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May 3, 2004

Abu Ghraib
Posted by Teresa at 01:18 AM *

I’ve taken down my flags and put them away until after the war is over. I love my flag and my country as much as ever, but I’m mourning actions that have been committed by our troops, under our banner.



An in-depth article by Seymour Hersh.

Jim Henley has been writing about this in Unqualified Offerings, eloquently and at some length. Start here. Jim’s actually been keeping an eye on the prisoner abuse issue for some time. So has Talk Left. Rivka’s last three posts need to be read.

The military bloggers have been taking it hard. Sgt. Stryker comprehensively denounced the responsible parties in full NCO style. Arkhangel and Citizen Smash are furious. (Those links courtesy of Jim Henley; there’ll be more.)

News over the weekend was that apparently British forces have been abusing prisoners in Iraq as well. The story got kicked around a little, with some questions being raised about the authenticity of the photos, but the Daily Mirror hasn’t budged on the story.

As of this morning, the unnamed soldiers from the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment who originally released the photos have also announced that they’re standing pat. As the BBC reported it:
“We stand by every single word of our story. This happened. It is not a hoax and the Army knows a lot more has happened.”

One said: “Maybe the officers don’t know what is going on - but everybody else does. I have seen literally hundreds of pictures.”

Doubts were cast over the weekend about photos published in Saturday’s Mirror appearing to show a hooded man being struck with a rifle butt, urinated on and having a gun held to his head. But the two soldiers who gave these images to the paper say they represent only the tip of the iceberg.

In Monday’s Mirror the soldiers, who wish to remain anonymous, claim many pictures were destroyed in September when the troops’ luggage was searched as they left Iraq. They also detail other alleged incidents of brutality towards local people, including a baton attack which left a prisoner with a compound fracture to his arm.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the authorities were not aware of other photos of prisoners being mistreated or of a culture of trading pictures. “If people have got evidence of such activity, then they should bring it to the attention of the Army authorities. We won’t stand for activity like that,” he said. …

The Mirror’s editor Piers Morgan earlier said the alleged abuse had been “common knowledge among disgusted British servicemen in Basra for months”.

This morning’s other news is that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the highest-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, has recommended issuing a severe administrative rebuke to six officers responsible for supervising the Abu Ghraib prison. A seventh will receive an admonitory letter.

I know those aren’t trivial actions—those officers’ careers are now dead in the water—but reprimands and admonitions aren’t the language we should be hearing just now. Not when the Army’s other actions have been to replace the officer in charge of Abu Ghraib with the guy who’s been running the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and to report that a high-level investigation of prisoner interrogation techniques in Iraq has found no evidence that abuse by U.S. military police or intelligence officers is widespread. That report was fast work. It also accords strangely with stories like this one, weeks old at this point, which said that senior British commanders had condemned the U.S. military’s tactics and its attitude toward the Iraqi people.

Stuff like this is not going to reassure anyone that the U.S. military is addressing the problem. As Sen. Joseph Biden said yesterday on Fox News Sunday,
I don’t get the sense that they understand what an incredible sense of urgency there is here to get this straight, to let the whole world know who—names, places, times—who.

No one’s going to believe in the Arab world, no one’s going to believe in Europe, no one’s going to—many people are not going to believe in the United States of America, that in fact we are earnest about this, until they see somebody, somebody—even the names. Look, if there was a criminal defendant arrested, we’d give their name.

We should demonstrate to the Arab world that this is urgent. This is the single most significant undermining act that’s occurred in a decade in that region of the world, in terms of our standing.
No kidding. We’re being denounced all over the world. We could hardly have done ourselves a worse injury in Iraq.

It is now impossible for us to win this war. I’ve thought so ever since the Iraqis’ spontaneous mass resupply of Fallujah in the first week of April. When the other side is getting the miracles, it’s time to think seriously about bailing. And they did; no doubt about it. Here’s a good summary of that story, if you missed it.

The short version is that Shiites are in the majority in Iraq, but under Saddam Hussein the Sunnis had the power, and some of them weren’t gentle about using it. And Fallujah isn’t just a Sunni-dominated area:
The level of sympathy for Fallujah in Shia areas is remarkable because the city once formed a backbone of support for Saddam Hussein’s regime, and was home to many officers in his intelligence services and Republican Guard. Some of those Baath Party loyalists were responsible for the brutal suppression of a 1991 Shia rebellion in southern Iraq, in which tens of thousands of people were buried in mass graves.
But when the rest of Iraq saw what we were doing in Fallujah, their ethnic and religious differences evaporated. All of a sudden you were getting amazing quotes like “No Sunnis, no Shiites, yes for Islamic unity,” the marchers chanted. “We are Sunni and Shiite brothers and will never sell our country.” Here’s a report from the Lebanon Daily Star about the response in one Baghdad neighborhood:
Baghdad’s Muslims have been rushing food and medical supplies to their local mosque for delivery to the beleaguered residents of Fallujah. Since the mosque imam in Baghdad’s Adhamiya district set up his appeal last week, the response has been phenomenal. The mosque courtyard has been transformed into a giant warehouse filled with white UN bags containing rice or beans, boxes of vegetables and bottles of oil and water. …

“It took only an appeal from the imam and the faithful from the neighborhood flocked with supplies and medicines for the besieged residents of Fallujah,” said Monder Moslah, a mosque security guard. On Saturday, a supply convoy sent by ethnic Turkmen from the northern city of Kirkuk arrived, he added, highlighting what he said was a national example of solidarity by all Iraqi communities. …

Iraq’s Christian Chaldean minority, which fears an emergence of an Islamic republic, expressed support for the Fallujah residents. Father Butros Haddad, who heads the Virgin Mary church in Baghdad’s Karrada district, said the patriarchate Saturday donated some $1 million to buy food and medicine for Fallujah residents.
In a lot of cases, people were simply gathering up whatever supplies and transportation they could muster, and heading for Fallujah to deliver it in person. They broke through U.S. roadblocks to get there. This is from Helen Williams, a Welsh humanitarian aid worker:
People were shouting good luck to us and blessing/thanking us for going to Fallujah. At one junction some boys threw bread and cake into the bus for us.

As we approached Fallujah on these back roads they deteriorated, becoming no more than a bumpy dirt track, barely two cars wide. Coming the other way were cars full of families and their possessions and vehicles with signs on them reading “Aid to Fallujah - from the people of Hilla/Nagaf/Ramadi” for example.

It seemed that all the people of Iraq, whether Shia, Sunni or Christian wanted to help Fallujah with whatever they could - water (there is no clean drinking water in Fallujah), blankets, food or medical aid - it was wonderful to see.
I’m sorry I can’t find more photos. It was one of those improbable events—not quite on the scale of the evacuation of Dunkirk, but definitely beating out Joffre’s reserves getting to the Battle of the Marne courtesy of the Paris taxi fleet. And the focus of this sudden, miraculous sense of unity and resolve was their determination to have us get the hell out of their country.

Mind, all that was before they saw the souvenir snapshots of our troops grinning while they tortured and humiliated Iraqi prisoners.

If both cases that we know of so far are primarily documented via snapshot, there are lots of other cases where they didn’t take pictures.

How many guys are we going to be bringing home who’ve added behavior like that to their personal strategic arsenal? That’s one of the problems you get when you let your troops misbehave overseas: they come home knowing how to do things no one should know how to do.

Why are we torturing guys in Abu Ghraib, and putting them through intensive interrogation, when we’re supposedly pulling out on June 30? (For that matter, why are we bothering to attack Fallujah? Is “getting out of Iraq” going to be one of those George-things, like declaring the war is over when it isn’t?)

As I said, it’s now impossible for us to win this war. We can still win specific military actions, albeit not as easily or as certainly as we might have done a year or two ago; but that’s not the same thing. The immediate goal of battle is to persuade the other guys to give up and stop fighting that day. The longer-range goal is to persuade the other guys to stop fighting the war, because that way you don’t have to fight more battles.

So much depends on how they feel about it. They may stop fighting, or never fight in the first place, if that seems reasonable or advantageous to them. At the other end of the spectrum, they may only stop fighting when it becomes physically impossible for them to continue. It’s the difference between the Anschluss and the Siege of Stalingrad.

Our standard military doctrine—that body of plans and analyses and preparations that Rumsfeld personally, repeatedly, explicitly insisted on throwing out the window during the run-up to this war—makes it easy for the other guy to find it reasonable to quit fighting. You go in with overwhelming force. You don’t just operate in the enemy’s territory; you take control of the area in which you’re operating. You choose what you’re going to attack, and how and when you’re going to attack it, which helps maximize the effectiveness of things you do, and minimize the collateral damage while you’re doing it.

Ideally, this makes the other guys think, “[Bleep], there’s no percentage in keeping up the fight.” And since you’ve been careful to minimize collateral damage, maintain order in the area you control, and behave yourself in an honorable and professional manner, the other guys don’t feel like they have to do the doomed self-sacrifice thing to keep you away from their wives, children, homes, and miscellaneous valuables.

It’s easier to behave yourself well when you have some degree of control of the area around you, and you’re not grossly understaffed. Help maintain civil order, and civil order will help maintain you. Besides, going in at full strength means you’re taking fewer people in with you who don’t answer to the UCMJ. That’s good. If someone misbehaves, the locals can’t be relied on to make fine distinctions about the terms on which that person is employed.

But we didn’t do that. Rumsfeld is on record as repeatedly insisting that we go with only a fraction as many troops as the professional military planners said we absolutely had to have. It’s been a complete mess. Only the quality of our troops has kept it from being more of a shambles than it is. So what do we have instead? Looting and general destruction, because we didn’t have the resources to maintain even minimal public order. Soldiers going down every day, killed by ambushes and booby traps and RPGs. No manpower to secure nuclear sites, which is why yellowcake from one of Iraq’s nuclear plants recently turned up on a barge in the Netherlands—and isn’t that an interesting thought! Reservists serving overseas far longer than they’d ever expected, and no relief in sight. Overstretched, overstrained, badly-provided-for troops having to do impossible jobs on little or no training.

I don’t excuse anyone’s misbehavior, but this is Bush and Rumsfeld’s war, and they’ve made a complete mess of it, and put our guys in an impossible situation where bad things are bound to happen. Bush has said he’s appalled by those photos. Hell, a dog would be appalled by those photos. But where’s the apology? Where’s the acknowledgement that it happened on his watch? Where’s Rumsfeld’s acknowledgement of fault? They wanted to be in command positions. In a democracy, taking the heat is part of the job.

And there’s one other thing that’s bothering me. I went to high school in my native land. I know from American stupid and American mean. But what I’m seeing in these photos and reports doesn’t look like the kind of mean shit a bunch of young Americans would come up with on their own. It’s not improvisational enough. Nobody’s dragged their personal kinks or their alma mater’s mascot into it, and none of it is funny. Instead, there’s something slick, something creepily knowledgeable about it. And those grins on the soldiers’ faces aren’t the grins of people who’re making it all up as they go along. If they were doing that, they’d look more serious, more intent on what they were doing. They’d be thinking about the task, trying to figure it out and get it right. I could be completely wrong about this, but I swear, those facial expressions look to me like the grins of people who’re doing what they’ve been taught.

Anybody want to bet me a bottle of decent hootch that somewhere in this story, there’s at least one person and possibly more who attended the School of the Americas?

Comments on Abu Ghraib:
#1 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 06:04 PM:

But W said it was okay, because those people have no souls, right?

Yeah, I'm sure that attitude wasn't reflected down the line, not at all.

#2 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 06:18 PM:
Anybody want to bet me a bottle of decent hootch that somewhere in this story, there’s at least one person and possibly more who attended the School of the Americas?


No, ma'am, not even a box of Almaden's cheapest white.

#3 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 06:19 PM:

No bet from me either....

#4 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 06:28 PM:

Re TNH's penultimate paragraph:

I've seen the nervous smirk of someone who's doing something they know is not exactly acceptable, but they're enjoying it anyhow and intend keeping a private record -- like B&D participants.

I've seen the focussed half-smile of someone who's doing something they firmly believe is correct --like KKK lynchings of 60 years ago.

I've seen the slap-happy grin of someone who's just clowning around, doing things that carry no moral or ethical baggage -- like putting a baby bonnet on a kitten, or letting your toddler apply lipstick all over your face.

The soldier photos remind me of the last one: having fun, with no belief of any wrongdoing at all.

That scares me. A lot.


#5 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 06:31 PM:

It'll be interesting to see what this does, if anything, to public perception of Kerry and his Vietnam-era protests.

The right wing has been saying that Kerry lied, that American troops didn't do the sort of things he says they did.

Now, we get graphic evidence of today's professional, volunteer army engaging in detestable conduct, mistreating bound prisoners.

It may make people more likely to accept Kerry's VVAW accusations as having been well-founded, and his protests as having been justified.

So that might be a small, slightly tarnished silver lining.

#6 ::: LizardBreath ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 06:38 PM:

The soldier photos remind me of the last one: having fun, with no belief of any wrongdoing at all.

I agree with you and Teresa here -- these look like people who were doing what they were told and are completely sure that it's okay. They weren't even a little afraid of getting busted -- more like "Hey Mom! Check out the goofy shit I get ordered to do for my country!" I'm reading facial expressions here, so I could be absolutely wrong, but that's what it looks like.

I am so humiliated and ashamed that our army is doing this -- I have a cousin in Baghdad now, and people are going to be trying even harder to kill him because we are doing these horrible things. I don't know what to do to make it stop, except to give every dime I can scrape together to left-wing political causes, and that feels completely ineffective.

#7 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 06:43 PM:

Being able to be a good person depends on not lying to yourself.

It's not a positive guarantee; you can be rigorously self-honest and a lousy human being.

But if you actively lie to yourself, you can't be a good person. You might not do anything very awful, if the lying is mostly of omission and the stresses of your life are small, and no one ever asks any kind of courage than the physical from you; your wrongs will be small curdled wrongs, to keep the edifice of preference un-toppled in your mind.

This entire war, this entire Presidency, pretty much the entire modern Republican Party, are predicated on lying to yourself about almost every issue of any moral substance. Prescriptive morality, demanding ignorance of result and a name of good divorced between the thing called and the thing done; a desire to beat and break the world, until it submits and obeys.

It disconnects cause from effect; it dissolves all sense of consequence, setting the determined will ahead of empirical result.

It breeds monsters, fierce and unashamed.

The four hundred year effort, to connect the naked will to a personal responsibility for the consequential result -- a thing of present doings, not the eventual justice of God -- is undone, and left to do again.

It is not a good thing, if it comes in time that a stranger does it.

#8 ::: cija ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 06:44 PM:

Of all the repellent things about this, one that's struck me most strongly is the apparent need for reporters to explain in painstaking, condescending detail how this kind of degradation is humiliating -- to Arabs. Even in the Seymour Hersh article:

Bernard Haykel, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at New York University, explained. “Being put on top of each other and forced to masturbate, being naked in front of each other—it’s all a form of torture,” Haykel said.

Gee golly, you don't say! Because if I, a modern American woman, were to be stripped and blindfolded and sexually abused by male guards, why, I wouldn't mind a bit!

I know that some of the 'explaining' is just designed to make Americans understand how bad it is, but it comes across as if not liking to be threatened with rape and death were a quaint cultural quirk, along the lines of an obscure dietary restriction.

#9 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 06:53 PM:

Anybody want to bet me a bottle of decent hootch that somewhere in this story, there's at least one person and possibly more who attended the School of the Americas?

I have a rather weak chain of inference that lends support to the idea that you would win that bet.

Up until a few days ago Joe Ryan, a military interrogator at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, had an online diary (Google cache of Joe Ryan's Iraq Diary). In his April 13, 2004 entry he mentions:

"'Wild' Bill Armstrong is one of our interrogators. He and I are both in the Force Protection section. Bill is married with five kids and a devout Christian, father, and husband. He arrived here two weeks before I did. Bill knows interrogation and reporting doctrine better than anyone here. Of course it was his career in the army and now he teaches at the school house in Arizona when he is not over here playing in the sand."

As several other bloggers have surmised (Orcinus, etc.), the "school house in Arizona" at which 'Wild' Bill Armstrong, a career Army interrogator, teaches is most likely Fort Huachuca. A search on google reveals that Fort Huachuca was involved in the development of the course materials for the School of the Americas.

These connections are, of course, stretched well beyond what you would need to win your bet, but they're still an interesting set of connections.

#10 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 06:59 PM:

Jon H wrote,

"It may make people more likely to accept Kerry's VVAW accusations as having been well-founded, and his protests as having been justified."

Ha, ha, ha. I have not heard ONE WORD pinning -any- responsibility whatsoever in the media reporting on this, much less blame, on Hubris Boy or any of his associates. Responsibility, that bunch of gormless shirker chickenhawks?

I'm sort of surprised the news media showed Sen. Lautenberg [spelling ]] calling Cheney a chickenhawk and giving the evidence for it, in Congress. Hooray for Lautenberg.

Where oh WHERE is Teddy, he's one of the few Democrats who seems to have a clue about scrapping -effectively- politically. Most of them seem to be being so utterly ineffectual and unwilling to call lying slimeballs spreading misinformation and spinning black into white, lying weasel slime. Politeness doesn't WORK against slimely lying weasels with rabies. Massive retaliation and fumigation does....

I mean, the current slimespin is "Did Kerry toss his medals." He threw the ribbons for the medals... Big -deal- about the ribbons, people lose -them- all the time, they fall off shirts, etc. Someone who was there next to Kerry gave an account on NPR, he said that others were hurling items, Kerry sort of tossed his amidst others who were throwing items, and that there was were heavy metal metals involved thrown or tosses by Kerry. But that's not what the rest of the news media said, they have been making this Really Bid Deal out of this.

Nobody's tarring Bush and Cheney with putting Saddam's generals back in charge in Iraq -- someone who was high up in the Republican Guard, the special bully boy and torture keep-em-terrorized and downtrodden arm of the Iraqi military??!! And now comes the backpedalling, "Oh now, we're not REALLY putting him in charge with Fallujah, there's this other Iraqi former general we're looking at to put in charge [they gave a name], but we haven't vetted -him- yet, either, so even though that former Republican Guard fellow has appointed people and has been doing organizing and settup up policing and arming men and giving them authority to control the streets, he's not -really- in charage and we're going to do some rearrangements....

Hubris Boy and his associates make some of the worst drek fantasy out start looking realistic, regarding economic policies, civil rights attitudes, environment attitudes, foreign policy, and military organization and initiatives and operations.

Bush is an incompetent disgusting caricature of a Dark Lord. He wouldn't pass muster as one in most bad fantasy, he's -that- incompetent and insufferably obnoxious and myopic.

#11 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 07:09 PM:

I don't think we need to invoke the School of the Americas to explain this ratbastardry.

It's the kind of sick shit that jocks endulge in, in high school and frat houses.

Someone just professionalized it.

If the investigation and cleaning house doesn't include the contractors, then the boil will only be half lanced.

* * *
". . . it’s now impossible for us to win this war."

Indeed. We've utterly screwed the pooch. The neocon pipe-dream of a Middle East full of peaceful^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H compliant democracies is spiraling in flaming.

The question is, how long will the losing be dragged out?

And will we learn anything from it?

#12 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 07:18 PM:

Paula writes: "Ha, ha, ha. I have not heard ONE WORD pinning -any- responsibility whatsoever in the media reporting on this, much less blame, on Hubris Boy or any of his associates. Responsibility, that bunch of gormless shirker chickenhawks?"

I'm not asking for a miracle, which is what that would require.

But the events at Abu Ghraib, to some extent, take Kerry's Vietnam protests off the table. Which is good, because it's been one of their few rhetorical weapons against him.

#13 ::: cyclopatra ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 07:30 PM:

It makes me dizzy and nauseous every time I look at those pictures - and I'm not a weak-kneed Nelly, either. It makes me *physically* ill - not so much the torture itself, but the smiles on the soldier's faces! Those awful, happy, aren't-we-great GRINS! Sick,sick,sick - I feel dirty for my country. I feel as though I ought to go to Baghdad and apologize to every person I meet - I'm sorry, I was against the war, but clearly I didn't do enough to stop it, and now look what we've done.

And the military says, "They weren't trained in the Geneva Conventions", and gives them *reprimands*? They need to go to prison, and be dishonorably discharged. Whoever ordered it needs the same. Anyone who looked the other way or was willfully unaware needs to be discharged. Examples need to be made of these people. Not to "win hearts and minds" - it's time to admit that that's all over, there's nothing that can be done. We have become Saddam in this. But the most stringent punishments need to be meted out because there is *no* place for this behavior anywhere.

#14 ::: ElizabethVomMarlo ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 07:33 PM:

What the glee in the pictures tells me is that everybody who could possibly have walked into that room at random knew about this--I'm guessing that would include command. The photo takers aren't afraid at all. It's daylight. It's a big room. It's torture. There's so little attempt to hide that it seems like they figure they'd get praised if somebody walked in. And with a group of prisoners, wouldn't that take a lot of people to arrange? With more who'd notice?

I think Teresa's right about it being taught. I'll just put this out there: are hoods really standard prison issue? Or are they are standard torture issue?

Also, if this was just done by the guys on the lower rungs I think it would mimic popular movies. Most bullies I know just don't think what these pictures show.

I'm not taking your bet, Teresa; but the bottle of hooch is a good idea.

#15 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 07:34 PM:

As a Yank ex-pat, I seem to spend all my time apologising for America. I've run out of excuses, though. So I've started telling people I'm from Southern Canada.

I am so very deeply ashamed of my country.

#16 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 07:42 PM:

Googling tip: The School of the Americas was closed in Dec 2000 and reopened in Jan 2001 as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. That Guardian article acroymifies it as “WHISC”, but the school’s own website uses “WHINSEC”.

#17 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 07:43 PM:

FranW --

I really wish you wouldn't do that. It creates a pattern of assumptions that gets people who are from Southern Ontario beat up when the travel.

#18 ::: Rachel Brown ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 07:49 PM:

Forcing prisoners to sexually abuse each other is something I've read about before as a tactic of professional torturers. They make family members and friends do it sometimes, to give them memories they won't be able to live with.

I can see ordinary young Americans deciding on their own to beat or rape prisoners. But that particular type of sexual abuse, making men do it to each other, seems less like spontaneous cruelty and more like School of the Americas coaching to me too. So does the idea of hooking a man up to wires and making him stand on a box.

The only difference I see between us and Saddam Hussein now that our own rape rooms and torture chambers have been exposed is one of quantity rather than quality. Oh, and we haven't used chemical weapons on the Kurds. There's something to be proud of.

And sorry as I feel for the tortured Iraqis, most of whom probably hadn't done anything whatsoever but be in Iraq when it was invaded, I feel even worse over the fact that people I love and maybe I may die some day because of this, because the number of people who are willing to sacrifice their lives to get revenge on America has just gone through the roof.

#19 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 07:54 PM:

Graydon: Your point is well taken, but FranW didn't say Southern Ontario, she said Southern Canada. As in, oh, Maine...

#20 ::: cija ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 07:56 PM:

FranW: So I've started telling people I'm from Southern Canada.

Graydon: I really wish you wouldn't do that. It creates a pattern of assumptions that gets people who are from Southern Ontario beat up when the travel.

I don't know which of these comments is more offensive.

Although the first may be a bitter joke, there are of course plenty of Americans who claim to be Canadians abroad, and I think that actually doing it is not cute and is, furthermore, wrong. If, that is, you consider contributing to a worldwide perception that decent Americans are harder and harder these days to be a problem. It's cowardly and indefensible unless perhaps you believe your life to be in immediate danger.

Graydon - what do you think FranW is doing abroad that would make people want to beat up her supposed compatriots? Or was that a joke too?

#21 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 07:56 PM:

This, combined with the new discriminatory laws passed in Michigan and Virginia, sickens me.

Why is my country doing this to itself?
"Liberty and justice for all" has not always been true--slavery, women's rights, the Japanese internment camps during WWII, and still isn't a reality. But for the past 200 years we were at least trying (in our own sometimes painful and befuddled way) to bring that reality into being.

I feel like we're being faced with a challenge to personal responsibility as a country--and we're not only not passing, but we're strenuously denying the validity and applicablity of the test.

#22 ::: Kevin Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 07:59 PM:

The perps of the highest rank got severe reprimands already, so they're trying to cover up the CIA involvement already. Which only Americans will buy.

Eventually, they'll admit the involvement and pin it on Valerie Plame.

#23 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 08:02 PM:

Graydon -- So far, every Kiwi has realised I'm joking, and asked if Southern Canada extends right to Florida. I tell them it's limited to a single square meter of Michigan -- the chair in my Mom's living room where I tend to sit when visiting there.

But hey -- are you trying to say I am so horrible and unacceptable and obnoxious that I taint true Canadians by association? :-)

#24 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 08:05 PM:

Sylvia --

The folks I know who actually have been beaten up or pursued for allegedly lying about being Americans are from Southern Ontario, and the two locales conflated in my head. 'the' for 'they' is just being a moron, instead of suffering from reference slip; Mea Culpa.

And anyway, the advisors to George IV made us give Maine back, after the War of 1812; gave the King of the Belgians a headache and everything, drawing lines on the map.

#25 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 08:12 PM:

I have some dobuts about SoA in this -- not that they haven't taught things this bad. But this smells more of For Huachuca in Arisona than Fort Benning. SoA (by whatever name it goes now) really is aimed at transferring military knowledge to Latin American officers and NCO's. But that is not necessarily where the knowlege is developed, and few US military officers are ever students there.

No, I think we should look to the US Army Inelligence Center and School, as well as the SpecOps and CIA folks that have been training with the Israelis. I have already read some passing comments on the similaries between what went on in this facility and what goes on in West Bank interrogation centers. If you want to consider the apocalypse for a few minuites, imagine what will happen if one of those contractors turns out to be an Israeli citizen . . .

#26 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 08:51 PM:

On the miracle of Iraqi unity in the siege of Fallujah
("We are Sunni and Shiite brothers..."):

Bush always told us he was
"a uniter, not a divider."

#27 ::: Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 08:51 PM:

Ginmar (the female fan in the Army over in Iraq who is on LJ) has made some interesting comments on this in her LiveJournal. The Army was apparently reporting about this situation in the Army Times a number of months ago, and she read about it when she was last back in the U.S., it was that far back. I may be misremembering, but I thought she also makes some comments about the people involved being trained by and/or under orders by people in "interrogation," not regular troops and certainly not regular reservists. Give her a read.

#28 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 09:05 PM:

Teresa, those opening lines really said it, for me. It's not often that I feel any shame in being an American - I can be and often am appalled by things done by the government or various sections of society at large, but usually I think "that's a ghastly error, and every community makes some, and time will deal with this as well". But this hit me deeply. It seems to me a particularly direct betrayal of what I regard as the essence of the American experiment, and I wish there were something I could do to make amends. I can and do contribute to groups that are lobbying in ways I regard as worthwhile and to groups helping the victims of various injustices and deprivations, just doesn't feel like enough, today.

#29 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 09:27 PM:

So this was supposed to be the critical war to pacify the Middle East.

If it was so bloody important to Bush's strategy to stop terror, why was it done on the cheap?

Since there's been ample dissembling from the administration on the matter, I draw the conclusion that it wasn't critical, and to have done the manner properly I suspect it would had cost even more, requiring Bush to print money (well, ask the Fed to increase the money supply) and the resulting inflation would had killed the recovery.

But hey, if it was necessary to save America, Democracy, and Christian Civilization (I'm using Cramer's expansive definition of Christian Civ here,) what's a 'bout of stagflation compared to everything else at stake? Or they could had asked for a one time wealth tax to pay for the war.

Their economic policy lives in a separate silo from their war policy. Strange. Even FDR, back in the neolithic, integrated the two.

In the future, we'll scoff at the Neocons the same way we laugh at Kennedy's Best and Brightest, well, as long as they don't get us all killed.

#30 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 09:50 PM:

What gets me is the idiocy of it all. They took *photos*? They were smiling and laughing? How could anyone think this was a joke?

Oh, and Irony or ironies, the name of one of the civilian contractors accused of being involved is named John Israel.

here's a link to an article quoting him

Mr. Israel, the report found, "denied ever having seen interrogation processes in violation" of Army standards, "which is contrary to several witness statements." .

#31 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 09:50 PM:

On 4/29, my reaction to the Abu Ghraib torture photos was that the US should raze Abu Ghraib and pave over where it stood. That place is such a symbol, only a stake through its heart will do.


#32 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 09:56 PM:

Thanks to Teresa, & the others who've put work into both getting down such facts as you can, and those who have cogent comments.

Cogent comment is beyond me right now, beyond recalling an earlier warning, "It'll all end in tears."

#33 ::: Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 10:08 PM:

As I've mentioned at Patrick's blog, someone who should be invited to come comment here writes as House_Draven at LiveJournal. Jenn was trained at Ft. Huachuca (aka, the intelligence school) and worked intelligence first for the Army and then for the CIA. Within certain parameters, I suspect she could shed some interesting light here. She's been having a health flareup in the last few weeks, so hasn't been as up on this news as most, but if someone dropped her a line and asked her to raise her head and come on over here, I think she would.

#34 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 10:37 PM:

While Smash and Stryker (sounds like a line from a Zucker Bros. movie) are spot on, this little gem dribbled from the orifice of one of Smash's readers:

To reject a tactic because of morality in war is sensless. War equates to killing others the least moral act we should be able to imagine. Denying torture has a place in war is to deny interrogation as useful to ultimate goals.

Tho stripping em naked and taking pictures of them looks more like hell week in college. Sure these bozos should get smacked, but torture has it's place in logical warfare.

Posted by: IXLNXS at May 3, 2004 05:15 PM

#35 ::: Peter A. Harkins ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 10:41 PM:

Christopher Davis: can you cite that "no souls" comment, or were you being sarcastic?

#36 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 11:10 PM:

Peter A Harkins:

yes, Bush really said it.

"We've got to be strong and resolute and determined. We will never show weakness in the face of these people who have no soul, who have no conscience, who care less about the life of a man or a woman or a child."

Here's a link:

#37 ::: sidhebaap ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 12:21 AM:


For all that I often resemble a bleeding heart liberal, I don't really disagree with the idea that nearly any tactic is possible to justify. Probably not in this case, but not never. To illustrate with an extreme: Consider having in custody a person who knows the location of a nuclear bomb that's been secreted in an American city. If there weren't any better ways of obtaining the needed information, could you refuse to do the deed?

#38 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 12:37 AM:

Consider having in custody a person who knows the location of a nuclear bomb that's been secreted in an American city. If there weren't any better ways of obtaining the needed information, could you refuse to do the deed?

Oh, lord, that bullshit again.

Listen up: One of the big reasons that you don't use torture to get information is this: You don't get good information. Suppose there really was a bomb, and suppose you really had the guy who knew where it was, and suppose you went to work on him with pliers and a soldering iron to make him talk. You know what you'd get? Worthless sounds. He'd tell you what he thought you wanted to hear. He'd say anything, just to make you stop. The information you'd get would be bogus.

But suppose you got the wrong guy? He'd tell you where that bomb was too. He'd confess. Everyone confesses. He'd name his accomplices. And they'd all confess, which would corroborate his confession.

It wouldn't stop that bomb, though, would it?

Leave aside the morality, leave aside the legality, there's your practical reason why you don't torture. It's useless.


I notice in Hersh's article that "contractors" are mentioned pretty frequently. That called to mind a comment that Teresa quoted about a month ago: "Contract mercenaries are the guys you use to do the stuff the regular military refuses to do..."

#39 ::: andrew morton ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 12:53 AM:

ElizabethVomMarlo: "I'll just put this out there: are hoods really standard prison issue? Or are they are standard torture issue?"

I recall reading somewhere that they're actually sandbags.

#40 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 01:30 AM:

Stefan, I disagree about this being "the kind of sick shit that jocks endulge in, in high school and frat houses." What the British troops were doing -- beating the snot out of some helpless guy in the back of a moving truck, pissing on him, and throwing him off while the truck's in motion -- is within the usual range of asshole behavior. Heck, I've known guys who did stuff like that. (Didn't like them; just knew them.)

The stuff at Abu Ghraib is weirder, far more stylized. It's sophisticated. It's not what you'd come up with if you'd never tortured people before and were having to make it all up as you went along. I mean, all those identical hoods? That's weird.

The people in the pictures don't have the kind of transgressive bravado you see in a bunch of guys who're beating up some poor goat. They're grinning. They're kind of nerdy. Some of them are girls. That is seriously wrong for simple primate bad behavior. Something else is going on there.

Cija, Fran and Graydon aren't being offensive.

Claude, I expect you're right. There are styles in torture.

Bill, I've been thinking since before it started that they did the war on the cheap because they weren't serious about it. I know that sounds weird. I think they regarded it as a mechanism for the accomplishment of certain other things.

Josh Jasper, they took photos because they were Americans, far from home, and goofing around. I don't think it was a matter of them being so depraved that they thought it was a good idea to take jolly pictures of them torturing prisoners. I think they weren't thinking about it in those terms. Thus my belief that this wasn't just a local upwelling of garden-variety original sin.

Jim, thanks for remembering that one. I thought it was a very apposite comment at the time, and it's even more so now.

#41 ::: Rob Tomshany ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 01:52 AM:

America needs to get serious about the Abu Ghraib situation, not simply in condemning it--that's too easy, since almost no one's going to come out publicly in FAVOR of torture or abuse as an instrument of policy--but in backing up words with action. Unfortunately, few Americans are actually in a position to do much more than voice an opinion on the matter. What the rest of us can do, though, is make our opposition to the Abu Ghraib atrocities known to those people who have some power to exert. I'm talking about one of the simplest of American civic acts after voting--getting in touch with one's elected representatives, either by e-mail, phone call, or faxing. (Snail mail won't work as well for this purpose as it used to, given the anthrax scare a while back.)

If you call your senator's local office, for instance, I would advise against laying blame for the situation on any political faction. (That goes double if the senator actually DOES lean toward the saber-rattling persuasion.) Instead, you might simply bring up the Abu Ghraib atrocities (the recent ones, the ones commited BY Americans) and ask what the senator is doing about the situation beyond condemning it. For instance, is he or she calling for an investigation to make sure nothing like this is going on elsewhere in Iraq, or for reforms in the armed forces or intelligence services to ensure that nothing like this happens again?

I phoned my senators' and congressman's offices this morning with just those questions. Spoke with underlings (one poor girl in my congressman's local office hadn't even about the torture/abuse--"Torture BY Americans?") and left voice-mail messages with a couple of the senators' staff. While I didn't get an answer to speak of, and didn't expect to, it was at least a start at letting these people know that at least one of their constituents was concerned about the situation, and that they themselves have the power to affect the situation.

For me, the next steps are to call those offices AGAIN, and to recruit as many people on the local level to do the same. I also plan to call the White House, as well as others in Congress who ought to share this concern. (I'm starting with Senators Kerry, McCain and H. R. Clinton.) I don't know how much good this can do, but at least it can't hurt, and as long as I keep doing it (and trying to get others to do so) it serves as a test of my own resolve to see that there are no more Abu Ghraibs. (That sounds like I'm doing this so as to feel noble. Rather, I'm doing it so I don't feel ignoble.)

If you're an American, you're heartsick/angry/upset about the atrocities, and you haven't yet contacted your representatives about this, why not?

#42 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 02:05 AM:

The other thing you can do is to make buttons, tshirts, bumper stickers, etc that say Torture is Terrorism and put them absolutely everywhere you can.

That's a true statement, and the very short version of what the present administration has to answer for.

Given their prior rhetoric, they're going to squirm like blazes, but the quicker they can be compelled to answer that, the better.

#43 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 02:07 AM:

My stomach hurts and my heart aches. There is nothing I can do directly about this. But there are things I can do indirectly. I am donating money to Democratic candidates. I am trying (with less than complete success) to participate in the electoral process. (See that story in my blog Next Saturday I'm going to spend all afternoon participating in a voter registration drive. Don't get paralyzed; get mad; do something, anything.


#44 ::: cija ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 02:41 AM:

Teresa - I accept that I am easily offended by not very offensive things, and anyway I was bothered by what are really extremely minor points considering the context of the thread. I would only continue to be bothered by Fran's remark if I didn't realize it was a joke, and I do, now, so I've stopped.

I overreact to the whole Americans pretending to be Canadians thing - even though I have no idea how many people, if any, really do it - because either I, as an American, share some small part of responsibility for my nation's outrages, in which case I shouldn't hide from it, or else as an individual I'm not representative of my nationality, in which case I shouldn't be ashamed to admit to it. Or both.

#45 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 03:12 AM:

Learned behaviour, yes. Teresa, one thing all doctors involved in treating torture survivors say is how amazingly similar tecniques are, across all borders, and down to the details. Torture is taught, yes. There's a red thread running through all the bad places. One starts in Nazi Germany and goes to South America, for example. And in Genoa, in 2001, people were told to stand in the exact same position employed in the "five tecniques" in Northern Ireland.

It's a contagion, it's not an isolated incident. In Genoa people said "ours? our police, our carabinieri? Torturing teenage kids?". But it's there. Unless you take positive steps to eliminte it, and those start from your own prisons, it's there. Ready to rear its ugly head abroad, or in times of political unrest. Or against the helpless, for example the immigrants, people nobody is likely to care about. And it's there because it's learned, in places like Somalia, Afghanistan, or the prisons - the worse guys in Genoa were reportedly the special prison guards charged with putting down prison revolts.

Of course people will bring it home. But they also brought it from home, and learned it from somebody who learned it from somebody else, and to make time to teach, you need encouragment from above, at minimum at the level of turning a blind eye.

#46 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 03:36 AM:

And another thing. Teresa, you probably know that I'm not a great fan of flags, of any nationality. But you are wrong in taking down yours because of this incident, just like people are wrong in being ashamed of being Americans abroad. Flying a flag does not mean, should not mean, that you think your country is the best. It should mean that you take responsability for it. You - or perhaps Patrick - once said that your favourite hymn was _America The Beutiful_ because of its emphasis on the never-ending fight to bring justice and fairness to the land. That is not the meaning the flag can have in Europe, for long and painful historical reasons - but maybe we can claim our new European flag to mean that. But that is what I always took it to mean for you: this is my place, and as ugly as it is sometimes, I'm not ceasing the fight to better it.

Torture is not something specifically American, and this incident is only the latest in a long chain of American involvement with it. We all know about South America, after all. Torture is unfortunately a human trait, and the fight against it is a fight for the human spirit. Feeling shame is natural - sometimes you feel ashamed of being human when you see or hear about this kind of things. But it doesn't taint a flag. It wasn't pure before, and I always believed you raised it in knowledge and defiance of that taint, and to help get it off.

The best people I knew were Americans. And I'm tired of having to counter popular perceptions about Americans here, that they are stupid, ignorant, right-wing nuts, religious bigots. I welcome the help from decent people abroad. And as for feeling embarassed by our goverment, why, it's not as many people can throw stones around here, right?

#47 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 04:43 AM:

For all that I often resemble a bleeding heart liberal, I don't really disagree with the idea that nearly any tactic is possible to justify. Probably not in this case, but not never. To illustrate with an extreme: Consider having in custody a person who knows the location of a nuclear bomb that's been secreted in an American city. If there weren't any better ways of obtaining the needed information, could you refuse to do the deed?

I could.

It's an interesting, and telling, point that the Israelis recently, with a lot of help from the head of the Army (or perhaps their Army Intel) did away with the ticking bomb rationale. They found that more and more people, at greater and greater removes, were being whacked because they could lead to someone who knew about a ticking bomb.

But here is why I'd refuse. In the scenario you give, it won't work. Unless the bomb is going to go off a long time from now, all the guy has to do is 1: hold out until it goes off or 2: tell a good lie, and trust that the situation won't be resolved until it goes off (a healthy lead, into the area the bomb is would be the best at this, the assumption would be he told the truth and the EOD guys either failed to find it, or to defuse it.

But then I happen to think that doing evil, with good intentions is a filthy sin, and might not be one I can get absolution for, certainly I can't if there is no afterlife. In that case I have to be able to look in the mirror every morning and move the razor up and down, not sideways.


#48 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 05:23 AM:

Fort Huachuca: I've taught there. It has a lot of schools, and Proponent (the part of USAICS which builds courses) does/has put together things for SOA, and its successor. But the odds that Armstrong worked at any of those is slim.

If he has but the one intel MOS, he is not likely to have taught at anyplace other than the Basic Interrogator course, or the Strategic Debriefer course.

In any event the schoolhouse for SOA, and its successor is at Ft. Benning.

I think (my personal opinion, and you'll see it a lot) the problem is from Gitmo, and much of that is from 1: the fucked up status we have created for the people there, and 2: the CIA types who helped devise some of the techniques in use there (and what I've heard from friends who were there is that it's bad, bad in ways yuo don't imagine, but not as bad as Abu Ghraib... but I can see where the things at Abu Ghraib could evolve from those).

As for ginmar's comments, She I think she is mistaken. From the timeline she gave I think she is recalling four MPs in a camp, further south, who were charged back in February. They were not from Abu Ghraib. Which is a pity, though I take heart that this was being investigated before the news broke.

Regarding the flag, don't take it down... furl it, with large ties (glue 'em down in case someone wants to, "help," you.). Show that the Colors are in disgrace.

The only positive thing I can say about this is that a daer friend, who is decidedly anti-Kerry said today, "God I wish I didn't despise Kerry so much."

I guess that will have to do for my still, small, voice.


#49 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 06:22 AM:


I have already read some passing comments on the similaries between what went on in this facility and what goes on in West Bank interrogation centers.

Cite, please.

No, really. I mean, I wouldn't be that surprised if you could come up with a cite -- I am well aware that my government and representatives thereof have done bad things to Palestinians -- but until you can actually show me pictures of a naked pyramid of Palestinian prisoners with grinning Iraeli guards, I'd appreciate it if you shut up.

#50 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 07:03 AM:

I feel as though I'm picking at a scab.

Teresa: How many guys are we going to be bringing home who’ve added behavior like that to their personal strategic arsenal? That’s one of the problems you get when you let your troops misbehave overseas: they come home knowing how to do things no one should know how to do.

I ranted about this last November. I guess I'll repost it here.

"I thought the folks in charge were clueless when I was in Iraq (don't get me started on how V Corps managed EPWs during the shooting war), but as I look at what is being bruited about in the national fora, I ponder the shortest sentence in the Bible, "Jesus wept."

I'm a soldier. I don't talk about what that means much, mostly because it is a needful job, but dirty.

In a nutshell what I do is kill people.

To quote Shakespeare, "I could be bounded up in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams."

But I manage to avoid those bad dreams (as to most of the rest of my fellows) because I am bounded by more than that nutshell (rules are not the enemy... they are tools).

I have things like the Geneva Conventions and I have accepted a wealth of tradition, some of which must go back to the very first armies... one of those traditions is that non-combatants are spared (in the early days non-combatant was a bit more vague a concept, but those who were such got off more lightly than those who weren't, but I digress).

Which is why when I see things like this my bile rises and I want to scream.

"Try to put yourself in the mind of the killer, or of the guy with the plastic bag. You are part of Saddam's vast apparatus of rape squads, torture teams and mass-grave fillers. Every time you walk down the street, people tremble in fear. Everything else in society is arbitrary, but you are absolute. When you kill, your craving for power and significance is sated. You are infused with the joy of domination....

What will happen to the national mood when the news programs start broadcasting images of the brutal measures our own troops will have to adopt? Inevitably, there will be atrocities that will cause many good-hearted people to defect from the cause. They will be tempted to have us retreat into the paradise of our own innocence.

Somehow, over the next six months, until the Iraqis are capable of their own defense, the Bush administration is going to have to remind us again and again that Iraq is the Battle of Midway in the war on terror, the crucial turning point where either we will crush the terrorists' spirit or they will crush ours.

The president will have to remind us that we live in a fallen world, that we have to take morally hazardous action if we are to defeat the killers who confront us. It is our responsibility to not walk away. It is our responsibility to recognize the dark realities of human nature, while still preserving our idealistic faith in a better Middle East."

November 4, 2003

So, to eradicate the last holdouts of the evil aspects of Hussein's Iraq we have to (for just a little while) replace them with our boys, doing similar work.

After all this is not going to be done with the niceties of Stateside Police Procedures, "...the brutal measures our own troops will have to adopt? Inevitably, there will be atrocities that will cause many good-hearted people to defect from the cause."

It sounds like the guy in the bank saying, "Don't make me shoot these people, if you do the blood is on your hands."

But it won't be, it will be on the hands of the troops who are convinced to commit them. It may not get to My Lai as policy, but how will we decide the practical aspects of the brutality? I don't think we'll resort to summary decapitation, but we've already engaged in hostage taking (a COL left a note that a man's family was being held, pending his turning himself in... a violation of the Geneva Conventions).

Will it stop there? I doubt it. Israel did away with the rational of, "the ticking bomb" when dealing with Palestinians because they all became people who could be justifiably, "coerced."

And the Israeli Army says that such tactics are bad policy, they cause the troubles they are used to cure (Valium does that, one of the listed side effects is anxiety, but I digress).

What dreams will we foist on those who become not merely bound in that nutshell, but trapped?"


What saddens me, what makes me think the protestations of Bush, et al, are hollow forms, meant to placate those who want to look the other way is that none of them condemned Brooks when he advocated doing what was done at Abu Ghraib, and more besides.

"Jesus wept," and I'm not sleeping so well.


#51 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 07:21 AM:


It occurs to me to wonder whether your acquaintances were pursued and beaten by people opposed to America, for being Americans, or by people in favor of America, for denying they were Americans.

The distinction is an important one for people who may be deciding what to say about their nationality while travelling.

#52 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 07:53 AM:

re David Brooks

Oh dear lord. I can't stand the man, and either I didn't read it or blanked it out.

No wonder he's being so suspiciously quiet about it these days.

And William Safire is still declaring that things are getting better...
"The great majority of Iraqis are glad that Saddam is overthrown. We and the U.N. are giving them democracy's moment, but courageous Iraqis must come forward to seize it."

They really do live in some kind of AU.

Y'all know there have been a lot of suicides, both over there, and among returning veterans, a lot higher than there should be statistically?

I'm going to quote General Butler, decorated Marine Corps veteran of WWI, writing in the run-up to WWII here - a good counter to the argument that men were tougher back then, not like the softies today who are all about phony psyche disorders like PTSD:

Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day. They were put shoulder to shoulder and, through mass psychology, they were entirely changed. We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed.

Then, suddenly, we discharged them and told them to make another "about face" ! This time they had to do their own readjustment, sans mass psychology, sans officers' aid and advice and sans nation-wide propaganda. We didn't need them any more. So we scattered them about without any "three-minute" or "Liberty Loan" speeches or parades. Many, too many, of these fine young boys are eventually destroyed, mentally, because they could not make that final "about face" alone.

#53 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 09:43 AM:

Learned behaviour, yes. Teresa, one thing all doctors involved in treating torture survivors say is how amazingly similar tecniques are, across all borders, and down to the details. Torture is taught, yes. There's a red thread running through all the bad places.

I read an article once (can't remember where, sorry) about torture in the Occupied Territories. It talked about Palestinian intelligence officers using the very same methods of torture that had been inflicted on them by Israeli interrogators. One of these Palestinian officers, it said, would shout at prisoners in Hebrew, because for him Hebrew was the language of power and Arabic the language of powerlessness.

#54 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 10:06 AM:

Naomi --

I really have no idea.

Me, it pisses off because it's a claim that Canadians are better people, and I think that's one of those massively dangerous stupidities.

#55 ::: MFB ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 10:24 AM:

I do not believe that you can fight a counter-insurgency war without torture. Counter-insurgency is all about intelligence, and since guerrillas don't use radios much, that means human intelligence. Guerrillas and their supporters don't volunteer information. Therefore it has to be extracted by interrogation.

Meanwhile, counter-insurgency is all about killing people who are not in uniforms, and being prepared to kill them even if they aren't really enemies (because if you wait, they will possibly kill you). Therefore soldiers develop a hair-trigger attitude along with a violently hostile attitude to the local population.

Put the two together and you get the conclusion that the best way to get intelligence is to hurt the local population, either via collective punishment or via detention without trial followed by torture.

So far as I can see, this is why counter-insurgency war so seldom succeeds; indeed, it can only succeed when the insurgents are not supported by a large portion of the population. I may be wrong, but I suspect that a large proportion of Iraqis are tacitly or actively in support of the resistance there, and that the proportion of active supporters is growing.

Therefore it is unlikely that you will either get out of this mess, or clean it up.

#56 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 10:58 AM:

'As a Yank ex-pat, I seem to spend all my time apologising for America.'
as someone who never had american citizenship, but lived there for over twenty years and as a consequence has an american accent i'm personally pretty tired of having to, or being expected to, apologise.

By the way i swear that guy with the gloves is the most all-american good time hick I've ever seen, i could just picture him grinning outside a gas station in nevada.

#57 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 11:56 AM:

MFB, please see Terry Karney's posts over on Electrolite.

At minimum, the substitution of the word "interrogate" for "torture" is inaccurate and inappropriate.

#58 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 12:05 PM:

I do not believe that you can fight a counter-insurgency war without torture.

I believe that we not only can, we must.

Take that teenager who was allegedly raped: Do you think that his brothers, his uncles, his father, his cousins, don't know about it? Do you think for one second that they are now big supporters of the US occupation? Forget raising up a hundred bin Ladens. How about raising up a thousand Tim McVeighs.

If the mission is "hearts and minds," we have to be flawless.

We can't claim the moral high ground while actually occupying the moral swamp. The people on the ground, the guys in the insurgency, will know what's going on.

Remember, it was supposed to be about weapons of mass destruction. Then there weren't any. It was supposed to be about links to al Qaeda. There weren't any (though there might be now -- smooth move, Georgie).

So now it's about creating such a shining light of prosperity and freedom and democracy in the middle east that everyone else around in other countries in the region will say, "Wow! We want to be like those guys!"

If that's the mission, would someone explain to me how this particular set of actions has gotten us closer to the objective?

Of course, if the mission is "Make Halliburton rich," well, Mission Accomplished.

#59 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 12:08 PM:

There's a particular irony in this story breaking the day after Bush claimed that Saddam's vile practices had been abolished, that Iraqis were now free of the daily fear of being abducted and abused. I don't wish any of this to have been done; but it having been done, I can hope the nemesis visited on his hubris will have a suitably (shock-and-)awesome effect.

#60 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 12:12 PM:

I haven't read all the posts yet, so forgive if anybody else has already posted about this, but today I was listening to NPR at work, and they were interviewing people in New York about the abuses. Most of the people were appropriately horrified that such behaviour had occured, but one woman said that considering the state of their country and their behaviour (I assume she was referring to the Iraqis) that they deserved it.

I was...appalled at her callousness and shortsightedness. Fortunately, her attitude seems to be among the minority.

I also couldn't help recalling several incidents within the United States though, regarding the rape allegations within the Armed Forces, and the way the military tried to shove it under the rug until the press reached critical mass. I think we need to go a lot further back than the chain of command to discourage such behaviour in the future. If military academies are often a hotbed of abusive behaviour as indicated by those incidents, I can't help being Not Surprised by such news. It's not just the war--although I'm sure that it's not helping--but an established pattern of Looking The Other Way.

The other incident this reminded me of was last year's story about the Mepham High football team--planned and deliberate sexual and physical humiliation.

#61 ::: Edward Liu ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 12:21 PM:


bellatrys writes: 'And William Safire is still declaring that things are getting better...
"The great majority of Iraqis are glad that Saddam is overthrown. We and the U.N. are giving them democracy's moment, but courageous Iraqis must come forward to seize it."'

All the courageous Iraqis who stepped forward to seize democracy's moment were killed in 1991, when the first Bush encouraged them to Rise Up Against Saddam and then abandoned them to get massacred by the hundreds, if not thousands. None of the talking heads who blather about how Iraqis have to "take control of their own destiny" seems to remember this inconvenient fact.

-- Ed

#62 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 12:33 PM:

I cannot respond rationally to this whole crisis. I've tried. My irrational responses run to:

1) I want a species transplant. I hate humans.
2) I want those smiling soldiers court-martialed, and upon conviction, turned over to the Iraqi government to do as they see fit. There should be an Iraqi government by then, right? Or they could just be tried under Iraqi law. Or Sha'ria.
3) Actually, I just want them to be turned over to a mob. In Fallujah.

This is entirely the result of Bush Administration policy. They hired the guys who instructed these guys. They shorted the troop strength, then they shorted the troop pay. That leads me to the last irrational response:

4) I wish I believed in Hell so that people like them (the grinning torturers; the "contract interrogators" who instructed them; the Army Intelligence guys, if any, who gave them a "whatever it takes" order; the Bush Administration, especially Rumsfeld) could burn, and burn and burn.

I suspect that might be some comfort - can't be sure, I've never believed in Hell. Right now, I got nuthin'.

#63 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 01:10 PM:


"they took photos because they were Americans, far from home, and goofing around. "

That was part of my point. The CIA we've come to expect through shows like Alias, or in print, is sophisticated. This situation was created in part by contractors, and in part by inept soldiers with poor supervision.

I've read testimony from Vietnam about torture, and I do know that the US operations in Southeast Asia involved heroin trading with private armies. The movie "Air America" wasn't a fake. One of my high school professors worked for them.

Snapping pictures just seems even more inept than things were back then. It looks like a total breakdown of (and I twitch at writing this ) the expected professionalism and secrecy surrounding this sort of action. While I'm glad it's been discovered, it creeps me out that our intelligence services have been replaced by inept contractors.


"I do not believe that you can fight a counter-insurgency war without torture. Counter-insurgency is all about intelligence, and since guerrillas don't use radios much, that means human intelligence. Guerrillas and their supporters don't volunteer information. Therefore it has to be extracted by interrogation. "

Well, the USA signed a treaty saying we wouldn't. I don't care if we need the information to achieve an objective. Torture is wrong, and we don't do it.

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan:

The best people I knew were Americans. And I'm tired of having to counter popular perceptions about Americans here, that they are stupid, ignorant, right-wing nuts, religious bigots. I welcome the help from decent people abroad. And as for feeling embarassed by our government, why, it's not as many people can throw stones around here, right?

When I lived there, Singapore wasn't in the habit of sticking it's nose into other nations businesses by propping up US favourable opposition parties. The US, on the other hand, did exactly that while I was living there. They funded (bribed) a local politician in order to get a voice in Parliament.

The US has a constant double standard in international politics. I've been watching it for over half my life.

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 01:18 PM:

The other incident this reminded me of was last year's story about the Mepham High football team--planned and deliberate sexual and physical humiliation.

You said it reminded you, not that it was similar, but there are important distinctions, as you probably realize. The Mepham perps didn't actually intend any serious harm to the victims. Initiatory humiliation, even mild (special sense of 'mild' meaning 'no permanent harm') sexual abuse, have been part of join-the-gang stuff for men for a very long time. (No, I don't approve or even condone.)

The Abu Ghraib tortures were not this kind. They were the kind of thing done to people who are not regarded as fully human. It's closer to the concentration camp stuff. Don't be fooled by the superficial resemblance. You don't want to cripple members of your own football team; the perps in the current case don't care at all.

Also, the abuses in the Mepham High football team had been going on for years (it went farther than it had previously; the kids who came forward were still bleeding after several days, and even then didn't want to reveal what had happened). That means the perps had likely been victims themselves. No such history mitigates in the current case.

But - idea! - that'd be a suitable punishment, wouldn't it: pose them as they posed the victims, and put the pictures on the internet. Nah. Inadequate (because unlike the victims, they'd know that the current wouldn't go on, for example). Also, we don't do that, because we're Americans - oops, I mean...

#65 ::: Lara Beaton ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 01:25 PM:

Theresa, I wish I could believe that these people were both trained and ordered to do these things. Granted, that only gives them the right to use the Nuremburg defense, but I'd feel a little less sick about the whole thing.

When I look at those pictures, I see the same behavior as was used on the Native Americans, the Jews in Nazi Germany, the women in the Magdalene laundries, even the Stanford Prison Experiment.

Those people were not trained to torture or to humiliate, they were just given absolute power over another person. In cases where the person in power felt superior in some way to their captives, the descent to the unspeakable occurs more quickly, and with more devastating results on both captive and captor.

Glimpses like these into what people are capable of in these situations just makes me weep for our species.

In short, I agree with Xopher, I want a species transplant.

#66 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 01:39 PM:

PiscusFische --

There are two very basic primate constructions of power -- "I can fuck anyone I want" and "I can hit anyone I want".

These are an inadequate basis for a complex social structure; they can and do support simple band structures, but anything more complex (and thus more capable) than that needs future-considering rules. (aka a sense of consequence.) Once you get a complex social structure, it can do so much more than the band structure that the band structures get suppressed, in favour of competing forms of complex social organization that allow exapation of the hardwired support for the band structures we all have in our brains.

Any social structure which has selection biases for willingness to engage in aggression applied directly to others -- police, military combat units, contact sports teams -- is at constant risk of shedding the expensive, future considering complexity in favour of the direct experience of power. The complexity doesn't provide direct benefits, the aggression hormones act to turn off your sense of consequence, and the experience of power is desirable. Plus, at the scale where the aggression is directly applied, you're in a social structure that's small enough that the primate band rules are more than sufficient to organize and maintain it.

The social fixes for this are ritualization -- sportsmanship, the laws of war, the traditions of the regiment, "proper procedure", etc. -- and the approval of higher status individuals for conforming to the sense-of-consequence higher complexity social rules.

If the higher status individuals support the direct experience of power (because they're clueless turnips), or if the ritualization has been abandoned (how to spot a very bad social movement, rule 1 -- it wants to erase all social ritual), you get the direct pursuit of the direct experience of power. (Most sports team and institutional abuse and rape scandals work this way.)

What's going on in Iraq looks much more like offering the direct experience of power as a reward for exercising it, presumably because the higher status individuals responsible for the situation are actively against any form of social organization more complex than direct personal submission band structures and are trying to exact personal submission from entire countries, tens and hundreds of millions of people.

#67 ::: Jonathan Valorize Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 01:51 PM:

I'm not trying to be flip here, but we know that real criminals are influenced by the depiction of criminals on film and television.

Did the US torturers watch

on television?

Do they think that they're working for CTU, and trying to emulate agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) who (in the first year alone) had to race the clock to handle both a presidential candidate assassination plot and his daughter's kidnapping, while dealing with a mole inside the agency? Aren't there moles inside both US and UK forces, leaking photos?

Does G.W. Bush think that he's a white David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert)? Is Condoleeza Rice as slippery as Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke)?

I'm really not joking.

Just as "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." valorized Cold War espionage as hip and 1960s cool, so does 24 and other current shows (MI-5; Threat Matrix) valorize Bush-era global adventurism.

The public is gleefully absorbing drama based on situation ethics, ends-justify-the-means, we're the only hyperpower macho swagger.

I've heard that a majority of Americans polled say that it's okay for cops to smash down the door and enter any home where drug dealers are suspected to operate, without warrants. Ashcroft's taken that damn-the-Bill-of-Right attitude and run with it.

I'm not saying that "truth is stanger than fiction." I'm saying that our fiction affects our present. Othewrwise, why would we bother with Science Fiction?

#68 ::: ElizabethVomMarlo ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 02:00 PM:

Graydon's point about the gloves is more evidence to me of higher-up involvement rather than high-school bullying.

But to my main point. I called my Sentor's office today and found out some information that I thought you all might like to know. This particular senator (Bond from MO) staffs his phones with real experienced staffers, not interns. I asked what the senator was doing (or intended to do) about the torture of Iraqis by Americans.

The staffer told me that it was a department of defense matter, that the military was doing the investigating and punishing. He added that the senator hadn't made any statements yet.

I said I'd read in the paper that so far all they'd done was an administrative rebuke. I asked him if he'd seen the pictures; he said yes. I told him a rebuke wasn't enough, and what was the senator going to do if that's all the military did. He said that the senator hasn't said, but that if congress decided the military actions taken were insufficient, they would have to examine it by committee, and that the senate majority leader would have to become involved. But that right now, it was being dealt with by the military. Would I like the senator to tell me if he makes a statement. I said yes.

Then I said, okay, that's for the soldiers. What about the contractors? There was a long pause. The contractors? I said, yes, according to the articles I read some of the torturers implicated were US citizen contractors. He didn't seem very happy that I asked that (not angry, but wary), but he clearly knew about them because he told me that as contractors they were not bound by the Geneva Convention. He said they would have to be to bound by the US Constitution, but that it wouldn't apply.

I said the Constitution prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment" right, and isn't that what this is? He agreed. But, he said, the contractors would have performed these acts against Iraqis, not US citizens, so the Constitution wouldn't apply. It only applies to US Citizens he said.

I asked what the Senator was going to do about the contractors--was he going to try to get contractors forever banned from war? The staffer said he didn't know. I asked him to please ask the senator then.

Then I said, didn't we go into Iraq to wage the war on terror, and isn't it in part because Saddam was torturing people? And he said yes, that's why we went. And I said, well, isn't torturing people terrorism? And there was this long pause, and he said yes.

So I said when I saw the pictures, I wanted to cry. And I said, did you want to cry when you saw them? There was a long, long pause. Over thirty seconds.

He said, let me take your name and address, I'll bring your concerns to the senator and have him respond.

I'll let you know if he does.

#69 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 04:05 PM:

I was in the rheumatologist's waiting room today when CNN carried Rumsfeld's little dance. He said "The system works! The system works!" and then went on to talk about how the torture was investigated and the people responsible were punished. I don't even think that's an example of how the investigation and punishment system should work -- those soldiers should go to jail -- but the system is *certainly* not working when we have torture occurring to start with.

On the other hand, humans have always committed torture. I'd like to think as Americans that we're above that, but we're not, we've never been. In the same way that we wage war, we torture. Maybe the Singularity will change that, but in the meantime we must be vigilant, honest, just, and merciful.

#70 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 04:11 PM:

The use of military contractors brings up another thought. Most of these contractors are former service personnel themselves, yes? Some of them - I hope most of them - served well and were honorably discharged. But some were probably kicked out of the service for not making the grade, one way or another: incompetence, bad behavior, what have you. And now we're hiring these people, and paying them gobs of money, to do the work we should be having regular personnel do? This sounds too unpleasantly close to Dilbertesque corporate America to be remotely funny.

#71 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 04:16 PM:

I want Hubris Boy's own words choking in his throat. But he'll never admit he bears any responsibility for atrocities in Iraq, even though the position of President of the USA which a bigoted Supreme Court [Impeach Scalia! He refuses to recuse himself from judging Cheney's actions, even though he got on hunting trips with Cheney with the bill for the weekend footed by Cheney. What other judge in the USA would NOT recuse himself of herself in such a case?!] appointed him to and which brings with it the position of Commander in Chief of the US military. He's at the top of the chains of command of the Military Police and Military Intelligence AND the Defense Contract Adminstration S[omething or other] which gave the contracts to CACI and Titan and the others supplying civilian "advisors" involved in the operations of the prisons the atrocities have occurred at.

He'll always pin the blame on someone else and deny any responsibility, deny his actions and words in any way, shape, or form, have accountability for ANYTHING unpalatable.

Meanwhile, those who hold Teddy in contempt for Chappaquiddick, ought to take a closer look at Laura Bush....

And on yet another topic, same-sex marriage is approaching here in Massachusetts. Oh WOW does that ever tick off Bush and his buddies. It's States Rights all the way except where the state constitutions and/or the voters support things that Bush and his rabies-ridden associates don't approve of, such as medical marijuana, and same-sex marriage. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the area is out campaigning about how same sex marriage is a threat to civilization and heterosexual marriage... Me, I think it's wonderful that same sex marriages are going to start here in a couple weeks. All those May wedding, and all the business for wedding receptions, photographers, hostelries, the economy around here can use the boost, and the people marrying, most of them deserve the public recognition and celebration of them celebrating their partnerships. [most because there are ALWAY going to be people marrying for really bad/stupid/inappropriate reasons, who really should have refrained from that particular marriage. I don't care if they're heterosexual, homosexual, black, white, green, Hispanic background, Euro background, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Jewish.... there are some people whose marriages ar -mistakes- they would have been a lot better off never having made that particular mistake!]

#72 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 05:31 PM:

"Consider having in custody a person who knows the location of a nuclear bomb that's been secreted in an American city. If there weren't any better ways of obtaining the needed information, could you refuse to do the deed?"

This sort of scenario was widely, publicly debated in the aftermath of 9/11. Some otherwise good and decent people were unwilling to rule out torture. You see the result . . .

#73 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 05:43 PM:

Xopher: I brought Mepham up in response to those who didn't feel that high school bullying could reach to the level of this system of degradation and abuse. I do, really, sometimes wonder how much those young men intended--I mean, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know what the results of pushing a pinecone into somebody's rectum are. I find it amazing that people say, "Oh, they didn't intend any REAL harm." That may be true--but that indicates to me that at this point they have a scary lack of human compassion and reasonable limits.

BTW, I'm not necessarily arguing with you or Graydon--I think we might be approaching the same point from different sides. Mepham and the Air Force Academy rapes were the first two things that popped into my head though, and I felt that as a mirror to our cultures general attitudes, they predicated the actions in Iraq by our soldiers.

Aside: I heard EVEN more justification for the "we must torture to get information" stance on NPR today. Wish I could remember what one of the other guests said in rebuttal. (More to report--I found it interesting, but as I was at work and half-distracted, I can't quote it properly.)

#74 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 06:08 PM:

PF: Clearly the anatomy part of Mepham High's curriculum needs an upgrade...

#75 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 06:12 PM:

Paula Lieberman wrote, "He's at the top of the chains of command of the Military Police and Military Intelligence AND the Defense Contract Adminstration S[omething or other] which gave the contracts to CACI and Titan and the others supplying civilian "advisors" involved in the operations of the prisons the atrocities have occurred at."

I'd also argue that by the continuous use of the word "evil" to describe the opponent he's created a climate which, in the minds of the soldiers, justified the torture.

#76 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 07:00 PM:

It just keeps getting better....

PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) -- A Canadian civilian says in a lawsuit that he was tortured by U.S. troops in Iraq and saw Iraqi prisoners suffer even worse mistreatment, the latest allegations of human rights abuses to surface against coalition soldiers.

Portland lawyer Thomas Nelson said he filed the suit with the U.S. Army Claims Office on April 30 on behalf of Hossam Shaltout, 57, of Los Angeles. Shaltout claims he was beaten after being taken to the Camp Bucca detention center shortly after the launch of the U.S.-led invasion.

"I saw Iraqis tortured more than I was. They did unspeakable things to Iraqis," Shaltout said Monday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


#77 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 08:48 PM:

I'm reading the Taguba Report and I'm only halfway through. It's sickening. It details chronic abuses that were longstanding and not even then. A lot of it is in jargon, semi-translucent to me, but what I comprehend of it is enough to make one start retching all over again. We were running a banana republic stockade there, like something out of a novel where the American hero gets tossed in for things he didn't do...

Here's some exerpts which are particularly telling in light of the fact that 240 people suddenly were let go today:

"24. The screening, processing, and release of detainees who should not be in custody takes too long and contributes to the overcrowding and unrest in the detention facilities."

"33. The various detention facilities operated by the 800th MP Brigade have routinely held persons brought to them by Other Government Agencies (OGAs) without accounting for them, knowing their identities, or even the reason for their detention. The Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JIDC) at Abu Ghraib called these detainees “ghost detainees.” On at least one occasion, the 320th MP Battalion at Abu Ghraib held a handful of “ghost detainees” (6-8) for OGAs that they moved around within the facility to hide them from a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) survey team. This maneuver was deceptive, contrary to Army Doctrine, and in violation of international law. (Annex 53)"

"24. The screening, processing, and release of detainees who should not be in custody takes too long and contributes to the overcrowding and unrest in the detention facilities. There are currently three separate release mechanisms in the theater-wide internment operations. First, the apprehending unit can release a detainee if there is a determination that their continued detention is not warranted. Secondly, a criminal detainee can be released after it has been determined that the detainee has no intelligence value, and that their release would not be detrimental to society. BG Karpinski had signature authority to release detainees in this second category. Lastly, detainees accused of committing “Crimes Against the Coalition,” who are held throughout the separate facilities in the CJTF-7 AOR, can be released upon a determination that they are of no intelligence value and no longer pose a significant threat to Coalition Forces. The release process for this category of detainee is a screening by the local US Forces Magistrate Cell and a review by a Detainee Release Board consisting of BG Karpinski, COL Marc Warren, SJA, CJTF-7, and MG Barbara Fast, C-2, CJTF-7. MG Fast is the “Detainee Release Authority” for detainees being held for committing crimes against the coalition. According to BG Karpinski, this category of detainee makes up more than 60% of the total detainee population, and is the fastest growing category. However, MG Fast, according to BG Karpinski, routinely denied the board’s recommendations to release detainees in this category who were no longer deemed a threat and clearly met the requirements for release. According to BG Karpinski, the extremely slow and ineffective release process has significantly contributed to the overcrowding of the facilities. (ANNEXES 40, 45, and 46)

25. After Action Reviews (AARs) are not routinely being conducted after an escape or other serious incident. No lessons learned seem to have been disseminated to subordinate units to enable corrective action at the lowest level. The Investigation Team requested copies of AARs, and none were provided. (Multiple Witness Statements)"

So for them to say they were understaffed seem to be only part of the problem. The other part of the problem is that nobody even cared. Karpinski asked for things, complained that she wasn't being given adequate assistance - and that was where it stopped, in a place where escapes happened, riots happened, they didnt' even know how many prisoners they had or where they were at any given time, and after being told repeatedly that they had to post the Geneva Conventions in English and Arabic, still hadn't bothered to do so. I mean, not that it would have made a difference, except to add yet another layer of Waugh-like irony to the situation, but how hard would it have been to find and print out a copy of the Conventions and mount them?

It's like an amateur-hour version of Saddam Hussein's Abu Ghreib.

#78 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 08:57 PM:

There's just too much ugly to count. This, for instance:

CPT Leo Merck, Commander, 870th MP Company

* Court-Martial Charges Preferred, for Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Unauthorized Use of Government Computer in that he was alleged to have taken nude pictures of his female Soldiers without their knowledge; Trial date to be announced.

#79 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 09:06 PM:

Oh. I can't say what I would say because it would merit disemvowelling. I've just gotten up to here:

"16. BG Karpinski also implied during her testimony that the criminal abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) might have been caused by the ultimate disposition of the detainee abuse cases that originally occurred at Camp Bucca in May 2003. She stated that “about the same time those incidents were taking place out of Baghdad Central, the decisions were made to give the guilty people at Bucca plea bargains. So, the system communicated to the soldiers, the worst that’s gonna happen is, you’re gonna go home.” I think it important to point out that almost every witness testified that the serious criminal abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) occurred in late October and early November 2003. The photographs and statements clearly support that the abuses occurred during this time period. The Bucca cases were set for trial in January 2004 and were not finally disposed of until 29 December 2003. There is entirely no evidence that the decision of numerous MP personnel to intentionally abuse detainees at Abu Ghrabid (BCCF) was influenced in any respect by the Camp Bucca cases. (ANNEXES 25, 26, and 45) "

What they're saying is, Karpinski thought her troops were inspired to think that they could beat people and get away with it because they'd seen other soldiers beat people and get away with it, - and in fact have it serve as a way to get home - and the report is saying no, that can't be true, because the chronology doesn't work.

And the "just following orders" defense is still fashionable in Maryland, at least.

Since Pvt. Lynndie England appeared in the now-infamous photos, her picture has been removed from the Wall of Honor at Wal-Mart.

Her close friend says she’s innocent. “They were doing what higher-up expected of them, told them to do, and told them not to question it,” said Destiny Goin.

It sounds from this like they might have been making prisoners clean up unexploded ordinance at Camp Bucca. I'm hoping I'm wrong, and that there was just (I know) a cluster bomb mixed in with ordinary garbage as they were policing the area.

However, the end of the article is interesting, what with this hometown girl saying,

Asked what she thought of President Bush, she explained that she could get in trouble with the military if she were to answer.

"I am looking forward to the presidential election," she said.

OTOH, this aptly named blogger is complaining that the Fallujans didn't put up a fight so we weren't allowed to go in and obliterate them...

He's a gamer and techie, not a soldier. (Not that all gamers are chickenhawks of course, just that I would have been rather surprised if he were a combat veteran advocating this.)

#80 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 09:09 PM:

Rats, I'm too tired and punchdrunk from reading news and drinking coffee all weekend and then going to work to do my html (or even type straight)

The link to our "patriotic" warblogger above is USS Clueless

#81 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 09:36 PM:

A tiny bit of explanation for people wondering what those letters after the paragraph numbers are all about:

Those are the classifications of the paragraphs. In a classified document, every paragraph has to be labeled as to its individual classification. The entire document is classified at the level of the highest paragraph classification. (U) is Unclassified. That is, you can tell anyone, print it in the paper, whatever. (S/NF) means Secret, No Foreign. That is, it's Secret (release of this information to people who don't have a secret clearance and need to know could cause serious damage to the security of the United States) and no foreign nationals can be given this information even if they have a secret clearance and a need to know.

#82 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 09:54 PM:

Josh Jasper:

While I'm glad it's been discovered, it creeps me out that our intelligence services have been replaced by inept contractors.

Yeah, I feel the same way about our entire government, actually.

I've been trying to cut down on news/blog reading (interferes with actual work) and now this happens. I had actually thought that there was nothing more that the Bush Administration could screw up worse than they already had. And now -- words fail me.

My wife says she still gets the feeling they're hiding something. My answer is, what could they possibly still be hiding? How could it be worse than the destruction of the Constitution, the willful embrace of death camps and torture, the use of 500 lb bombs to take out snipers in Fallujah, and so on?

The bright side: my wife is a Hungarian citizen. As of Saturday, I have the right to live and work anywhere in the European Union. When we got married (in 1989) I told her Hungary would join the Union, and I told her under no circumstances should she get US citizenship. And damn if I wasn't right. I didn't expect to feel good about having an escape route, though. (And yeah, the kids have two passports, and that makes me feel very good.)

And yet -- I still love this country. Heck, my wife loves this country, and she has more reason not to (it's hard to love the US after dealing with the INS, trust me on this one.) The American people are good people. Easily manipulated, willfully ignorant, jingoistic, recidivist racists -- but good people.

That's why it pisses me off that they (we) just keep screwing up. And not fricking admitting it, like if we all just close our eyes and think happy thoughts, it won't have happened.

And no, I don't tell anybody I'm Canadian when I'm in Europe. I just keep telling people how pissed I am that morons have stolen my government, and they all understand completely.

#83 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 10:12 PM:

James McDonald:

(S/NF) means Secret, No Foreign.

How come MSNBC can print it, then? Or is the secret stuff in the Annexes they refer to?

#84 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 10:13 PM:

Okay, I'm punchdrunk with trying to process all this in real time and trying to figure out how, how how to make myself heard (I had several bad experiences with our intelligence services back when this all started, and then afterwards, in the "times of heightened alert".)

I think the internet has real power. I'm not sure how we can harness it best, but I know that people at Whisky Bar are collating stuff and trying to pass it on to journalists. I agree that we all need to call our representatives, and stay on them like spanish thistle, to make sure they don't take Rummy's lulling words that the system isn't broken, trust them, trust the system to take care of everything.

I have a feeling that this is so big, and that the connection with Falluja, and the breakdown of all authority in the military, all command responsiblity from the top down, and the absolute and total failures of intelligence there which are getting 10 soldiers killed a day on average - if this is not impeachable, what do we have impeachment for?

Can we find allies in the military who will, even anonymously, provide such tips as someone surely provided to Hersh? People in the know, because there is no cracking it open without the heroes who blow the whistles - we can and did conjecture, worry, but in the end nothing more than rumour, until you have the damning documentation with the hierarchy's own names on it. There have to be others like John Schroder USMC out there.

Can we put all this together into a coherent presentation of lies and deceptions and spin, all with documentary evidence? I am working on this with my collction of BBC articles from the invasion contrasted with simultaneous official statements from the US media, and surely we can get things from Iraqi bloggers?

In the meantime, because I am a typesetter & need to be doing *something*, I have taken Graydon's suggestion and made up a poster of the slogan, which you can look at here, in two versions. This is very rough, I want it to look very old-fashioned, like a poster from the Cold War. Any preferences? Ideas? I'm not completly happy with the subcaption, but it looks too unfinished without a tagline.

When it's done, I will post it on my site in lo-res button versions to download, and in high res versions, BW and color, for people to print out, put on shirts etc.

Terror format 1

Terror format 2

#85 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 10:32 PM:


I am well aware that my government and representatives thereof have done bad things to Palestinians -- but until you can actually show me pictures of a naked pyramid of Palestinian prisoners with grinning Iraeli guards, I'd appreciate it if you shut up.

Well, there's always The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. No pics so far as I can tell, but there do seem to be, as Claude mentioned, similarities in interrogation techniques the IDF is accused of using and those documented at Abu Ghraib and Camp X-Ray.

You'll have to dig further; I've all the horror I can stand in my own back yard and haven't, at the moment, a great deal of interest in yours.

#86 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 10:36 PM:

How come MSNBC can print it, then? Or is the secret stuff in the Annexes they refer to?

MSNBC can print them because they got a copy. MSNBC isn't subject to the UCMJ.

As to whoever gave it to them -- either it was declassified and released, or someone slipped them a copy. In the former case, no problem. In the latter case, the person who did it may have a problem.

#87 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 10:45 PM:

Michael asked: How come MSNBC can print it, then?

Unlike the UK, the US has no Official Secrets Act. If secret materials are obtained by the US press they are, in general, free to publish it without prior restraint by the US government. This principal was most famously tested by the New York Times publication of the "Pentagon Papers." In 1971 the US Supreme Court decided, in a 6-3 decision, that the government could not block publication of the Pentagon Papers. New York Times Co. v. United States.

#88 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 11:29 PM:

This from Rummy's speech - he lies very poorly, doesn't he, unlike Rice, who lies very smoothly and convincingly - posted up at the DoD website:


Q General, a quick follow-up on that, please. Could you explain to us why the Taguba report was classified secret, no foreign distribution? Those of us who have read the report, there's clearly nothing in there that's inherently secret, such as intelligence sources and methods of troop movement. Was this kept secret because it would be embarrassing to the world, particularly the Arab world?

GEN. PACE: First of all, I do not know specifically why it was labeled secret. Potentially there are parts of the hundreds and hundreds of pages of documentation that are classified. I do not know that to be a fact, but normally we will classify a document at the highest level of anything that's in that document.

But as the secretary pointed out, immediately we told the world that we thought we had a problem. So there has been no attempt to hide this. What we've been trying to do is find out the truth of the matter so we can get on about correcting; finding out who did what, and then taking a proper action.

Q Mr. Secretary, can you say why it was classified secret? Do you know?

SEC. RUMSFELD: No, you'd have to ask the classifier.


We are trapped inside Dr. Strangelove.

#89 ::: PZ Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 11:36 PM:

I see this horrible stuff going on in Abu Ghraib, and I am appalled. But something else appalls me, too.

Why are we sitting here beating our breasts?

Why aren't we all pouring out into the streets and screaming our rage at the US administration that has botched this war and has allowed and apparently even encouraged this kind of thing?

Why aren't mobs marching on Washington to take these contemptible neocons by the scruff of the neck and throw them in jail?

Why aren't our representatives in congress preparing to impeach Bush and Cheney and the whole scumsucking crowd?

The rationale for this war and the conduct of this war are things that contradict everything we're taught about the virtues of America--I would think that conservatives, who often seemed to be schooled in bedrock pro-Americanism, would be even more outraged than a lefty liberal like me...and I'm pretty damned outraged.

What can we do? Why aren't we doing it?

#90 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 11:45 PM:

No one at work - except me - brought it up at all. (But Johnny Depp wanting to get his rock star buddy into the PotC sequel was the day's water cooler talk about current events...)

Ray Bradbury predicted it all back in Farenheit 451, I'm afraid. In most cases, you don't *need* to burn their books, people would rather watch the Wall with their interactive quiz shows and their bloody entertainments and ignore the screaming darkness behind their eyes.

We're trying. But it's all very well to say "do something," but you can't take unspecified actions. *What* do we do? Because running screaming into the street will just end in straightjackets, no matter how short term satisfactory it is.

Ideas? Concerted plans of attack, anyone?
(still insomniac here, I'm afraid)

#91 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 11:50 PM:

So, what did we know and when did we know it?

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Former Iraqi human rights minister Abdel Basset Turki said US overseer Paul Bremer knew in November that Iraqi prisoners were being abused in US detention centres.

"In November I talked to Mr Bremer about human rights violations in general and in jails in particular. He listened but there was no answer. At the first meeting, I asked to be allowed to visit the security prisoners, but I failed," Turki told AFP on Monday.


#92 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2004, 11:57 PM:

As long as we're posting secrets, here's another secret paragraph from the Taguba inquiry:

6. I find that the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel included the following acts:

a. Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet;

b. Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees;

c. Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing;

d. Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time;

e. Forcing naked male detainees to wear women’s underwear;

f. Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped;

g. Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them;

h. Positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture;

i. Writing "I am a Rapest" (sic) on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked;

j. Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee’s neck and having a female Soldier pose for a picture;

k. A male MP guard having sex with a female detainee;

l. Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee;

m. Taking photographs of dead Iraqi detainees.

#93 ::: abby ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 12:50 AM:

Does anybody know when the Taguba report was written? What's the lag between the army coming to these conclusions and the scandal making its way to the mainstream media? I know it's no more than a month and a half, as mid-March dates are mentioned in the report, but I was wondering if anyone had found something more specific.

#94 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 12:55 AM:

bellatrys, I like the first format better than the second, and I'd probably like it more if the stars were a blue that was easier to tell from the black.

#95 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 01:52 AM:

abby asked: Does anybody know when the Taguba report was written?

When Seymour Hersh broke the story on April 30 in The New Yorker he said:

A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February.

However, the report itself provides some additional detail:

On 29 February we finalized our executive summary and out-briefing slides.  On 9 March we submitted the AR 15-6 written report with findings and recommendations to the CFLCC Deputy SJA, LTC Mark Johnson, for a legal sufficiency review.  The out-brief to the appointing authority, LTG McKiernan, took place on 3 March 2004.

What's the lag between the army coming to these conclusions and the scandal making its way to the mainstream media?

To be honest I'm amazed that Hersh was able to obtain a copy of a classified Secret, No Foreign report so quickly, even considering the shocking nature of the report and his reputation for having excellent sources.

#96 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 02:03 AM:

Naomi, my apologies for not promptly responding to your reasonable request for supporting information. I've had the fulminating stomach crud for two days (more effective than Atkins, and cheaper!) and have spent too much of my time face down in bed and other places.

You said: I am well aware that my government and representatives thereof have done bad things to Palestinians -- but until you can actually show me pictures of a naked pyramid of Palestinian prisoners with grinning Iraeli guards, I'd appreciate it if you shut up.

Naomi, I would point out the careful wording in my original post: I have already read some passing comments on the similaries between what went on in this facility and what goes on in West Bank interrogation centers. I did not then and do not now intend to assert that the techniques used at Abu Gharib are identical with documented Israeli military or domestic intelligence interrogation practice, just that there are common patterns that are suggestive, especially as there are reports that the US has been consciously emulating Israeli interrogation techniques, with or without active Israeli help.

I am quite willing to grant you the naked pyramid of prisoners with grinning guards -- that has the feel of a low-rent S/M frat house. But as fpr the pattern in general I would point you, as I think someone upthread already has, to the website of The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel which points out that until the High Court of Justice prohibited them in 1999, the following proactices had been documented in the interrogations of not only Palentinian detainees, but also of left and right wing politcal activists:

Tying up detainee in painful positions for hours or days on end.
Solitary Confinement
Confinement in tiny cubicles
Violent "shaking"
Deprivation of sleep and food
Exposure to cold or heat
Verbal, sexual and psychological abuse
Threats against the individual or the individual's family.
Lack of adequate clothing or hygiene
It is very much to your country's credit that the High Court ruled in that manner. There is concern though (see this Amnesty International report) that the practices are creeping back in.
As to the organizational links, I would refer you first to this paragraph from a December New Yorker article by Sy Hersh about counter-insurgent operations in Iraq:
One step the Pentagon took was to seek active and secret help in the war against the Iraqi insurgency from Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East. According to American and Israeli military and intelligence officials, Israeli commandos and intelligence units have been working closely with their American counterparts at the Special Forces training base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Israel to help them prepare for operations in Iraq. Israeli commandos are expected to serve as ad-hoc advisers—again, in secret—when full-field operations begin. (Neither the Pentagon nor Israeli diplomats would comment. “No one wants to talk about this,” an Israeli official told me. “It’s incendiary. Both governments have decided at the highest level that it is in their interests to keep a low profile on U.S.-Israeli coöperation” on Iraq.)
As usual, Billmon has more. In particular, one military intelligence interrogator at Abu Gharib claimed to have attended an "Israeli Interrogation Course". And I am just now reading that the Taguba Report cites unidentified "third party nationals" in addition to US contractors as being part of the problem at Abu Gharib. I hope they are British, South African or Russian, for the sake of Israel as well as the United States.

The patterns of activity overall are similar, and we have indications that US organizations are obtaining guidance and training from Israeli organizations, or at least trying to emulate them. Whith the crazy escalation of the news from Abu Gharib, what shoud be far fetched tin-hattery becomes plausible, unfortunately.

#97 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 02:10 AM:

Richard P. -- quite right.

The only two bases for prior restraint -- the ability to keep news organizations from divulging secrets passed to them -- are military neccessity and certains special classes of information. The classic definition of military necessity is preventing the publicizing of movement of troops in wartine. There are also some specific restrictions on nuclear weapons and communications security related information that would allow for prior restraint -- and the Supreme Court has agreed to that.

#98 ::: Brave and true ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 06:48 AM:

Came across this blog in an Australian webdiary connected to a major newspaper so you may be getting more readers from Aust.
Many of us in Australia feel even more disturbed as time goes by and incidents like the seeming torture and humiliation of Iraqui prisoners come to light.
Australian forces (in small numbers) were involved in Iraq from the beginning as part of the so-called coalition. The population currently is split about 50/50 on the rights and wrongs of going to war with you. We are in an election year too so it is a crucial issue.
Our Prime Minister, a shrewd man named Howard, pulled out some of our small contingent as soon as your inexplicable President declare Mission Accomplished. So most of our people seem to be in rather less risky roles. However if we happen to lose any of our people (we remember losing over 500 dead in Vietnam) the mood would change. Yes you've lost hundreds killed and thousands wounded - the Australian contingent is unscathed so far.
Apparently we are in Iraq to help maintain our alliance with the US - personally I am ashamed of our involvement. I wish those of you who are working to oust Bush and the Republicans all the best. It is very scary to think of Bush/Cheney etc winning power again.

#99 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 07:24 AM:

Has anyone seen what they did to a lot of those people they released?

Also, the equation Support The Troops=Support The War=Support the Current Regime looks even worse in the light of this:

Someone named Pat over on Whiskey Bar, btw, says she's an American interrogator and so is her husband, and says that nothing reported so far is actual torture.

#100 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 07:59 AM:

Yes, for my standards, what's been shown in the US photos so far is right on the edge, and beyond GC limits, but not "full blown" torture. Not that I'd enjoy it happening to me or someone I knew.

It does give people licence to assume worse is happening (nitrile gloves, for instance). Many will take it. And, as Patrick mentioned, opens a can of worms on a slippery slope above deep waters.

#101 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 09:38 AM:


Raping a prisoner - er, "having sex with a female detainee" isn't over the line?

That's there in the Taguba Report. The BBC thought that was too inflammatory and censored it from their extracts.

Not to mention the beatings with broom handles and the siccing of dogs on people.

What about the International Convention of 1966?
Aren't we signatories to that?

Then there's the UN resolution of 1984, and the addition to it which had a clause about inspecting prisons, which we opposed, according to this 2002 article, because "external inspections would be contrary to the US constitution because they would intrude on the federal rights of individual states."

UN Torture Prevention Plan Adopted Despite US Opposition

And the 1984 Convention for which this ammendment was intended to provide some way of making sgnatories comply, certainly includes such things in the definition of torture.

John McCain is calling the DoD to turn over *all* relevant documents to Congress now.

#102 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 09:39 AM:

To be honest I'm amazed that Hersh was able to obtain a copy of a classified Secret, No Foreign report so quickly, even considering the shocking nature of the report and his reputation for having excellent sources.

What that means is that some patriotic officer, who had a Secret clearance and a need to know, recalled that his oath was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That officer decided that the best way to support and defend the Constitution was to give the report to Hersh rather than let it get buried, covered up, denied, and ignored by the unindicted war criminals in the Defense Department and White House.

I'm certain that an investigation is underway right now to find out who that individual is, at which point he or she may as well kiss career and retirement goodbye. I'm certain that the investigation will be far swifter, more complete, and detailed than the search for whoever leaked Valerie Plame's identity to the press.


Back in the days when I used to do stuff, we had a saying: "Bad intel is worse than no intel."

Torture, by its nature, gets you bad intel. Working on bad intel gets your own troops killed. I wonder where the idea that the Fallujah insurgency was only a few foreign fighters who lacked popular support came from? How many of our guys got killed because some prisoner gave the interrogators what they wanted to hear, rather than the interrogators learning the truth?

Gaining information isn't one of the uses of torture. Torture has two uses, and two only:

1) Revenge.
2) Intimidation of the people who you haven't caught.

Revenge is a luxury we can't afford, as the world-wide reaction to these revelations is proving.

Intimidation is a double-edged sword. It might quell an uprising if the other side doesn't really care all that much about the cause. But it can also force out the weaklings, leaving no one but hard cases in the opposition. And it can help the other side recruit. In a culture where the words "death before dishonor" aren't an empty saying, when word of this nonsense gets out (and it will, and it does, inevitably), when someone comes by and says, "What'll it be, lads? Would you rather drive a truckload of dynamite into one of their barracks, or will you let them make you wear women's underwear?" you know what they'll choose.

Purely in pragmatic terms the improper treatment of prisoners is a non-starter. Recall the effect that news of the Malmedy Massacre had on American troopers in the Battle of the Bulge. You don't want the opposition to say to themselves, when they're in an untenable position and surrender might be a possibility, "F*ck it, they're not going to take me alive."

#103 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 09:42 AM:

Marilee, thanks. Anyone else who has comments, suggestion, etc, go ahead & email them to me so as not to clog up the thread, and I will look over/incorporate them when I get home from work tonight.

#104 ::: Tim H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 09:58 AM:

bellatrys, I take being beaten to death in interrogation as torture. Anyone who thinks this is just abuse is just in denial.

#105 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 10:21 AM:

Epacris, you'll want to read page 17 of the report written by the army (available here and elsewhere: ) . It clearly states that while they do not have it on film, they "find the following credible" based on witness reports corroborated etc which includes "sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broomstick." There are a-h non-photographed abuses listed. And that's all that they found credible.

Also, and I'll be very personal here. If I saw a picture of my brother hooded and forced to masturbate in front of an enemy while they took pictures and gave a thumbs up, I'd get a gun and shoot them. I don't know that any force in the world would stop me, and I doubt a jury, if they too saw the pictures, would convict me. Your definition of torture may be different than mine. To me, this is torture, plain and simple.

If those were Americans being tortured and the photos came out--well. "Shock and awe" would be the least of the retaliation.

#106 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 11:19 AM:

I share Elizabeth's reaction, and it somewhat boggles me that anyone else would think substantially differently. What but anger and a wish for vengeance would anyone feel after seeing a relative, loved one, or friend treated that way? We might variously act on those feelings or not, but geez. This isn't a matter of sophisticated cross-cultural analysis, this is basic "we care about the people we care about" stuff.

#107 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 11:29 AM:

PZ asks a good question about why folks aren't doing something more like storming the Bastille in response. Now in my particular case the answer is "medical issues", but more broadly, even if health allowed me right now...the fact is that I dislike and distrust mobs. When big crows gather, they very seldom seem to address any issue of deep concern to me, and they're terribly easy to lead astray. Big mobs are more likely to become violent mobs, and even when they're not, what they succeed at is usually a subversion of the stuff that I would want to rally about in the first place.

This isn't to say that I want to take it lying down, but I'm leery of big angry crowds for very much the reasons I was leery of dreams of building a wonderful stable democracy in Iraq: too easy, history suggests, for them to go off in another direction, no matter how good some instigators' intentions might be.

#108 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 11:33 AM:

What but anger and a wish for vengeance would anyone feel after seeing a relative, loved one, or friend treated that way?

It wouldn't even have to be a relative. If that were a bunch of Americans I didn't know from Adam, in the hands of a foreign military force, I'd find it intolerable.

Is that how those troops wanted the insurgents to treat any Americans who fell into the insurgents' hands?

#109 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 11:34 AM:

Terry, you wrote: Regarding the flag, don't take it down... furl it, with large ties (glue 'em down in case someone wants to "help," you.). Show that the Colors are in disgrace.

I've been thinking about this, and it seems to me to be a good target for local activism. Can you tell me the proper way to furl a flag? Suppose it's one on a tall flagpole, like the one on City Hall here in Hoboken? What should the ties look like (color, material etc)?

I'm thinking of calling on the mayor and city council to furl the flag to show the shame that our city feels as a result of our soldiers' actions in Iraq. Those few, exceptional as they may be, have brought dishonor on our whole nation. If our flag symbolizes our pride, it should symbolize our shame as well. But if we do it, it should be done in a way that the flag mavens will understand.

#110 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 11:48 AM:

Interestingly, the PDF version of the Taguba report published by NPR is more complete then the HTML version published by MSNBC. Unlike MSNBC, NPR has apparently decided not to redact the names of the witnesses interviewed by Taguba's investigation team.

The rationale NBC gave for removing the names of some witnesses was "for the sake of privacy." NPR offered no explanation for their choice. Both institutions are large entities with experienced staff. I'm curious, do journalists have a code of ethics that provides guidance on how they should handle this kind of thing, or does each institution have to devise their own set of standards?

Even more interesting is the seemingly inevitable and rapid manner in which the release progressed from just a few choice quotes to complete disclosure.

  • April 28: CBS televises the photos, but doesn't mention the report by name in their broadcast.
  • April 30: Sy Hersh at The New Yorker mentions the report and publishes choice quotes.
  • May 3: The Los Angeles Times publishes substantial excerpts from the report.
  • May 4: MSNBC publishes the report sans witness names.
  • May 5: NPR publishes the complete report.

#111 ::: ElizabethVomMarlo ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 12:27 PM:

Richard, I read the NPR report yesterday evening. It had all the witness names, etc, in it then.

#112 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 12:53 PM:

At least two things:

1. Bush giving press conference to Arabic media: "What went on in that prision is not the America that I know" --that's because he's so utterly locked in his own fantasy reality

2. Miramax, a unit of Disney, which also owns ABC, is non-releasing "Fahrenheit 911," a documentary about the connections betweens Bushes and Saudi Arabians. I smell lots and lots of skunks there. It was reported on the 3 AM or so late late late night news programming that on the local ABC (Disney, again) affiliate, WCVB, the disclaimer was made live on TV of the network's ownership by Disney.

#113 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 12:56 PM:

Thanks for the correction Elizabeth.

MSNBC also published the report yesterday, so I agree, it appears both were released the same day. I am curious about the exact chronology. While various commenters at blogs appear to have noticed the release by MSNBC first, it is still entirely possible that NPR released the report earlier.

#114 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 01:07 PM:

1. Bush giving press conference to Arabic media: "What went on in that prision is not the America that I know" --that's because he's so utterly locked in his own fantasy reality

I genuinely believe that the syllogism is:

1. We are good people.
2. Good people don't do things like torturing and raping prisoners.
3. Therefore, the things like that don't count. Because otherwise we wouldn't be good people, and we know that we are.

#115 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 01:39 PM:

I think, I won't wander to that chunk of Billmon. I don't think I could take the pissing contest which would ensue.

Xopher: re furling the flag. Take the pole, hold it parallel to the ground, roll the flag up. Tie it off.

For a unit to have it's flag furled (not cased, which is placing it in a cover, for storage, in the event a unit is deactivated, or to some place the unit is going; that the unit colors will be there when they arrive) is a shame I can't explain.

I forget now what it was which caused my Plt. Sgt. to make us march with furled flag for a week. It was indescribable. No cadence, just the counting of steps, and everyone who saw us KNEW we'd fucked up.

Confession time. I know the soldiers who are accused of raping the female detainee. They were with the active duty unit we were assigned to. All I can say is, based on what I know of them, I'm not surprised. I can also say that at least two of them are NOT interrogators, but rather Counter-intelligence agents. And they were all in Afghanistan.

James hit it on the head, this sort of thing gets bad intel. And bad intel is worse than no intel, because it leads to poor decisions.

And, not to claim any moral high-ground: it doesn't have to be Americans being tortured to make me want to inflict gross bodily harm to people. Right now I want to hurt some americans for what they've done to Iraqis. That may be injured pride, and reaction to shame, but it's still there. I take comfort in knowing that I've felt the same before, when it didn't reflect on me.

I just wish NPR hadn't posted it in a PDF.

And I weep, when I see people saying it doesn't really matter, because it's being done to progtect Americans.

Call me silly, sentimental, foolish (hell, I'll cop to the first two) but my religious beliefs don't make a distinction. I get told I'm not a very good person, by people who are even now saying this sort of thing isn't all that bad... but I think back to Matt, and "the least of my brethren," and wonder how they can pray in peace.

#116 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 02:44 PM:

[sigh] Really shouldn't try to deal with complex subjects while half-knocked out by these @#*!!* viruses.

I specifically wrote "what's been shown in the US photos so far", because I hadn't read the other material. (Wired man on box was worst to me, but I'm not a male in that culture, other things may have felt worse to them.)

Elizabeth (et al): You may very well feel like killing someone who badly humilated someone close to you. That's why legal systems disqualify judges & jury members who have connections to people in the case. Otherwise you end up with the current gang warfare in Melbourne, or the Capulet/Montague situation that the Duke tried to cool down. I have a nasty enough temper to know that sometimes I just have to walk/turn away & count to ten or I'll do something that will damage all involved. Then I've gotta clean up the mess. Having to face down my own violence over decades means I can get irrits with those who indulge theirs. Was never a fan of the revenge flick & its artificial construction of villains letting viewers approve of "good" violence.

Maybe it's the 'more puritanical' American society we've heard of, or my own experiences that I just don't have such a horrified reaction to those photographed situations. Sydney schoolboys have done similar things to each other - naturally they were punished (not imprisoned IIRC) & one hopes taught not to. The power relationship in custody makes it much worse, and I'd expect the perpetrators & those who allowed or encouraged it to be made an example of, and systems organized to make it harder to get away with in the future.

I do get upset at those on other blogs wanting the death penalty for those who staged those photos. So what do you do to people who organize rape camps, or who herd families into a building then burn it down while machine-gunning anyone trying to escape? Hang, draw & quarter? Those who've done worse things need a measure more of punishment. Justice & civilization is the point -- it's what the 'coalition' is claiming to represent.

(I'm equally upset at those who say "[the prisoners] were terrorists, and they got what they deserved", when I also haven't seen any evidence about why they were in custody, or any trials, and wonder if the commentators say the same about US prisoners on remand who get assaulted or badly treated in custody. How strangely confident they are that nothing will ever touch them.)

From what people are quoting at me, it looks like what's reported from the other material is the "worse" that seeing those pix would lead you to assume could also be going on, and is far, far more serious. Of course it also just hands weapons to those who want to attack the US in general; proof of their accusations. As said earlier: "Do as you would be done by" -- revenge, distrust, self-doubt -- there's not a lot of up here, and all for what?

Again, I can only imagine how we would feel if there was proof our soldiers were doing similar things. We would feel humilated, ashamed, & disgraced in the eyes of the world, which would make many people angry & vindictive -- some towards the perpetrators, some towards the world, some the victims.

The moon over Sydney this morning set like blood, mid-eclipse.

Looks like I'm gunna need to take a bunch of remedies, wrap up warm & have a good rest before I'll have strength to check up more. This is just getting worse so far.

#117 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 03:05 PM:

Whether or not we're puritanical, American mores are not the issue. An observant Muslim male practices modesty, and homosexual acts are strictly forbidden.

That changed in November — he does not know the exact date — when punishment for a prisoner fight at Abu Ghraib degenerated into torture. That night, he said, he and six other inmates were beaten, stripped naked (a particularly deep humiliation in the Arab world), forced to pile on top of one another, to straddle one another's backs naked, to simulate oral sex. American guards wrote words like "rapist" on their skin with Magic Marker, he said.

The curiosity, through much of the ordeal, was the camera. It was a detail he mentioned repeatedly as he recalled being forced against a wall and ordered by the Arabic translator to masturbate as he looked at one of the female guards.

"Then the interpreter told us to strip," he said. "We told him: `You are Egyptian, and you are a Muslim. You know that as Muslims we can't do that.' When we refused to take off our clothes, they beat us and tore our clothes off with a blade."

From the New York Times:

What happened in Abu Ghraib was sexual torture. Australian and American schoolboys may practice torture, but American soldiers are forbidden by international law from following suit.

#118 ::: Mark Hand ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 03:57 PM:

The next time one of us snot-nosed Canadian punks tries to act all morally superior, you can put us in our place by mentioning what some of our soldiers did in Somalia.

The very short version of the short summary here goes like this: in March 1993, Canadian Airborne Regiment peacekeepers shot and killed two Somalis who they claimed had broken into the military compound to loot -- an army surgeon who investigated said one of them appeared to have lived for minutes after being first shot and then finished off "execution-style." About two weeks later, a 16 year-old Somali was tortured and murdered on the base, and some gruesome pictures were taken (sounds familiar). The resulting inquiry exposed some heinous realities going all the way to the top, and in the end the entire Regiment was disbanded in dishonour.

Our already beleaguered military has never recovered, and you can bet the experience was a contributing factor to why there are no Canadian soldiers (officially) (thankfully) in Iraq.

I haven't seen anyone comment here about the Somalia Scandal yet, and while it's not the same thing as what's happened (happening?) in Iraq, it's close enough that maybe there's something to be learned.

I just don't know what ought to learned, exactly. The intersting journals of one of the Canadians in Somalia suggests that: "The men of the Airborne Regiment represented the best that the military and Canada had to offer. They were professionals in a military that is currently lacking that quality. The Airborne Regiment represented a cross section of Canadian society. Thus the dark side of human nature that was illuminated in Somalia is inside all Canadians."

I hope he's wrong about that, but at this point I'm not sure about anything. I'd like to think that most of us are better than that, wherever we happen to be from.

#119 ::: Erin Denton ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 04:49 PM:

I'm not reading thru all the comments on this thread (not in the T-15 mins i've got left at work today) but i think the only way that we could regain what shattered dignity we have in Iraq is by turning these soldiers over to the Iraqis for punishment.

No, this isn't going to happen. Yes, those people would probably be killed. But i'm using the same bizarro logic that sent us over there in the first place...a few of us dying, a lot more of them dying, and things will all work out, right? Well, what's a few more of us right now if it stops us from looking like total jerkwads in front of the entire Arabic world?

Denying that we knew what was happening ain't ever gonna cut it, especially since it isn't true. Better to scapegoat a few, regardless of their superiors activities in egging them on, shed a little blood, and hopefully cauterizing the wound.

(This is me on a sardonic day. I'm not ususally so cavalier with human life. But if we were in a world that had real leaders anymore, with real balls, either this never would have happened, we'd be so depraved it wouldn't matter that it had happened, or we'd be honorable enough to turn the bastards over to accept their due.)

#120 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 05:42 PM:

pericat & Claude:

Thank you for the pointer. After looking at it, I wasn't convinced that the similarities are indicitive of anything other than that humans have learned more about effective ways of causing other humans pain than we can honestly be proud of. Specifically, I'm not seeing any of the more bizzare stuff -- such as James was listing -- on the Israeli website.

Also, pericat:

You'll have to dig further; I've all the horror I can stand in my own back yard and haven't, at the moment, a great deal of interest in yours.

Fair enough. But I wasn't the one who brought Israel into the discussion.

And Claude:

While one should, of course, not make specific accusations without corroborating data, I do not think that it is more virtuous to make nebulous claims and dark insinuations instead. It poisons the discourse, it begs the question, and it cannot be refuted because it "carefully" avoids making actual claims.

Which is why I appreciate your subsequent, more detailed post.

#121 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 05:51 PM:

While it's in no way comparable to the news from the prison, I realise that people in the US probably don't get the kind of negative news about the US troops that does filter through into Australian papers, for example. Paul McGeough reported the following in the Sydney Morning Herald on 12 April (you'd have to pay for it, so I'm giving it to you on my $1.65):

'Sadeer, a 28-year-old Shiite, had been an enthusiastic supporter of the Americans and he takes his life in his hands by working for me. Iraqis are being executed just for being in the company of Westerners.
'But his encounter with a bullying US soldier, who roughed him up as he came through the security cordon around the hotel, has pushed him into the nationalist Iraqi camp.
'When the GI challenged him, Sadeer tried to explain in his limited English, that he entered the hotel routinely, but he was barked at, shoved away and belted on the foot with a rifle.
'Leaving the hotel on foot, we had to go through the same streets to get to his car. I tried to explain our movements to the officer in charge of a US tank unit, but we were greeted with a stream of invective.
'As I moved on, one of his men fell in beside me, mumbling. Asked to repeat himself, he exploded: ``Don't you f---in' eyeball me." Nodding to his officer and raising his weapon, he shrieked: ``He has rank to lose. I don't. I'll take you out quick as a flash, motherf---er!"'

#122 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 06:07 PM:

On the flag subject, I'm with you, Teresa. What a flag means when we fly it isn't so much what we think we mean but what those who see it think we mean. And right now it is widely perceived to mean unquestioning support of this military misadventure.

#123 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 06:57 PM:

Even more in the "worse" category.

But she's getting her jewelry and IDs back, so it's all okay now.

The author of We Were Soldiers Once And Young has now called for the resignation of Rumsfeld and all his cohorts.

Torture *Is* Terror
I've incorporated Marilee's suggestion for a brighter blue to contrast w/the black, and I have a small web button version, and a hi-res bw and a hi-res color version of the sign for download on my site now. The big ones are sized 8 x 10.7, so they should fit on both US and EUR sizes of paper.

Terror Button (144x108 pixels, 6k)
Terror Sign, 200 dpi, RGB (Photoshop PDF, 370k)
Terror Sign, 200 dpi, B/W (Photoshop PDF, 250k)

Please feel free to download them; I have high bandwidth, so it shouldn't be a problem, since I've never used more than half of it in the last year anyway.

#124 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 07:02 PM:

Knowledge of Joe Ryan's Iraq Diary has reached the Washington Post: Media's Most Wanted Today Is Blogger From Iraqi Prison.

New information from the article includes a quote from Joe Ryan himself:

"I'll not be sending my diary out any more because of the allegations being spread through the media. I will keep my diary and maybe someday the truth of what is and has gone on here will surface," Ryan wrote in an e-mail, according to Ethan McIntosh, a producer at KSTP.

The article also mentions:

Ryan lives in St. Paul, works as an interrogator for CACI International Inc. and had been writing the blog since January, McIntosh said. Ryan's employment status could not be verified.

An army report on Abu Ghraib names Steven Stephanowicz as a CACI employee who is one of the people it deems "directly or indirectly responsible" for abuses at the prison. Ryan's blog drew attention because he refers to a Steve Stefanowicz who works with him at the prison.

An entry dated April 25 said that with two other men, "Steve Stefanowicz and I all took turns trying to hit balls over the back wall and onto the highway."

#125 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 08:32 PM:

Reading the report, I'm just a little stunned at just how bad things are. Here we have this combat unit. Here's a lovely list of the sort of officers they get to deal with.

18. In addition to poor morale and staff inefficiencies, I find that the 800th MP Brigade did not articulate or enforce clear and basic Soldier and Army standards. I specifically found these examples of unenforced standards:

a. There was no clear uniform standard for any MP Soldiers assigned detention duties. Despite the fact that hundreds of former Iraqi soldiers and officers were detainees, MP personnel were allowed to wear civilian clothes in the FOB after duty hours while carrying weapons. (ANNEXES 51 and 74)

b. Some Soldiers wrote poems and other sayings on their helmets and soft caps. (ANNEXES 51 and 74)

c. In addition, numerous officers and senior NCOs have been reprimanded/disciplined for misconduct during this period. Those disciplined include; (ANNEXES 43 and 102)

1). BG Janis Karpinski, Commander, 800th MP Brigade

* Memorandum of Admonishment by LTG Sanchez, Commander, CJTF-7, on 17 January 2004.

2). LTC (P) Jerry Phillabaum, Commander, 320th MP Battalion

* GOMOR from BG Karpinski, Commander 800th MP Brigade, on 10 November 2003, for lack of leadership and for failing to take corrective security measures as ordered by the Brigade Commander; filed locally
* Suspended by BG Karpinski, Commander 800th MP Brigade, 17 January 2004; Pending Relief for Cause, for dereliction of duty

3). LTC Dale Burtyk, Commander, 400th MP Battalion

* GOMOR from BG Karpinski, Commander 800th MP Brigade, on 20 August 2003, for failure to properly train his Soldiers. (Soldier had negligent discharge of M-16 while exiting his vehicle, round went into fuel tank); filed locally.

4). MAJ David DiNenna, S-3, 320th MP Battalion

* GOMOR from LTG McKiernan, Commander CFLCC, on 25 May 2003, for dereliction of duty for failing to report a violation of CENTCOM General Order #1 by a subordinate Field Grade Officer and Senior Noncommissioned Officer, which he personally observed; returned to soldier unfiled.
* GOMOR from BG Karpinski, Commander 800th MP Brigade, on 10 November 03, for failing to take corrective security measures as ordered by the Brigade Commander; filed locally.

5). MAJ Stacy Garrity, Finance Officer, 800th MP Brigade

* GOMOR from LTG McKiernan, Commander CFLCC, on 25 May 2003, for violation of CENTCOM General Order #1, consuming alcohol with an NCO; filed locally.

6). CPT Leo Merck, Commander, 870th MP Company

* Court-Martial Charges Preferred, for Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Unauthorized Use of Government Computer in that he was alleged to have taken nude pictures of his female Soldiers without their knowledge; Trial date to be announced.

7). CPT Damaris Morales, Commander, 770th MP Company

* GOMOR from BG Karpinski, Commander 800th MP Brigade, on 20 August 2003, for failing to properly train his Soldiers (Soldier had negligent discharge of M-16 while exiting his vehicle, round went into fuel tank); filed locally.

8). CSM Roy Clement, Command Sergeant Major, 800th MP Brigade

· GOMOR and Relief for Cause from BG Janis Karpinski, Commander 800th MP Brigade, for fraternization and dereliction of duty for fraternizing with junior enlisted soldiers within his unit; GOMOR officially filed and he was removed from the CSM list.

9). CSM Edward Stotts, Command Sergeant Major, 400th MP Battalion

* GOMOR from BG Karpinski, Commander 800th MP Brigade, on 20 August 2003, for failing to properly train his Soldiers (Soldier had negligent discharge of M-16 while exiting his vehicle, round went into fuel tank); filed locally.

10). 1SG Carlos Villanueva, First Sergeant, 770th MP Company

* GOMOR from BG Karpinski, Commander 800th MP Brigade, on 20 August 2003, for failing to properly train his Soldiers (Soldier had negligent discharge of M-16 while exiting his vehicle, round went into fuel tank); filed locally.

11). MSG David Maffett, NBC NCO, 800th MP Brigade,

* GOMOR from LTG McKiernan, Commander CFLCC, on 25 May 2003, for violation of CENTCOM General Order #1, consuming alcohol; filed locally.

12) SGM Marc Emerson, Operations SGM, 320th MP Battalion,

· Two GO Letters of Concern and a verbal reprimand from BG Karpinski, Commander 800th MP Brigade, for failing to adhere to the guidance/directives given to him by BG Karpinski; filed locally.

"GOMOR" is "General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand." It's as close as you can dance to a court martial and not face one. If offically filed, your promotion prospects are nil.

Jesus. This is F Troop, gone horribly wrong. How about this lovely nugget?

BG Karpinski placed LTC Ronald Chew, Commander of the 115th MP Battalion, in charge of the 320th MP Battalion for a period of approximately two weeks. LTC Chew was also in command of the 115th MP Battalion assigned to Camp Cropper, BIAP, Iraq. I could find no orders, either suspending or relieving LTC (P) Phillabaum from command, nor any orders placing LTC Chew in command of the 320th. In addition, there was no indication this removal and search for a replacement was communicated to the Commander CJTF-7, the Commander 377th TSC, or to Soldiers in the 320th MP Battalion. Temporarily removing one commander and replacing him with another serving Battalion Commander without an order and without notifying superior or subordinate commands is without precedent in my military career.

Emphasis mine, but I think MG Taguba wouldn't disagree. Also, I think we need to note this:

3. Throughout the investigation, we observed many individual Soldiers and some subordinate units under the 800th MP Brigade that overcame significant obstacles, persevered in extremely poor conditions, and upheld the Army Values. We discovered numerous examples of Soldiers and Sailors taking the initiative in the absence of leadership and accomplishing their assigned tasks.

a. The 744th MP Battalion, commanded by LTC Dennis McGlone, efficiently operated the HVD Detention Facility at Camp Cropper and met mission requirements with little to no guidance from the 800th MP Brigade. The unit was disciplined, proficient, and appeared to understand their basic tasks.

b. The 530th MP Battalion, commanded by LTC Stephen J. Novotny, effectively maintained the MEK Detention Facility at Camp Ashraf. His Soldiers were proficient in their individual tasks and adapted well to this highly unique and non-doctrinal operation.

c. The 165th MI Battalion excelled in providing perimeter security and force protection at Abu Ghraib (BCCF). LTC Robert P. Walters, Jr., demanded standards be enforced and worked endlessly to improve discipline throughout the FOB.

4. The individual Soldiers and Sailors that we observed and believe should be favorably noted include:

a. Master-at-Arms First Class William J. Kimbro, US Navy Dog Handler, knew his duties and refused to participate in improper interrogations despite significant pressure from the MI personnel at Abu Ghraib.

b. SPC Joseph M. Darby, 372nd MP Company discovered evidence of abuse and turned it over to military law enforcement.

c. 1LT David O. Sutton, 229th MP Company, took immediate action and stopped an abuse, then reported the incident to the chain of command.

#126 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 09:11 PM:

(Soldier had negligent discharge of M-16 while exiting his vehicle, round went into fuel tank); filed locally.

Is this some kind of euphemism? Or are fuel tanks bullet-magnets?

#127 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 09:24 PM:

It looks like one screwp-up had an accidental discharge and everyone above him in the chain of command got written up for it.

#128 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 09:26 PM:

Okay, from what we know now, Darby is the shining star, the guy who got the souvenir CD full of pictures and took it to someone who was willing to do something about it, and pushed to make it not Go Away.

That means something else very ugly. Charles Graner is the guy with the gloves. He's also England's loverboy, and he's supposedly the one who had/and-or made the disk and passed it around. Some people have been thinking he was the one who turned himself in, ergo, belatedly virtuous. No, he thought his girlfriend was cute as a button, and that all their buddies would think so too, it seems. Darby it seems was the only one who didn't think the CD was funny.

There are rumours they had themselves filmed having sex in front of the prisoners, to scandalize (I suspect in the tradtional Catholic sense of the word, as well as the modern one of being shocked) and while this hasn't yet been confirmed - apparently someone in an interview described the pictures, but I can't track an exact reference.

What is not rumour is that Graner is also a beater of American women. His ex-wife had three different restraining orders out on him for abuse.

Good ol' boys, just havin' fun--

I half expect old Ambrose Bierce to come strolling in out of the smoke, laughing at us sophisticated civilized modern Americans--

--but then, the British Ministry of Defense is currently arguing that the European Human Rights laws which they signed on for don't bind them, because Iraq isn't part of Europe, so no advances there either.

#129 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 09:36 PM:

What is that vast clucking sound I hear?

Sir, it is the sound of chickenhawks making war.


#130 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 09:42 PM:

OMG, Bush actually *said* "mistakes were made" --???!!

Does his speechwriter secretly hate him and want to sabotage him?

And is anyone else from NE having flashbacks to Dec. 2002, and Donna Morissey standing like a deer in the headlights while things melted down and Cardinal Law was spirited out of the Embassy, I mean the Residence, leaving Boston to the Enemy (that's us, the liberal/feminist/homosexual/humanists who want to Bring Down The Church) and his native subordinates to face the wrath of the heathen hordes?

Do they really think they can just Make It All Go Away by wishing on their generals' stars?

I have inside information that Boston and NY really did think that they could make it stop again by ignoring it, that if they just made all the right noises & did some handwaving about how it wasn't torture - er, child molestation, it was ephebophilia, you ignorant layplebes, and more empty promises of reform and rigor, everyone would trust them and genuflect and go about their business...

One of the Whiskey Bar regulars apparently served under Pappas from the report. If what he says is true, Pappas modeled his career on the officer in Willie & Joe who complains that a wounded soldier ought to at least *try* to "lie to attention" in his sickbed.

Are there any sufficiently current connections here that we might get insight into personalities, attach anecdotes if not faces to the names of the officers, now that the NPR version with less censoring is available? (None of mine are current; I thought I might have some handshakes to Myers, but not the same person.)

#131 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 10:00 PM:

Bwahhahah! Not that there's much humour in this, but Tacitus, who has called for the 372d to be disbanded, delenda est, has a post up now showing how the DoD sent out a memo saying "Rumsfeld apologizes" and then had to retract that.

And the President having McLellan be a proxy apologizer for him today.

What was that about never having to say "I'm sorry?"

I guess they just could not tell a lie...

This just gets more and more Dr. Strangelove by the hour.

#132 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 11:00 PM:

Okay, I've been trying not to leap to conclusions here, but the thought was already lurking. After reading that additional information about Graner and England, I have to ask -- is anyone else here wondering about the psychology of their relationship, about folie à deux, and, well, I'll say it: about Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka?

#133 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 11:56 PM:

is anyone else here wondering about the psychology of their relationship, about folie à deux, and, well, I'll say it: about Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka?

(hand waving in air)


#134 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 03:41 AM:

I am not certain that I am not pleased to see that laudry list of woes in the 800th.

It shows a far greater breakdown than has been previously apparent to me, from the reports I've seen (I can't print the PDF, and didn't have time to read it).

As for Merck... I knew about him last October. There were more than a couple of people from the 870th at Ft. Lewis, and they said it was screwed up... now I know how badly.

Merck was relieved of command in Sept./Oct. pending the investigation of the allegations of his (and IIRC an NCO) taking photos of females in the shower (sidenote of personal outrage, some local radio type were going on about this, mocking him, for taking the pictures... the part which outraged me was the implications of desperation he must have been going through to stoop to taking those pictures, but by then he must have been so deprived that he was willing to resort to, "any port in a storm," as if women in the Army are all so hideous as to be worth looking at naked only after more than a year away from home, but I digress).

I have to say that I don't find, per se, the slogans on helmets to be as bad as all that... I don't think I'd let my troops wear them, but I can see where they mightbe morale builders, no... actually I am wrong, for that to happen shows a rot, deep and festering. This isn't some silly field excercise where we can replay the bad aspects of Viet-nam, for humor's sake, this would be those bad aspects.

Yes the negligent discharge redounded to many. Note that the LORs were all written on the same date. It is something we take pretty seriously. In my unit it was loss of a half-months pay, at least, and the possibilty was there for a court-martial and discharge. Most likely (for NCOs) would have been loss of a stripe. CPT Hopper was not fooling around.

He'd seen terrible mistakes (none, thank heaven that injured anyone) in Afghanistan, and he'd been an MP, when he was enlisted. We made a practice of clearing weapons, with witnesses, even when we didn't have ammo. The only unexpected discharge we had (into a clearing barrel) was embarrasing, and had me taking that sergeant's rifle apart, and dissecting everything he'd done at the barrel for about 20 minutes.

It was the rare case of a, gross, mechanical malfunction; one we couldn't duplicate, no matter who tried.

The damning thing is the time frame (and this is where Karpinski loses the points I gaver her up-thread). From August, to the time of the report there were 12 career stopping breaches of discipline (no, amend that, there were nine, because three of them were for the negligent discharge, though that severe a response implies, to me, this was not the first ND to occur in that command).

Now, the seniority of the people reprimanded seems to be another indicator, but it isn't, a GOMOR is rarely levelled at anyone less than a Sergeant First Class (E-7). I'm a Staff Sergeant, I'd probably get a Field Grade Article 15 for those things (rank has perks). Which would cost me money, and rank, in addition to stopping my career (if I lost a stripe I'd get put out of the Army, without a pension, if I couldn't earn it back).

For a Brigade to have half a dozen in a year would usually lead to the Brigade Commander getting a terrible OER, and relief from command (a career stopper).

The 320th MP Bn had four, and the 800th Bde's command staff had three. She ought to have made a huge change in staff, because the problems indicated by that much failure, at the top (esp. the 1SG and Command Sergeants Major) said the unit was in metastasis.

God, what a mess.


#135 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 04:15 AM:

I forgot to mention that Graner, under U.S. law, and Army regulations, may not have been eligible to be deployed.

The Lautenberg Amendment prohibits anyone who has a restraining order, for domestic violence (or any conviction for same) to own, possses, or use; in the line of duty, any firearm, if it meets the following.

viz U.S. Code : Title 18 : Section 922

(8) is subject to a court order that restrains such person from
harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such
person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging
in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in
reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child, except
that this paragraph shall only apply to a court order that -
(A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received
actual notice, and at which such person had the opportunity to
participate; and
(B)(i) includes a finding that such person represents a
credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner
or child; or
(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted
use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate
partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause
bodily injury; or
(9) has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of
domestic violence.

I haven't seen the orders referred to in the article, and haven't been able to find the actual orders anywhere, so they may have expired, but if he was ever issued weapon while they were in effect, he, and the issuer, committed a felony.


#136 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 06:07 AM:

Also, it turns out as of this am, that if Graner *really* didn't know about the Geneva Conventions, the armed forces need even more serious help than we thought, because he's also a Marine Corps veteran of many years.

And the prison where he works in PA had an abuse scandal a few years ago, and they won't say if he was involved or not.

From today's NYT (registration required) - it was on the top of the front page at 0100h, but now it isn't:

Abuse Charges Bring Anguish in Unit's Home

Specialist Graner, who wears a Marine Corps eagle tattoo on his right arm, served in the corps from April 1988 until May 1996, when he left with the rank of corporal, according to military records. He went to work immediately at the State Correctional Institution Greene, in southwestern Pennsylvania, where he has held an entry-level corrections officer position ever since.

Two years after he arrived at Greene, the prison was at the center of an abuse scandal. Prison officials declined to say whether Specialist Graner had been disciplined in that case, citing privacy laws.

Inmates and advocates for prisoner rights asserted in 1998 that guards at the prison routinely beat and humiliated prisoners, including through a sadistic game of Simon Says in which guards struck prisoners who failed to comply with barked instructions.

After an investigation, the warden was transferred, two lieutenants were fired and about two dozen guards were reprimanded, demoted or suspended.

Specialist Graner was involved in a bitter divorce. In court papers, his wife, Staci, accused him of beating her, threatening her with guns, stalking her after they separated in 1997 and breaking into her home. Since 1997, local judges have issued at least three orders of protection against him, records show.

After all the jokes about the military not ever getting a good match between what people do in civilian life, and their training and expertise, and what they have them doing in the service - it looks like they finally figured it out. They're picking sadistic prison guards to be sadistic prison guards.

Again, is this not impeachable? There were no WMD. There was no Al Quaeda connection. And now we hear people saying that at least under Hussein they got to visit their relatives sometimes...

And now he's going to ask for 27b more to keep on "liberating" Iraq - from Iraqis I guess, since the evidence that all the insurgents are foreigners (and what would that say about our control of Iraq if they were?) is losing credibility.

The Washington Post has descriptions of a lot more photographs, and the problematic nature of some of them, today. But there are "thumbs up" photos of grinning soldiers posing near shattered corpses, and mutilated pets, in the batch.

Moment of truth, for this country - yes, Good ol' Granger *is* a face of America. And I went to school with many of Specialist England's spiritual sisters, too.

Notice that still, the emphasis in the US media is how "embarrassing" this all is for *us.*

Not much in the way of humanity for the victims. I wonder when the good citizens of Cumberland will get it, if ever?

#137 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 07:54 AM:

Okay, Epacris, I'll clarify my point. The photos depict torture to me. The documentation points to even worse torture. You're welcome to believe that the pictures depict schoolboy pranks.

I stand by what I said before. If I saw someone near and dear to me in a picture like that, I would get a gun and shoot them. Not "feel like" it, do it.

Yes, I realize that would be taking the law into my own hands. Yes, I realize that can lead to widespread badness. Yes, normally I too control my violent impulses--I've never had so much as a speeding ticket and the last time I hit someone was self-defense in first grade.

But torture of members of one's family or community (especially by the PTB) is one of those things that kills the belief in the power of law, civilization, and government to control, arbitrate, or punish others. It would kill my belief.

And here's the other part of my point. I'm betting every Iraqi who saw those photos, or saw those prisoners afterward, has lost every last belief in the power of law. And I expect that they will soon act accordingly. I do not want them to, and yet I am not sure I can blame them. It is an awful feeling.

But my sort of reaction is one of the reasons (besides the obvious f*ing evilness) that torture is so terrible. It's a pretty good civilization killer.

#138 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 09:23 AM:

Now I understand why George and Co were opposed to American troops being under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court...

Americans would never commit war crimes, and would only be exposed to fraudulent politically motivated charges.


#139 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 09:34 AM:

By the way, in the process of doing some research for today's posting on my own site, I came across another instance of GWB using the phrase, "...not the America I know."

He said it in reference to the sniper shootings here in the DC area.

Good grief.

#140 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 10:30 AM:

Thanks, James and Terry. I didn't look at the dates at all.

#141 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 12:10 PM:

The America that Bush knows is his ranch. And swell parties full of people who like him. And rallies with carefully screened attendees.

He should get out more.

#142 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 12:58 PM:

Whoa! I think Rumsfeld may have started the long slow slide... the White House has issued a formal statement saying the President wants Rumsfeld to stay.

Yesterday, the President said of Rumsfeld, "Of course I've got some confidence in the secretary of defense..." 1000% confidence, anybody?

The next question, of course, is who would take over, and whether a new regime would make any difference.

#143 ::: pepperlandgirl ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 12:58 PM:

Okay, Epacris, I'll clarify my point. The photos depict torture to me. The documentation points to even worse torture. You're welcome to believe that the pictures depict schoolboy pranks.

I stand by what I said before. If I saw someone near and dear to me in a picture like that, I would get a gun and shoot them. Not "feel like" it, do it.

I agree. The image of the man standing on the box with the wires and the hood haunts me, and has been with me since I first saw it on Friday night. If that were my husband, I would be killing people. I told him that and he said, "But you're a pacifist". It's true, I am. "But you are against the death penalty." It's true, I am. Even thinking that I would be capable of killing somebody revolts me--I'm disgusted with myself, and yet I know without a doubt that if that were my husband, there would be blood in the streets.

That's my biggest fear. I'm sure we all know people in Iraq right now. Every day I wake up, I'm terrified that I'm going to hear that people I know online, people I went to school with, people who are just my age, have been killed in retaliation. Killed for crimes they didn't commit...

#144 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 01:19 PM:

Over here it's made the local press. The Washington Post photos are in the Edinburgh Evening News, the top half of the front page showing the pic of a female soldier holding a leash at the other end of which is a naked prisoner on the floor, in what appears to be some distress. It's blurred but the soldier looks like Pte Lynndie England, who stars in other pictures as Cigarette Girl. She and her fiance, Specialist Charles 'The Joiner' Graner, he of the blue rubber gloves, deserve each other. This is nauseating stuff.

#145 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 02:08 PM:

A thing that is going to get on my nerves soon enough is that need some journalists have to assert how poorly islam deals with homosexuality and how insulting it is to the islamic world.
If by that they meant islamic texts deals poorly with the issue, I'd agree. But here it seems more like another way to promote the "them not like us" routine.
What about ottoman culture, or the 1001 nights ? What about all the homosexual love poetry in parts of the "islamic world" ?
How wide a brush those journalists can use without being troubled at all by the end result ?

Also, whatever your sexual preference and religious background, I'd have trouble to understand you if you thought that rape and imposed sexually connoted humiliations, isn't hard to deal with.

#146 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 02:11 PM:

The brain-damaged lout is on TV right now, demonstrated inability to read from a prepared script of a speech.

Puppet on strings that the parts need replacing on.... It's revolting.

#147 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 02:22 PM:

He's mad at Rumsfeld for not telling him about the pictures.

#148 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 02:40 PM:

Jonquil, I'm not sure if you're joking, but that's actually what I heard on the radio, something to the effect that the Whitehouse was "angry that the Defense Department hadn't alerted them to the existence of the photos earlier". Not "they shouldn't have done this", nor "they should have found out and stopped this sooner", more like "they should have told us this was coming, so we'd have a better chance to spin it."

God, I miss the good old days, when I merely despised them.

#149 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 02:48 PM:

I'm not joking. I was watching the news conference. That was Bush's explanation of why he was so angry at Rumsfeld.

I am going to be a bitch and point out that nobody senior could be bothered to read the reports, but they're all over the photographs. Literacy issues?

Bush also hammered over and over that "there's going to be an investigation." There have been three investigations so far. The recommendations of the third one have not yet been put into effect.

#150 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 04:34 PM:

Paula, I noticed that the King was much more fluent in our language than Bush was.

Bush kept saying Rumsfeld was a great Secretary of Defense and he was going to stay, that probably means he'll be eased out soon.

#151 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 06:21 PM:

The number of people for whom English is not their primary language and who yet speak it more fluently than Bush is legion.

Le Monde printed an interview with the ICRC ("The photos are shocking but our reports are worse") quoting Antonella Notari:

"'We knew and we had told the Americans that what was going on at Abou Ghraib is rephrehensible.' Mrs. Notari categorically denies the statements of General Janis Karpinski, commander of the units responsible for prisons in Iraq, according to which 'military intelligence men' prevented the detainees in cell block 1A - where the tortures were practiced - from seeing ICRC delegates. 'We are not simpletons,' retorts Antonella Notari, 'our representatives are extremely experienced and they speak to lots of people inside the prison, we always end up knowing the truth in all the world's prisons and the truth about Abou Ghraib is shocking.'"

#152 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 06:54 PM:

"I'm not joking. I was watching the news conference. That was Bush's explanation of why he was so angry at Rumsfeld.

"I am going to be a bitch and point out that nobody senior could be bothered to read the reports, but they're all over the photographs. Literacy issues?"

Note that what got Bush -really- annoyed was the -pictures- -- not that there were abuse and humilitation and torture, but that there were pictures of it. "It made me sick to my stomach," he said about the pictures. But he seemed very indifferent to verbal and printed reports, and in the past pooh-poohed allegations of abuse as calumny [a word probably beyond his vocabulary and ability to pronounce] and vile un- or anti-American libel and slander.

Pictures, howver, rip out -all- excuses of "plausible deniability," particular pictures circulated around. A paraliterate like Bush and the majority of the US population influenced by Images and soundbites, which the recidivist Republican extremist persecution squad spinmeisters specialize in, can deny something that's in -reports- and that someone says, but if there are pictures, -uh-oh-...

Bush is NOT what most of us here would consider all that "literate. He doesn't read newspapers, he doesn't watch news on TV. He uses the workaround that a lot of illiterates use, of having -other- people read [and in his case, watch, too] and summarize for him. in his case what THEY think he should have/wants reported to him--which in his case seems to translate to "don't bother reporting any real diversity of opinions and concerns that make have a basis in reality to Bush." That is, it's self-censoring for what to forward up to Bush, he has his gatekeepers who block out "adverse information."

Bush seems to to a degree perhaps be living in the "Great Books" universe. He's have been a fine vile example of the sort of people who for a couple thousand insisted that the number of teeth that women and men had aren't the same, because Aristotle said so, and anyone who actually opened people's mouths and COUNTED teeth, and counted the same number of teeth in men and women, were -wrong-.

Bush the White House Press spinners assert does read. I forget what they say he reads besides "the Bible" [I don't recall which version, if any, was specified, other than it having to be a Christian one].

#153 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 07:11 PM:

[duplicate of something I posted elsewhere]

The Chairman of the JCS said he hadn't read the report, and hadn't read the exec summary. Rumsfeld hadn't. Nobody with the authority to report it to Bush seems to have bothered to inform Bush about it, in the more than month the report have been been available in FINAL form in, much less send any PRELIMINARY information up the chain of command.

Thinking about it, I find it difficult to believe that there weren't any PRELIMINARY or draft versions/content of the report to have provided -preliminary- briefings up the chain of command, and provide the -warning- that didn't get to Bush of what was coming. It's -standard-, or at least used to be standard, procedure, to provide preliminary findings...

#154 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 07:19 PM:

I read through MG Taguba's report and extracted dates related to the events at Abu Ghraib. I've ordered them chronologically. The contents below are largely verbatim from MG Taguba's report.


On 1 May 2003 cessation of major ground combat occurs.

In late May or early June 2003 the 800th MP Brigade was given a new mission to manage the Iraqi penal system and several detention centers.

On May 12 2003 soldiers from the 223rd MP Company reported to the 800th MP Brigade Command at Camp Bucca that four Military Police Soldiers from the 320th MP Battalion had abused a number of detainees during inprocessing at Camp Bucca. A CID investigation determines that four soldiers from the 320th MP Battalion had kicked and beaten these detainees following a transport mission from Talil Air Base. They are formally charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) with detainee abuse at the Theater Internment Facility (TIF) at Camp Bucca, Iraq.

On 8 June 2003 CID issues a report on abuse of detainees at Camp Bucca.

On 30 June 2003 BG Janis Karpinski took command of the 800th MP Brigade from BG Paul Hill.

On 26 August 2003 the Article 32 Findings on abuse of detainees at Camp Bucca are released.

From 31 August to 9 September 2003, MG Geoffrey D. Miller, Commander JTF-GTMO, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba led a team of personnel experienced in strategic interrogation to HQ, CJTF-7 and the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG) to review current Iraqi Theater ability to rapidly exploit internees for actionable intelligence. MG Miller’s team focused on three areas: intelligence integration, synchronization, and fusion; interrogation operations; and detention operations. MG Miller’s team used JTFGTMO procedures and interrogation authorities as baselines.

On 9 September 2003 MG Miller issued a report "Assessment of DOD Counter-Terrorism Interrogation and Detention Operations in Iraq". He recommends that "the 'guard force' be actively engaged in setting the conditions for successful exploitation of the internees."

Sometime in September or early October 2003 Lieutenant General (LTG) Ricardo S. Sanchez, Commander, Combined Joint Task Force Seven (CJTF-7) requests a team of subject matter experts to assess, and make specific recommendations concerning detention and corrections operations.

Between October and December 2003, at the Abu Ghraib Confinement Facility (BCCF), numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees. This systemic and illegal abuse of detainees was intentionally perpetrated by several members of the military police guard force (372nd Military Police Company, 320th Military Police Battalion, 800th MP Brigade), in Tier (section) 1-A of the Abu Ghraib Prison (BCCF). The allegations of abuse were substantiated by detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence. In addition to the aforementioned crimes, there were also abuses committed by members of the 325th MI Battalion, 205th MI Brigade, and Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JIDC).

From 13 October to 6 November 2003, MG Donald J. Ryder, Provost Marshal General, personally led an assessment/assistance team in Iraq at the request of CJTF-7 Commander, LTG Sanchez. MG Taguba later says of this period "Unfortunately, many of the systemic problems that surfaced during MG Ryder's Team's assessment are the very same issues that are the subject of this investigation. In fact, many of the abuses suffered by detainees occurred during, or near to, the time of that assessment."

On 5 November 2003 MG Ryder issued a report titled "Assessment of Detention and Corrections Operations in Iraq" conducted by MG Ryder and a team of military police, legal, medical, and automation experts. The Ryder Report concluded that the OEF template whereby military police actively set the favorable conditions for subsequent interviews runs counter to the smooth operation of a detention facility.

On 10 November 2003 LTC (P) Jerry Phillabaum, Commander, 320th MP Battalion received a GOMOR from BG Karpinski, Commander 800th MP Brigade, for lack of leadership and for failing to take corrective security measures as ordered by the Brigade Commander.

On 10 November 2003 MAJ David DiNenna, S-3, 320th MP Battalion received a GOMOR from BG Karpinski, Commander 800th MP Brigade, for failing to take corrective security measures as ordered by the Brigade Commander.

On 12 November 2003 SPC Myrna Hernandez was showering at the same time as two other female soldiers when she saw CPT Leo Merck, Commander, 870th MP Company on his hands and knees peering under the raised door and taking pictures with a digital camera. They turned in Merck the next day.
(this date is not in Taguba's report, I've used the date that SPC Hernandez reported to the press)

On 19 November 2003 the Commander, 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, was designated by CJTF-7 as the Commander of FOB Abu Ghraib (BCCF). As of this point COL Thomas M. Pappas was the Commander of the 205th MI Brigade and the Commander of FOB Abu Ghraib (BCCF). MG Taguba says of this period "With respect to the 800th MP Brigade mission at Abu Ghraib (BCCF), I find that there was clear friction and lack of effective communication between the Commander, 205th MI Brigade, who controlled FOB Abu Ghraib (BCCF) after 19 November 2003, and the Commander, 800th MP Brigade, who controlled detainee operations inside the FOB. There was no clear delineation of responsibility between commands, little coordination at the command level, and no integration of the two functions. Coordination occurred at the lowest possible levels with little oversight by commanders."

On 29 December 2003 the Bucca cases that were set for trial in January 2004 are disposed of by plea bargains.

Sometime in December or early January (the date is unspecified by MG Taguba) SPC Joseph M. Darby, 372nd MP Company discovered evidence of abuse and turned it over to military law enforcement.

From 10 January to 25 January 2004 CID conducts interviews at Abu Ghraib.

On 17 January 2004 BG Janis Karpinski was formally admonished in writing by LTG Sanchez, Commander, CJTF-7 regarding the serious deficiencies in her Brigade.

On 17 January 2004, LTC Jerry Phillabaum was suspended from his duties Pending Relief for Cause, for dereliction of duty as the Battalion Commander of the 320th MP Battalion by LTG Sanchez or BG Karpinski (Taguba's report is contradictory on who, specifically, ordered LTC Phillabaum's suspension).

On 17 January 2004, CPT Donald Reese was suspended from his duties as the Company Commander of the 372nd MP Company.

On 19 January 2004 Lieutenant General (LTG) Ricardo S. Sanchez, Commander, Combined Joint Task Force Seven (CJTF-7) requested that the Commander, US Central Command, appoint an Investigating Officer (IO) in the grade of Major General (MG) or above to investigate the conduct of operations within the 800th Military Police (MP) Brigade.

On 24 January 2003 the Chief of Staff of US Central Command (CENTCOM), MG R. Steven Whitcomb, on behalf of the CENTCOM Commander, directed that the Commander, Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC), LTG David D. McKiernan, conduct an investigation into the 800th MP Brigade’s detention and internment operations from 1 November 2003 to present.

On 28 January 2004 CID issues a report on criminal abuses at Abu Ghraib.

On 31 January 2004 the Commander, CFLCC, appointed MG Antonio M. Taguba, Deputy Commanding General Support, CFLCC, to conduct the investigation. MG Taguba was directed to conduct an informal investigation under AR 15-6 into the 800th MP Brigade’s detention and internment operations.

On 2 February 2004 MG Taguba took his team to Baghdad for a one-day inspection of the Abu Ghraib Prison (BCCF) and the High Value Detainee (HVD) Complex in order to become familiar with those facilities.

On 6 February 2004 a Transfer of Authority (TOA) was issued, relieving COL Thomas M. Pappas of the command of 205th MI Brigade and the command of FOB Abu Ghraib (BCCF).

On 7 February 2004 MG Taguba's team visited the Camp Bucca Detention Facility to familiarize itself with the facility and operating structure.

On 8 February 2004 MG Taguba's team moved to Baghdad and conducted a series of interviews with a variety of witnesses.

On 13 February 2004 MG Taguba's team returned to Camp Doha, Kuwait.

On 14 and 15 February 2004 MG Taguba's team interviewed a number of witnesses from the 800th MP Brigade.

On 17 February 2004 MG Taguba's team returned to Camp Bucca, Iraq to complete interviews of witnesses at that location.

From 18 February through 28 February 2004 MG Taguba's team collected documents, compiled references, did follow-up interviews, and completed a detailed analysis of the volumes of materials accumulated throughout their investigation.

Sometime in this period court-martial charges were filed for CPT Leo Merck, Commander, 870th MP Company for Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Unauthorized Use of Government Computer in that he was alleged to have taken nude pictures of his female Soldiers without their knowledge.

On 29 February 2004 MG Taguba's team finalized their executive summary and out-briefing slides.

On 3 March 2004 the out-brief to the appointing authority, LTG McKiernan, took place.

On 9 March 2004 MG Taguba's team submitted the AR 15-6 written report with findings and recommendations to the CFLCC Deputy SJA, LTC Mark Johnson, for a legal sufficiency review.

#155 ::: Jamie ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 07:51 PM:

"How many guys are we going to be bringing home who’ve added behavior like that to their personal strategic arsenal? That’s one of the problems you get when you let your troops misbehave overseas: they come home knowing how to do things no one should know how to do."

That was one of the strongest arguments for not invading Iraq in the first place -- not just what we'd do to them, but how what we did would affect us. The Lakota believe that if you take someone's life, you are changed in a powerful way, and must be purified and made safe for society before you're allowed to go out among people.

There was an account recently of a man recently returned from Afghanistan who killed his wife. His father said that it wasn't his son who came back; it was as if he had become someone else.

Those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Guantanamo Bay and Haiti and South America) will need a great deal of help re-integrating into society. I somehow doubt that adequate resources will be provided by this administration.

We, as a society, will start paying a huge karmic debt as the troops return.

#156 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 08:03 PM:

Richard, thank you for that timeline.

Now, we need to insert into it all the news items that are relevant, including:

· Gen. Karpinski's fun fact tour for journalists of the new improved Abu Ghreib ("so comfy they'll never want to go home again"),

· all of Powell's assertions that no torture was going on there,

· the release of the British citizens from X-Ray and their allegations,

· Ryan's diary remarks,

· and the killing of the Blackwater contractors.

It looks to me like we besieged a city because the populace lashed out those who tortured them with impunity, when not even the Red Cross would help them. (I may be being unfair to the Red Cross - there may be some legitimate reason why they would keep on with the same obviously useless response, of telling the offending country that they're in violation, but it seems terribly "No duh, we are?" to me.) 700 people dead, how many more wounded, because we protect torturers when they're on our payroll.

Yet people are still saying, that it is fair to *have tortured* them for what they did to our guys in Falluja. Is there a snarl in the continuum?

#157 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 09:19 PM:


You might be able to find other timelines on the internet that have a few of features you desire. See, for instance, William Saletan's perhaps not entirely non-partisian Slate article: Rape Rooms: A Chronology. Also of interest might be the timeline from Greyhawk of the Mudville Gazette blog.

#158 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 12:02 AM:

The Black Hole of Baghdad

The nail in the coffin of the Bright Shining Lie: the overcrowding was our own fault. One of the government witnesses, a contractor who says he took part in no torture, but was witness to the whole situation, spoke generally on the entire farce of a security lockup to the Guardian.

"I've read reports from capturing units where the capturing unit wrote, 'the target was not at home. The neighbour came out to see what was going on and we grabbed him'," he said.

According to Mr Nelson's account, the victims' very innocence made them more likely to be abused, because the interrogators refused to believe they could have been picked up on such arbitrary grounds. Interrogators "weren't interested in going through the less glamorous work of sifting through the chaff to get to the kernels of truth from the willing detainees; they were interested in 'breaking' tough targets", he said.

Much of the problem lay in the quality of the interrogators, Mr Nelson said; only the youngest and least experienced intelligence officers actually question detainees.

As the number of suspects sucked into the system exploded, the Pentagon came to rely increasingly on interrogators from private contractors to question them. [...]

This is what I suspected from way back when, listening to Ann Gerrels, and reading accounts of how raids were being conducted but yet there were no lingusts on hand, and how can you know anything if you don't even know enough about a culture to know that you *don't* bring dogs into the house, they're whatever the equivalent of not-kosher is in Islam, and yet they're doing house-to-house searches with dogs?

Don't feel sorry for those undertrained MPs dealing with overcrowding and verbal abuse and rockthrowing and escape attempts. This is called shooting yourself in the head when you keep your pistol under your pillow for safety.

(And yet our Fearless Leaders assure us the system is working...)

#159 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 01:38 AM:

As most of you know, many of the Americans who are currently up for court martial come from that uniquely American condition of ignorance, sordidness and poverty one might call - uncharitiably, I'll admit - poor white trash.

It gets weirder. As many of you know, the lives of white trash are part of an American filmic and literary sub-subgenre I call Hick Horror. If you've ever watched "Wrong Turn," or a really bad horror movie, the kind where zombies rise out of the swamp and kill off all the country folk or Killer Kannibal Klowns from outer space attack people who live in shacks you've watched Hick Horror. This genre is the bastard child of books like "To Kill a Mockingbird" or "Bastard Out Of Carolina" where the focus is on the horrors (moral, intellectual or physical) of living amid ignorant folk who follow custom blindly, except that in Hick Horror the the supernatural (or merely psychotic) is nothing more than a substitute for the horrors of the real world, representing the awfulness of being among people who are too dirt-stupid, lazy, and ignorant to know Iraq from a hard place.

The thing that makes all this interesting in terms of Abu Ghraib, is that white trash, according to the stereotype - and it is a stereotype - carry with them the American subconscious, all the dark, ugly, mean stuff the most Americans spend their lives repressing.

The "height" if you can describe it with such a word, of Hick Horror is in itself stereotypal. It's the story of screwed up and repressed almost-lovers from some hick town who are enraged by an insult or setback and set off on a killing spree. Think "Natural Born Killers" or "Thelma and Lousise" but with bad acting and a tiny, abused budget.
Keep something in mind here. These major films are nothing more than a roadmap. The poor acting and low budgets are, unfortunately, ALL IMPORTANT.

The killing in these movies is frequently the substitute for money, power, respect, sex - whatever the psychotic protagonists feel is missing from their lives.

So, with white trash firmly in mind, let's look at the following news stories:

The Daily Telegraph tells us about the background of PFC Lyndie England:

"She faces a court martial, but at home she is toasted as a hero.

At the dingy Corner Club Saloon they think she has done nothing wrong.

"A lot of people here think they ought to just blow up the whole of Iraq," Colleen Kesner said.

"To the country boys here, if you're a different nationality, a different race, you're sub-human. That's the way girls like Lynndie are raised.

"Tormenting Iraqis, in her mind, would be no different from shooting a turkey. Every season here you're hunting something. Over there, they're hunting Iraqis."

In Fort Ashby, in the isolated Appalachian mountains 260km west of Washington, the poor, barely-educated and almost all-white population talk openly about an active Ku Klux Klan presence.

There is little understanding of the issues in Iraq and less of why photographs showing soldiers from the 372nd Military Police Company, mostly from around Fort Ashby, abusing prisoners has caused a furore."

The New York Times article is even more sordid.

"Specialist Graner, who wears a Marine Corps eagle tattoo on his right arm, served in the corps from April 1988 until May 1996, when he left with the rank of corporal, according to military records. He went to work immediately at the State Correctional Institution Greene, in southwestern Pennsylvania, where he has held an entry-level corrections officer position ever since.

Two years after he arrived at Greene, the prison was at the center of an abuse scandal. Prison officials declined to say whether Specialist Graner had been disciplined in that case, citing privacy laws.

Inmates and advocates for prisoner rights asserted in 1998 that guards at the prison routinely beat and humiliated prisoners, including through a sadistic game of Simon Says in which guards struck prisoners who failed to comply with barked instructions.

After an investigation, the warden was transferred, two lieutenants were fired and about two dozen guards were reprimanded, demoted or suspended.

Specialist Graner was involved in a bitter divorce. In court papers, his wife, Staci, accused him of beating her, threatening her with guns, stalking her after they separated in 1997 and breaking into her home. Since 1997, local judges have issued at least three orders of protection against him, records show.""

Now it gets weird. Ugly weird. Bad weird. You see, Lynndie England and Charles Graner are in love. Rumor says she's carrying his baby. So now we have all the elements - white trash, violence, and the love between two psychopaths. Suddenly it's not about some kind of clinical, calculating torture. Instead it's a unique breed of American evil - two pieces of depraved white trash exploding out of America's heartland and into the international scene, where for brualized prisoners, ordinary Iraqis, and millions of TV viewers, their brand of sick, ignorance-driven, stereotypical malice is now the ultimate representative of American power.

It makes me sick.


#160 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 02:35 AM:

Before we write this off as a case of a bunch of gap-toothed hicks who up and went dingo when they caught a few bars of "Dueling Banjos:"

The shameful excuses for Americans Alex describes didn't buy their own tickets or issue their own orders. They'll get theirs, but we can't stop there. Their superiors were either complicit or astonishly, unforgiveably negligent, and the wonks who planned the whole thing were egregiously overconfident and sloppy.

#161 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 02:36 AM:

From Bush's statement to the press on Thursday:

Question from member of press: "Have you asked Jordan to send troops to Iraq?"

Bush: "I've never asked a country [unintelligible garble] what they're uncomfortable doing."

#162 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 03:30 AM:

Alex, can you ease up a bit on the 'white trash' motif? England grew up with those people; they don't know her as a loonie sadist and they haven't had any more time than the rest of us to absorb those photos. What do you expect them to say to strange reporters calling and writing? She's still family.

#163 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 03:41 AM:

I don't think (Hell, I guess I am not really able to think) that white trash is the cause. Yes, I will grant that Guard units can be amazing insular, but unless someone is coming from the active Army, they have to go to Basic, and then specialty training, and both of those are done in the Active Army schools.

So they have been, more or less, acculturated. For all its faults the Army has a pretty good handle on race relations (read, "All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and Racial Integration the Army Way" Charles C. Moskos, John Sibley Butler, for an excellent treatment of how, and WHY the Army's way has been so successful) and so they can't be just plain ignorant of that.

I think Rivka's comments at "Respect for Otters" on the Stanford Prison Experiment are more telling. Given a lack of solid oversight, and reward for bad behaviour, and isolation from the rest of the military community they created a new set of mores. Sick, twisted, and horrid, but not requiring psycopathy, nor blameable on where they were from.

All it takes is the right circumstances, and less than sterling moral courage.

God help me, there but for the Grace of God might (though I hope, and pray, not) go I.


#164 ::: Fernando Noriega ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 05:16 AM:

I am not american and I am really angry at the USA getting in Iraq using every kind of lies: masive destruction guns, freedom, etc.
As a South American I never saw the USA invading one of our countries because we had a dictatorship. On the contrary, USA backed all of them, trained army officers in counter terrorism issues (: torture, desapparition of people, etc), and gave generous credits to the military juntas. So, whenever I hear American people speak about their country as the Freedom Guardian of the World, I doubt if consider them cynical or illiterates.
You can´t expect not to be hated by other countries and people if you go on choosing your Presidents thinking in your taxes, your car, your bank account. A US President is somebody very powerful, that acts and transforms the world, and American people should realize that, being the most powerful nation on Earth, they should think about what their Presidents are going to do with the power endorsement they receive.
As far as you allow people like Bush, Rumsfeld , Rice and Powell invade, destroy, opress, torture and lie, you are not innocent. You American people gave them the power to do that.
I am now in Spain and I saw with admiration the way that Spanish people kicked Aznar ass for the bunch of lies he offered to the electorate on the terrorist attack of 11 M. But you seem to have the different stand: you put flags on your houses and seem to think that an American life is more important than anybody else´s.
Sorry for not believing nor admire your attitude. I am sure USA is full of nice people, but I will reserve my judgment until nice good people begin to act and put peaceful, respectful people in the main posts in the nation. Up to that moment, Abu Ghraib shows what you are really doing in Iraq, what you did in Vietnam and in Latin America for many decades.

#165 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 06:13 AM:

Terry, if it's any consolation, I live every day knowing that but for the grace of God, and my mother's disillusionment with Ariel Sharon back when he was just a military officer, and with his colleagues, I was born a Settler. I still haven't figured out how to process this, because I *hope* I would be someone like those Air Force officers, or Gil Naamati, but I know it's likely that I would be like the fellow I heard once on NPR a few years back, explaining that it was important to put falsehoods in the history books for children, because of the Truth, and because they woudln't want to enlist and do their duty to the country if they knew mere facts. I'm only slightly satirizing what he said, I inhaled my coffee and nearly ran off into a ditch with Plato's Republic flashbacks when I heard him. But - I was once a knee-jerk dogmatist, surrounded by people who honoured St. Queen Isabella and St. General Franco, and again - there but for the grace of God I go a Freeper.

It *is* a scary thought, and a humbling one. Homo sum, nothing human is alien to me. Brrr...

#166 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 06:26 AM:

Alex et al, like I said at Whiskey Bar, I'm not *sure* that Australian story about Deliverance 2004 is true. I think they might made it up from extant quotes from Mrs. England and Mr. Fredrick, becaue there are a few in there that are genuine and have been in all the papers, but until we verify that there really is that cafe and so on, - it just *feels* wrong to me, too correct, too much like a stereotype of racist hicks. The real ones I know are usually a little more canny about it in person.

I noticed too that the British were making a similar point about "Territorials" from Lancashire, a sort of this-is-what-you-get when you have an army of football rioters attitude. Same thing, different accent, sort of.

Anyone want to take a guess at who is in charge on the ground right now? I haven' t heard a Peep in the media about Abizaid. Isn't he the regional commander? Who is making the decisions to invade Najaf, when one hour they're talking about letting local authorities negotiate and then nobody seems to know what's going on. Is it as chaotic and uncontrolled as the Northern Alliance/Special Forces/Coalition three-legged-run seemed to be back in the Afghan War, and if the CIC and top military advisors are going to fundraising parties while the elephant in the drawing room prepares to go into musth, and they can't be bothered to read the reports (Taguba shouldn't have taken the pictures out, dagnabbit, they should know that they only read picture books!) - is *anyone* actually managing the strategy for the war?

Even before this week's "distractions"? I had this horrible image of empty rooms full of Wargames style computers giving all the instructions to the field commanders, part of that "new military" with VR tech we used to hear about in Time and Newsweek...

#167 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 07:52 AM:

Alex, Leona Helmsley was not white trash. We all have that kind of cruelty in us, just most of us have the mind to withdraw from it.

#168 ::: Nomie ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 08:20 AM:


No, we didn't. We Americans did not all put Bush in power. We did not all decide that the current administration was the best one possible, and we did not all think that the war was the best course of action. In fact, if you'll look over this thread, most of the people here are deploring the actions of the Bush administration in response to these revelations of torture.

A lot of people voted for Bush, it's true. But a lot of people didn't. The election was so close that the Supreme Court had to decide the winner - and a lot of people think that the election was rigged. A lot of us are working to get Bush out of office as swiftly as possible.

For the record, I am shocked and horrified that these atrocities are being committed in my name. I don't want to be looked upon with revulsion by the rest of the world. This November I'll be working to get these hubristic, jingoism-spouting monsters out of the seat of power.

(Disclaimer: written after less than four hours of sleep. If there are major typos or factual errors, mea culpa.)

#169 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 09:05 AM:

I don't sign on to the "poor white trash" thing, but I did notice that none of the torturers in the photos were black, which seems a little surprising in a military that has a high proportion of black people. I don't know what the diversity level is for contractors.

My best theory is that interrogator was a goodish job (indoors, not dangerous), and white people had better access to it. Second theory is that black people had too much sense to photograph themselves. Any others?

#170 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 09:43 AM:

Nancy Lebowitz: I think there are a number of problems with your suppositions. First, so far as I've been able to determine no interrogators, either civilian or military, appear in any of the images. All of the soldiers in the photos who have been identified by the press have been MPs. Second, the MP unit that has been at the center of the Abu Ghraib scandal is an activated Army Reserve unit. Due to the nature of the Army Reserve the composition of Reserve units tend to match the demographics of the community in which they are based, certainly more so than regular Army units.

#171 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 11:11 AM:

I'm not saying it happened because they're hicks. Half my relatives are farmers, and none of them would ever act like this.

The abuses at Abu Ghraib took place due to the combination of Bush & Co's terrible tone regarding "illegal enemy combatants" and the extremely poor leadership and discipline displayed at all levels of their command.

What I was pointing to was the tragedy of Graner and England acting out the worst, D-Grade movie stereotypes of their own cultural group. They've singlehandly moved the tortures at Abu Ghraib out of the world of clinical, calculating application of power, and into the bizarre badfilm world of "Wrong Turn." Its a really weird semiotic shift, and I couldn't help commenting on it and trying to understand what it means.

#172 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 11:12 AM:

Looks like the civilian contractors involved in this mess may skate out entirely.

Boston Globe story

#173 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 11:17 AM:

Richard, thanks for the information.

#174 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 11:24 AM:

I'd like someone with a stronger stomach and more knowledge of digital photo manipulation than I to answer this: is it possible that some or all of the photos could be faked? The one on Electrolite right now (the second one I've seen, because my mind is good at generating nightmares) looks like someone cut the image of two happy soldiers from a normal tourist pic and stuck it in behind the pile of naked prisoners.

Would we be able to tell if they were well-done digital fakes? (I know there's testimony backing them up; I'm just curious, in part because it may be a source of deniability for the perps.)

#175 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 11:48 AM:

Xopher, I think provenance would rule out faking. If investigators have not just the CD turned in by Darby (?) but have also confiscated the exposed film, then there's no question. Even if they have just the CD, the raw images burned onto it may, if they came from a digital camera, also include elif data. Then there's what can be inferred from the rest of the pictures on the CD; subject matter, grouping, etc.

Trying to determine if a pic's been faked or not when all one has is a copy that's already passed through several hands and then been web-posted as a low-res jpeg is a losing proposition, imo.

#176 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 12:01 PM:

One of the oddest things that popped into my mind when I was mulling over the photos: they blurred out the genitalia. Because, of course, seeing pictures of RAPE and TORTURE are OK, but Heaven forfend you see full frontal nudity.

As for Xopher's question as to whether the photos are faked: it is possible. It is not likely, however. Admittedly, I am not an expert, just well versed, and the lighting, shading and tones look too consistent to be a Photoshop collage.

Also, if they were faked, I would imagine that the Army et al would have jumped all over that in their PR.

"Admonished." Nice. Great. Am I the only person who feels they should be tried before the Geneva Convention in The Hague?

#177 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 12:12 PM:

Chryss: no, you're not. Except when I feel they should be tried in a Sha'ria court in Iraq.

#178 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 12:30 PM:

James, with reference to civilian contractors, check out Order 17.

It defines "private contractors" as part of the occupying force, rendering them immune to Iraqi law.

I believe, however, that there is a federal law that addresses this issue. Whether it will be invoked or not is another matter.


#179 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 01:46 PM:

Alex wrote: It defines "private contractors" as part of the occupying force, rendering them immune to Iraqi law. I believe, however, that there is a federal law that addresses this issue.

Human Rights Watch has posted an article "Q&A: Private Military Contractors and the Law" that appears to be a straightforward discussion of this very issue.

They agree that the civilian contractors are likely to be legally immune from prosecution under Iraqi law. They also mention that they'd immune from prosecution under US military law since US civilians can only be tried by US courts-martial during a declared war. However, they do suggest that military contractors who are US nationals could be prosecuted by a US federal court under either the US War Crimes Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. 2441) or the the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-778).

#180 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 02:54 PM:

Here comes the [expletive deleted] trainwreck of the [expletive deleted] Bush wannabee police state [see below].... "There are going to be allegations of rape and murder," said the news media reporting on TV on a break from the questioning of Rumsfeld. The lid is starting to blow off the hellmouth and the camouflage flaking off. Rumsfeld remains an utterly unctuous slimeball, looking more and more like a slime monster from the nether regions.... he is -so- utterly slick under the questioning...

There are rumors of capital crimes.... live response from me seeing hearings below [with added comments from later mostly in backets]


I just turned on the TV set, and it's got a Congressional hearing on.

RUMSFELD MUST GO!!!! He said "But what could I do? There were there people taking digital photographs and passing them around illegally, only Gen [name] of all of us here had seen those pictures."

He's one of the most ineffectual managers today I have ever seen....

The military knew there was a problem in JUNE, but didn't have -pictures-. It was concerned about performing a coverup--of preventing the information from reaching the public, apparently. Not once did I hear Rumsfeld or the Lt. General there express any concern for the people abused or say that they were concerned about the abuse--what they are concerned about "a lot more photos and videos" being seen by the public, NOT that the abuse and torture occurred!

That is the ESSENCE of someone who's focused on coverup, they don't seem to have a concept of right and wrong, or a conscience -- are they sociopaths?


He complained that there is nothing that with a "peacetime" footing that he can do--I suppose he wants a Stasi-type police state, so that instead of people being able to take pictures and pass them around, or pass information to the press if upset that the chain of command is hiding a scandal from the Congress and people of the United States of America, the Stasi/Homeland Security/the Nightwatch and electronic intercepts can spy on and lock up any citizen in the USA who gets material the government disapprove of, intercept any data and prevent it from being disseminated.... Rumsfeld said he wishes he had gone to Congress earlier. But he doesn't have the SLIGHTEST remorse that what happened was WRONG! or that Congress should have been informed when the investigation started. [I expect that there members of the House Armed Services Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee are boiling over. The -fact- that there were investigations going on, was unknown to Rumsfeld and Bush? And certainly didn't get to Congress.... Strange, when there are such investigations going on in civilian USA, the fact that there is an -investigation- in progress, normally is made public knowledge! It's not as if the soldiers were private citizens in a police sting. Most companies when people are being investigated for fraud, put the people into a different position in the company or fire them, in advance of the investigation going forward. Police departments put their members on leave when under suspicion. So WHY all the secrecy about -these- investigations? Why not admit that there were things going on being investigated, instead of all the stonewalling and denying? of the past months]

Yes, it was politically sensitive. But the choice was made to try to HIDE it, to ignore that it might come out ANYWAY. Digital cameras are NOT the first types of photographs that ever existed -- film cameras were around before then, and before that, people drew pictures and painted paintings.

The fellow is utterly and completely deluded -- that there is SUCH a breakdown of military discipline to have those vile illegal actions done, with the chain of command so UTTERLY either unaware, or failing to do anuything

Member of Congress, "When did you see the photos? Who did you tell?"

Gen. "In March. Sir that was part of the investigaion, I told my boss...."

Member of Congress: "Did it occur to you [to let Congress know]?"

Gen. "I knew we were in a world of hurt...."

Member of Congress, "Who did you tell and when"?

Gen. "There were a lot of people who knew in our building. A lot of people in our building knew in January that there were photos and the media was going to get them.

"My concern was the impact it was going to have on our troops in Iraq."

Sen "Did you feel a need to inform the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Congreess of these photo?... "Here's the problem , with the explosive nature of these photos .... why did [you] not inform Congress, the Presiden and the Secretary of Defense?"

Sec. Rumfeld [replying to "can you [still serve validly as Sec. of Defense]"] , "Well, it's a fair question. Certainly since this firestorm has been raging.... the key quesition is whether I can be effective. We have tough tasks ahead."

Rumsfeld only saw the pictures LAST NIGHT!???

Sen. Graham "When did go first tell the President?"

Rumsfeld, "I don't remember."

Gen "I don't recall. But [smeone else does]."

Sen "Was this back in January>"

"It might have been in early February.

[On WOW, PISSED CONGRESS!!!!! Not informed at ALL of something promising exceptionally grave damage to the status of the USA in the international relations, [ not to mention the reaction back in the USA. The chain of command was trying to cover that stuff up for all it was worth, seems like. STAR CHAMBER! I think they deserve RMS -- Richard M. Stallman -- inflicted on them for six months and poking around in their hair and computers {"information wants to be free!" Stallman]]

Rumsfeld: "If there's a failure it's me for not knowing there were hundreds of these things that could wind up in the public."


"All the things... what are the things [appropriate to tell Bush from what's going on in DoD.]" {translation I see being "we're handling what information we pick to deliver to Bush." Most of the executives I've known ask questions, they don;t just accept reports from people, they -elicit- information by asking questions about "what else?" They're proactive, in trying to PREVENT situations from going "radioactive," and have the experience to go poking into the corners which their -experience= tells them are most likely to be the breeding grounds for issues, and make it a point to poke into them and have other people watching them and reporting proactively to them on those. But that's not Bush's management style, he seems to be very much lacking in something called "curiosity" and hands-on management style, he has other people serve as screens with them deciding what to send forward to him, as opposed to him having the curiosity to -ask- leading questions, or watch the news and read newspaper to have any contact with the reality that people outside his circle have.... a recent Business Week had a graphic showing the 94.6 percent of the assets and wealth in the USA, belongs to half the population, the other half of the population had a grand total of 5.4 percent of the value in the country. And the plurality of the value is in the hands of the top 1% of the population, they have about a third of it, the next 19% has about another third, and the next 30 percent has something under a third of the value == leaving half the population to share the relative pittance remaining. What mystifies me is why they support Stupid Rich White Men...]

Oh, yuch, Sen Dole is making a speech about how those pictures do not reflect US values. [They obviously reflect SOME US values, not the ones in the Constitution certainly, but de facto the people who had them had those "values."] "... Five and a half million children are not enriching their minds. [oh, really, I guess she doesn't bother lookign at things like, is it?] ] Women now have a voice in their government [they're being forced into black scarved and even burqas, where during Saddam's regime they went unveiled and without scarves in western dress, and were IN the government--what, Dr Germ the biowar specialist is NOT female??? NOBODY in Iraq had a real vote, it was a dictorship where if there were votes the populace got to vote for Saddam.]...."

Uh-oh, Sen Chambers (R) is speaking. What a lot of partisan hot air at least initially, praising Rumsfeld and appearing to say that Rumsfeld saying he did something wrong is Doing the Right Thing and that Rumfeld is a fine wonderful leader fellow to stay exactly where he is because he is a fine wonderful trustworthy leader.... Chambers at the end of his words did however say there was a failure somewhere in the chain of command.

#181 ::: Brian Bruxvoort ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 03:43 PM:

Thanks for the play-by-play, Paula. The focus on the release of the pictures instead of the actions seems in-line with a administration that thinks of itself like a business. The damage they see is PR fallout, the tarnished image of the company, not the acutal human suffering they've caused.

#182 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 04:47 PM:

I have an itchy feeling that it's no coincidence that Bush is the first US President to be an MBA.

The focus on the release of the pictures instead of the actions seems in-line with a administration that thinks of itself like a business. The damage they see is PR fallout, the tarnished image of the company, not the acutal human suffering they've caused.

... Hell, yes. Corporate managers can afford to ignore little externalities such as the broader consequences of their actions for society at large because that's not part of their job description: their job is to maximize shareholder value, and leave the State (or charities) to pick up the pieces after the next round of downsizing. If you're running the government picking up the pieces and looking after the big picture is what you're supposed to be doing. But this is an administration so fixated on their [self-assigned] goals that they don't pay any attention to anything else.

Their attitude to dissent fits the pattern, too. Corporations are internally constituted as perfect little Stalinist dictatorships, directed from the center by managers who are free to do anything as long as it furthers their mission, and with a total lack of accountability from the employees. It's about as profoundly anti-democratic a system as you can imagine, except for the saving grace that it exists as a little island within a larger society and has strictly limited scope for oppression. But when people with the mind-set of corporate upper management run a country, what else is there to expect but the same sort of brutal goal-oriented totalitarianism and emphasis on appearances that typify the corporate realm?

Rummy is a corporate manager. Bush is, too. So's Cheney. It all seems to be of a piece with the willingness to use any means to get results, however evil, the obsession with meeting goals regardless of colateral damage, the determination to spin criticism as subversion or treason, and so on. They think they're running America, Inc., may the devil take the hind-most, and society can look after itself.

So I speculate that Bush will not fire Rumsfeld. To do so would be to look like a weak or indecisive executive -- and the one thing no CEO wants to look is indecisive. As for Congress, they're not shareholders so fuck 'em.

(Ach, I want to spit.)

#183 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 04:48 PM:

I heard a little of the opening of the hearings this morning. Some Senator mentioned that this was a terrible thing, that it's not what we as Americans do. He then went on for about 5 minutes about how wonderful we as Americans are, and how everyone should love us and look up to us.

When you've been caught doing something horribly wrong, you should SHUT UP with the boasting at least until you've actually fixed the problem!

I would have listened longer to find out who the idiot was, but I couldn't stand it.

#184 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 05:24 PM:

By the way. MG Taguba, who wrote the report that we've been quoting, has new orders.

Major General Antonio M. Taguba, Deputy Commanding General (Support), Third United States Army, Camp Doha, Kuwait to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, Training and Mobilization, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, Washington, DC.

#185 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 05:33 PM:

Riffing on Charlie's post:

Another thing MBA types are really good at is schmoozing ("It's now what you know, it's who you know," and my corollary, "And also how good a game of golf you play.")

Bush seems to be really into schmoozing; he may even be good at it.

But you know, Clinton was even better at it, and he was a DAMN hard worker as well and genuinely inquisitive.

#186 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 05:57 PM:

Erik V. Olson: Fascinating. My military jargon decoding skills apparently aren't up to snuff, I can't tell if MG Taguba is being rewarded or punished for writing his report. While his new position certainly appears to be a more prestigious position, it looks like it might be a transfer from an in-theatre position back to a position in Washington. I'm not certain this improves his chances for future promotion.

#188 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 07:20 PM:

The WashPost just posted an interview with one of the MPs, Sabrina Harman, where she says she was assigned to break down prisoners for interrogation.

The article will be in tomorrow's paper.

#189 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 08:12 PM:

Joe Lieberman started his hearings segment by saying that the Iraqis should be grateful that they got an apology, because the three thousand that died on 9/11 never got an apology.



#190 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 10:52 PM:

George the Third won't fire Rumsfield; if he does that, he has to appoint a new SecDef and have that worthy stand up in front of confirmation hearings, which would certainly turn into a very public discussion of what the pluperfect screaming orange and purple helya is going on in Iraq.

#191 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 11:36 PM:

Oh, found this link:,3604,921192,00.html

From an article dated March 2003:

Suddenly, the government of the United States has discovered the virtues of international law. It may be waging an illegal war against a sovereign state; it may be seeking to destroy every treaty which impedes its attempts to run the world, but when five of its captured soldiers were paraded in front of the Iraqi television cameras on Sunday, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, immediately complained that "it is against the Geneva convention to show photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is humiliating for them".

(Really? No shit, Sherlock.)


The US special forces running the prison watched the bodies being unloaded. They instructed Dostum's men to "get rid of them before satellite pictures can be taken". Doran interviewed a Northern Alliance soldier guarding the prison. "I was a witness when an American soldier broke one prisoner's neck. The Americans did whatever they wanted. We had no power to stop them." Another soldier alleged: "They took the prisoners outside and beat them up, and then returned them to the prison. But sometimes they were never returned, and they disappeared."

Many of the survivors were loaded back in the containers with the corpses, then driven to a place in the desert called Dasht-i-Leili. In the presence of up to 40 US special forces, the living and the dead were dumped into ditches. Anyone who moved was shot. The German newspaper Die Zeit investigated the claims and concluded that: "No one doubted that the Americans had taken part. Even at higher levels there are no doubts on this issue." The US group Physicians for Human Rights visited the places identified by Doran's witnesses and found they "all... contained human remains consistent with their designation as possible grave sites".

The article contains a brief itemization of Geneva Convention violations by the US at Guantanamo Bay. (Old news, I'm sure to many of you, but just another step towards establishing pattern of behaviour being condoned from on high.)

#192 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 11:40 PM:

PS. I don't see how Rumsfeld can escape with his job intact when he's been claiming that we don't have to abide by the Geneva Conventions for the last two years. I mean, the lower officers and whatnot hear that often enough, they might actually believe it.

(Okay, I know he CAN escape with his job because he's George's man--although they may persuade him to take one for the team, who knows...)

#193 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 12:16 AM:

Rumsfeld can't be let go...

Imagine the questions the nominee would get... things like plans, troop levels, oversight, Gitmo....

It ain't gonna happen.

The contractors can be charged. USC 18 has a legnthy section on it, and the courts are given no limits to the punishements they mete out (within the limits of it being Constitutional). It may even be a capital sentence, if the crime led to another's death.

It is also NOT limited to war crimes, but rather applies to any crime which would allow a sentence of more than one year in jail.

I saw some of the hearings (my blood pressure wasn't up to all of them).

What I noticed was things like someone saying they only found out the details when it hit the press.

And saying they'd told congress, after all in January they said they were having an investigation. Mind you they knew there were pictures, and it was, "a big deal," but no on thought to pass this on to Rumsfeld, or to Bush.

It seems the lack of oversight is greater than the 800th MP Bde.

As for Taguba: Fifty-fifty. That's a big job, and a step up (certainly on paper) in his field (he was a support guy, and Readiness, Training and Mobilization is in his field, so I don't think he's been tucked away to rot.

Certainly (since his next promotion is one that the President nominates) if Bush gets the boot, Kerry is not likely to treat him badly.


#194 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 01:25 AM:

"Oh [expletive deleted]" is my reaction to what PiscusFiche posted and the whole article referenced.

Even before then I was thinking that certain "Managers'" flayed hides turned into rugs for dancing on, might be a -start- on national reputation rehabilitation. But, on second thought, Iraqis in particular seem to take very seriously Islamic requirements for burying bodies no later than the next day after death or discovery of the body. Flayed hides are probably not acceptable retribution.

#195 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 01:29 AM:

Perhaps Memorial Day should be treated as an ex-officio national day of mourning this year, as protest against the Bush administration and the atrocities its "led"-by-Rumfeld military has presided over in Iraq and Afghanistan.

#196 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 10:49 AM:

The front page of the WashPost has Rumsfeld with his face crinkled like he's trying not to cry. The online version has a more forceful image of him.

#197 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 12:49 PM:

I've discussed Taguba's transfer with several military people. Most are of the opinion that it is a step up. No-one thinks it's bad.


#198 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 02:25 PM:

I agree with the comment by Charlie Stross.

I don't feel that an MBA is a "real degree" the way a PhD is. Having worked for numerous large corporations (American and Japanese) I have seen the disasters inflicted by Dilbertian MBAs. For that matter, I ghost-wrote 2 MBA Dissertations, both times getting my client an "MBA with Honors." Clients were both executives in Fortune 500 companies. It has been said that an MBA is not genuinely academic, because to offer the subject on the basis that it will earn you more money is akin to having a Department of Sexology at a University, which promises to give you better orgasms.

This confusion of means-ends ethics and business viewpoint was summarized neatly in:

"Sold to Satan"
Mark Twain

"It was at this time that I concluded to sell my soul to Satan. Steel was away down, so was St. Paul; it was the same with all the desirable stocks, in fact, and so, if I did not turn out to be away down myself, now was my time to raise a stake and make my fortune. Without further consideration I sent word to the local agent, Mr. Blank, with description and present condition of the property, and an interview with Satan was promptly arranged, on a basis of 2 1/2 per cent, this commission payable only in case a trade should be consummated...."

#199 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 06:27 PM:

>For that matter, I ghost-wrote 2 MBA Dissertations,
>both times getting my client an "MBA with Honors."


A couple of Fridays ago, I was hanging out with a laptop at my usual wireless coffeehouse. A young man stood up from his session at the DSL computer in the corner and began waving a twenty dollar bill around. "I need to buy a paper. Who'll write me a paper?" He circled the room, approaching all of the cafe patrons with laptops in front of them.

"I hope you'll forgive me for saying this," I said when it was my turn, "but that sucks."

"Oh man. It's the last day. I've got to have something turned in by tomorrow."

"Go ahead dude!" said another nearby laptop user. "Don't work. Pay someone to do it and have a beer. Capitalism in action!" This guy sipped his own beer, winking and smirking simultaneously.

"I'm not trying to be rude," I said. "But, my guess is that you paid good money for your class. You decided to put yourself through the experience of having to do research and then write. If you don't go through with it, you're ripping yourself off. You're burning your enrollment fee as well as the extra twenty bucks. Even if you just type some things into Google and paste results into your own document, you're getting more for your money than if you pay someone else to do the same thing."

"Man, I already did the research," he said, holding up a floppy disk. "I just don't know how to write the paper."

"OK," I said. "What's the topic?" (It was capital punishment, pro or con, and he was pro.) I winced, but drew him a small outline on a napkin: "Why debate the issue?" "What do you believe?" "What did you find on Google to support your belief?" "What did you find to support opposing points of view?" Topic sentence->supporting fact->supporting fact->, summary sentence. Repeat. You don't have to prove anything, either way. The point is to get you to think about what you believe and why you believe it.

"And if you don't get it done by tomorrow, talk to the instructor and ask whether you can get an extension. Doesn't that make more sense than cheating yourself and possibly getting into a worse screw up?"

"Yeah," he said. "It does. Thanks." He took his floppy disk and went back to the corner computer.

I don't know what happened after that. Maybe he wrote the paper or maybe he caved again. But, for at least an hour or two, I'd upheld the honor of the Green Lectern Corps.

#200 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 06:56 PM:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A congressman with experience in military detention said Saturday that the Pentagon rejected an Army plan to send him to oversee Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison in the early months of the war in Iraq.

Rep. Steve Buyer said he was disappointed by the decision -- which came months before the Army first reported allegations that prisoners at Abu Ghraib were being abused.

"It was pretty dumbfounding to me," he told CNN, "and disappointing that the Army had this plan to send me and the [Office of the Secretary of Defense] said no."


#201 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 01:01 AM:

It gets darker.

Peter Beaumont, Martin Bright and Paul Harris in Washington Sunday May 9, 2004 The Observer

British military intelligence officers were interrogating prisoners in the notorious Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq even as the first reports of abuses at the prison came to light, The Observer can reveal.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that three 'military personnel' were stationed at the prison, outside Baghdad, between January and April this year. Coalition sources in Iraq say MI6 also visited the jail regularly.,6903,1212769,00.html

And someone has just emailed me that MG Charles H. Swannack Jr. (CO, 82nd Airborne Division) has let loose with a broadside against this. Apparently, the source is the Washington Post, which I won't read on a bet. (I won't support corrupt US press organizations, even with a click) so I can't verify.

But, if true, he's just sacrificed his career to make this point -- and the CO of the 82nd is on the track for four stars.

#202 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 01:23 AM:

And darker yet.

In another online venue, someone pointed out that apparently the Quran enjoins its followers not to break the rules of engagement _until the other side does_.

Now, we've clearly broken the rules against sexual torture, we're about to find out that we've broken the rules against killing prisoners, and we're not showing the kind of contrition that will make people who don't agree with our government feel we really care.

What does this imply for anyone who gets caught by good Iraqi Muslims?

Can you say "bloodbath"? I knew you could.

#203 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 02:17 AM:

Erik --

Here's the only mention of MG Swannack in the past month in the Post:

Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, who spent much of the year in western Iraq, said he believes that at the tactical level at which fighting occurs, the U.S. military is still winning. But when asked whether he believes the United States is losing, he said, "I think strategically, we are."

Much of the rest of the article is highly critical of Rumsfeld and others at Defense, but no one currently on active duty speaks other than anonymously.

#204 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 03:19 AM:

I've noticed an intriguing discrepancy regarding the date CID began its investigation at Abu Ghraib.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's testimony before the House and several press accounts mention that on January 13, 2004 SPC Joseph M. Darby of the 372nd MP Company placed an anonymous note describing the photographs under the door of a CID investigator. The following day, January 14, CID instigated a criminal investigation. SPC Darby has been commended widely for his actions, even called a hero.

However, MG Taguba's report says that CID conducted interviews at Abu Ghraib from January 10 to January 25. This seems to imply that CID had a reason independent of SPC Darby's anonymous note to travel to Abu Graib and begin conducting interviews. If true, it isn't until three days after CID arrives and begins asking questions that SPC Darby gives them the pictures and they respond by opening an official criminal investigation.

The discrepancy could be explained as just a typo in MG Taguba's report, but the report otherwise appears quite meticulous. If it isn't a typo, why would CID have begun asking questions at Abu Ghraib on the 10th of January? An interesting coincidence is that from January 4 to January 8 the International Red Cross made an inspection of Abu Ghraib. Perhaps the true hero is an anonymous Red Cross inspector.

#205 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 04:07 AM:

If we stipulate that the date in the report is correct:

CID may have had other reasons to go to Abu Ghraib (I know of a few possibilities, which have nothing to do with what was discovered there) and Darby took advantage of the presence of CID to deal with something which was bothering him, and which he had no other, easy way of doing.

After which... all this came out.

Otherwise, you're right, someone else blew the whistle and Darby just happened to be there to put paid to the account.

I'd like to think, in the latter situation, that it was Kimpro, who otherwise is looking a trifle shabby to me.

#206 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 04:51 AM:

Terry wrote: I'd like to think, in the latter situation, that it was Kimpro, who otherwise is looking a trifle shabby to me.

That is an excellent point, I'd hadn't considered that. MG Taguba did favorably note that US Navy dog handler MA1 William J. Kimbro, "refused to participate in improper interrogations despite significant pressure from the MI personnel at Abu Ghraib." I too would prefer to think that MA1 Kimbro would report an attempt to coerce him into involvement in improper interrogations as opposed to keeping quiet about it.

#207 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 09:16 AM:

Okay, briefly (for me) I've emailed some people who would be interested about the mail censorship thing.

I have bumper sticker version of Graydon's Torture:Terrorism equation. I was going to make a CafePress thing and offer it at cost, but Teresa, if you'd like it for yours, please take it. You probably have a wider readership than I do.

Please everyone, look at the bumper sticker pdf and let me know if you think it works.

The mass media is slowly starting to Get It. Joe Public is beginning to follow. Some heads are still in the sand. Others are very deeply elsewhere. (The obvious conclusion is that our administration is composed of methane-breathing aliens wearing maskers. The other possibility is that the Soviets *did* start a Manchurian Candidate project and forgot to shut it off when their regime collapsed.)

There was a thing on NPR a while ago about how the mass of US citizens aren't against casualties, they're against unnecessary casualties. The analyst broke it down into three groups: A tiny minority who think we should invade anyone, any time, for any reason (I think we can identify that group with freepers now); another tiny minority who wouldn't allow war even if, quote, the Nazis were crossing the Potomac; and everyone else who thinks in some (differing) circs it's okay.

There was a thing today about some Joe Public saying that blah blah blah Fallujah and Little Mrs was going along, and then it turned out she hadn't seen the photos, and when they were described to her she went green and said, Uh, that doesn't sound right, I don't think we should be doing that--

Those are the ones we have to win.

Also, since no one in the media has "the memory of a goldfish" it wasn't Vietnam they started not showing American casualties - that was the rule in WWII, until 1943 or 44, for the same reason, that it would bust US morale. I exhaustively checked archived contemporary newspapers and magazines researching certain aspects of The Good War some years ago, and it's true, you will only find *enemy* dead until quite late in the War.

And finally - at Daily Kos, Godwin's Law has been revoked for the duration.

(signing off for a while again to finish the Whisky Bar project - qv. Matt 25:31-40.)

#208 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 09:37 AM:

Cat came back -

Patrick's link to the canadian invasion plan blew my mind a couple weeks ago. I'd never heard of it. I checked up on it, not that I didn't trust PNH to verify, but I always try to verify.
My belated input on the subject, probably reduplicating someone else's thoughts, but strangely relevant given the fact that even conventional warfare isn't going as well as the propgandists were telling us.

What was so strange about it?

No taking into account the civilian population.

On either side of the border.

No taking into account "local conditions."

I posted about this on my message board, how surreal it seems to me, living in NE, where we have signs on some vending machines saying *doesn't take Canadian currency* which baffles out-of-state visitors. Why would we have such signs? And what is that strange mix of English and French spoken hereabouts? I speculate a little on the hazards of using an area as a base of operations where large numbers of the population have a)kinship ties to the other side, b)guns, c)aren't thrilled with the way the economy has been going (this is the Great Depression they were planning this after all.)

All I can think is that the end result would have been war with New England, if it had really happened, and either they would have had to delenda us, or NE would have ended up part of Canada after the smoke cleared, or possibly an independent collective.

There was a warning in that report.

Apparently, they didn't learn the lessons of WWI and WWII either.

We are the equivalent of the unknown partisans who put a copy of the resistance's paper, La Libre Belgique, in the German commander's offices every issue without anyone knowing which of the servants was responsible.

I thought of lumberjacks putting their hunting skills to other uses, and a New England Winter, and the only train lines running through Francophone cities, and The Revolution, Part II, starting in Boston. Has any AltHist type done this one yet?

#209 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 09:48 AM:

I forgot the point of the above, which was the following:

They're rounding up the usual suspects, torturing them, and letting them escape all the time.

They don't fckng realize this is going to be a problem for the troops in the field?

They don't understand why the "insurgents" won't go away?

Anyone else think Saleh was telling anything but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when he said, 'There are no more foreign fighters in Falluja' after the Marines pulled out?

#210 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 12:39 PM:

Hey bellatrys - your bumper sticker link is 404. I would be very interested to see it if you get the link fixed.....

#211 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 04:00 PM:


A new article "Soldiers' warnings ignored" in today's issue of the Baltimore Sun might provide an answer to our earlier discussion of why CID apparently began conducting interviews at Abu Ghraib a few days prior to SPC Darby's tip to CID. The article interviews two members of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, who mention that in either late November or early December 2003 they alerted both their superiors at Abu Ghraib and the CID that prisoners were being abused. The article quotes from them extensively, including a rather detailed discussion of various lists of escalating interrogation techniques that they were told to use.

With regards to US Navy dog handler MA1 William J. Kimbro, Sy Hersh's latest article "Chain of Command" in The New Yorker makes prominent mention of him, but unfortunately does not mention if he reported the pressure he received from MI personnel.

#212 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2004, 12:51 AM:

Silly typing error broke the link, so I fixed it with a kludge (i,e., changed the filename on the server) for the moment.

And a little more friendly propaganda, inspired by the last few days at Whiskey Bar:

Matthew 25:31-40 (350k) have done unto Me. (350k)

Family Values 2004 (480k)

Has anyone seen the British caving, even over the photos (they can't prove they're false, and even if they are, they're pretty sure that they're recreations of an actual event by conscience-stricken Tommies and Iraqi accomplice. I'd almost think, if it's the latter, that's more damning than anything: We had to fake the photos because the government siezed the real ones to try to stop this from getting out again.)

And they're begging for Islamic troops to bail them out, from Pakistan and India -- and they in turn have said, Bring us a UN resolution...

Just when you think it can't get any more twisted, horrible, or merely outrageous, here comes something else.

#213 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2004, 11:45 AM:

First: Either I didn't explain my earlier points clearly enough for people to understand OR people are so upset they aren't paying attention OR some people are deliberately misunderstanding.
In any case, as I worried earlier, the first pictures did indicate worse things were happening, not just that things were tending that way & could be stopped before going further, as I was hoping, so the debate now centres on that & its implications.

Which means it serves no purpose whatsoever to send me mail implying links between my views and ones that I've never expressed any support for, and have in conversation condemned.

Second: I'v heard several times now: "[Iraqis] tortured those 4 men at Fallujah", which they say either upset the US jailhands, or is seen as justifying their behaviour.
IIRC, in all the stories I'd read or heard, it was the maltreatment of the bodies of the contractors who'd been killed in the attack that had everyone upset, I don't remember any implication that they'd been captured, then killed with or without torture, then further mistreated. Is my memory wrong?

Rather like 'Saddam was responsible for Sep 11' or '3,000 Americans were killed on Sep 11' it's worrying the way history is twisted & shaded to support arguments, even as it's happening. Still, from all the exposures by historians of the last several centuries of distortions to serve someone's purposes, it's not surprising. It is disappointing. But points to an important function of the internet & alternative media in keeping records. Not that it always helps - over at Citizen Smash one commenter (May 4, 2004 06:23 AM) said that "liberals" needed history lessons, and that there was no equivalent of "fraging" on the Western Front during WW I. Whereas history tells us there was not only murder of officers by troops, but outright mutiny - fictionalized in Paths of Glory.

Third: Indeed "it wasn't Vietnam they started not showing American casualties" Surely it was Vietnam they let the media do that, after not being able to before, and it was from the public reaction to the unusually frank media exposure that the military and their political masters became so sensitive & controlling later.

#214 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2004, 12:28 PM:

I turned on the TV set and there were the last few minutes of hubrisboy doing his hubrisboy schtick, this time it was standing up in front of reporters and stomping out radiating "I am NOT taking any questions you menial rabble!" having ukased what a superb job Rumsfeld (in Bush's view of the universe) is doing and who wonderful Iraqis are supposed to feel to have had Saddam removed and how it is so much better for them now blah blah blah.


[slimer moment]

Is there any politician out there with -worse- elocution?! "curridge" -- I suppose that acting a like dog is much more his style, that courage....

#215 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2004, 01:20 PM:

Bush is 1000 percent behind Rumsfeld.

"A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."

#216 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2004, 01:24 PM:

I just realized that "collaborateur" applies to Powell.

#217 ::: Jonathan Edelstein ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 06:49 PM:

A few thoughts on the alleged Israel-Abu Ghraib connection:

I'd be very wary of drawing conclusions from mere similarity of techniques, for two reasons. First, Israeli interrogation techniques have been very widely publicized in the context of news articles, human rights reports and court challenges, so it's possible to learn those techniques without meeting any Israelis. Second, and more to the point, most of the "Israeli" techniques in question weren't really invented by Israel. The unfortunate fact is that humanity has thousands of years' experience in developing torture techniques, and the same themes have been repeated by many, many governments and non-state actors. Many of the techniques listed above - e.g., beatings, sleep deprivation, verbal threats and humiliation, shackling in uncomfortable positions, similated sexual abuse, solitary confinement - are Torture 101 and are practiced by nearly every country that uses torture. I don't for a minute intend to give Israel a pass on its use of torture, but stamping these techniques "made in Israel" strikes me as disingenuous.

There may in fact turn out to be an Israeli vector, either through indirect copying of techniques or through use of Israeli-trained contractors to conduct interrogations. There are also likely to be many other, more important vectors - South African mercs, British soldiers with Northern Ireland experience, Central Americans, CIA, School of the Americas. The moral fiasco that is Abu Ghraib didn't come from one place, and I'm dismayed (although not surprised) that many are rushing to attribute it to one country.

#218 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2004, 07:29 PM:

Jonathan Edelstein: Point taken, sir.

#219 ::: New Joe Ryan diary entries found ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2004, 12:12 PM:

Richard Parker in his earlier comment was right in his guess that Bill Armstrong was from Fort Huachuca.

New diary entries (Mar21-Apr02) have just been found, this time in the cache of the Alexa search engine. See

In the newly-discovered Mar 26 entry, Ryan says: "Bill Armstrong, a retired army interrogator who left his instructor position at the intelligence school at Fort Huachuca, AZ get [sic] the prize of the day though."

So Armstrong is definitely from Fort Huachuca.

#220 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2004, 12:57 PM:

The smoking gun's been found. This nonsense goes straight to the very top, to the desk of George "W Is for War Criminal" Bush.

Bush administration lawyers contended last year that the president wasn't bound by laws prohibiting torture and that government agents who might torture prisoners at his direction couldn't be prosecuted by the Justice Department.

Here's the Wall Street Journal article.

Here's the memo itself.

#221 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2004, 06:09 PM:
Maybe it would be a good idea for everyone who is of two minds about all this torture jazz, or who sees the government’s point, or who thinks that lawyers can’t be held responsible for things they do for a paycheck, to pause and consider the question: “Am I actively evil myself? Or am I just spineless or lazy when confronted by it?” I think this will be an important distinction come election time.

The United States' moral authority to call for the rule of law and respect for human rights has been undermined by legal machinations the Bush administration undertook to justify torturing prisoners taken in the war on terror.

The Walker Memo resembles an argument over the number of devils who can dance on the head of a pin, because the factual circumstances described in the memo have no relationship to the way that "real people," or at least "real interrogators," do their jobs. In other words, one reaches the question of whether torture can be justified only by ignoring the purported purpose of the torture: Obtaining information critical to counterterrorism efforts. That means one thing, and one thing only: That the "real" purpose of torture is not to obtain information; it is to inflict pain, to punish, to incapacitate… to torture. It is self-justifying. There is no apparent justification for this position in the Constitution, or de Groot, or the laws of war (whether inchoate or in treaties). The only possible "justification" is some sense of vengeance.

#222 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2004, 06:38 PM:

James D. Macdonald:

In the Dark Fantasy tradition, Satan is not himself a lawyer. He just has the biggest legal staff of any entity in the cosmos, plus plenty of crooked judges and suborned witrnsses and jurors. He does, when the mood strikes him, represent himself in pro per against, say, Daniel Webster.

#223 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 03:54 AM:

Hello from Australia. Reading that many Americans are appalled by prisoner abuse is some sort of relief to an Australian who opposed the war and is aghast at ongoing events. Believe it or not lil ol' Australia is one of your allies in the coalition of the willing. Only a token force of course - we took most of our people home when Bush gave us an 'out' by declaring "mission accomplished" - clever eh?
However I am writing to complain over the present bullying treatment we are receiving from Bush and Armitage because our Opposition Leader (who may just win the next election due soon) wants to bring the rest of our guys "home by Christmas". We really must be your 51st state the way they are behaving. appeal to Americans is: make sure you and your friends register and vote. The rest of the world awaits the result of your election and frankly is worried about what escapades Bush will get up to if he is returned. This is serious -every vote counts. Thank you and come and visit sometime, Sylvia

#224 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2004, 12:33 PM:

Visited, loved it, hoping to visit again, Sylvia. I got to ride in the cockpit of a commercial flight as they were landing (yes, it was before 11/9/2001) and that's one of the wonderful experiences of my life....

Oh yeah, and I agree with your sentiments too.

#225 ::: Fredrick Mansfield ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 01:16 PM:

Wow! I am totally astounded by the weakness displayed on this forum! And, it kind of pisses me off too, especially when I think about some of Americans who *really* were tortured as P.O.W.s. I'm not talking "panties on their heads", I'm not talking about being stacked naked or being forced to stand on a box. I'm talking about beatings, starvation and constant pain.

If what those Iraqis endured was torture, fraternities would be illegal!

#226 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 01:37 PM:

Gee, Fredrick, thanks for showing us what we're up against. If you were forced to stand for 48 hours straight - even on a flat surface, even with your shoes on - you would discover what "constant pain" means. Not just feet and legs; your entire body would hurt because your kidneys would cease to function, and you'd be dying slowly of uremic poisoning.

And if your last statement is true, fraternities should be outlawed. Fortunately, it's freeper nonsense like the rest of your post.

#227 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 01:47 PM:

Wow, Frederick. Observing international law is "weakness"? What a nice black-is-white fantasy world you live in.

As for whether what went on was torture ... when people die (and I'm sure you're aware some of the prisoners died under questioning) you know you've gone way over the line past abuse and harassment. You're firmly in the torture camp.

Now let's talk about the sense -- or lack of it -- in your comments. Our mission is to build a democracy and to win the hearts and minds of the people. What part of that mission is supported by torture, or by abuse and harassment? Answer: None. That's acting counter to the mission. It's worse than a crime, it's a blunder.

Now about that ever-popular "fraternity" analogy. Did you get that from Rush? He likes it a lot. Well, anyway. At the end of a brief period of abuse that the pledge voluntarily undergoes, the pledge becomes a frat brother, right?

So. What's going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gitmo isn't a brief period of abuse, it isn't entered into voluntarily by the prisoner, and at the end of the process the prisoner doesn't get made a prison guard. So that analogy really falls apart. Please don't use it again.

But you can think that you're all tough minded, and can sit at the tough-guys table, unlike the weak-willed liberals, right? That's the point of your comments. You ignore the experience of professionals who have found that torture produces unreliable intelligence. Our troops lives aren't protected by unreliable intelligence. You're harming our soldiers, and you're harming our mission.

Now you're pissed off because American POWs have been tortured. So, tell me, how will creating the precedent that the Geneva Conventions are just inconvenient pieces of paper help them, now or in the future?

What you, and people like you, fail to understand is that the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Protocols were bought and paid for at bitter cost. You're degrading the sacrifices that generations of soldiers have make to earn and secure those rights.

Now let's move it a little further out. Bush and Rumsfeld have claimed that the Geneva Conventions don't apply -- that prisoners can be tortured or even killed -- it the president orders it in the name of national security. So tell me ... what charges are we going to try Saddam Hussein on?

#228 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 02:01 PM:

I keep hearing the comparison to fraternity hazing in regard to Abu Ghraib from a number of people, some of whom are bright enough to know better. People join fraternities voluntarily, even knowing that potentially unhealthful things may be done to them during their initiations--things that may even involve grievous bodily harm, with permanent damge, if the initiation committee is drunk, stupid, and malicious enough. However, they DID volunteer. Prisoners, by and large, have had that option taken from them---they are at their captors' mercy. Does the difference between willing subject/helpless victim mean nothing, or are we to assume that simply by living, the Iraqis are volunteering to be abused?

I notice that those people, such as John McCain, who have been tortured as POWs, feel free to be upset about all this. Somehow, I doubt this means they're weak-minded wimps. Perhaps they just wanted to believe the US was above that sort of thing, that we really had some right to the moral high ground we're so quick to claim in international affairs. However, if someone out there does want to try telling Senator McCain that being upset at the revelations from Abu Ghraib and elsewhere is a sign that he's a weak, unAmerican pussy-Communist, please let me know. We could sell tickets to benefit the USO or some other good cause.

#229 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 02:12 PM:

James, fidelio...I understand and share your feelings. I responded myself. But the chances are good that "Fredrick Mansfield" is just a drive-by, and won't ever see our responses. He's never posted here before, and I'd be rather surprised if he posts again...still more if he posts anything of substance.

Even if he does, freepers and Rushies seem to come with earlids, metaphorically speaking. Waste of time.

#230 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 02:53 PM:

The advantage of your responses, Xopher, is much more for the rest of us. You, James, and Fidelio speak well, and concisely: your soundbites are very useful when one is _in person_ attempting to counter the soundbites of some less well informed person.

One advantage of preaching to the choir is that they are often the best people to carry the message out into the wider world.

#231 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2004, 03:25 PM:

Why, thanks Tom! A very heartening message. And in fact I have forwarded a link to James' response to someone I know who was taking a "whatever it takes should be OK" position.

#232 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 06:18 AM:

There now, if I hadn't been off running a 750-mile errand, I'd have just disemvowelled the pismire. You guys have done a much better job than that.

#233 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 12:18 PM:

Thanks, Teresa. But you know, you still could...not that I take morbid pleasure in public disemvowelments, or anything.

#234 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 01:34 PM:

Ditto (to cite Rush Limbaugh).

And speaking of 750-mile errands, any Making Light folks who go to Westercon in Arizona the 4th of July weekend, be sure to come chat with me and my family face-to-face. I'll be on the "Mars" panel and the one on (paraphrased title) "NASA: Threat or Menace?"

Any thoughts on Ralph Nader selecting the (very Green) Peter Camejo as his VP candidate?

#235 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 02:11 PM:


Just lovely, Teresa. I had to look it up, but I won't forget it.

#236 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 02:28 PM:

Claude, I knew the word only because Grandpa calls Aunt Demetria that in On Borrowed Time, a play I was in in 7th grade. Don't get much occasion to use it, but the line was still there when Teresa activated it. (More amazing that I remembered the name of the character who gets labeled it, really.)

Now if I could only remember where I put my black go stones/string bag/Discover Card/etc...

#237 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 02:44 PM:

When I looked up pismire, I noticed that the Latin version of 'ant' is formica. Did Kipling miss a story?

#238 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 04:18 PM:

Formix, formica, formic acid; whence formica countertops. Also formication, a symptom caused by certain drugs. It means you feel like you have ants crawling on your skin.

How can you swear in American if you don't know pismire? It's the same word as the equally essential pissant (as in miserable pissant) -- which latter word is always pronounced as two very distinct syllables, as if to make it clear that it's a Germanic noun, not a Norman verb.

#239 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 04:48 PM:

So a very strong pissant would be a puissant pissant? And if he's kind of a phony, he'd be a puissant pissant poseur? And...

[a shot rings out]

Argh. Crumple, crumple. Slump.

#240 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2004, 04:54 PM:

I have pissant down pat; it's a word I recall when making conversation with certain (great) aunts. ("Terrible, yes, but great.") Until today I didn't know the pismire variant. As for formica and Formica, the Romans were channeling.

#241 ::: fidelio sees even more spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 10:01 AM:

Yes, even more spam.

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
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