Abu Ghraib's lesson unlearned

llad12

Diabloii.Net Member
Abu Ghraib's lesson unlearned

By Seymour Hersh
Jun 1, 2005, 12:41



It's been over a year since I published a series of articles in the New Yorker outlining the abuses at Abu Ghraib. There have been at least 10 official military investigations since then - none of which has challenged the official Bush administration line that there was no high-level policy condoning or overlooking such abuse. The buck always stops with the handful of enlisted army reservists from the 372nd Military Police Company whose images fill the iconic Abu Ghraib photos with their inappropriate smiles and sadistic posing of the prisoners.

There is much more to be learned. What do I know? A few things stand out. I know of the continuing practice of American operatives seizing Suspected terrorists and taking them, without any meaningful legal review, to interrogation centres in southeast Asia and elsewhere. I know of the young special forces officer whose subordinates were confronted with charges of prisoner abuse and torture at a secret hearing after one of them emailed explicit photos back home. The officer testified that, yes, his men had done what the photos depicted, but they - and everybody in the command - understood such treatment was condoned by higher-ups.

What else do I know? I know that the decision was made inside the Pentagon in the first weeks of the Afghanistan war - which seemed "won" by December 2001 - to indefinitely detain scores of prisoners who were accumulating daily at American staging posts throughout the country. At the time, according to a memo in my possession addressed to defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, there were "800-900 Pakistani boys 13-15 years of age in custody". I could not learn if some or all have been released, or if some are still held.

The 10 official inquiries into Abu Ghraib are asking the wrong questions, at least in terms of apportioning ultimate responsibility for the treatment of prisoners. The question that never gets adequately answered is this: what did the president do after being told about Abu Ghraib? It is here that chronology becomes very important.

The US-led coalition forces swept to seeming immediate success in the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, and by early April Baghdad had been taken. Over the next few months, however, the resistance grew in scope, persistence and skill. In August 2003 it became more aggressive. At this point there was a decision to get tough with the thousands of prisoners in Iraq, many of whom had been seized in random raids or at roadside checkpoints. Major General Geoffrey D Miller, an army artillery officer who, as commander at Guantánamo, had got tough with the prisoners there, visited Baghdad to tutor the troops - to "Gitmo-ise" the Iraqi system.

By the beginning of October 2003 the reservists on the night shift at Abu Ghraib had begun their abuse of prisoners. They were aware that some of America's elite special forces units were also at work at the prison. Those highly trained military men had been authorised by the Pentagon's senior leadership to act far outside the normal rules of engagement. There was no secret about the interrogation practices used throughout that autumn and early winter, and few objections. In fact representatives of one of the Pentagon's private contractors at Abu Ghraib, who were involved in prisoner interrogation, were told that Condoleezza Rice, then the president's national security adviser, had praised their efforts. It's not clear why she would do so - there is still no evidence that the American intelligence community has accumulated any significant information about the operations of the resistance, who continue to strike US soldiers and Iraqis. The night shift's activities at Abu Ghraib came to an end on January 13, 2004, when Specialist Joseph M Darby, one of the 372nd reservists, provided army police authorities with a disk full of explicit images. By then these horrors had been taking place for nearly four months.

Three days later the army began an investigation. But there is no evidence that President Bush, upon learning of the devastating conduct at Abu Ghraib, asked any hard questions of Rumsfeld and his own aides in the White House; no evidence that they took any significant steps, upon learning in mid-January of the abuses, to review and modify the military's policy toward prisoners. I was told by a high-level former intelligence official that within days of the first reports the judicial system was programmed to begin prosecuting the enlisted men and women in the photos and to go no further up the chain of command.

Despite Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo and the various roles they played in what went wrong, Rumsfeld kept his job; Rice was promoted to secretary of state; Alberto Gonzales, who commissioned the memos justifying torture, became attorney general; deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz was nominated to the presidency of the World Bank; and Stephen Cambone, undersecretary of defence for intelligence and one of those most directly involved in the policies on prisoners, was still one of Rumsfeld's closest confidants. President Bush, asked about accountability, told the Washington Post before his second inauguration that the American people had supplied all the accountability needed - by re-electing him.

Only seven enlisted men and women have been charged or pleaded guilty to offences relating to Abu Ghraib. No officer is facing criminal proceedings.
The Weekly Guardian

Love him or hate him: Sy Hersh is one helluva investigative journalist ...

Rip 'em a new one Sy ... :thumbsup:
 

llad12

Diabloii.Net Member
If nothing else, America's image in the world is badly tarnished. Heads should have rolled on this scandal. Instead, a year and 10 investigations later, the men who should have been held ultimately responsible were promoted or let off scot free.

So go ahead, sweep it under the rug, throw it out with the trash, ignore it, who cares? Right? It's old news, it's no longer important enough to capture your attention.

Three more US soldiers died today in Iraq ... but that doesn't make much news either. It's nothing new. It's not as important as a Jackson sex scandal or what's on TV tonight.

Have a good day.
 

Suicidal Zebra

Diabloii.Net Member
llad12 said:
It's old news, it's no longer important enough to capture your attention.
Yup, you betch'ya. I've got better things to worry about than the in's and outs of the American Militaries disciplinary system and when it comes down to it I trust them to get the job done properly in the fullness of time.

Were I:

1) Iraqi
2) American
3) A member of the US Armed Forces or
4) A paid up member of AI.

I may be more interested. But as things stand there are certain things in the political arena that I find both far more interesting and would have a greater impact on my own life and the life of those in other nations than the actions of a load of US contractors and a blip in military oversight.

The actions perpetrated in Abu Ghraib were awful. They are however only factor relating to the success or failure of the mission in Iraq, and it is about time those other factors had the limelight.
 

axeil

Diabloii.Net Member
Llad I applaud your effort but you know that no one here will listen because God forbid anyone contradict the Premier...I mean President.

I must admire Bush and his cronies for brainwashing all of us so well though.
 

Ranger14

Diabloii.Net Member
*sigh* I am glad I have better things to do with my time than to find every article about what is wrong with our military and what is going on in Iraq. Why don't you post articles about the insurgents using civilians as shields and decoys and how they have killed our civilian and military personnel execution style? You always seem to want to make it sound like we are the bad guys. I just don't get it. I was recently reading an article on how innocent civilians are used in tactics against our troops by the insurgents...then we hear about how many civilians are killed by our troops...hmmm...I wonder why. No we aren't perfect, but I doubt any country's military is.

Let's hear some about how our troops are handling these situations the best they can.

http://www.voanews.com/english/IraqInsurgentTactics.cfm
 

onionfarm

Diabloii.Net Member
Ranger14 said:
*sigh* I am glad I have better things to do with my time than to find every article about what is wrong with our military and what is going on in Iraq. Why don't you post articles about the insurgents using civilians as shields and decoys and how they have killed our civilian and military personnel execution style? You always seem to want to make it sound like we are the bad guys. I just don't get it. I was recently reading an article on how innocent civilians are used in tactics against our troops by the insurgents...then we hear about how many civilians are killed by our troops...hmmm...I wonder why. No we aren't perfect, but I doubt any country's military is.

Let's hear some about how our troops are handling these situations the best they can.

http://www.voanews.com/english/IraqInsurgentTactics.cfm
Their atrocities don't justify our atrocities.

Off-topic: Suicide, I thought you had left or something? Anyway, good to see you posting again.
 

Ranger14

Diabloii.Net Member
onionfarm said:
Their atrocities don't justify our atrocities.
I never said they did. Then again, it is hard to judge how somoene acts when they have an insurgent prisoner and the day before their comrade was killed or they saw an innocent civilian killed by a car bomber. Tough to judge what they are going through over there. It doesn't make it right, but I certainly factor in more than what we see on the surface.

We have some cases of wrong-doing and it is sad, but why focus on that? Let's look at what our military is dealing with and support them. At least the few atrocities that happen from our side aren't part of our normal strategy and status quo. The same can't be said for the other side.
 

jimmyboy

Diabloii.Net Member
Suicidal Zebra said:
Yup, you betch'ya. I've got better things to worry about than the in's and outs of the American Militaries disciplinary system and when it comes down to it I trust them to get the job done properly in the fullness of time.

Were I:

1) Iraqi
2) American
3) A member of the US Armed Forces or
4) A paid up member of AI.

I may be more interested. But as things stand there are certain things in the political arena that I find both far more interesting and would have a greater impact on my own life and the life of those in other nations than the actions of a load of US contractors and a blip in military oversight.

The actions perpetrated in Abu Ghraib were awful. They are however only factor relating to the success or failure of the mission in Iraq, and it is about time those other factors had the limelight.

What's a US contractor?
 

jimmyboy

Diabloii.Net Member
Ranger14 said:
We have some cases of wrong-doing and it is sad, but why focus on that? Let's look at what our military is dealing with and support them. At least the few atrocities that happen from our side aren't part of our normal strategy and status quo. The same can't be said for the other side.

We focus on it, because the few bad apples will ruin the legacy of the rest if we refuse to correct it. When it's all and done, the world will remember US soldiers as torturers rather than liberators regardless of the good we may bring to Iraq.

Whether it's few atrocities or not, we'll never know since the detainees are denied POW status. Guantalamo is still off limits. Prisoners are now transfered to 3rd world nations for torture to circumvent the Geneva convention and US laws. And new prisoners are made "ghosts." They have no record of ever existing and so their deaths are never recorded.
 

jimmyboy

Diabloii.Net Member
Suicidal Zebra said:
Sorry, I was thinking of something else when I wrote 'contractors'. I meant Reservists.
He he he.

And all along I thought you were about to give us a scoop of some unreported actions by US mercenaries.

You big teaser.
 

jmervyn

Diabloii.Net Member
Ranger14 said:
It doesn't make it right, but I certainly factor in more than what we see on the surface.

We have some cases of wrong-doing and it is sad, but why focus on that? Let's look at what our military is dealing with and support them.
Why in the world would you do something like that, Ranger? Don't tell me you actually think we're doing something beneficial to Iraq? Or that our military is in any way a force for doing good in the world? BUSH LIED CHILDREN DIED! Words to live by, and don't forget it!

Ranger14 said:
At least the few atrocities that happen from our side aren't part of our normal strategy and status quo. The same can't be said for the other side.
I still think it interesting that to find any coverage of this strange "other side" of which you speak. I think you've been going to far too many of those Evil Conservative web sites, and buying the lies they furnish on DVD. You should just sit back and let the soothing information from the NYT and NBC caress your brain.
 

DaviddeJong

Diabloii.Net Member
jmervyn said:
Why in the world would you do something like that, Ranger? Don't tell me you actually think we're doing something beneficial to Iraq? Or that our military is in any way a force for doing good in the world? BUSH LIED CHILDREN DIED! Words to live by, and don't forget it!
Am I so lousy in spotting sarcasm?

Jmervyn, what's wrong? Is this you typing this, or how someone "stolen" your account or something? Strange stuff.

Although you do have a point of course!!!

David.
 

jmervyn

Diabloii.Net Member
DaviddeJong said:
jmervyn said:
Why in the world would you do something like that, Ranger? Don't tell me you actually think we're doing something beneficial to Iraq? Or that our military is in any way a force for doing good in the world? BUSH LIED CHILDREN DIED! Words to live by, and don't forget it!
Am I so lousy in spotting sarcasm?
David, I keep forgetting that this board has many foreign readers - yes, it is complete sarcasm. I often use 'tags' like [/sarcasm]...
I have spent over 1/2 my life assorted types of U.S. Gov't service, among which are 5 years as a U.S. Army officer on active duty, during which I served as an Infantry platoon leader in the first Gulf War. Ill and I feud very frequently on this sort of topic.

EDIT - regarding deceased equines, couldn't agree more.
 

DaviddeJong

Diabloii.Net Member
jmervyn said:
David, I keep forgetting that this board has many foreign readers - yes, it is complete sarcasm. I often use 'tags' like [/sarcasm]...
I have spent over 1/2 my life assorted types of U.S. Gov't service, among which are 5 years as a U.S. Army officer on active duty, during which I served as an Infantry platoon leader in the first Gulf War. Ill and I feud very frequently on this sort of topic.

EDIT - regarding deceased equines, couldn't agree more.
I thought so......

Just as confusing as the last time you were talking about the side-effects some Gulf-war-veterans were still experiencing from whatever kind of chemicals they used there (I thought you even mentioned "agent-orange") ..... I still don't know if you were saying that some of the soldiers that fought there have had these symptoms, (that I would only associate with Vietnam-veterans) or that you were just kidding.....

David.
 

jmervyn

Diabloii.Net Member
DaviddeJong said:
I thought so......

Just as confusing as the last time you were talking about the side-effects some Gulf-war-veterans were still experiencing from whatever kind of chemicals they used there (I thought you even mentioned "agent-orange") ..... I still don't know if you were saying that some of the soldiers that fought there have had these symptoms, (that I would only associate with Vietnam-veterans) or that you were just kidding.....

David.
Actually, I wasn't kidding, but you've got to realize that I tend towards using gallows humor as well. I suffered from severe symptoms of the so-called "Gulf War Syndrome", but only for a fairly limited amount of time. I tend to ascribe these to Pyrostigmine Bromide pills issued by the Army (without legal authorization and testing, of course), exposure to the oil fires everyone saw on the news, and being downwind from the dentonation of Saddam's (supposedly non-existent) WMD stockpiles.

After I went to the VA hospital to be logged, evaluated, and put on the permanent record, the form letter I recieved claimed that I was not suffering from Agent Orange due to my tour in Vietnam. I would have had to be around 10 years old to have been exposed in 'Nam.
 

Darnoc

Diabloii.Net Member
Interesting that guantanimo came up; amnesty just released a report about all this. I found an atricle today though that I found interesting regarding terrorist rules when imprisoned and how to undermine the imprisoning nation. It puts a bit of perspective on things over there, and shows little is what it seems nowadays..

http://www.techcentralstation.com/060305B.html
 

DaviddeJong

Diabloii.Net Member
jmervyn said:
After I went to the VA hospital to be logged, evaluated, and put on the permanent record, the form letter I recieved claimed that I was not suffering from Agent Orange due to my tour in Vietnam. I would have had to be around 10 years old to have been exposed in 'Nam.
Aah, yeah, that was the part I remembered.... but damn:

So ****ed up that your own army made you take those pills you got sick from!!!

David.
 
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