T Nation

Abu Ghraib Update

Seems that Rummy wasn’t issuing orders concerning stacking Iraqi prisoners in naked pyramids after all…

Obviously Abu Ghraib was bad, but I think the editorial is spot on in saying it didn’t implicate people up the chain of command, and that the Army did an excellent job of handling it.

Wall Street Journal Editorial
Abu Ghraib Accountability
April 27, 2005; Page A14

We’d have thought every American would be relieved to learn that 10 major inquiries, sworn statements from 37 high-level officials, and information gleaned from dozens of courts martial and criminal investigations have cleared most senior civilian and military leaders of wrongdoing in the Abu Ghraib scandal and other Iraq prisoner abuses. Instead, the latest Army report reaching this conclusion has induced further cries of whitewash.

This wailing says more about the accusers than about any facts that have emerged in the year since the scandal broke. The media and Congressional Democrats flogged the Abu Ghraib story for months throughout the 2004 election year, with a goal of stripping the Iraq War of moral authority and turning President Bush into another LBJ. But now that their worst chain-of-command conspiracy hypotheses haven’t panned out, they refuse to admit it.

Senator Ted Kennedy all but blew a gasket yesterday, essentially accusing both the U.S. military and Bush Administration of moral perfidy. “Our nation will continue to be harmed by the reports of abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, the failure by top officials to take action, and the abandonment of our basic rules and traditions on human rights,” he said. He even stooped to the moral-equivalence canard that some in the U.S. chose “to stoop to the level of the terrorists” and “deserve to be held fully accountable.”

Unpacking so many falsehoods takes more space than we have. But let’s review the speed and seriousness with which Abu Ghraib was handled, which does the U.S. military credit by any standard: The abuse reports went up the chain of command on January 13 last year; within a day an Army criminal probe had started. Two days after that, Central Command issued a press release notifying the world of that investigation; on March 20 it was announced in Baghdad that criminal charges had been brought against six of the soldiers involved. A month earlier, meanwhile, Major General Antonio Taguba had completed an internal investigation of what had happened. This is all before the infamous photos were leaked to the press one year ago this week.

Recall as well what Specialist Jeremy C. Sivits, the first of the Abu Ghraib offenders to face a court martial, said in his sworn statement of the photographed abuses: “Our command would have slammed us. They believe in doing the right thing. If they saw what was going on, there would be hell to pay.” No one has since proven otherwise. Convicted abuse ringleader Charles Graner tried the “just-following-orders” defense. But this January a jury of his peers in an Army court martial rejected it, handing him a 10-year sentence.

The independent inquiry headed by former Defense Secretary Jim Schlesinger – whose Cabinet career included a stint in the Carter Administration – likewise concluded last summer that the Abu Ghraib abuses weren’t related to interrogations at all. That should have put the nail in the coffin of the theory that high-level Bush Administration discussions about techniques for handling al Qaeda detainees somehow resulted in the abuses in Iraq.

Yes, there were abuses in Iraq beyond what was pictured at Abu Ghraib, but abuses happen in war and in civilian prisons too. No evidence has been produced to support allegations that the abuses were “systematic” or that they were inspired or condoned by superiors up the chain of command. As Mr. Schlesinger also noted, by any statistical measure – such as the rate of reported abuse incidents per detainee – treatment of detainees in the overall war on terror has been exemplary. In short, the so-called “torture narrative” that was so hyped by the media last year was entirely false.

Sometimes we wonder if proponents of this torture-cum-whitewash accusation have ever stopped to consider the improbable nature of the coverup they are now suggesting. Mr. Schlesinger and other investigators would all have to be lying. And where are the whistleblowers? There would have been a widespread outcry in the military if senior brass and civilians really were trying to shift blame for abuse onto the lower ranks.

Yet the only military people claiming that they are taking some kind of fall are the convicted Graner and the former Abu Ghraib Commander, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who was blamed for weak leadership in the original Taguba report – which, by the way, remains a thorough and insightful account of what went wrong at Abu Ghraib.

The salient and remarkable truth here is that America has punished its own for the Abu Ghraib abuses; and it has done so even before Saddam and his henchmen have faced justice for the horrors they propagated in that same prison. More than a few good soldiers have had their careers tarnished by the media and Democratic innuendo that they somehow condoned human rights abuses. They deserve an apology. After all the evidence to the contrary, continuing to allege systematic prisoner abuse – and a coverup – by the U.S. military is itself shameful.

I’ve always believed that these were the actions of a few rogue servicemen-(people)

And besides, anyone who has made it to Captain rank and above has learned to properly distance themselves from possible implications in such actions.

Cripes, how can you say anything without getting labeled?

I’m not taking the opposite side here, but that story is about as fair as are the people it castigates.

Let’s get serious…

[quote]vroom wrote:
Let’s get serious…[/quote]

Define serious, vroom.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Cripes, how can you say anything without getting labeled?

I’m not taking the opposite side here, but that story is about as fair as are the people it castigates.

Let’s get serious…[/quote]

The people advancing the criticized view deserve a label: “Wrong.”

Apologies should be directed to Dept. of Defense, Attn. Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld. I presume Sen. Teddy’s is forthcoming shortly.

Serious?

Oh, I don’t know, trot out all the various issues that should be reasonably considered. Outline the pros and cons with respect to each issue. Outline where the party lines fall with respect to each issue. Have folks on both sides admit their biases and overzealousness.

Yes, I know, I’m dreaming. Wake me when I get to the gym.

Why do party lines have to come in to play in everything political? I understand the obvious answer, but why would party issues affect the real story.

Nobody has produced proof that any superior had any preexisting knowlege of these actions. Not any that I have heard anyways.

It has always amazed me that someone can give a speech or try to introduce legislation, and invariably wether it is a good or bad idea falls along party lines.

i know it’s a pipe dream, but lets get back to the part about “for the people.”

Wow, you are my new hero. You found an article that supports your point of view. Congrats!

Good Lord, how the WSJ misleads, how many inaccurate, or misleading, or ignorant op-eds can they write? They can’t imagine why critics would say whitewash? hmm… I wonder if it could be:
The army’s investigations stopping at colonel?
The CIA not cooperating with investigations, perhaps just their own?

The joke pick of Schlesinger, Rummy’s pal of what 35 years? (who’s report, by the way WSJ, found personal and institutional responsibility at higher levels, hmm… that’s the opposite of what this opinion piece says–the panel, naturally refused to name names.)
Defense Dept blocking with all its might various FOIA’s?

It’s also a laugh to single out the media and dem’s when they know full well the list of republican’s who care about america that have moaned and groaned as well. Yep the editors at the WSJ tell readers that Rummy’s friend said Rummy had nothing to do with it, and Bush didn’t either, or Gonzalez, Why don’t they stick to misleading readers about taxes or crap like that. It’s hilarious that they’re attacking those claiming whitewash(obvious) by painting over all the relevant information with a big fat brush loaded with white paint.

100M -

You were just praising the WSJ in another thread the other day when you thought that they agreed with your “Hang Delay Now” B.S. Now you disagree with them because they don’t support your “Abu Ghraib was Bush’s Idea” pile of horse hockey.

Which is it? Does the WSJ suck or not?

Your blind partisanship is typical of the Scared Shitless Left.

Yah right

The edict came from the President, who then told the Sec’y of Def, who then told his Generals, who then told their Col’s, who got the word out to all to torture and even murder the prisoners.

Then all 5 of the soldiers under their command, all in one prison, during one shift, abused some prisoners.

The President must be pissed that his orders were only followed by so few of his soldiers.

Quick, get a Dem. in their to get America back on it’s moral path. I know I was really proud of the last one.

I guess in these scenarios it is really hard to find the really responsible. As I have stated in many threads, and following the line of argument of The Economist (which supports the war, but criticises Rumsfeld for how it is conducted and especially the treatment of detainees), I don’t believe Rumsfeld or Bush “ordered” the abuses.

But they did set the stage by creating 2nd class prisoners, with less rights than others. That is indeed a questionable, but not really punishable thing - and socialpsychological literature is full of examples for how wrong this can go (check Zimbardo or even Goldhagen for example).

Are they legally responsible? No. And if the article is correct, I am relieved, as it seems to indicate that the checks and balances put into the system seem to be working.

Are they morally responsible? In my book, yes: Political responsibility exceeds legal responsibility - politicians are indeed responsible for how the policies they set, are conducted.

In that sense, I would find them “guilty”. I found it quite interesting that alledgedly Rumsfeld had offered his resignation more than once during the scandal (which was alledgedly denied by Bush) - given the fact that I don’t like the man, I would have to concede that he perhaps tried to take a responsibly, which he himself felt was his.

Makkun

[quote]rainjack wrote:
100M -

You were just praising the WSJ in another thread the other day when you thought that they agreed with your “Hang Delay Now” B.S. Now you disagree with them because they don’t support your “Abu Ghraib was Bush’s Idea” pile of horse hockey.

Which is it? Does the WSJ suck or not?

Your blind partisanship is typical of the Scared Shitless Left.[/quote]
Lies. WSJ sucks, all the time(op/ed) Do the editors read their own paper? If so, they’d have know some of the stuff posted in my above comment(namely that the exact opposite of their opinion is public record). Posting the WSJ was making my point, that even conservatives are down on Delay. I posted a brooks piece too, and he’s a shameless liar too. Unfortunately, you still don’t get the point of that thread, or my comments above. By the way, you shamelessly misquoted me twice, You think I really believe Bush has ideas? The only thing I blame him for are the people around him, and not using his ambition and unique charisma more wisely/constructively.

[quote]sasquatch wrote:
Yah right

The edict came from the President, who then told the Sec’y of Def, who then told his Generals, who then told their Col’s, who got the word out to all to torture and even murder the prisoners.

Then all 5 of the soldiers under their command, all in one prison, during one shift, abused some prisoners.

The President must be pissed that his orders were only followed by so few of his soldiers.

Quick, get a Dem. in their to get America back on it’s moral path. I know I was really proud of the last one.[/quote]

Boy, try to simplify a little more.

Exactly,
Not just the resignation offers, but how about the apologists for what happened/happens. After 8 years of an admin. that wouldn’t take responsibility for shit, now we have another one. Yea!

100meters, Vroom, please try to remember that you are scared shitless liberals and quit barging in on the brave viewpoints of your conservative defenders. If it wasn’t for men like them we would be as helpless as newborn chicks easy pickens for boogie men the world over. Now please start agreeing with everything they say our for all of our sake! (J/K rainman, take a few deep breaths before you break your keyboard)

[quote]100meters wrote:
sasquatch wrote:
Yah right

The edict came from the President, who then told the Sec’y of Def, who then told his Generals, who then told their Col’s, who got the word out to all to torture and even murder the prisoners.

Then all 5 of the soldiers under their command, all in one prison, during one shift, abused some prisoners.

The President must be pissed that his orders were only followed by so few of his soldiers.

Quick, get a Dem. in their to get America back on it’s moral path. I know I was really proud of the last one.

Boy, try to simplify a little more.[/quote]

It was meant to be simple. In outline form just to show the relationship that you, in 10,000 words are trying to show.

If I really felt like scouring the world for various writings that back MY OPINION, it still wouldn’t affect your opinion now would it.

In fact, you just read one and dismissed it as garbage.

[quote]sasquatch wrote:
100meters wrote:
sasquatch wrote:
Yah right

The edict came from the President, who then told the Sec’y of Def, who then told his Generals, who then told their Col’s, who got the word out to all to torture and even murder the prisoners.

Then all 5 of the soldiers under their command, all in one prison, during one shift, abused some prisoners.

The President must be pissed that his orders were only followed by so few of his soldiers.

Quick, get a Dem. in their to get America back on it’s moral path. I know I was really proud of the last one.

Boy, try to simplify a little more.

It was meant to be simple. In outline form just to show the relationship that you, in 10,000 words are trying to show.

If I really felt like scouring the world for various writings that back MY OPINION, it still wouldn’t affect your opinion now would it.

In fact, you just read one and dismissed it as garbage.[/quote]

Uhmmm, yeah since its contrary to facts printed in the WSJ!

Who the f**k cares who gave the orders?

The “torture” was the level of frat boy hazing. They ought to be doing a lot more than this and instead they will now be doing a lot less.

This is a f**king war we are in and assholes like Ted Kennedy are more worried about who ordered who to put panties on someones head than about winning.

Pure politics. Anyone that uses this incident to attack the administration is playing dirty politics. If anyone is willing to play politics when our soldiers are in harms way I will question their stance on every issue from now on.

makkun wrote:

“I guess in these scenarios it is really hard to find the really responsible. As I have stated in many threads, and following the line of argument of The Economist (which supports the war, but criticises Rumsfeld for how it is conducted and especially the treatment of detainees), I don’t believe Rumsfeld or Bush “ordered” the abuses.”

“But they did set the stage by creating 2nd class prisoners, with less rights than others.”

Here is where many Conservatives/Republicans/Responsible Democrats (Lieberman) diverge from your thinking. Terrorists don’t have rights. They have abrogated their human rights.

“That is indeed a questionable, but not really punishable thing - and socialpsychological literature is full of examples for how wrong this can go (check Zimbardo or even Goldhagen for example).”

We are drifting into the: “Hey, everyone knows its wrong, but the system is set up so that you don’t get caught.” Not too far from this to my favorite: George H.W.Bush bought W into/through college, out of Vietnam, and has bought every vote for W. ever.

“Are they legally responsible? No. And if the article is correct, I am relieved, as it seems to indicate that the checks and balances put into the system seem to be working.”

Ok.

“Are they morally responsible? In my book, yes: Political responsibility exceeds legal responsibility - politicians are indeed responsible for how the policies they set, are conducted.”

Terrorists are responsible for terrorism.

“In that sense, I would find them “guilty”. I found it quite interesting that alledgedly Rumsfeld had offered his resignation more than once during the scandal (which was alledgedly denied by Bush) - given the fact that I don’t like the man, I would have to concede that he perhaps tried to take a responsibly, which he himself felt was his.”

Far more likely is that a loyal lieutenant was willing to fall on his sword.

I still have nothing but LOVE FOR YA.!!!

JeffR