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A leash to shake the White House ?
May 6, 2004 9:45 AM   Subscribe

"Pull out, pull out", she cried, "Before it's too late!" - Sex sells. Amidst the ongoing PR conflagration - as newly released imagery of the psychosexual humiliation, by US guards at Abu Ghraib, of imprisoned Iraqis (a naked Iraqi man on a leash held by a female American soldier, notably) provokes widespread outrage (and the Red Cross says things are much worse than those pictures show), the BBC reports on informed speculation that the perfect storm of a growing insurgency, political reversals, and a PR debacle will lead to a hasty coalition pullout from Iraq. A frustrated and tense "Machine Gun Cheney" achieves release, via his wheelbarrel load of 30 guns (including a Thompson), blasting away at a Secret Service gun range. His aim, they say, is very good. But will Cheney bite the bullet and level with the American public about what it will now take for the US to prevail in Iraq ?
posted by troutfishing (153 comments total)

 
And - just in case this doesn't immediately whack you in the head like a 2X4, remember - to call, or liken, someone to a dog is in most Islamic countries a dire insult. This is now a nuclear holocaust of a PR debacle.
posted by troutfishing at 9:52 AM on May 6, 2004


But - on the lighter side - I find the imagery of an annoyed Dick Cheney blasting away at a target range with a replica of a 1920's Thompson machine gun to be, in an odd way, quite funny.
posted by troutfishing at 9:55 AM on May 6, 2004


In this Middle East situation, what is bad for the Bush administration is unfortunately also bad for the United States.

Whether you despise Bush or otherwise, remember that gaiety in schadenfreude means real death for real people.
posted by four panels at 10:05 AM on May 6, 2004


Nothing makes a fat impotent jackass swagger like destroying paper targets with a machine gun.

As for the PR debacle, its been brewing for a while now and the Bush administration didn't do anything about it. They've know about the abuses for a while and had the pics as early as the 28th of April. And did nothing.

They seem to be either full steam ahead or DFS (dead f***ing stop) without any middle ground.

The pic of the naked prisoner on a leash held by the female guard is bizarre. What the hell were the soldiers thinking?
posted by fenriq at 10:06 AM on May 6, 2004


Four panels: Thanks for saying that. I am as much anti-Shrub as the next average MeFi, but sometimes the jubilation with which some embrace bad bush PR makes me a little sick.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:10 AM on May 6, 2004


four panels - Of course it does. Real death for real people has been ongoing in Iraq for a while now, and I suspect this is only going to get much worse from these revelations of torture. You saw humor but missed my deadly serious point

The situation in Iraq is spiralling - what can be done about this ?

Two solutions almost diametrically opposed. Both might work :

1) The US replaces Saddam Hussein, in a sense, and adopts similar methods - so creating a new regime of fear.

2) George W. Bush eats crow, apologizes to the Iraqi people and to the World, and proclaims a new course in which the US will relinquish absolute control in the Iraq, and in which the UN and troops for the Islamic world play a prominent role.

The US, however, will likely steer a course somewhere between these two poles - and this will be disastrous. To paraphrase a line from the Book of Jonah :

"Thou art neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. And because thou art neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee from my mouth!"

_______________________________________

My title was an oblique question, of a sort : what has given this story such legs - both in the US and the Islamic world - but the element of sexual perversion inherent in those pictures from Abu Ghraib ? There were accusations, by international NGO's, of hundreds of civilian deaths from US fire during the seige of Fallujah - that story, however, did not have legs in the US ( though it did in the Islamic world ).
posted by troutfishing at 10:21 AM on May 6, 2004


This is the first thing I have ever heard about Cheney that makes me less inclined to hate him (good taste in well-engineered guns is something to be admired). Also the first thing I've heard about him that makes me jealous of him - do you know the outrageousness of the hoops a normal civilian has to jump through to legally possess a fully automatic Steyr AUG (presumably the Austrian gun referenced) in the US?

Think moving to one of about thirteen specific states and starting your own gun business. That's about your only option. That frikkin' lucky bastard . . .
posted by Ryvar at 10:21 AM on May 6, 2004


Lazarushlong, if it makes you feel better, I am too sick to even mouth an "I told you the DOD was out of control". This situation is very, very bad for pretty much everyone except extremist-terrorists NOT in U.S. custody. I agree, we are all in this together.

I really do think I am going to be sick. One of the women in the last batch of photos is going to be a mother soon. I'd put post a link, but I really don't want to see her face again.

I can't fathom how angry I would be if this were my neighbours.

*slinks back to a dark corner*
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 10:23 AM on May 6, 2004


Anger, shame and disgust do not equal jubilation.
posted by y2karl at 10:23 AM on May 6, 2004


Don't misunderstand me, I recognize that this is bad for all of us. I was merely pointing out that, again, ShrubCo knew about the abuses and did nothing until the news broke.

Troutfishing, it is a funny image and then I remember just a few months ago when he went "bird hunting" and killed 70 birds that had been caged and released into his and his pals sights. Here's the original news story.

On Preview: Ryvar, its good to be able to make up your own rules, eh?
posted by fenriq at 10:23 AM on May 6, 2004


Oops. That should have been "troops from the Islamic World"

Ryvar - I've never seen a Steyr AUG, but I have seen a Thompson up close (but not fired it) and I thought it was an impressive gun - from an aesthetic standpoint, it was quite striking. Nice lines. Plus, it fires lots of bullets, fast. It seemed appropriate to Cheney, I thought.

fenriq - The target practice doesn't bother me at all, but that staged "hunting" just seemed mean to me.
posted by troutfishing at 10:32 AM on May 6, 2004


In this Middle East situation, what is bad for the Bush administration is unfortunately also bad for the United States.

We're working to fix this unfortunate fact come November.

If we do, then maybe, just maybe, the world will give us another chance. World opinion will be enabled to consider much of our retarded behavior of late an aberration, a stealth attack on the US by internal forces representing an idiotic fringe.

If we re-elect, we're basically standing on top of the enormous heap of our oafish, wanton blunders and saying, as a nation, "Guh, YEP! We shore be kickin' some sand nigger ass fer Jebus! Y'all don't like it kin go fuck yerselves, okay?"

If that happens then, yeah, a lot of American lives will end in the next few years. And the majority of the world will publicly or privately consider it justice.

I love America and despise its enemies, foreign and domestic. I consider the Bush administration to be the latter, and there has never, ever been a better time to get out the vote.
posted by squirrel at 10:41 AM on May 6, 2004


Oh - and in case someone didn't have time for that last link, it was a quote from the movie "The Battle for Algiers", ".... in which the French paratroop commander, Colonel Mathieu, responds to a journalist's question about the use of torture [ and concludes : ]

......"The problem is: the NLF wants us to leave Algeria and we want to remain. Now, it seems to me that, despite varying shades of opinion, you all agree that we must remain. When the rebellion first began, there were not even shades of opinion. All the newspapers, even the left-wing ones, wanted the rebellion suppressed. And we were sent here for this very reason.

And we are neither madmen nor sadists, gentlemen. Those who call us fascists today, forget the contribution that many of us made to the Resistance. Those who call us Nazis, do not know that among us there are survivors of Dachau and Buchenwald. We are soldiers and our only duty is to win. Therefore, to be precise, I would now like to ask you a question: Should France remain in Algeria? If you answer "yes," then you must accept all the necessary consequences."


"We are soldiers, and our duty is to win.....If you answer "yes", then you must accept all the necessary consequences." - Both chilling and true to Iraq, I think. If the Bush Administration wants to continue as planned in Iraq, Americans will need to accept the consequences.

And they will be ugly consequences, I can guarantee.
posted by troutfishing at 10:43 AM on May 6, 2004


four panels - Thanks for the reminder. Guilty as charged, I'm afraid. I often catch myself feeling momentarily happy whenever I read anything that means trouble for Bush. But, of course anything that means trouble for Bush usually involves death, destruction and/or the spending of obscene amounts of taxpayers' cash. So I try my best to squash the impulse.

Anyway, I'm sure all of this bad P.R. will be completely rubbed out and forgotten by that "EASE THE PAIN" photo currently leading on Drudge (which, if you haven't the pleasure, features Bush hugging a teen who lost her mother on 9/11 while making his "I'm sad" face).

Getting back to the matter at hand, though, I'm amazed that people, in this day and age, forget how easy it is for images to be disseminated across the globe in no time flat. I mean, according to these articles, soldiers were exchanging CD's full of these pictures...didn't they even worry about them getting out? Dumb, dumb, dumb...in addition to, you know, evil.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:46 AM on May 6, 2004


Death - Rated G

Sex - Rated R

Sex does indeed sell. The content of our spam tells us that sex sells very well. The advertisements for products through all venues tell us that sex sells very well. The story lines of popular TV shows tells us that sex sells.

Death, that is to be ignored and denied and trivialized. Death only happens to someone else. But sex, now that's something we can all identify with!

Hey, wing nuts! (you know who you are)
I thought the torture chambers were closed at this prison run by that evil Saddam monster?
So, who is running them now, then even so more evil Dear Leader?
Looks like the Commander-In-Chief needs to accept a little responsibility.
I bet Clinton did it too, huh? Maybe torture is not so bad when we do it then?
Geez, its quiet in here, where are those guys?
posted by nofundy at 10:51 AM on May 6, 2004


troutfishing, I've got no issues with target practice either, in fact, I rather enjoy it myself. It really is quite cathartic to blast away. Though I don't get to shoot the heavy hardware Cheney can.

The canned pheasant hunt was utterly abhorrent though.
posted by fenriq at 10:54 AM on May 6, 2004


squirrel - As a foreigner (Canadian), I have to tell you, we were amazed that you voted the guy in (well, not exactly, you know...) once, but I think a lot of us were willing to give you a pass because, let's face it, you were sold a false bill of goods (you don't hear the phrase "Compassionate Conservative" much these days, eh?). But this next time...I just cannot get my head around why anyone other than a fundementalist Christian or an ignorant hillbilly would vote for Bush.

Not that our own government is anything to be particularly proud of, mind you.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:55 AM on May 6, 2004


Tangentially, the Telegraph today published this disheartening piece on the background of one of the accused American soldiers. It made me slightly sick to the stomach. Who the hell is stupid enough to say things like that to a reporter, even if they are morally bankrupt enough to think them?
posted by mr_roboto at 10:57 AM on May 6, 2004


But - on the lighter side - I find the imagery of an annoyed Dick Cheney blasting away at a target range with a replica of a 1920's Thompson machine gun to be, in an odd way, quite funny.

And rather irrelevant to the PR debacle in Iraq.

Oh - and in case someone didn't have time for that last link

Trooout...c'mon, man. That looks an awful lot like you're trying to moderate the thread.
posted by Cyrano at 10:58 AM on May 6, 2004


Saddam's Torture Chambers & Rape Rooms - Now Under New Management !
posted by y2karl at 10:58 AM on May 6, 2004


Sex / Death

Reminds me of this old Herman comic (sorry, can't find this particular strip) where two kids are watching a violent cowboys and Indians show on TV, and one says to the other "I can watch all the violence I want, as long as everyone keeps their clothes on." Too true.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:59 AM on May 6, 2004


troutfishing: not to derail this thread too much, but the AUG is the undisputed king of 'nice lines' when it comes to assault rifles - it was one of the centerpieces cited when California enacted their laws against rifles that 'look scary'. It also competes with France's FAMAS for best bullpup assault rifle in use by a major army (Britain's LA-85 is an unqualified disaster).

Back on topic, though - I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion there there is no viable exit strategy at this point that leaves Iraq in any sort of good shape. While it's true America desperately needs a lesson in humility right now to prevent us from alienating the rest of the world any further - I just hope the cost of it isn't high as far lives of our soldiers go. I have some friends over there, for one.
posted by Ryvar at 10:59 AM on May 6, 2004


Oh my god, mr_roboto...that's the most depressing thing I've read in a long time, and all I do all day at work is read the news. Wonder if TIME would like to retract that "Person of the Year" award?
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:03 AM on May 6, 2004


It should also be noted that we went to war with Iraq 10 becasue of WMD, 92) Saddam in cahoots with Bin Laden, (3) bring democracy to the region...now, alas, Muslim states must sneer at all three notions since #3 was the rationale last used when the first and second rteasons were shown to be false.

One Dem on TV last evening made sensible remark when he suggested the prison be torn down--it stands both for Saddam's legacy and now for this crimminal behavior from Americans at same spot.
posted by Postroad at 11:05 AM on May 6, 2004


Cyrano - That last link was pretty crucial, I thought. But anyone's free to say whatever they like and - besides - I'm off to work.

Ryvar - Don't you think the cost would be higher if American troops stay? I don't see how they wouldn't be. But I also can't see how the US presence could possibly improve things in Iraq - that time, I'm suspect, has passed (I think it could have been had it been handled differently).
posted by troutfishing at 11:07 AM on May 6, 2004


Our 17500+ MeFi members, most of them American, need to start spreading the meme:

What goes around will come around. Choosing to not take action means choosing to accept the inevitable retribution, a toll to be paid in American lives: the lives of soldiers and the lives of civilians.

It is a choice.


Every American needs to think carefully about their choices: their choice to contact or not contact their local representative, their choice to contact or not contact their local media, and their choice in the next election.

Some of those choices will result in amends being made, the international community being appeased, and a reduction in the threat of retaliation from extremists.

Likewise, other choices will result in further terrorist attacks on American soil, further uprisings in American-controlled war zones, and a loss of trust in the international community.

The average American citizen CAN make a difference. Making that difference will require making an active choice.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:07 AM on May 6, 2004


That last link was pretty crucial, I thought. But anyone's free to say whatever they like and - besides - I'm off to work.

Fair enough. It was a good point, but if someone isn't going to read it in the post they'll probably glaze over it in the thread, too. Have fun at work.

And, sadly, I hear sentiments like the ones expressed in mr_roboto's link all the time at the local watering holes. For all of the talk about breakdowns in the chain of command or discipline, it just might be that some of those people did what they did because they wanted to or thought it would be a hoot.
posted by Cyrano at 11:17 AM on May 6, 2004


Larry King Live

KING: Let's go one by one. First, let's discuss the abuse of the Iraqi prisoners. I know you've called it despicable acts. Now, you've had a career in the military, served in Vietnam twice. Did you ever see anything like this?

POWELL: No.

KING: Ever have a subordinate do anything like this?

POWELL: No.

KING: What do you make of it. What's your view?

POWELL: I don't know what to make of it. I'm shocked. I mean, I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they're still to be deplored. And what happened in this particular instance, as best I know from the pictures, was just totally despicable. There's no way to describe it. And it isn't just the fact that soldiers did it, but no American should do this to any other person.

And so they not only violated all the laws of proper behavior and being a soldier, but it's just not something Americans should do...


Someone's wandered off the reservation in using the My Lai comparison.

Andrew Sullivan:

I wonder if Abu Ghraib isn't a turning point. I was glad the president went on Arab television to explain. I'm befuddled why he cannot simply apologize. Rumsfeld's blithe assertion that he hadn't even bothered to read the full Taguba report before a major press conference also cannot quite dislodge itself from my consciousness. I don't think Rummy gets it. Meanwhile, Peter Hart observes: "Voters see neither peace nor prosperity on the horizon." And Rove has spent $60 million to see Bush's ratings drop.
posted by y2karl at 11:18 AM on May 6, 2004


troutfishing, your lines from the Battle of Algiers are probably worth discussing more at length. Because it's long seemed to me that if we are ever to be successful at the sort of pacification of Iraq so many on the right seemed to think would be easy, then the insurgency will have to be put down as brutally as possible.

But to put the insurgency down as brutally as possible will force the "coalition," and the U.S. in particular, off of the moral high ground.

I mean, that's what's always separated "us" from "them," right? We're not animals in this respect. And that the only way, perhaps, to put down the rebellion is to adopt the tactics of those who until recently so offended our moral sensibilities is the REAL quagmire in Iraq, I think.
posted by kgasmart at 11:19 AM on May 6, 2004


I know things in a war zone are different. I know how soldiers are trained to not think about the enemy as people, so much as they are targets...but as more and more evidence about what happened in that prison comes out, I find myself asking what the hell could make a group of people behave in such a way that is so incredibly amoral (for lack of a better word).

Yes, I've read the study from the 60's or 70's about the college students pretending to be guards or prisoners...but this goes way, way beyond that. This, most of it, is purely sadistic...and it scares the shit out of me to think that we may have training that allows soldiers to think that this sort of sadism is acceptable.

I was also astounded to hear President Bush say that he didn't know about any of this until he saw it on the news. W.T.F? How did the commander in chief not know something that the Pentagon had for a month?

This whole Iraq situation just keeps getting worse and worse and there is no easy way out. A full withdrawal of forces will lead to a power vacuum the likes of which will make Lebanon in the 70's look pleasant. Iran would probably be willing to go and get some of what they consider "their" land back. So would Turkey. Syria would love to expand, and the Israelis are eyeing the area in the hopes that they can send the Palestinian Diaspora there.

These pictures have already planted the seeds of hate, rage and revolt in the hearts and minds of thousands and thousands of young Arabs. Those who might have been willing to support us, are very unlikely to come to our aid now...lest they been seen as traitors. As an example, think of Occupied France during WW2...the collaborators with the Germans were reviled and hated by everyone else. Most of them were killed or left the country once France was liberated.

And how history is changed, when we are the aggressors, we're the ones who took preemptive action, we're the ones using Saddam's jails in a way that would make Saddam proud...and yet, we tilt our heads and look confused when the population rises against our forces.

We aren't the good guys in this fight. I'm not sure there are good guys in this fight, to be honest. But I know that if my country were invaded, and pictures of my countrymen were displayed being abused with apparent glee by the invaders, I'd pick up a gun and join the revolution.

We can't win. We can only choose the extent of our failure at this point.
posted by dejah420 at 11:21 AM on May 6, 2004


Bush apologises.
posted by liam at 11:30 AM on May 6, 2004


Profile of the "torture woman"

"To the country boys here, if you're a different nationality, a different race, you're sub-human. That's the way girls like Lynndie are raised.

"Tormenting Iraqis, in her mind, would be no different from shooting a turkey. Every season here you're hunting something. Over there, they're hunting Iraqis."


via boing boing
posted by badstone at 11:41 AM on May 6, 2004


mr_roboto, that is one sad article. People are calling these abusive soldiers heros? It just goes to show, friends don't let friends marry their sister and make babies.

The copout of they were only following orders sounds an awful lot like what SS guards pled after WWII.

If they were only following orders then why are they so obviously enjoying the torture with thumbs up in all the pics?
posted by fenriq at 11:42 AM on May 6, 2004


actually, according to the article, Bush has said that he did apologize, which is not quite the same thing.
posted by chaz at 11:42 AM on May 6, 2004


The picture that is really telling is in the second link. There are nine soldiers, six of whom are nonchalantly going about their business totally oblivious to three naked men chained together on the floor. This puts an end to the speculation about "staged" photos or "just a few bad apples." The behavior was so common place that people basically acted as if this was a normal occurrence. Also note the man with the long rubber gloves and use your own imagination.
posted by JackFlash at 11:44 AM on May 6, 2004


Bush apologises.

did he still have that shit eating grin on his face when he did?
posted by badstone at 11:50 AM on May 6, 2004


I think that Rumsfeld owes us his resignation. I realize that his culpability is contentious, but I cannot see how a public servant could sidestep responsibility for something that is so damaging to his country.

At the very least, we need to show Iraqis that we are willing to take responsibility for our short-comings.

I have written to the White House, my congresswoman and Senators. I would suggest that other Mefites do the same.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 12:18 PM on May 6, 2004


(Slightly OT) Bush suprised me this week, not enough for me to actually like him, but he at the very least has answered one of my biggest criticisms. Bush, as Powell put it with his "Pottery Barn" rule, now owns Iraq. Unfortunately, he's treated it and its people with seeming disdain and kept the whole situation at arm's length. Him appearing on Arab television for an actual interview was brilliant.

Bushtards: you wanna take a step to fix the problem in Iraq? Get your fearless leader to address Iraq as part of his weekly radio address. Air it in Iraq. Get him talking to those people. Instead of working through 30-year exiles who have no pull with the communities, talk to citizens directly. I think it's a real problem that we've invaded and taken up residence in a country and its people have no idea what's going on. And I know that because I live here and I have no idea what the US Administration wants to do over there. Yeah, I know. They don't seem to have a clue what comes next either. Despite that, it seems to me that it would show a little respect if he didn't treat this whole invasion/occupation thing like some other department is responisible. This is Bush's war, it's Bush's Iraq.

It may never happen, he hardly talks to us about anything. We've got perky, young Scott McClellan to lie in his place. (Way OT: doesn't he make you pine for Ari Fleischer? They're both full of crap, but Ari was so much fun to hate.)

I can't stand the man, but if we don't succeed over there, pull out without some kind of established government --no matter who's elected in November-- we're fucked.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:27 PM on May 6, 2004


The House has approved a resolution condemning abuse of Iraqi prisoners. The text of the resolution likely won't be availalbe until Friday morning.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:27 PM on May 6, 2004


He didn't apologize to us, or to the Iraqis--he apologized only to the King of Jordan and for the humiliation people suffered (not the horrible actions we did) and that people had seen the pictures and misjudged us. There's a big difference. Why is the King of Jordan deserving of this half-assed apology, and not us or the Iraqis?

"I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families," the Republican president said during a Rose Garden appearance with the Jordanian monarch.
"I told him I was equally sorry that people that seen those pictures didn't understand the true nature and heart of America. I assured him that Americans like me didn't appreciate what we saw."

posted by amberglow at 12:32 PM on May 6, 2004


Why is the King of Jordan deserving of this half-assed apology, and not us or the Iraqis?

Pre-emptive strike means never having to say you're sorry. (my fave of the anti-war flyers plastered about Chicago)
posted by ao4047 at 12:35 PM on May 6, 2004


ao4047, my thoughts exactly.

Bush isn't apologizing for the torture. He's really only apologizing that the soldiers got caught doing it.

What a scumbag.
posted by fenriq at 12:42 PM on May 6, 2004


I agree with Amberglow. Bush owes us and Iraq an apology.

And Rumfeld owes his resignation.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 12:52 PM on May 6, 2004


This article, from yesterday's WaPo's Style section discusses the lies we in a democracy tell ourselves and how these photos make us confront the truth. Whatever good Americans do is because of the "American spirit." All of the evil is aberrant.
posted by callmejay at 1:05 PM on May 6, 2004


I just heard that Rush Limbaugh, that paragon of truth and honesty, has compared the torture of the Iraqi POW's to a fraternity initiation.

Um yeah, one's a latently homoerotic spanking by your "brothers" and the other is torture. Oh yeah, I see the comparison. Just squint a little, pop some more pills and it'll all become clear.
posted by fenriq at 1:10 PM on May 6, 2004


Meanwhile, Dr. Amer al-Saadi remains in solitary confinement.
posted by homunculus at 1:10 PM on May 6, 2004


Negroponte must go
posted by homunculus at 1:14 PM on May 6, 2004


fenriq, here's the best response to that shit
posted by amberglow at 1:18 PM on May 6, 2004


Here, here, amberglow. If that's what Bush considers an apology, we all would have been better off if he kept his mouth shut. What an asshole.
posted by mkultra at 1:31 PM on May 6, 2004


Simulated Prison in '71 Showed a Fine Line Between 'Normal' and 'Monster':
In 1971 researchers at Stanford University created a simulated prison in the basement of the campus psychology building. They randomly assigned 24 students to be either prison guards or prisoners for two weeks.

Within days the "guards" had become swaggering and sadistic, to the point of placing bags over the prisoners' heads, forcing them to strip naked and encouraging them to perform sexual acts...

Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo, a leader of the Stanford prison study, said that while the rest of the world was shocked by the images from Iraq, "I was not surprised that it happened."

"I have exact, parallel pictures of prisoners with bags over their heads," from the 1971 study, he said.

At one point, he said, the guards in the fake prison ordered their prisoners to strip and used a rudimentary sex joke to humiliate them.

Professor Zimbardo ended the experiment the next day, more than a week earlier than planned.

Prisons, where the balance of power is so unequal, tend to be brutal and abusive places unless great effort is made to control the guards' base impulses, he said. At Stanford and in Iraq, he added: "It's not that we put bad apples in a good barrel. We put good apples in a bad barrel. The barrel corrupts anything that it touches."
posted by languagehat at 1:38 PM on May 6, 2004


Languagehat, its interesting to get Zimbardo's input on this. Not that it makes it right by any means but the insight is valuable.

Its arguable that these soldiers were in an untenable situation and just adapted to it. But I think, even amidst the torture and abuse and humiliation there's got to be a voice inside each of them telling them that what they are doing is wrong.

Stanley Milgram's experiments come to mind as well.
posted by fenriq at 1:52 PM on May 6, 2004


They certainly do.

As for the little voice within, that's between them and their shrink/priest/mother. Psychology is overrated as a motive factor in life. Get the institutional structure right, and it doesn't matter much what your inner voice says, unless you're a raving psycho (and there will always be those). Get it wrong, and you get Abu Ghraib. We need to figure out how to get it right.
posted by languagehat at 1:56 PM on May 6, 2004


"Bush apologizes"

No. Not even close. The man does not have one contrite bone in his body. I don't think he even understands the concept of apologizing. Apologizing in private to someone from a different country than the one you abused? The man doesn't get it.

Just like he doesn't get it when he has his Arab interview on stations controlled by the U.S. rather than the stations Arabs actually watch.

Just like he doesn't get it when he says in the interview that the Iraqis need us to help them fight the foreign invaders.

Just like he doesn't get it when he describes his war on Arab terrorists as a crusade.

Just like he doesn't get it when he tells Iraqis we'll stay in their country until the job is done, and then describes a job that probably won't ever be finished.

Can anyone deny that our troops are spread too thin? Or that our efforts to win hearts and minds has failed utterly? Or that we don't seem to have been trying to win hearts and minds? Or that anti-American insurgents are being created faster than we could ever capture/kill them? Or that the cost of the war is growing beyond even the $87 billion in emergency funding they asked for? Or that this war is making the U.S. look like a horse's ass to everyone around the world?

Can anyone deny that the news from Iraq seems to be getting worse EVERY SINGLE DAY????

Now.......... [deep breath].......... What is the President's response? We will stay the course. We're making great progress. Americans don't abuse prisoners.

Gee. Thanks.

Is there anyone left who thinks the president gets it? I said it before the last election, and I'll say it again - You put this man in charge of the BBQ. You DO NOT put him in charge of the country.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:06 PM on May 6, 2004


trout baby, the "element of sexual perversion" is utterly unsurprising. Bullies everywhere quickly zero in on the shameful weak spots of their victims.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:15 PM on May 6, 2004


Its arguable that these soldiers were in an untenable situation and just adapted to it.

Would not put it past them that they have done similar things to US soldiers in US barracks on US soil. Like said above, bullies.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:28 PM on May 6, 2004


"Its arguable that these soldiers were in an untenable situation and just adapted to it."

This seems to have been the standard operating procedure ever since Bush declared major combat operations over. Do you suppose anyone in command at Abu Ghraib had heard of Dr. Zimbardo's study? If it's been known for 30 years that this sort of abuse will happen as a matter of course if you don't prevent it at an institutional level, then why did it happen?

Shouldn't someone in the chain of command been aware of this, and at the same time aware of how badly this would backfire? Did the people put in charge of the prison have *any* training and education on running a prison?

How could we have not had policies in place to prevent this when it is so damaging to our efforts?

How can we still not have electricity working in the capital? How can we have turned over a major contested city to one of Saddam's generals? How can we keep insisting we'll turn over power in less than two months as the possibility there will be something to turn it over to recedes?

How can the president not apologize? How?
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:35 PM on May 6, 2004


Also this has nothing to do with Bush. Have heard about similar stories dating back to the 60's. Ever been in a fraternity? Boot camps have significantly changed in the past 10 years too.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:37 PM on May 6, 2004


y6y6y6, they should have prevented it unless it was actually part of the standard operating procedure. Its easier to torture someone if you think there's an element of authority condoning your actions.

The president can't apologize because he's an unutterably arrogant bastard.
posted by fenriq at 2:39 PM on May 6, 2004


Also this has nothing to do with Bush.

This has a great deal to do with Bush. In his apology, he states fairly clearly that he is just one of us good Americans and not associated with those dreadful evil-doo-ers. Fact: He's the Commander in Chief of the US military. The buck stops with him. Period. That's why Rummy has got to take a long walk off a short plank if there is to be any semblance of military control in the current administration. Instead, Bush feels the pain of a Jordanian potentate, and distances himself from his obligation to the American people.

And all the while, Racicot and the attack chihuahuas claim that Kerry would make a poor Commander in Chief. Yes, this has a lot to do with GWBush.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:48 PM on May 6, 2004


A reaction to the apology from a writer on a muslim website (progressive stylee).
posted by Mossy at 2:53 PM on May 6, 2004


Rape Rooms: A Chronology - What Bush said as the Iraq prison scandal unfolded.

"We acted, and there are no longer mass graves and torture rooms and rape rooms in Iraq."—Bush, remarks at Victory 2004 Reception, Florida, April 23, 2004

"The pictures show Americans, men and women, in military uniforms, posing with naked Iraqi prisoners. There are shots of the prisoners stacked in a pyramid, one with a slur written on his skin in English. In some, the male prisoners are positioned to simulate sex with each other. And in most of the pictures, the Americans are laughing, posing, pointing, or giving the camera a thumbs-up."—Dan Rather, 60 Minutes II, April 28, 2004

posted by y2karl at 3:00 PM on May 6, 2004


"Also this has nothing to do with Bush."

I couldn't disagree more. The entire war has stunk of Bush's "Charge without planning. God is on our side. Stay the course" attitude. If this was an isolated incident, that is, if the rest of the war was actively winning the trust and respect of Arabs and Iraqis, I might agree with you.

Our soldiers will have died in vain if leave Iraq in a civil war, and overrun by terrorists.

If we can't win hearts and minds we will be forced to leave Iraq in civil war, overrun by terrorists.

I think the president should have made this priority one. Anything that humiliates and disgusts Iraqis will lead to failure.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:13 PM on May 6, 2004


This has a great deal to do with Bush. In his apology, he states fairly clearly that he is just one of us good Americans and not associated with those dreadful evil-doo-ers.

Look I've met soldiers like these criminal soldiers in Iraq. unfortunately their conduct is cheered by the moron in charge(ok you got me there) instead of disciplined. I know there are some truly bright wonderful men and woman serving in our military. These rotten apples are some of the reasons they leave the duty they love.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:21 PM on May 6, 2004


One thing that I could see Bush's failure here is his understanding of the Middle East and foreseeing that these acts are not carried out. Because he does do business with the Saudi's which would have enlighten him to the customs. But just saying Bush, you have to then take blame with the Pentagon stretching past his and his father tenure in the White House.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:27 PM on May 6, 2004


Seriously, no one here realizes the crap that recruits are bullied by? Again, there is a big difference now than say 10, 20, 30, and so forth years ago but it happens. In the buisness world it would be called hazzing.

Iirc Douglas MacArthur was almost killed his freshman year by West Point hazzing. That incident set precedence at West Point. Then when MacArthur ran the accedemy he made sure all hazing was stopped. Prior to WWII it was very ruthless & quite common in our US army.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:46 PM on May 6, 2004


West Point is, and should be, a crucible.
Iraq was a delicate situation we've let degenerate into quagmire.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:55 PM on May 6, 2004


Thomcat Spike-- you think (via Rush Limbaugh) that this is a fraternity prank?

I don't know what kind of f*cked up fraternity you joined, but I was never humiliated, abused, or harmed. There is also a difference: pledges volunteer and are free to leave.

If I saw pictures of Americans being sodomized and humiliated, it would take me a very large act of faith-- perhaps a resignation-- before I even tried to stop hating the perpetrators.

Your post is neither original nor profound. I hope never experience anal rape. I really doubt that it's a party.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:57 PM on May 6, 2004


hazing, seriously thought I corrected it.

West Point is, and should be, a crucible.
Training one to exercise discipline is different than inflicting a deplorable act. Hazing can be a deplorable act.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:03 PM on May 6, 2004


Thomcat Spike-- you think (via Rush Limbaugh) that this is a fraternity prank?
First these are my thoughts, couldn't tell you what channel Limbaugh is on. Next do you have family in the military? These are not pranks, they are deplorable and criminal offenses.

*Please never address me that way again.* Get a life, and talk to your fellow soldiers serving in our armed service and listen to the deplorable acts that are covered up on a daily basis.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:07 PM on May 6, 2004


gesamtkunstwerk go read a history book on the life of a US soldier in the 19 century. I wouldn't join a fraturniy if I had to.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:09 PM on May 6, 2004




gesamtkunstwerk WTF are you talking about. College and miliary service are two diffent things. This is nothing new other than it was done to Iraqis. If you read my comment you would have realized I did not support this but saying we have and have had some losers in our ranks. It's nothing new but did you care until now, obvious you think the world just became a bad place because Bush is President.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:13 PM on May 6, 2004


Anger, shame and disgust do not equal jubilation.

Saddam's Torture Chambers & Rape Rooms - Now Under New Management !


Yep, you're taking this as solemnly as can be. No smug self-satisfaction at all.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:18 PM on May 6, 2004


Your post is neither original nor profound. I hope never experience anal rape. I really doubt that it's a party.
gesamtkunstwerk notice your new, welcome. Please never talk to any member that way again.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:19 PM on May 6, 2004


Yep, you're taking this as solemnly as can be. No smug self-satisfaction at all.

Sarcasm that willfully and knowingly fails to recognize sarcasm, just to shame those we don't agree with. What is our moral state coming to?
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:25 PM on May 6, 2004


Saddam's Torture Chambers & Rape Rooms - Now Under New Management!

Yep, you're taking this as solemnly as can be. No smug self-satisfaction at all.


Not for nothing is Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss such a popular meme.

Since its unholy creation by the Brits, no occupier or ruler has managed to hold Iraq together without using fascist methods and terror tactics. I am still baffled as to why anyone is so surprised that a hostile environment of factionalism and resistance is tending to force the Coalition occupiers into behaving similarly to those that have gone before them.
posted by meehawl at 4:26 PM on May 6, 2004


Thomcatspike, I don't think the world became a bad place because of Bush being president but I definitely think there's a very strong argument to be made that its become a much worse place since he became president.

As for these guards being bad apples, that may or may not be. In positions of absolute authority, people, even good decent people, tend to become corrupted by that power they have over others. A few bad apples in the mix can accelerate the degeneration into the debacle that we're seeing unfold now.

Zimbardo and Milgram have pretty well proven that people are far more abusive than they appear on the surface.
posted by fenriq at 4:27 PM on May 6, 2004


"I told him I was equally sorry that people that seen those pictures didn't understand the true nature and heart of America. I assured him that Americans like me didn't appreciate what we saw."

Not that he ever was close to having me, even though as I thought experiment I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but that weasel rat fuck bastard lost me right there, too. Insincere sack of lying shit. 'I'm sorry you misunderstood how wonderful we are'? Fuck you, George.

[/rant]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:34 PM on May 6, 2004


fenriq I agree. Not to argue I could see it happening under any one of our Presidents today because of stories told by both men and woman in our Services. Maybe this will have a further effect than just in Iraq.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:52 PM on May 6, 2004


Since its unholy creation by the Brits, no occupier or ruler has managed to hold Iraq together without using fascist methods and terror tactics. I am still baffled as to why anyone is so surprised that a hostile environment of factionalism and resistance is tending to force the Coalition occupiers into behaving similarly to those that have gone before them.

I am baffled how anyone could write that and not recognize that maybe the real sign of such a factoid is that invading the fucking place is an inherently bad idea.

Forget just Iraq: With the possible technical exceptions of Vietnam and Germany, there is not a single country in the history of modern civilization that was overthrown, occupied, and converted to a subservient government by an outside force. Even the Third Reich was formed internally by the indiginous people, and its exterior overthrow led to fifty years of the most physically striking example of border conflict since the Chinese built the Great Wall.

Be it anyone from al-Qaeda to the French Resistance, the use of terrorist tactics have been most synonimous with resistance to said foreign occupation. Saying that the coalition is "being forced" into responding to that neglects the slight detail in that we invaded their country. That we have trouble trying to dominate the civilians isn't really some suprising revelation considering how in every modern instance of invading a country, civilian resistance is the one thing that always happened.

Donald Rumsfeld doesn't just need to be fired, he needs his ass in a goddamn high school history class.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:52 PM on May 6, 2004


XQUZYPHYR, not split hairs but Hitler was Austrian.
posted by fenriq at 5:08 PM on May 6, 2004


oops, not TO split hairs, damn dsylexia.
posted by fenriq at 5:09 PM on May 6, 2004


Much ado about nothing. The Army will imprison the soldiers and has relieved their commanders. Other than that, it is a hurricane only in the minds of a petty few, and both parties have already discovered that vehement anti-Bush hatred actually gets Bush more votes. The pro-Kerry haters will cost Kerry the election because they can't--are unable--to shut up. Don't believe me now, look at the actual vote, as the losers are desperate to fix blame on why he lost.

I suspect the female abuser was a psyop "add-on" to the original photos. The reason being that the same men who would die to become martyrs are scared beyond death that a woman will ever control or dominate them.

In the US, men are trained to become agitated when women are placed in situations of risk. But in much of the Mideast, women are despised as much as dogs and pigs. To be lorded over by one, especially one who sees herself as your superior, is truly "torture" to them. Inhuman torture.

Notice how specific the picture was: woman in t-shirt shockingly smoking a cigarette and making fun of men's genitals. There can be nothing worse. That is Hell itself.

If it wasn't a psyop, it should have been. The effect on enemy morale will be beyond devastating.
posted by kablam at 5:33 PM on May 6, 2004


XQUZYPHYR made me chuckle: I am baffled how anyone could write that and not recognize that maybe the real sign of such a factoid is that invading the fucking place is an inherently bad idea.

I am baffled as to why you would think I ever thought invading Iraq was a good idea?

I'm from Ireland, we wrote the book on resisting occupation, thanks very much. Much of what you wrote I myself have written earlier, though probably with longer paragraphs...

Like you, I do recognise that our postmodern world of incredibly cheap, incredibly cheap weaponry coupled with the ease-of-creation of cell-based networks and decentralized command sturctures makes the conquest, occupation, and pacification of any cohesive culture by another extremely difficult.

I think it is a problem of semantics. When I said "forced", I was speaking in a Foucaldian sense, in terms of the range of decisions available to any occupier within Iraq being contrained, being forced, into certain discursive formations by the power relations and carceral networks embedded within the various cultural groups that comprise Iraq.

Occupation and resistance follow pretty well defined scripts, and no matter how eager the actors may have been to ad lib, they quickly find their actions developing along predictable plot lines and presneting similar theatrical spectacles.

I am sorry to have confused you so much.

Perhaps I can establish my bona fides to your satisfaction by referring you to some earlier postings of mine? How about these?

May 2nd, 2003 - Iraq a Product of British Use Of Poison Gas RAF Tactics

September 18th, 2002 - Preemptive Attack On Iraq Now Likely

March 23rd, 2003 - Occupation of Iraq will inevitably lead to the emergence of a Gerry Adams/Vo Nguyen Giap-like figure due to natural selection.

It's been obvious for the last 10 years that the US aerial bombardment of Iraq would inevitably be followed by a positional war. Given the relentless military-industrial calculus of the US political establishment, this was inevitable. Anything else would be seen as defeat. Tariq Ali said it best:
In the last eight months of 2001, US and British pilots have fired 1,100 missiles against 359 targets in Iraq.

In October 1999 American officials were telling the Wall Street Journal they would soon be running out of targets.

"We're down to the last outhouse," they admitted.

By the end of the year, the Anglo-US airforces had flown more than 6,000 sorties, and dropped 1,800 bombs on Iraq.

By early 2001, the bombing of Iraq had lasted longer than the US invasion of Vietnam.
US-made weapons, rockets, gunships, jets and bombers have been bombarding Arabs with conventional and radiological munitions for two generations, either directly from US forces or proxied through friendly local puppet regimes and proxies. The US has effectively been at war with most of the Middle East for a long time - this current occupation should be seen as an exceptional event but merely the latest act in a long-running debacle where all sides are constrained, are forced, into historically familiar subject positions.

I will leave you to your discombobulation with thise bon mot I presented on February 28th, 2002, drawing a parallel between the current US attempts to establish new proxy regimes, and earlier attempts to do so:
In Vietnam, the United States pursued its interests, as it perceived them, throughout; and as its perceptions changed, so did its allegiances, as any great power's would. The rest was rhetoric ... What political lessons can we learn from this tangle? First, great powers are fickle, and only care about themselves, not their small allies of opportunity, the Generals Thieu and Thé of the present and future. Then again, there is no such thing as a trustworthy surrogate: they have wills of their own, aims that may coincide with their protectors' only in the short term, and an alarming ability to drag great powers into their quarrels and to change sides when the dollars dry up.
posted by meehawl at 5:39 PM on May 6, 2004




it's called denial, thomcatspike.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:47 PM on May 6, 2004


I suspect the female abuser was a psyop "add-on" to the original photos. The reason being that the same men who would die to become martyrs are scared beyond death that a woman will ever control or dominate them.

Sorry, mrgrimm, but kablam might have the lock on the Mefi 2004 Denial Award. And it's only May! Way to go!
posted by Cyrano at 5:50 PM on May 6, 2004


There is not a single country in the history of modern civilization that was overthrown, occupied, and converted to a subservient government by an outside force.

Oh and having thought further about this, and cognisant of the fact that, yes, both Nazism and Communism in Europe were ultimately defeated by, respectively, orchestrated violence and orchestrated indifference, I have unfortunately thought of a counter-example that me and Bush have already referenced:

The Philippines.

There the US did manage to create a vassal state largely pacified and aligned with US interests and receptive to US cultural exports. Of course, it did require a level of ruthlessness and disregard for both friend and enemy losses which the US has seemed singularly unable to countenance ever since. The US occupation of the Philippines took several generations, and killed several million people through famine, extermination camps, and mass executions, if I was an Iraqi I'd be worried!
During the war, 4,234 American soldiers were killed and 2,818 were wounded. Philippine military deaths are estimated at 20,000 while civilian deaths numbered in 250,000 to 1,000,000 Filipinos. U.S. attacks into the countryside often included scorched earth campaigns where entire villages were burned and destroyed, torture (water cure) and the concentration of civilians into "protected zones".
To emulate the Philippines model of bringing democracy, that is, to kill a similar proportion of Iraqis during the current occupation, the US will have to slaughter around 3.5 million Iraqis within this first year, and another 2 million over the next decade. Better get a move on!
posted by meehawl at 5:52 PM on May 6, 2004


(And should someone be tempted to bring up my comments in this thread, please keep in mind that I was of the opinion that those pictures were faked in their entirety, not that some cigarette smoking man with a good handle on Photoshop was tinkering with them...)
posted by Cyrano at 5:54 PM on May 6, 2004


"The effect on enemy morale will be beyond devastating."

Somehow I don't think the threat of being touched by women will make the people killing us put down their guns and go home.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:16 PM on May 6, 2004


Omar:
I guess my opinion would be biased, so I decided to offer you some of the responses I saw on the BBC Arabic which offers a comment section for Arab readers to post their opinions about the hot topics. There were about 30 comments today, since it's still fresh on the site. As usual, the comments from Iraqis-in general-contradicted those from other Arab countries, especially Palestine, Syria and Saudi Arabia. I also found that many of the commentators considered President Bush's speech an apology despite the fact that he didn't frankly apologize.
I've selected some of the comments for translation and it's worth mentioning that about 40% of the total number of comments was positive (sorry, I mean they were supportive of the CIA propaganda). Here are the translated comments:

-"Thank you Sir for apologizing on the abuse of the Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison. Here you opened an important file; I think that those criminals who were responsible for the mass graves in my country (who are now in your jails' cells) should apologize for their massacres against the Iraqi people".
Imad Al-Sa'ad - Netherlands.

-"Who reads the reactions of Iraqis will see how surprised they're by the way the Americans can prove that years of Saddam's rule and of his anti-American propaganda can be washed out by time; here we have the president of the greatest nation on earth apologizes for what a small group of pervert soldiers did. And here, the American press proves that it's free to show the truth. We lived with similar pictures for years until they became the basics of every prison's daily life and we never heard an Arabic paper point them out. These are lessons from the western culture entering the hearts of Arabs, whether the Arab leaders liked or not".
Sa'eed - Diwaniyah/Iraq.

-"I think that President Bush should talk to us to fill the gap between us and I wish I could see the Arab leaders talk to us like GWB did"
Jihad Abu Shabab - Germany.

-"I'm very happy to see Iraqis condemning the abuse and defending the rights of the prisoners and this is the first time they do something like this, which was impossible for them to do under the dictator's regime. I think that our Arab brothers should mind their own business and take a look at their own prisons".
N - Jordan.

-"I think that president Bush was honest in what he said. Those abuses do not represent the American people. As a matter of fact, we can find cruel men with no morals in any country; that's why we should not judge a whole nation for the violations of a small group of people and I'm sure that these will get the punishment they deserve. Here I'd like to direct my question to the Arabic media "where were you when Saddam mass-executed my people and used all kinds of torture against us?".
Reemon A'adel Sami -Iraq

-"I think that President Bush's statement will find acceptance from some of the Arabs, while the majority will not be satisfied with his words whatever apologies they included just because he is BUSH and he is AMERICAN. I'm sure that the American officials are more upset by the event than the Iraqis themselves because this doesn't belong to their culture or their ethics as a civilized nation.
I think that the event took more space than it actually deserves and the media are creating a mountain from a grain. It's enough for us to remember Saddam's doings to comment on what recently happened".
Sameer-Jordan.
Alaa:
Hi Friends,

Just to say Hellow and to let you know that I am still around. This latest fiasco smells to me. It smells really bad. Abuses there seems to have been, but who took the photos, and the timing, isn't it too convenient? But you must know this: All this has not shaken my support for the liberation one little bit, nor my absolute conviction of the justice and nobility of the "Project". If some of you have seen fit to appologize to us about the behaviour of some of your "scum"; we must also appologize to you for the behaviour of so many of our "scum".
It's funny. The left and John Kerry are now calling for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, because "if the buck doesn't stop with him, it moves on to the President." Metafilter, predictably, has already jumped to the Oval Office with the blame. In contrast to many spoiled Westerners, and unlike many Iraqis, I wouldn't expect or demand that a President be held responsible for the acts of a lowly few. It's not like President Bush himself ordered the abuse, and it's not like Bush or Rumsfeld violated the Geneva Convention with their own two hands. . . you know, like this guy did:

"There are all kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50 calibre machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search and destroy missions, in the burning of villages."

-- John Kerry, on NBC's "Meet the Press" April 18, 1971

So riddle me this, Batman. If Bush should eat crow and Rumsfeld should resign, why would we want to elect a man who has admitted to much, much worse atrocities?
posted by David Dark at 6:45 PM on May 6, 2004


Thomcat. I apologize for being harsh, and no, it's not because I loved fraternity life. (My frat turned coop and coed shortly after I joined). But I do think your post trivializes human rights abuses that have become endemic.

What really angered me about Limbaugh's (and your) comment, is trivializing the torture of unconvicted persons by calling bullying. A decision was made to use enemy combatants, and later civilians swept detained for misdemeanor offences, to mine for possible intelligence information. This was from the top down. I don't know of any cases where rape and abuse have been allowed to fester for three goddamn months until investigators take their sweet time.

I am angry that this was allowed to happen, but I am even angrier that once again, the Bush cadre is allowing rank and file to take the bullet. This has everything to do with Bush policy, Bush leadership, and Bush leadership.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:46 PM on May 6, 2004


Opps, I mean Bush polic, Bush leadership, and Bush incompetence.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:47 PM on May 6, 2004


Sarcasm that willfully and knowingly fails to recognize sarcasm, just to shame those we don't agree with. What is our moral state coming to?

Yep, because the posting history of many users here (such as the one whose comment I brought up) does not reflect perverted glee at the administration's slightest shortcomings in the LEAST. Thanks for setting me straight on that one. No more pointing out hypocrisy for me.

four panels hit it dead on, but you're welcome to enjoy your denial.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:50 PM on May 6, 2004


The military is a top-down organization similar to those used in multi-level marketing.

The rule of thumb in MLMs is to emulate your upline. To wit, your upline is, by definition, more successful than you. Ergo, to achieve the same success, you need to do what they did. The attitudes and behaviours of the downline closely mirror those of the upline.

Bush is at the top of the chain in the military upline.

I believe the downline is emulating him.

What we see in Iraq is, then, merely a mirror of what we see in the presidency. Bush is a mean-spirited, conniving, lieing bastard with a history of alcoholism, violence, and intolerance. Little fucking wonder, then, that his downline is the same.

A good leader would have made damn sure that his downline understood with crystal clarity what all was at stake, how to behave, and the consequences of misbehaviour.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:59 PM on May 6, 2004


Glad you got Alaa's name right, David, but like namespan asked in the other thread, what happened ? Are you now down with the Supreme Court ?
posted by y2karl at 7:19 PM on May 6, 2004


No more pointing out hypocrisy for me.

Not like you have a personal grudge in the matter.
posted by y2karl at 7:23 PM on May 6, 2004


And as long as we're recycling Iraqi bloggers from yesterday:

pro-American blogger Zeyad of Healing Iraq

You read him all the time--how about that An excuse uglier than guilt ?

riverbend

Iraqi Spirit

A Family in Baghdad

From a pro-American Kurd, Kurdo's World

Iraqi Passport

And not a Bahraini in the bunch.

You're presenting two voices to spin a contention that the Iraqis forgive us for Abu Ghraib. I present 5 that say they don't. That's seven voices. What does the last Iraqi poll, taken before Falluja, Najaf and Abu Ghraib say?

Two-thirds say soldiers in the U.S.-led coalition make no attempt to keep ordinary Iraqis from being killed or wounded during exchanges of gunfire.

58% say the soldiers conduct themselves badly or very badly.

60% say the troops show disrespect for Iraqi people in searches of their homes, and 42% say U.S. forces have shown disrespect toward mosques.

46% say the soldiers show a lack of respect for Iraqi women.

Only 11% of Iraqis say coalition forces are trying hard to restore basic services such as electricity and clean drinking water.


71% think of U.S. forces as occupiers, not liberators.

Take out the Kurds and it's 81%.

53% fear civil war if the coalition leaves.

57% want the coalition to leave.

Apart from the Kurds, whose lands we aren't occupying, we are not very popular with the Iraqis. And mind you again, that poll was taken before Najaf, Falluja and the Abu Ghraib pictures. I don't see any chance of an uptick in those numbers. And, let me quote again:

He's my friend. He'll continue to be my friend. I know his service was honorable. If that hurts me politically or with my party, that's a very small price to pay.

Senator John McCain

You may now continue carrying on the Rove-Stampley smear Kerry campaign on a volunteer basis, Mr. Gore Voter, even though this is not the topic here.
posted by y2karl at 8:21 PM on May 6, 2004


The rest of Kerry's comments. It pisses me off to even have to post them. The need of some people to play pretend political consultant is a soul-deadening thing:

"All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare, all of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this is ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down. And I believe that the men who designed these, the men who designed the free fire zone, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off the air raid strike areas, I think these men, by the letter of the law, the same letter of the law that tried Lieutenant Calley, are war criminals."

Meanwhile, he went on Meet the Press 30 years later to discuss these same comments.
posted by raysmj at 8:24 PM on May 6, 2004


I just realized that if Rumsfeld goes, Wolfowitz becomes Sec. of Defense--not a pleasant thought.
posted by amberglow at 8:24 PM on May 6, 2004


I am baffled as to why some of you seem to be attempting to make excuses. So fucking what if a couple of online pundits say they're still grateful the military is there? There is no excusing what has happened.

It particularly matters not one whit what anyone else did in the past.

And mannah from heaven could pour forth from soldiers asses, and endless bounties of gold from their guns, and the Iraqi people could be so grateful as to give us all blowjobs: what some of those soldiers did would still be WRONG.

The only important thing now is how it is dealt with.

posted by five fresh fish at 8:38 PM on May 6, 2004


In contrast to many spoiled Westerners, and unlike many Iraqis, I wouldn't expect or demand that a President be held responsible for the acts of a lowly few.

And why are we spoiled, David? Because we actually appreciate and enjoy our freedoms? Yes, I'm certain that to you, it sucks that we have such freedom in contrast to those who don't, and for us to hold our authoritarians accountable to do their jobs must really chap your ass. You do remember that the authoritarian in chief is the commander of the military, don't you? I agree that Bush did not order these crimes, but he is, quite in fact and legally, responsible for them. And what was his response? Apologizing to a foreign King. No apology to the Iraqi people, just lame explanations about democracy as he sees it; no apology to his bosses (that would be us, little fascist). Has he taken his Secretary of Defense to task? Nope. Has he issued strict orders and edicts about the consequences of misbehaving while attempting to win hearts and minds? None of that either. No, he's done nothing save distance himself from his responsibilities.

So here's your answer, Robin. We should trust a man who takes responsibility for his actions over one who does not. Seems pretty damn simple to me, when we're talking about the job of Commander in Chief. I do expect and demand that the Commander in Chief be responsible for those under his control. That you don't speaks volumes.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:40 PM on May 6, 2004




Yess, and as Juan Cole just noted:

On the other hand, one Muslim-American reader wrote in to suggest that for decades Israel helped spoil America's image in the Middle East by its determined colonization of Palestinian land since 1967 and by the brutality with which it often treated Palestinians under its Occupation. But now, in view of the events of the past year and especially the Abu Ghuraib photos. it may well be Israel's association with the United States that hurts Israel's image in the region.
posted by y2karl at 9:01 PM on May 6, 2004




"The hard fact is that the U.S. did install in Iraq an American-style approach to prison management. Like the U.S. prison system, it is underfunded and inadequately supervised, lacks civilian oversight and accountability and is secretive and tolerant of inmate abuse until evidence of mistreatment is pushed into the public light. That, regrettably, is the American model."
posted by homunculus at 9:12 PM on May 6, 2004


David Dark said: Why would we want to elect a man who has admitted to much, much worse atrocities?

Yes, it's easier to appoint self-confessed human rights abusers to positions of power...
I recall a phrase we used in the field, MAM, for military-age male," Powell wrote. "If a helo spotted a peasant in black pajamas who looked remotely suspicious, a possible MAM, the pilot would circle and fire in front of him. If he moved, his movement was judged evidence of hostile intent, and the next burst was not in front, but at him.

"Brutal? Maybe so. But an able battalion commander with whom I had served at Gelnhausen [West Germany], Lt. Col. Walter Pritchard, was killed by enemy sniper fire while observing MAMs from a helicopter. And Pritchard was only one of many. The kill-or-be-killed nature of combat tends to dull fine perceptions of right and wrong.
- Colin Powell in his autobiography, My American Journey

Here we have the current Secretary of State defending the random slaughter of unarmed Vietnamese civilians. A lot of people did a lot of very bad things in the Vietnam War, whether through choice or coercion, and doubtless a lot of our future political leaders are currently doing some very bad things in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is this inevitable? Is this regrettable? Is this a tragedy of human destructiveness that reproduces over generations? Maybe so.
posted by meehawl at 9:16 PM on May 6, 2004


I for one am more comfortable electing a leader who has made a frank and humble assessment of his past behavior and shown the respect to come clean with it than a leader who dodges, lies and creates willful confusion about his past behavior.

And, yeah, that goes for Clinton, too... lest you dittoheads see my declaration as merely an invitation to roast that old Lewinski chestnut again. Frankly, I long for the days when oral sex was the worst our President had to hide.

Someone please show me an example of Bush owning up to anything. And, no, his bizarre recounted apology to the king of Jordan(?!) does not count.

Please never talk to any member that way again.

tomcatspike, why are you flexing on the newbie? Speak for yourself, and let other user here say how they want to be addressed. You're just sore because he showed you up.
posted by squirrel at 9:31 PM on May 6, 2004




"I agree that Bush did not order these crimes, but he is, quite in fact and legally, responsible for them."

I'm reasonably confident Bush did not directly state that Iraqis were to be tortured and humiliated. Not in direct words.

I am also confident that Bush has, through his public actions, directly modeled dishonesty, disregard for international convention, and humiliation of others.

I am also confident that Bush has, in his private meetings with top brass, through expressed disinterest at the very least, and outright support, at the very worst, the suggestion that heavy-handed coercion and disregard for international convention be used in this war.

Bush is the ultimate upline in the military model. The military reflects its leaders. Puss does not fester without the support or complicity of the upline.

Like no other institution, the military is led. It's only as good as its leader.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:00 PM on May 6, 2004


The State Department plans to delay the release of a human rights report due out on Wednesday partly because of sensitivities over the U.S. prison abuse scandal in Iraq, U.S. officials said.
The officials said the report, "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2003-2004," was not ready to be sent to Congress and therefore could not be made public as planned.


I'd laugh at this, but it's too sad.
posted by amberglow at 10:23 PM on May 6, 2004


Not like you have a personal grudge in the matter.

Nah, you got it wrong karl. You and me - luv4ever. The fact that you see a simple joke as a statement of hostility is a far better indicator of personal grudges than a line on someone's profile. Oh, and it's nice to see you break out your favorite red fish yet again.


Here we have the current Secretary of State defending the random slaughter of unarmed Vietnamese civilians. A lot of people did a lot of very bad things in the Vietnam War, whether through choice or coercion, and doubtless a lot of our future political leaders are currently doing some very bad things in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is this inevitable? Is this regrettable? Is this a tragedy of human destructiveness that reproduces over generations? Maybe so.

The cycle of war is not a kind one. And I suspect that very few if any political leaders are spotless, but I think DD was referring to the hypocrisy and detachment from reality present among those now calling for Rumsfeld's resignation. "Treat every man after his desert, and who shall scape whipping?" What of the leaders you supported a few years ago? The ones you will support in the next election? There are two sides to the coin.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:44 PM on May 6, 2004


Krrrlson said:I think DD was referring to the hypocrisy and detachment from reality present among those now calling for Rumsfeld's resignation.

I think it's politics as usual - they smell blood and are eager for a scalping.

One thing that amazes me about your US leaders and their appointed lackeys is how singularly unwilling they are to admit responsibility, to resign, or to fire others. This weird reluctance invests their removal with great symbolic power, leading to amazingly obdurate behaviour.

What of the leaders you supported a few years ago? The ones you will support in the next election?

Oh I really don't think I supported any leaders a few years ago, or will support any in the near future. I cannot vote in the US - which is probably a blessing in disguise. Frankly, given the US's weird plurality system that delivers majority control to minority parties while eliminating most votes from meaningful consideration or representation, this probably stops me from becoming frustrated.
posted by meehawl at 11:09 PM on May 6, 2004


The fact that you see a simple joke as a statement of hostility is a far better indicator of personal grudges than a line on someone's profile.

Oh, I see--you can read my mind but you're misunderstood. Krrrlson the Gray Lensman with his mind shield and telepathic powers. Well, for a fact, I don't put petty crap up on my user page about the people with whom I've crossed swords in the past, Mr. Passive-Aggressive Perpetual Insinuator of Anti-Semitism on the Part of Other Members. Let's just shorten that to Mr. Passive-Aggressive Perpetual Insinuator for here--today's was No smug self-satisfaction at all. OK if I call you PAPI ? I didn't cast the first stone, let it be noted--it was you, PAPI. Poor misunderstood PAPI.

One thing that amazes me about your US leaders and their appointed lackeys is how singularly unwilling they are to admit responsibility, to resign, or to fire others.

I don't know if I would agree to that as a general statement but in the case of the present administration, it's a pathology.

What disgusts me is how the people on the bottom will be sacrificed for what are institutional flaws. People on the right are pretending it's a few bad apples when it is as languagehat quoted Zimbardo above--The barrel corrupts anything that it touches.

Read Some hand-written letters home from Sergeant Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II. (PDF) It's a letter home from a guy convinced he's being set up.

It will be like My Lai--the higher ranks will find some grunts and junior officers to walk the plank for carrying out their extra-legal policies and cover their asses. Or try to...

And, by the way, the head of Military Intelligence is evidently General My God Is Bigger Than Your God Jerry Boykin.

'Cooks and drivers were working as interrogators'

This is the new gulag

We are running a gulag of extra-legal secret prisons which are being slowly but surely brought into the light by the wonders of personal technology. People trading pictures like baseball cards is the constant theme.
posted by y2karl at 12:24 AM on May 7, 2004


No good can come from the fact that our soldiers (and their families) are reduced to giving the Nuremberg Defense.
posted by moonbiter at 12:31 AM on May 7, 2004


And as long as we're recycling Iraqi bloggers from yesterday?

You are the only one recycling bloggers' comments from yesterday, and some of those are from over a week ago.

You're presenting two voices to spin a contention that the Iraqis forgive us for Abu Ghraib.

No, that's not what I was doing. You should probably stop guessing my motives, as your track record is pretty ghastly when you do. I posted two new entries from today that were in response to the statement President Bush gave this morning (not sure how that could be misconstrued as recycling from yesterday. . . )The point was to show reactions on Bush's apology from the Iraqi world, which no one here really seemed to be wondering about in their holier-than-thou "I pay Bush's salary" bullshit rhetoric. None of your links addresses, nor was posted before, Bush's statement this morning. Mine are. Huge difference.

And, to quote you, dear karl: ". . .not too hard to figure out if one reads closely enough. Well, if one reads, period." Wulfgar! should probably call you a dipshit and a boatload of other curse names right now, but I won't.

See, Omar was translating reactions from BBC Arabic, and said:

"As usual, the comments from Iraqis-in general-contradicted those from other Arab countries, especially Palestine, Syria and Saudi Arabia. I also found that many of the commentators considered President Bush's speech an apology despite the fact that he didn't frankly apologize."

I thought it very much on topic, thankyouverymuch.

As to your month old poll (good thing you posted it yet again), here's what it says to me:

42% say the soldiers conduct themselves in a good or very good manner.

40% say the troops show no disrespect for Iraqi people in searches of their homes.

Keep in mind, it's a war zone and people are having their homes searched by foreign soldiers. It could be much worse.

58% say U.S. forces have shown no disrespect toward mosques.

Almost 3 out of 5. Pretty good, since the mosques are used as forts by the insurgents and therefore must be attacked.

54% say the soldiers show respect for Iraqi women.

They must. One Iraqi woman fell in love with a soldier and married him.
_______________________________________________

Metafilter: they smell blood and are eager for a scalping.
posted by David Dark at 12:33 AM on May 7, 2004


You don't present an argument, David, you present spin. It's painful to even attempt to work through it. It's old and boring and its only point, I guess, is to wear down those who read it, like a rope-a-dope strategy or something. The only thing is, I don't think it's a conscious strategy, which makes it all the more appalling.
posted by raysmj at 12:42 AM on May 7, 2004


I'm sorry, raysmj, I missed your argument. What was it again? And, I'm sorry you're bored with my presentations of the opinions of Iraqis, I guess they don't count as much as white skinned people to you, or something? Or since actual Iraqis are okay with being liberated and are more understanding of faux pas than Americans, they shouldn't be heard, or something? I'm not sure what you're saying, or why you're singling me out.
posted by David Dark at 1:04 AM on May 7, 2004


The voice of Iraq hath spoken, raysmj, why aren't you genuflecting to the self evident truth of it ? *snort*
posted by y2karl at 1:55 AM on May 7, 2004


Read Some hand-written letters home from Sergeant Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II. (PDF) It's a letter home from a guy convinced he's being set up.

The hand written stuff is a diary of events, almost like an official report, not a letter home. There are two emails home, markedly different:

1) email, dated December 18:
It is very interesting to watch them interrogate these people. I have made some really close friends. They usually don't allow others to watch them interrogate but since they like the way I run the prison they make an exception. . . We have a close bond with them since we help getting them to talk with the way we handle them. We have a very high rate with our style of getting them to break. They usually end up breaking within hours. . ."
Notice how he's taking credit for how great a job he's doing. ". . . the way I run the prison. . . We have a very high rate with our style. . .

2) email dated January 22: My how things have changed.
I am feeling so bad at how the Army has came down on me. They always said that shit rolls down hill and guess who is at the bottom? I have asked for help and warned of this and nobody would listen to me. I told the Battallion Commander that I didn't like the way it was going and his reply was don't worry about it I give you permission to do it. . ."
3) Hand written journal, dated 14 January on page 1. The allegations of abuse were made 13 January and the investigation began 14 January. He's already gotten into trouble, and now he's trying to find a way to blame others. This is evident in the second email, as well.

He doesn't ever say he's been set up, he just doesn't think he's done anything wrong. He was just "following orders." We all know that defense is not going to work. He implicates others, and they will likely all receive punishment, but he's not a scapegoat. He's one of the guilty. His commanding officers may be guilty as well, and time will tell, but if any lawyer or internet sleuth can chase this thing all the way up to Rumsfeld or Bush, then we should talk about resignations. Until then, this is just as meehawl says above, "politics as usual."
posted by David Dark at 2:23 AM on May 7, 2004


David: You can make a persuasive argument by acknowledging negative facts. Turning a sixty percent negative figure into a forty percent positive one reminds me of an early, chirpy yet macabre USA Today headline, "Miracle in Chicago: 23 die, 235 survive" or something to that effect, after a plane crash. You're talking like a political consultant, only you have no clients, and a bad consultant at that.
posted by raysmj at 9:01 AM on May 7, 2004


Another voice from Iraq that ought to be listened to. Hopefully fresh enough for David.
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:07 AM on May 7, 2004


gesamtkunstwerk, apology accepted and again welcome. Spell check offers to change your nic name to “gestations”, like that.

tomcatspike, why are you flexing on the newbie? Speak for yourself, and let other user here say how they want to be addressed. You're just sore because he showed you up.
Squrrel, don't pancake your comments by several facts. This is not your post to dictate nor will I have my words being falsely accused by a comment that showed the poster listens to Rush's spew. Which I will point were commented to attack me; the member listens to him, not me. Then about addressing other members, would have taken the rude comment about rape to Meta-Talk but it is not new and has been covered there many times over. What personal history do you know of the US Army and have of US soldiers fighting in Iraq? MYOB and quit trolling.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:30 AM on May 7, 2004


I'm curious about Rumsfeld's questioning by the committee this morning. I had to leave for work and couldn't wait to get past the pontification round.

Anyone got a breakdown on what he's said? His demeanor?
posted by fenriq at 10:05 AM on May 7, 2004


thomcatspike, I can't make out most of what you're gibbering about in the comment above--really--but I did get the MYOB part. When another user (i.e. you) deigns to speak for all other users (e.g. me) then that IS my business. You are, in effect, using me and other users as a chorus in your red herring attack on this poor newbie who, by the way, didn't say anything objectionable to anyone but you.
posted by squirrel at 10:05 AM on May 7, 2004


I'm curious about Rumsfeld's questioning by the committee this morning. I had to leave for work and couldn't wait to get past the pontification round.
Anyone got a breakdown on what he's said? His demeanor?


I'm watching now (day off--yay!)---first statements by Rummy and all the generals, then there were people shouting "War Criminal" and a foreign woman shouted "what about the other abuses in Iraq?" over and over while Rummy spoke--a lot of them-all escorted out...bla, bla, bla--"horrible, but we're investigating it all", they all apologized to the Senate for not informing them earlier (which is astounding)...Byrd (loving him) asked incredibly good questions Rummy couldn't answer (why, if they knew in Jan. wasn't the Senate told, why was it hidden, etc), McCain was very testy and also asked who was in charge, and Rummy didn't answer, Lots of senators are talking about Rummy's previous statements about Geneva Convention not applying...Rummy's testy, and looks like a little kid that got caught, but is still an arrogant ass...even Lieberman is giving it to Rummy as i type (but in a wimpy way)....Also--something about a RedCross report that's now secret or classified or something...

I think there's no way this will end here...and wait til the videos come out or get posted online.
posted by amberglow at 10:18 AM on May 7, 2004


squirrel go re-read your last comment, it's like a squirrel running on a hamster wheel, around and around going nowhere. You used and pancaked yourself not me.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:30 AM on May 7, 2004


Geez, if ol' Chinless Joe Leiberman's putting it to him, they really must be getting on him. Good!

Make that bastard squirm, make him put his feet in his mouth and force Bush to fire him!

Thanks for the update, Amberglow!

McCain has been one of the most interesting figures in all of this. He remains aligned with Bush but his fury is so readily apparent. I'd pay to see McCain and Rumsfeld in a cage match. Oh wait, McCain's probably afraid of cages, how about them in a field of daisys?

On Preview: Thomcatspike and Squirrel, take it somewhere else. This isn't the place for your pissing match.
posted by fenriq at 10:33 AM on May 7, 2004


amberglow could Rummy lose his position because of this?
posted by thomcatspike at 10:34 AM on May 7, 2004


Hanaa al-Wardi

The only way this feeling is going to be calmed is when I see Bush, Cheney and Wolfowitz naked with bags on their heads. You might think this is really harsh, but they deserve it. To treat the Iraqi people as totally subhuman, that's not right. Especially if you go in on the pretext that you are going to liberate them, give them a better life, give them freedom.

Here are Kevin Drum's conclusions

I think it misses the point anyway. Everyone is desperately trying to dismiss Abu Ghraib as an "aberration," nothing more than a "broken process" and a few rogue soldiers who are now being taken care of by the military justice system. But it just ain't so.

This kind of thing doesn't just happen. It happens because people order it to happen. So who gave the orders?

CIA or military intelligence, apparently. And probably someone pretty high up the chain of command. Is anyone trying to find out who?

Josh Marshall has a guess here. But shouldn't we knock off the charade of court martialing a few noncoms and reprimanding a couple of colonels and thinking this is over? This wasn't just a few bad apples, it was official policy. Who knew about it


Sgt. Frederick will be a scapegoat as much as Lt. Calley, for all the guilt of either party, if the buck stops with him or a few steps up. What is needed is an outside investigation.

Act Now or a Civil War May Hit Iraq By Anthony H. Cordesman

A year into the "war after the war," far too many U.S. officials are still in a state of denial.

They ignore the ABC poll conducted in February that found roughly two-thirds of Sunnis and one-third of Shiites to be opposed to the U.S. and British invasion and "humiliated" by it.

They ignore the fact that roughly one-third of Sunnis and two-thirds of Shiites support violence against the coalition and want coalition forces to leave Iraq immediately.

They talk about the insurgents as a "small minority" because only a small minority so far have been violent — a reality in virtually every insurgent campaign and one that in no way is a measure of support for violence...

In the weeks and months ahead, the United States must set realistic objectives to minimize the risk of civil war and help Iraqis take charge. This means turning the political and security effort over to Iraqis as soon as possible and supporting U.N. efforts to create Iraqi political legitimacy.

Key steps are:

• Accept the fact that there is no way to "drain the swamp." At this point, there simply is no way to eliminate cadres of insurgents or to disarm the most threatening areas. Fallouja and similar areas have too much popular support for the insurgents, there are too many arms that can be hidden and too many points of vulnerability. This does not mean the U.S. should give up fighting the insurgents. It does mean the U.S. must accept that it cannot win in the sense of eliminating them. Instead, it must rely on containment.

• Continue expanding the role of the Iraqi security forces and rush aid to them as quickly as possible. Understand that their loyalties will be divided, that putting them in charge of hostile areas does not mean that they can be expected to do more than work out a modus vivendi with the insurgents.

• Walk firmly and openly away from the losers in the interim Governing Council, such as Chalabi. Open up the political structure and deal with Shiite oppositionists, Sunni insurgents and ex-Baathists.

• Focus on all of the Shiites, not just the friendly ones. Quietly reach out to Iran to create whatever kind of dialogue is possible.

• Put an Iraqi on the stage with the U.S. spokesmen. Lower the U.S. profile in shaping the political future of Iraq.

• Revitalize the "road map" and the so-called quartet.

• Abandon the Greater Middle East Initiative in its present form. Stop talking about regionwide democracy and liberty before there are responsible political parties and other reforms necessary to make democracy work.

posted by y2karl at 11:20 AM on May 7, 2004


To treat the Iraqi people as totally subhuman, that's not right.
Feel they did it because they have and will do it to us everyday.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:24 AM on May 7, 2004


amberglow could Rummy lose his position because of this?
I don't think so...i think censure or a vote of no confidence from the senate is the most, if they can even do that. Someone here will know. I think some generals/right below general status may be removed by Rummy as a show, tho. I think Bush is the only one that can remove Rummy, and he never fires people (fool that he is--he'd protect himself by firing others, let alone all the incompetence shown since pre-9/11).
posted by amberglow at 11:52 AM on May 7, 2004


This guy has a different perspective, that the photos were taken and distributed in order to reverse the 'shame dynamic' which Army socio-scientists have identified as important in any war against Arabs.

LINK

posted by chaz at 12:39 PM on May 7, 2004


(Raimondo) "[It] looks to me very much like a black propaganda campaign designed to demoralize not only Iraqis but the entire Arab world. One major neoconservative talking point in the run-up to war was that the Arabs only understand the language of power: you can't negotiate or reason with them, you have to conquer them – and, once conquered, they have to be kept down."

I think Raimondo's argument is absurd. Iraq is not a prison - it's borders are highly permeable. The US doesn't have the troops to guard them. And....."demoralizing" the Iraqis ? I think that about 180 degrees off base.

They're becoming - along with the majority in the Islamic World - energized by outrage, and I've no doubt OBL is having a long, hard laugh at our (the US') expense.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Red Cross saw "widespread abuse" in Iraq
(Fri 7 May, 2004, Reuters, By Richard Waddington)

GENEVA (Reuters) - Iraqi detainees were subjected to "serious violations", with abuse so widespread it may have been condoned by U.S.-led coalition forces, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says.

Breaking with its usual vow of silence, the Geneva-based humanitarian organisation on Friday said visits to coalition detention centres in Iraq, carried out between March and November 2003, had shown infringements of international treaties on the treatment of prisoners of war.

In some cases, the ill-treatment was "tantamount to torture," particularly when interrogators were seeking information or confessions, the ICRC said in a report, parts of which were published in U.S. financial daily the Wall Street Journal......

"Our findings do not allow us to conclude that what we were dealing with at Abu Ghraib were isolated acts of individual members of coalition forces. What we have described is a pattern and a broad system," he said.

.....The humanitarian group also said coalition forces fired on unarmed prisoners from watchtowers and killed some of them, as well as committing "serious violations" of the Geneva Conventions governing treatment of war prisoners."

They fired on unarmed prisoners from watchtowers.

That sounds so......familiar.
posted by troutfishing at 1:38 PM on May 7, 2004


chaz, I could see some taken as proof for reporting the crimminal acts. Then some taken and staged for the purpose of future interrogations that would be used black mailing Iraqis into submission.

But mostly. Like Dr Hawkins theory why we will never time travel back in time. Besides being a society that will die out before harnessing the energy needed to accompish it. We are a society that likes taking pictures as souvenirs; you would be posing with men, women and children of the future today.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:42 PM on May 7, 2004


that we will die out
posted by thomcatspike at 1:44 PM on May 7, 2004


We are a society that likes taking pictures as souvenirs; you would be posing with men, women and children of the future today.
It's so true--i was reading recently that after lynchings people used to take souvenirs off the corpse, and take pics proudly posing next to it--ugh!
posted by amberglow at 1:52 PM on May 7, 2004


Those you kill, saddening & grouse. My brother's Iraqi pics only contained the living.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:00 PM on May 7, 2004


not that he had killed.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:31 PM on May 7, 2004


is he still there, thomcat?
posted by amberglow at 2:32 PM on May 7, 2004


ug, reads worse, he never fired a shot from any of his weapons, which was some a great solace for him upon returning.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:33 PM on May 7, 2004


He is done, reservist status, it will be years if he returns at this point. Currently enrolled training for a more humanitarian purpose that I feel was inspired by his missions in Iraq. Don't want to jinx his inspired mission in life so will just say: one who saves lives & property.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:38 PM on May 7, 2004


cool (that he's alive and well, and doing good in the world)
: >
posted by amberglow at 3:03 PM on May 7, 2004


Lack of protection

The bar association's 110-page report, released last week, leaves no doubt that the practices revealed at Abu Ghraib violated both U.S. and international law. During the preparation of that report, Horton and his colleagues were more concerned with practices in Afghanistan and Guantánamo than in Iraq. What they have learned recently, however, suggests that questionable practices and attitudes toward prisoners stem from broad policy decisions made at the very highest levels of the Defense Department.

Indeed, Horton says that the JAG officers specifically warned him that Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith,one of the most powerful political appointees in the Pentagon, had significantly weakened the military's rules and regulations governing prisoners of war. The officers told Horton that Feith and the Defense Department's general counsel, William J. Haynes II, were creating "an atmosphere of legal ambiguity" that would allow mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Haynes, who was recently nominated to a federal appeals court seat by President Bush, is responsible for legal issues concerning prisoners and detainees. But the general counsel takes his marching orders from Feith, an attorney whose scorn for international human rights law was summed up by his assessment of Protocol One, the 1977 Geneva accord protecting civilians, as "law in the service of terrorism."

How did the "permissive environment" that encouraged rampant criminality and cruelty arise at Abu Ghraib? According to the JAG senior officers who spoke with Horton, Pentagon civilian officials removed safeguards that were designed to prevent such abuses. At a detention facility like Abu Ghraib, those safeguards would include the routine observation of interrogations from behind a two-way mirror by a JAG officer, who would be empowered to stop any misconduct.

The JAG officers told Horton that those protective policies were discontinued in Iraq and Afghanistan. They said that interrogations were routinely conducted without JAG oversight -- and, worse, that private contractors were being allowed unprecedented participation in the interrogation process. Moreover, the contractors who participated in the interrogation of Iraqi prisoners were operating in a legal twilight zone, says Horton.

"The Uniform Code of Military Justice, which governs the conduct of officers and soldiers, does not apply to civilian contractors," he adds. "They were free to do whatever they wanted to do, with impunity, including homicide."

If that seems hard to believe, it is apparently true that the contractors are exempt from prosecution by Iraqi and U.S. courts and not answerable to those within the military chain of command. Kenneth Roth, the director of Human Rights Watch, has suggested, however, that under the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. government "nonetheless remains responsible for the actions of those running the detention facilities, be they regular soldiers, reservists or private contractors."

In practice, the changes in oversight appear to have blurred authority and accountability at Abu Ghraib. Along with the lack of proper supervision and training of the Army reservists who ran the prison, these changes resulted in lawlessness and atrocious abuse.


A few soldiers and their immediate commanders? Unlikely. The fish rots from the head.
posted by y2karl at 4:27 PM on May 7, 2004




Marine Reservists Face Charges in Iraqi Prisoner Death

of Iraqi prisoners at Camp White Horse was allegedly carried out by U.S. Marine reservists. The accused reservists have told their lawyers they were given orders to "soften up" the men in their custody for interrogation by what were known as human exploitation teams from military intelligence.

After the prisoners were allegedly softened up, "the interrogations were conducted by these human exploitation teams that as far as we can tell didn't report to anybody in the normal chain of command," according to Don Rehkopf, an attorney for one of the accused reservists.

According to the military autopsy report obtained by ABC News, Hatab's death was ruled a homicide, caused by strangulation, the result of a fracture of a bone in his throat. The medical examiner testified it took him hours to die.

"He was … covered in sweat and feces. It was a little hard to get a grip on him so he was moved by essentially hauling him backward by his jaw, kind of holding him onto his lower jar and upper part of his head," said Jane Siegel, attorney for the former officer in charge at Camp White Horse, against whom charges have been dismissed.


UK forces taught torture methods

The sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison was not an invention of maverick guards, but part of a system of ill-treatment and degradation used by special forces soldiers that is now being disseminated among ordinary troops and contractors who do not know what they are doing, according to British military sources.
The techniques devised in the system, called R2I - resistance to interrogation - match the crude exploitation and abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad.

One former British special forces officer who returned last week from Iraq, said: "It was clear from discussions with US private contractors in Iraq that the prison guards were using R2I techniques, but they didn't know what they were doing."

He said British and US military intelligence soldiers were trained in these techniques, which were taught at the joint services interrogation centre in Ashford, Kent, now transferred to the former US base at Chicksands.

posted by y2karl at 8:08 PM on May 7, 2004


There is a solution to all this.

Bush, as the representative for the entire military, should take full responsibility. He should make a direct apology. And he and his administration should resign.

He'd truly be playing big. The impact would be enormous. It would commandeer a ton of respect, and he'd probably go down in history as the man with big brass balls.

Of course, he should simultaneously hand military leadership over to one of the top-ranked military chiefs, with the explicit mandate to find out wtf was going on and to eliminate the problem entirely. And with the explicit mandate to get Iraq's infrastructure patched up, and control handed back over. It's time to get out.

The US can hold elections within a month or two. I doubt the country will fall apart in that time.

Hell, Bush would probably get elected back in, just out of respect for his brass balls.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:11 PM on May 7, 2004




"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."
posted by troutfishing at 7:40 AM on May 8, 2004






Nice dream, five fresh fish. But, alas...
posted by squirrel at 10:02 PM on May 9, 2004


carried out by U.S. Marine reservists
Wait, you are not a "reservist" if you are actively serving in Iraq. Unless things have changed since my brother was there. Reservist can only work for 50 some odd days a year so their status is changed to active if they are on a tour of duty. So these men must have done this while being active then upon returning placed back to reserve status then now have been charged.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:22 PM on May 10, 2004


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