Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Abu Ghraib Prison
Watched Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer tonight. "The system works," Sec. Rumsfeld said over and over again. The Army already had six investigations going before the story broke on January 16.

My inclination is to believe the details, but my conclusions aren't the same as Rumsfeld. First, I'd like to hear an assurance from Sec. Rumsfeld that there has been no abuse of prisioners since that date. I believe our men in uniform are good, sincere, earnest, dedicated... I could go on, but you get my drift. Sec. Rumsfeld, can you assure us, your fellow countrymen, and the world, that there has been no abuse since then? Sorry to put you on the spot, old sport, but we do need to be reassured.

Sec. Rumsfeld cautioned us all about equating abuse and torture. If the abuse is designed to break down a prisoner's will, that is torture. The reservists have claimed so far that they were being encouraged to do what they did. That is the most serious charge so far, in my opinion.

I have noticed a strong inclination by those in charge of blaming the lowest ranking soldiers involved with the offenses. That makes me very uncomfortable. Even if not a single officer knew what was taking place at the prison, every officer that walked through those gates is as guilty as any SP4 who may have actually had contact with the prisoners. Gen. Janis Karpinski said she wasn't even allowed into that part of the prison. Whoever gave that order should also be charged with dereliction of duty.

Now let's talk about abuse. We promised the Iraqis that we would give them a list of all people being held by American forces. The promise was made in February for April. It is now May, and there is no list of prisoners being held by American forces. None of those being held have been charged. Even warfare has better rules for the treatment of prisoners. There is no excuse.

We have become a force of occupation, brutal occupation. We are not going to withdraw tomorrow, so let's set some ground rules today.

1. A list of names of all prisoners, men and women. That list is to include the dates they were arrested and the suspicion upon which they were arrested. Can't say "charge" very well, can we?

2. Establish a procedure for prisoners to find out the charges against them. If we want to teach the Iraqis about democracy, let's begin by teaching them about habeas corpus. I know Bush and Ashcroft want to get rid of that in this country, but they haven't yet, and we're not going to let them. Whether by design or not, American forces are acting like Nazis in Iraq. That has to stop.

3. The President, Vice President and Sec. Cheney must stop using words that dehumanize the opposition forces in Iraq. The words thugs, hoodlums, terrorists, etc., contribute directly to the abuse of detainees. It's not rocket science, y'know. If the President calls them thugs, is this not permission to treat them like thugs?

This is a black-eye on our military, and on our country. Before the pictures were released, I would have said it was up to the accusers to prove their case. Now, it's up to us to prove that those pictures are not representative of how we are treating the Iraqis.

We deserve better leadership than this.

Posted by Houston on May 04, 2004 at 07:05 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink
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Excellent post. Thank you.
Do you mind if I quote you and this post in my blog?

Posted by: Faramin | May 05, 2004 at 08:54 AM

Yes, the true colors are showing now, or as we say on the golf links, "the wheels fell off"

Posted by: Dave | May 05, 2004 at 09:04 AM

Please do, Faramin, and welcome to my blog. I visited yours quickly, but have marked it so I can visit later and get a point of view different from my own.

Posted by: Houston | May 05, 2004 at 02:01 PM

I agree with a lot of this post.

But I wanted to disagree with something....

"American forces are acting like Nazis in Iraq."
I think thats an absurd comment that American army can be compared to the Nazi regime.

Also, I think Bush should not only stop using de-humanizing words, he should stop using words he would have to look up the meaning in the dictionary for.

Posted by: TIMMY! | May 05, 2004 at 03:25 PM

I think the "like Nazis" comment was a little over the top in retrospect, but consider this. In the middle of the night there's a banging at the door. It's kicked in, soldiers wearing evil looking equipment barge in screaming words at you in a foreign language, hitting you with their rifles if you're too slow to comply. All of the men in the house are hooded, handcuffed, and dragged away, not to be heard of or from for months on end. Besides Iraq, the other picture in my mind of this behavior is Warsaw, 1939 and 40.

We're not Nazis, but sometimes the techniques used seem uncomfortably familiar.

Posted by: Houston | May 05, 2004 at 05:36 PM

I talked about this with a friend today and he said, if we can have abuse of inmates in the Harris County Jail, we can have it in Iraq. We deny that it happened in Viet Nam--see what happens when Kerry tells the truth about it, he gets called "liar" and "unpatriotic" and worse--and what we deny, we do again and again.

What is our response to prison rape--make jokes. The thing that we are afraid of is that these captors are no different than anyone else. They too are someone's kid, father, sister, daughter, brother, husband, wife. Becaue of the potential for anyone to act that we, they must be lead not to behave that way.

Bush said these were not the Americans he knows. Yeah, but we can't say at the same time that what happened was nothing more serious than frat boy behavior. Shit. Can you believe that? I am sure Bush doesn't know anyone raped in prison or while living in a tiger cage in Hanoi. Oh, wait, he knows John McCain but he treated McCain like hell in the primaries.

Denial, what a bitch of a river.

Posted by: Jaye | May 05, 2004 at 06:47 PM

What Jaye said. Excellent post, darlin'.

"have noticed a strong inclination by those in charge of blaming the lowest ranking soldiers involved with the offenses" - bothers me very much, too. It seems contagious in this administration.

Posted by: andante | May 05, 2004 at 06:52 PM

I don't mind if upper ranking officers blame lower ranking soldiers. As long as they take responsibility for not taking care of their lower ranking soldiers and allowing it to happen.

Houston, I understand your comparisons, but as you know, that is what happens in unconventional warfare. Same type of things happend in Vietnam when the "Men in Green Faces" took people in the middle of the night.

Posted by: TIMMY! | May 06, 2004 at 11:59 AM

Came via a link from Faramin's.

Great post. Please do not quit writing about these atrocities. Fortunately or unfortunately, American voice goes farther than non-American one.

Posted by: barak | May 10, 2004 at 09:23 AM

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