July 16, 2004

A Few Bad Leaders

This Is How America Is Viewed by the World
Thanks to the Bush Administration.

(Image courtesy of Steve Jackson games.)

I saw a clip of the Boy King answering questions a couple of days ago, and I couldn't believe what I heard. This guy is *still* blaming the prison-abuse scandal in Iraq on "a few bad apples". I don't have any sympathy for people who believe that. Yes, they are being misled, and Bush should tell the truth, but it's time for Moron Americans who buy this crap to take some responsbility and get informed. People claim to be patriotic, but they don't seem to give a shit when people are tortured by Americans.

Why do the Iraqis hate us? Is it because of our freedoms, like "Mission Accomplished" condescendingly tells us over and over with a self-satisfied smirk? Or is it because we treat them like shit? I don't care what Bush says. This doesn't make America safer, and the fault is squarely at the feet of the Bush Administration:

President Bush has claimed that the prison abuse scandal in Iraq was just "conduct by a few American troops." But with Congress investigating the scandal, a series of explosive new reports provides evidence that the tactics may have been approved at the highest levels of government. Even worse, one leading investigative journalist says the Administration is holding videotapes of soldiers sodomizing Iraqi children.

According to a newly released Pentagon memo from 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally authorized the use of controversial interrogation tactics, including using dogs to intimidate, stripping prisoners of their clothes and placing hoods on prisoners so they cannot see. Rumsfeld also ordered military officials to hold prisoners without listing them on prisoner rolls requested by the International Red Cross. And according to Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who was the head of detention operations at Abu Ghraib, Rumsfeld "approved tactics at the prison" directly. As reported by Newsweek, these memos and orders were signed off by Rumsfeld, President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft and were part of a "secret system of detention and interrogation that opened the door to such methods" of abuse seen in Iraq.

Seymour Hersh (the guy who has done the lion's share of the original investigative reporting on the problems in Iraqi prisons) has a long speech here (streaming, the transcript below starts at 1:30:46) in which he talks further about what he knows about the torture and abuse in Iraqi prisons. His quote pretty much speaks for itself. Thanks to the Bush Administration, these horrors are being done in our name. Remember that.

Some of the worst things that happened that you don't know about, ok? Videos. There are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out or communications out to their men. This is in Al Ghraib which is about 30 miles from Baghdad, 30 kilometers maybe, just 20 miles, not sure what. Anyway, the women were passing messages out saying, "Please come and kill me," because of what's happened. And basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys -- children -- in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized and, uh, with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking. That your government has. They were in total terror. It's gonna come out. It's impossible to say to yourself, how did we get there? Who are we? Who are these people that sent us there?

When I did My Lai, I was very troubled like anybody in his right mind would be about what happened, and I ended up in something I wrote saying in the end I said that the people who did the killing were as much victims as the people they killed because of the scars they had. I can tell you some of the personal stories that some of the people are just -- who were in these units who witnessed this. I can also tell you written complaints were made to the highest officers. And so we're dealing with an enormous, massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there and higher. And we have to get to it, and we will.

We will.

Damn right we will.

We have to. If we're ever going to regain the standing America has traditionally had in the last 100+ years, we have to make this right. We're supposed to be different. We're supposed to be better. People around the world count on that. The people in this country count on that. They expect it. And they are right to do so.

Posted by Observer at July 16, 2004 08:22 AM

Comments on entries can only be made in pop-up windows while those entries are still on the main index page. Sorry for the inconvenience this causes, but this blocks about 99.99% of the spam the blog receives.

Ok, let's go over this again.

Sodomizing: Absolutely torture, uncalled for, reprehensible.

Hoods, dogs barking at you: Not torture, crickey. None of that physically hurts. Of course, if they let the dogs bite prisoners, that's definitely torture.

Posted by: Humbaba on July 16, 2004 08:45 AM

Sorry, Hummer.


See articles 3, 4, and 12-16. Torture is defined to include non-physical acts such as using hostages, insults, and "humiliating and degrading treatment."

The articles aren't concerned with whether or not you can get information from the prisoner, just how he or she is treated. You can't claim to follow them if you are going to make the argument "But we had to sodomize the boy in front of his monther to get her to tell us where the other militia fighter were."

The administration knew that and made a conscious decision to violate the Convention in order to gather information. Heck, there are even claims that Rumsfeld admitted as much when he gave the orders and when they discussed the subsequent Red Cross report that was sent to the White House months ago.

Posted by: Seattle Astronomer on July 16, 2004 11:04 AM

Are these prisoners of war, taken during a conflict while they were in uniform? That's who those articles are for.

I'll agree that stripping them is going too far, but I still wouldn't classify it as torture.

As far as I'm concerned, insurgents (sp?) should simply be shot on sight.

I already said I was against the sodomy. The US people who ordered that (if it happened) should be prosecuted and imprisoned.

Posted by: Humbaba on July 16, 2004 11:35 AM

So any soldier fighting for a country that can't afford uniforms that meet the western definition isn't protected by the Geneva convention? They don't even get "do unto your prisoners as you would have us do unto our prisoners?"

When I was a kid, they told us that the US won independence partly because the English wore red uniforms and marched down the middle of roads with bands playing, while the Americans shot at them from behind trees. There's a fine line between a freedom fighter and a terrorist, and I don't think it's a question of fashion.

During the first Gulf War, when they told us that our military gave food to hungry Iraqi soldiers when they surrendered, I was proud to be an American. Heck, for all I know, it might have even been true. What happened to us?

Posted by: Shamhat on July 16, 2004 01:42 PM

Actually, Hummer, the sections I referenced define who is and is not covered (didn't want to have to deal with this issue). It specifically defines enemy combatant and non-combatants taken in company of combatants. Tough noogies for the US, but if you are going to accuse them of being a part of the insurgence they are combatants as defined by the convention and otherwise they are non-combatant accessories also defined by the convention.

There is a reason that not even the US government is fighting the claim that these are violations of the convention and are instead resorting to the "see no evil, hear no evil" pose. They all knew it and condoned it and are therefore guilty but as our host points out there is ample proof that they knew and more that is pretty convincing that they outright ordered the violations knowing that they were violations.

Posted by: Seattle Astronomer on July 16, 2004 03:04 PM

In the first Gulf War, we indeed fed Iraqi prisoners. Guys in my unit who were on prisoner transport runs gave up their own MREs to Iraqis.

Of course, then we sorta promised to take Saddam out for them and fucked them in the ass, leaving them swinging by the neck from tree branches when Saddam caught 'em, but that's all in the past.

Posted by: Humbaba on July 16, 2004 03:10 PM