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The other shoe drops.
May 4, 2004 2:27 PM   Subscribe

The other shoe drops. The L.A. Times releases details from Major General Antonio M. Taguba's findings into prisoner abuse in Iraq, including evidence that convinced him that a U.S. soldier had sex with an Iraqi female.

(Can we all agree that she didn't ask for it...?)
posted by insomnia_lj (106 comments total)

 
To further clarify, I should say "an Iraqi female in custody."

Counting the seconds until Al Jazeera airs this...
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:29 PM on May 4, 2004


The report also mentions abuse of female detainees by videotaping and photographing them while naked.

In order for the major general to make sex with a female part of his findings, there was probably photographic or video evidence showing this to be the case, or at least accounts from multiple witnesses (or a confession) indicating that the M.P. in question had sex with a female detainee.

Something tells me that there won't be any public trials for the soldiers involved.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:42 PM on May 4, 2004


This isn't the other shoe. The other shoe will be when this gets fully investigated and it turns out all of this abuse took place after encouragement from the people in charge.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:44 PM on May 4, 2004


It just couldn't get much worse for us in Iraq. There are also reports of two Iraqis murdered by Americans. One soldier was kicked out of the service, but not prosecuted for murder. The other killer was a contract employee and has not been prosecuted (but may still be). This and the light punishments given to the seven soldiers so far make us look like arrogant overlords. It is bad enough we let it happen, but failing to punish those responsible only reinforces that this is institutional, not just some bad apples. Even from the military apologists standpoint these folks deserve severe punishment. Not only were their deeds immoral, they have immeasurably damaged our war effort. They are traitors and should be treated as such.
posted by caddis at 2:53 PM on May 4, 2004


The other shoe? So what does that mean? What should the reaction to this be? What concrete action do you folks propose?
posted by loquax at 2:55 PM on May 4, 2004


Question for military types or anyone else in the know: So far, all I've heard about the punishment for these guys is that:

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez notified the six on Saturday of his intent to give each a general officer memorandum of reprimand, a document that can effectively end an officer's career by making promotion impossible. A seventh officer is to receive a letter of admonishment, a lesser penalty.

So that's it?! They're not going to get in trouble other than the fact they can't get promoted? Pleeeease tell me this is just step one in any court martial process or something.

What concrete action do you folks propose?
At the very very least a court martial, especially since Dubya has already established that he will not allow Americans to be tried for war crimes.
posted by badstone at 2:58 PM on May 4, 2004


i have to say these people have really let the country down, the whole thing is sad and disgusting. The damage to the country is huge.. the sick irony of rape, murder and torture happening in one of saddam's old torture palaces is just... I don't know, awful in every way.
posted by chaz at 3:01 PM on May 4, 2004


I believe this is the story to which caddis refers:

U.S. Probe: Two War Prisoners Murdered by Americans
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:01 PM on May 4, 2004


Caddis, I agree with you that they should be punished but it is appearing more and more likely that they were following hint-hint-wink-wink orders from their commanders.

If it turns out that they were told directly or indirectly to abuse the prisoners then the puppet masters should be prosecuted to fullest extent of the law.

Its impossible to say how much these revelations have set back the effort to stabilize the country but its entirely conceivable that these actions have just committed the US to several more years of occupation and the subsequent deaths incurred. If that's the case then the abusers are guilty of murder as well as torture.

On Preview: badstone, I'd not heard this. Did Bush really publicly state that he won't allow US soldiers to be tried for war crimes? That is the absolute height of arrogance and I wouldn't be surprised if we find ourselves completely alone in this "war" effort soon.

Can this moron in the White House screw things up any worse? Wait, I don't think I want an answer to that.
posted by fenriq at 3:03 PM on May 4, 2004


I totally agree badstone. Disband the unit. Imprison the chain of command. Instant court martial for anyone else guilty of such things. Beyond that is there anything to do? What are the greater implications here?
posted by loquax at 3:07 PM on May 4, 2004


badstone:
So that's it?! They're not going to get in trouble other than the fact they can't get promoted? Pleeeease tell me this is just step one in any court martial process or something.
As I understand it, it's totally independent of the court-martial process. These memorandums are a way of punishing soldiers purely through the chain of command (some bigshot general orders it, and it is so, without much in the way of formal process). Court-martials, on the other hand, allow much stiffer penalties, and there the military justice system actually comes into play.
posted by kickingtheground at 3:18 PM on May 4, 2004


i have to say these people have really let the country down

Considering that the Commander in Chief has been letting the country down since his supposed election, I am not surprised that those under his command reflect his evil mediocrity. Yes, and once the Arab - or no, the World press gets into this one, the ordure is gonna hit the fan. And we saw it coming. Those soldiers may have been watching too much of the popular demonization of middle easterners on the American media.
posted by zaelic at 3:21 PM on May 4, 2004


What should the reaction to this be? What concrete action do you folks propose?

Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch has some thoughts:

Prisoner abuse: What about the other secret U.S. prisons?

The sordid photos from Iraq and reports that the behavior was actually encouraged confirm that systematic changes in the U.S. treatment of prisoners are needed immediately. The United States must finally investigate and publicly report on allegations of abuse by its forces in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as persistent accounts that suspects sent to other countries have been tortured.

From Guantánamo to Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States must also ensure that people taken into custody are fairly treated in accordance with international legal standards, such as the Geneva conventions. In particular, it must stop holding detainees in legal "black holes" where its conduct cannot be monitored.

posted by y2karl at 3:23 PM on May 4, 2004


"So that's it?! They're not going to get in trouble other than the fact they can't get promoted?"

U.S. military officers turn blind eye to discipline, chain-of-command, training issues... encourage environment that leads to rape and sadistic torture of both male and female Iraqi prisoners. Denied promotions.

James T. Kirk disobeys direct orders, saves Captain Spock, prevents Klingon Empire from obtaining the Genesis device, a doomsday weapon capable of destroying Earth. Encounters alien planet-killing probe on voyage home, goes back in time, saves the whales, saves Earth again. Permanently demoted to captain.

Some sense of proportionality would be appreciated.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:27 PM on May 4, 2004


Aside from the horrendous actions and what they will mean for us as "visitors" in Iraq, I was dumbfounded by the early reports that tried to justify what took place by saying that our troops had not had sufficient training in the Geneva Conventions...do you need to read and understand the Geneva conventions to know that what took place was disgusting, immoral, crimminal?
posted by Postroad at 3:32 PM on May 4, 2004


There are two reason this kind of crap happens.

The first being that creeps have been brought in specifically to torture and abuse. If there are CIA, "contractors", and Iraqis with a grudge here, this is what I would initially suspect. As an axiom, it is *always* a bad idea to mix such people with uniformed soldiers.

The second reason is that the torture and abuse are a symptom of a broad ranging string of problems that go far up the chain.

It begins with low morale among the captors, "morale" in its broadest sense including personal despair, intense dislike of their duties, being neglected by their chain of command, and lack of supervision.

Then, their captives must be dehumanized, or in circumstances where they *just by dint of where they are*, are not accorded human dignity. This includes overcrowded and poor sanitary conditions, poor food and medical care, and lack of proper penal management.

Graphic abuse, such as that seen, have a long history, a build up. Events like this are the culmination of lesser offenses against the prisoners lasting months. This by itself means that virtually everyone in that penal system has, at some point, become aware of abuse and not acted to prevent it--or been prevented from doing so.

It doesn't really matter if this was by acts of commission, ordering abuse, or by acts of omission, turning a blind eye to the problems. Everyone involved is tainted. With special emphasis on medical personnel and Chaplain Corps--whose very purposes runs counter to this.

Punishment in such circumstances, however, is not what it is in civilian situations comparable to this.

THE PURPOSE OF MILITARY JUSTICE IS TO PROMOTE ORDER AND DISCIPLINE IN THE RANKS.
It is NOT "justice", which brings up a distant second. For this reason, a soldier accused of ordinary homicide may get a lesser sentence than one accused of sodomy, which the military considers "prejudicial to good order and discipline."

For this reason, while abusing or tolerating the abuse of prisoners is repulsive and a violation of international treaty, it will still generally have lesser punishment than you would properly expect. Because, in the perception of the military, it is NOT as harmful as many other offenses to "good order and discipline."

So, the bottom line is that everybody should be punished, but that almost nobody will be punished too severely.
posted by kablam at 3:36 PM on May 4, 2004


"There are no longer torture chambers or mass graves or rape rooms in Iraq."
-- President Bush, April 30, 2004
posted by kirkaracha at 3:47 PM on May 4, 2004


I agree with kabalm about military justice. There needs to be order because humans in war can revert to the most disgusting things, like these abominations. Military justice is not there to get justice for the victims like civilian justice, but to maintain order which is critical for the overall war effort.

But there is also an element of what you might call 'racism' in all this... people hate Arabs in America, that is a fact. How else to explain why some people (not mefi people, I mean ignorant people) supported the war? Iraqis=Arab=9/11 is the equation a lot of dumb people were using.

And the flag that went over Saddam's face was the same one from the Pentagon on 9/11. How did it get there? Someone from the top must have sent it.

So what it makes me think is that "racism" or whatever you want to call it is a big part of the war effort and of the mentality of the people who abused these prisoners. How else can you account for such sick acts? It's nasty, it reminds me of Diallo in NYC except on a much larger scale. They were smiling in those photos because they got vengance for 9/11 from a bunch of evil Arabs/Muslims/whatever. Who told them that their war in Iraq was to avenge 9/11? Well it seems a lot of people must have.
posted by chaz at 3:50 PM on May 4, 2004


fenriq -
Bush: U.S. personnel will never face global court
(Old news.)
posted by badstone at 4:09 PM on May 4, 2004


yeab but badstone that's just the global court, that doesn't mean they can't be tried for war crimes in America.
posted by chaz at 4:23 PM on May 4, 2004


What consequences do the companies involved in Abu Ghraib face?
posted by homunculus at 4:28 PM on May 4, 2004


Keep in mind that the Bush Administration created the hilariously immoral designation "enemy combatant" specifically to avoid having to deal with international war crimes law and prisoner rights. If the administration allows these soldiers to be charged with war crimes, I truly will be stunned. But I'm increasingly starting to believe that this administration is full of people who don't believe "war crimes" exist.
posted by logovisual at 4:31 PM on May 4, 2004


I don't think we'd ever do that here, chaz. Have we ever tried our soldiers for war crimes in regular courts? or at all? I'm with logovisual--the Bushies can't conceive of us doing any wrong, because we're the good guys fighting evildoers.

patriotboy has a great suggestion for those saying the mistreatment and torture was not a big deal and like frat hazing.
posted by amberglow at 4:33 PM on May 4, 2004


Can we all agree that she didn't ask for it?

Without actually asking her, or hearing her side? Uh, no. We can't.

Sure, it was probably forced or coerced, but assuming guilt without even asking the victim? 'Conventional wisdom' doesn't trump an evidentiary hearing, or the lack thereof.
posted by kfury at 4:33 PM on May 4, 2004


they should be punished but it is appearing more and more likely that they were following hint-hint-wink-wink orders from their commanders.

I hope the but in that sentence doesn't mean you think the latter mitigates the former. I think it has been definitively established that "I was just following orders" is not an excuse in a situation like this. Any idiot knows raping and torturing people is wrong.

For this reason, while abusing or tolerating the abuse of prisoners is repulsive and a violation of international treaty, it will still generally have lesser punishment than you would properly expect.

Wow. Thanks for demonstrating so succinctly why "military justice is such a bullshit concept. When you go take over someone else's country, you should bear a double expectation to avoid shit like this. Great power, great responsibility: how does that go again?

Further proof that a person who wants to be a soldier should be the last person you allow.
posted by dame at 4:37 PM on May 4, 2004


that doesn't mean they can't be tried for war crimes in America.

War crimes are by definition a matter of international law. That's why I made the distinction between them being tried for war crimes and them facing a court martial.
posted by badstone at 4:43 PM on May 4, 2004


it is appearing more and more likely that they were following hint-hint-wink-wink orders from their commanders.

So who ordered the Code Red?

MSNBC has the compete text of Maj. Gen. Taguba's report.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:49 PM on May 4, 2004


I just listened to this interview (links to a page, but the acutal interview is audio only), a discussion with an expert on war crimes. His take is that under the Geneva Conventions, we are no longer "at war" in Iraq. (Mission accomplished!) Instead, we are now in an "occupation phase" and anyone captured in an occupation phase is not a "prisoner of war", but simply a "prisoner". So, no war, then no war crimes. Furthermore, it may be the case that only Iraqi law applies here, and there is currently no legal system in Iraq, so technically these guys could get off scot free.

There's also some interesting stuff in the interview about what can happen to the private "soldiers" present and when a soldier should not (and legally cannot) follow orders, such as when those orders are to rape and kill prisoners.
posted by badstone at 4:55 PM on May 4, 2004


"What should the reaction to this be? What concrete action do you folks propose?"

I think you completely miss the heart of the problem.

It's too late. The action that needed to happen, for all American personnel in Iraq, was a blanket policy that we WILL win hearts and minds. And any actions that make us look like evil overlords will be considered aid and comfort to the enemy.

The damage is not fixable. You kick these people in the head enough and you exceed the tipping point where their trust or respect can ever be won. And I would lobby you at this point that we've exceeded the tipping point where they will hate us forever and always consider us the enemy.

"its entirely conceivable that these actions have just committed the US to several more years of occupation"

To what end? Seriously. They hate us. They have no respect for those who we vet. Any government we hand sovereignty to will be considered a puppet. What will we be fighting and dying *for*? The fight to bring a peaceful democratic model to the region is lost. We've shown them the worst of our capitalist imperialism. No matter how many of our soldiers die, the result will be the same - More Arab hatred for the U.S. We need to get out. Like Viet Nam, there is no "finishing the job", only making things worse.

Support our troops - Get them out of this badly conceived fiasco.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:28 PM on May 4, 2004


If it turns out that they were told directly or indirectly to abuse the prisoners then the puppet masters should be prosecuted to fullest extent of the law.

I think the Nuremberg trials created enough precedent to debunk "I was only following orders" claims, if that's what the accused officers are going to rely on. Their superiors should also be tried, but this doesn't exonerate those who committed the acts.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:30 PM on May 4, 2004


'Instead, we are now in an "occupation phase" and anyone captured in an occupation phase is not a "prisoner of war", but simply a "prisoner".'
Fascinating... so since there was no war in Chechnya, just an occupation (actually not even that: just the presence of the "Federal Army") the Russians haven't really committed any war crimes in Chechnya? Putin will be relieved... Also technically most of the war crimes committed by the Germans and Japanese during WWII, were committed during occupation, so I can't understand how (by Nuremberg standards) the distinction is possible....
posted by talos at 5:35 PM on May 4, 2004


"Instead, we are now in an occupation phase"

This won't fly. If we aren't at war then Bush can't hold all those people in Cuba. This is why he's been careful to never say the words "the war is over". If the war is over we need to turn any captured prisoners lose. Those are the rules. Or we need to charge them, or deport them.

There's a catch 22 here which is slowly backing us into a corner. Aren't we smart?
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:45 PM on May 4, 2004


loquax - here's your concrete action - prosecute the responsible and get the hell out of Iraq.
posted by pyramid termite at 5:46 PM on May 4, 2004


just listened to this interview (links to a page, but the actual interview is audio only), a discussion with an expert on war crimes. His take is that under the Geneva Conventions, we are no longer "at war" in Iraq.

I heard that interview, too, badstone. My problem with that particular theory is that while the crimes in question may not be "war crimes" under the Geneva Conventions, there remain obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention that the U.S. must meet as an occupying power. This includes a ban on "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment."

On preview: The Fourth Convention also answers your concerns, talos and y6y6y6. Clearly, the signatory nations recognized that occupation scenarios have a great potential for abuse.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:47 PM on May 4, 2004


loquax - here's your concrete action - prosecute the responsible and get the hell out of Iraq.

And what goal will part two achieve at this point? Will that help the other 25 million people in the country? The question of whether or not the US should have been in Iraq in the first place is totally separate from this, beyond "I told you so's". If you want to argue that the states should up and leave pronto and leave the rest of the people there to the wind, be my guest, but I fail to see how that makes any sense.
posted by loquax at 5:59 PM on May 4, 2004


patriotboy has a great suggestion for those saying the mistreatment and torture was not a big deal and like frat hazing.

Oh good grief.

I've heard of plenty of stupid shit coming out of fraternities, but I don't recall any pledge being told he'd be electrocuted if he fell off a box. And frat pledges are more or less willing.

Also, I imagine that the photos involved nudity, humiliation, sex and most tellingly, the presence of the female soldier, reveal something here. This was all designed for the purpose of humiliation more than anything else. The Iraqis, we can assume, were Muslims, thus being shamed and exposed in front of women is hitting home, even more so than with a Western male.

This suggests, to me anyway, that this is not something thought up by a bunch of frustrated, bored grunts. It's too precise. It sounds like some kind of incredibly wrongheaded pyschological torture dreamed up from above.
posted by jonmc at 6:20 PM on May 4, 2004


Sure, it was probably forced or coerced, but assuming guilt without even asking the victim? 'Conventional wisdom' doesn't trump an evidentiary hearing, or the lack thereof.

If the woman in question was a prisoner, she did not have the authority to consent or say no. Even if she "said yes" there is implied coercion because she was completely under the authority of her captors. Fearing what might happen later is no different than a clear and present gun against the head.

I mean really, can you see this? "Hey, I know I'm a prison guard and you're a prisoner, but do you want to have sex with me after my shift?"
posted by ilsa at 6:50 PM on May 4, 2004


Let's see how many members of the Hate American Crowd will fit inside a Metafilter thread....

Like this conduct wasn't taking place pre-liberation. Like it wasn't the rule, whereas now its the rare exception. I heard that the UN rep from Sudan was complaining about this matter today: black hole calling a kettle black.

If President Bush gets a second term, will you all be leaving the country?
posted by ParisParamus at 7:21 PM on May 4, 2004


Caddis, I agree with you that they should be punished but it is appearing more and more likely that they were following hint-hint-wink-wink orders from their commanders.

If it turns out that they were told directly or indirectly to abuse the prisoners then the puppet masters should be prosecuted to fullest extent of the law.


Every person who participated in these acts, no matter their rank should be held responsible. There is no "I was just following orders" defense under the UCMJ:

"892. ART. 92. FAILURE TO OBEY ORDER OR REGULATION

Any person subject to this chapter who--
(1) violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation;
(2) having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by any member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or
(3) is derelict in the performance of his duties;
shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

893. ART. 93. CRUELTY AND MALTREATMENT
Any person subject to this chapter who is guilty of cruelty toward, or oppression or maltreatment of, any person subject to his orders shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

Undoubtedly, the desire to dehumanize prisoners, poor moral, poor leadership, mixing the CIA with the military, and a moral breakdown from the top of the chain of command may lead some to the extreme. But I find those are unacceptable rationalizations to somehow justify the inhumane acts of the soldiers that participated. They should be courtmartialed to the fullest extent. Examples should be made of them publicly. All of their names should be released so that any future that they may have is ruined by public opinion.

As a former military member, as a woman, and as a human being, these people disgust me and I want to know who they are and be assured that they are punished for their acts.
posted by Juicylicious at 7:26 PM on May 4, 2004


Like this conduct wasn't taking place pre-liberation. Like it wasn't the rule, whereas now its the rare exception.

Did you read the New Yorker story? (Specifically, Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib.)

or the report? (linked from there) An Army report found that soldiers at two U.S. prisons in Iraq committed “grave breaches of international law” in their treatment of detainees.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday that Bush will conduct two 10-minute interviews with the U.S.-sponsored Al-Hurra television network and the Arab network Al Arabiya.


This wasn't rare, and Bush going on Arab TV (msnbc link) proves how big this is.
posted by amberglow at 7:45 PM on May 4, 2004


Let's see how many members of the Hate American Crowd will fit inside a Metafilter thread....

Present and accounted for.

Like it wasn't the rule, whereas now its the rare exception.

Is it really possible in anything like good faith to say that Americans can be excused for performing the same sort of atrocities they trumpeted (while scrambling for any excuse as justification) as a pretext to invade in the first place, merely because they Bad Guys did it more?

How infantile a calculus is that?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:00 PM on May 4, 2004


ParisParamus is correct - As hatred and contempt for the U.S. grows, and terrorists find a new recruiting and training base, and our plans for some sort of democratic domino effect in the middle east fail utterly, and our troops continue to die at an increasing rate, we can still find comfort that we're not abusing prisoners as much as Saddam did.

Woohoo!!! Go us.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:00 PM on May 4, 2004


Let's see how many members of the Hate American Crowd will fit inside a Metafilter thread....

I guess it takes an entire Mefi village to raise an idiot.

It sickens and saddens me to see anyone trying to minimize these acts. Exactly how many incidents of rape and torture by Americans is excusable, PP?
posted by Neologian at 8:01 PM on May 4, 2004


If President Bush gets a second term, will you all be leaving the country?

Just as soon as I have the cash.

Come to think of it, maybe I should start a website to get people to donate money to fund it. Paris, you wanna be the first donor?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:02 PM on May 4, 2004


Like this conduct wasn't taking place pre-liberation.

Ah, the old "since they were doing it, it excuses us" rationale. Why don't you crawl back under your rock, Paris. And the "America Haters" here are the people (whether a minority or not) who are trashing what little credibility we had in an area of the world already suspicious of our aims, and those who would dismiss their behavior as some sort of innocent prank gone awry.

Or if you seriously think that those who express horror and dismay at the torture, rape and murder of POWs in our care are "hating America', I'll wear your insipid taunt with pride...
posted by jalexei at 8:08 PM on May 4, 2004


Amberglow: you are so dellusional it's pathetic. Get some help.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:17 PM on May 4, 2004


There is one section at the end of the report that I wanted to specifically point out.

"Throughout the investigation .... we discovered numerous examples of Soldiers and Sailors taking the initiative in the absence of leadership and accomplishing their assigned tasks .... The individual Soldiers and Sailors that we observed and believe should be favorably noted include:

- Master-at-Arms First Class William J. Kimbro, US Navy Dog Handler, knew his duties and refused to participate in improper interrogations despite significant pressure from the MI personnel at Abu Ghraib.

- SPC Joseph M. Darby, 372nd MP Company discovered evidence of abuse and turned it over to military law enforcement.

- 1LT David O. Sutton, 229th MP Company, took immediate action and stopped an abuse, then reported the incident to the chain of command."


It goes to show you that heroes are ordinary people who do the right thing under exceptional circumstances. There are a lot of unsung heroes out there. I just wanted to take the time to honor a few. If you believe that they did the right thing and that they deserve to be seen as heroes, you may want to take a moment of your time to say thanks too.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:21 PM on May 4, 2004


Like it wasn't the rule, whereas now its the rare exception.

The acceptable number of exceptions when it comes to those who are there to help police that country is zero. Anything greater than zero means that there is a problem, and it should be dealt with. There may be greater problems that call for more immediate action, but no one should be given a free pass.
posted by mikeh at 8:24 PM on May 4, 2004


George Bush as Saddam Hussein (from the WaPo) Once it could not find weapons of mass destruction to justify its invasion of Iraq, the administration of U.S. President George W Bush claimed that the liberation of Iraqis from the most inhumane rule of a dictator was a good enough reason for taking military action against that country. Now reports of the U.S. military's abuse of Iraqi prisoners in that notorious prison threaten to deprive the United States of even that wobbly claim." --one of many quotes from the foreign press in the story.

I guess the whole world is delusional, huh, Paris? You're the only sane one. You must be proud.

Let's see what Bush says to the Arab street in those interviews: "uh...bad soldiers...freedom is good...evildoers...um...Saddam was bad...9/11?"
posted by amberglow at 8:25 PM on May 4, 2004


I just wanted to take the time to honor a few

Totally agree. Thanks for the post.
posted by loquax at 8:43 PM on May 4, 2004


I rather suspect the military works a lot like a multi-level marketing company: replication. Do what your upline does, and you will be successful, because they are successful.

Or in other words, the behaviours and attitudes of those at the top are reflected in the behaviours and attitudes of those at the bottom.

At the top of the current military upline is George W. Bush.
Those that hate America are those who try to justify horrible actions when such actions do happen.

Those who love America want it to be a shining, guiding light of righteous behaviour, a living demonstration of how to Do It Right.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:07 PM on May 4, 2004


the Hate American Crowd

I totally can't believe you just played the "Why do you hate America?" meme without the irony. You do ad hominem like no other.
posted by rafter at 9:20 PM on May 4, 2004


from reuters: McClellan said Bush first learned of allegations of abuse at Iraq prisons sometime after the charges were elevated to top military officials in January.

Bush knew about this for 4 months? Unbelievable--he probably thought it wouldn't get out.
posted by amberglow at 9:28 PM on May 4, 2004


Ugh.
posted by callmejay at 9:38 PM on May 4, 2004


"Amberglow: you are so dellusional it's pathetic. Get some help."

ParisParamus - I'm finding your rhetoric slightly weak here.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:07 PM on May 4, 2004


It's been more than two months since the release of Taguba's findings recommending the termination of employment and revocation of security clearance for a CACI contractor who abused Iraqi prisoners...

...but the Chief Executive of CACI says "we have not received any information or direction from (the Army) regarding our work in country -- no charges, no communications, no citations, no calls to appear at the Pentagon..."

Of course, the report was never supposed to have been released to the public. And Bush has known for four months. Can anyone say whitewash? What about coverup?
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:23 PM on May 4, 2004


It's been more than two months since the release of Taguba's findings recommending the termination of employment and revocation of security clearance for a CACI contractor who abused Iraqi prisoners...

...but the Chief Executive of CACI says "we have not received any information or direction from (the Army) regarding our work in country -- no charges, no communications, no citations, no calls to appear at the Pentagon..."

Of course, the report was never supposed to have been released to the public. And Bush has known for four months. Can anyone say coverup?

That's Bush for you... No credibility. No accountability. No honor.
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:33 PM on May 4, 2004


Amberglow: you are so dellusional it's pathetic. Get some help.

I agree with y6y6y6: this is very disappointing, Paris. You can, and should, do better than this. Christ, there's even a misspelling in there...
posted by mr_roboto at 11:32 PM on May 4, 2004


It's not a mispelling. It's got something to do with amberglow's irrational love for a certain manufacturer's PCs.

Like this conduct wasn't taking place pre-liberation. Like it wasn't the rule, whereas now its the rare exception. I heard that the UN rep from Sudan was complaining about this matter today: black hole calling a kettle black.

Paris, in addition to stavros's rejoinder, I'd also point out that there's this whole "Minds and Hearts thing". Winning the peace might just be possible -- if we keep a squeaky clean above reproach image there. Yes, I know, some of those awful Muslims will hate us anyway -- it's true. But if President Bush was ever right about the Iraqis waiting to welcome us with open arms, that'd have to be because most Iraqis are willing to give us a chance.

What do you bet that a number of Iraqis that are willing to give us that chance decreased because of this?

The responsible parties should be publically handcuffed and imprisoned, in such a way that the Iraqi people know we take this offense seriously and to leave no doubt we are not Saddam.
posted by namespan at 1:28 AM on May 5, 2004


"Those who love America want it to be a shining, guiding light of righteous behavior, a living demonstration of how to Do It Right."
from: five fresh fish

Mr. Five Fresh Fish
Sir, I salute you. Well said.

Anyone standing up in Congress and calling for impeachment? Rep. Kucinich, you still think its just fine to wait for the election process? Rep. Sanders?

ONLY way to regain any international credibility is to have public trials, convictions, and possibly executions. All the way to the TOP. Then MAYBE. Even better if we give up sovereignty and pack them off to the Hague.

I NEVER would have thought so much horrible damage could be done to the United States with just one term of bad presidency. Of course, it took years of brainwashing the public to produce that one term in the first place, and a corrupt Supreme Court.
posted by Goofyy at 2:56 AM on May 5, 2004


ilsa:

Even if she "said yes" there is implied coercion because she was completely under the authority of her captors. Fearing what might happen later is no different than a clear and present gun against the head.

For this argument to work, you need there to be truth in the idea that a prisoner could never genuinely want to have sex with a guard. This is false. Secondly, using this logic would suggest that a man, who is big, strong and scary looking; asking someone for sex, getting a positive reply and indulging in the act, could be committing rape, as his appearance could imply coercion due to a potential threat of effective physical violence if they refuse.

I mean really, can you see this? "Hey, I know I'm a prison guard and you're a prisoner, but do you want to have sex with me after my shift?"

Even if this were impossible, which it clearly isn’t, you have presented a false dilemma. Either this was said or it was rape. However, there are more options; for one "Hey, I know I'm a prisoner and you're a prison guard, but do you want to have sex with me after your shift?"

In addition to this, aside from the fact it is simply mentioned on the list, the only evidence as of yet to suggest this has actually taken place is a piece of non sequitur by insomnia_lj, who concludes that:

In order for the major general to make sex with a female part of his findings, there was probably photographic or video evidence showing this to be the case, or at least accounts from multiple witnesses (or a confession) indicating that the M.P. in question had sex with a female detainee.

However, this is evidence stated as probably the case purely due to the fact the he thinks it is true.
posted by ed\26h at 4:12 AM on May 5, 2004


"For this argument to work, you need there to be truth in the idea that a prisoner could never genuinely want to have sex with a guard."

So, it's your assertion then that having sex with prisoners can be acceptable in this circumstance, even if to do so would violate direct orders against fraternization, in addition to numerous other Army regulations? Obviously, your theoretical woman in question must've felt pretty turned on after being forced to strip naked and parade in front of the camera. She must also have been fluent in English, in order to clearly give her consent, right?

BTW, would you be willing to send me the email address for your mother/sister/wife/girlfriend? I'd like to see what their thoughts are on this issue.

See the shining light of reason up ahead, Ed? This way back from cloud coo coo land...
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:16 AM on May 5, 2004


From the pro-American blogger Zeyad of Healing Iraq:

Now, regarding the disgusting images from Abu Ghraib that the whole world had witnessed in the last few days. They didn't come as a surprise at all, we have been hearing stories about the abuse of prisoners for a long time from released detainees and from humanitarian organisations. It doesn't shock me at all that some American soldiers are so sick and devoid from any humanity. You need to have a cousin pushed off from a dam by some in order to learn that. What surprises me
though are people saying "Saddam did worse", or the soldiers responsible claiming they were 'never taught anything about running a prison', and 'No one gave us a copy of the Geneva conventions'. We have a saying for that over here, "An excuse uglier than the guilt".

The fact that the soldiers were merely relieved from duty and reprimanded wasn't surprising either. In fact it is to be expected. The outcome of the investigation indicated that systematic psychological and physical torture, mistreatment, or abuse (whatever) was indeed routine in US detention centers throughout Iraq. Military Intelligence officers had encouraged it, referring to it as 'setting the conditions for subsequent interrogation', and of course soldiers follow orders without questioning. Keep in mind, though, that former Iraqi Security and Mukhabarat officers also employed appropriate measures to 'set the conditions', and we thought we were over that now.

While Saddam Hussein sits safely in his comfortable cell in Qatar or wherever else he is being held, Iraqi detainees are being put into the most humiliating and degrading conditions that can be imagined. While the guilty are free to wreak havoc, and take refuge in holy cities, the innocent are detained and mistreated for months without charges. But it seems like that is life.

They may be just a few soldiers, it may be an isolated case, but what's the difference? The effect has been done, and the Hearts and Minds campaign is a joke that isn't funny any more.

posted by y2karl at 8:25 AM on May 5, 2004


What you've done there, insomnia_lj, is entirely ignore my point, preferring to post a straw man argument at the end of which you insult me.

If you would like to actually address the statements I have made above, I would be glad to reply with my thoughts.
posted by ed\26h at 8:26 AM on May 5, 2004


ed\26h, I can't believe you are seriously arguing this position.

Even if this hypothetical willing female prisoner got on her kness and, in perfect English, begged the prison guards to ravage her, it would not constitute consent because of the power dynamic in question. She is completely in their power, with no recourse. All sorts of unusual psychological shifts can, in theory, happen in a person under those circumstance, but such changes are always, at their core, the result of extreme duress. They cannot be viewed as consent.
posted by yoz420 at 8:37 AM on May 5, 2004


Jailed Iraqis hidden from Red Cross, says US army

The Taguba report described how "ghost detainees" were brought to the military police (MP) unit running several jails in Iraq by OGAs (military jargon for other government agencies, often a reference to the CIA).

"The various detention facilities operated by the 800th MP Brigade have routinely held persons brought to them by OGAs without accounting for them, knowing their identities, or even the reason for their detention," the report stated.

"The joint interrogation and debriefing centre (JIDC) at Abu Ghraib called these detainees 'ghost detainees'. On at least one occasion, the 320th MP Battalion at Abu Ghraib held a handful of 'ghost detainees' for OGAs that they moved around within the facility to hide them from a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) survey team."

Amanda Williamson, an ICRC spokeswoman, said its prison inspectors were not aware that prisoners had been hidden from them.

posted by y2karl at 8:59 AM on May 5, 2004


Omar:
I was surprised when I saw that the reaction of Iraqis to the subject of prisoners abuse by some American soldiers was not huge as we all expected to see, even it was milder than the one in other Arab countries and especially than that in the Arab media.
I mean about a month ago, we had considerable reactions and somewhat large demonstrations in response to the killing of Hamas leader, and in the mid of maniac reactions from Arab media and people, the absence of large demonstrations and outrage on the streets of Iraq becomes really strange and give rise to questions. Why the Iraqi people are not really upset with this issue?

Is it because of the firm and rapid response from the American officials to these terrible actions?

Or is it because the Iraqi people lack compassion with the majority of these prisoners?
Could it be that the Iraqi people and as a result of decades of torture, humiliation and executions, took these crimes less seriously than the rest of the world?

Or have the majority of Iraqis finally developed some trust in the coalition authorities and in the American army, to sense that these actions must be isolated and will be punished?

I can’t say I have the full answer but I guess it’s a combination of a little bit of all the above.
I can say that at least some Iraqis seemed to have understood the situation and were satisfied with the reaction of the American officials and their promises that the offenders will be punished.
I think they're smarter than you think they are. :)
posted by David Dark at 9:49 AM on May 5, 2004


riverbend:

All anyone can talk about today are those pictures... those terrible pictures. There is so much rage and frustration. I know the dozens of emails I’m going to get claiming that this is an ‘isolated incident’ and that they are ‘ashamed of the people who did this’ but does it matter? What about those people in Abu Ghraib? What about their families and the lives that have been forever damaged by the experience in Abu Ghraib? I know the messages that I’m going to get- the ones that say, “But this happened under Saddam...” Like somehow, that makes what happens now OK... like whatever was suffered in the past should make any mass graves, detentions and torture only minor inconveniences now. I keep thinking of M. and how she was 'lucky' indeed. And you know what? You won't hear half of the atrocities and stories because Iraqis are proud, indignant people and sexual abuse is not a subject anyone is willing to come forward with. The atrocities in Abu Ghraib and other places will be hidden away and buried under all the other dirt the occupation brought with it...

It’s beyond depressing and humiliating... my blood boils at the thought of what must be happening to the female prisoners. To see those smiling soldiers with the Iraqi prisoners is horrible. I hope they are made to suffer... somehow I know they won’t be punished. They’ll be discharged from the army, at best, and made to go back home and join families and cronies who will drink to the pictures and the way “America’s finest” treated those “Dumb I-raki terrorists”.


they are smarter.
posted by amberglow at 10:04 AM on May 5, 2004


Boston Globe: Iraqis protest prisoner treatment in demonstration outside Abu Ghraib prison
posted by amberglow at 10:07 AM on May 5, 2004


I have read the journals of a handful of soldiers over in Iraq who use LiveJournal. I recently received a comment from a female soldier serving in Baghdad....

She said "I have seen pictures here that friends of mine have taken. There is some really sick shit going on here."

I have also read the journal of an M.P. whose stay in Iraq who claimed -- well before the release of the photos we have all seen -- that he "heard a lot of reports of Hadji beatings and what not."

Frankly, I am torn on even pointing these things out, as I don't want to see good soldiers possibly get in trouble. However, if I only know a few U.S. servicemen through their journals, and if two of those I *do* know say that there is a real problem with widesprad abuse of Iraqis out there, I believe them.

I have also seen the abusive words of U.S. soldiers who revel in the death of Iraqis, who obviously get a sadistic pleasure from the violence and cruelty, while referring to Iraqis as "sand niggers". How do you think soldiers like this treat Iraqi prisoners?

Ultimately, there needs to be a complete "no tolerance" policy for the abuse, the slurs, and anything else which encourages the dehumanization of Iraqis. The sooner the Army 'fesses up, comes clean, and addresses the larger systemic issues, the better.
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:50 AM on May 5, 2004


Let's see how many members of the Hate American Crowd will fit inside a Metafilter thread....
Like this conduct wasn't taking place pre-liberation. Like it wasn't the rule, whereas now its the rare exception. I heard that the UN rep from Sudan was complaining about this matter today: black hole calling a kettle black.
If President Bush gets a second term, will you all be leaving the country?
posted by ParisParamus at 10:21 PM EST on May 4


What's blackly amusing here is that PP would make this exact same argument no matter what the US does. If we dragged out the entire population of Fallujah, burned them alive, and tossed the bodies in a pit, complete with pictures of American soldiers laughing and cheering as they did it, PP would say "Saddam did worse! When will you America-haters leave the country?"

What I don't see remarked upon nearly enough is the implications of all this for the state of US prisons. The news media should be shining a bright light on the fact that some of the people in charge of Abu Ghraib and other prisons were brought in because of their experience running American prisons, and it's abundantly clear that it seemed normal to treat Iraqi prisoners this way because that's how things are routinely done here: complete dehumanization, indifference to human rights, little or no accountability. It won't be enough to reform Abu Ghraib; we need to do something about the situation at home, from which we turn our gaze as we go about our affairs and applaud the "War on Crime."
posted by languagehat at 11:06 AM on May 5, 2004


Here, here, Laguagehat. I thought the exact same thing earlier today.

I strongly suspect that American prisons are not, for the most part, out-of-control like this. But there is a connection, and people don't care about prisoners in exactly the same way that they don't care about Iraqi prisoners. They deserve it, right? I think we have a huge brewing domestic crisis in the size and sate of our penal system.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:19 PM on May 5, 2004


yoz420:

I can't believe you are seriously arguing this position.

I presume you mean the position that I do not believe that a prisoner could never genuinely want to have sex with a guard. I don't think that in any way an unreasonable position to take. But anyway, would this be a fair breakdown you your post?

Because of the situation in question, in theory, psychological shifts can occur.
When these shifts occur they are always due to extreme duress.
[This woman was in this situation, so she was subjected to extreme duress.]

Therefor, even if verbal consent was given, it was invalid as it was given under extreme duress. Therefore this was rape.

posted by ed\26h at 12:41 PM on May 5, 2004


I think they're smarter than you think they are. :)

Iraqi Spirit

To be quite honest with you, I was not shocked by the emergence of this story; I have read so many stories of systematic torture being committed against Iraqi prisoners, of course apologists/denialists have always swept these things under the carpet as some kind of propaganda.

I watched Bush yesterday, side by side with the Canadian prime minister trying to express his disgust at what happened. Looking at him, I just could not help but notice how hard he was trying to drop a tear here or there so that people can sympathise with him(The compassionate conservative that he is), it looked all fake to me, the harder he tried, the more evil and insincere he looked.
He has talked lots of rubbish over the term of his presidency, but yesterday, I have to agree with one thing he had said:

''Their treatment (the prisoners) does not reflect the nature of the American people.''

Yes George, it does not reflect upon the American people, I greatly believe in that statement. This kind of action, really reflects upon you, and your bankrupt ideology, it reflects upon the crazy freaks that follow you. It has nothing to do with decent Americans, who find such actions repulsive. George, you belong to an elite club, Hitler, Saddam, and Bin Ladin are past or present members among many, they probably feel proud seeing you in action.

You are a murder, and a terrorist no less than the other freaks. It is time that decent people of this world stop all of you loonies who belong to that elite murderous club.

And not to feel left out by their brothers in arms, the heroes of the British army, who were trained to the highest standard, were at it as well. You are so brave beating hooded and restrained people.




A Family in Baghdad

Good morning.
It's a little cloudy this morning. I hear explosions since the morning, but I don't know where they are happening. I expect them to increase after the publishing of the pictures of the Iraqi prisoners.
Americans apologize; they say those are nothing but a small bad minority.
Iraqis are angry and they wonder: why didn't you believe us when we said that the people who committed the mutilation in Falluja are a small bad minority. You filled your media with poisonous comments and you said: "that's just how Iraqis are" and then you got a green light from your people to attack Falluja and kill hundreds of men, women and children.
You wrecked down houses, markets, schools and mosques. You spread devastation and tyranny and you still do that?. Why???
Who planted the culture of hatred and not believing the other but you???
Who planted the culture of revenge, murder and destruction but you???
Now you want the Iraqi to smile and comprehend your decency and kindness???
How can he comprehend after you tarnished his image???
You are the ones who said that Iraqis use their own women and children as human shields, to explain why there were many casualties among women and children.
All the lies you planted you will reap. All the spite you spread will blow up in your face.
I always say that the magic turns up against the magician.
This is exactly what happened.

posted by y2karl at 2:37 PM on May 5, 2004


Abbas Kadhim *Calling It Like It Is*

Despite the shameful revelations of Nazi-like rapes and sexual assaults on Iraqi men and women, President Bush insisted in his weekly "radio spin" that the lives of Iraqis are better and better.

I believe that Bush owes the Iraqis an apology and a withdrawal from Iraq. He also owes the American people an apology for allowing the worst in this society to go unchecked under his nose. He is the commander-in-Chief of soldiers who sexually assault not only Iraqis, but their own female colleagues as well, as the several branches of the military admit.

But don't count on it!

posted by y2karl at 2:46 PM on May 5, 2004


Salaam:
Hi Friends,

Of course the behavior at Abu Ghraib is terrible and I think everybody agrees; and most certainly the few who perpetrated these actions do not represent anybody but themselves. They have betrayed the Coalition soldiers and all the friends of democracy, before anybody else. However, the Media, and especially the famous Al Jazeera, Al Arabia & Co. are having great time with this affair. It’s like Christmas over there. Saturation coverage, trying all the time to sound objective and merely reporting what the western media are saying.

Well I am an Iraqi, and hate what I saw, but I would like to say in all honesty that compared to the practices of the old Baathists, this is a drop in an ocean. The terrors of Saddam torture houses make this isolated condemned practice by a small group of perverted individuals seem nothing, awful as it is. And more important, the outrages of the Saddam regime were sanctioned and perfectly well known and approved from the highest levels of the state and there was no question of any criminal investigations of the practices, the victims simply buried in any convenient ditch near by. But we never heard any righteous and noisy protests from Any Jazeera or Arabiya, nor did we witness much “Arab” anger during many years when torture, rape and murder were going on a regular basis and massive scale. Perhaps those hundreds of thousands of victims were not “Arabs” and did not deserve the righteous pity of the brotherly Arab masses.
I'll write Salaam and let him know he can add Metafilter to his list of happy campers.
posted by David Dark at 3:28 PM on May 5, 2004


Mahmood:
Iraqi blogger Omar of "Iraq the Model" (via Sissy Willis) voices some hope, and urges us to move on:
I want to tell you that I felt great relief when I saw and heard the highest-ranking officials in the coalition apologize to the Iraqi people for what a small group of their soldiers did and assuring us that there will be serious investigations to expose those who committed the atrocities and to punish them the way they deserve.

The crime was a step backwards, but the way it’s being dealt with is -- in my opinion -- a step forwards on the way to strengthen the trust between the coalition and the Iraqis because this will help putting an end to many of the conspiracy theory . . . ideas that many Iraqis have in their minds, and this will tell Iraqis that the Americans are not hiding facts about their soldiers' behavior here, and once they feel that something wrong is happening they will move to correct it.

This is something that we Arabs never get to hear, an official apologising for a wrong done. Never!
The higher up officials in their own fiefdoms are above error, almost at par with God, hence they can do no wrong. But the on the other hand, they think that if they do apologise, then not only do they admit being wrong but more importantly to them, they will appear week. And that will not do. They're still thinking that a strong sword arm is the thing that rules a people.

Seeing and hearing an apology by the highest-ranking officials of the US military is a welcome thing. That means that they have (1) acknowledged a problem under their command (2) they will put mechanisms in-place to ensure that error is not repeated, and (3) they will penalise the perpetrators of those crimes.

I join Omar and Sissy in expressing my relief and further my conviction that this will be taken care of justly. We'll (the world) be watching for results.
posted by David Dark at 3:33 PM on May 5, 2004


This is something that we Arabs never get to hear, an official apologising for a wrong done. Never! The higher up officials in their own fiefdoms are above error, almost at par with God, hence they can do no wrong.

Is he talking about the US Army in Iraq, or the Bush Gang throughout their reign?
posted by meehawl at 3:41 PM on May 5, 2004


cool links y2karl and david dark. It is really interesting to hear directly from people over there. One note though, Mahmood is based (I think) in Baharain, not Iraq. Anyway thank you both for the good links.
posted by chaz at 3:55 PM on May 5, 2004


And from a very pro-American Kurdish blog:

Kurdo's World

who learns from who ?!!!

I am very disappointed and very sad to hear about the American abuse allegations. I have seen the pictures and they are appalling.
Abu Ghareb is the nightmare that all were scared of, including Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Turkmens etc. On 9th of April 2003 we all thought that this place is gone for ever. But what the hell ?!! Now it is worse than before.

It seems that the Americans have learnt from the Baathiests. The US army who was supposed to teach us democracy and human rights respect seems to have forgotten these values themselves.

This American soldier called Staff Sergeant Chip Frederick, said he had no support or training in running prisons.

He said he did not see a copy of the Geneva Convention rules for handling prisoners of war until after he was charged... What the faa.... ?!!! He hasn't seen a Geneva Convention ? Does he know what it is ? The Geneva Convention is what the Americans came to teach us.. They haven't seen it... God Bless Us.

Everyday we lose more and more hope.... This is the worst thing that could happen...

posted by y2karl at 3:55 PM on May 5, 2004


Iraqi Passport

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

When I was in Baghdad and discussing the Coalition, the US government and various members of the Coalition Provisional Authority my Uncle said: they are all madmen, all of them...they are all thieves and liars.

yes they are. All of them.

Monday, May 03, 2004

I've been disgusted and freaked out with the recent Abu Ghraib images of prison abuse at the hands of the US. Here in the USA it is getting much publicity and Bush has made some lame statement about how this is not representative of the USA. Yeah sure Mr.Bushie. Anyway this is a micro incident of many atrocities that go on in Iraq at the hands of coalition. But as my cousin has stated in the past, these soldiers, any soldiers are going to behave in this manner during war. Can we compare this to what Saddam did? Well to make the parallel would be sort of ironic considering that this is what the US claims to have ended, all the torture and brutality of Saddam's 35 year regime. Can we ponder this a bit? Any Iraqi can tell you endless stories of what Saddam or his henchmen did. And they got away with acts that are much worse than the Abu Ghraib prison US photos. And why do we need to see photos to be outraged?
Why not be outraged at everything that is going on? 10,000 Iraqis dead since the occupation and rising. I think in a way that some Iraqis will automatically be silent. But please do not be silent dear friend. These sadist need to be punished. A buddy from work who is in the US Airforce told me that those soldiers should be executed for what they did. Well that seems a bit harsh, he said it, not me.

posted by y2karl at 4:03 PM on May 5, 2004


And, actually, it's Alaa, not Salaam, who writes The Mesopotamian... Salaam--Peace--is how Alaa closes his posts. Which is not too hard to figure out if one reads closely enough. Well, if one reads, period.
posted by y2karl at 4:10 PM on May 5, 2004


My bad, karl! You're a genius! Tell Juan Cole I said hi.
posted by David Dark at 4:22 PM on May 5, 2004


My bad, karl! You're a genius!

No, he's not a genius; he just made you look like a dipshit. What's your point? Does it take a genius to do that? I'm not very convinced that it does. From the sarcasm, I assume you think you weren't grossly incorrect in attribution. Care to clarify?
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:01 PM on May 5, 2004


There are many many Iraqi blogs out there, with many many perspectives. If you care, get reading.

As your horizons expand, so too will your understanding of the subtle differences among complex ideas.

posted by David Dark at 5:58 PM MST on April 28


Your words, David. Chew with care. We wouldn't want you to choke now, would we?
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:23 PM on May 5, 2004


Please stop insulting me, Wulfgar! I'm taking great care not to stoop to your level. Would you like to add to the discussion, or just pursue a personal vendetta?
posted by David Dark at 5:30 PM on May 5, 2004


In what must surely be the seventh sign of the apocalypse, I find myself agreeing with DD: he is taking great care to present the opposing side without being inflammatory.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:00 PM on May 5, 2004


Please stop insulting me, Wulfgar! I'm taking great care not to stoop to your level. Would you like to add to the discussion, or just pursue a personal vendetta?

Good response - I admire your self-control (unlike Wulfgar's lack-of-)

I have no horse in this race - just commenting on etiquette
posted by SpaceCadet at 6:01 PM on May 5, 2004


David, you willfully insulted my beliefs, my family, my heritage and my character. You persist in arguing that those who don't follow your line of thought are somehow corrupt. You argue that those who think you full of shit aren't adding anything to the discussion, right on the heals of you doing that very thing. Don't think for a second that you can play the neo-con card of "they all just hate us but we won't stoop". You've stooped far lower than I ever have, and I will ride you for it until the end of times.

You bring up, yet again, your fantasy that there is an improper relationship between y2karl and Juan Cole, and hence we can dismiss the truths karl brings to the table because of that; and then ask that I stop insulting you? No. Your arguments insult you, and I will point to those as often as you enable me to. You now ask for some perverse mercy so that you can claim whatever you want without redress? Never negotiate with terrorists ... isn't that your line? Whether you like it or not, proving you to be full of shit IS part of the discussion. As you appear fond of saying, get used to it.

On preview: fff, what exactly do you find not inflamatory about this?

My bad, karl! You're a genius! Tell Juan Cole I said hi.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:08 PM on May 5, 2004


ed\26h But anyway, would this be a fair breakdown you your post?

Because of the situation in question, in theory, psychological shifts can occur.
When these shifts occur they are always due to extreme duress.
[This woman was in this situation, so she was subjected to extreme duress.]

Therefor, even if verbal consent was given, it was invalid as it was given under extreme duress. Therefore this was rape.


Right. That is my argument.
I'll only add a clarifying note - I consider starting to want to have sex with your guard to be a psychological shift, since I assume that prisoners do not enter confinement with that desire.
posted by yoz420 at 6:28 PM on May 5, 2004


U.S. Troops Said to Mistreat Elder Iraqi

U.S. soldiers who detained an elderly Iraqi woman last year placed a harness on her, made her crawl on all fours and rode her like a donkey, Prime Minister Tony Blair's personal human rights envoy to Iraq said Wednesday.

The envoy, legislator Ann Clwyd, said she had investigated the claims of the woman in her 70s and believed they were true.

posted by y2karl at 8:05 PM on May 5, 2004


Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth says America's use of coercive interrogation techniques inevitably leads to nightmares like Abu Ghraib.
posted by homunculus at 8:25 PM on May 5, 2004


14 Prison Deaths May Be Tied to U.S.

The Army had disclosed on Tuesday that its Criminal Investigation Division was probing 10 prisoner deaths and that two other deaths already had been ruled homicides. On Wednesday, an intelligence official said the CIA inspector general was examining two additional deaths involving agency interrogators.

Analysis: Was there reason for the abuses?

Certain facts seem to indicate that American interrogators at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad adopted tactics eerily reminiscent of those used by the former landlords of the prison -- Saddam Hussein's Baathists jailers. One possible explanation for this could be the stepped-up efforts to track down the former Iraqi dictator, which seemed to have gathered steam around September 2003. It was also around this time that attacks against United States and coalition forces in Iraq increased.

When examining the trail of events, the fact that most of the abuses have reportedly occurred during the period between September and December 2003, ultimately leading to the capture of Saddam just before Christmas, one could deduct that the ill treatment and humiliation of prisoners did not happen haphazardly, but that rather, with systematic reason, orchestrated by a small group of people eager to obtain quick intelligence.

One report from Iraq stated that under such treatment, prisoners usually broke within three days. This would also explain the sudden increase in the number of arrests and detainees, primarily at the Abu Ghraib prison facility.


Why was pattern of abuse ignored for so long?

The military brass could no longer ignore the problem last week, when photos of U.S. soldiers gloating over naked prisoners forced into degrading acts surfaced on CBS' 60 Minutes II. More details about the abuses, based on leaks from the then-secret military report, appeared in The New Yorker this week. Even then, the Pentagon shrugged off the story as a case of a few renegade soldiers who already had been punished. Worldwide outrage forced the Bush administration to address the matter seriously.

Some military personnel down the chain of command did the right thing, notably the troops who blew the whistle at Abu Ghraib and leaked photos to the media when superiors failed to take stern action. But top commanders seemed more concerned with keeping the scandal quiet than ensuring that those who committed abuses would be punished and the attitudes that allowed such behavior would not be tolerated.


Inhuman and degrading

As each successive layer of concealment is stripped away from the US military prison system in Iraq, the picture emerges not just of regrettable isolated "abuses" by a few bad guys - the excuse offered by defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld - but of a much wider system of degradation and torture which has been deliberately exported to Iraq with an imperial contempt for the coalition's own proclaimed values.

Yesterday's apology by Major General Geoffrey Miller, now commander of the US-run prisons in Iraq, was no more satisfactory than that belatedly offered in radio interviews by President Bush. What has happened cannot be blamed on "a small number of [US] soldiers". The real responsibility rests with the commander himself and the entire chain of authority right up to the president who sanctioned or condoned a system imported from - need we be surprised? - Guantanamo Bay. We now learn that it was Gen Miller who last September, when he was still in charge of the US concentration camp in Cuba, visited Iraq to offer (as the Washington Post puts it) "suggestions on how to make interrogations more efficient and effective". The basic aim, he recommended, was that military detention centres in Iraq should serve as an "enabler for interrogation" and that the prison guards should "set the conditions for successful exploitation of the internees". And that is what they proceeded to do.


Restoring Our Honor

We are in danger of losing something much more important than just the war in Iraq. We are in danger of losing America as an instrument of moral authority and inspiration in the world. I have never known a time in my life when America and its president were more hated around the world than today. I was just in Japan, and even young Japanese dislike us. It's no wonder that so many Americans are obsessed with the finale of the sitcom "Friends" right now. They're the only friends we have, and even they're leaving.

This administration needs to undertake a total overhaul of its Iraq policy; otherwise, it is courting a total disaster for us all.

That overhaul needs to begin with President Bush firing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld — today, not tomorrow or next month, today. What happened in Abu Ghraib prison was, at best, a fundamental breakdown in the chain of command under Mr. Rumsfeld's authority, or, at worst, part of a deliberate policy somewhere in the military-intelligence command of sexually humiliating prisoners to soften them up for interrogation, a policy that ran amok.

posted by y2karl at 8:32 PM on May 5, 2004


From homuculus's link:

It was hard to miss the irony this week. As we heard more about the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, we learned that Thomas Hamill -- the American contractor taken hostage in Iraq -- was treated well by his captors. Pvt. Jessica Lynch was also apparently treated well during her captivity in Iraq. Is there a case to be made that the Iraqi "evildoers" are treating Americans better than Americans are treating some Iraqis?

I don't know that I'm in the position to make that case. But let me make two points. One is that the duty to avoid torture or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment is an absolute duty. So even if the other side is violating that rule, the United States still has an absolute duty to abide by it. And indeed, failure to abide by it is a criminal offense punishable any place in the world.

That's one thing to remember. Second, when we have rules like this, it's not simply for fighting against what may be a largely lawless insurgency in Iraq. One has rules because they apply around the world. The United States should be very reluctant to lower the bar on international standards. Imagine a future war with, say, China over Taiwan. The Chinese government is already beginning to question whether the laws of armed conflict are really just Western impositions, whether these are things that should bind China as well. In a possible future war, if American service members are taken into Chinese custody, you don't want to give the Chinese government an excuse to start mistreating them in detention under the theory that Donald Rumsfeld already authorized these "stress and duress" interrogation techniques.

So this is not only a matter of living up to American values of treating others properly. There's also a direct element of self-interest in this. American service members are going to suffer if Bush and Rumsfeld essentially vitiate the basic norms of the Geneva Conventions and other elements of international law.

posted by y2karl at 8:49 PM on May 5, 2004


Inmate freed from Baghdad jail denies tales of torture
COLIN FREEMAN AT ABU GHRAIB PRISON
WHEN Ahmed Jassim was released from Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison yesterday, he expected nothing more than a hug from his family and a chance to shave the straggly beard he grew inside.

Instead, he walked into a blaze of publicity as journalists and local people quizzed him about the allegations of torture by United States troops. Was it all true, demanded a scrum of faces around him. Had he too been beaten, hooded, stripped naked and humiliated?

Mr Jassim, blinking in bemusement as the cameras flashed, then sprang something of a surprise himself. "It’s all lies," he said, elbowing his way through the crowd into an elderly minibus.

"Life in there is very hard, yes, but there is no electrocution and no mistreatment."
Wulfgar! please take your soap opera to MeTa! or email! This is not the place.
posted by David Dark at 9:26 PM on May 5, 2004


New Prison Images Emerge
(WaPo-thurs.)
posted by amberglow at 10:59 PM on May 5, 2004


God, this is unbelievably depressing. I'm not to the anger stage, yet, but I'll get there.

At the back of my mind are swirling all the ideas and analysis and intuition I normally bring to bear on such momentous matters—but the sadness coupled with a foreboding despair overwhelms everything else, and all I can think about is sleep.

Lynndie England is the evil twin of Jessica Lynch; except, of course, that they cannot be so different. We Americans are left wondering: which are we? And: this is not my beautiful wife.

Here is the Bush administration's unfaithful and abusive misuse of public trust by manipulating our anger over the obliterated graves of 3,000 innocents to justify a war only it wanted, and its mendacity, all made into a tangible evil like a rot appearing at the extremities. We will be forced to watch in horror as it travels up our limbs and we realize that it is in us and we are sick.

Night comes.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:30 PM on May 5, 2004


One of the companies implicated at the Iraqi prison, CACI International, is today advertising on its Web site for interrogators for Iraqi prisons who will be "under minimal supervision."
posted by homunculus at 11:58 PM on May 5, 2004


FOXNews.com - The O'Reilly Factor - Interview - Inside Iraq's Abu Ghraib Prison

O'REILLY: All right. But there's a difference between being a poor administrator, as this -- your -- and knowing about torture and looking the other way.

Now, I grant you and I challenged the general. I said look, in these pictures, these soldiers didn't look like they had any fear of anybody coming down on them. I mean, they looked like they were having a rollicking good time. And that tells me there was a problem in management, whether it's middle management or upper management, I don't know.

Now I also know that the general, as you do, was not a trained jail warden. She's a reservist and got thrown in there into this position. But I think for the country's sake, we need to know if this scandal is going to get any worse because we're taking a beating worldwide, And if so, who is the evildoer here?

HERSH: First of all, it's going to get much worse. This kind of stuff was much more widespread. I can tell you just from the phone calls I've had in the last 24 hours, even more, there are other photos out there. There are many more photos even inside that unit. There are videotapes of stuff that you wouldn't want to mention on national television that was done. There was a lot of problems.

There was a special women's section. There were young boys in there. There were things done to young boys that were videotaped. It's much worse. And the Maj. Gen. Taguba was very tough about it. He said this place was riddled with violent, awful actions against prisoners.


O'REILLY: All right. So we're going to see in the weeks to come more pictures and videotapes of atrocities against Iraqis? Is that what we can look forward to seeing?

HERSH: Mr. O'Reilly, this is a generation -- you know back -- you and I in our days, if we had something, you know, we came back from war. We would take our pictures and hide them behind the socks in the drawer and look at them once in a while.

This is a generation that sends stuff on CDs, sends it around. ome kid right now is negotiating with some European magazine. -- You know, I can't say that for sure, but it's there. -- It's out there. And the Army knows it.

O'REILLY: Boy.

HERSH: They have tried to recover some of the CD discs from computers, individual computers. But obviously, you can't stop this...

posted by y2karl at 9:35 AM on May 6, 2004


young boys? women? If that turns out to be true I can't imagine how much worse it will get, and how much worse I will feel. I am really ashamed of our actions over there... we can't be so arrogant to say when US troops do well they're all boys and when they do something bad we (US citizens) don't know them-- we are also responsible for their actions.
posted by chaz at 10:00 AM on May 6, 2004


If you don't feel like going through Salon, this is the job ad homonculus is talking about.
posted by furiousthought at 10:10 AM on May 6, 2004


There had better be a scourging of the US military, from top to bottom, or over both the short and long term the USA is going to get badly hurt on the international stage: its enemies will be ever more ruthless, and its friends will be ever less trusting.

What goes around comes around.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:25 AM on May 6, 2004


From TPM:

Some hand-written letters home from Sergeant Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II. (PDF)

Sy Hersh quoting Frederick:

In letters and e-mails to family members, Frederick repeatedly noted that the military-intelligence teams, which included C.I.A. officers and linguists and interrogation specialists from private defense contractors, were the dominant force inside Abu Ghraib. In a letter written in January, he said:

I questioned some of the things that I saw . . . such things as leaving inmates in their cell with no clothes or in female underpants, handcuffing them to the door of their cell—and the answer I got was, “This is how military intelligence (MI) wants it done.” . . . . MI has also instructed us to place a prisoner in an isolation cell with little or no clothes, no toilet or running water, no ventilation or window, for as much as three days.


The military-intelligence officers have “encouraged and told us, ‘Great job,’ they were now getting positive results and information,” Frederick wrote. “CID has been present when the military working dogs were used to intimidate prisoners at MI’s request.” At one point, Frederick told his family, he pulled aside his superior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Phillabaum, the commander of the 320th M.P. Battalion, and asked about the mistreatment of prisoners. “His reply was ‘Don’t worry about it.’”

In November, Frederick wrote, an Iraqi prisoner under the control of what the Abu Ghraib guards called “O.G.A.,” or other government agencies—that is, the C.I.A. and its paramilitary employees—was brought to his unit for questioning. “They stressed him out so bad that the man passed away. They put his body in a body bag and packed him in ice for approximately twenty-four hours in the shower. . . . The next day the medics came and put his body on a stretcher, placed a fake IV in his arm and took him away.” The dead Iraqi was never entered into the prison’s inmate-control system, Frederick recounted, “and therefore never had a number.”

posted by y2karl at 10:48 AM on May 6, 2004


There had better be a scourging of the US military, from top to bottom..

It won't happen, and the Pentagon is investigating themselves. This is getting more and more disgusting day-by day, and god only knows what goes on in Guantanamo.
posted by amberglow at 10:54 AM on May 6, 2004


Yoz420:

Because of the situation in question, in theory, psychological shifts can occur.

The conclusion is not solidly supported by this as it states a possibility and not definitive causation.

When these shifts occur they are always due to extreme duress.

The word "duress" seems to have been used here to mean confinement, but in the next premise it would appear to have been used in the sense of illegal coercion. If you use a consistent meaning for this word, you are left with two choices for how your argument reads...

1) Because of the situation in question, in theory, psychological shifts can occur.
When these shifts occur they are always due to confinement.
[This woman was in this situation, so she was subjected to confinement.]

Therefore, even if verbal consent was given, it was invalid as it was given under confinement. Therefore this was rape.

-------or-------

2) Because of the situation in question, in theory, psychological shifts can occur.
When these shifts occur they are always due to illegal coercion.
[This woman was in this situation, so she was subjected to illegal coercion.]

Therefore, even if verbal consent was given, it was invalid as it was given under illegal coercion. Therefore this was rape.


Neither of which make sense, or are sound, respectively; for obvious reasons.

I'll only add a clarifying note - I consider starting to want to have sex with your guard to be a psychological shift, since I assume that prisoners do not enter confinement with that desire.

The assumption that people do not enter such environments with that intention, while basically reasonable, does not entail that they could never independently develop that intention. To remain consistent, you must hold that to enter such an environment without a certain desire, or even this specific one, and to develop that desire after having entered, is a psychosocial shift. If you do, it would be very hard to argue that all psychological shifts must be negative and/or brought about by any form of adverse pressure.
posted by ed\26h at 3:10 AM on May 7, 2004


I don't really understand why you took it upon yourself to redefine the term duress. Duress refers to the psychological pressure generated by everything that a detainee in a military prison undergoes. Not any single aspect of the situation, not only being denied the right to leave, not only being handcuffed, or interrogated, or any other thing you try to redefine the term as in order to overanalyse my point into meaninglessness. (OK, I understand why, really.)

The whole situation generates psychological pressure on the detainee. That pressure (aka duress) is necessarily unwelcome and negative. And therefore, any consent given in this situation is not true consent because of the duress. It affects all emotional processes.

But this whole argument is a tiny side point to the larger issue - the overwhelming likelyhood is that no form of consent was given at all.
posted by yoz420 at 9:27 AM on May 7, 2004


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