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a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Abuse at Iraqi Prison

Posted by Thomas Nephew on May 1st, 2004

I’ve rarely been so ashamed of this country. From the Washington Post article “Allegations of Abuse Lead To Shakeup at Iraqi Prison“:

The lawyer for Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick II, Gary R. Myers, said in a telephone interview, “We are strongly urging the general [Sanchez] to treat this as an administrative matter, just as all the senior people have been treated.”

The soldiers “were provided no guidance on how to run the prison while they were there,” Myers said. “They came under the influence of the intelligence community, whose interests may not be necessarily consistent with good prison management. The prison was set up in such a fashion that the intelligence community had far too much influence.

“They were instructing or advising the MPs to create ‘favorable conditions’ for interrogation. . . . ‘Favorable conditions’ were conditions where the detainees were susceptible to providing intelligence information, and that process involved techniques of humiliation.”

Who exactly were these “intelligence community” people? What rule books have they thrown away? Will the investigation reach them, too?

From a second Washington Post article, “U.S. Works to Calm Furor Over Photos“:

“It provides a graphic portrayal of many of the worst impressions that much of the world has about America,” said Andrew Kohut, who, as director of the Pew Research Center, has polled extensively in Arab and European countries. “It’s red meat to large numbers of people all around the world who are increasingly anti-American and don’t think we represent the things Americans pride themselves on.”

Foreign policy experts said the photos could cause lasting damage to U.S. efforts. “It is a disaster,” said Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and until earlier this year a political adviser to the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority. “Five or six people have managed to soil the reputation of American soldiers worldwide.”

I disagree only with the “five or six” part, judging by the other Post article. There had to be a culture of abuse going on for them to proudly — my God, proudly — take pictures. As ever, most of them — and I mean the higher-ups here, too — probably just checked their consciences at the door, and a few of them never had any to begin with. Nice going, assholes.

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UPDATE, 5/3: Sergeant Stryker has some choice words for all those involved, well worth reading. He’s right, this is a failure up and down the chain of command; it shouldn’t take “formal Geneva Convention training” to have an inkling any of this was wrong. (It would have sent the message that higher-ups thought it was important, though.)

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