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The noble, the brave, and the sickening

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I apologize for my earlier post where I compared the abused Iraqi prisoners nudity to Scouts at the showerhouse.


I just saw the pictures.


I'm moritified, horrified and angry. I'm still proud to be an American, however, because I know that the soldiers involved in those acts will be punished.


I have never been involved in a war. I'm sure that most conventional mores (social rules) go out the window when people are trying to kill you on a regular basis. When it becomes vital to preserve the lives of your friends and comrades to get information from the enemy in a war, I'm sure that just about any means that works sounds good and may well be attempted.


I can even accept that, in times of war, often the ends do justify the means.


But that doesn't mean you grin about those means behind a pile of nude males forced to lie on one another. The picture of the two US soldiers with their wide smiles and their thumbs (gloved) in the air is particularly disturbing to me.


That ain't Rumsfeld. That's people in the field getting carried away and we have to put a stop to it.


thanks for letting me vent.




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I actually watched several hours of the House and Senate hearings yesterday. It was very interesting to see what actually happened.


The Secretary of Defense didn't see the pictures until 7:30 p.m. the night before the hearings. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff saw them at the same time. However, the chairman had been made aware that pictures of some sort existed as far back as January. (Remember, the abuse took place sometime last fall, by most accounts.)


You also have to understand a bit about the military justice system to figure this out. CENTCOM had total and complete control over the investigation, prosecution, and the press releases related to this. CENTCOM believed that all copies of the pictures had been rounded up as part of the investigation, and in order to maintain the integrity of the justice system (not taint potential juror and such) decided to keep the circulation to a minimum. It was also thought the pictures appearing in the media would lead to the death of US personnel. That was CENTCOM's position, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs concurred regarding the risk that release of the pictures posed to the lives of those deployed. So, the media was informed of the investigation, including the various allegations, but the pictures were not released. (Also, release of the pictures could have actually been a crime itself, because the Geneva conventions do not allow public humiliation of prisoners. So releasing the photos could have been considered by some to be a war crime itself.) Then someone released portions of a report classified as Secret to the press without authorization. It appears the media then ran the pictures before either CENTCOM or DOD could put together some sort of response. In fact the Sec Def was in Congressional hearings the same day the pictures were released by the media, yet he had not seem them himself, nor did he know the media had them at the time.


It basically sounds like those in charge of the criminal investigation were just following normal procedures by keeping a lid on the evidence until a court martial could be held. Then when CENTCOM finally figured out how bad the pictures were, it figured the best thing to do was sit on them because of the danger their release posed to the troops. I would guess CENTCOM didn't really trust the Pentagon to not leak them, so that is probably why they didn't send them up the chain.


We would all like to think in the future the impact of such things could be lessoned by having them be released officially. Unfortunately, that runs a severe risk of compromising a criminal investigation. So chances are little can be done to reduce the impact of such photos in the future.




Now on to cause.


It appear the MP Brigade involved was a total disaster. Reports indicate they did not provide adequate housing, dining, and other facilities to their soldiers. Uniforms were optional in some cases, and uniform standards not enforced in others. Saluting was not used. Senior NCOs and even officers of at least field grade were refereed to directly by their first or a nickname by subordinates and superiors alike. Training standards were non-existent. There appears to have been no posted Standing Operating Procedures. There was no Mission Essential Task List produced by the brigade(an important training standard, it is essentially a list of everything that every soldier must be able to do and know about). The command structure was not clear with members of the MP brigade being loaned to Military Intelligence in such a way that neither the MP CO or the MI CO had clear control. Further, internal memos and such in some cases appear to contradict various Army policies, such as those published in the relevant field manuals.


I would say their needs to be a long, hard look at the chain of command within that Brigade to find out why the fell apart. Also, someone needs to find out why it took something like this for anyone to realize the brigade was a complete mess. I wouldn't be surprised if the Brigadier General in command ends up being court marshaled for dereliction of duty or something of that nature. On the other hand, it also wouldn't be surprising to see them get off with a letter of reprimand.


Military units can not survive without discipline. If discipline breaks down on uniforms, customs and courtesies, and such it will eventually start to slip on more important things. Pretty soon after soldiers aren't required to act like soldiers they stop think like soldiers and become a big gang or mob instead. The BG has since been replaced by a MG that had been in command at Guantanamo. Sounds like they called in a latter day MP version of George Patton to straighten things out.


Oh, and KS is right. The Geneva Conventions have been applied to prisoners in Iraq, as have all the various DOD and Army policies on treatment of prisoners. Unfortunately, this one unit didn't do a very good job of maintaining discipline and training standards. Add to that a unusual command structure in that wing of the prison, bad living conditions, the stresses of a war zone, and you end up with a very small number of soldiers who have weak enough moral and ethical standards to crack and do some very horrible things.


Oh, one final note. There are apperently at least one other disc containg pictures. Some of those may even be worse. There is also at least one videa as well. Some have suggested there may be clear cut sexual abuse depicted on one of those. So from the testimony given on the hill yesterday, it sounds like the worst is still to come in terms of the images.


OK, this really is the final note. Not all of the pictures of abuse floating around are real. Some pictures published in Britian were found to be either fake or from some place other than Iraq, because they contain pieces of British Army equipment not deployed to Iraq. Also, at least a few Arab newspapers have published pictures from Internet porn sites that are not in any way related to this incident. Unfortunately they appear similar enough to inflame the average reader. As to media coverage, all the major US cable/satelite news channels covered the entire Congressional hearings live. Also, at least three Arabic language news channels carried the entire hearings live with translations.




Question for anyone that knows the law or the military justice system very well. If we finds some group of people that murders a US soldier due to these abuses, could those would carried out the abuse be charged with reckless endangerment or some other crime relating to causing the killings, since they broke the law and did something highly inflamatory?(This message has been edited by Proud Eagle)

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The prisoners my unit took in the Desert I, were treated with nothing but respect, regardless of what rumors were then flying regarding how our POWs and downed fliers were being treated. We heard they were being abused early on. None of our lower enlisted guys and NCOs were anything but professional, we disarmed them, we gave them water, and we gave them a MRE and herded them up until the MPs took them away.


Unless the US Army changed so drastically in 14 years, I doubt it, than these lower enlisted and NCOs were getting direction from higher. They would NEVER NEVER do this kind of crap on their own on a scale such as this. This was some kind of program coming from a LOT higher up than PFCs and Specialists.


Bank on it.

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Responsibility flows downward accountability flows upward. The individuals who performed these acts are responsible for their actions and behaviors. Their superiors are accountable for their actions

- and yes Bush is at the top of the chain and thus accountable.

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If I sounded like I was excusing the actions of the lower enlisted, it was unintentional. If these Privates and Specialists carried out what they know to be illegal orders, than they need to spend some quality time in Leavenworth, along with their NCOs, and ESPECIALLY every single officer that ordered this type of junk and every officer that didn't stop it. Something doesn't smell right. Who is that female Specialist's C.O.? It needs to start there.



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This prisoner abuse thing should come as no surprise. Its all a part of war. Enemies battle, one side is victorious. They then proceed to rape, plunder, torture, and destroy. War has been that way since the beginning of time. I think its a little bit naive to believe that in the year 2004, war is fundamentally any different than demonstrated for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. War is hell, and there are no winners.

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I hold the President accountable to address what he knows to be true. I dont hold him accountable for every anonymous action taken by a rogue soldier or public servant. If that was the standard, then we should press for the resignation of every elected official within hours of their oath of office - because there are crimes being perpetrated everyday by subordinates in government. A President should be held accountable for what he knows. If he knew prisoners were being abused gratuitously, then I would be the first to shout for his head. Aside from that, he should find out what went wrong and change it. The rest of this non-sense (blaming the President) is nothing but blind, hateful, and self-serving politics.

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It's true that one's political views color your reaction to this, but it works both ways--if you are a supporter of the administration, you are likely to immediately label this the action of "rogue" low-level soldiers, while if you oppose the administration, you are likely to label this a result of policies flowing down from the top (like the position that the Geneva Convention doesn't apply to Guantanamo detainees).

But gosh, how can anybody say this isn't horribly embarassing for America? Even if it is just a few "bad apples," it does reflect badly on all of us, and it conflicts grossly with our moral self-image. As much as one might want to demonize the people who did this, when you read about them a lot of them seem pretty normal, and their friends and family all say they'd never hurt anybody, etc., etc. I think it's another example of how thin the veneer is between civilized and uncivilized behavior.

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Do you believe that US soldiers behave worse towards captured enemy soldiers than capturing forces in most other countries? While no one is defending the actions, we have to keep in mind that these are two groups of people whose jobs prior to the capture were to kill each other. This is a military prison and as FScouter pointed out, there is a long and ugly history of what soldiers do to captured enemies. Compared to the historical (and contemporary) "standards," this is mild. Should every effort be made to prohibit such behavior. Certainly. Is it surprising that something like this happened somewhere? Of course not.


We can condemn the actions and work to prevent them in the future all we want. That is fine. What we cannot do, however, is make broad national or societal comparisons based upon this. The kettle may indeed be black, but all the pots of the world don't need to remind us of that.

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A little perspective may help here as well. In early 1952, conditions at the Koje prison camp, on an island off the coast of South Korea, had really deteriorated. Very overcrowded, and the Chinese and North Korean POW population had Balkanized itself into pro-communist and anti-communist factions. They were at each others' throats, literally, and many small riots over several months led up to a huge one in June when the prisoners actually captured and held hostage the American 2-star general who commanded the place. The operation to put down the riot and rescue the commander can only be described as a bloodbath.


Many similarities, but aside from the obvious differences between then and now, one big difference is that nobody was calling for President Truman's head over the incident ("the buck stops here" was on his desk first, remember?).


Again, I'm not trying to use a comparison with a worse incident to trivialize what's happening now. Just using a historical reference as a bookend so we can ask ourselves if our standards of accountability have changed, if this is politically motivated, etc.?



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Even if it is just a few "bad apples," it does reflect badly on all of us, and it conflicts grossly with our moral self-image.


Agreed. However, its one thing to strive for utopian standards. Its quite another to be judged by them. When a few bad apples killed, mutilated, burned, and hung Americans in Fallujah, we (Americans) were expected to understand that these men were not representative of the general population and act with restraint. Yet, when American soldiers behave badly, the entire administration is portrayed as evil. America cannot control the actions of all of its citizens, even those in the military. Its not fair, reasonable, or moral to hold America to a standard, which effectively says if Americans are involved and anything bad happens, then America was complicit. So, while I am upset that the world will use this event to judge all Americans and its leadership, I do not agree that it is fair, reasonable, or moral to do so. Furthermore, I believe that reasonable people, even those in the Middle East know this.


As much as one might want to demonize the people who did this, when you read about them a lot of them seem pretty normal, and their friends and family all say they'd never hurt anybody, etc., etc. I think it's another example of how thin the veneer is between civilized and uncivilized behavior.


Agreed again. Which brings to mind two thoughts.


One Theres probably more to this story than what the media knows or are willing to share. By that I mean, no one is putting a human face on those soldiers who are accused of this heinous crime. No one is discussing the duress of being a prison guard in a war torn nation where much of the population, in particular those that you are guarding, would like to see you dead or worse. I not supporting their actions in fact, I am disgusted by the whole thing, but I would like to see a little more thought put into the stories about these soldiers and their experience.


Two No matter who you are, we are all subject to evil if we let our guard down.

(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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"So now I know why Bush does not watch the news.... if he remains uniformed ...then he can't be held accountable!!!"


So you think that the President should spend his time watching CNN? That's a productive use of his time.

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FOG: So you think that the President should spend his time watching CNN? That's a productive use of his time.


Considering the intelligence information he was provided, it might not be a bad idea. His admin wouldn't be the first to be made initially aware of something thru the media.

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Why are we all so hotly defending the American population? As far as I can tell, no one has yet actually said that all of America is to blame for these incidents, aside from perhaps ScouterPaul's accusation of the President.


Given, many people around the world are going to leap to the conclusion that America has been teaching torture techniques to its soldiers. Given, even the reasonable Arabs and Muslims are going to lose gratitude towards American troops over this. However, I believe the most important results from these events will be political. Not that people will hold the President responsible, most people are smarter than that, but it might make some people start to think that American troops in Iraq would be better off returned home. Since the recall of troops from Iraq has become a major playing card of Democrats lately, this might give them some leverage.

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