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The Road To Abu Ghraib
October 27, 2004 9:03 AM   Subscribe

The Road To Abu Ghraib A generation from now, historians may look back to April 28, 2004, as the day the United States lost the war in Iraq... It was a direct—and predictable—consequence of a policy, hatched at the highest levels of the administration, by senior White House officials and lawyers, in the weeks and months after 9/11. Yet the administration has largely managed to escape responsibility for those decisions; a month from election day, almost no one in the press or the political class is talking about what is, without question, the worst scandal to emerge from President Bush's nearly four years in office... Given the particular conditions faced by the president and his deputies after 9/11—a war against terrorists, in which the need to extract intelligence via interrogations was intensely pressing, but the limits placed by international law on interrogation techniques were very constricting—did those leaders have better alternatives than the one they chose? The answer is that they did. And we will be living with the consequences of the choices they made for years to come.
posted by y2karl (33 comments total)

 
Philip Carter also has written about the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo several times at his Intel Dump and Slate.

In recent news, the logic of empire continues:

U.S. Action Bars Right of Some Captured in Iraq
posted by y2karl at 9:05 AM on October 27, 2004


Amnesty International condems U.S. for human rights abuses.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:17 AM on October 27, 2004


condemns
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:19 AM on October 27, 2004


Hey, not to derail, but Bush just came out about the missing explosives:

“This investigation is important, and a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not the person you want as your commander in chief,” said Bush.

Irony, anyone?
posted by fungible at 9:40 AM on October 27, 2004


Carter's Beltway logic is impeccable, and I wish more Americans would see things as he does.

Don't forget, though, that there are millions and millions and millions of people in Flyover Country - and I knew hundreds of them personally in my Midwestern Years - who see nothing wrong with torturing the enemy ("terrorists" or "Iraqis" or "Muslims"). These people will be voting for George W. Bush next week.

If I were back in Indiana right now, I don't know what I would say to them. I'll tell you what, though: the phrase "international law" wouldn't pass my lips. Sorry for the stereotyping, but it's true. For millions of Americans, simply using the word "international" brands you as a lily-livered commie nigger-loving going-to-hell faggot.
posted by kozad at 9:50 AM on October 27, 2004


For millions of Americans, simply using the word "international" brands you as a lily-livered commie nigger-loving going-to-hell faggot.

Or a damned godless liberal. I'll take each and all those labels rather than join the ranks of the willfully ignorant hordes of stupid fat white racist homophobic reckelss blinded morons. :-)
posted by nofundy at 9:56 AM on October 27, 2004


The Frontline last night about Rumsfeld's War seemed to heavily hint that Abu Ghraib was his responsibility.

They showed a memo he wrote about torture that considered some of the same sort tactics used to be admissible. Since Rumsfeld doesn't use a chair at his desk but rather stands up all day, he didn't see why a prisoner couldn't be forced to stand up for 12 hours a day.
posted by destro at 10:10 AM on October 27, 2004


ouch.
posted by petebest at 10:14 AM on October 27, 2004


Rumsfeld doesn't use a chair at his desk but rather stands up all day...

Say, does anyone know anything about Rummy's relationship with G. Gordon Liddy? Because in Liddy's first novel, there's an evil Soviet-planted industrialist bad-guy [hey, it's not my novel, don't ask me] in that book who works standing up all the time, at least partly as a way to keep subordinates and business counterparts off-balance.

... see nothing wrong with torturing the enemy ("terrorists" or "Iraqis" or "Muslims").

Maybe they should have an Army or Marine commander explain to them that if we torture theirs, they'll torture ours -- and they won't be nearly as nice as we were. (Which wasn't very.)
posted by lodurr at 10:22 AM on October 27, 2004


Huh, not to put too fine of a point on it but the Iraq War 2 was lost on March 19, 2003.
posted by filchyboy at 10:35 AM on October 27, 2004


Maybe they should have an Army or Marine commander explain to them that if we torture theirs, they'll torture ours -- and they won't be nearly as nice as we were. (Which wasn't very.)

That idea is so sensible it makes one think there should be an international agreement along those lines...
posted by Turtles all the way down at 10:39 AM on October 27, 2004


willfully ignorant hordes of stupid fat white racist homophobic reckelss blinded morons.

Every one of those words is usually perjorative, except "white." I wonder what it's doing in that list...
posted by Kwantsar at 10:45 AM on October 27, 2004


Since Rumsfeld doesn't use a chair at his desk but rather stands up all day,


posted by matteo at 11:05 AM on October 27, 2004


... there should be an international agreement along those lines...

You keep saying things like "international" -- you must want some kind of "global test" for our torture methods....
posted by lodurr at 11:05 AM on October 27, 2004


Is it true we're sneaking prisoners out of Iraq now?
posted by amberglow at 11:08 AM on October 27, 2004


Abu Ghraib Guards Kept a Log Of Prison Conditions, Practices

...The Army soldiers, some of whom have been charged by the military with crimes for the abuses, logged a stream of mysterious and unregistered inmates held by unnamed U.S. government agents, a group of "ghost detainees" who were locked behind a row of 10 solid iron doors.

References to "OGA," for Other Government Agency, appear throughout the logbook, meaning agencies such as the CIA and FBI, which had operatives in Iraq looking for the highest-value targets. "We didn't know anything about them," said one MP from the 372nd, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of ongoing investigations. "We called them X-Men. They were there, but they weren't there."

The soldiers also wrote about unclear orders being passed down orally from military intelligence officials to "put pressure" on detainees of high intelligence value -- though none of the entries referred directly to the abuses made internationally infamous in digital photographs and in reports arising from multiple military investigations.

"MI handlers will be turning on heat to this one," reads an entry at 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 12, referring to inmate No. 152529, identified in investigative documents as Asad Hamza Hanfosh. In a statement, Hanfosh alleged that soldiers stripped him, beat him and left him shackled naked to his bed overnight. "Sleep management program was requested but paperwork has not been approved yet," the entry reads.

The Post obtained a digital copy of the logbook by e-mail and took several steps to verify its authenticity. Pentagon officials said the Criminal Investigations Division evidence tag on the log's back cover, dated Jan. 19, matches the tag placed on the original logbook. Army officials who reviewed a copy of the logbook said its contents appeared to be consistent with what investigators have learned about the prison.


Federal Government Turns Over Thousands of Torture Documents to ACLU

List of (and links to specific documents) Records Released in Response to Torture FOIA Request
posted by y2karl at 11:21 AM on October 27, 2004


Every one of those words is usually perjorative, except "white." I wonder what it's doing in that list...

Just sitting there with the smiley face emoticon and hanging out with the misspelled reckless and talking about how to spell pejorative.
posted by nofundy at 11:22 AM on October 27, 2004


not to mention, how to spell "hemorrhoids"
posted by matteo at 11:34 AM on October 27, 2004


It's pretty easy to see why this isn't a major campaign issue. It simply doesn't resonate with the American people. After all, for the Kerry campaign to run with this the argument would basically be "Let's be nicer." The Bushies would have a field day with that, and make Kerry look like even more of a sissy than they already have.

I have to say, the Bush campaign seems much more on top of things than their counterparts. The consensus is that Kerry clearly won the first debate, but "Global Test" is what everyone remembers.

This ability to communicate their message - even from a weak point - is why I think Bush will win on Tuesday.
posted by b_thinky at 11:59 AM on October 27, 2004


He won't. Their message isn't getting through anymore, and the news each day out of Iraq is getting worse and worse.
posted by amberglow at 12:18 PM on October 27, 2004


I have to say, the Bush campaign seems much more on top of things than their counterparts.

We shall see:

Washinton Monthly -

THE MINORITY VOTE....Hmmm. Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio has just finished a survey of 12 battleground states and finds Bush and Kerry tied with 47% of the vote apiece. But when he weights for minority turnout based on the 2000 exit polls, Kerry is ahead 49.2%-45.7%. And when he further updates the weighting to take into account the most recent census results, Kerry is ahead 49.9%-44.7%.

As Fabrizio blandly puts it, "It is clear that minority turnout is a wildcard in this race and represents a huge upside for Sen. Kerry and a considerable challenge for the President's campaign." More accurately, if Fabrizio is right — that Kerry is ahead by 5% overall in the battleground states — Kerry is a sure winner on November 2.

Suddenly the Bush campaign's obsession with challenging voters in minority neighborhoods makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? Their own internal polling is probably telling the same thing that Fabrizio's poll says: unless they somehow manage to keep the minority vote down, they're doomed.

posted by y2karl at 12:26 PM on October 27, 2004


If Kerry wins the election, I am certain that "faithless electors" will try to install Bush anyway. What happens after that is anyone's guess.

Abu Ghraib will haunt us for decades to come. We will pay in blood, and lots of it.
posted by beth at 1:08 PM on October 27, 2004


Since Rumsfeld doesn't use a chair at his desk but rather stands up all day,

i always thought sitting all day was way worse than standing.

i prefer to work standing up (without a hood), but only if the desk is adjustable.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:26 PM on October 27, 2004


y2karl - I'm pretty sure that Kerry will win, but I've heard that the black vote is polling at close to 20% for Bush. That's about twice what he got last time. I know there are lots of other minorities, but that might put a wrench into Fabrizio's numbers.

The pundits are suggesting Bush is doing so well because blacks strongly support his radically conservative social agenda. So, I guess for around 10% of the black voting population, they hate gays more than they hate whitey.
posted by willnot at 1:59 PM on October 27, 2004


"Sleep management program was requested but paperwork has not been approved yet," the entry reads.

I just had a flash to Brazil:
Sam Lowry : I only know you got the wrong man.
Jack Lint : Information Transit got the wrong man. I got the *right* man. The wrong one was delivered to me as the right man, I accepted him on good faith as the right man. Was I wrong?
posted by lodurr at 2:20 PM on October 27, 2004


glowing propaganda about rumsfeld (real link via Audible.com)

CHOICE HIGHLIGHTS
- he's the master of the one-handed pushup

- he co-owns a ranch with Dan Rather

- the portrait they paint is that of the human dynamo

- he loves all of life

- who's mind can truly be described to "sparkle"

- to understand Rumsfeld, you have to understand his greatest passion - wrestling

posted by nyoki at 3:14 PM on October 27, 2004


glowing prais about rummy in rumsfeld's war (real link via Audible.com)

CHOICE HIGHLIGHTS
- he's the master of the one-handed pushup

- he co-owns a ranch with Dan Rather

- the portrait they paint is that of the human dynamo

- he loves all of life

- who's mind can truly be described to "sparkle"

- to understand Rumsfeld, you have to understand his greatest passion - wrestling


contrast with last night's FRONTLINE documentary by the same name
posted by nyoki at 3:16 PM on October 27, 2004


The CIA's Disappeared

...While blaming the crimes at Abu Ghraib on a small group of low-ranking soldiers, the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA have fought to preserve the exceptional and sometimes secret policies that allow U.S. personnel to violate the Geneva Conventions and other laws governing the handling and interrogation of foreign detainees. Under those policies, practices at odds with basic American values continue -- even if there are no sensational photos to document them.

The latest example concerns "ghost prisoners," suspects captured in Iraq and Afghanistan who are interrogated by the CIA in secret locations, sometimes outside those countries, and whose identities and locations are withheld from relatives, the International Red Cross and even Congress. For all practical purposes, they have "disappeared," like the domestic detainees of some notorious dictatorships. The first official Army investigation into the abuses at Abu Ghraib called this practice "deceptive, contrary to Army doctrine and in violation of international law." Yet, according to reporting by The Post's Dana Priest, the CIA subsequently transported as many as a dozen more "ghost detainees" out of Iraq to interrogate them in its secret prisons.

posted by y2karl at 3:45 PM on October 27, 2004


thanks y2k--that's what i had just heard.
posted by amberglow at 3:57 PM on October 27, 2004


but I've heard that the black vote is polling at close to 20% for Bush. That's about twice what he got last time.

Where did you hear that? Reuters/Zogby has 90% for Kerry.Kerry has consolidated his base support just as Bush did early in the race, taking a 2-to-1 lead among Hispanics, 90 percent of blacks, 84 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of union voters and 65 percent of singles.

I can't imagine that after Florida, Trent Lott, etc, Bush would gain Black votes.
posted by amberglow at 4:20 PM on October 27, 2004


sleep management program
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:25 PM on October 27, 2004


I think I heard it on NPR, but here it is Confirmed on Salon, it looks like it was sort of a sketchy poll
Yet a recent poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies shows that while black Americans have an incredibly low opinion of President Bush -- giving him just a 22 percent approval rating -- they have yet to warm to Democratic challenger John Kerry. In 2000 the Democratic nominee, Al Gore, got 80 percent of the black vote to Bush's 9 percent. This year, the center's polling shows Kerry at just 68 percent while the president has doubled his share to 18 percent.
It could have been a push-poll or something.
posted by willnot at 5:50 PM on October 27, 2004


It's not a push poll. It's more like a quadrennial sampling of black attitudes toward political and public figures. Questionnaires, responses and final reports are available there in PDF format, so judge for yourselves if you like.

[...] This is an updated version of a document that was prepared for a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation forum held on September 10, 2004. This version incorporates material from a completed questionnaire received from President Bush’s campaign staff on September 7, 2004. [...]

Me, I'm sure enough black homophobes exist to raise Bush's numbers slightly, but I'm not so keen to believe that figures from early September, a mere week after the Republican National Convention and pre-presidential debates, offer particularly telling (or even currently operative) insights into African-Americans' attitudes on the election.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 6:22 PM on October 27, 2004


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