December 8, 2006

"Clearly, the worst day was Abu Ghraib..."

"... seeing what went on there and feeling so deeply sorry that that happened." -- Donald Rumsfeld, leaving office.

99 comments:

MadisonMan said...

CYA begins. As if knowledge of what was going wasn't percolating all the way to the top.

I thought he was going to serve 'til 12/29 so he could be the longest-serving defense secretary. What happened?

peter hoh said...

How about when he told people that Iraq would be a matter of weeks, not months?

Doyle said...

You must be the biggest sucker on the internets, Ann.

He never actually apologizes. He just says he was sorry "that happened."

Looking forward to his trial for war crimes.

Gerry said...

I'll swim against the tide. Thank you, Donald Rumsfeld, for your service. You did well under difficult circumstances. History will be kinder to you than it will be to those who spit on you now.

Fritz said...

While the Six Sigma 20/20 hind-sight experts have been his biggest critics, Rummy's history is still an unknown. We had almost 600,000 troops in Vietnam and had less of a legitimate government than we have in Iraq today. Asymmetrical warfare is extremely difficult, the State Department and CIA did everything they could to help the effectiveness of the enemy by undermining Rumsfeld.

Richard Dolan said...

What Gerry said.

Anonymous said...

Those people were naked because they might be sending codes with their clothes.

Seven Machos said...

You know, lefties, Americans never cared about Abu Ghraib.

Also, Doyle, not that anyone would clain that your reading skills are good, but where is Althouse suggesting that Rumsfeld apologized? Nowhere. You must be the biggest idiot on the internets.

stephenb said...

Yea, what Gerry said.

Fritz said...

Doyle,
By your standards, Eisenhower would have had to stand for war crimes.

Doyle said...

The title of this post actually invites sympathy for Don Rumsfeld, on account of all the emotional anguish he experienced when he suddenly learned about Abu Ghraib.

And Fritz, I've been against this war and pretty much everything about the Bush administration since he took office. Read Paul Krugman's column today for a list of prescient concerns that war critics had back before it started.

They tried to warn you, but you were too blinded by love for the Leader to listen.

Doyle said...

You know, lefties, Americans never cared about Abu Ghraib.

Ann's core demographic, ladies and gentleman!

chickenlittle said...

I'm with Gerry too

Seven Machos said...

Doyle -- Good. That's a good first step. You were wrong and you admitted it. Now, what about the war crimes tribunal?

Let's have a teachable moment. I happen to support the American mission in Iraq. You are against it. Fine. We could discuss that rationally. But when you say things clearly meant to inflame and talk about the U.S. Secretary of Defense's "war crimes," no reasonable person will take you seriously.

Seven Machos said...

Americans never cared about Abu Ghraib. Am I wrong, Doyle?

Doyle said...

I wasn't wrong, Seven. I leave that to you.

I was just clearing up why I felt it necessary to point out that Rumsfeld never apologized.

As for the possible trial: Authorize torture, stand trial for war crimes. Sounds like a good system.

It may not happen, but it should.

Yes, Americans cared about Abu Ghraib, at least those of us with a shred of humanity.

chickenlittle said...

Doyle said: "I've been against this war and pretty much everything about the Bush administration since he took office."

Let me ask you again...what do you stand for?

Fritz said...

Doyle,
Like Krugman, you are against American power unless you are the Representative that wields it. In other words, you protest democracy when your tribe doesn't win. The only reason we face an insurgency is for your consumption. The re-emergence of the Taliban using Iraqi tactics is smart asymmetrical warfare. It gives the liberals a new reason to bitch. Rumsfeld wanted to install a democracy leaning strongman, the Euro thinking State Department stopped it. Bush has 2 more years to prove his distractors wrong. I love the design of our Constitution.

Seven Machos said...

So, Doyle, how is Althouse a sucker? Will you be a sucker when there are not war crimes tribuals for Rumsfeld?

Being a lefty means always being right and never having to say you are sorry and knowing with the deepest conviction that the really crucial thing is your pose.

Robert said...

Seven,
define 'Americans' in that context.

I consider myself an American, and the events at Abu Ghraib bothered me considerably.

Also, the express endorsement of torture as an interrogation tool by a seated DoD secretary bothers me as well - however, historically speaking, a national leader/official doesn't have to worry about war-crimes trials unless the nation in question is defeated in war (e.g., Milosevic, Saddam Hussiein) or undergoes a thorough regime change (e.g., Pinochet).

When my father was in combat in the South Pacific in WWII, he came to loathe and despise the Japanese soldiers he was fighting. I do not know if he was ever presented with the opportunity to torture a POW, but I'm quite confident that he would never have been _ordered_ to do so, and that, furthermore, any officer so ordering would have been subjected to military discipline. Why the current conflict requires us to abandon centuries of civilization, whereas WWII did not, is and will most likely continue to be a mystery to me.

AJ Lynch said...

Doyle - you have been asked about 6-8 direct and simple questions. Yet you did not answer even one.

Let me repeat one. Do you believe most Americans thought Abu Graib amounted to the level of torture?

chickenlittle said...

Thanks for the story Robert, but I think it would have had more weight if your father had been a trained interrogator at the time, or in charge of detained captives. Otherwise, you risk mixing the combat mission and soldiers with the prison guards.
My uncle hunted and killed enemy soldiers in North Korea; nobody ever thought he did anything wrong.

Seven Machos said...

Robert -- define 'Americans' in that context. You are parsing semantics. It doesn't become you.

A solid majority of Americans wants to win this war, like all wars, and doesn't blame the Secretary of Defense for a rogue episode of torture. Also, you are romanticizing war considerably if you think that there wasn't terrible and unspeakable torture for "centuries" of warfare prior to 2005. That's amazingly naive.

Furthermore, did the soliders responsible for Abu Ghraib face "military discipline." Yeah, they did. And, suppose American soliders in the South Pacific did torture Japanese soldiers. Would the Secretary of Defense have been prosecutable for war crimes? What about FDR?

Get over yourself. Your moral preening and lecturing about the good, old days of Dresden and Hiroshima are shrill.

MD said...

I disagree Seven Machos: Americans cared about Abu Ghraib plenty. It's just some thought it was a terrible and regrettable mistake (well, maybe mistake isn't the correct word) in the middle of a war, and others thought it symptomatic of the administrations' incompetence, brutality, even of an ideology. Personally, I never felt comfortable with the way the General in charge was almost, well, feted. She was in charge, wasn't she? AM I maligning her baselessly?

*Madison Man, what do you mean by 'knowledge percolating to the top'? Didn't someone in the military blow the whistle on the incident initially? Isn't it the usual course for things to 'percolate up' in an investigation performed by a large and bureacratic organization like the military? I'm not making an excuse for behavior, by the way. And *everyone* will cover their asses for mistakes made and everyone will take credit for successes. Isn't that the nature of Washington?

reader_iam said...

It strikes me as silly to say "Americans" don't/didn't care about Abu Ghraib, as if such a blanket statement can be made, much less meaningfully. Attitudes were, and are, across the spectrum. I know Lefties, Righties, and Tweenies who were upset about Abu Ghraib, and Lefties, Righties, and Tweenies who weren't particularly.

Doyle: Speaking of silly: "Ann's core demographic, ladies and gentleman!

1. Regular readers and commenters are definitely not monolithic in opinion on the topic of Abu Ghraib in particular, or torture generally.

2. Doyle, you are obviously here very regularly indeed, and you comment frequently. That makes you a "core" member of the readership here. What, your own demographic doesn't count? It seems to me that you like to define Althouse's "core demographic" as "whoever happens to be on the opposite side of the [your, Doyle's] fence on any particular issue." Nonsense.

For the record, I care very much about what happened at Abu Ghraib, and about the issue of torture more generally.

Neither you, Doyle, nor you, Seven, speak for me. Nor do any one of the three of use have a lock on being or defining the "core" demographic here.

MD said...

reader_iam: thank you. You put it very well.

Gerry said...

I'll contest the "Americans never cared about Abu Ghraib" line. Of course, we did.

Of course, so did Rumsfeld and all of the Bush administration. I'll bet almost to a person, everyone had their hearts broken by those pictures.

However, I would say that Americans never believed what the far flung regions of the left believed about Abu Grhaib. They did not believe that the administration was simply abusing people left and right, on purpose, for no purpose other than because they are stupid, evil people.

I believe that Americans, as a whole, had a whole different set of views on Abu Ghraib. I think some who are partisan to the core believed that Bush himself ordered abuse, just for kicks. But I think the vast majority thought something different. That there was abuse, and it wasn't ordered but there could and should have been more oversight. That there were no orders, there was abuse, but that in war sometimes that happens. And still others probably didn't like what they saw but thought it couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of fellows.

Rummy's popularity fell because Americans are still dieing and the situation does not appear to be improving. Nothing more, and nothing less. He was a good man who could not solve that one problem given the constraints upon him or given his own limitations. The arguments will, in the long term, be over if it was the former or the latter, not over if he was a good man.

Only people of Doyle's mindset believe that he was not.

Seven Machos said...

Gerry puts what I meant to say very eloquently: I would say that Americans never believed what the far flung regions of the left believed about Abu Grhaib. Americans never cared about Abu Grhaib as a reason to quit the war, have war crimes trials for Senate-approved officials, or hating President Bush.

When I say "Americans," I am, of course, not speaking of every American. It was not a literal statement. I apologize because it seems like that's what everyone got out of it, and I am a majority-rules kind of guy.

Robert said...

Thank you, Seven.

alphie said...

If Rummy was a "good man" he would have stepped down years ago when it was obvious he wasn't up to the task.

Cedarford said...

Robert - South Pacific in WWII, he came to loathe and despise the Japanese soldiers he was fighting. I do not know if he was ever presented with the opportunity to torture a POW, but I'm quite confident that he would never have been _ordered_ to do so, and that, furthermore, any officer so ordering would have been subjected to military discipline.

Robert is unfortunely clueless of WWII and interrogations. Japs and Germans were captured and frequently beaten to be made to talk. High-ranking Nazis were rush-flown to a special interrogation unit in England to pry life-saving tactical intelligence out of them. Japs and Germans caught out of uniform were summarily executed. In many Pacific battles, no quarter was given. No POWs were taken.
I agree with Gerry about Abu Ghraib - everyone regrets it because at the least, it was a bunch of sadistic hillbillies having sadistic fun with no interrogation purpose behind their brutality.
A harder call is what Sen Durkin and Chaffee blubberingly call "toooorrrture" of the poor 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which alerted us to a half dozen plots and saved - we are fairly sure - thousands of lives and netted over 15 significant terrorists once he broke.
Some say losing thousands of lives is preferable to causing the least physical discomfort on the man who conceived and implimented 9/11.

I am not one of them. And, I despise the enemy rights lovers who do think that way.

********************
As for Rumsfeld, he was a man who didn't need the money...but stepped up and did public service as he best was capable of. And anyone who does has my respect for doing so - even in not succeeding.

And the best way to discourage public service is to let assholes like Dole have their way and attempt to criminalize every one who does step up and render public service.

But with Rumsfeld's departure, I think getting to the bottom of the decisions, the contraints imposed that led us to founder in Iraq is urgent.
When a number of highly intelligent, able people like Rumsfeld, top generals fail....it is imperative to get to why they failed as soon as possible.
Have we constructed a body of laws and constraints that all but guarantee we will fail against assymetric war fighters out to kil us? If so, we may have to cast aside all the laws so lovingly constructed to defend enemy and criminal "rights" and the sanctity of enemy civilian supporters since WWII's end. Cast them aside in order to survive and prevail against radical Islam's Jihadis who target civilians and wear no uniforms.
If Iraq failed from failure of counter-insurgent doctrine? What needs to be repaired? A large Draftee Army adequate for policing an Occupation? Or to avoid even being in an insurgency by wiping out an enemy's infrastructure with precision weaponry and let them claw their way out of the rubble unassisted?
Whatever the failure mode in Iraq, we need to know soon - who made the bad calls, what laws or regs forced bad calls to be made on occasion, if the US press was partially responsible for aiding and comforting the enemy, if partisan politics played a part?? Do we need a crash program to educate a cadre of Americans and a separate cadre of military skilled in Urdu, Arabic, Iranian, Chinese language and culture?
Much to learn. Much to change. Little time before the next major event.

alphie said...

America also executed its own soldier who raped and murdered civilians during WWII, cedar.

And they were executed rather fast, too.

Where is that Haditha report, btw?

Seven Machos said...

Alphie -- The people responsible for Abu Ghraib torture were court martialed.

Will you say that more higher-ups should be tried militarily? Were similar higher-ups also "executed" when your alleged soldier "raped and murdered civilians." I don't recall execution as Henry L. Stimson's fate. In fact, the man never even spent any time in prison.

For the left, Abu Ghraib was about politically damaging Rumsfeld and Bush and the Republicans. You know this.

Gerry said...

"If Rummy was a "good man" he would have stepped down years ago when it was obvious he wasn't up to the task."

Did you feel the same way about President Carter? Or do you look at him as a fine elder statesman and a beacon for all that is good?

Or are you too young for all of that?

MadisonMan said...

md - I'm of the opinion that the things that happened at Abu Ghraib happened because people at the top ordered it and signed off on it. So of course they're going to know about it. I don't buy the couple of rotten apples theory. So I guess it was percolating in both directions.

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

Alphie you sound almost excited at the prospect of executing these Marines.

And yet if I had to guess I'd say you're opposed to capital punishment. Would I be wrong?

Abu Grhaib was serious mistake by a very undisciplined group of soldiers and a negligent NCO and Officer Corps. However, there was no interrogation and thus no policy from the chain of command to make this the SOP.

That being said, America's days of truly winning wars, not just battles are over if 50% of the population thinks the worst thing that can happen in war is that a person is made to lay naked in a human pyramid.

As Robert demonstrated above, we as a nation have so glorified our military history we can't conceive of anything even remotely ugly happening in war.

alphie said...

seven,

I don't think the higher-ups should have been executed.

But, again, if people insist on making the laughable comparison between Iraq and WWII...

In WWII, any leader who screwed up got the boot.

The people in charge at Pearl Harbor and, say, the general in charge at Kasserine Pass, were relieved of command swiftly and publicly.

Compare that to Michael Hayden, the guy in charge of the NSA on 9/11.

Instead of being fired the next day, he was given another star and put in charge of the CIA.

If you insist on using WWII as an example...you have to use all the comparisons, not just the ones that fit you partisan causes.

Which means, at the very least:

Swift justice visited on any American soldiers who abuse Iraqi civilians.

Swift termination of anyone in charge of a failure.

America didn't win WWII just because we were patriotic and determined.

Seven Machos said...

Madison Man:

I'm of the opinion that the things that happened at Abu Ghraib happened because people at the top ordered it and signed off on it.

I'm of the opinion that Britney Spears wants me, Jupiter is a giant delicious milkshake, and Jesus is sitting in my living room. (I am not currently in my living room.) Let's compare evidence, shall we?

Gerry said...

"America didn't win WWII just because we were patriotic and determined."

Um, actually, throw in that we had one hell of a manufacturing base, and yes, that would be exactly why we won WWII.

jaed said...

The other day, I was talking with someone about the Iranian revolution of 1979, and he asked, was the Shah really that bad? And I said, while the Khomeni government was arguably even worse, yes, the Shah did have a secret police, SAVAK, who tortured people. "Real, actual torture," I added, "not putting underwear on people's heads or taking embarrassing photos involving leashes."

And it occurred to me that from now on, whenever I make a reference to "torture", I'm going to have to include that clarification or something like it. The word doesn't mean what it used to mean.

That's the legacy of Abu Ghraib. And that part isn't Rumsfeld's fault.

alphie said...

Sure it was just posing Iraqis in their underwear, jaed:

http://tinyurl.com/yeobhl

That idiotic spin was the only triumph Rummy had during his tenure...

Gerry said...

The only part of your post I disagree with, Jaed, is this:

"And I said, while the Khomeni government was arguably even worse"

The Khomeni government was not just arguably worse. It was worse by any stretch of the imagination, even conceding the worst abuses of the Shah's regime.

The Exalted said...

A solid majority of Americans wants to win this war, like all wars, and doesn't blame the Secretary of Defense for a rogue episode of torture. Also, you are romanticizing war considerably if you think that there wasn't terrible and unspeakable torture for "centuries" of warfare prior to 2005. That's amazingly naive.

Furthermore, did the soliders responsible for Abu Ghraib face "military discipline." Yeah, they did. And, suppose American soliders in the South Pacific did torture Japanese soldiers. Would the Secretary of Defense have been prosecutable for war crimes? What about FDR?


use of dogs, nudity, stress positions, lack of sleep -- this was all expressly authorized by your hero don rumsfeld.

yes, the pictures of naked detainees cowering in front of barking dogs, that maltreatment of detainees -- who were not charged with anything -- was authorized by don rumsfeld.

lack of sleep doesn't sound bad until you realize some prisoners were forced to stay awake 20 hours a day, for years. and during those 20 hours a day, they were forced to stand for most of them. or they were chained to the ceiling, using the exact same instruments saddam's men did, when they ran the prison.

the only thing rumsfeld didn't specifically approve were the beatings and the sexual assault. but, as to the beatings, if you want to force a man to stand and he refuses to stand, how do you think his interrogators/torturers will force him?

several lawyers in the army and navy were troubled and tried to stop these practices, rumsfeld and his cronies basically told them they were terrorist lovers and told them to piss off.

have you really forgotten that our AG office redefined torture so as to only include abuse that "threatened organ failure or death"?

does this sound like a "rogue" episode? this behavior was endorsed at the top and was common and open practice at this prison. yet, after the revelation of this disgusting abuse, was the commander in charge of the prison demoted or court martialed? of course not.

as to americans "not caring about abu gharaib," this applies to no americans i know, including ardent republicans.

disgusting sentiment here, approving of abu gharaib.

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

Alphie you are a complete bullshit artist. SPC Graner is serving a ten year senctence that does not include murder. In fact no one commited murder, but you know this don't you.

Seven Machos said...

Why does The Exalted never provide links to back up accusations? Could it be because they are complete and utter bullshit?

AJ Lynch said...

Yes of course Abu Graib was a high-level conspiracy designed and appoved and "signed off on " by Bush and Rumsfeld who sat around and asked who should we use? The answer was a bunch of low-level reservists with drinking problems from the Cumberland, MD area.

If you believe that, you believe the Russians were brilliantly smart to use plutonium to slowly kill a former crony instead of simply shooting him in the head and tossing him in the London River.

monkeyboy said...

The officers on the ground at Abu Hhraib dropped the ball. There was no discipline there, and they let Granger run everything, and lest we forget, it was a soldier that reported the abuses and started the investigation.

Rumsfeld's big mistake was to try to transform the military into a lighter, better connected more lethal force, and he ran right up against a group of army generals who wanted to fight the Fulda Gap.

While people talked about the graveyard of armies, and the press was wondering if we trained in the snow, a bunch on Special Forces NCOs on horseback with laptops conquered Afghanistan.
That is his legacy.

The Exalted said...

seven,

dear chum, here you go:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/documents/dodmemos.pdf

and for an article detailing navy and army lawyers struggling to combat these authorizations:

http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060227fa_fact

i know i know, you guys dont like "facts"

Gerry said...

I am having a hard time seeing how the Washington Post-hosted PDFs support your earlier claims.

Perhaps you can be more specific.

Seven Machos said...

Exalted -- Nothing in anything you cite suggests that Rumsefeld or anyone else approved anything illegal or anything related to the court martial.

What are you trying to illustrate here? That American policy allows "
use of dogs, nudity, stress positions, lack of sleep." No one is arguing with you. You are trying to suggest that Rumsfeld and others violated some law or some code. They did not. Your documents go a long way toward proving this very point.

Cedarford said...

Alphie - You have a most romanticized view of warfare if you believe the sanctity of enemy civilians is the highest measure of nobility in war.
Your-near salivating over the possible execution of the Haditha Marines for directing fire on "innocent civilians" is evidence of that...as with your later claim that in WWII any "abuse of any kind" of civilians attacking or bushwhacking our troops would be swiftly punished.

The first rule of war is never leave an enemy to your rear.

For that reason, for much of history all civilians were routinely killed by an Army on the march unless rulers convinced that Army they would make no trouble if their lives were spared. . In recent centuries the idea of a formal pact sparing civilians as an obligation not a whim - gained currency. In return for surrender and a pledge to not participate in hostilities, civilians would be spared. But - and it's a big but -reneging on that surrender, dishonoring it, would bring the most savage reprisal - without mercy.

In the US Civil War and in WWI and WWII, any civilian town or settlement reneging brought artillery to ring the resistance and indiscriminate fire was laid down until the resisting population was thoroughly chewed up enough to ensure they never made that mistake again. Also, towns were torched. The Japanese and Germans did savage face-to-face reprisals to break resistance.

At Haditha, you are talking about enemy civilians that actively participate in killing US troops. Several lethal IED attacks on roads to and from the city preceeded the Haditha incident, including 14 Marines burned alive by an IED on the same road 2 weeks beforehand.
That "lawyers" are horrified that Marines "violated" ROE in an emotional moment a la "Breaker Morant" does not mean that we need serious reconsideration of laws that hold enemy civilian killer's lives higher than our volunteers.

Part of the very serious debate America must have post-Iraq is going to be about the laws and constraints having a role in much of the casualties America took in Iraq, and whether the sanctity and and preciousness of "enemy/terrorist rights" must be supreme over all other considerations - no matter what their behavior and degree to which they violate pacts of surrender.

My gut reaction is we will conclude we cannot have a 600,000 Draftee Army in a country as small as Iraq or much, much larger ones needed to take and hold ground in other possible struggles. Huge forces will be needed if we hold enemy life so valuable and so free of sanctioning that we Have to Have Mega-Armies putting up with being targets civilians feel they are free and safe to take a whack at. We cannot have huge military groups built around "enemy-rights 1st!" thinking unless we accept that a Draft will be needed to force Americans to become sitting ducks. Nor can we have smaller forces that would find themselves hit by any "precious civilian" believing they can take a pot shot or use a remotely detonated explosive with complete legal protection from Americans hitting back at his people.

I envision a debate where Geneva is modified to ensure good treatment of civilians PROVIDED they follow rules of war themselves. Where our military allowed more liberal rules of engagement if they don't.

Meaning that Marines should be free to whack some enemy civilians if they are bushwhacked by people that are in insurrection after being spared because they surrendered.

And in the meantime, those convicted for Haditha or whacking a kid sniper will be thought of this War's Breaker Morant...very similar to the dilemma the Brits had against Boer bushwhackers.

To get past the enemy/terrorist lovers in America and Europe - I think we will need a Draft so the sons and daughters of Jews and Gentiles in the Ruling Elites ALSO are at risk, not safe doing law school. And I think more lessons in blood will be needed because 9/11 and the hamstringing and ensuant butchery of lower middle class volunteer soldiers isn't enough to change those laws and constraints. For now, the Elites in control of the laws and constraints just shrug...it's not their kids at risk. Life at the ACLU is good. Why change anything that allows them to posture as morally superior if it just involves the blood of lesser Americans?

alphie said...

Hehe, cedarford,

We aren't in Iraq to topple an evil empire...we're there to bring peace and democracy to its citizens these days, remember?

Slaughtering Iraqi civilians would seem to be counter-productive to our current goals...

downtownlad said...

Abu Ghraib was not a "day". It was something that happened for over a year.

Simon said...

I have a comment about war crimes prosecutions, which Doyle raised upthread, and that a couple of folks sneered at a touch.

Freder, myself and a couple of other folks batted this around in comments last month. I don't think that Doyle was involved in that discussion, but I think that what I got out of that discussion was that if you think it's a terrible idea, you shouldn't be cavalier about airily dismissing the possibility of Rumsfeld et al being brought up on war crimes charges.

Even if you assume that no non-American tribunal has authority to prosecute Rumsfeld et al, 18 U.S.C. § 2441 makes war crimes a federal felony, punishable by "imprison[ment] for life or any term of years ... and if death results to the victim ... to the penalty of death." A War Crime is defined, as relevant here, as "a grave breach" of the Geneva Conventions (including common Article 3), conduct violating Articles 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the to the Hague Convention IV Annex 1907. It doesn't seem -- to me, at least, cynic that I am -- entirely beyond the realms of conception that a Democratic victory in 2008 by a stridently anti-war candidate could presage a sleu of indictments in federal courts against Rumsfeld and, for that matter, even Bush. All you really have to do is show that they ordered activities that fell afoul of anything covered by § 2441(c), and you've got a war crimes prosecution.

Now, you might argue that Democrats would never be that cynical or that stupid. But I submit that if you think that there's any such thing as too cynical or too stupid in contemporary politics, you've just not been paying attention. War crimes prosecution is an idea that seems kinda out there at first, but really all you need is an overzealous Democratic administration with a grudge.

Simon said...

AJ Lynch said...
"If you believe that, you believe the Russians were brilliantly smart to use plutonium to slowly kill a former crony instead of simply shooting him in the head and tossing him in the London River."

It's called the Thames. Pronounced "Tems".

tjl said...

"War crimes prosecution is an idea that seems kinda out there at first, but really all you need is an overzealous Democratic administration with a grudge."

This mindset is already evident in certain Dems. For example, there's Charles Rangel with his draft bill, clearly designed to make it impossible for the US ever again to use military force. "War crimes" would be another tool in his toolbox.

For the moment it looks as if the brighter or less cynical Dems have the upper hand, but who knows where they'll be two years from now?

Elizabeth said...

Does he regret mentioning the name of the Abu Ghraib whisteblower in public? The guy's living in fear for his life.

Garage Mahal said...

Simon

The Military Commissions Act (at least in part) exonerates civilian policymakers as I understand it, by re-writing the War Crimes Act retroactively to Nov. 1997. It would be a lengthy waste of time for anyone to pursue.

What's ironic is that it was the Republican Congress in 1996 that overwhelmingly approved the War Crimes Act of 1996, to help prosecute war criminals that may have tortured American POW's in Vietnam.

Simon said...

Garage,
You mean Section 6(b)? That only applies to Common Article 3 violations. Which, to be sure, is a big chunk of change, but it's hardly the whole shooting match, even assuming it stands up in court. It amends § 2441(c)(3) from stating that the term war crimes reaches conduct "which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict" (old language) to "which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict" (new language) and inserts a new § 2441(d) which narrows the definitions of Common Article 3 breaches. Click here and scroll to pp.34-36.

Bruce Hayden said...

The idiocy of prosecuting Rumsfeld et al. for any of this stuff should be apparent to all here. What has gone on in Iraq by American troops is extremely mild compared to what they have done in past wars. So, you prosecute the SecDef for letting a handful of the millions of people reporting to him make Iraqi POWs wear underwear on their heads.

First, you aren't going to be able to get a competent SecDef ever again. Secondly, the whole DoD is going to become so risk adverse that they will be unwilling probably to even let their troops out on maneuvers here in the States, lest some of them get carried away. Definately, it will make it almost impossible to deploy any ever again into combat.

But of course, that is really what those suggesting that Rumsfeld be prosecuted for war crimes really want - that the U.S. never again deploy its troops into combat outside the U.S., regardless of provocation or cause.

Of course, it will be impossible to get a conviction. Missing the little element called scienter, or in lay terms, the requisite intent. Regardless of what you would like the law to be, it almost always requires intent, and not mere negligence. So, they would have to prove that Rumsfeld actually intended that war crimes be committed AS THEY WERE DEFINED AT THAT TIME, AND NOT LATER.

But, as with Libby, Foley, etc., it isn't the conviction that matters, but rather the charges.

Garage Mahal said...

Simon

I said to my understanding, I'm asking more than I'm telling. In this case, I mean specifically immunity to interrogators at the CIA, and policymakers such as Rumsfeld that set the standards. Its re-defining, and "legalizing" past behavior, is it not?

So if a past alleged abuse of interrogation techniques (outside current set standards) is brought forth, who is the final abitrator?

Bush?

That is friggin crazy if so.

Anonymous said...

Oh please, it's been documented that Rumsfeld knew about torture at Abu Ghraib long before it became public. And it's been documented that Rumsfeld signed the documents making it possible, and encouraged the use of these tactics.

So why was his worst day the day it came out in public, and not the day he actually found out about it?

Seven Machos said...

reality check: Documented by whom? Citations, please. You aren't allowed to make stuff up here.

Garage: Don't let your broad hatred of President Bush consume you. The executive branch would "arbitrate" absent action by Congress, and the only action by Congress that would be constitutional is a law about the future. Ex post facto and all that. Courts have limited jurisdiction here, particularly absent a cause of action.

Would you feel better if Clinton were the final arbitrator? Because soon the president will leave office. But long live the president...

Kirk Parker said...

I'm with Gerry and Richard, and all those other folks. And especially Monkeyboy!

Rumsfeld belongs in a category with Kirkpatrick (and Bolton, too.) Alas for us, we have far too few such people.

hdhouse said...

monkeyboy said...
The officers on the ground at Abu Hhraib dropped the ball.
Rumsfeld's big mistake was to try to transform the military into a lighter, better connected more lethal force, and he ran right up against a group of army generals who wanted to fight the Fulda Gap.
....a bunch on Special Forces NCOs on horseback with laptops conquered Afghanistan.
That is his legacy."

Now if this claptrap isn't indicative of the silliness that typifies our little neo-con mice who are now scurrying around to avoid the butcher's knife of a congress who actually will do its job.

1. Officers and particularly lowly enlistees were scapgoated to protect this pompous prick not the other way around. What part of history don't you like? The fact part or just history in general?

2. Rumsfeld "ran up against nothing" other than common sense. The record is clear that general after general has said too few men on the ground and NO PLANNING. So Rummy "transforms" the military into something completely illsuited to fight any of the little irritations Boy George has thrust us into.

3. Ahhh the graveyard of armies...sorry but your observation is so incredible stupid it constitutes little more than one more shameless buttkissing of the failed Bush presidency.

Face it. Rumsfeld is what he is. A lying creep out there praying some country doesn't get his hands on him and hang him. We should if they don't.

Oxbay said...

I know Simon is not suggesting there be war crimes trials. If Rumsfeld is arrested and put in the dock anywhere I think there's a possibility of protest by bullets. If Bush is arrested and put in the dock anywhere I predict there will be shooting.
By the way I don't own any weapons myself.

hdhouse said...

Oxbay said...
I know Simon is not suggesting there be war crimes trials. If Rumsfeld is arrested and put in the dock anywhere I think there's a possibility of protest by bullets. If Bush is arrested and put in the dock anywhere I predict there will be shooting."

i understand Oxbay's point but it is part and parcel of the typical right wing hubris (not applying that to oxbay but to neo-cons).

i travel overseas a lot. a common thread is the American hypocrisy - never do as we say or do as we do...just preaching.

I put it to you neo-cons:

If a foreign country with ideas and systems that oppose the US, would they be justified in trying "regime change" in america and would we, as citizens, be expected to go along citing the reason that we are better off without Bush than with him (all our polling numbers show that to be the case) ... so under what moral authority would we resist?

Then to Rumsfeld, we support the war crimes commission only as it applies to others but not to ourselves. how is that?

David said...

John Kerry shot a young "sniper" in the back after beaching his boat and filming his swagger for posterity. So much for interrogation!

A partial list of important topics for future discussion will include;

1. Associated Press and their use of biased stringers providing tailor-made/staged stories for the anti-Bush media,
2. CIA leaks based on false information (Plame/Wilson),
3. Abu Ghraib was a police incident appropriately handled by the UCMJ and hijacked by an anti-war/anti-Bush media,
4. Media playing into, and supporting, the goals of insurgents who were using Giap's playbook from VietNam: lose militarily but win politically, David Gergen of NBC is the poster boy,
5. Hindering the legitimate NSA surveillance program,
6. Wasting time that could have been constructively spent prosecuting the war by constantly questioning Presidential War Powers,
7. The "Diebold Voting Machine" scandal which was not worthy of investigation once the democrats realized they had won by the narrowest of margins,
8. The cabal of media and democrats constantly beating the anti-war drum to wear down American resolve in the war effort,
9. ROE's that were so onerous/suicidal that they guaranteed the deaths of American
soldiers who took fire to avoid the remotest possibilty of injury to civilians and combatants dressed like civilians,
10. Failure to address the Geneva violations of enemy combatants,
11. Code pink anti-war protestors harrassing recovering veterans at Walter Reed,
12. Using military funerals to provoke attacks from mourners by insulting the attending families,
13. The utter failure of many Americans to study history and exhibit the fortitude to fight for the rights of themselves and others.
14. Calling American soldiers murderers and, in the same breath, referring to terrorists as freedom fighters,
15. Perverting DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY to a European worldview replete with beheadings, anarchy, and dhimmitude.

History will not be kind to the appeasers, negotiators, exploiters, and those who do not think their culture is worth the inconvenient discomfort to fight and respect it!

The price has not been fully paid yet!

Paco Wové said...

Just so that we have a convenient list that can be used for future reference, could someone please list, specifically, what practices used by U.S. forces constitute "torture"?

Freder Frederson said...

But when you say things clearly meant to inflame and talk about the U.S. Secretary of Defense's "war crimes," no reasonable person will take you seriously.

Rumsfeld admitted publicly, in a press conference, to personally authorizing at least one war crime. He confirmed the he, at the request of George Tenet, deliberately concealed detainees in Iraq from the ICRC, a direct violation of the Geneva Accords. Unlike Afghanistan, where at least there was a question about the applicability of Geneva, our status of occupiers in Iraq (a status which the administration sought from the UN) made the Geneva Convention fully applicable. The president stated numerous times that Geneva was fully applicable to all detainees in Iraq.

Remember, it doesn't matter if the treatment at Abu Gharaib reached the level of torture. Geneva prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Also, the Abu Gharaib pictures also show a person who has clearly been tortured to death and who the DoD admits was tortured to death.

The only question is whether the harsh treatment that occurred was the result of a few rogue elements or a conscious decision and the result of administration policy. I think the paper trail that we have seen (the torture and related memos defining down torture and claiming the president is not bound by Geneva) and the public statements coming out of the administration, notwithstanding statements that Geneva was fully applicable, indicate that harsh interrogation tactics were encouraged by the Pentagon.

Hopefully, one day in the future, those ultimately responsible, including Rumsfeld, for these policies (and that little weasel Stephen Cambone is another one I would like to see tried for war crimes) will be held to account for their crimes.

tjl said...

"Rumsfeld is what he is. A lying creep out there praying some country doesn't get his hands on him and hang him. We should if they don't."

hdhouse is frothing with rage at Rumsfeld's crimes -- which consist of what, exactly? Presiding over a vast defense establishment, some few of whose members were poorly disciplined and did things that are insignificant compared to the behavior of soldiers in all previous wars.

But to hdhouse, anything done by the Bush administration is the ultimate evil outrage. Hence making prisoners put underwear on their heads is an atrocity worthy of the Nuremberg trials.

Some sense of proportion would be helpful. Otherwise we have no chance against enemies who revel in sawing the heads off their living captives and showing the procedure in full on video.

Freder Frederson said...

What has gone on in Iraq by American troops is extremely mild compared to what they have done in past wars.

Have you even bothered to read the Army Field Manual on Interrogation to know what the rules for interrogation are? Not that I am naive enough to believe that the rules are always followed or that violations are tolerated, but to imply that they are officially sanctioned or policy besmirches our military.

In fact it was the professional military that encouraged the president to use the current UCMJ procedures to try Al Qaeda suspects and in spite of pressure from the civilian leadership of the Pentagon produced a new Army Field Manual on Interrogation that did not loosen the strict rules that have served this country well for sixty years.

The Exalted said...

i wrote that rumsfeld directly authorized the abuse that became public in the abu gharaib pictures and you demanded a link. i provided a link documenting that rumsfeld authorized those procedures and now you sputter and try to move the goalposts. everything i wrote that you responded to with "why doesn't the exalted every back up his accusations" was confirmed in my links to the washington post and new yorker.

intellectual dishonesty must be bliss.

David said...

Freder;

Agreed!

Further, the Geneva Accords do not apply in the GWOT. The accords were not written with assymetrical warfare in mind. Assymetrical warfare is, by it's own immoral imperative, punishable by death without equivocation on the battlefield of their choosing.

Just as the attack on cancer cells kills healthy tissue, attacks on radical Islamists, who prefer death over life, innocents will be killed and maimed.

Deal with it!

As for Rumsfield on Abu Ghraib, he knew that this petty violation of prisoners was chum in the water for the circling media/anti-war sharks bent on sabotaging the efforts of the current administration.

I remember the couple who jumped to their death out of the burning trade-center tower on 9/11. So does Rumsfeld as he assisted victims of the guided missile plane that crashed into the pentagon the same date.

How can one morally equate the exquisite sensitivity of Bush/Rumsfeld/Americans after this apocolyptic experience with abu ghraib?

Rumsfeld was describing the weak link in our society as the very people who accentuated abu ghraib over 9/11. Abu ghraib was an insiginificant anomaly, nothing more, ceased on by politicians in a bald-faced attempt to get back in power at any cost.

Pathetic!

Freder Frederson said...

Further, the Geneva Accords do not apply in the GWOT. The accords were not written with assymetrical warfare in mind.

Actually, they do, the Supreme Court says they do. Even if they didn't, the War Crimes Act and the International Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment still apply.

Regardless, as SecDef, Rumsfeld runs the Department of Defense, which has its own body of law, the UCMJ. Its rules regarding the treatment of its detainees, regardless of their status, are considerably stricter than what the president would like to get away with.

Anonymous said...

Documented where? Amongst other locations, it's in the papers filed in the ACLU/HRF lawsuits.

You want to find it? Google torture timeline abu ghraib.

Anonymous said...



Oh please, it's been documented that Rumsfeld knew about torture at Abu Ghraib long before it became public. And it's been documented that Rumsfeld signed the documents making it possible, and encouraged the use of these tactics.

So why was his worst day the day it came out in public, and not the day he actually found out about it?
1:04 AM, December 09, 2006
Seven Machos said...

reality check: Documented by whom? Citations, please. You aren't allowed to make stuff up here.


Documented Where? Rumsfeld! When Abu Ghraib came to light, all you torture apologizers were saying that the Pentagon had already launched an investigation!

Also, the ICRC had been complaining about abuses to the Pentagon long before it came to light , and Colin Powell says that he and Mrs. Condi Bush and Rumsfeld were briefing the PReznit on the complaints.

And Rumsfeld definitely signed and okayed the memos that said torture was A-OK and encouraged at Gitmo, and then Rumsfeld sent the Miller from Gitmo to Abu Ghraib to gitmoize the place.

It is documented in the German war crimes case against Rumsfeld. It is documented with General Karpinski's testimony in that case.

Anonymous said...

So again, by Rumsfeld's admission the Pentagon was investigating this long before it came to light.

So heavens to betsy, why is the day it came to light his worst day? Why not the day he found out? Why not 9/11 itself?

Garage Mahal said...

Would you feel better if Clinton were the final arbitrator? Because soon the president will leave office. But long live the president...

I don't feel comfortable with giving any president the powers that Bush gave himself.

So my question to righties is - do you want Hitllary having all these special powers over you?

David said...

The selective targeting of the U.S. by foreign agencies of convenience and the ACLU have no credibility in holding the U.S. to a standard violated with impunity around the world.

An activist judiciary in the U.S. ruling on the conduct of war is self-defeating, literally. Using the Supreme Court to push the left wing political agenda of an elastic constitution is suicidal.

I do not accept the basis of your argument because it places in question the very survivability of the sovereignty and culture the Constitution was written to protect.

Freder Frederson said...

culture the Constitution was written to protect.

I didn't realize that the "culture" the Constitution was written to protect included torture, suspension of habeas corpus, arbitrary and indefinite detention without charges or trial, and unchecked executive power.

tjl said...

"suspension of habeas corpus, arbitrary and indefinite detention without charges or trial, and unchecked executive power."

All employed by Abraham Lincoln in 1861.

Stop hyperventilating, Freder. If you want to limit us to using the methods of Jimmy Carter, we will get the results of Jimmy Carter.

David said...

Freder;

We are a culture of laws and respect for life! Our adversaries are self-described death seekers/murderers in the service of allah! To apply civilized laws to those bent on our destruction is suicidal.

The Constitution was not written as a suicide pact! If you don't have the stomach to fight this war by the rules of our adversary, step aside with your handwringing and whining! Let the rest of us, who don't share your revulsion for violence against an implacable enemy, prevail.

The simple logic in the above is that we save our culture so you can maintain your pacifist beliefs
free of the fear of being blown up at the local mall.

You remind me of the preacher in Mars Attacks who holds the Bible up in front of a Martian spaceship and is vaporized for his efforts.

Freder Frederson said...

Let the rest of us, who don't share your revulsion for violence against an implacable enemy, prevail.

Good one David, do you even bother to read what you wrote and not the internal contradiction of what you wrote.

Basically what you say is we believe in the rule of law and respect life unless we choose not to, then we will be as vicious and cruel as we want to be. The rule of law and respect for life isn't only for when it is easy or convenient.

By the way, what branch of the military are you in? You need a serious remedial course in your responsibilities in the use of force and the treatment of detainees.

David said...

I was Navy, Communications Technician, E5, during Viet Nam, 1966-1972, Honorable Discharge, Service number B------with a uniform still stained by the hippies who greeted me at Travis Air Force Base and the rest of the airports I flew through during my TOD.

I am retiring next year from my current career and would volunteer in a heartbeat to clean toilets if it would free up a younger warrior to do what he was trained for.

Violence and the use of force is not anathema to me if it saves my life, the life of my family, the life of your family, and the lives of my fellow Americans.

I believe in the death penalty and further believe, as a Christian, that sometimes you have to protect your way of life and visit destruction on those who don't have your best interests at heart.

You turn the other cheek. Your choice. People like me will take no joy in doing efficiently what we were trained to do. You will be able to pick me and my brothers out of a crowd. When the colors pass by we will be the ones standing and saluting.

Freder Frederson said...

Violence and the use of force is not anathema to me if it saves my life, the life of my family, the life of your family, and the lives of my fellow Americans.

Show me where I said that violence and use of force is not sometimes necessary. Where I draw the line is stooping to illegal and immoral treatment of detainees. If you, and a significant portion of the people in this country (especially those who call themselves Christians) can't or won't see the difference, can't or won't see the difference, then I fear for the future of this country and the principles you claim you are trying to defend.

I thought you were currently involved in the fight because you are so ready to claim that you are willing to inflict this violence on others. Apparently, you are just willing to let others torture in your name.

Cedarford said...

Freder - I didn't realize that the "culture" the Constitution was written to protect included torture, suspension of habeas corpus, arbitrary and indefinite detention without charges or trial, and unchecked executive power.

Freder, one day, the war with radical Islam will get so bad that all you terrorist and enemy lovers must be removed from all positions of power and influence for the sake of the nation's survival and the safety and security of our citizens. It's happened before with mass purges of seditious people from government, school, and critical job positions...and if WMD are used in America or WWIII erupts overseas it will happen again.

You apparantly have never read the Constitution regarding the specific words in it alowing suspension of habeas corpus and sindefinite detentions. You lack an appreciation for the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of American lives saved by forceful interrogation from the Revolutionary War to the Iraq War.

Calling any interrogation that inflicts the slightest physical or "humiliation" indignity on a murderous enemy may be "torture" for you, and allow you to seize some sort of false moral superiority. But people like you aid, comfort, and enable the enemy.

As for the executive, once actions are enabled by Congress, war is all on the Executive. Not just in National Emergencies, not just historically where leaders in the Executive decided if millions of Americans and enemy and the now all-precious enemy civilians lived or died....where power was unchecked...but for 60 years the President has been authorized to wage global thermonuclear war on Best Judgement without a single Senator voting on it or a single lawyer dressed in robes ruling on it.

If I were you, I would reconsider being a terrorist and enemy lover that gives them a pass and only attacks the actions of America's leaders or soldiers. The shit is hitting the fan, and you and your ilk are way out on a limb.

Freder Frederson said...

You apparantly have never read the Constitution regarding the specific words in it alowing suspension of habeas corpus and sindefinite detentions.

Actually, I have. It only allows it during times of insurrection or rebellion (suspension of the writ, that is--it says nothing about indefinite detention). Last I checked, those conditions did not exist (although they undoubtedly did during the Civil War).

You lack an appreciation for the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of American lives saved by forceful interrogation from the Revolutionary War to the Iraq War.

This is not only wrong, it is a serious misreading of history and a slander on the brave men and women of our armed forces. It is precisely because, on the whole, we treat our enemies with dignity and respect once we capture them or they surrender, that our casualties in our foreign wars, especially in the last century have been low, especially when compared to our advesaries or even some of our allies. Compare our or British casualty rates with that of the Russians in World War II to see exactly how wrong you are.the casualty

Seven Machos said...

Why is Rumsfeld responsible? What crime did he commit? Of course, you can say that Rumsfeld is in charge, but why stop at Rumsfeld? Why not Bush?

In fact, I would not stop there. As we all know, because lefties argue it here ad puke, the United States is under the auspices of the United Nations. Kofi Annan must be made to answer for these war crimes. With power comes responsibility.

hdhouse said...

ahhh seven nachos.....


why indeed stop at rumsfeld. ohhhh geerge? justice calling.


and to the nitwit tjl -

i'm so sorry you have so little use for or value of your civil liberties and national pride. Some tinstar from Texas who is little more and a lot less than a mouthpiece for a gaggle of neo-cons longing for the restoration of George II and this idiot would-be-king plays the part of village idiot to a T.

My civil liberties are not for loan out and the values, the values of the constitution and this country, are not an inconvenience but essential.

The sooner this congress cuts Boy George off at his knees the sooner we will be safer. we are not safe for an instant as long as the moron in chief goes to work in the morning.

tjl said...

Well, hdhouse, at least I have the wit to know how to operate a shift key.

Simon said...

Freder Frederson said...
"Actually, I have [read the Constitution regarding the specific words in it alowing suspension of habeas corpus]. It only allows it during times of insurrection or rebellion."

Not that it matters for our purposes here, but the text is "in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion." You should always start with a clear statement of the controlling text.

I might add that suspension is also subject to two additional provisos, one explicit, the other one structurally implicit: in specific and defined circumstances (viz., "in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion"), the writ may be suspended, but only at the behest of Congress, and only when Congress deems that "the public safety may require it."

Obviously Congress' discretionary power to suspend or not suspend is unreviewable as a political question, as to some extent is whether there is a "rebellion" in progress (I tend to think that the most natural reading is to suppose the text means "in circumstances of armed attack on the United States, whether by enemies foreign or domestic). But the descriptive question of whether it yet has been suspended most certainly is reviewable, see Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507 (2004) (Scalia, dissenting).

The question - for me, at least - is not whether habeas can be suspended, or even if it has been. The more interesting argument is who can file in federal court for the writ, and there is a legitimate question as to whether an inmate at guantanamo -- who is neither a citizen, anywhere, or a person, in the United States -- can so file.

The Exalted said...

Freder, one day, the war with radical Islam will get so bad that all you terrorist and enemy lovers must be removed from all positions of power and influence for the sake of the nation's survival and the safety and security of our citizens. It's happened before with mass purges of seditious people from government, school, and critical job positions...and if WMD are used in America or WWIII erupts overseas it will happen again.


dude, you're just flat batshit. nothing personal.

hdhouse said...

Kirk Parker said...
I'm with Gerry and Richard, and all those other folks. And especially Monkeyboy!

Rumsfeld belongs in a category with Kirkpatrick (and Bolton, too.) Alas for us, we have far too few such people."

That's like saying I wish there were more devils. Bolton? Kirkpatrick? and Rumsfeld? How about Moe Curly and Larry? Winkin', blinkin' and nod?

The only thing they have in common is their degree of assholishness. Kirkpatrick I kinda buy as adequate. Bolton is like a turd in the punchbowl. And Rumsfeld should be hanged.

Michael McNeil said...

Most folks in America have never heard Ali of Iraq the Model's interview with an Iraqi physician who was stationed at Abu Ghraib. It gives an illuminating view of what that prison was like outside of the "torture" chambers. Quoting that posting:


Saturday, May 08, 2004
Abu Gharib, other parts of the picture.

Yesterday a friend of mine, who’s also a doctor, visited us. After chatting about old memories, I asked him about his opinions on the current situations in Iraq. I’ve always known this friend to be apathetic when it comes to politics, even if it means what’s happening in Iraq. It was obvious that he hadn’t change and didn’t show any interest in going deep into this conversation. However when I asked him about his opinion on GWB response to the prisoners’ abuse issue, I was surprised to see him show anger and disgust as he said:

- This whole thing makes me sick.

- Why is that?! I asked.

- These thugs are treated much better than what they really deserve!

- What are you saying!? You can’t possibly think that this didn’t happen! And they’re still human beings, and there could be some innocents among them.

- Of course it happened, and I’m not talking about all the prisoners nor do I support these actions, and there could be some innocents among them, but I doubt it.

- Then why do you say such a thing?

- Because these events have taken more attention than they should.

- I agree but there should be an investigation on this. There are other pictures that were shown lately, and there are talks about others that will be shown in the near future.

- Yes, but what happened cannot represent more than 1% of the truth.

- Oh I really hope there would be no more than that.

- No, that’s not what I meant. What I’m saying is that these events are the exception and not the rule.

- How do you know that!? I must say I agree with your presumption, but I don’t have a proof, and I never thought you’d be interested in such issue!

- I was there for a whole month!

- In Abu-Gharib!? What were you doing there!?

- It was part of my training! Did you forget that!? I know you skipped that at Saddam’s time, but how could you forget that?

- Yes, but I thought that with the American troops there, the system must have been changed.

- No it’s still the same. We still have to do a month there.

- So tell me what did you see there? How’s the situation of the prisoners? Did you see any abuse? Do they get proper medical care? (I was excited to see someone who was actually there, and he was a friend!)

- Hey, slow down! I’ll tell you what I know. First of all, the prisoners are divided into two groups; the ordinary criminals and the political ones. I used to visit the ordinary criminals during every shift, and after that, the guards would bring anyone who has a complaint to me at the prison’s hospital.

- What about the 'political' ones?

- I’m not allowed to go to their camps, but when one of them feels ill, the guards bring him to me.

- Are the guards all Americans?

- No, the American soldiers with the IP watch over and take care of the ordinary criminals, but no one except the Americans is allowed to get near the political ones.

- How are the medical supplies in the prison?

- Not very great, but certainly better from what it was on Saddam’s times. However my work is mainly at night, but in the morning the supplies are usually better.

- How many doctors, beside you, were there?

- There was an American doctor, who’s always their (His name is Eric, a very nice guy, he and I became friends very fast), and other Iraqi doctors with whom I shared the work, and in the morning, there are always some Iraqi senior doctors; surgeons, physicians...etc.

- Why do you say they are very well treated?

- They are fed much better than they get at their homes. I mean they eat the same stuff we eat, and it’s pretty good; eggs, cheese, milk and tea, meat, bread and vegetables, everything! And that happened every day, and a good quality too.

- Are they allowed to smoke? (I asked this because at Saddam’s times, it was a crime to smoke in prison and anyone caught while doing this would be punished severely).

- Yes, but they are given only two cigarettes every day.

- What else? How often are they allowed to take a bath? (This may sound strange to some people, but my friend understood my question. We knew from those who spent sometime in Saddam’s prisons, and survived, that they were allowed to take a shower only once every 2-3 weeks.)

- Anytime they want! There are bathrooms next to each hall.

- Is it the same with the 'political' prisoners?

- I never went there, but I suppose it’s the same because they were always clean when they came to the hospital, and their clothes were always clean too.

- How often do they shave? (I remember a friend who spent 45 days in prison at Saddam’s times had told me that the guards would inspect their beards every day to see if they were shaved properly, and those who were not, would be punished according to the guards’ mood. He also told me that they were of course not allowed to have any shaving razors or machines and would face an even worse punishment in case they found some of these on one of the prisoners. So basically all the prisoners had to smuggle razors, which cost a lot, shave in secrecy and then get rid of the razor immediately! That friend wasn’t even a political prisoner; he was arrested for having a satellite receiver dish in his house!)

- I’m not sure, from what I saw, it seemed that there was a barber visiting them frequently, because they had different hair cuts, some of them shaved their beards others kept them or left what was on their chins only. I mean it seemed that they had the haircut they desired!

-Yes but what about the way they are treated? And how did you find American soldiers in general?

- I’ll tell you about that; first let me tell you that I was surprised with their politeness. Whenever they come to the hospital, they would take of their helmets and show great respect and they either call me Sir or doctor. As for the way they treat the prisoners, they never handcuff anyone of those, political or else, when they bring them for examination and treatment unless I ask them to do so if I know that a particular prisoner is aggressive, and I never saw them beat a prisoner and rarely did one of them use an offensive language with a prisoner.

One of those times, a member of the American MP brought one of the prisoners, who was complaining from a headache, but when I tried to take history from him he said to me “doctor, I had a problem with my partner (he was a homosexual) I’m not Ok and I need a morphine or at least a valium injection” when I told him I can’t do that, he was outraged, swore at me and at the Americans and threatened me. I told the soldier about that, and he said “Ok Sir, just please translate to him what I’m going to say”. I agreed and he said to him “I want you to apologize to the doctor and I want your word as a man that you’ll behave and will never say such things again” and the convict told him he has his word!!

Another incidence I remember was when one of the soldiers brought a young prisoner to the hospital. The boy needed admission but the soldier said he’s not comfortable with leaving the young boy (he was about 18) with those old criminals and wanted to keep him in the isolation room to protect him. I told him that this is not allowed according to the Red Cross regulations. He turned around and saw the paramedics’ room and asked me if he can keep him there, and I told him I couldn’t. The soldier turned to a locked door and asked me about it. I said to him “It’s an extra ward that is almost deserted but I don’t have the keys, as the director of the hospital keeps them with him”. The soldier grew restless, and then he brought some tools, broke that door, fixed it, put a new lock, put the boy inside and then locked the door and gave me the key!


- Did you witness any aggressiveness from American soldiers?

- Only once. There was a guy who is a troublemaker. He was abnormally aggressive and hated Americans so much. One of those days the soldiers were delivering lunch and he took the soup pot that was still hot and threw it at one of the guards. The guard avoided it and the other guards caught the convict and one of them used an irritant spray that causes sever itching, and then they brought the prisoner to me to treat him.

- So you think that these events are isolated?

- As far as I know and from what I’ve seen, I’m sure that they are isolated.

- But couldn’t it be true that there were abusive actions at those times that the prisoners were afraid to tell you about?

- Are you serious!? These criminals, and I mean both types tell me all about there 'adventures and bravery'. Some of them told me how they killed an American soldier or burned a humvee, and in their circumstances this equals a confession! Do you think they would’ve been abused and remained silent and not tell me at least!? No, I don’t think any of this happened during the time I was there. It seemed that this happened to a very small group of whom I met no one during that month.

- Can you tell me anything about those 'political' prisoners? Are they Islamists, Ba’athists or what?

- Islamists?? I don't care what they call themselves, but they are thugs, they swear all the time, and most of them are addicts or homosexuals or both. Still very few of them looked educated.

- Ah, that makes them close to Ba’athists. Do you think there are innocents among them?

- There could be. Some of them say they are and others boast in front of me, as I said, telling the crimes they committed in details. Of course I’m not naive enough to blindly believe either.

- Are they allowed to get outside, and how often? Do they have fans or air coolers inside their halls?

- Of course they are! Even you still compare this to what it used to be at Saddam’s times and there’s absolutely no comparison. They play volleyball or basketball everyday, and they have fans in their halls.

- Do they have sport suits?

- No, it’s much better than Saddam’s days but it’s still a prison and not the Sheraton. They use the same clothes but I’ve seen them wearing train shoes when they play.

- Are they allowed to read?

- Yes, I’ve seen the ordinary criminals read, and I believe the political are allowed too, because I remember one of them asking me to tell one of the American soldiers that he wanted his book that one of the soldiers had borrowed from him.

- So, you believe there’s a lot of clamor here?

- As you said these things are unaccepted but I’m sure that they are isolated and they are just very few exceptions that need to be dealt with, but definitely not the rule. The rule is kindness, care and respect that most of these thugs don’t deserve, and that I have seen by my own eyes. However I still don't understand why did this happen.

- I agree with you, only it’s not about the criminals, it’s about the few innocents who could suffer without any guilt and it’s about us; those who try to build a new Iraq. We can’t allow ourselves to be like them and we can’t go back to those dark times.

As for "why"; I must say that these few exceptions happen everywhere, only in good society they can be exposed and dealt with fast, while in corrupted regimes, it may take decades for such atrocities to be exposed which encourage the evil people to go on, and exceptions become the rule.

What happened in Abu-Gharib should be a lesson for us, Iraqis, above all. It showed how justice functions in a democratic society. We should study this lesson carefully, since sooner or later we'll be left alone and it will be our responsibility to deal with such atrocities, as these will never cease to happen.

-By Ali.
Posted by Omar @ 18:42

(end quote)

The Exalted said...

Can you tell me anything about those 'political' prisoners? Are they Islamists, Ba’athists or what?

- Islamists?? I don't care what they call themselves, but they are thugs, they swear all the time, and most of them are addicts or homosexuals or both


sweet jesus, can anyone really believe this? the answer, as always, is yes.

Kirk Parker said...

hdhouse,

Love the way you literally demonize the opposition.

Bolton and Kirkpatrick came to mind because (coincidentally) they were both in the news recently.

But what a coincidence: probably our two most effective ambassadors to the UN. YMMV, of course, if you like the way Oil-for-food went, or all the other recent financial scandals from the place, or the peacekeepers' sexual-exploitation scandals, or the wonderful way the blue helmets kept the piece in Rwanda, or....

No, I'll stick with my choices.

The Exalted said...

kirk,

in what way was bolton "effective?"

Michael McNeil said...

The Exalted said...
sweet jesus, can anyone really believe this? the answer, as always, is yes.

"The Exalted" thus joins those who always pop up claiming that pro-democracy bloggers in Iraq, such as Iraq the Model's Baghdadi brothers, are CIA plants or whatnot.