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May 01, 2004

On the Mistreatment of Iraqi Prisoners

In the comments to this post I am obliquely called to task by a (I assume) left-wing college student who wants to know where the outrage is over the still unfolding story about the alleged mistreatment of Iraqi prisoner by US troops. Actually, the evidence produced so far looks pretty damning to me - but I'll stick with the alleged because that's the way it works until the Courtsmartial process is done. That whole innocent before proven guilty thing.

The site linked to - a LIveJournal site run by transmigrant, has some very graphic photos that I hadn't seen. No apologies for not having seen it yet. Not being a college student, I'm working twelve hour days and running an internet charity drive. So, I'm not up on the news. Hell, dude - I haven't even been reading other people's blogs.

My response to the commenter (I don't think the commenter is the LJ site owner) was this:

Yep, you're right. It looks like an ugly thing.

As I've said elsewhere, we don't shoot enough generals. Hopefully this one will be, in the metaphorical sense. And maybe more than one, if we're lucky. And not just with a forced retirement, either.

And if the military establishment doesn't go after these people with guns blazing - they will be deserving of the scorn and abuse thrown their way.

I won't defend this, if it's what it appears to be.

But one wonders what you are expecting of me? To don sackcloth and ashes? Call for the immediate withdrawal of all the soldiers? Declare that the actions of these soldiers is a stain upon the escutcheon of all other soldiers now serving and demand the disbandment of the DoD, restoration of Saddam to power, and a written apology to Bin Laden?

Sorry. I'll be happy if the courtsmartial process works, and if they are found guilty, they come here to Leavenworth and take the long tour.

There isn't a defense for what they appear to have done. I won't offer one. That's the job of their lawyers.

I also went and submitted a comment at the site, which transmigrant posted. Actually - as of last night, when last I read through it, the comments are pretty even, given the crowd probably reading it and that fact that either through transmigrant's management or just the demographic, it hadn't descended to mindless left-right trollery-countertrollery.

I was a cop once. I liked being a cop, not for the power over people, but for the power to influence things - and the occaisional adrenaline rush, too. But as a cop I saw fellow cops who were way into the power side of it. And that was especially true of the jailers. Why am I brining this up?

Surely we don't think that what went on in that prison was policy? Rhetorical question, of course some people do. And they always will. One of the things I find amazing when dealing with people like that is they seem to think it's the norm of government and the military, and that "You know what I'm talking about." I don't. I always seemed to miss those memos from the Vast Conspiracy. I'm starting to ramble here.

Here's some pictures (about the least objectionable - if you want really bad, go see transmigrants site).

pow1.jpg pow2.jpg

What we have here, are some very, very, very dumb soldiers. And venal. And mindlessly pointlessly cruel. And unworthy of the uniform they wear, and the nation they represent. They would have fit in the security services of the regime we went there to replace. If (being legalistic here, I wouldn't want to be their lawyers with these pictures) they did what they appear to have done - they are no different in any meaningful sense from those who they replaced in that very same prison, Abu Ghraib.

The General commanding has no defense against an administrative destruction of her career. She may not be criminally liable, that's for the Art. 32 and a subsequent courtsmartial to determine - but at a minimum she should be retired at her permanent rank (probably LtCol). If they can show that she is criminally negligent or otherwise responsible, dismissal and a tour here at Leavenworth are also appropriate. And all of them, if convicted, should be subject to civil suits.

I have started to hear the moonbats bark, however. Saying this is really just the way the services, and this government, is. News dudes. If Al Gore had sent us on this operation, this would have happened. This isn't an issue of policy. This is an issue of command malfeasance, and a failure of discipline. What these soldiers appear to have done is wrong morally and legally. It's the same thing that happens in US prisons - abuse of authority under the color of law. And should be dealt with accordingly.

And if DoD can't deal with it - then I will join with people from whatever political position in heaping scorn upon the leadership. That said - you have to remember that Rumsfeld and Co. have to be careful in what they say - or they will hand a defense to these soldier's lawyers - unlawful command influence. There's a lot that will happen behind the scenes, that you will never see. But it's happening. I have one other grump with this - DoD, no matter who sits in the White House, always sits on crap like this until it comes out in the papers. And looks stupid and venal for doing so. When are the bureacrats (and senior leaders) ever going to learn that you can never keep this shit quiet and you might as well go ugly early?

What's the other story here? Those soldiers will have their day in court. And, if found guilty, will hopefully have an unhappy passel of years following. And they're always going to be facing those pictures. But while their behavior mirrors the behavior of Saddam's thugs who ran that prison - the other thing to note is that none of those soldiers has an ID card with the job title of State Rapist, and similar job descriptions. Those people are most likely going to jail. And the same Army that put their predecessors out of business put them out of business. The previous management of that prison would have given them raises.

But there's no excuse, or defense, for that behavior. But running away from Iraq isn't the answer, either. If anything, show the Iraqis what the 'rule of law' means.

As for where are the right-wing bloggers on this? Smash. Misha. Kim. Reynolds. Michele. Kevin. Balloon Juice. Brain Fertilizer. Baldilocks. Outside the Beltway. Blogospherics. Brain Shavings.

That's what I found in a quick stroll around the blogosphere. I haven't found any major names doing anything other than condemn - and Juliette's for shooting the bastards. If anything, I'm the softest of the bunch.

UPDATE: I also address this issue here and here.

Ooo. First troll. Articulate as ever. And, as always, anonymous. Thank you for sharing this useful piece of opinion.

F*CK USA army, they're allredy f*cked all over IRAQ....and they will be F*CKED all over the WORLD

One can only hope you will be among those who try to do so. Thank you for your interest in national defense.

John | Permalink | Comments (22) | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
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