T Nation

No Detainee Abuse Huh?


#1

"And I'll finish just by bringing it down screechingly to the ground and tell you that the detainee abuse issue is just such a concrete example of what I've just described to you, that 10 years from now or so when it's really, really put to the acid test, ironed out and people have looked at it from every angle, we are going to be ashamed of what we allowed to happen. I don't know how many people saw the "Frontline" documentary last night - very well done, I thought, but didn't get anywhere near the specifics that need to be shown, that need to come out, that need to say to the American people, this is not us, this is not the way we do business in the world. Of course we have criminals, of course we have people who violate the law of war, of course we had My Lai, of course we had problems in the Korean War and in World War II. My father-in-law was involved in the Malme?dy massacre and the retaliation of U.S. troops in Belgium. He told me some stories before he died that made my blood curdle about American troops killing Germans.

But these are not -- I won't say isolated incidents; these are incidents that are understandable and that ultimately, at one time or another, we came to deal with. I don't think, in our history, we've ever had a presidential involvement, a secretarial involvement, a vice-presidential involvement, an attorney general involvement in telling our troops essentially carte blanche is the way you should feel. You should not have any qualms because this is a different kind of conflict. Well, I'll admit that. I'll admit that. I don't want to see any of these people ever released from prison if they're truly terrorists. I don't want to see them released because I know what they'll do. I'm a former military man, 31 years in the Army. They will go out and they will try to kill me and my buddies, again and again, and some of you people, too.

So I understand the radical change in the nature of our enemy, but that doesn't mean we make a radical change in the nature of America. But that's what we did, and we did it in private. We did it in such privacy that the secretary of State had to open the door into my office one day - we had adjoining offices and he liked to do that, and I never objected - he came through the door and he said, Larry, Larry, get everything, get all the paperwork, get the ICRC reports, get everything; I think this is going to be a real mess. And Will Taft, his lawyer, got the same instruction from a legal point of view. And Will and I worked together for almost a year as the ICRC reports began to build and come in, and Kellenberger even came in and visited with the secretary of State. And we knew that things weren't the way they should be, and as former soldiers, we knew that you don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it - unless you've condoned it.

And whether you did it explicitly or not is irrelevant. If you did it at all, indirectly, implicitly, tacitly - you pick the word - you're in trouble because that slippery slope is truly slippery, and it will take years to reverse the situation, and we'll probably have to grow a new military." - Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff


#2

Why is it the media never says squat about the way the terrorists treat our soldiers?

Our own media just beats up on our own military.

Sorry, fuck them and fuck you. Those bastards don't hold anything back when it comes to fucking with us, so an eye for an eye.

FatSensei


#3

Woohaa, US soldiers are held as POW in Iraq?

Are you sure you aren't ThickSensei?


#4

NO one makes u stay in this country. The people in the Armed Forces need our support, not arm chair qbacks.


#5

Detainee Abuse...outrageous...we should have just put a bullet through their skulls and gotten it over with.


#6

from LGF:

Contractor Burned Alive in Iraq

As the left hypocritically hyperventilates about the burning of rotting Taliban corpses in Afghanistan, we learn that four US contractors were murdered by a mob of Sunni Muslims in an Iraqi town last month?and one was burned alive: Four U.S. Contractors Killed in Iraq. (Hat tip: LGF readers.)

BAGHDAD, Iraq - An angry mob of insurgents attacked a convoy of American contractors last month when they got lost in a town north of Baghdad, killing four and wounding two, the U.S. military said on Sunday.

The Sept. 20 attack in the mostly Sunni Arab town of Duluiyah, about 45 miles north of Baghdad, was reported for the first time on Saturday by the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph and confirmed by the military on Sunday.

The convoy, which included U.S. military guards riding in Humvees, made a wrong turn into Duluiyah and insurgents opened fire with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, Maj. Richard Goldenberg, a spokesman for Task Force Liberty in north-central Iraq, told The Associated Press. ...

The Telegraph reported the contractors killed and wounded were employees of the Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, the biggest U.S. military contractor in Iraq. But Goldenberg could not confirm that.

The Telegraph reported that two of the contractors not killed in the initial attack were dragged alive from their vehicle, which had been badly shot up. They were forced to kneel in the road before being killed.

?Killing one of the men with a rifle round fired into the back of his head, they doused the other with petrol and set him alight,? the paper reported. ?Barefoot children, yelping in delight, piled straw on to the screaming man?s body to stoke the flames.?

The crowd then ?dragged their corpses through the street, chanting anti-U.S. slogans,? the report said.


#7

g, i hear everything you are saying, and in time my feelings may change, but right now i am still angry about too many things to really give a damn about how we are treating these guys right now.

i think a significant number of other Americans feel the same way too. so i think you can expect to feel somewhat frustrated that even your valid and heartfelt opinion falls on a lot of deaf ears.

Me? let me tell you how i feel. a few days after 911, all over the news video footage of various areas of the middle east of their reaction to the attacks, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, etc, and in the neighborhoods people, men women and children were dancing and celebrating while holding up pictures of the towers burning.

in my mind, i visualized an f-14 appearing over the horizon, and burning every single damn one of those people alive. men women and children. that may be wrong of me, but i am being honest, it is how i felt and how i fell today. i want our troops to torture and maim these people. may god forgive me, but i do.

there are no innocents in a war like this. it is a war of cultures and ideology. too many people in this country think we can fight a civilized techno/police like war with enemies still fighting by 14-15th century rules. sorry, we cant win like that. we have to get a down and dirty as they.

like i said, i may be wrong, but this is how i feel.


#8

The reason our abusive behavior gets so much media time is because we keep insisting we're the good guys. Everybody knows the terrorists are evil and murderous. They make no equivocations about their methods or motives. But we're supposed to be the good guys. Are good people okay with torture?

If you are okay with the torture of our enemies, you should then realize that the terrorists have defeated us in the most profound way. They have made us act like them. And this country is no longer the same as the one I served with great pride in the first Gulf War.

We are no longer the good guys. We're just a bunch of frightened animals that will do anything and justify any atrocity if we think it will save us from the boogyman.

I love how easily manipulated the American public is: by the government, by the media. Do you think it is an accident that Americans were repeatedly shown that same clip of Arabs rejoicing after the WTC attacks over and over again? Got you to go along with the war, with the Patriot Act and it got you to be okay with torture.

Nice fucking work.

WMD


#9

i might not be as easily manipulated as you think. i am no fan of GW, and i am no fan of how the war is being prosecuted at this time. i don't think we should be occupying Iraq, and having our soldiers over there sitting around waiting to get shot at. i do think we should have responded militarily against islamofacists and the states that supported them, and devastatingly and decisively so. but i think Iraq has become a pit that we will not be easily able to climb out of without making things much worse.

we are not at war with terrorists. that is like saying WWII was a war against bullets. terror is just a tactic that enemies of the US and western civilization in general use against us.

i do not feel like we are the universal good guys either. i do think we have enjoy the benefits of perhaps the best country to live in with the highest standard of living in the world right now, and the most freedoms. but i also can concede that our government can at times do some pretty ruthless things to keep things that way.

but that being said, i still find it hard to get exited about our abuses of our captive enemies, especially when you consider the nature of said enemy and what they are willing and capable of doing to us.


#10

Thanks for the thoughtful response. It's unique for that to happen in these forums.

I don't particularly like terrorists. I don't think we should sit down for tea with them, feed them bonbons or aquiesce to them in any way. But to assume that every single person in US custody is really a terrorist is moronic (I do not mean that you in particular are a moron. I mean that generally.). What of proof of their affiliations before we apply the electrodes? Once upon a time in this country we abhorred the idea of torture and abuse, of detaining people indefinitely without charges, hell we actually believed in human dignity. Now it's like "Well no big deal because I'm pissed off." What makes you think I wasn't enraged by the events of 9/11? But for some reason I just can't go along with the idea that torture is okay. It runs counter to everything I believe in and it runs counter to the concept of basic human decency. I don't give a shit what the enemy does. It does not for one second justify behaving in a similar fashion.

As for not being so easily manipulated, you've dehumanized the enemy and seem pretty okay with torture, as have others in this country. Whose purposes do you think that serves?

WMD


#11

good points w, and thanks to you for not letting this discussion degenerate into the typical left vs right stuff that not only is typical of this forum but pretty much all debate on political issues today.

i do not see it as dehumanizing the enemy. i am quite the pessimist in this regard, and on the contrary i am quite aware of how human our enemy is, and us as well, and that is the problem, we are all too human. our history is a savage one, and we are capable of doing very awful things. we believe (especially us in the west) that we live in a sanitized and very civilized world, but tribalism is only a good natural or man made disaster away IMHO.

other revolutions in our world history have came and went, the libertarian revolution that pretty much shaped our current nation state system in the west today, then the Marxism, now fundamental Islam. i for one believe for a variety of reasons that it will be more difficult to pacify or coexist with fundamental Islam than the other kinds of revolutions that modern history has witnessed. but that can be a thread unto itself.

i feel that i like the way things are better than how a fundamentalist islamic state would be. how would you like to have members of your community making women wear their faces covered, and women and children basically property of a patriarchal community? i don't want that here.

we still live in a world where ideas and cultures clash and vie for dominance, this is just the most recent.

i don't mean to sound so fatalist, but i just wish people could understand that though i think the whole "axis of evil" stuff is a load of crap, but we do have enemies, and we do have to fight them, we do not live in a happy joy, joy world of harmony. that is not debatable. Islamic fundamentalist killed nearly 4000 people 911. if they had the opportunity or means that day to kill 40,000, or 4 million, i ask in all seriousness, do YOU think they would have not done it? i want to hear an answer to that really.

now what is up for debate (again in my opinion) is how we should fight our enemies. military force? propaganda? politics? economics? combination of any and all?

what do you think?


#12

my question was, what do you think an appropriate response to the increasingly frequent, bold and damaging attacks on us the us and the west in general would be?


#13

But to assume that every single person in US custody is really a terrorist is moronic What of proof of their affiliations before we apply the electrodes?

i am not sure what you want me to say here W, that we are perfect and just all the time? despite what you might think about me let me assure you that i am not drinking the kool aid on this one.

many of our detainees were captured on the battlefield. that is a pretty good indicator of their affiliation. some were not, and not nearly as obvious, and some i am sure are there due to mistakes and "wrong place wrong time" scenario.

but again, i say, so what? this is war. mistakes happen. the problem with you and many others that think along the same lines as you, is that you view this as a policing type action, and we have the same burden of proof as arresting and prosecuting and trialing one of our own citizens in a court of law. in that case, we never should have invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, and the vast majority of the prisoners we have should be released. you are not a bad person for thinking like that, and may be right, i just do not see it that way.

you seem well read and intelligent, do you think that if we had not had won WWII, would our leaders not have been tried as war criminals just as Hitler and his cohorts were, especially for what we did to japan?

the winners of wars right the history books, and you and i and the west in general enjoy the benefits of being the winner of most of the wars. what i see today is about 40% of our population having no problem reaping the benefits of living in the richest most economically and militarily powerful nation in the world today, but do not have the stomach for the things it took and still takes to keep things that way.


#14

The concept of sanctuary comes into play here. Simply stated if your enemy is humane and honorable then he deserves the same treatment. It also assumes that your enemy will not mix in among civilians and clearly identify himself via a uniform and or insignia. It is a basic military custom.

Since our enemy cleary does not abide by this custom and has already attacked civilians to make a political rather then a military attack, he has opened the door to have "total war" made upon himself. I think we have fufilled our obligation by not doing so first and showing enormous restraint in prosecuting the war. However, this courtest should not extend to enemy combatants fighting as irregular troops. Typically they were shot in the battlefield as soon as they were captured.


#15

I really appreciate the fact you think about this and don't just flame out.

I study Classical Civilization in graduate school. I mention this to let you know that I am a student of human history and I take your points regarding the savagery of the human race. I agree. We are a violent species. At the same time, we certainly are capable of being humane, decent, noble amd merciful. Witness what happened in New Orleans. Some folks went the way of the savage; others (more I think) reached out to help their fellow humans and to cooperate in order to survive. So I guess it can really go either way with us humans and it seems as random as sunspot activity.

I have no interest in (and I am deeply horrified at the thought of) being a part of ANY sort of fundamentalist state, Jewish, Christian or Moslem. I see religious fundamentalism as one of the greatest threats to human liberty and justice in the 21st century. That includes here in the US. At the risk of offending lots'o people, I think religion is part of mankind's primitive past and the sooner we grow out of that foolishness, the better off we'll all be. That does not mean I don't believe there is a God or that there is anything wrong with seeking a connection with a higher power. The problem is when one cannot tolerate the idea or existence of another way of believing/relating with that higher power. If religious folk could really, truly tolerate difference and diversity, alot of problems would suddenly go away.

You are right, this is a sad, violent world full of sad, violent people. Misery loves company so they want other people to be sad and violent like them. That or dead. I remember T. Roosevelt's advice, walk softly, carry big stick. Well, we've forgotten to walk softly and we've been applying the big stick early and often. Strangely, that seems to piss people off. We didn't cause terrorism any more than we caused the rise of fundamental Islam. However, our heavy-handed meddling in others peoples affairs has gotten us stuck to a nasty little tar-baby and it has made us the target of their wrath. I do think that there are people in this world, Moslem and otherwise who hate us so much it would bring them great joy to see our nation wiped out but only after we had suffered much.

A solution? There is no quick and easy way to solve the problem, in the main because our leaders and their leaders lack wisdom, insight and humility. We would have to learn to live with and tolerate uncertainty and fear. We would have to learn how to walk softly again. What I mean by this is whole hell of a lot less overt conventional response with an increase in the numbers of Special Forces personnel. Why? Because they are THE experts on dealing with insurgencies. Dealing with terrorism is incredibly complex and I think it requires a hell of a lot more subtlety than we are currently using. Economic help would not hurt. A real effort to give Palestinians a homeland will help. They don't hate our freedom, they hate our arrogance and ignorance. Palestinians hate us for helping Jews take away their country, driving them into refugee camps and then saying tough tit. The use of conventional military force should be extremely limited. Skilled diplomacy combined with a bit of quiet arm-twisting would be useful. Not abusing prisoners, not taking photos of the abuse and not being a backward-ass country retard (like Lynndie England) would go a long way towards helping improve our image and relations with Moslems. We could show a little respect for their culture.

This is getting long so I'm going to stop here.

WMD


#16

We don't get the full story from Iraq because the terrorists have specifically targeted the media with torture and beheadings.

They have done this for a reason. They don't want the American people to see what is going on.

They would rather the media report on the miltarys problems and a body count.

I suspect if the media had free access in Iraq some peoples perceptions of the mission would change.


#17

The military itself has admitted that many of the people still in US custody have nothing at all to do with the insurgency or any other terrorist action. Of course now that they've been buggered by bored American soldiers they might be more inclined to do so. But who knows, maybe not.

As far as torture goes, I guess I'd like you to be a little bit appalled. People keep saying this is war. No kidding, really? I served in war. I saw people die, saw bits and pieces of human bodies, saw charred remains of what were once human beings, heard bullets and shrapnel whiz past my head. Somehow I am unable to reduce the enemy to an object that deserves to suffer or die for my amusement or to vent my rage. And let's be clear, the abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere has nothing to do with getting useful information out of prisoners, not that torture is a particularly good way of getting reliable info out of people, anyway.

I do not view this as a police action, I view it as an unmitigated clusterfuck, marked by ineptitude, immorality and stupidity at every level. It was poorly planned, poorly executed and poorly justified. The problem with you and a whole lot of other people (including those that planned this Frankenwar) is that you don't understand anything about how the Army goes about planning and fighting a war. We made plans for a conventional war using conventional troops and tactics. The expectation was that we would roll over Saddam's troops, enter Baghdad to wild rejoicing, emplace a government of our choosing and be gone, except for a small peacekeeping force, wthin a year. Now, even though Vietnam was an insurgency war, we made no plans for dealing with an insurgency in Iraq. The troops and commanders there have no training or education regarding fighting an insurgency. Thus they are making it up on the fly and what is going on now is the result.

Going into Afghanistan made some sense but of course we are going about it in a completely idiotic way. Going into Iraq was all about G. W. Bush's desire to be a war president. Iraq was no threat to the US and could have easily been contained by other methods (NOT including keeping food out of people's stomachs). And yes, I think anyone who is in detention who has been cleared of involvement with terrorist activity should be released immediately.

To the victors go the spoils and the right to write the history. I imagine that if the Allies had lost WWII, there would have been no trial for our leaders, just a painful execution. How does that justify us acting like brutes in Iraq?

I believe payback is a bitch and I think that our chickens will come home to roost one of these days. I don't think brutalizing other people is any way to maintain our way of life. Frankly, we don't deserve it if we degenerate to the point where most Americans think it's okay to commit acts of torture in the name of national security.

WMD


#18

Would you elaborate a bit on this? I'm not clear what you mean about the perception of the mission.


#19

Exactly right.


#20

There's a difference between supporting the 99% of the military that is doing a good thing in Iraq, and endorsing torture by our government.