War crimes

by Yule Heibel on May 3, 2004

The Christian Science Monitor has a stunning comprehensive report on the abuse of Iraqi prisoners of war by American soldiers: US general: Abu Ghraib abuse coverup, by Tom Regan (posted May 3, 2004). The article includes many hyperlinks to other news sources and background information. It quotes both sides, those who are outraged as well as those who say this is a nearly meaningless flap. But the latter easily discredit themselves, as the quoted Jed Babbin of the National Review does, when they equate “the empty heads” of John Kerry and Noam Chomsky in what can only be considered a cheap attempt at demagogic obfuscation. Perhaps putting Kerry and Chomsky in the same group was an attempt at levity — I can just see the Rightwingers laughing their asses off at this one — but it’s hardly funny given the evidence:

The New Yorker reports that a military investigation carried out by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, uncovered evidence of “war crimes” against the inmates, including: breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick. [More…]

So, aside from punching the wall, what can you do? Write letters to your political representatives — regardless of whether you’re in the US or in Canada or elsewhere — and let them know that you support the actions of whistleblowers and those who expose abuse, and that you’ll support politicians who share your views.

The allegation by Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the former head of US military prisons in Iraq, is the first hint that the “patterns of abuse” (as she described it) could go farther than originally expected. Brigadier General Karpinski was relieved of her command earlier this year during the investigation into abuse at the prison.
The Washington Post reports that Brig. Gen. Karpinski blamed most of the abuse on a group of regular military intelligence officers. Karpinski said in an interview that the US military was trying to shift the blame “exclusively to her and the reservists.”

“We’re disposable,” she said of the military’s attitude toward reservists. “Why would they want the active-duty people to take the blame? They want to put this on the MPs and hope that this thing goes away. Well, it’s not going to go away.”


If you can stand it, take a look at these photos on Memory Hole.


fundelupa May 4, 2004 at 7:51 pm

Iraqi citizens are still being tortured in Saddam’s jails now by Americans.

maria May 4, 2004 at 11:32 pm

Yule, I have been meaning to comment here, to write a post on my blog … but all of this (the war in Iraq, the politics here in the US, the level of discontent, unhappiness and anger among the people I know — on and off line — is rendering me dumb, illiterate, and strangely mute, when, it seems, I should be speaking out the most.

It appalls me to think that the Enlightenment and the idea of reason as an operative principle in human conduct – as well as democracy – may turn out to be nothing but a tiny blip on the radar of history….

Yule Heibel May 5, 2004 at 5:57 pm

Yup, it’s depressing. I saw a story in Reuters where one of the soldiers’s parents says that his son is being scapegoated, that he was just following orders, etc., and I had to think that sadly not much has changed. It’s what the Nazis all said, too: we were just following orders.

Kate S. May 6, 2004 at 4:04 pm

I am falling helplessly into the depths of depression, the result of ultimate humiliation, abject embarassment every time I see yet another picture, read another story, about the barbaric treatment of these Iraqi and Afghan prisoners by our bi-polar military — the same ones who believe Christianity is the end-all of religion, therefore Muslims, et al are “heathens” who deserve (their) God’s wrath, and they are fully up to delivering their warped brand of justice.

Not much into psychology, but, I would be very interested in seeing a profile on the mentality that perpetrates this masochistic torture.

That I defended the integrity of these same soldiers last summer when Elaine of Kalilily was the first blogger to report on their misconduct, is also embarassing. Surely, I objected, these allegations cannot be true.

Looks like I owe my favorite crone and mentor an apology.

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