An interesting point was made by Schlyer, could there be a link between the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq while under the supervision of American soldiers and the ZImbardo's Standford Prison Experiment? There is psychological evidence that people taking on the role of prison guards could become victims to the characteristics of their roles and it could be argued that the American soldiers conformed to their roles as guards and this led them to act beyond their own beliefs.
In the Stanford Prison Experiment by Zimbardo, the people assigned to be guards began to behave in a manner that was contradictory to the way they acted outside of the experiment. It would seem that people can blindly conform to the demands of the roles that they take on.
So, it could be argued that the American soldiers treatment of Iraqi prisoners could be down to their conforming to the social role of a prison guard, which could cause them to act blindly.
However, from the pictures I have seem of soldiers smiling and posing next to prisoners that are being disciplined (if they are in fact being disciplined at all) and this had nothing to do with the social role of a prison guard. It is my view that those soldiers should most certainly be punished for their actions because, whether or not they conformed to the role of a prison guard, they acted beyond their duties as guards and they would be well aware that what they were doing would be bringing harm to people who themselves would have been suffering from the psychological effects of conforming to their roles as prisoners.
However, should the American Defense Secretary give up his job over this situation? No, I do not think so. Yes, this was terrible and should not have been allowed to happen but the government could not have been aware of the terrible treatment of these guards because conditions can easily be changed when inspection of the prisons happens (as seen in Zimbardo's study when participants parents came to visit their inmates). The DS should, however, tighten supervision of American soldiers acting in prisons so that these terrible things cannot happen.