good guys vs bad guys

Stomach-turning story on the front page of this morning's Times. It begins:
Two Afghan prisoners who died in American custody in Afghanistan in December 2002 were chained to the ceiling, kicked and beaten by American soldiers in sustained assaults that caused their deaths, according to Army criminal investigative reports that have not yet been made public.

One soldier, Pfc. Willie V. Brand, was charged with manslaughter in a closed hearing last month in Texas in connection with one of the deaths, another Army document shows. Private Brand, who acknowledged striking a detainee named Dilawar 37 times, was accused of having maimed and killed him over a five-day period by "destroying his leg muscle tissue with repeated unlawful knee strikes."

The attacks on Mr. Dilawar were so severe that "even if he had survived, both legs would have had to be amputated," the Army report said, citing a medical examiner.
Read more to learn about attempted drownings, oral and anal rape, and other tortures the good guys have been using.

The "love it or leave it" crowd tells us this is either (a) one bad apple or (b) deserved, since these victims are all terrorists anyway. Neither argument stands up to even the slightest scrutiny. In fact, neither is really an argument. It's simply blind obedience.

Blind obedience is fascism.

If the military chain of command who encouraged and permitted torture can get nothing else through their amoral, power-mad heads, they should at least understand that their actions expose American troops to enormously increased danger.


redsock said...

Seymour Hersh, in various lectures around the country, has spoken of the existence of videotapes of both male and female Iraqis (including children) being raped by either US troops or being filmed by US troops.

Back when the prison tourture scandal first broke, there was news that Senators and Congresspeople had also seen thousands more photos and videos than were publicly released. Many were quoted afterwards as saying that what they had seen had sickened them.

It stands to reason that some of what they saw were videotaped rapes.

And yet every single one of them has chosen to stay silent about these war crimes.

L-girl said...

It makes me want to cry. I can't live in a country that permits this.

freewriter said...

I think Canadian soldiers got pretty nasty in Uganda or was it Nigeria [partly due to psychotic side effects of anti-malaria medicaion], so there may be less of it here, but there's no escaping it wherever you go.

L-girl said...

The difference - and it's a big one - is that there are fewer Canadian soldiers, and they are not sent all over the world on useless missions of conquest.

Abuse of power is always a problem. But American culture fosters it. It practically demands it.

redsock said...

Seymour Hersh (October 8, 2004):

"I got a call last week from a soldier -- it's different now, a lot of communication, 800 numbers. He's an American officer and he was in a unit halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border. It's a place where we claim we've done great work at cleaning out the insurgency. He was a platoon commander. First lieutenant, ROTC guy. ...

"It was an area that the insurgency had some control, but it was very quiet, it was not Fallujah. It was a town that was off the mainstream. Not much violence there. And his guys, the guys that owned the granary, had hired, my guess is from his language, I wasn't explicit -- we're talking not more than three dozen, thirty or so guards. Any kind of work people were dying to do. So Iraqis were guarding the granary. His troops were bivouacked, they were stationed there, they got to know everybody...

"They were a couple weeks together, they knew each other. So orders came down from the generals in Baghdad, we want to clear the village, like in Samarra. And as he told the story, another platoon from his company came and executed all the guards, as his people were screaming, stop.

"And he said they just shot them one by one. He went nuts, and his soldiers went nuts. And he's hysterical. He's totally hysterical. And he went to the captain. He was a lieutenant, he went to the company captain. And the company captain said, "No, you don't understand. That's a kill. We got thirty-six insurgents."

"You read those stories where the Americans, we take a city, we had a combat, a hundred and fifteen insurgents are killed. You read those stories. It's shades of Vietnam again, folks, body counts...

"You know what I told him? I said, fella, I said: you've complained to the captain. He knows you think they committed murder. Your troops know their fellow soldiers committed murder. Shut up. Just shut up. Get through your tour and just shut up. You're going to get a bullet in the back. You don't need that. And that's where we are with this war."

Video here:


And (July 16, 2004):

Seymour Hersh, who reported on the torture of the prisoners in New Yorker magazine in May, told an audience in San Francisco that "it's worse".

But he added that he would reveal the extent of the abuses: "I'm not done reporting on all this," he told a meeting of the American Civil Liberties Union.

He said: "The boys were sodomised with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking. And this is your government at war."

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

The problem is soldiers make terrible police and prison guards

A soldier is conditioned to consider his enemy as something less than human. It's necessary for them to be effective killers, and to suddenly expect them to undo this conditioning when guarding prisoners or even directing traffic is pure idiocy.

What would have surprised me is if something like Abu Gharib *didn't* happen. Using soldiers as police is equivalent to using a bunch of Rottweilers to guard a preschool, and then being surprised when one of the students gets mauled.

I don't blame the Rottweiler in the situation above, its the person in charge that's too blame. And likewise, its not really the soldiers fault. Its the ones who put them there in the first place

L-girl said...

I agree with you, up to a point.

Responsibility absolutely must go up the chain of command. But people must be held accountable for their actions, even during wartime. Not every soldier particpates in atrocities. There is a choice.

Also, it's not just the prison situation. Atrocities are committed in all kinds of war-time situations. I believe war itself creates these abuses of power.

In order for ordinary humans to kill strangers, the "enemy" must be dehumanized. Once people are turned into objects or sub-humans, anything becomes permissible.

There is also the extreme group-think - the kind of mass hypnosis - that people fall into in these deplorable situations. Ordinary men who would not be rapists in civilian life, for example, take part in mass rapes. It's like a massive mental illness.

This is based on a lot of thinking and reading I've done about this - not as an excuse for their behavior.