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Iraqi POW treatment no vindication for anti-war movement

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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.

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About Nightdragon

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Torture, shmorture – no apologia, no amount of quibbling is going to restore America’s self-designated claim to the moral high ground in the eyes of much of the world.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    And SCREW “much of the world.” They hate us anyway. If a few mild pictures like this is all it takes for them to consider US the bad guys, then they’ve already decided that and it wouldn’t make any difference what we do or don’t.

    “Much of the world” doesn’t need to like us, or think that we’re “moral.” They just need to know not to try to kill us.

  • mike

    Get ready for the “non-zero probability”:

    http://maxspeak.org/mt/archives/000390.html

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    How about this from the 53-page report by Major General Antonio M. Taguba:

    Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.

    Still think it’s just a word game?

    Okay, how about the 25 Iraqis who died in prison? 12 were from natural causes, but the other 13 are getting further investigation. So far, it appears that there are already 3 murder charges being prepared.

    “Treatment” my ass.

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    “Old news”? Today‘s headlines say that at least 25 Iraqi prisoners may have been killed. Far Right Wingers have odd definitions of things, I guess. Before I looked at Blogcritics a few minutes ago for the first time today, I thought ‘some nutty buddy will declare the abuse of prisoners heroism.’ Not far from the truth.

    As for the gratuitous attacks on other political figures, just because they are Leftist (Castro) or black (Mugabe), it is more piffle. Amnesty International does an excellent job of reporting abuses to prisoners such as electrical shocks. (If the gear was present, chances are very high it was used. The ‘just joking’ claim is ludicrous.) The regimes those practices are associated with are on the Right. If you want to see human behavior at its worst, review the records of Spain, El Salvador and apartheid South Africa.

  • http://expatcat.typepad.com felix

    It takes a real leap of right-winger logic to try and point the current outrage over prisoner abuse toward left-wing and anti-war advocates.

    The only thing the US is accomplishing in Iraq is creating generations of hatred toward ourselves.

    And hundreds of thousand of people worldwide knew it would happen, even if the neocons didn’t.

  • mike

    Best description of the neocons yet:

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2004_05_02.php#002907

    “In the popular political imagination we’re familiar
    with the neocons as conniving militarists, masters of
    intrigue and cabals, graspers for the oil supplies of
    the world, and all the rest. But here we have them in
    what I suspect is the truest light: as college kid
    rubes who head out for a weekend in Vegas, get scammed
    out of their money by a two-bit hustler [Chalabi] on
    the first night and then get played for fools by a
    couple hookers who leave them naked and handcuffed to
    their hotel beds.

    And just think, it’s on your dime and with your
    nation’s honor — what an added benefit.”

  • http://macaronies.blogspot.com Mac Diva

    I believe Bush/Cheney selected Chalabi as puppet leader in Iraq precisely because they already knew he is corrupt.

  • Shark

    Manning bends over backwards to justify— what?: “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.”

    Manning bends over backwards to show Americans in an admirable light: “…the hooded fellow with wires attached to him? Maddas would have ensured they were live. The Americans never turned on the juice.”

    Blame those pesky ‘liberal’s for exaggerating their claims. Lord knows the Bush Junta never exaggerate any of THEIR claims.

    PS: Manning, you forgot to blame CLINTON.

    Just tryin’ to be helpful.

  • Shark

    Shark’s Prayer:

    “Dear God, if I EVER start justifying, rationalizing, and downplaying torture in order to boost, back, and support my political beliefs and the politicians who expound them — please strike me dead with a bolt of lightning. Unlike Barger and Manning, I do want to maintain a smidgen of my humanity and integrity. Amen.”

  • http://cranialcavity.net Marc

    Manning: look closely at the list provided by Roget’s, when your done with that you can have a gander at the definition of torture contained in the Geneva Convention. And then get a clue!

    Some of you may dismiss the rest of the world over this issue and what they think. But keep this in mind, the US does not live in a vacuum, like it or not we MUST depend on many others to win the WoT. The Sec of State just made a round of calls and visits to a few Muslim nations trying to enlist support in Iraq. How much do you think those photos hurt that attempt?

    Source: Roget’s “New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.0.5)
    Copyright © 2004 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

    “abuse, afflict, agonize, annoy, beat, bother, crucify, distress, disturb, excruciate, grill, harrow, impale, injure, irritate, lacerate, maim, mangle, martyr, martyrize, mistreat, mutilate, oppress, pain, persecute, rack, smite, torment, try, upset, whip, wound, wring, wrong”

  • http://www.prometheus6.org/ P6

    I think I see the problem.

    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.

    You identify so strongly with US efforts you say “we.” So you need to use a less charged word than “torture” because it doesn’t fit your self-image.

    I ain’t part of no “we” that can do crap like this, so I got no problem at all calling this spade a spade, and these torturers torturers.

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Nice insight, P6.

    Just before seeing it, I started drafting a blog item on “Defense Mechanisms.” I’ve been trying to figure out why right-wingers support all the failures of this administration and the neocons, and the conclusion I came to was that it was ego protection against facts too strong to admit.

    Maybe they’ll get real.

    Manning? You seem to have been stangely silent.

  • http://blogs.salon.com/0003138/ Harald

    I just love the “Saddam was worse so anything up to that level is ok” argument.

    /don’t know whether to laugh or cry

  • Eric Olsen

    I am defending nothing and identifying with nothing, and at least some of the activity discussed in the post and in the comments easily fits within my definition of “torture.”

    However, I am surprised but no longer astonished to see such a disconnect between the post and the comments.

    The post goes to great lengths to condemn the activity discussed, to say the perpetrators should be dishonorably discharged, etc. Why are all the commenters ignoring that completely and concentrating only on the proposed distinction between “torture” and “treatment”?

  • HW Saxton Jr.

    Had any of these incidents happened to
    US soldiers anywhere in the world,this
    post would be filled with screams for
    vengeance and I doubt anyone would be trying to differentiate between what is
    or isn’t torture.

  • Eric Olsen

    That is very likely true.

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Why are all the commenters ignoring that completely and concentrating only on the proposed distinction between "torture" and "treatment?

    Probably because that was the premise on which Manning based his attack on “left-wing” (ignoring those on the right) anti-wars:

    Iraqi POW treatment no vindication for anti-war movement

    … 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.

    Seems clear to me.

  • http://nightdragon.diaryland.com Mark Edward Manning

    Hal Pawluk: “Manning? You seem to have been stangely silent.”

    I’ve said my piece, Hal, and as the comments left here are mostly of the usual leftist crow-pecking variety, I’ve not been motivated to say more. My post speaks for itself.

    If you are referring to the wrongs of the administration, they definitely exist. I’m not happy with Bush on some fronts. But, as far as I’m concerned, he’s still the only real option the country’s got.

    I don’t feel the need to justify my grumblings about Bush just to sate yours or anyone else’s curiosity. When I’ve got something negative to say about Bush, I’ll say it. Rest assured.

    But because I don’t criticise Bush for the reasons liberals do doesn’t mean I don’t have my reservations about him. I do. Again, however, I don’t feel the need to prove that to you or anyone else.

    Eric Olsen: “However, I am surprised but no longer astonished to see such a disconnect between the post and the comments.”

    Thanks, Eric. You know, I’m not surprised either.

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Mnning: “My post speaks for itself.”

    Yes it does – a false premise used to launch another baseless attack on those who oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq (found on both the left and the right sides of the political spectrum).

  • http://nightdragon.diaryland.com Mark Edward Manning

    Hal: ” … a false premise used to launch another baseless attack on those who oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq (found on both the left and the right sides of the political spectrum).”

    Yes, Hal, that’s how YOU have chosen to interpret it. Make of it what you will. I can’t help it if you read into my entry only what you want to. But that’s your choice.

    P.S. I ignore the right anti-wars because I find any conservative who joins forces with the anti-Americans forces of the anti-war movement to be completely risible. They portray a shocking lack of faith in the nation they should, by the mere instinct of being conservative, back to the hilt. The anti-war Right is as pathetic as the Left. And remember, that’s just how I choose to interpret these “conservatives.”

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Manning: “anti-Americans forces of the anti-war movement”

    Did you mean “anti-Americans” or “anti-American”?

    The “s” changes the meaning in a major way so I want to make sure I understand that you’re saying what you meant to say, and it isn’t just a typo. (The “s” doesn’t really make much sense grammatically, but I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt.)

    Thanks.

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Manning: "Yes, Hal, that’s how YOU have chosen to interpret it."

    I don’t see that your post requires a lot of interpretation. You clearly said:

    Iraqi POW treatment no vindication for anti-war movement

    Plainly, you’re saying that the POW treatment by American forces in Iraq is being used by the anti-war movement as evidence that they were right in their opposition to the war.

    Then you say:

    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.

    Clearly, you’re saying that the “treatment” wasn’t torture and that it’s left-wingers calling it torture.

    All wrong.

    Your “treatment” was torture, and even murder in some instances.

    And it’s not only anti-war “left-wingers” objecting to the use of torture by Americans.

    The anger and disgust at this torture and murder come from all political stripes in this nation, and from every country around the world.

    Attempting to deprecate this response with the taint of politics seems less than admirable, if not “despicable” in its own right.

  • boomcrashbaby

    one thing both the anti-war side and the pro-Bush-way-of-fighting-terror side should consider (and will actually find they probably agree on), can be summed up in one simple question.

    And that question should be posed to the Arab world, via Al-Jazeera. How come these photos of a single incident (yes, there were probably more incidents, but these photos aren’t over an extended period of time), so how come these photos spark such outrage when for 30 whole years of Saddam’s rule, you were silent about the hundreds of thousands who were tortured, gassed and killed?

    What this should show the American people is that no matter what we do, good or ill, it will be perceived the same way – negatively. It’s NOT the torture they are upset about. It’s the Americans. That’s all. That’s certainly the impression the Arab world is sending, isn’t it?

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    BCB, that is a good question for the US administrations that worked with Saddam in the ’80s. I have a photo on my wall of Rummy gladhanding with Saddam; it is interesting that Rumsfeld and Co. weren’t crying about Saddam’s admittedly inhumane acts back then.

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    Another question, this one from an essay by Diane Rejman of Veterans for Peace: “How can we expect them to distinguish between ‘good Americans’ and ‘bad Americans,’ when we are not willing to distinguish between ‘good Muslims’ and bad ones?”

    I assume that with the word “we” she is referring to Americans in general.

  • boomcrashbaby

    Those are both good questions, Natalie. The US administrations during that time should answer that question. And the other one is something we all should keep in mind.

    As an American though, I would still like to hear an answer to my question (comment 24) from the Arab world. If it truely does come down to absolutely nothing we can do is good, then my viewpoint of trying to appease the Arab world will change significantly.

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    BCB:

    They hate us. I don’t want to sound like…well, you know who…but the fact of the matter is, Arabs in the Middle East tend to be racists. The don’t like non-Arabs, even when those non-Arabs are spending billions and risking their lives in an effort to rebuild their cesspool of a country.

    They would hate us no matter what we did. They don’t like the fact that non-Arbas are able to destory an Arab military and occupy an Arab country. And they would also hate us if we didn’t bother.

    I have always felt the idea of bringing about some level of pro-Western democratic feeling amongst these people was likely pointless. Unfortunately, I was right…

  • boomcrashbaby

    Thanks RJ, but I want to hear it from them.

    Everything that ever comes out of the Arab world is anti-American. I already know they hate us. By appeasing, I don’t necessarily mean making friends, friendship doesn’t really have any place in the political arena, but alliances do.

    I just want to hear them attempt to justify 30 years of THEIR OWN silence during torture, and just remind them that while Americans aren’t perfect, they certainly aren’t either. They seem to forget that.

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    Hmmm… seems many of you Americans don’t grok that either, BCB. Not you, obviously, but many of your flag-waving, “love-it-or-you’re-the-enemy” countrypersons don’t get it.

    Mr. Elliott wrote: “The don’t like non-Arabs, even when those non-Arabs are spending billions and risking their lives in an effort to rebuild their cesspool of a country.”

    You mean rebuild what they destroyed at the White House Squatter’s evil behest…

    You were right about pointlessness, but I could have told you ages ago that war is not the answer, and neither are invasion and occupation.

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    Realized I forgot to post the URL to the Diane Rejman essay; it can be found at http://counterpunch.org/rejman05012004.html

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    BCB: One “bad” does not provide justification for another.

  • boomcrashbaby

    Hal, I’ m not using it as justification. I believe invading Iraq has caused the US far more harm than good right now. I just want an answer to the question from the Arab world.

    If Arabs don’t care that they torture themselves by the hundreds of thousands but get bent out of shape when we do it on a much smaller scale, then of course it doesn’t justify the torture we may do, but it WILL affect my decision on how we can all find peace.

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Manning: "P.S. I ignore the right anti-wars because I find any conservative who joins forces with the anti-Americans [sic] forces of the anti-war movement to be completely risible. They portray a shocking lack of faith in the nation they should, by the mere instinct of being conservative, back to the hilt. The anti-war Right is as pathetic as the Left."

    First, there’s a distinction to be made in the use of the term “anti-war”: not everyone against the unilateral policy of invading Iraq is against war as such.

    Then, objection to the neoconservative invasion and occupation of Iraq does not necessarily “portray a shocking lack of faith in the nation”; it’s at least as likely to represent “a patriotic commitment to the beliefs on which this nation was founded.”

    The rest of your statement indicates a strange understanding of what it means to be a conservative.

    Personally, I don’t believe that conservatives must be unthinking sheep, required to follow the dictates of some higher power in a Stepford-like, lock-step fashion.

    What could that higher power be, dictating what a conservative must and must not do to be a conservative? Is it supposed to be a genetic imperative? Is it engraved on stone tablets thousands of years old and just recently discovered in a cave in Afghanistan? Is it some particular politician, party, religion or group with absolute power over what people think? Can you provide links to more info?

  • mike

    The antiwar conservatives are the most coherent and admirable force in the antiwar movement, because their argument is based almost entirely on respect for the Constitution and the Republic. They rarely issue fuzzy hosannas to peace and love.

    A standing army is a threat to the Constitution. U.S. military aggression is a threat to the Republic. We go not abroad in search of enemies to destroy. We spread democracy by example, not by force, unless absolutely necessary (e.g., the Civil War and World War II) to preserve the Republic.

    Many of these above statements are lifted almost verbatim from the Founding Fathers.

  • Debbie

    Felix,

    “The only thing the US is accomplishing in Iraq is creating generations of hatred toward ourselves.”

    In case you hadn’t noticed, they already hated us…..this hasn’t changed a thing.

  • Debbie

    “I am defending nothing and identifying with nothing, and at least some of the activity discussed in the post and in the comments easily fits within my definition of “torture.”

    However, I am surprised but no longer astonished to see such a disconnect between the post and the comments.

    The post goes to great lengths to condemn the activity discussed, to say the perpetrators should be dishonorably discharged, etc. Why are all the commenters ignoring that completely and concentrating only on the proposed distinction between “torture” and “treatment”?”

    Because they are not capable of getting past the chants that reverberate off of their skulls

  • mike

    Another positive development is that Wolfowitz, etc, will not, after they leave office, be able to travel to most other democracies without a huge military escort. They would instantly be arrested for war crimes.

    I think that’s a good thing, because they are among the most vile and disgusting human beings on Earth. Stuff them in the prison and make them experience the horrors they’ve inflicted on other people. That’s a photo I’d like to see.

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    In case you hadn’t noticed, they already hated us…..this hasn’t changed a thing.

    Apparently you haven’t noticed that it has changed things in a major way. When the US was seen favorably by 70% of those in Indonesia before the invasion of Iraq and is now seen positively by fewer than 10%, it’s a major change.

    A similar diminution in positive perceptions of the US has occurred in many countries, with the hate increasing even more after the latest incidents.

    Mind you, you don’t see much of that in the US media, especially media owned by Rupert Murdoch (Fox Broadcasting, two dozen cable channels and 35 television stations in 26 cities that reach 44% of U.S. households).

  • Shark

    “In case you hadn’t noticed, they already hated us…..this hasn’t changed a thing.”

    Sorry, but you’re suffering from Terminal Denial.

    This is the most egregious mistake one can possibly make relative to the current crisis.

    “They” just increased in the millions, and “They” have incredibly long memories, and “they” not only want to kill us, they have good reasons (in their minds).

    We’ve lost the “hearts & minds” of the Arab world for generations to come. Worse yet, we’ve created a marketing tool for terrorists.

    Way ta go, Bushies.

  • boomcrashbaby
  • Amazed

    Amazed…and disgusted. That people can see these pictures and not feel disgusted is apalling. This supercedes any quibbling about “treatment” vs. “torture”…let’s get to the issue instead of trying (and failing) to subtly go round and round it. The problem is not whether or not those POWs are being illtreated or tortured, the problem is that those guards have clearly lost all intrinsic sense of ‘right’ vs. ‘wrong’ that humans are born with, that humans evolved with. Hurting another is ‘wrong’, plain and simple…and while perhaps one can argue that a three-year-old may deserve a spanking, one cannot use that – or any – argument to justify a picture of a man in front of a white wall, is it? – that is speared in rivulets of blood. If that is not “extreme pain”, what the hell is? As for those soldiers who claim not to have been told what to do, and their parents who ignorantly and hypocritically support or justify their offspring’s actions…those parents need counseling, fast. No one past the age of 10 needs to be told that beating someone till they die is ‘wrong’, that cutting and mauling someone is ‘wrong’, that sitting on top of a pile of HUMANS, all who have been forced to strip and pose, and giving the camera a THUMBS UP is ‘wrong’. Are those soldiers proud of their actions? Has their training – their upbringing been so sickly perverted that they’ve learnt that this sort of behavior, that committing these atrocities, is ‘right’? If so, we need a lot more than the ‘no child left behind’ act.