This has fallen into the category of “old news,” but in a way, it’s still relevant, so here goes – I am totally, 110 percent disgusted by the treatment of Iraqi prisoners. It was wrong and despicable.
But, yes, I said “treatment.” Not “torture.”
The left-wing was quick to condemn it as torture. And although I share their condemnation of what happened at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, I do not agree that it amounts to torture.
The treatment these Iraqi POWs would have received at the hands of Saddam Hussein would have extended way beyond spreading their buttcheeks for the camera. And what about the hooded fellow with wires attached to him? Maddas would have ensured they were live. The Americans never turned on the juice.
Admittedly, it is rotten to the core to string a person to electrical wires, live or not. The prisoner did not know whether or not he’d be electrocuted if he moved off the block he stood on. And, as Muslims, it was psychologically grueling to pose in homoerotic fashion in front of cameras with American soldiers grinning in the background.
Agreed: This is below-the-belt, sick, disgusting, obnoxious behavior on the part of the American soldiers and guards in question.
Yet, it was not torture. Torture involves extreme physical pain or mental pain beyond what is considered bearable. Telling someone his brother is going to die is mental torture; stripping one of his clothes and having him pose naked is not. It is highly humiliating to be sure, but torture it is not.
We did not cattle prod these POWs. We did not yank their teeth out with a pair of pliers. We did not force them to engage in sexual activity of any kind.
We threw hoods over them and forced them to wave their penises about and bear their behinds, and strapped at least one of them to unhooked electrical wires. This is not the sort of behavior you’d expect Saddam Hussein or Fidel Castro or Robert Mugabe to do to their prisoners of war.
They’d have done worse. Much worse.
What should become of the Americans who did this? They should be court-martialed and immediately dismissed from the military, dishonorable discharges all around. President Bush made clear his disgust at their conduct and military justice will be swift and condemning.
I have advocated severe punishment of American soldiers whenever they have fucked up. I have also made clear my disgust with those who would pervert the war.
And, as such, the Americans responsible for this should be given absolutely no quarter by the military. Let them be discharged and pump gas for the rest of their miserable lives.
However, do not make the mistake that their behavior is typical of the military or that it is somehow justification for the anti-war arguments. It is neither. We were right to overthrow Maddas’ regime and we are right to hang in there until the job is done. Remember, too, that the British are also under scrutiny of POW abuse, although pictures of their alleged wrongdoings have been determined to be fakes. War warps the minds of some soldiers; it is an unpretty thing.
But the POW abuse is not vindication for anti-war logic. The military does not tolerate this sort of behavior and it will be dealt with.