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Published on October 23, 2004 By blogic In Politics
I've been suprised at how little concern there's been about Abu Ghraib -- and I think liberals are as guilty as conservatives when it comes to downplaying the significance that America is torturing people. That's a big deal, (1) because it's immoral and (2) because it's a huge fscking recruitment poster for al-Qaeda.

I see people justifying the torture by arguing that anything we do that's not as bad as beheading people is morally justified, but I don't buy it. I hate to think what that would have meant during World War II. Since the Nazis were busy killing over ten million people, would it have been okay for America to do everything just short of that? Torture 11 million? Kill five million? Rape 500,000 women? Of course, I'm not arguing that Americans are doing that now, but demonstrating the falsity of that moral argument.

Anyway, this was in the LA Times:
WASHINGTON -- Government documents made public Thursday provide fresh details about allegations of abuse by guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other detention facilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

They include incidents in which a female prisoner was sexually humiliated by US military intelligence officers and a male inmate was shot at to force cooperation.

[snip]

The materials also describe the deaths of three Abu Ghraib prisoners, all reportedly of heart attacks, within days of each other in August 2003, weeks before the now-infamous episodes of photographed abuse began occurring at the prison.

Comments
on Oct 23, 2004
NEWS: Further Abuse at Abu Ghraib Detailed

By: blogic
Posted: Saturday, October 23, 2004 on The Tide Goes Out
Message Board: Politics
I've been suprised at how little concern there's been about Abu Ghraib -- and I think liberals are as guilty as conservatives when it comes to downplaying the significance that America is torturing people. That's a big deal, (1) because it's immoral and (2) because it's a huge fscking recruitment poster for al-Qaeda.

I see people justifying the torture by arguing that anything we do that's not as bad as beheading people is morally justified, but I don't buy it. I hate to think what that would have meant during World War II. Since the Nazis were busy killing over ten million people, would it have been okay for America to do everything just short of that? Torture 11 million? Kill five million? Rape 500,000 women? Of course, I'm not arguing that Americans are doing that now, but demonstrating the falsity of that moral argument.

Anyway, this was in the LA Times:
WASHINGTON -- Government documents made public Thursday provide fresh details about allegations of abuse by guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other detention facilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

They include incidents in which a female prisoner was sexually humiliated by US military intelligence officers and a male inmate was shot at to force cooperation.

[snip]

The materials also describe the deaths of three Abu Ghraib prisoners, all reportedly of heart attacks, within days of each other in August 2003, weeks before the now-infamous episodes of photographed abuse began occurring at the prison.


Sorry but we are AT WAR! And torture is a recognized method of interragation. It is supposed to follow strict guide lines.
on Oct 23, 2004
I believe torture is against the Geneva Convention. Besides, it's MORALLY WRONG. We seem to be so quick to condemn others regarding their abuse of detainees, but the hypocrisy is that we call it "justifyable interrogation methods". I'm with Blogic on this one. It's an American disgrace. It provides fodder for the terrorists. And, just because we're at "war" as opposed to being terrorists, does not give Americans the license to undertake such barbaric methods. I'd like to think we set ourselves to a highter standard.

"Terrorism is the war of the poor. War is the terrorism of the rich." Peter Ustinov
on Oct 23, 2004
The things that went on at Abu Ghraib, and to a lesser extent at other detention centers is deplorable. However, the US military is working diligently to clean up the problems that existed (and trust me, I know for a FACT that they are being very thorough).

Should we continue to drag our otherwise strong, faithful American military who are accomplishing amazing good as we speak, through the mud, when there are others all over the world so eager to do it for us?

The majority of our military serving in these detention centers put up with a barrage of verbal abuse from the prisoners and have all sorts of violent behavior directed at them, and yet they treat the detainees with respect and dignity and provide for them culturally sensitive meals, appropriate clothing, excellent medical care, items needed to practice their faith, etc. Our men and women who do the thankless jobs in these prisons make me proud of our hardworking, long suffering military, and they make me proud to be an American.
on Oct 23, 2004
Should we continue to drag our otherwise strong, faithful American military who are accomplishing amazing good as we speak, through the mud, when there are others all over the world so eager to do it for us?
Actually, it isn't the military I would wish to drag through the mud -- it is the administration that formulated legal arguments pushing the envelope regarding treatment of prisoners.

What is wrong with you? Are you so afraid of a foreign enemy that, at the first setback, you are ready to abandon American ideals? I'm telling you that, given our military might, we can win without resorting to actions that our country has unambiguously rejected as immoral.

The nerve of the right wing to criticize Americans as unpatriotic for questioning the war strategy, when the right wing is performing the equivalent of throwing the American flag in the mud, sticking up for disgusting sexual torture of prisoners. This country may not be perfect, but we have a long history of trying to do the right thing, and those that have served can take satisfaction in having been a part of that. Now, we are ready to tell the world that we feel no compunction to act any better than the worst slime.
on Oct 23, 2004
Actually, it isn't the military I would wish to drag through the mud -- it is the administration that formulated legal arguments pushing the envelope regarding treatment of prisoners.


I don't disagree with that, but you do feel that dwelling on the gory details serves a positive purpose?

What is wrong with you? Are you so afraid of a foreign enemy that, at the first setback, you are ready to abandon American ideals? I'm telling you that, given our military might, we can win without resorting to actions that our country has unambiguously rejected as immoral.


Don't know where that one comes from . . .

The nerve of the right wing to criticize Americans as unpatriotic for questioning the war strategy, when the right wing is performing the equivalent of throwing the American flag in the mud, sticking up for disgusting sexual torture of prisoners.


he he he . . . yes, the nerve of me, what a right winger I am!

This country may not be perfect, but we have a long history of trying to do the right thing, and those that have served can take satisfaction in having been a part of that. Now, we are ready to tell the world that we feel no compunction to act any better than the worst slime.


I condemn the actions of those who participated in the torture and debauchery, but I am proud of our American soldiers, and feel compelled to point out the amazing and honorable actions of our soldiers that serve in those prisons. The actions of a few have brought about disdain and suspicion on the many soldiers who are conducting themselves in a manner that is a credit to our country, and I think that it's very sad that Americans would much rather criticize and find fault in our military than praise them for their accomplishments.
on Oct 24, 2004
While it is always sad to dwell on the failures of the prison system in Iraq it is crucially important for trust building that all such failures are highlighted as well as the punishments delivered to those responsible. Trust is greatly missing in iraq between the people and the administration, imagine how much worse it would get if every time an Iraqi asked about prisoner abuse there were told about the great job American soldiers were doing instead. No the truth of the matter is that Americans must openly critise what is wrong so that Iraqis know that they don't support such torture.

Unfortunately while individual soldiers are being prosecuted for their failures the administration is happily deflecting any critism of it's policies, blaming the entire episode on a few sick individuals.

Paul.
on Oct 24, 2004
solitair:
Trust is greatly missing in iraq between the people and the administration, imagine how much worse it would get if every time an Iraqi asked about prisoner abuse there were told about the great job American soldiers were doing instead.


This is not what I am suggesting at all.

No the truth of the matter is that Americans must openly critise what is wrong so that Iraqis know that they don't support such torture.


Americans have and continue to do so. The problem I have is with Americans choosing to savor and tsk, tsk the lurid details. I don't think we need to go on and on relishing the depravity of newly released photos or horrifying new details. America should (and has) admit(ted) the wrongs and move forward. Our soldiers are the ones bearing the weight of this, and that is very disheartening.

Unfortunately while individual soldiers are being prosecuted for their failures the administration is happily deflecting any critism of it's policies, blaming the entire episode on a few sick individuals.


I don't disagree with that.
on Oct 24, 2004
I don't disagree with that, but you do feel that dwelling on the gory details serves a positive purpose?
As one who believes that our treatment of prisoners is a grave error, I see the "dwelling on the gory details" to be the only way to bring about a thorough correction of the problem at the highest level. As is the way with all institutions, you can bet the military will discipline the low ranking individuals involved. But high ranking people set policies which made such actions far more likely to occur, and those high ranking people respond only to political pressure. Absent the specifics, the public is not going to object strongly enough to put an end to such errors.

And remember, whether the American press decides to cover the gory details affects only what the home audience sees. You can bet that the gory details have already been broadcast throughout the Arab world, so the stifling of those details protects only our leaders.

What is wrong with you? Are you so afraid of a foreign enemy that, at the first setback, you are ready to abandon American ideals? I'm telling you that, given our military might, we can win without resorting to actions that our country has unambiguously rejected as immoral.


Don't know where that one comes from . . .
If you don't know where that comes from, then you are missing my main point. If we were facing some sort of superhuman mega-enemy, then I would understand why some would want to resort to moral shortcuts, out of sheer desperation.

Our government with the support of a fair portion of our population, seems to believe that we face such a fearsome opponent that we must take a whole new stance in regard to the Geneva Convention rules for handling prisoners, aggressively looking for reasons why various prisoners are not protected by those provisions, nor by America's historic position on the subject.

According to a new article by Tim Golden:
In early November 2001, with Americans still staggered by the Sept. 11 attacks, a small group of White House officials worked in great secrecy to devise a new system of justice for the new war they had declared on terrorism.

Determined to deal aggressively with the terrorists they expected to capture, the officials bypassed the federal courts and their constitutional guarantees, giving the military the authority to detain foreign suspects indefinitely and prosecute them in tribunals not used since World War II.

The plan was considered so sensitive that senior White House officials kept its final details hidden from the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and the secretary of state, Colin L. Powell, officials said. It was so urgent, some of those involved said, that they hardly thought of consulting Congress.

White House officials said their use of extraordinary powers would allow the Pentagon to collect crucial intelligence and mete out swift, unmerciful justice. "We think it guarantees that we'll have the kind of treatment of these individuals that we believe they deserve," said Vice President Dick Cheney, who was a driving force behind the policy. . . .

But extensive interviews with current and former officials and a review of confidential documents reveal that the legal strategy took shape as the ambition of a small core of conservative administration officials whose political influence and bureaucratic skill gave them remarkable power in the aftermath of the attacks.

The strategy became a source of sharp conflict within the Bush administration, eventually pitting the highest-profile cabinet secretaries - including Ms. Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld - against one another over issues of due process, intelligence-gathering and international law.

In fact, many officials contend, some of the most serious problems with the military justice system are rooted in the secretive and contentious process from which it emerged.
Link The subject of treatment of captives traveled quickly from Guantanamo Bay to Iraq, and the disposition of the dispute is still very much in question.

What is America's position on the handling of prisoners? My view is that, before the public acquiesces to a profound change in our stance, that the public should a) face the details of what is actually going on, and think again about whether our enemy is so overwhelming that such measures are necessary.
I am proud of our American soldiers, and feel compelled to point out the amazing and honorable actions of our soldiers that serve in those prisons.
This is nothing but a straw man argument. Of course I honor the soldiers that serve. Many were former students of mine, who I admire greatly. But silence on the subject is protecting policy makers far more than it is protecting honorable soldiers.

on Oct 24, 2004
Hey TW,

Thank you for your comments. I blame the leadership, not the military. Chief among the people responsible is Donald Rumseld, which is too bad because I have a soft spot for him -- I think he may be the smartest person in the Bush administration. Unfortunately, I think he's directly responsible for the development of an environment where this torture could take place. I also think Bush is responsible, since it's increasingly clear that his lawyers and the lawyers of the Justice Department were busy issuing memos that relaxed the old boundaries that prevented torture.
on Oct 24, 2004
blogic:
I blame the leadership, not the military. Chief among the people responsible is Donald Rumseld, which is too bad because I have a soft spot for him -- I think he may be the smartest person in the Bush administration. Unfortunately, I think he's directly responsible for the development of an environment where this torture could take place. I also think Bush is responsible, since it's increasingly clear that his lawyers and the lawyers of the Justice Department were busy issuing memos that relaxed the old boundaries that prevented torture.


I don't disagree with that at all. However, this is a issue that has great personal significance for me, and so I could not help but comment in the manner that I have. I feel that the ghoulishness that surrounds some of the discussion about Abu Ghraib (and some of the other detention centers as well) brings about no positive and no change, but rather serves the purpose of making ourselves feel good because we are making a show of condemning something that no decent person would defend.
on Oct 25, 2004
brings about no positive and no change


why do you think this? Do you believe it should bring about change or do you believe no change is necessary?

On the positive note, the pictures that were paraded all over the newspapers have resulted in criminal convictions against those guilty. They have also resulted in many questions being asked at senior levels about what went wrong and whether current policy is acceptable.

Admittedly there does not yet seem to be a change in attitude at top level, but I suspect much of that is due to the upcoming election and partisan politics. I suspect the real changes will come if the supreme court rules in favour of detainees who are currently challenging the US handling of them. The administration may be able to ignore condemnation and pretend the problem is not with them, but they cannot ignore a supreme court ruling.

Paul.
on Oct 25, 2004
The problem I have is with continuing to relish the details and publicize the depravity. Possibly I am not making myself very clear (a common occurrence ). I am certainly for investigation and reprimand and change.

I am concerned that dragging up details that are in line with what we already know is not constructive because it continues to put American and world focus on something that is very bad for the image of America without really changing or affecting the eventual outcome in reforming the laws and practices. If newly discovered photos are in keeping with what is contained on old photos, is it beneficial to continue to slather them all over the TV and front pages of the papers? Will it serve any purpose beyond reinforcing to the world the widely held notion that America is barbaric and evil? If it will not, then why must we continue on with it?

Maybe I am very wrong on this, but that's the way I see it.
on Oct 26, 2004
I can certainly see your point Texas.

You are however relying on people's trust in the administration to investigage all accusations of torture. People just don't trust the government here. Too many people feel the government itself is responsible due to it's policies and that if this topic was removed from the public eye any further abuses would be quietly swept under the carpet. Without trust people need to vent there outrage and need to get upset so that they can be sure something is done about it.

Paul.
on Oct 26, 2004
TW, thank you for your thoughtful comments.

The problem is that I think many people are still convinced that the torture was nothing worse than frat hazing. That's what Rush Limburgh told his listeners. What scares me is that I think a significant number of Americans refuse to admit to themselves what's going on under Bush. You're probably aware that opinion surveys show that Bush supporters are both relatively (compared to Kerry supporters) unaware of various Iraq realities (most still believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks) and Bush's actual views (it turns out they think Bush is much more liberal than he is.

Bush's re-election depends on people denying to themselves the things they've learned about him and how he's affected America and the world. Bush supporters have figured out how to explain away the torture photos, the breaking of the Geneva Conventions, the weakening protection of the environment, etc.
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