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.


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?

Brian 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.

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.

stephenb said...

Yea, what Gerry said.

Fritz said...

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

Brian 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.

Brian Doyle said...

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

Ann's core demographic, ladies and gentleman!

chickelit said...

I'm with Gerry too

Brian 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.

chickelit 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...

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.

I'm Full of Soup 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?

chickelit 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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

alphie said...


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 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.

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:

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

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.

I'm Full of Soup 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.

The Exalted said...


dear chum, here you go:

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

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

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...

Anonymous 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?

Beth 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...


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...

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...


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?


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?

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.

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?

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"?

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

The Exalted said...


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.