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May 6, 2004

More. Rivka reads the Taguba report for you.

Here’s the report in HTML with a few names redacted; here’s the complete report as a 53-page PDF. (Remember, this is the report from February that the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff couldn’t get around to reading until CBS broadcast the photos last week.)

There are more stories and pictures now.

And probably more to come.

Remember worldwide admiration for America? Pause a moment. You can feel the world change.

“No, it’s not fair. You’re in the wrong universe for fair. (John Scalzi)

PS: Rivka is writing the weblog I’d aspire to write if I had 48 hours in a day. Respectful of Otters is now in my opinion one of the best weblogs in the world, one of the six or seven I don’t go a day without checking into. [12:06 PM]

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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on More.:

ElizabethVomMarlo ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 12:45 PM:

Just to depress everyone further...

If you don't already know, according to the Washington Post yesterday, the General Miller mentioned in the Taguba report and discussed in Rivka's first paragraph (ordering the MPs to set "conditions for successful explotation", which Taguba slams) is apparently the same guy who is now in charge of all the Iraq prisons. He defended the setting conditions thing, btw, which he developed at Gitmo.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 12:46 PM:

Indeed, her write-up is excellent. While I spent a fair amount of time reading the Taguba report yesterday, I haven't had the stomach for the kind of focused review attention Rivka has given it. I read it for a while and bounce off.

Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 01:19 PM:

Kathryn - this is probably one of the ways my day job helps with my blogging. I'm just as queasy and shocked and sad and ashamed as everyone else is. But you don't last long as a psychologist if you can't learn to bookmark those feelings and set them aside while you analyze whatever it is that you're hearing.

Patrick - thanks for the kind words. It means an awful lot, coming from someone I respect so much.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 01:24 PM:

I had thought that your ability to face this probably had something to do with your profession.

In particular, I find it had to read about it or write about it and then interact with my kids. It's very hard to read about this kind of abuse without your feelings coloring your personal power relations. Scary.

bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 01:26 PM:

excuse me but is that John Scalzi quote supposed to indicate that it's not fair if the world stops admiring the U.S?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 01:41 PM:

The John Scalzi quote is my answer to the war enthusiasts who are whining that it's not fair that all the good America does should be overshadowed by a few malfeasants. My point is that this may or may not be true--the malfeasants may or may not be few, the good America does may or may not outweigh the bad--but it doesn't matter.

We have dealt ourselves a tremendous self-inflicted wound. Images like this will appear on the banners of those who oppose America for the next hundred years.

Stephan Wehner ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 02:14 PM:

Take a look at this letter, titled "Abuse of Iraqi prisoners and the SPE parallels" from Stanford's Professor Zimbardo of Psychology. He sent it to a mailing list of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

A quote: "The situational analysis says the barrel of war is filled with vinegar that will transform good cucumbers into sour pickles and will always do it to make the majority of good people, men and women, into perpetrators of evil, where there is: anonymity-deindividuation, dehumanization, secrecy, diffusion of responsibility, social modeling, big power differentials, frustration, feelings of revenge,obedience to authority, lack of supervision that conveys a sense of permissiveness."

The letter is at

http://www.stolaf.edu/cgi-bin/mailarchivesearch.pl?directory=/home/www/people/huff/SPSP&listname=archive04&location=2581809

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 02:18 PM:

Kathryn - I call that the "Touching Evil" problem...

Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 02:31 PM:

We have dealt ourselves a tremendous self-inflicted wound. Images like this will appear on the banners of those who oppose America for the next hundred years.

Perhaps these events are too recent and I've lost context, but I'd go further.

More than just appearing on the banners of those who oppose America for the next hundred years, a century from now these images will appear prominently in our own history books. Should President Bush win a second term he will have to accomplish great things to avoid the long shadow of these photos over his legacy. If President Bush's reelection campaign fails, fair or not, Abu Ghraib will without a doubt be mentioned in even the shortest summaries of his Presidency.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 03:18 PM:

Warren Ellis's blog links to this story about the home town of everybody's favorite grinning lady war criminal:

http://dailytelegraph.news.com.au/story.jsp?sectionid=1258&storyid=1302907

Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 03:21 PM:

Another set of references: John Pike's GlobalSecurity.org. He's got citations of pertinent military doctrine up there.

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 03:54 PM:

Richard Parker wrote:

More than just appearing on the banners of those who oppose America for the next hundred years, a century from now these images will appear prominently in our own history books.

I could wish that that were true.

I work at a university and I supervise undergraduate student workers. When the war first started, I made a sarcastic comment along the lines of, "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." None of the students there had any idea what I was referring to. I established that a) yes, they had taken history in high school, b) yes, they had heard of Vietnam, and c) no, not a single one of them had ever heard anything about My Lai. Now, it seems to me that if one were to restrict oneself to two facts to teach about Vietnam, they would be 1) we lost, and 2) My Lai.

I was utterly oblivious to the world outside of the church when My Lai happened, so I don't have any idea how the general public reacted. I have to ask, was it much like this? Is there any reason to think that things will be that much different this time around?

One other thing deeply disturbs me is: a number of the guilty were prison guards at home.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 04:20 PM:

Insert long rail against the for-profit prison industry about here.

Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 05:56 PM:

CACI is recruiting new interrogators. How well does that bode in all this?

Note especially the part of the job description about operating "under minimal supervision." Not for long, I hope....

Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 05:18 PM:

Kathryn Cramer: In particular, I find it had to read about it or write about it and then interact with my kids. It's very hard to read about this kind of abuse without your feelings coloring your personal power relations. Scary.

Seconded. I grant you my child is too young for language (either that, or I'm just not picking up lizardese at all), but I have only glanced glancingly at a few photos, because to be looking at such horror while feeding the baby does crazy things to my frame of mind. (She faces away from the computer screen, as the geometry requires.) I am so selfishly happy that I don't have to be explaining this to her right now, as it happens. Of course, by the time she's old enough for that, something else will be going on in the world.

--sorry for jumping in like that. If I have offended, I apologize, and beg instruction as to how to avoid doing so in the future.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 06:42 PM:

For the young people among us who don't remember My Lai, here you go.

julia ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 07:21 PM:

Coincidentally, Powell doesn't seem to be all that sure that this happened either.

Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 08:58 PM:

Bush senior, as Director of the CIA from 1976-1977 (Am I the only one who remembers that?) was involved in the counterinsugency and anti communist movements all over the world, from Angola to Central America.

In my darker thoughts, I imagine Bush Jr. trying to live up to the memories he's got of his father, who was in charge of all of those nightmares, and then bungling the job.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 09:54 AM:

Well, of course, Josh. This entire Iraq adventure is part of Bush Jr. trying to prove that he has a bigger dick than his old man.

Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 03:55 AM:

I'm convinced. He *is* a bigger dick than his old man.