conduct a complete review.

Higa is on point when she notes that state law directs all UH fund raising be supervised by the Board of Regents. The foundation contends that donors would be reluctant to give if its books are made public, but regents should be able to craft a way to protect identification, if necessary.

The foundation cannot ignore that it is subsidized by the UH's tuition and fees special fund, operates from on-campus offices and uses the university's image and name. Moreover, it exists solely to further the university, which it cannot do if the public and donors aren't certain it is accomplishing its goals.


Take Taguba’s advice,
seek justice in Iraq


President Bush has said he was sorry for the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners abused by American soldiers.

PRESIDENT Bush finally apologized -- during a Rose Garden appearance with the king of Jordan -- for the torture of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers, but that falls far short of the measures needed to limit the damage to U.S. regard in the Arab world and regain America's claim throughout the globe as a protector of human rights. Accountability must be attained promptly, openly and as far up the chain of command as warranted, putting into swift action the president's promise that "justice will be delivered."

Photographs that have disgusted Americans and enraged Iraqis were not taken last week. The horrible treatment of prisoners began at least as far back as last October, which is when staff members of the International Committee of the Red Cross learned about it. The Red Cross usually maintains silence about what it sees in return for access to prisoners.

According to his 53-page report in February, Hawaii-reared Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba learned about numerous instances of "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" at Abu Ghraib, the main U.S. military prison in Iraq. The scandal was kept under wraps until the photos were shown last week on "60 Minutes II" and Taguba's report was detailed in the current issue of the The New Yorker magazine.

Six Army Reserve military police officers face court-martial because of their alleged misconduct. Mid-level officers and sergeants have received hand slaps. But their behavior may well have been ordered -- and information about it later repressed -- from above.

Taguba cited a statement to investigators by Spec. Sabrian Harmon, one of the six accused MPs, that it was her job to keep detainees, including a hooded man placed on a box with wires attached to his fingers, toes and penis, from falling asleep, according to New Yorker staff writer Seymour Hersh. "MI (military intelligence) wanted to get them to talk," Harmon said. Taguba wrote that military intelligence officials were heard to tell a guard, "Loosen this guy up for us." "Make sure he has a bad night." "Make sure he gets the treatment."

Taguba's report recommended that two military intelligence officers and two civilian contractors for the Army be reprimanded, relieved of duty or fired. He wrote that he suspected all four "were either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuse at Abu Ghraib." Accountability will be ensured only after a thorough and open investigation and prosecution of all those responsible.



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