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I wonder if the torture incident in Iraq will become this generation's My Lai?

I've little to say except that, by providing fodder for anti-American propaganda, what these morons did certainly had the effect, if not the intent, of providing aid and comfort to the enemy. Given that this occurred in the land of Hammurabi, I'm tempted to suggest that they get the same treatment, with live broadcast rights to Al Jazeera, but it would actually be too good for them.

[Update a few minutes later]

It's already happening, in Pravda. Note the headline.

Posted by Rand Simberg at May 01, 2004 04:52 PM
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The Russians have a lot of balls lecturing us on torture. May the Hypocracy Fairy give them crotch rot.

I don't like what these soldiers did one bit and think they should be sternly punished but they are the outliers and most assuredly not the norm. Speaking as a former GI myself.

Posted by Mike Puckett at May 1, 2004 07:22 PM

What gets me is the claim that they were never trained in the provisions of the Geneva Conventions on POWs, that their repeated requests for instruction went unanswered, and that they therefore can't be blamed (the implication apparently being that it is Bush's fault, for having provided inadequate training prior to sending these soldiers to Iraq).

Well, there may be a kernel of truth there, but it misses the point. It might be an excuse if the violations of which these guards are being accused were of a hair-splitting or legalistic nature, some finer point of POW law it would take an expert to explain. But from what I've read so far, the alleged abuses were so far over the line that COMMON SENSE ALONE should have told these guards that what they were doing was wrong.

Posted by T.L. James at May 2, 2004 12:17 AM

It might not have been that far out the norm . Sounds like Millitary Intelligence has been playing rough.

They should have flattened that place in the freaking ground a year ago. It's like reopening Auschwitz as a crematorium.

As an aside, who would have thought 20 years ago that Pravda would resurface as the Russian "Weekly World News"?

Posted by Duncan Young at May 2, 2004 12:25 AM

Marine vetern here: everyone gets a basic course in the Geneva Convention. The Sgts claim (paraphrase) that he'd never heard of the thing is improbable.

My suggestion would be to strip the brigade's colors and think ... think ... about letting them have them back in a few decades. Perhaps by then the Brigade will have their honor restored. But they'll have to work for it.

While we're at it - every soldier in the army wears a nifty shoulder patch for their parent unit. Every member of that brigade should be stripped of their patch now, and that honor denied to members of that brigade until their colors are returned. We should -know- who these soldiers are on sight.

Having the Russians lecture on human rights does seem absurd - but par for the course. I would suggest that Pravda is every bit an organ of agitprop as it used to be.

Posted by Brian at May 2, 2004 04:59 PM

Just saw (on TV) a defense lawyer for one of the serviceman accused in this episode. He says his client says this behavior was directed by higher-ups as a tool to break down the psychological resistance of the prisoners and gain information.

A public court martial, with full inquiry into the chain of command (including the involvement of the many non-uniformed private contractors at that Iraqi prison) will be needed if we are to get the whole story.

Riverbend writes that the rumors in the streets of Baghdad concern what might be happening to the female Iraqi prisoners.

Uh-oh. . .

Posted by Bill White at May 3, 2004 08:51 AM

Its growing deeper. . .

This conduct was sanctioned to "soften up" prisoners for interrogation.

Posted by Bill White at May 3, 2004 09:38 AM

>I've little to say except that, by providing >fodder for anti-American propaganda

Doesn't the "little" you have to say about the world outside the US tend to include the words: "anti-American propaganda"

I would say that the abuse allegations are a blow - if not a lethal one - to U.S. effort to win Iraqi hearts and minds. I would guess that the spectacle of women soldiers sexually abusing male prisoners would be especially offensive to the Muslim world.

"This is the straw that broke the camel's back for America," said Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper. "It affects the honour and pride of Muslim people. It is better to kill them than sexually abuse them. That really, really is the worst atrocity."

"They have not just lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis" Mr. Atwan continued: "but all the Third World and the Arab countries."

Over this first weekend in May, Arab satellite television stations, seen by millions of Arabs and Muslims, began their news bulletins with the pictures, which they said showed the "savagery" of US troops against Iraqi prisoners.

Hmm, for a country that is so high and mighty about human-rights violations all over the world, they certainly don't practise what they preach. The outrageous treatment of detainees at Guantanomo Bay is yet another example.

Now, why sould one be shocked and surprised that the "liberators" of Iraq have engaged in brutal and humiliating torture? This kind of action and worse has been standard practice both in occupations such as Vietnam and in training and support for brutal regimes in Iran, Iraq, the Philippines, Haiti, Chile, Brazil and El Salvador, to name but a few. More than 70,000 "police" have passed through the School of the Americas (now renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Co-operation) at Fort Benning, Georgia, where such torture practice is known to have been taught. Torture manuals used there such as "KUBARK" and "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual" can be accessed online. For more details of torture just use Google and type in Torture+CIA. For a more specific search just add the name of any US client regime past or present.

As for bringing the Iraqi torturers to justice, take a lesson from Vietnam. When the butchers of more than 500 civilians – mainly women and children – at My Lai were tried, only Lt William Calley (another Fort Benning graduate) was convicted. Although he was sentenced to life imprisonment, he only served 3,5 years under house arrest. Why? Apparently the Kansas legislature, echoed the sentiments of the majority of Americans and offered a resolution calling for Lt. Calley’s release. President Nixon responded by immediately commuting Lt. Calley’s sentence. Lt. Calley has worked in a jewelry store for the past 35 years.

Now, let's return to what's transpiring in Iraq. I don't think many americans are facing the reality that when the US finally leaves Iraq - and it will - in defeat and disgrace, its personnel are likely to be fleeing embassy rooftops by helicopter, yanked skyward as desperately as in Saigon 29 years ago

The Rand Simbergs and George Bushes of the world will blame the debacle on those who opposed this war when it started and continue to oppose it. But the root cause of defeat will be in the same word that got you in - empire. It's the Imperial idea that your white, Christian nation has the right, the duty, the divine mandate to dominate whomever you please, especially those countries with resources you want, like oil.

Finally, why don't you take a look at the May edition of The Magazine of Future Warfare at:

A careful reader of the limited news coming out of Iraq will discover the US military situation is perilous and a few more bad moves could send the US Army and Marines retreating back to Kuwait in the same manner they fled southward 54 years ago in Korea. That was when a million Chinese foot soldiers suddenly appeared and attacked as overextended US forces approached the Chinese border. American firepower, airpower, and technology was unable to compensate for the confusion and lack of supplies for American ground troops.

The main problem in Iraq today is the massive logistics effort required to sustain US Forces at a over a hundred dispersed camps. Over 95% of supplies arrive by ship, and the closest major seaport is in Kuwait. This means everything must be hauled hundreds of miles over war torn roads among hostile natives. This is far more difficult than Vietnam, which had a long coastline where supplies could be dropped off. A recent article by Tom Ricks of the Washington Post noted that most convoys are attacked, and that soldiers must stop to check each bridge for explosives because there is not enough manpower to guard them. Other reporters tell of recently destroyed bridges, forcing convoys to travel on secondary roads which doubles their travel time. In addition, many civilian truck drivers have refused to drive and many foreign logistics contractors have left Iraq.

Note: On March 18, two days before the U.S. invasion, Barbara Bush had an interview with ABC-TV's Diane Sawyer.

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, what day it's gonna happen?" Mrs. Bush declared. "It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

Posted by Canute at May 3, 2004 10:13 AM

" Lt William Calley (another Fort Benning graduate) was convicted."

Linking the School of the Americas to the Officer's course that Calley attended is a gross abuse of the truth.

Calley was (if memory serves) rushed through an abbreviated period of traning for junior officers, which at the time he attended has relaxed their graduation standadrs to the point of criminality.

The School of the Americas has, and had, nothing to do with that course.

Posted by Brian at May 3, 2004 02:37 PM

Abuses like this happen more than anyone would care to admit. What's important to consider is that they are so rare and out of the ordinary that they actually make the news. Even more important is the response by the chain of command.

One of the bad aspects of this affair is that it gives the pompous, self-rightous reactionary bloviators on the Left something they have desparately trying to find for over a year-- proof that they aren't 100% totally out of touch with reality and that their efforts to refight a thirty year old war haven't been in vain.. It's too bad that we now have to listen to such people take this one incident and claim that everyone in Iraq is a war criminal.

Posted by Raoul Ortega at May 3, 2004 08:41 PM

Is a Brigadier General a pompous bloviator?

>> It was clear yesterday that the scandal would go much further. Brigadier General Janis Karpinski - a reservist who was removed from her job supervising US military prisons in Iraq after soldiers blew the whistle on the abuses - yesterday claimed that General Ricardo Sanchez, who commands US land forces in Iraq, should bear some of the blame. "There is a shared responsibility for this," she said.

Posted by Bill White at May 3, 2004 09:03 PM

>>only Lt William Calley (another Fort Benning
>>graduate) was convicted

>Linking the School of the Americas to the
>Officer's course that Calley attended is a gross
>abuse of the truth.

A gross abuse of the truth? All I pointed out was that Lt. william Calley, an unemployed college dropout who successfully applied to Officer Candidacy School - - and began six months of junior officer training in the middle of March 1967, somehow managed to graduate from Fort Benning (OCS) where the School of the Americas is also located -

Posted by Canute at May 4, 2004 03:16 AM

A brigadier general who'd like to not bear the full burden of responsibility for what happened, might overstate the extent to which responsibility is shared.

Human Behavior 101.

Posted by McGehee at May 4, 2004 09:18 AM

Canute, that sounds like "guilt by association" to me.

Posted by McGehee at May 4, 2004 09:19 AM

>Canute, that sounds like "guilt by association" to me.

Does it?

Posted by Canute at May 4, 2004 09:50 AM


Your comment seemed to be an attempt to link Calley with the School of the Americas;

"Lt William Calley (another Fort Benning graduate) was convicted."

The implication seems to be that Calley (an OCS grad) and SotA are somehow intertwined. If that was not your intent, then by all means you have my apologies.

Is a Brigadier General a pompous bloviator?

The Brigader in question certainly seems to be. I expect officers to take full responsibility for screwups in their command - that's the price one pays for the privlege of rank.

You own your command - you glory in it's sucess and you damn sure wallow in it's failures. Trying to cast blame elsewhere is petty and wrong. Indicitive of a sick unit, IMHO. Troops pick up on attitudes like that.

If she wasn't willing to accept the burden of command .. whyhinthehell is she wearing a general's star?

Posted by Brian at May 4, 2004 09:51 AM

>Your comment seemed to be an attempt to link Calley
>with the School of the Americas

Brian, I agree that one may read it that way - and I could have formulated the sentence differently - but it was not my intent to specifically link Calley to the SotA.

Posted by Canute at May 4, 2004 10:23 AM

Unless "stress & duress" really is intended to include sexual humiliation combined with a "don't ever get caught" provision.

Remember the enlisted folk are charged with failing to protect prisoners from civilian contractors, and to date, those civilian contractors appear immune from discipline or punishment.

Posted by Bill White at May 4, 2004 01:29 PM

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