the wrong morons
May 11, 2004 9:46 AM   Subscribe

The Wrong Morons. (from the Army Times) "Around the halls of the Pentagon, a term of caustic derision has emerged for the enlisted soldiers at the heart of the furor over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal: the six morons who lost the war...But the folks in the Pentagon are talking about the wrong morons."
posted by Ty Webb (23 comments total)

 
And, by way of irony, here's an interview with Donald Rumsfeld from March 2003, regarding the treatment of American POWs held by Iraqi forces:

"I will say this, the Geneva Convention indicates that it's not permitted to photograph and embarrass or humiliate prisoners of war, and if they do happen to be American or coalition ground forces that have been captured, the Geneva Convention indicates how they should be treated."
posted by Ty Webb at 9:47 AM on May 11, 2004


In addition to the scores of prisoners who were humiliated and demeaned, at least 14 have died in custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army has ruled at least two of those homicides.

I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else. Are there other sources on this statistic? It's very troubling if we've got prisoners of war dying by our hands.
posted by mathowie at 9:56 AM on May 11, 2004


I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else.
are you kidding?
posted by badstone at 10:01 AM on May 11, 2004


Some google news searching turned up this NY Post article that quotes our Army claiming that 25 have died in our custody. Jesus, that sucks.
posted by mathowie at 10:01 AM on May 11, 2004


The fourteen dead POW's has been cited elsewhere. The most shocking part was the civilian contractor working for the CIA as an interegator who managed to kill his subject in the course of business.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:05 AM on May 11, 2004


Rumsfeld warned that we would probably see even more horrific evidence of abuse. During questioning at his press conference he was asked by one Senator if the investigation would go beyond just court martialing sergeants and privates. Now, a week later, I don't see much evidence that the Defense Dept. is going to do that.

But it is good to see that the Army Times is up to par on this.
posted by zaelic at 10:05 AM on May 11, 2004


There are two parellel observations that I've come by during the course of this ridiculous war that rather surprised me. First, never having been in the military I am continuously impressed by the prescience of people at the Army War College and many of the career military thinkers. At the same time, I have to admit to being shocked by the contempt thrown their way by the civillian leaders of the "National Security" Party (GOP). If you would have told me two years ago that I would ever have the kneejerk reaction that career military officials in the Pentagon ought to have more influence on policy, I would have called you crazy.

Rumsfeld warned that we would probably see even more horrific evidence of abuse.

Last night on Charlie Rose Tim Russert said that vidoes will be forthcoming on which Americans force Iraqis to fuck each other, and on which Iraqi guards under US command rape children. I do not know how much worse it could possibly get.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:07 AM on May 11, 2004


From the Washington Post's May 5th editorial page:

"Yesterday Mr. Rumsfeld told a television interviewer that he still hadn't finished reading it, and he repeated his view that the Geneva Conventions "did not precisely apply" but were only "basic rules" for handling prisoners. His message remains the same: that the United States need not be bound by international law and that the crimes Mr. Taguba reported are not, for him, a priority."

Vote for Kerry. Vote for a three legged dog. Just vote these bastards out, charge them with war crimes, and hope they get treated better in jail than the prisoners in those pictures.
posted by zaelic at 10:15 AM on May 11, 2004


I do not know how much worse it could possibly get.

It's not really a surprise to me. This is the first internet war. This kind of stuff has been going on since the dawn of man. The World Wide Web just makes it all available to everyone now. It was only when I got "connected" did I see a woman shit in the mouth of another person. I can't imagine how I would have ever been exposed to that otherwise.
posted by Witty at 10:22 AM on May 11, 2004


It's not really a surprise to me. This is the first internet war. This kind of stuff has been going on since the dawn of man. The World Wide Web just makes it all available to everyone now.

That's the best argument and hope for pacifism I've seen. Really, does anyone think this isn't inherent to war?
posted by dame at 10:28 AM on May 11, 2004


Ignatius -- politicians trumping professionals has been the sorry pattern of American military operations for the past 40 years.

The officer corps is exceptionally well educated, trained, and developed to provide thought leadership, and is frequently denied the chance to do so. The career NCO corps is similar developed to provide on-the-ground supervision, and fortunately, is given the freedom to do so.

We are now living with an even worse problem: the choice, made in the late 1980s and early 1990s in a bipartisan fashion, to draw down the regular armed forces and increasingly rely upon reservists and guardsmen as the resource for higher tempo operations. Guard and Reserve officers are somewhat out of the professional development mainstream. Far worse, though, is the fact that Guard and Reserve NCOs are a completely different breed from the career NCOs. Just as smart, and just as dedicated in theory, but there is just no comparing a Sergeant First Class who moves his family around the world every 24 months in service to a calling and a SFC whose principal vocation is selling cars or processing sales tax returns.
posted by MattD at 10:30 AM on May 11, 2004


From Seymor Hersch's article in the New Yorker this week.

NBC News later quoted U.S. military officials as saying that the unreleased photographs showed American soldiers “severely beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death, having sex with a female Iraqi prisoner, and ‘acting inappropriately with a dead body.’ The officials said there also was a videotape, apparently shot by U.S. personnel, showing Iraqi guards raping young boys.”

Soon after 9/11, as the war on terror got under way, Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly made public his disdain for the Geneva conventions. Complaints about America’s treatment of prisoners, Rumsfeld said in early 2002, amounted to “isolated pockets of international hyperventilation.”
posted by zaelic at 10:54 AM on May 11, 2004


1. Rumsfeld's war plan calls for low number of troops. At one point he estimated that 6 months into the Post-Saddam era, only 30,000 troops would be needed.

2. Army planners say waaay more troops are needed.

3. Iraqi prison scene of massive human rights violations, one major reason is because prison was totally understaffed due to troop shortages.

It seems to me that the planning for the war has been horrendous and the blame is directly with Rumsfeld. The abuses in the prison are a symptom of the larger disease of not having enough troops for the massive undertaking of policing and running Iraq. His plan sucked and he is directly responsible, not because he told someone to 'soften up' prisoners or whatever, but because he did not listen to the military when they told him they needed more people on the ground.
posted by chaz at 10:59 AM on May 11, 2004


The most shocking part was the civilian contractor working for the CIA as an interegator who managed to kill his subject in the course of business.

we'll soon see stuff beyond the usual boundaries for shocking. so horrible.

Video 'shows US man beheaded'
The victim said he was an American from Philadelphia
An Islamic militant website has shown a video purporting to show the beheading of an American in Iraq.

posted by matteo at 11:04 AM on May 11, 2004


"....I am continuously impressed by the prescience of people at the Army War College and many of the career military thinkers. At the same time, I have to admit to being shocked by the contempt thrown their way by the civilian leaders of the "National Security" Party (GOP)" (Ignatius J. Reilly)

My thoughts exactly :

The US military has not been ALLOWED to exercise it's competence in Iraq.

This is a through-the-looking-glass echo of the Vietnam War Era "The US military wasn't allowed to win in Vietnam" refrain except that.....

This new refrain, on the part of some on the US left and - increasingly - many in the US mainstream and on the US right, derives from the US Army War College assessment of what was necessary to prevail (that is, to keep the peace during reconstruction and while Democracy took root) in Iraq which were made prior to the invasion and ignored by Don Rumsfeld and the Bush Administration.

Many Americans opposed to the initial invasion and who are now arguing for and end to the spiraling disaster in Iraq have taken their cue directly from US Army assessments.

Odd. But fitting and proper as well.
posted by troutfishing at 11:15 AM on May 11, 2004


This is a through-the-looking-glass echo of the Vietnam War Era "The US military wasn't allowed to win in Vietnam"

I've had the same thought. From Bush's Meet the Press interview:

The thing about the Vietnam War that troubles me as I look back was it was a political war. We had politicians making military decisions, and it is lessons that any president must learn, and that is to the set the goal and the objective and allow the military to come up with the plans to achieve that objective. And those are essential lessons to be learned from the Vietnam War.

Yeah, it's just too bad some haven't learned those lessons.

Also, regarding the "six morons who lost the war" formulation, I can already see the meme spreading, the idea that everything was going just fine until those Abu Ghraib photos showed up. This will become an article of faith on the American right, occupying space on the shelf next other dearly held conservative myths like "Reagan won the Cold War," and "the Liberal Media."
posted by Ty Webb at 11:41 AM on May 11, 2004


Credit where credit's due. The six morons who lost the war: Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.
posted by rdc at 12:06 PM on May 11, 2004


"You are courageously leading our nation in the war against terror," [Bush] said to Rumsfeld. "You are doing a superb job. You are a strong secretary of defense, and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude."

Asshole.
posted by mkultra at 12:10 PM on May 11, 2004


Asshole.

which one?
posted by matteo at 12:39 PM on May 11, 2004


take yer pick...
posted by mkultra at 1:31 PM on May 11, 2004


I think MattD hit the nail on the head with this one.

The problem is the United States' ever growing reliance on using National Guard and Reserves in combat operations. Compared to regular Army, Navy and Marine troops, the reservists and National Guardsmen are shockingly unprofessional.

I was a member of the regular Army during Desert Storm, and say what you want about the US, but it's full time military forces are pretty much from top to bottom stocked with professionals. People used to being in the military 24/7.

When we would get reservists to train or who would interact with us, it was like night and day. In particular the NCOs and officers were completely unfamiliar with how to reliably command troops.

The chain-of-command, the military's primary communication and command method broke down here. Sergeants should have been reporting these abuses to their commanding officers, commanding officers should have been relaying these issues to high-level officers. But from what I've read, the commanding officers barely even paid attention to Abu Ghraib.

This complete breakdown in communication and command was also assisted with the loosey-goosey military intelligence and civilian 'interrogators' wandering around, who got their orders from god knows who.

There are a hell of lot more than 'six' morons, in the military shit rolls uphill, all the way up the chain-of-command. It's ludicrous to think that this is the work of just soldiers, it involves the soldier's NCOs, commanding officers, his commanding officer, all the way to rummy.

I'm angry about this, of course because of what actually happened, but because it casts a bad light on the US Army. The US Army is better than that.
posted by patrickje at 2:32 PM on May 11, 2004


CIA veteran Bob Baer says torture was forbidden when he worked for the agency. "Now contractors are sent out to torture people to death and then hide it."
posted by homunculus at 8:18 PM on May 11, 2004


Here, here, patrickje.

It's the same problem that exists in the corporate world (to borrow our "CEO President"'s analogy). In any business, it's often the freelancers/consultants who create legal/financial problems for the company, because the company tends not to educate its freelancers, let alone shield itself from liability, through appropriate training and documentation. Consultant down the hall downloading porn all day? Hey, no one told him he couldn't, and he never signed that IT Policy document.
posted by mkultra at 8:03 AM on May 12, 2004


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