Chain Of Command
May 9, 2004 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Chain Of Command
(More Inside)
posted by y2karl (36 comments total)
Another Chain of Command-- This one comes with a picture:

One of the new photographs shows a young soldier, wearing a dark jacket over his uniform and smiling into the camera, in the corridor of the jail. In the background are two Army dog handlers, in full camouflage combat gear, restraining two German shepherds. The dogs are barking at a man who is partly obscured from the camera’s view by the smiling soldier. Another image shows that the man, an Iraqi prisoner, is naked. His hands are clasped behind his neck and he is leaning against the door to a cell, contorted with terror, as the dogs bark a few feet away. Other photographs show the dogs straining at their leashes and snarling at the prisoner. In another, taken a few minutes later, the Iraqi is lying on the ground, writhing in pain, with a soldier sitting on top of him, knee pressed to his back. Blood is streaming from the inmate’s leg. Another photograph is a closeup of the naked prisoner, from his waist to his ankles, lying on the floor. On his right thigh is what appears to be a bite or a deep scratch. There is another, larger wound on his left leg, covered in blood...

The photographing of prisoners, both in Afghanistan and in Iraq, seems to have been not random but, rather, part of the dehumanizing interrogation process. The Times published an interview last week with Hayder Sabbar Abd, who claimed, convincingly, to be one of the mistreated Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib photographs. Abd told Ian Fisher, the Times reporter, that his ordeal had been recorded, almost constantly, by cameras, which added to his humiliation. He remembered how the camera flashed repeatedly as soldiers told to him to masturbate and beat him when he refused.

U.S. soldiers tell of more Iraq abuses

"It was not just these six people," said Sindar, the group's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons specialist. "Yes, the beatings happen, yes, all the time."

Some say investigators went out of their way to keep the allegations under wraps. When military investigators were looking into abuses
several months ago, they gave U.S. guards a week's notice before inspecting their possessions, several soldiers said.

A year of warnings

When potential problems were pointed out by lower-ranking officers and enlisted men and women, nothing was done to correct them. The chain of command inside the many battalions and companies under the umbrella of the 800th was a failure, the interviews and the report show.

When former Master Sgt. Lisa Girman, of Pittston, Pa., an expert on military prisons and a Pennsylvania state trooper, told Newsday she informed a superior about her concerns over conditions at Camp Bucca near Basra in Southern Iraq, she said he told her, "If you're going to cry, take your weapon and go back to your tent."

Some commentary:

BBC News: Mid-East press spurns Bush apology

The Price of Arrogance

Leave process aside: the results are plain. On almost every issue involving postwar Iraq--troop strength, international support, the credibility of exiles, de-Baathification, handling Ayatollah Ali Sistani--Washington's assumptions and policies have been wrong. By now most have been reversed, often too late to have much effect. This strange combination of arrogance and incompetence has not only destroyed the hopes for a new Iraq. It has had the much broader effect of turning the United States into an international outlaw in the eyes of much of the world.

U.S. officials refuse to take responsibility

But it is the failure to take responsibility for anything that has become the Bush administration's hallmark. The military did its job. The Army's report on the abuse was completed in February, but the top brass and the Bush administration didn't act until CBS broadcast the pictures. For the White House, that was a familiar response. Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who ran the Iraq prisons, also claims no knowledge of the abuses taking place under her watch. Karpinski has done little to promote equality of the sexes in the military, except in showing the same eagerness to disavow responsibility. Of course, President Bush doesn't claim responsibility, either. The bad news didn't work its way up to him, just as the threat of al-Qaida didn't seem to register. No one in the Bush administration admits mistakes. That policy trickles down.

No Good Defense

Donald Rumsfeld likes to be in total control. He wants to know all the details, including the precise interrogation techniques used on enemy prisoners. Since 9/11 he has insisted on personally signing off on the harsher methods used to squeeze suspected terrorists held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The conservative hard-liners at the Department of Justice have given the secretary of Defense a lot of lee-way. It does not violate the spirit of the Geneva Conventions, the lawyers have told Rumsfeld, to put prisoners in ever-more-painful ''stress positions'' or keep them standing for hours on end, to deprive them of sleep or strip them naked. According to one of Rumsfeld's aides, the secretary has drawn the line at interrogating prisoners for more than 24 hours at a time or depriving them of light.

The minister of ambiguity

''The real issue," he said, ''is that a secret report was given to the press." It is hard to know what the real issue is here. Is it the abuse of prisoners or the leak to the media of the proof of that abuse? Is it the inadequacy of words to describe inhumane behavior? Rumsfeld said this at one point Friday, explaining why the gravity of the situation didn't hit him until he saw the pictures. He didn't look at them until Thursday night.

Official U.S. Reaction Compounds the Rage

After every dreadful event in Iraq, the administration's reaction reveals its dangerous attitude: It's all about the United States. Already, we have a pile of news articles and commentary on the effects the prisoner abuse scandal will have on the future of the occupation, U.S. credibility, Bush's chances for reelection and the reputation of the Army. What's missing is anything about the scandal's effect on the hearts and souls of the Iraqis. They are the ones who will carry the scars of this sad episode for generations to come.

U.S. officials' pretentious displays of disgust over the abuse photos have frustrated and angered Iraqis. They know that steps taken in early days of the U.S.-led occupation made it inevitable that such atrocities would occur. Most notorious was Bremer's Order No. 17, which immunized all foreign soldiers in Iraq against any local Iraqi scrutiny; practically speaking, coalition authorities recognized a complaint against a soldier only if it was filed by a fellow soldier.

On those rare occasions when an Iraqi's complaint is addressed, insult is often added to injury. According to the New York Times, one Iraqi man was given $5,000 in compensation for the accidental killing of his wife and three children by a U.S. missile. Iraqis say that a gallon of gas is more precious than a gallon of blood these days. Yes, Iraqis have not tasted freedom and have not practiced true democracy. But they are masters at detecting oppression and contempt.

The Smell Of Najaf In The Morning?

All week an image has been popping into my head. It is from James Cameron’s film Aliens--the one where the space marines, high on bravado and high-tech weaponry, travel to a remote planet to liberate it from --well, whatever. There is a critical moment when the soldiers, deep in the alien compound, suddenly realise that they are up against a force they don’t understand. The commander panics and loses control as casualties mount. The remaining marines start firing wildly at anything that moves. Eventually, Ripley screams at the traumatised commanding officer: "Get them out of there. Now!"
posted by y2karl at 12:05 PM on May 9, 2004

I don't mind these blockquotes, in general, but could we avoid them in the 'title' attribute?
posted by Gyan at 12:19 PM on May 9, 2004

Thank you, y2karl.
posted by briank at 12:25 PM on May 9, 2004

Excellent, thorough post. More frightening than any of the things that we have seen so far is the ominous sense that this is barely the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The question remains (or maybe it doesn't, really) exactly what it will take for mainstream America to become outraged by the actions of this administration.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 1:30 PM on May 9, 2004

I've spent a lot of time in and around prisons and I have quite a few military friends. I've seen things and heard tales. But nothing has come close to preparing me for the sickness which the accounts of abuse and the photos of the actions at Abu Ghraib have produced. And perhaps the worst of it is the utter and complete mess made of governing the prison which produced it. There was no one in charge of the prison for its first six months, when the number of prisoners rose to 6,000. There was one battalion of short-staffed, depressed, desperate to go home military police, with no one above them telling them what to do, and who had received no training in running a prison or in treating prisoners. There were angry, annoyed, rebellious prisoners, many of whom had been picked up in general army sweeps of areas and had committed no crime than the old 'wrong place, wrong time'.

The military wanted one thing out of these prisoners, and that was information. In comes General Geoffrey Miller, fresh from Guantanamo, who sees a prison full of potential intelligence but who has only a limited number of interrogators. He thinks for a short while and the answer comes to him - I'll make the soldiers 'enablers for interrogation'. So the military police are told to 'loosen up' prisoners by the interrogators (some of whom, remember, are private contractors) and praised when their actions produce good results. No top-down discipline and control, no training in rules and regulations, shitty living conditions, an extended stay in a country they want out of, prisoners constantly on the verge of rioting - and then along come some people who do give orders and who then give praise when they're carried out well. What the fuck did anyone expect to happen in that kind of environment?

Don't let this come as an excuse for the soldiers who've been charged here. Let them be punished. But let's damn well hope that people higher up the chain (I'm looking at you in particular, Rumsfeld) take responsibility for it. I'm sick of the buck being passed. The high-ups knew this was going on, from March at the very latest, and almost certainly before that. But did Rumsfeld read the Taguba report? Nope. Did he read it when the Sixty Minutes report was put out? Nope... It makes me sick. Utterly sick.

Oh, and General Miller? He's the chap now in charge of the Iraqi prison system.
posted by humuhumu at 2:10 PM on May 9, 2004

Thank you, y2karl. Compelling.
posted by iffley at 3:19 PM on May 9, 2004

karl -

Another excellent post, content-wise, another slap in the face for those of us wishing for usability. Why not consider it a challenge (I know you like those) to come up with summaries for the TITLE attributes that are short enough to be read by an average human before disappearing? Try it, you'll like it!
posted by soyjoy at 6:47 PM on May 9, 2004

Wait, I thought this administration didn't need the cooperation or approval of any other nation to accomplish its goals. Suddenly we're supposed to care what Iraqis think? WTF? What happened to the moral backbone of this administration?
posted by NortonDC at 7:35 PM on May 9, 2004

Yes, that's a joke.
posted by NortonDC at 7:36 PM on May 9, 2004

Disgusting. And it's rotten all the way to the top.
posted by Slagman at 7:53 PM on May 9, 2004

I have to agree with Slagman. Whatever your opinion of the decision to go to war, no one can argue that the post-war period has been managed with anything even approaching competency. There was a historic opportunity in Iraq to improve the region, bolster support for America, and make Iraq a better place.

Because of the arrogance and just plain incompetence of Bush and his team, they have failed miserably and have actually, in many ways, made things worse. They have fucked up in just about every way.
posted by cell divide at 9:08 PM on May 9, 2004

Abu Ghraib and Beyond

It's hard to imagine a more high- pressure job. And late in the blazing-hot summer of 2003, military-intelligence officers working at Abu Ghraib were taking flak from their superiors inside as well as the insurgents outside. A series of bombings in August had leveled the Jordanian Embassy and the main U.N. office in Baghdad and killed a pro-U.S. ayatollah. At the Pentagon and in the field, military commanders began to mutter that too many intelligence personnel were engaged in the seemingly fruitless search for WMD and too few assets were assigned to find out who was killing American troops. The word came down from Washington: we need better intelligence. "There was extraordinary pressure being put on MI [military intelligence] from every angle to get better info," says Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the former 800th MP Brigade commander, who at the time was responsible for Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi prisons. "Where is Saddam? Find Saddam. And we want the weapons of mass destruction."

So Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the Coalition commander in Iraq, and his top intel officer, Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, asked for a fixer. They got one in Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the commandant at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the U.S. military had held more than 600 detainees for more than two years without charges. A Texan with a jutting jaw and thinning hair, Miller was nothing if not self-assured, much like his ultimate superior, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. According to a subsequent inquiry by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, Miller's task was "to review current Iraqi Theater ability to rapidly exploit internees for actionable intelligence." Translated into English, that meant to beef up interrogation techniques so as to break prisoners more quickly. Or as Karpinski puts it, Miller's plan was to "Gitmo-ize" the place, to teach the soldiers manning Abu Ghraib his best psychological and physical techniques for squeezing information out of detainees. That included using Karpinski's MPs to "enhance the intelligence effort." At a meeting of top military-intelligence and MP commanders last September, Miller bluntly told Karpinski: "You're going to see. We have control, and [the prisoners] know it."

Interrogators in Iraq Had No Specific Pentagon Guidelines on Permissible Techniques

Newsweek magazine reported in this week's issue that some senior members of Congress have gotten briefings indicating, in the words of one official, that U.S. interrogators were not necessarily "going to stick with the Geneva Conventions" in Iraq or elsewhere.

The approved interrogation techniques for Guantanamo Bay included sleep deprivation and exposure to bright lights, but not the forced disrobing of prisoners, the Pentagon official said. No such specific guidelines were drawn up for Iraq, he said.

The reported abuses in Iraq, including sexual humiliation and physical mistreatment, occurred in October and November. That was shortly after Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who was running the Guantanamo Bay detention compound for terrorist suspects, went to Iraq to review detention and interrogation procedures.

Miller concluded that military police who were guarding the prisoners at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq should be more actively engaged in "setting the conditions" for successful "exploitation" of detainees, according to an Army report that documented the prisoner abuses. At issue is whether that meant applying techniques that went beyond what the Geneva Conventions allow.

Report steers clear of interrogators' boss

But except for one brief mention, the 55-page report contains nothing about the role of the top military intelligence officer in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast. As head of intelligence for the U.S. command in Baghdad, Fast was in charge of interrogators at Abu Ghraib, where prisoners were beaten, sodomized and photographed in sexually degrading positions.

Experts contacted by the St. Petersburg Times say strict adherence to military protocol - and a possible reluctance to delve too far into intelligence operations - have kept Fast out of the spotlight even as her boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, faces blistering criticism and calls to resign. That the investigation into prisoner abuse was conducted by a major general may be one reason why Fast, an officer of equal rank, apparently has undergone little scrutiny, one expert says.

"The military is very conscious of rank - if you want to investigate a major general you need a lieutenant general," said Larry Korb, a former Navy captain and assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. "I think when they appointed a major general they never assumed it was going to go much higher - they figured it was basically a bunch of out-of-control young reservists and didn't realize the extent to which they had a problem, not the least of which was who was in charge."

Korb said he was amazed at the murky lines of authority at Abu Ghraib, which technically was run by military police, but where certain cell bocks were controlled by military intelligence officers, CIA officials and civilian contractors. "I worked in the Pentagon, I spent four years in active duty and 20 in the reserves but I've never seen such a command-relations structure where it's so unclear who's reporting to whom," said Korb, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington.

US military confirms existence of horrific pictures and video

NBC News has quoted military officials as saying that the new photographsalso show US soldiers "acting inappropriately with a dead body". This may refer to a picture, which The Washington Post described but did not publish, of Sabrina Harman, one of seven reservists charged with abuses, posing with thumbs up next to a decaying corpse.

NBC also reported that the rape of young boys by Iraqi guards, apparently in a special section of the prison, had been filmed by US soldiers.

There are even suggestions that the murder of a prisoner has been recorded. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina questioned Mr Rumsfeld on Friday about why the abuse had not been detected earlier. "The American public needs to understand we're talking about rape and murder here. We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience."

The new images will further rock the Bush administration, suffering its worst crisis yet after photographs showing US army reservists abusing and sexually humiliating prisoners caused international revulsion and outrage. But the knowledge that the abuse was much more widespread, and that there are more shocking images to come, is threatening even more problems for Mr Bush as he prepares to hand over sovereignty to an Iraqi government on 30 June.

Soldiers' warnings ignored

As described by the soldiers, military intelligence was under enormous pressure to get "actionable intelligence" during this time. The soldiers were working from two lists of tactics to get Iraqis to talk.

The "A" list included directly asking for information as well as relatively mild interrogation techniques, such as becoming angry with the prisoner or threatening to withhold meals - but not actually doing so. The interrogators were free to use these techniques at their will.

The "B" list included harsher techniques, such as sleep deprivation and withholding meals.

These techniques were considered acceptable, but because they were also considered close to the line of abuse, the interrogators could not use them without permission from their commanding officer, Col. Thomas Pappas, or his designate.

Around November, with casualties among U.S. troops rising, Saddam Hussein still in hiding and solid intelligence becoming more urgent, Pappas issued an order that broadened acceptable interrogation methods.

"I think he was referring to any techniques on the A and B lists," the soldier said. "But there was kind of the third list, the unofficial list. Guys called that the 'made-up list.'"

'Wild, wild west'

The made-up list spawned a couple of other terms, the soldiers said: "going cowboy" and "wild, wild west."

"I don't know where they got this from, but the MPs would say it all the time," one of the soldiers said. "MI would drop off a guy who wasn't talking, and the MP would say, 'So looks like I'll be going cowboy on him' or 'Looks like he needs some wild, wild west.'"

The terms meant beatings, they said, and the military intelligence interrogators and private contractors did nothing to discourage them.

Mid-East press spurns Bush apology

Killers don't apologise!... Neither Bush nor Rumsfeld will be absolved of crimes perpetrated in Abu-Ghraib prison.

Al-Riyadh - Saudi Arabia

The hideous crimes against the Iraqis cannot be mitigated by mere words.

Al-Jazeera - Saudi Arabia

We are revolted by Bush's attempt to absolve the Americans.

Al-Watan - Oman

Bush tried to expiate his troops' sins in Iraq... Mr Bush tramples with his boots on our Arab nation and then he feigns politeness by saying: "Sorry! I didn't mean it!"

Al-Anbaa - Sudan

The top US leaders are liars if they claim that they were not aware of what had happened or say that they did not order their officers and prison warders to commit such heinous acts.

Al-Bayan - UAE

The US officials' confession on the defilement of the Iraqi POWs is not sufficient, neither are their overt and covert apologies sufficient to remove the effect of these violations on the good name of the USA in the world.

Al-Jumhuriyah - Egypt

President Bush should not apologise to the Arabs and Muslims alone. Instead he should apologise to the whole of humanity. Before this or that, he should apologise to the Americans. Americans should not agree to be represented by such an administration which violates international law and human rights...

The apologies made by President Bush over the humiliation which the Iraqi prisoners faced are inadequate. It is not possible that this will bring about a positive change with the Arabs and Muslims. It may just worsen the anger which is spreading.

Paradise's price is torture

Is torture ever justified? - That is the dirty question left out of the universal protestations of disgust, revulsion and shame that greeted the release of photos showing British soldiers and American military police tormenting helpless prisoners in Iraq.
It is a question most unforgettably put forward more than 130 years ago by Feodor Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov. In that novel, the saintly Alyosha Karamazov is confronted by his brother, Ivan, with an unbearable choice. Let us suppose, Ivan says, that in order to bring men eternal happiness, it was essential and inevitable to torture to death one tiny creature, only one small child.

Would you consent? Ivan has preceded his question with stories about suffering children – a seven-year-old girl beaten senseless by her parents, enclosed in a freezing wooden outhouse and made to eat her own excrement; an eight-year-old serf boy torn to pieces by hounds in front of his mother for the edification of a landowner. True cases plucked from newspapers by Dostoevsky that merely hint at the almost unimaginable cruelty that awaited humanity. How would Ivan react to the ways in which the 20th century ended up refining pain, industrialising pain, producing pain on a massive, rational, technological scale, a century that would produce manuals on pain and how to inflict it. ..

Ivan Karamazov's words remind us torture is rationalised by those who apply and perform it: this is the price, it is implied, that needs to be paid by the suffering few in order to guarantee happiness for the rest of society, the enormous majority given security and wellbeing by those horrors inflicted in some dark cellar, some faraway pit, some abominable police station.

Make no mistake: every regime that tortures does so in the name of salvation, some superior goal, some promise of paradise. Call it communism, call it the free market, call it the free world, call it the national interest, call it fascism, call it the leader, call it civilisation, call it the service of God, call it the need for information, call it what you will...

So those who support the present operations in Iraq are no different from citizens in all those other lands where torture is a tedious fact of life; all of them needing to face Ivan's question, whether they consciously would be able to accept that their dreams of heaven depend on an eternal inferno of distress for one innocent human being or whether, like Alyosha, they would softly reply: "No, I do not consent."

posted by y2karl at 9:16 PM on May 9, 2004

Yeah, cell divide, that's it for me too.

I disagreed with the war, but when you guys went ahead anyway, I thought: "ah well. Maybe, just maybe, I should believe this is being done in good faith, give the the benefit of the doubt, and they'll remove Saddam, and the ends will justify the means".

But no. The pooch has been not merely screwed but buggered 17 different ways before breakfast and is now receiving trauma counselling from a veterinarian.

I can only think of three things that went right: deposition Saddam, capture of same, and some rather good photo opportunities (which now look oh so ironic).

How your President can retain any moral authority among any of you blows my tiny little mind.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:18 PM on May 9, 2004

...all of them needing to face Ivan's question, whether they consciously would be able to accept that their dreams of heaven depend on an eternal inferno of distress for one innocent human being or whether, like Alyosha, they would softly reply: "No, I do not consent."
This reminded me of The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, a story by Ursula LeGuin that's been hovering around my thoughts for the last couple of weeks,
posted by thatwhichfalls at 10:55 PM on May 9, 2004

come up with summaries for the TITLE attributes that are short enough to be read by an average human before disappearing?

If you switch on DHTML link titles on your 'customize' page, soyjoy, they never disappear while you hover over them. It's like magic!

On-topic....well, fuck. What more is to be said? America is nostril deep in a lake of runny shit, and there are literally hordes of people on the shore, jostling for position in front of that big pile of rocks.

The sad thing is that your leaders have snorkels. The rest of you had better learn to breathe the brown stuff.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:24 PM on May 9, 2004

Whoooah! If the link that Homunculus posted is correct this is shocking (well not from Bush et al.). When I saw Rummy's testimony he seemed more upset that the photos were "illegally" released than that the abuses occurred. Now, to prevent any further "illegal" releases of damaging information, nonessential email access from the soldiers is cut-off.
posted by caddis at 4:30 AM on May 10, 2004

This is what happens when 'regular' soldiers are put into this type of situation. We need a separate section of the military, one that can handle this type of prison work. In fact, that is a perfect name - SS (Special Section.) The SS would be responsible for doing the interrogations properly. Then when we are done with Iraq, the SS can come home and take care of enforcing the Patriot Act and then the forthcoming Marriage Act. Think of all the jobs we'll create with the demand of armbands so we can brand the undesirables.

I love the smell of fascism in the morning...
posted by fluffycreature at 4:40 AM on May 10, 2004

A top military commander in Iraq says the courts-martial beginning next week in Iraq won't be show trials.
Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt also stresses that the soldiers currently charged in the abuse scandal won't be scapegoats.
Kimmitt tells N-B-C's "Today" show that "the chain of command bears responsibility" for what happened at Abu Ghraib (grayb) prison. He says higher-ranking officials are also under investigation.
Reservist Jeremy Sivits of Pennsylvania will be the first U-S soldier to face a court-martial. It's believed he took some of the photos that triggered the scandal.

posted by matteo at 5:27 AM on May 10, 2004

Wow, stav, thanks, I didn't know that. But NOW what am I gonna complain about when y2karl posts?

All this talk about having regular soldiers in charge of sensitive stuff like this reminds me of Doonesbury's thread about the college kid who falls into a CIA job and thinks it's all about hot-dogging and free-wheeling fun. Perhaps life imitates art -again.
posted by soyjoy at 8:08 AM on May 10, 2004

Don't laugh, fluffy creature. If your scenario were to come true what do you think the folks back home would think? I think, they'd feel pretty much like the Russians who welcomed the Nazi's into their villages to free them from the horror of Stalinism - for a while. They'd say, hey we really feel safer now. Picture all those brave boys coming home wearing their SS arm bands, what a show. Lets take the kids out to watch them marching down the street, busting those all those scary types lurking around on street corners. And if you doubt this kind of response, remember, if your old enough, how long it took the great mass of middle class Americans to finally conclude that our war in Viet Nam was not only an abomination but also a losing proposition. It took years of what can only be called denial.
posted by donfactor at 9:39 AM on May 10, 2004

The Army Times: A failure of leadership at the highest levels.
posted by homunculus at 10:08 AM on May 10, 2004

President Bush should not apologise to the Arabs and Muslims alone.

Many of us await Bush's apology to the American people themselves for lying and leading us into this immoral war. Many of us await the apology from Bush's supporters for the craven quagmire they helped create.

What did any one really expect? An administration willilng to invade and occupy another sovereign nation ain't gonna be too concerned with the niceties of little things like respecting human rights. Iraq, or anyhwere else.

Speaking of chain of command, Bush is the commander in chief of the armed forces, and in a world where individuals take responsibililty for their actions, he'd be accepting responsibility for the actions of the armed forces he commands.

'Course, the notion of "The buck stops here" ain't in Bush's personal moral universe. Look for a gradually ascending set of sacrificial resignations and prosecutions, instead of Bush doing the right thing by firing and prosecuting the chain of command starting with Rumsfeld and working down.

"President Bush praised embattled Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Monday, saying, "Thank you for your leadership. You are courageously leading our nation in the war against terror."

Some of us warned about Bush and his immoral, stinking war. Now Bush, his supporters, and, sadly, America herself, are reaping the what they have sown.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:09 AM on May 10, 2004

An interesting connection.
posted by homunculus at 2:13 PM on May 10, 2004

I'm so disgusted by my country's leaders, and their followers that I just want to weep. Bush praised Rumsfeld? After all of this, he praised him? I weep for the country that we once were, but will never be again. The stain of this administration will haunt us for generations.
posted by dejah420 at 2:52 PM on May 10, 2004

"As hard as it is to believe, you can't physically abuse prisoners in Saudi Arabia," the Saudi official said. "You can't beat them; you can't electrocute them."

These guys would dispute that.
posted by homunculus at 9:31 PM on May 10, 2004

In fact, the connection between the abuse of prisoners and Rumsfeld's leadership is so attenuated as to be farcical. It's like calling for Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta's resignation because the baggage handlers at Denver stole your golf clubs. One hopes Rumsfeld had nothing at all to do with the day-to-day running of Abu Ghraib: The chief of the world's finest fighting force ought to have bigger things on his mind than prison administration.
posted by David Dark at 2:44 AM on May 11, 2004

He is the president's minister of war and — after President Bush — the chief proponent of preemption of terrorist attacks. Many of those attacking him are using Abu Ghraib as an excuse. Their interest is in weakening the president's policies of preemption and action independent of the U.N. and Old Europe. In 1848, Henry John Temple, Lord Palmerston, told parliament that a nation has no permanent allies or enemies, only permanent interests. There are only four senior members of the administration that understand this: the president, the vice president, Condi Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld. Answering the calls to fire Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney said this weekend, "People ought to get off his case and let him do his job." We have a war to fight. Donald Rumsfeld is a significant weapon that we cannot afford to give up.
posted by David Dark at 2:49 AM on May 11, 2004

the world's finest fighting force

posted by mr.marx at 3:12 AM on May 11, 2004

From David Dark's first link:

1) Resignation would be utterly unjustified. The abuses in Abu Ghraib were in no way Donald Rumsfeld’s fault.

Contrast with Donald Rumsfeld likes to be in total control. He wants to know all the details, including the precise interrogation techniques used on enemy prisoners, above.

2) Resignation would be pointless. The damage done by the Abu Ghraib pictures is irretrievable.

Yes, and you can't bring a murder victim back by imprisoning their killer, either. Good analogy.

3) Resignation would deprive the country of the services of one of the greatest secretaries of defense the United States has ever had.

Proof? Or is this just coming from his ass so he can pull out that Grant quote?

4) Resignation would actively damage the war effort.

Again, proof? Is Rumsfeld the only American capable of leading the war?

I'm just amazed there is no depth this action can sink to that would prevent some from finding some justification for it.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:28 AM on May 11, 2004

So, David Dark, were the GoOPers wrong to call for Sec of Defense resignations under Dem Presidents?

Or are we suffering from cognitive dissonance and applying a double standard? (a rhetorical question BTW)

Those NR quotes are sickening. Bushwhacking whores. Cheney can bite me.
posted by nofundy at 8:40 AM on May 11, 2004

Allen Dulles, the director of Central Intelligence who planned the Bay of Pigs invasion, was allowed to step down quietly after some period of time and avoided resigning publicly. In the Iran-Contra scandal, National Security Adviser John Poindexter took a dive for covering up illegal conduct, and was later indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States government.

More recently, Les Aspin resigned honorably as President Clinton's Secretary of Defense after Aspin refused to authorize the use of tanks to support a mission in Somalia. Tanks would be too obtrusive, Aspin concluded, and would alienate our allies in the United Nations. The results of his decision were 18 dead American soldiers, two of whom were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in what has become known as the Black Hawk down incident. Aspin's excessive deference to international opinion got soldiers killed, and cost him his job.

Abu Ghraib is an outrage and a tragedy, but it looks nothing like these precedents for resignation. Most importantly, there was no cover-up. Quite the opposite; the army had been investigating the matter for weeks before the press ran the story. Furthermore, Abu Ghraib was not a policy failure but a very local, site-specific failure of discipline. It did not flow directly from a decision Rumsfeld made, as with Dulles and Aspin.
posted by David Dark at 2:32 PM on May 11, 2004

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