HRW report
April 23, 2005 4:47 PM   Subscribe

A year after the Abu Ghraib photos were widely circulated, and a few days after most of the low-ranking officers blamed were let off, Human Rights Watch releases a report clearly implicating the entire chain of command, and strongly urges the investigation of Donald Rumsfeld and George Tenet. (Full report here) Just some bad eggs, eh?
posted by bumpkin (32 comments total)

 
Related: Intel Dump blog talks about how letting off the officers will affect command responsibility and troop morale.
posted by event at 5:10 PM on April 23, 2005


...the legal principle that holds a superior responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates...

What's that? The Geneva convention or something? (spits milk out the nose laughing)
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:12 PM on April 23, 2005


StickyCarpet, it's no joke. See the last part of this entry in the US Army's Field Manual on the Law of Warfare. (Cited in the Intel Dump link above.)
posted by event at 5:24 PM on April 23, 2005


Oh, come on guys. Like the Human Rights Watch knows anything about Human Rights. Pfft.
posted by graventy at 5:29 PM on April 23, 2005


LOL StickyCarpet
posted by joedharma at 5:59 PM on April 23, 2005


Is Human Rights Watch suggesting that officers are responsible for their subordinates? Is that how things work in the army? I'm confused.
posted by joedharma at 6:02 PM on April 23, 2005


No no no, you've got it all wrong. Officers are only responsible for their bad egg subordinates if they themselves are also bad eggs. Geez.

Or is it apples?
posted by odinsdream at 6:13 PM on April 23, 2005


Is anyone actually surprised that no one above sergeant has been held responsible? Seriously. Responsibility is this Administration's kryptonite -- they won't go near the stuff.
posted by clevershark at 6:16 PM on April 23, 2005


clevershark writes "Responsibility is this Administration's kryptonite -- they won't go near the stuff."

But, but, Donald Rumsfeld .accepted res[pnsinbility.

And then George Bush said he was the greatest Secretary of Defense EVAR.

And then we had an "accountability moment"!


Seriously: The sad fact is that America knows we torture -- not just a Abu Ghraib, but at Guantanomo and in every "extraordinary rendition" -- and the American people like it that way. After all, Muslims are evil and they're trying to blow us up, and principles aren't nearly as desired ans is a little temporary security.

If all the Cohens have to go to the camps to "protect" our American way of life, then America is happy to fill the boxcars and resolutely ignore the black smoke from the chimneys.

Who protested the genocide of the Native Americans while the genocide was happening? Who cared about the bondage of the African, until that bondage seemed to threaten Northern jobs? How many protested Mitchell Palmer's deportation of Emma Goldman? Why did it take thirty-eight years after Japan's unconditional surrender for a US court to clear Fred Korematsu's name?

We're all "Good Germans" now, and we'll go on being so until the current crisis is over. And then our great-grandchildren will learn that we "overreacted" and "mistakes were made". Because "good, solid" citizens know not to notice the crematory smoke-stacks until long after the Jews are gone and the camps have been closed.
posted by orthogonality at 6:35 PM on April 23, 2005


Orthogonality, you speak as if that kind of behavior isn't universal in human society. Americans suck because people suck--ultimately we're still all controlled by that little lizard brain in our skulls, whispering for us to stick to our own little breeding groups and eliminate outside threats.
posted by schroedinger at 7:04 PM on April 23, 2005


Rumsfeld promised he would get to the bottom of this affair. He never promised he would get to the top.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:08 PM on April 23, 2005


schroedinger, you're right. But if anyone has been wondering what life in Germany circa 1939 was like, you can stop now. You're soaking in it.
posted by words1 at 7:26 PM on April 23, 2005


wow, you were there?!
posted by quonsar at 8:49 PM on April 23, 2005


Said this in another thread but I think it applies here: the top-down model of responsibility is anything but.

Those on top "accept responsibility" (not in a European way -- no one resigns) and the public instantly understands that this is symbolic responsibility -- we don't really expect the leader/general/secretary to know all the details of everything that happens under him. Meanwhile, those mid-level monkeys get off because, after all, the man in charge has accepted responsibility. No need to look any further.
posted by dreamsign at 10:23 PM on April 23, 2005


Americans suck because people suck

What a grand statement of ignorance.

I met three Marines the other day who came up to Canada for a quick vacation after getting back from Iraq. I've been spending quite a bit of time with them. It's been a total learning experience for me. I really believed we (Canadians and Americans) had a lot more in common than we do.

They were really surprised to find we can walk down the street smoking a joint and all a cop will do is ask us to take it to a lane or something. We can appreciate a gorgeous woman and not fear that her boyfriend will punch us, for it is truly a compliment. We go to sleep at night thinking of all the things we like, and not what we hate. We're proud to be a somewhat socialist democracy as supposed to a somewhat fascist republic.

Wake up peoples. For serious.
posted by futureproof at 12:39 AM on April 24, 2005


They were really surprised to find we can walk down the street smoking a joint and all a cop will do is ask us to take it to a lane or something.

That's totally awesome man.

We can appreciate a gorgeous woman and not fear that her boyfriend will punch us, for it is truly a compliment.

No way dude.

We go to sleep at night thinking of all the things we like, and not what we hate.

Tubular!

Wake up peoples. For serious.

Are YOU serious? I mean, really, what the ding-dong are you talking about? Fuckin' Canadians.
posted by Witty at 12:58 AM on April 24, 2005


ultimately we're still all controlled by that little lizard brain in our skulls, whispering for us to stick to our own little breeding groups and eliminate outside threats.

ie, lazy.
posted by Satapher at 1:02 AM on April 24, 2005


a few days after most of the low-ranking officers blamed were let off

I would hardly call a lieutenant general (Sanchez) a low-ranking officer.
posted by caddis at 3:44 AM on April 24, 2005


Canadians are so desperate to differentiate themselves from Americans (by which I mean citizens of the United States) that they have a law requiring radio stations to stop playing so much American music.

Sorry to bring futureproof's off-topic hysterics back into the conversation, but histrionic and flailing anti-Americanism from Canadians really bothers me.

I think Canada's great. I spent some time there myself and I know it's not the 51st state, but I actually find far more similarities between Canadians and Americans than differences. And I don't go to sleep at night stewing in hatred.

Back to the matter at hand, I think orthogonality may have overstated his case a little, but generally I agree.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:00 AM on April 24, 2005


Sorry to bring futureproof's off-topic hysterics back into the conversation, but histrionic and flailing anti-Americanism from Canadians really bothers me.

Why does it bother you so - is it too close to the truth?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:29 AM on April 24, 2005


"They hate us for our freedoms" my left asscheek.
posted by ilsa at 11:33 AM on April 24, 2005


Nothing I said was anti-american.

If you're happy living in a country where you go to jail for smoking pot, get punched in the face for looking at women, and revel in all things you hate, then rock on brother.
posted by futureproof at 12:03 PM on April 24, 2005


Canadians are so desperate to differentiate themselves from Americans (by which I mean citizens of the United States) that they have a law requiring radio stations to stop playing so much American music.

Not true. We have a law requiring a certain amount of Canadian music.

Also, I have no wish to differentiate myself from the citizens of the United States. It's the fascist-corporatism my dope smoking hippy socialist self has a problem with.

For what it's worth, which might be nothing, I was once a card carrying federal Progressive Conservative, so trying to make me out to be Jeff Spicoli's twin doesn't really fly.
posted by futureproof at 12:12 PM on April 24, 2005


Umm, Sanchez got off free.

And Don Rumsfeld is the moral equivalent of OJ looking for the murderers.
posted by bardic at 12:12 PM on April 24, 2005


futureproof: "If you're happy living in a country where you go to jail for smoking pot, get punched in the face for looking at women, and revel in all things you hate, then rock on brother."

Somebody had a really awful experience in a border town somewhere, methinks.

PurplePorpoise: "Why does it bother you so - is it too close to the truth?"

Yes. If he continues to spout the truth, futureproof will foil our evil plot to punch Europe in the face when it looks at our girlfriend the wrong way, thus causing them to dream about hateful things.
posted by koeselitz at 12:13 PM on April 24, 2005


I've never had a bad experience in America.

I'm only echoing the voices of the US Marines I met the other day. One was from San Diego, one from Utah. Both expressed that it's not a good idea to look at a cute girl if her big beefy boyfriend has his arm around her. Both expressed stories of friends getting punched in the face for doing so. My friends and I explained that it would be an extremely rare occurrence for that to happen here. Both the Marines were awestruck.

I didn't mean to derail this thread. My appologies. I thought I might throw in a quick thought, but it didn't go over well with some.

So.. Rumsfeld and Tenet. Will they feel any heat? Should they? Are they bad eggs or true American heros?
posted by futureproof at 12:28 PM on April 24, 2005


Here's the thing -- human rights advocates ought to forget all about pursuing Tenet and Rumsfeld, and focus all their energy on backing efforts to destroy terrorists wherever they can be found.

And I say this not because I don't admire, in a certain way, their zeal and their principals, but because if there's another 9/11-level event, what will happen next is make Abu Ghraib look like a picnic, and there will absolutely nothing that HRW and its fellows will be able to do to stop it.
posted by MattD at 2:54 PM on April 24, 2005


Here's the thing -- human rights advocates ought to forget all about pursuing Tenet and Rumsfeld, and focus all their energy on backing efforts to destroy terrorists wherever they can be found.

.....I don't really see that human rights advocates can do much in terms of backing efforts to destroy terrorists, given that that's NOT THEIR JOB. The entire point of a human rights organization is to make sure that human rights are appreciated. Hunting down terrorists and "smokin' them out" is a job for, oh, I dunno, the Army? Someone with guns? That's like saying, all of those Greenpeace people should just forget about the environment and start working on giant cloud-cities, because if there's another tsunami, WHO KNOWS what we'll do!
I'm not going to be pissed that my plumber is trying to fix my toilet when someone needs to fix the heat in my house.
posted by 235w103 at 4:35 PM on April 24, 2005


Here's the thing -- human rights advocates ought to forget all about pursuing Tenet and Rumsfeld, and focus all their energy on backing efforts to destroy terrorists wherever they can be found.

Terrorists 1 : Lovers of freedom 0;

Bring on the next round.
posted by futureproof at 6:31 PM on April 24, 2005


...because if there's another 9/11-level event, what will happen next is make Abu Ghraib look like a picnic

Assuming that you mean we would annihilate a lot of people, MattD, the next question you should ask yourself is whether we would therefore deserve another 9/11-level event, if that is how we would react?
posted by Rothko at 10:12 PM on April 24, 2005


Truly sux, 'cause even the high-ranking officers don't make policy.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:04 PM on April 25, 2005


histrionic and flailing anti-Americanism from Canadians really bothers me

Then you should come visit and appreciate the generally calm loathing.
posted by dreamsign at 9:42 PM on April 25, 2005


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