Sunday, September 25, 2005

American troops abuse Iraqi prisoners

The problem at abu Ghraib was not some rogue reservists who stepped out of line. The problem was either a failure of command and control - or it was a specific policy by the Bush/Rumsfeld administration being carried out. I said that when the abu Ghraib pictures came out, and this report strongly demonstrates the truth of that statement. How can Americans be acting this way?

From the LA Times:
When Army Capt. Ian Fishback told his company and battalion commanders that soldiers were abusing Iraqi prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention, he says, they told him those rules were easily skirted.

When he wrote a memo saying Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was wrong in telling Congress that the Army follows the Geneva dictates, his lieutenant colonel responded only: "I am aware of Fishback's concerns."

And when Fishback found himself in the same room as Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey at Ft. Benning, Ga., he again complained about prisoner abuse. He said Harvey told him that "corrective action was already taken."

At every turn, it seemed, the decorated young West Point graduate, the son of a Vietnam War veteran from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, whose wife is serving with the Army in Iraq, felt that the military had shut him out.
The reports show that the same thing is happening in a lot more places than in just one military prison. That clearly shows it is either policy or it is being condoned by the commanders.

Billmon wrote about it yesterday.
There was a time when I would have argued that the American people couldn't stomach that kind of butchery -- not for long anyway -- even if their political leaders were willing to inflict it. But now I'm not so sure. As a nation, we may be so desensitized to violence, and so inured to mechanized carnage on a grand scale, that we're psychologically capable of tolerating genocidal warfare against any one who can successfully be labeled as a "terrorist." Or at least, a sizable enough fraction of the America public may be willing to tolerate it, or applaud it, to make the costs politically bearable.
Many Americans ask how the German people could accept the Nazi Final Solution without speaking out. Perhaps, looking at what some Americans are willing to do to prisoners, that question will be a little easier to answer. You fear speaking out, harden your heart and just look away - if you don't join them.

The decisions involved don't seem much more difficult for a lot of people than for a tobacco executive to deny that cigarettes cause cancer in front of a Senate Committee.

Pogo: We have seen the enemy, and he is us.

1 comment:

Mark said...

You may want to point out to your readers that Bush is threatening to veto legislation that would uphold the Geneva Convention.

The legislation was sponsored by Republican Armed Services Committee Senators John McCain, John W. Warner, and Lindsey Graham in response to the latest torture scandal in Iraq.

To make matters worse, many prominent Congressional Republicans are also opposed to abiding by the Geneva Convention, to the point that overturning such a veto would be far from assured.