Well. Let's just do all the bad news in one overwhelmingly depressing post.
The New Yorker: Fact: CHAIN OF COMMAND
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
How the Department of Defense mishandled the disaster at Abu Ghraib.
Issue of 2004-05-17
...In his news conference last Tuesday, Rumsfeld, when asked whether he thought the photographs and stories from Abu Ghraib were a setback for American policy in Iraq, still seemed to be in denial. "Oh, I'm not one for instant history," he responded. By Friday, however, with some members of Congress and with editorials calling for his resignation, Rumsfeld testified at length before House and Senate committees and apologized for what he said was "fundamentally un-American" wrongdoing at Abu Ghraib. He also warned that more, and even uglier, disclosures were to come. Rumsfeld said that he had not actually looked at any of the Abu Ghraib photographs until some of them appeared in press accounts, and hadn't reviewed the Army's copies until the day before. When he did, they were "hard to believe" he said. "There are other photos that depict . . . acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman." Later, he said, "It's going to get still more terrible, I'm afraid." Rumsfeld added, "I failed to recognize how important it was."
NBC News later quoted U.S. military officials as saying that the unreleased photographs showed American soldiers "severely beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death, having sex with a female Iraqi prisoner, and 'acting inappropriately with a dead body.' The officials said there also was a videotape, apparently shot by U.S. personnel, showing Iraqi guards raping young boys."
I don't understand. I truly do not understand why they would allow this. Even less do I understand why they documented it; surely moral turpitude of this quality would normally be hidden away, spoken of only among its participants in hushed whispers, hopefully acutely ashamed.
NEWSWEEK: Abu Ghraib and Beyond
By John Barry, Mark Hosenball and Babak Dehghanpisheh
...Just what was "the treatment" given to Iraqis? The answer to that question could ultimately decide Rumsfeld's fate. According to the Red Cross, interrogation methods at the U.S. military's "high-value detention" facility in Iraq, Camp Cropper, located near Baghdad International Airport, include "hooding a detainee in a bag, sometimes in conjunction with beatings, thus increasing anxiety as to when blows would come"; handcuffs so tight they broke the skin; beatings with rifles and pistols; threats against family members; and stripping detainees naked for several days in solitary confinement in a completely dark cell.
General Miller, in a press briefing, tried to show how he was now cleaning up interrogation procedures at Abu Ghraib. "We have approximately 50 approved interrogation techniques. They come from Army Field Manual 34-52," Miller said. Asked to explain what Miller meant, U.S. Army Intelligence Center spokesperson Tanja Linton said she would go away and inquire. She came back to report: "They have no idea what he is talking about." But a senior Defense Department official, speaking on background, confirms that there is a secret list of what he called "categories" of interrogation techniques—which, he says, can be used only with the case-by-case approval of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.
Despite the fact that he says that he knew nothing of what was happening, despite the fact that he says that he didn't see the report or photos until they were broadcast on 60 Minutes II -- despite all that, Rumsfeld was required to approve of this treatment at the front end. He knew what was going to happen before it happened. Oh, to be sure, it probably went further than he planned. I can't imagine that on the list of "approved techniques" is the rape of women and children. (If it were, you'd hope that the soldiers would refuse to participate. Apparently, you'd be wrong.)
Despite all of this, Our Glorious Leader and other members of the administration think that Rumsfeld is doing a fine and dandy job!
Bush praises Rumsfeld amid scandal
BY KEN FIREMAN
Even as new photographic evidence of Iraqi prisoner abuse surfaced yesterday, the Bush administration signaled strong support for its embattled defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. Bush even praised Rumsfeld after a meeting at the Pentagon. "You are doing a superb job," he said to Rumsfeld at a short news conference today. The remarks appeared to be uttered in order to head off speculation that Rumsfeld would resign as both men braced for the anticipated release of more pictures and video images showing Iraqi prisoners being abused by American soldiers.[...] After several days of conflicting signals - during which White House officials let it be known that President George W. Bush was unhappy with some aspects of Rumsfeld's handling of the affair, even as Bush expressed public support for him - Vice President Dick Cheney weighed in strongly on Rumsfeld's side. "Don Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had," Cheney said in a statement late Saturday. "People ought to get off his case and let him do his job."
Apparently, the administration's definitions of the words "superb" and "best" are strikingly different from those used by the rest of the civilized world. Not that this would be a massive surprise to anyone.
And to cap it all off, not only were people ignored when they tried, at first, to bring this to the attention of those in command -- who, of course, were apparently not infrequently complicit in this disaster -- but those who reported it now apparently face retribution from their alleged friends and neighbors.
NEWSDAY: A year of warnings
By Steve Wick
...Months before the Red Cross and a whistle-blowing soldier independently alerted officials in January of widespread prisoner abuse, there were clear signs that the American handling of detainees was out of control.
Interviews with returning reservists of the 800th Military Police Brigade, whose administrative offices are housed in a one-story brick building on Oak Street in Uniondale, along with the blistering report, show the warning signs of an impending disaster. Yet nothing was done. The interviews and the report detail how the reserve military police units under the 800th's direct supervision -- whose job was to guard more than 7,000 Iraqi prisoners at 16 Army-run prisons -- were ill-prepared, hopelessly outnumbered, poorly trained and badly supervised. [...] When former Master Sgt. Lisa Girman, of Pittston, Pa., an expert on military prisons and a Pennsylvania state trooper, told Newsday she informed a superior about her concerns over conditions at Camp Bucca near Basra in Southern Iraq, she said he told her, "If you're going to cry, take your weapon and go back to your tent." [...] Now back in their Pennsylvania homes, five members of the 320th interviewed for this story say they tried in vain to bring problems to the Army's attention as early as April of last year -- the morning of the Palm Sunday riot. [...] It was Darby, an automobile mechanic in his civilian life, who became deeply troubled after looking at a CD that included dozens of photographs -- prisoners naked and piled on the floor, detainees masturbating, another with his face wrapped in a women's panties. After seeing the photographs, he blew the whistle on the abuse.
According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, Darby copied the photos onto his computer, and then slid an anonymous letter under the door of the office of the Army's Criminal Investigative Division in January. On Jan. 13, Darby came forward and gave investigators a sworn statement.
Because of what he did, seven members of the 372nd now faces charges of abusing detainees at the Abu Ghraib. England was charged by the military Friday with allegedly assaulting detainees and conspiring to mistreat them. She is in restricted custody at Fort Bragg, N.C.
In nearby Cumberland, Md., where many of the 372nd members live, Darby is now a controversial figure.
"Darby's going to be shunned," said Tanya Vargas, 29, a former weekend reservist with the 372nd. "He's going to be blackballed. His life is in jeopardy, because he's a snitch. I hope they have protection for him."
You'd think they'd be proud of Darby, that they'd say that he stood up for what is right and good about the American soldier. You'd think that.
You might be wrong, it seems.Posted by iain at May 10, 2004 11:43 AM