Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 29, 2005

Flag-Draped Anniversary

Short after the Abu Ghraib pictures became public knowledge one year ago, Rumsfeld said:

Judge us by our actions. Watch how Americans, watch how a democracy deals with wrongdoing and scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes and weaknesses.

Powell added:

Watch how we deal with this. Watch how America will do the right thing. Watch what a nation of values and character, a nation that believes in justice, does to right this kind of wrong. Watch how a nation such as ours will not tolerate such actions.

The Army's whitewash

ignores centuries of norms within the military profession and undermines the legal doctrine of command responsibility

says Phillip Carter. The responsible civilists have been promoted, Congress ignores its responsibility, the media show interrogations as a laudable act and in Iraq torture continues.

Some newsshows, set to re-broadcast some Abu Ghraib torture pictures today, will cancel these plans and show flag-draped coffins instead. Pictures that conveniently were released today. Threehundertandsixty perfect illuminated photographs of neatly flag-draped coffins published -incidently???- on this special day. Nice try - the Iraqis will love their anniversary cake! How much was Ketchum paid for the job?

Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Powell - we are still watching. Waterboarding Abu Ghraib pictures on flag-draped coffins may work on Faux News. It doesn´t work around the world - not yet at least.

Billmon asked a year ago:

So how much deeper into the sewer are we collectively going to climb before we finally admit defeat?

Still climbing deeper, still climbing deeper ...

Posted by b on April 29, 2005 at 12:35 UTC | Permalink

Comments

UK being referred to War Crimes court over Iraq invasion

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 29 2005 15:58 utc | 1

I've been thinking about the exoneration of officers in the U.S. military of all responsibility for the torturing and murders of Iraqi citizens at AG Prison. This outcome speaks to a huge problem, not just in themilitary, but in the way we treat the military and other powerful actors in the U.S. Then I made a strange association - did anyone else watch the movie, "Catch Me If You Can?" Frank, the young master-forger, was practically begging for someone, anyone, to tell him to STOP, but key people kept cheering him on and admiring his exploits. I'm beginning to wonder if the neo-cons aren't the same story, just more consequential.

These guys will always create the most exactly scandalizing outcome until they get what they want - papa telling them no, son, you know better.

Unfortunately, papa is dead till we reconstitute an actual society that can preserve its own health. Such a thing would be built on actual personal standards of behavior we each expect of others and of ourselves. The problem with our liberalism is that we are STILL willing to support the freedom to crap all over people, as long as it has entertainment value. Our politics will be inhuman till we discipline ourselves with knowledge that freedom is as bad as the person who abuses it, as good as the person who applies it well.

Some mistaken freedoms:
The freedom to lie that subordinates cannot be lead by their officers.

The freedom from-questions/to-hypocrisy for the great.

The freedom to privatize information paid for by all - vote counts, scientific research, gov't internal information.


Or, to cover all of these one way or another, the freedom to lie.


The problem with the liberalism we live starts with tolerating lies, with not rejecting the stink of a lie. And the court result clearing these officers from criminal culpability is based on lies about what counts as responsibility. Formally, the result is final. Politically, it is only as final as our apathy - our willingness to accept the fundamental lie behind this court martial's outcome.

Are officers not responsible to know what their troops are doing and to lead U.S. forces to treat prisoners humanely. Are the troops performing any worse than U.S. policy - are the Iraqis enemies or allies? We don't seem to have decided.

Perhaps even the officers are not culpable. If we were an honest people who accepted that we are free, but not free to lie to ourselves and others - who would we try as the proper source of these crimes in our court of public odium?

Posted by: citizen | Apr 29 2005 16:01 utc | 2

Analysis: Abu Ghraib scandal toll

...One soldier will receive an award for his role in the scandal, which spawned at least 11 major investigations: Sgt. Joe Darby, the GI who slipped a note and a CD containing the damning photos under the door of an Army official in Iraq, on May 16 will be awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award in Boston. His family has been harassed and has received death threats as a result of his whistle blowing, according to news reports....


Posted by: Nugget | Apr 29 2005 16:03 utc | 3

It has been a year now since the first photos of the abuses at Abu Ghraib were published. For some, this might be seen as a low point in the war in Iraq, but to me, it was an arbitrary point in a travesty that predated the publication of the photos and seems to have continued since. In the passing year, we’ve found the abuse was systematic, widespread and—if not authorized—then at least encouraged by official policies and statements from high-level military and civilian officials. We also find that the leaders who helped set up and continue the torture were rewarded, promoted or absolved, while some of the troops involved are headed for long jail sentences.

As a soldier, now retired, who was on the ground and was often charged with handling detainees around the same time that these photos were taken, I still find myself amazed, disgusted and frustrated with the manner with which this was dealt. I love the Army, and as a member of several veterans’ groups, I frequently find myself in conversations with civilians about our men and women in uniform and the conduct of the war in Iraq. It still strikes me—but no longer surprises me—when the public paints the armed forces as a homogenous whole, and dismisses the conduct at Abu Ghraib as either a minor incident of war, or representative of the conduct of all our troops. War and fighting for your life can only be romantic to those who are not engaged in it, or are lucky enough to witness it from afar. Up close, it is dirty, frightening, time-altering and hard. Guides to conduct like the Geneva Conventions and the Code of Conduct are necessary to protect our troops’ welfare and offer solace for the soul.

It should be obvious that anyone willing to engage in the conduct depicted in the pictures from Abu Ghraib is neither a hero nor an innocent. And it should be just as obvious that they could not have committed these crimes alone or in isolation. “Every soldier has a sergeant,” my command sergeant major used to say, and the job descriptions on most evaluations of officers and non-commissioned officers include lines like, “responsible for everything the unit does or fails to do.” When I look at the pictures and read the accounts from Abu Ghraib, my first questions are always about the leadership. In Iraq, I read the orders that frequently came down the chain of command about proper supervision and leadership involvement in detainee operations. I know the abuse and torture could not have happened on such a wide scale, over such a period of time, unless many, many leaders did not follow these orders. People who are charged with knowing better helped set up these situations and then turned away to let others deal with the problems. They neglected their duty to ensure that the orders given were realistic, proper and able to be followed.

The implications of the Abu Ghraib photos and the actions that precipitated them are indicative of wide-ranging problems in the invasion and subsequent actions on the ground in Iraq. The unrealistic planning and expectations involved in that planning set the stage for this abuse, just as the legal contortions over the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay clouded the issue for America. My unit struggled to find enough water, food, transport and medical care for the soldiers assigned or attached to it. When we began to receive dozens of prisoners, this only increased the work load and multiplied the problems of movement and sustainability. A lack of procedure, the absence of entire support systems and an overextended command and control chain meant that every day was a struggle to do the right thing for both the soldiers and the detainees whom we held. My soldiers paid the price for the absence of this leadership, but they continued their missions. Obviously, some did not.

What leads to the greatest frustration for me is the total abdication of responsibility and lack of accountability from the senior leaders and chain of command. I am accustomed to the public misunderstanding the circumstances and actions of soldiers, and their tendency to turn away when faced with difficult situations. Not so with the leaders of the military. This leaves a dirty smear on the honorable service of so many thousands of soldiers, Marines and others. It puts our men and women of the armed forces squarely in the sights of those who plan to exact revenge or exercise similar care, should they become the captors. The photos from Abu Ghraib insure that the depredations there will not be forgotten, but our government's actions since since seem designed to insure it will be neither prevented nor avoided in the future.


Broken chain of command

Posted by: Perry Jefferies | Apr 29 2005 16:28 utc | 4

Abu Ghraib Torture Victim Speaks Out.

Posted by: beq | Apr 29 2005 16:35 utc | 5

UK being referred to War Crimes court over Iraq invasion

Lawyers acting for the families of Iraqis killed and tortured allegedly by British troops is to seeking to prosecute the UK at the war crimes court in the Hague following the publication of the government's full legal advice on the Iraq war.

"We will be referring all our clients' cases to the ICC Prosecutor and will be expecting him to formally investigate in due course," Public Interest Lawyers (Pil) said after it was revealed by the Attorney General that the UK would be open to legal challenges.

The full legal advice from Lord Goldsmith to the government, belatedly issued Thursday, included legal warnings from his summary presented to parliament 10 days later just ahead a crucial vote by MPs on whether the UK should join the US invasion.

Following the publication, the mother of one of the UK soldiers killed in Iraq, Rose Gentle, said that she also planned to challenge the government over the legality of the war.


Posted by: Fran | Apr 29 2005 16:43 utc | 6

-- these may have been posted before, if so apols but they fit --

Abu Ghraib in Virginia

Abuse of Iraqi inmates follows a pattern established in Southern prisons ...
 
By Laura LaFay, Southern Exposure 32 (Winter 2005)
 
“When Albuquerque, N.M., lawyer Paul Livingston first saw the now-infamous photos of the naked Iraqi prisoner being menaced by American soldiers with dogs in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib Prison, he immediately thought of Virginia. " (...)

http://www.southernstudies.org/reports/LaFay3-WEB.htm>SouthernStudies

See Jerome’s excellent round up of the military-prison complex (or whatever it is supposed to be called..):

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2005/04/bush_not_puttin_1.html#more>A-Moon

Egyptian or Saudi prisons (no link necessary); the outsourcing of torture by the US...

http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?050214fa_fact6>NewYorker


Posted by: Blackie | Apr 29 2005 16:48 utc | 7

So how much deeper into the sewer are we collectively going to climb before we finally admit defeat?

Unfortunately I think there's still a hell of a lot of sewer left before defeat is countenanced by the US in its occupation of Iraq.

(As to defeat in the "global war on terror" (TM), I have absolutely no conception what victory would look like. Probably Snake Plissken would be there, though.)

According to Bernard Fall (quoted by Robert Taber in The War of the Flea), the French never got back substantially into north Viet Nam after 1950, and knew the war was lost then, but the French occupation forces did not leave until 1955.

Taber also quotes Senator Robert Kennedy, speaking on 7 March 1968:

"The fact is that victory is not just ahead of us. It was not in 1961 or 1962, when I was one of those who predicted there was a light at the end of the tunnel. There was not in 1963 or 1964 or 1965 or 1966 or 1967, and there is not now.

"It seems to me that if we have learned anything over the period of the past seven years, it is the fact that just continuing to send more troops, or increase the bombing, is not the answer... Moreover, there is a question of our moral responsiblity. Are we like the God of the Old Testament that we can decide, in Washington DC, what hamlets, what towns in Viet Nam are going to be destroyed?"

Of course, he didn't live to see that it would take another seven years for the US to flee Saigon, another seven years of murder, torture, mayhem and destruction.

Given the substantial oil and gas resources in the ME, which were not even part of the equation in SE Asia, I think it's likely that US occupation forces may never leave Iraq now.

Posted by: Dismal Science | Apr 29 2005 17:16 utc | 8

Another aniversary tomorrow:

April 30, 1975

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 29 2005 18:28 utc | 9

Clean war - war without torture, rape, sexual abuse, evisceration, hostage / prisoner taking, pillage, theft, scams, massive or minor destruction of infrastructure - today also the murder of the defenceless from the air, it is called bombing - the slow starvation of children, the indiscriminate killing of civilians, does not exist.

If it does, it is called politics rather than war.

The pits are not Abu G. - mild and normalised, if rather shattering to green-belt suburbanites stokin’ up the BBQ - but the smooth waging of war, that is the domineering of a people for own gain, often through indiscriminate wholesale killing.

To make an omelette.

You gotta.

Posted by: Blackie | Apr 29 2005 19:05 utc | 10

"Watch how Americans deal with wrongdoing!"

Italy, U.S. Disagree on Agent's Iraq Death

Italy and the United States had worked for a month on the joint investigation in the killing, which sparked outrage in Italy and put increasing pressure on Premier Silvio Berlusconi to withdraw Italy's estimated 3,000-strong contingent from Iraq.

But from the start, testimony from the two survivors of the shooting clashed with the U.S. military's account.

"Out of a dutiful homage to Calipari and ... national dignity that a government must have, the Italian government could not have been asked to sign off on reconstruction of the facts that as far as we know does not correspond to what happened that night," Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini told reporters after the statement was released.

Posted by: b | Apr 29 2005 19:15 utc | 11

Zarqawi (if that guy exists at all) statement to the anniversary or whatever:

Iraq Attacks Kill at Least 41; 3 GIs Die

At least 11 car bombs exploded in and around Baghdad on Friday, including four suicide attacks in quick succession in the Azamiyah section of central Baghdad.
...
The audiotape purportedly from al-Zarqawi was posted Friday on a Web site known for carrying messages from Islamic militant groups. The speaker directly addressed Bush.

"You, Bush, we will not rest until we avenge our dignity," the voice said. "We will not rest while your army is here as long as there is a pulse in our veins."


Posted by: b | Apr 29 2005 19:28 utc | 12

Juan Cole points out that US handpick leader, Allawi, doesn't have one lackey in the new Iraqi government. The Shiite members are closely associated with Iran and Revolutionary Guards. Chalabi, the acting oil minster, is an Iranian spy. Freedom is marching towards kicking America's asses of Iraq.

Even I, a mediocre graduate of state university, knew that Vietnam was unwinnable before I flew over. LBJ and Nixon also knew the war was unwinnable, not withstanding Ronald Reagan’s revisionist’s history or the Swift Boat Veterans lies. The US was just not willing to pay the price anymore.

If winning in Iraq means 14 permanent bases and American companies pumping Iraqi oil at full throttle, the occupation is lost cause. The striking difference between the Vietnam and Iraq Wars besides the religious extremism involved, is the clear belief throughout the Bush Administration that the USA is winning the war and that the end justifies the means including torture and genocide.

If Vietnam was a cruel geopolitical war fighting ghosts, Iraq is a crazy delusional nightmare propelled by religious hatred.

Posted by: Jim S | Apr 29 2005 19:31 utc | 13

Current newscount on news.google.com:

flag-draped: 167
Abu Ghraib: 156

Can Ketchum demand a bonus payment?

Posted by: b | Apr 29 2005 19:32 utc | 14

ThoughtCrime in Queens
"The arrests took place after authorities decided it would be better to lock up the girls than wait and see if they decided to become terrorists," another told the New York Post.

or is is BirthCrime?

Posted by: citizen | Apr 29 2005 19:53 utc | 15

yes tommorrow the celebration the 30th year since the fall of saigon & the defeat of american imperialism on the ground

i have sd here before that u s imperialism id doomed to defeat in iraq - the sooner the better

there will be those of you who will say but it was a different war, a different time - but the essential points remain. the war is illegal. the occupation of iraq is also illegal. the war of terror on the people is both deeply immoral & illegal

the american military has the same strategy as in vietnam. containment & terror. they failed miserably in vietnam. they are failing in iraq. they will continue to fail.

when the containment continues to fail - they are obliged to use the methods of terror & of genocide. the destruction of fallujah is but one moment in that terrible campaign

the west in not observing & offering insight to this terrible killing action mistakes its own complicity for the iraqui's & indeed the world forgetting. if one thing is sure & certain - the destruction of fallujah will live in the arab mind & heart for centuries to come. for those in the west it will be proof of our shame & in a certain sense, our guilt

but to think it will remain forgotten is not only a moral error or a political one - that method of forgetting will also be a military problem

& the military situation is deteriorating out of control despite what the press hacks would have the world believe - the iraqui resistance are doing exactly as one one would expect them to do under the circumstances. they are making very few tactical errors & almost no strategic errors. & all this still from a movement that is nascent - & is relatively small

if the vietnamese had such clear successes in the beginning they would not have had to fight the french twice the japanese once & the americans

the situation though horrific for the people of iraq is going to prove to be even more horrific for the forces of the american empire

from an old slogan once shouted on the streets

one side is right one side is wrong victory to the viet cong

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 29 2005 21:13 utc | 16

@Jim S - Chalabi is now Deputy Prime Minister and plays Shia. The other deputy is Kurd.

Thereby Chalabi is only one bullet away from being Prime Minister. Jaafari really has to watch his back now.

Posted by: b | Apr 29 2005 21:21 utc | 17

Republicans have demonstrated at length that they don't believe in personal responsibility.

When someone on the Bush Team screws up..they pass the buck. When someone lies..they tell more lies to cover it up. When the lies are outed..they deflect or wait until a convenient news cycle.

I don't know the proper way to counteract just injustice. Perhaps those smarter and more savvy than me do. I only know it's incredibly frustrating to watch it go on.

Posted by: carla | Apr 29 2005 22:02 utc | 18

b

i think it is also the anniversary of another crime of war consistent with the policy of american armed forces in iraq - that of my lai

perhaps i am wrong but i think it is either in late april or late march

a real study of what went o in in vietnam as opposed to that fool & propagandist george will still has the capacity to tell us what is happening in iraq & afghanistan & a place near you, soon

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 29 2005 22:04 utc | 19

Violence, ethnic tensions undermine Iraq's fledgling government

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's one-day-old government was hit Friday by a wave of deadly attacks against its security forces and the angry withdrawal of several Sunni Arab politicians whom it had hoped to bring into leadership posts.

The one-two punch underscored the violence and sectarian strife inherited by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and his Shiite-dominated Cabinet, which was approved Thursday after three months of deadlock.

The bloodshed and discord also revealed the weaknesses of the new administration, including the inability of Iraqi forces to stop insurgent attacks and the political failure to include the Sunni Arab minority in governing the war-ravaged nation.

The group of prominent Sunni political leaders from the National Dialogue Council withdrew from negotiations and said they wouldn't enter the government after a series of raids and the arrests of three prominent Sunni religious leaders overnight.

"From the first day, they want to show their muscles," said Mishaan al-Jubouri, a Sunni assembly member and part of the National Dialogue Council, complaining about the raids. "This is a very dangerous message by the new government ... which may lead to civil war in the future. I'll not feel safe about myself and my people under such a government."

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 29 2005 22:11 utc | 20

Dienbienphu: May 7, 1954.

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 29 2005 22:20 utc | 21

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/042905L.shtml>The Colours of Memory

"The Filipinos have chosen a bloody way to demonstrate their incapacity for self-government . . . in the insane attack of these people on their liberators," snarled the New York Times in 1899, the year the United States annexed the Philippines - Asia's first republic.

The Times is horrified: having thrown off the yoke of Spanish rule after centuries of struggle, why are Filipinos resisting their new invader?

Memory is a bomb. Memory is a balm.

Said a soldier of the First Idaho Regiment during the Philippine-American War, "It kept leaking down from [our officers] that the Filipinos were 'niggers,' no better than Indians, and were to be treated as such."

"With an enemy like this to fight," wrote a soldier with the Utah Battery of his Filipino adversaries, "it is not surprising that the boys should adopt 'no quarter' as a motto, and fill the blacks full of lead before finding out whether they are friends or enemies."

"I will rawhide these bullet-headed Asians until they yell for mercy," roared Col. Frederick Funston as American troops slaughtered Filipino combatants and civilians alike. Savages are savages. After the war, huffed the fulminating Funston, "I'll warrant that the new generation of natives will know better than to get in the way of the band-wagon of Anglo-Saxon progress and decency."

Advancement and civility measured: Armed resistance against America would go on for over ten years and yet as early as 1901, an American general had already projected the number of Filipinos killed or felled by disease as a result of America's occupation at around 600,000.

"Lest we forget..."

This is imho a fine bit of writing.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 29 2005 22:37 utc | 22

what are you telling me dear slothrop - thaat i am personally responsible for the defeat of french armies at dien bien phu in mar 1954 - 7 mai 1954 & that somehow softens the programme of terror that the u s empire practiced is vietnam then & iraq now

next you will tell me about the massacre in the forests of katyn as if that will cleanse the blood of babi yar

a criminal war is a criminal war is a criminal war

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 29 2005 22:39 utc | 23

rgiap

no, no. Just popped into my head when you were asking about aniversaries. Interesting how this abomination of Iraq insinuates a deep, murderous history of euro-anglo hubris.

I shouldn't contribute to any more distractions today. http://www.vanityfair.com/commentary/content/articles/050124roco01>Here's an Aby Ghraib birthday piece. Suggested music while reading: Naked City Leng T'che.


Posted by: slothrop | Apr 29 2005 23:08 utc | 24

sadly the reputable franceinfo continues the mythology of a north & a south vietnam

even the best of them are ahistoric

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 29 2005 23:09 utc | 25

slothrop

i'm sorry for my snap. i get so tired from work sometimes which is a battle & perhaps my concentraion is amiss sometimes. i understood well what you meant. & yes the abdomination of a war will end up driving us all around the bend

vanity fair was alwys a good read without the puff pieces but it is really getting some substantial articles - this is not just the influence of graydon carter - i'm interested in why they've turned a bit bolshie

passed an atlantic in my tabac with both bhl & christopher hitchens - that's enough there to demolish any concentration i might have had

amité

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 29 2005 23:20 utc | 26

Bernhard:

I am glad to see you are still at liberty.


Thought you might have been involved in the soccer thing.

Interpol, nasty questions, all of that.

Posted by: FlashHarry | Apr 30 2005 0:00 utc | 27

@billmon, I was not quite convinced by your application of Gresham's law to "politics" but http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0429-29.htm>this commentary suggests it may apply to media under the ground rules of capitalism: bad media drives out good.

Four. Another way to increase audience share is to package and deliver the news as entertainment. In news as entertainment, and as described by Elliot Cohen in News Incorporated, news is seen more as a commodity to increase market share than as a First Amendment citizen right or journalistic responsibility. In news as entertainment, news is evaluated more on appearance and impression than on substance or meaningful analysis, more on conforming to the status quo than on questioning the status quo.

Five. News as entertaining sound-bites, news as competing pundits, news as repackaged corporate and governmental news releases is cheaper to produce. More thoughtful news, probing news, news with contextual perspective and analysis requires more time, money, and staff to produce. For these and other reasons the number of real journalists in the mainstream media is getting smaller and smaller.

Six. News as entertainment requires a lot less audience attention and investment than news as extended analysis. Because it requires less attention and investment, news as entertainment, news as headlines, is a better fit in the narrow sense for the fast-paced, overloaded nature of many of our lives. This becomes self perpetuating, and the type of “news” people receive increasingly determines the type of “news” people expect to receive and prefer, i.e., news as entertainment.

Seven. The media and, by extension, the “news” is increasingly about ratings. To break the story first, to get the interviews, to be the recipient of “leaks,” you need access. Access may be reduced or denied altogether if you’re too critical of the official government or corporate line.

another vindication of DeAnander's Law: it is always more profitable to do things wrong. http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/042905G.shtml>Krugman's latest offers further illustration of DeA's Law applied to health care.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 30 2005 0:50 utc | 28

DAMN. wrong thread! that was supposed to be on the Grand Delusion thread. o B, o J, can you bartenders relocate an errant post?

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 30 2005 0:51 utc | 29

Lawyer Who Told of U.S. Abuses at Afghan Bases Loses U.N. Post

A United Nations human rights monitor who accused American military forces and civilian contractors last week of abusing and torturing prisoners in Afghanistan has been told his job is over.

M. Cherif Bassiouni, a professor of law at DePaul University in Chicago who was the human rights commission's independent expert for Afghanistan, said Friday that he had received an e-mail message from a commission official in Geneva a week ago telling him his mandate had expired.

The day before, he had released a 21-page report saying that Americans running prisons in Afghanistan had acted above the law "by engaging in arbitrary arrests and detentions and committing abusive practices, including torture."

In an interview from his Chicago office, he said that he had been expecting a routine two-year renewal but that the United States had lobbied against him because of his persistent efforts to examine American-supervised prisons and his disclosure that prisoners were being detained in remote "fire bases" constructed for combat operations.
...
Mr. Bassiouni, born in Cairo, was chairman of the Security Council's commission to investigate war crimes in the former Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1994, and leader of a program to train 450 judges in Afghanistan in 2003.
...
He said he was rebuffed repeatedly in his efforts to visit prisons at the United States bases in Bagram and Kandahar by American officials who told him he was exceeding his mandate.

He discovered the use of 14 fire bases for detainees, he said, when he spotted an American military order warning commanders against keeping captives at the spots for more than two weeks.
...
He said victims' descriptions of their American captors' appearance had struck a grim note of recognition because of his past experience. "It was very reminiscent of what I had seen in the former Yugoslavia, where you would ask victims of beatings and torture who had abused them and they would say they couldn't identify them because they wore battle fatigues with no names and no insignias."

Asked what he thought would happen to prisons in Afghanistan now, he said, "My guess is that torture will go down at the U.S. facilities, but what will go up is torture at the Afghan facilities. It's the usual shell game. The U.S. feels the heat, it tries to discontinue the practice itself, but it finds special forces in the Afghan Army to do its bidding."

Posted by: b | Apr 30 2005 7:07 utc | 30

Plea Deal Is Set for G.I. Pictured in Abuses in Iraq

Pfc. Lynndie R. England, the 22-year-old woman who became a vivid symbol of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, will plead guilty on Monday to reduced charges, her lawyers said yesterday.

Although the lawyers would not provide specifics about her plea agreement, two people close to the prosecution said she would face no more than 30 months in prison.

Posted by: b | Apr 30 2005 7:11 utc | 31

Rumsfeld to Free Saddam If He Stops Insurgence

Thursday 28, 2005
zaman.com

There are claims that US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during his last visit to Iraq met with ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

According to a news article based on Iraqi Baath sources in Jordan published in the London based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, Rumsfeld met with Saddam in his cell in Bagdat (Baghdad) and the US Secretary of Defense asked Saddam to end the insurgence. The paper claims that Rumsfeld asked him on a television broadcast to make a call for insurgents to end the resistence against US and multi-national forces as well as the Iraqi security forces.
...

If that is true the deep shit the US is in in Iraq, is much, much deeper than we know, i.e. it is quite possible.

Posted by: b | Apr 30 2005 13:15 utc | 32

http://www.coastalpost.com/05/04/09.htm

Uncle Sam won't quit until he's killed off all his own boys (rotate 'em in, rotate 'em out) and fucked Iraq for 2,500 million years to come - why do they hate us?

Posted by: | Apr 30 2005 14:52 utc | 33

b, that Saddam guy was some operator eh?

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 30 2005 16:52 utc | 34

From the Song Ve Valley to Abu Ghraib - The Tiger Force investigation revisited

I've spent the last two days reviewing previously classified evidence of atrocities committed during the Vietnam War by certain members of the Tiger Force reconnaissance unit of the 101st Airborne. It's impossible not to be affected by what the documents contain, and as I sit down to write, the spring sky grows dark, thunder rolls and a downpour clatters across the roof. It's as if the atmosphere is adjusting itself to the documents and their grim explorations: a baby is beheaded with the blade of a hunting knife because a soldier covets the child's symbolic Buddhist necklace; a farmer is shot in the face as he pleads for his life; and multiple grenades are lobbed at villagers who lay trapped and helpless at the bottom of bunkers where they were hiding.
The eyewitness accounts of the unit's murderous seven month rampage between May and November of 1967 have not lost their power to shock. The Army investigators who heard the stories first-hand must have been sickened and yet no one has ever explained why no action was taken against those responsible. The attacks on Vietnamese civilians and prisoners of war pre-dated the infamous My Lai massacre, which occurred in the same remote valley. A soldier who witnessed the crimes and tried to stop them tells "This is Rumor Control" that if only he'd been listened to, the stain that was My Lai might never have happened.
In October of 2003, after two years of work, the Toledo Blade newspaper published a harrowing account of Tiger Force's merciless patrols through Vietnam's remote and deadly Central Highlands. Good soldiers of conscience blew the whistle but no one stepped in to stop the carnage. Later when the Army did investigate, even recommending murder charges, the case was dropped and forgotten until it was discovered by the Blade decades later. The Blade series won a Pulitzer Prize and the publicity prompted the Pentagon to begin anew an investigation into the old war crimes.

"This is Rumor Control" has learned that the same Judge Advocate General officer who was charged with re-investigating Tiger Force also handled the Army's review of Abu Ghraib. His report on the Tiger Force atrocities was due over a year ago. No one from the Army has offered an explanation for its delay and the story itself is in danger of receding back into history.

The current Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, was also the Secretary of Defense under Gerald Ford when the original queries were buried. That first investigation found that "a total 18 soldiers committed crimes, including murder and assault but no one was ever charged" according to the Blade, even though as the newspaper determined, Rumsfeld's office was sent a copy of the report.

Given the irrefutable truth of the Tiger Force and Abu Ghraib war-crimes evidence and the refusal of anyone high on the Pentagon food chain to take responsibility, a cynic might note a pattern of behavior from the Secretary. As one senior CIA source said of Rumsfeld's Abu Ghraib testimony before Congress "Some people think you can bullshit anyone……"

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 30 2005 18:29 utc | 36

British forces chief blasts Blair

The man who led Britain's armed forces into Iraq says Tony Blair will join British soldiers in the dock if the military is ever prosecuted for war crimes.

The newspaper interview with former Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, brings Iraq back into the election spotlight.

Sir Michael's interview in the Oberver also comes as two other newspapers make claims that Mr Blair had been committed to war in Iraq from the outset because he wanted regime change.

Sir Michael said he did not have full legal cover from prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He told the newspaper: "If my soldiers went to jail and I did, some other people would go with me.

"I wanted to make sure sure that we had this anchor which has been signed by the government law officer. It may not stop us from being charged, but my God, it would make sure other people were brought into the frame as well."

Pressed if he meant Tony Blair, he replied: "Too bloody right...."

Blair hit by new leak of secret war plan

A SECRET document from the heart of government reveals today that Tony Blair privately committed Britain to war with Iraq and then set out to lure Saddam Hussein into providing the legal justification.

The Downing Street minutes, headed “Secret and strictly personal — UK eyes only”, detail one of the most important meetings ahead of the invasion.

Chaired by the prime minister and attended by his inner circle, the document reveals Blair supported “regime change” by force from the outset, despite warnings from Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, that such action could be illegal.

The minutes, published by The Sunday Times today, begin with the warning: “This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know.”

They record a meeting in July 2002, attended by military and intelligence chiefs, at which Blair discussed military options having already committed himself to supporting President George Bush’s plans for ousting Saddam.

“If the political context were right, people would support regime change,” said Blair. He added that the key issues were “whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan space to work”.

The political strategy proved to be arguing Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed such a threat that military action had to be taken. However, at the July meeting Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, said the case for war was “thin” as “Saddam was not threatening his neighbours and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran”.

Straw suggested they should “work up” an ultimatum about weapons inspectors that would “help with the legal justification”. Blair is recorded as saying that “it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors”.

A separate secret briefing document for the meeting said Britain and America had to “create” the conditions necessary to justify a war.

The papers are the second leak of sensitive information on the eve of the election; they appear to be an attempt by disaffected Whitehall insiders to attack Blair’s integrity. They are likely to fuel claims he misled the country on Iraq.

One reason for the secrecy is that the minutes record discussion of US plans for invasion; another is that at the time Blair had given no indication that plans were so advanced....

Posted by: Nugget | May 1 2005 0:11 utc | 37

kolko - short sharp & sweet - over at counterpunch - on the vietnam war

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 1 2005 0:37 utc | 38

Iraq war sparks recruitment crisis in British army

Defence chiefs have blamed the unpopularity of the war in Iraq for a recruitment crisis that has left 90 per cent of the Army's fighting units under strength, The Telegraph can reveal.

The crisis is now so serious that senior officers believe that some regiments will be incapable of taking part in operations in Iraq without significant reinforcements from other parts of the Army.

Thirty-eight of the Army's 40 infantry battalions are under strength, including all three battalions of the Parachute Regiment, all six infantry regiments that make up the Scottish Division and the entire Guards Division. Large parts of the Royal Artillery and the logistic units are also under-manned....

No hiding place: Blair melts under the heat of Iraq

British military chief reveals new legal fears over Iraq war

Iraq, the secret US visit, and an angry military chief

...The anger and fear over lack of legal cover can also be shown, with some of Britain's most senior military staff still concerned, more than two years later, that an appearance before the International Criminal Court is possible....

Posted by: Nugget | May 1 2005 1:09 utc | 39

nugget @ 1:32 PM: I've been arguing for a while that a satellite had to be in play, not only to record the movement of cars, but to alert some command-center about any movements of that kind--a remote command-center that would have known nothing about the Italians, and would have instantly signalled the patrol down the road to destroy the car at sight. I came up with this hypothesis because I can find no other way to explain the conduct of the patrol itself before, during and after the ambush.

Posted by: alabama | May 1 2005 1:24 utc | 40

In effect, the Pentagon is doing everything it can to suppress our knowledge of a remote command-center--the one sensible way to account for so many "friendly-fire" disasters. And why would the Pentagon want to keep this a secret? Because it would show the world, once and for all, that this is a "top-down" war, where the technocrats at the top trust no one but themselves and their technology--trusting least of all the soldiers and commanders in the field. It's as if every disastrous decision were made by some Rumsfeld clone, seated at a console at CENTCOM, never to be named or held accountable. And of course they can't learn from their mistakes because they don't inhabit the space where the mistakes actually happen--the place where the guns are fired. That's this war in a nutshell.

Posted by: alabama | May 1 2005 1:25 utc | 41

@rgiap yes I liked the Kolko article also.

an http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0430-21.htm>interesting sidelight on the times: the urban legend of the "spat upon Viet Nam vet" by the guy who has -- literally --written the book about it. the persistence of the same urban legend (in this case a revanchist nationalist myth-element) across the decades I find fascinating. urban legends have a life of their own -- viral memes.

Posted by: DeAnander | May 1 2005 6:30 utc | 42

Mon Col.Giap, you bring up My Lai, but that was just an "isolated incident". The atrocities of Tiger Force went on for months and are still being investigated by the U.S. Army. Relatively few Americans have ever even heard about it, despite the Pulitzer prize being awarded to the Toledo Blade for it's reportage. Perhaps the last election had something to do with it. Jack Shafer at Slate wrote an article about Lembcke's book in exactly five years ago, DeAnander. Drooling on the Viet Nam Vets. Some war stories are fish stories and so are many returning from war stories. Google fake SEALS or fake vets, there are groups and websites dedicated to tracking down the fakes. I expect this is where much of the "spitting myth" comes from. There were no more than 600 actual SEAL team members in country during the entire course of the war, not including support services from other units programmatically attached, like signals or cooks. On the internet, and in every bar in the world there are at least 50,000 SEALs that served in Nam, nevermind the garden variety Rambos. I'm off to read the Kolko and Lembcke pieces.

Posted by: SJS | May 1 2005 9:07 utc | 43

Nugget, I missed your Tiger Force post in my cursory scan of the thread. but I thank you for the "This Is Rumor Control" site and the new information. TY.

Posted by: SJS | May 1 2005 10:47 utc | 44

oh shit- my heart has been broken in so many ways since the wardrums began to beat in 2001- the dreadful
bang of the same imperialist drums that i truly thought was over. It is never over is it?

Posted by: shycat | May 2 2005 3:50 utc | 45

The Salvador solution in action in Iraq? See Needlenose, they also have more links.

Remember the controversy when Newsweek wrote in January that the U.S. was thinking about supporting a "Salvador option" in Iraq? Remember a month later, when the Wall Street Journal wrote about "pop-up militias" there, which I promptly surmised might be the "Salvador option" put into motion?

Well, today Peter Maass has a massive report in the New York Times Magazine that essentially confirms this. Here's his account of visiting the head of the Special Police Commandos death squad militia described by the WSJ as "catching the American military by surprise":
...
There are caveats throughout the article that, of course, the U.S. isn't really condoning any of this brutality, much less pursuing it as an intentional policy. And yet, all of the above incidents occurred in the presence of American military officers and a U.S. civilian journalist. As Maass notes more than once, the worst atrocities tend to occur out of sight ... and even the Americans who assure Maass that they're doing what they can to restrain the death squad commandos acknowledge that the latter are entirely capable of committing such crimes.


Posted by: Fran | May 2 2005 5:32 utc | 46

Bob Herbert: From 'Gook' to 'Raghead'

Mr. Delgado's background is unusual. He is an American citizen, but because his father was in the diplomatic corps, he grew up overseas. He spent eight years in Egypt, speaks Arabic and knows a great deal about the various cultures of the Middle East. He wasn't happy when, even before his unit left the states, a top officer made wisecracks about the soldiers heading off to Iraq to kill some ragheads and burn some turbans.
...
He said he had confronted guys who were his friends about this practice. "I said to them: 'What the hell are you doing? Like, what does this accomplish?' And they responded just completely openly. They said: 'Look, I hate being in Iraq. I hate being stuck here. And I hate being surrounded by hajis.' "

"Haji" is the troops' term of choice for an Iraqi. It's used the way "gook" or "Charlie" was used in Vietnam.
...
Mr. Delgado, who eventually got conscientious objector status and was honorably discharged last January, recalled a disturbance that occurred while he was working in the Abu Ghraib motor pool. Detainees who had been demonstrating over a variety of grievances began throwing rocks at the guards. As the disturbance grew, the Army authorized lethal force. Four detainees were shot to death.

Mr. Delgado confronted a sergeant who, he said, had fired on the detainees. "I asked him," said Mr. Delgado, "if he was proud that he had shot unarmed men behind barbed wire for throwing stones. He didn't get mad at all. He was, like, 'Well, I saw them bloody my buddy's nose, so I knelt down. I said a prayer. I stood up, and I shot them down.' "


Posted by: Fran | May 2 2005 6:58 utc | 47

One more from Helen Thomas: Pentagon Report On Abuse Has To Be Joke - Top Brass Exonerated; GIs Blamed

The Pentagon has got to be kidding.

It turns out that only those rogue enlisted men and women, and one woman general, are to blame for the horrifying treatment of prisoners and detainees of the Iraqi war, according to Lt. Gen. Stanley Green, the Army Inspector General.
...
In effect, his report is the final word unless there are some brave members of Congress who are willing to investigate the role of the military higher-ups who gave the green light for the severe interrogation of prisoners in U.S. custody.

The responsibility ultimately lies with President George W. Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales -- then White House counsel -- who decided that the Geneva Conventions on Humanitarian Treatment of Prisoners of War didn't apply in the "war on terrorism."


Posted by: Fran | May 2 2005 7:02 utc | 48

IRAQ: 'MISSION ACCOMPLISHED'?


Mission accomplished? If the mission was to create conditions giving rise to sectarian violence, a growing insurgency, and all-out civil war, while dragging us to the brink of bankruptcy, then, yes, you might say that. But only if you were Osama bin Laden.

Posted by: Nugget | May 2 2005 12:52 utc | 49

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