We first were taught that in Basic Training. What it means is that you get certain bits of preferential treatment the farther you are promoted. The most glaring example of this that I saw in the Air Force was when I had to abdicate my chair so the XO (A Major) wouldn't have to stand.
But there are more beneficial applications of the RHIP concept. Let's say, for example, that you are the commander of a group of reservists, enlisted people and NCOs. Under your leadership, these soldiers participate in various human rights and Geneva Convention violations. Their pictures are posted all over the internet, and you did nothing to stop it, curtail it, or even know about it. Or even worse, you knew about it, and implicitly authorized it, or you deliberately turned a blind eye to it.
The enlisted soldiers and NCOs who were involved? They get prison sentences (Remember Lynndie England? She got three years in jail) up to 10 years. You, the Commander, the person who is overall responsible for the actions of your soldiers? You get a reprimand. Not for what your soldiers did - they've already been scapegoated. No, you get a reprimand because you discussed the investigation after a General told you not to. You will forfeit a month's pay ($7400 - more than I made my first 9 months in the military), and get to consider retiring next year.
Lieutenant Colonel Jordan was understandably relieved that he is finished with this ordeal, "When I first saw photographs of the horrible abuses at Abu Ghraib, I was shocked and I was saddened. After today, I hope the wounds of Abu Ghraib can start to heal." Other people who are not able to start healing? Those subjected to the dehumanizing treatment, Former PFC England, former Cpl Charles Graner, and former Staff Sergeant Ivan L. Frederick.
For the record - every other officer implicated in the action received administrative reprimands. LtC. Jordan was the only one who went to trial. Let's not forget that Lynndie England was not even allowed to plead guilty, yet she is sitting in jail. Enlisted members are doubly screwed in situations like this - they are supposed to not obey unlawful orders, yet they are precluded from questioning the orders they are given. Rank Certainly has its privileges. And the Army is full of crap when it comes to accountability.