Promoted Above Accountability
May 22, 2006 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Promoted Above Accountability Two years after news of torture at Abu Ghraib broke, the Bush Administration still will not hold decision makers accountable. Investigations into the incidents have focused almost exclusively on enlisted personnel.
posted by expriest (28 comments total)
Great post. I love blogs.
posted by dios at 2:41 PM on May 22, 2006

Rumsfeld's insistence (and a few others we could name) that "enemy combatants" are not P.O.W.s and thus are not subject to the Geneva Conventions is at the heart of this debate. Aside from the fact that the very idea of having agreements about rules of war (like rules for Risk or Monopoly) is ultimately bizarre, if it lessens torture, hey, yay Geneva.

The fact that the 20th century saw war as a chance to rape, pillage, and firebomb civilians doesn't say much for their effectiveness, though.

But back to the phrase "enemy combatants." Well, the justification for that linguistic hoodoo is that this is a different kind of war. It sure is. In fact, it is not a war any more than a war on betrayal or a war on rude behavior or a war on war.

Although, if there were a war on war, I might sign up.

C'mon, enough with the torture already. Who said it's "time to take the gloves off." That guy is the one way up the chain of command who should be on trial, not the soldier who obeyed his officers and took the gloves off and let loose the dogs of Abu Gharaib.
posted by kozad at 2:45 PM on May 22, 2006

Great post. I love blogs.

Great comment. I love you.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:46 PM on May 22, 2006

I don't think you understand. Bush the decider. He decides what's best.
posted by puke & cry at 2:50 PM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Bush is the decider. sorry.
posted by puke & cry at 2:50 PM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

I don't think you understand. Bush the decider. He decides what's best.
posted by puke & cry

Bush is the decider. sorry.
posted by puke & cry

No, I think how you had it first is how GW hears it in his head. Followed by a Tarzan yell and much chest thumping.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:54 PM on May 22, 2006

Bush is the decider.

The Origins of The Decider via Comedy Central
posted by hwestiii at 3:03 PM on May 22, 2006

When will all these grunts stop getting the Bush administration into trouble?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:07 PM on May 22, 2006

People often confuse two situations. The first is the dozen or so Army peons who messed around with prisoners and unwisely took photos. They weren't in the torture business, they were just military police charged with running a prison, and the Army can reasonably claim these guys were exceeding their authority. This group didn't kill anyone. This group is being punished.

The other situation is all the people who were and are in the torture business. CIA, U.S. Army Intelligence, various mercenaries, and others who were hired by the U.S. government specifically to torture people at Abu Ghraib. *None* of these people were Army privates, corporals or sergeants. General Geoffrey Miller learned these tactics at Guantanamo Bay and was sent to Abu Ghraib to implement and facilitate the same tactics there. He brought trained torturers from Guantanamo Bay to Abu Ghraib, brought in and authorized the nudity and dog torture and so on. Several dozen people are known to have been killed by the U.S.A. in this torture program, tortured to death. (Mostly beaten to death, with a few smotherings thrown in.) Miller created, oversaw, and authorized the torture at Abu Ghraib, acting under direct orders from Rumsfeld and Bush. This was completely organized torture, authorized at the top, and it is still happening today in Cuba, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The justification offered by the U.S. Government is that it isn't really torture under the legal definition, or perhaps that it is torture but it's legal if the President says it is.

To date, no one in the second group has been punished in any way, shape, or form.

Please don't confuse the two groups.
posted by jellicle at 3:12 PM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

The Bush Administration still will not hold decision makers accountable.

That's pretty much their mission statement isn't it?
posted by Artw at 3:17 PM on May 22, 2006

What jellicle said, and then some. Even if there was a will to prosecute the torturer ring-leaders, there's no "there" there to go after. The mid-level spooks who instructed and/or cajoled the low-level/enlisted torturers don't exist, from a military perspective--they were brought in to "soften up" supposed intelligence sources without all that flim-flammy, librul, red-tape stuff that is the bane of Rumsfed's "reinvented" military program. Even Ted Koppel knows this. Anyways, protesting inhuman treatment is un-American.
posted by bardic at 3:30 PM on May 22, 2006

I heard they're up to the court martial of a Sergeant. Maybe in a couple of years they'll be up to Captains or even a Major.

The problem with you knee-jerk blame-America-firsters is you don't understand how important it is to go in order. You don't realize that this court martial stuff is hard work.
posted by illovich at 3:37 PM on May 22, 2006

Rumfeld's classification of the enemy as enemy combatants actually has a historical precedent. After WWII the US had millions of German prisoners. In order to deny the Red Cross access to them they were reclassified as Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF) thus circumventing the Geneva Convention.

The result was that without inspection and protection, thousands, indeed perhaps hundreds of thousands of them died.

There is a book called Other Losses that details these activities.
posted by sien at 3:54 PM on May 22, 2006

Great post. I love blogs.
posted by dios at 2:41 PM PST on May 22

Today's lesson: When you can't attack the message, attack the messenger.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:57 PM on May 22, 2006

Great post. I love blogs.

Er, that comment would make sense if this were a link to some random dude pulling his opinions out of his ass. But this "blog" entry is in fact an annotated collection of links to significant sources of information and analysis which has been put together by someone intimately involved in the legal and political struggle against in America's ongoing experiment in extrajudicial torture.

It would be fair enough to point out some error or tendentious strain in the arguments to which Avi Cover links, but it is absurd to dismiss it out of hand as "mere blogging."
posted by yoink at 4:00 PM on May 22, 2006

Yoink, that's assuming that the esteemed dios actually read the linked article, which I bet $1000.00 did not happen before his comment.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:05 PM on May 22, 2006

Great post. I love blogs.
posted by dios at 2:41 PM PST on May 22

Feel free to make even BETTER posts from the MSM that cover this matter.

Or the results of your FOIA requests WRT this matter.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:09 PM on May 22, 2006

The "steamed" dios.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:10 PM on May 22, 2006

See, this is what happens when you let the enlisted personnel rewrite the Army field manual.

“David W.P. Elliott, a former military intelligence interrogator and professor of international relations at Pomona College, said he thinks contractors are being overused in many roles in Iraq. But he believes it is particularly unwise to use contractors for the difficult and delicate task of questioning Iraqi prisoners.
"It's a bad idea because there's not the same accountability" as with military personnel, said Elliott, who served with Army intelligence in Vietnam from 1963 to 1965 and returned there later in the war with the Rand Corp. "What's their chain of command? Who are they really responsible to?" “
- from a May 04, 2004, Baltimore Sun article by Gail Gibson and Scott Shane

It’s not like it’s a new idea (ninja notwithstanding).
posted by Smedleyman at 4:29 PM on May 22, 2006

It's an upsetting situation. I'm reading a great book by Alfred McCoy on this topic and find it just as disturbing.
posted by alteredcarbon at 5:06 PM on May 22, 2006

I don't get it-- torture works on the show 24 (a documentary about CTU Agent Jack Bauer; check your local listings) so why is everyone up in arms about a little forced S&M at a prison in Iraq? If we don't do it then the terrorists will win, because Inhumane-Land (by Milton-Bradley) is the game we're playing.
posted by risk at 7:24 PM on May 22, 2006

21 comments, of which 1 by dios and 6 responding to his sarcastic remark.

He is all powerful.
posted by justgary at 9:05 PM on May 22, 2006

Does that count yours and mine, justgary?
posted by Balisong at 9:56 PM on May 22, 2006


posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 10:54 PM on May 22, 2006

"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections." -- President Bush
posted by kirkaracha at 8:47 AM on May 23, 2006

You know who else was promoted above accountability? Hitler.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:22 PM on May 24, 2006

Might be worth a front page link, homunculus
posted by Smedleyman at 4:14 PM on May 25, 2006

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