Although the proper action for Bush at this time would be to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, this would serve absolutely no purpose. A purpose would have been served if President George W. Bush and the Republican Party exhibited a difference when exhibiting a difference was so very important. After eight years of lies, spin, and the destruction of the prestige and honor that had always surrounded the office of President of the United States by the debacle that was the Clinton presidency, Bush needed desperately to pay very close attention to anything and everything that might even remotely be construed as a continuation of Clinton’s cynicism. He needed to distance himself from Clinton. He didn’t.
Opportunities presented themselves so many times in terms of the horrific failings of the FBI, when Bush could have divested himself of both incompetence and bad press by simply terminating Robert Mueller III as FBI Director when the numerous opportunities presented themselves. Bush didn’t do it. Bush could have distanced himself more successfully had he dumped George Tenet and rid himself dramatically of the false intelligence that was the “yellowcake” debacle and the “bad intelligence” of weapons of mass destruction.” He didn’t.
Of course, both would have been symbolic gestures only, but the majority of voters would not have seen it that way and would have, in all likelihood, stood by Bush. Now the Department of Defense is on the chopping block, and Bush still hasn’t learned that firing people is part of executive responsibility.
And even if it is understood to be only a symbolic gesture in terms of really turning things around, it shows a responsibility towards duty and the acceptance of it as well, and a sense of honor for his office. Bush and the Republicans have never come to terms with this, expecting that all spoils go to the winner and anyone who disapproves should be summarily ignored. It is now far too late for Bush to do anything to shift the blame elsewhere.
The problem the Bush administration now faces extends far beyond the possible inadvertent misadventure of the ill-conceived war in Iraq. It fails to consider the natural sense of fairness all Americans have within their collective national character. Each act or news event generated by this administration that continues to infringe upon our collective national sense of decency will serve to detract in a geometrically exponential manner from this president’s credibility and popularity. The November election now is Senator John Kerry’s for the taking.
There is no way that this Iraqi POW scandal is going to go away. The photos are what did it. Apparently, a member of the American military sent some of these photos home, and a relative of the soldier was concerned about the criminal ramifications and tried to contact the appropriate government agencies. As can be expected, government never admits to either wrongdoing or mistake, so the frustrated citizen contacted retired COL David Hackworth on his website. From there, the photos eventually wound up with CBS.
Of course, the government knew about the abuse months ago. And of course, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld started playing games to contain the revelations. The ordinary and standard operating procedures [SOP] of the Bush administration are of course, as always, operations cloaked totally in secrecy. But a low level grunt started the boat a-rockin’ and then fed it to the “lib” media. Having a hell of a lot more horse sense than either Newsweek or The New York Times, CBS aired it on their 60 minutes news magazine and now the American people know what’s going on. The torture and abuse of prisoners of war were indeed reported, but by the real elements of an informative press, the foreign press and the Internet, which have always previously been easily avoided.
Once again, the Bush administration has been caught flat-footed when confronted by a real press. Rumsfeld tried to time a detailed public release when it would be more convenient to do so. Another Spanish train terrorist attack, another Michael Jackson freak-out, or perhaps Al Gore proclaiming that he just invented the telegraph – whatever! What Rumsfeld was probably waiting for was an offsetting public distraction. CBS blew a hole in that strategy.
But always remember the corporate media’s primary objective: the total protection of American government and any and all of its wrongdoing. The Bush administration’s Minister of Propaganda, Rush Limbaugh, has offered that ALL the photos of Iraqi POW abuse were fakes and created only to cause Bush political embarrassment because it is an election year. Other Bush flacks have offered that the inconvenient arrangements forced upon Iraqi POWs didn’t constitute torture. Other geniuses came up with the usual explanation: It was all Clinton’s fault! Amazing!
Mysteriously lacking in all these discussions and entertainment put forth by the corporate media, the Bush flacks, and the Congress of Criminals, is one glaringly missing piece of the puzzle – the germane and applicable set of standards relative to the situation: The Geneva Convention. Where has the press or anyone put forth the key points of this document signed by member nations of the United Nations in August of 1949, 191 nations in all, and created to establish the humane treatment standards for prisoners of war? Both Iraq and the United States are parties to that agreement. Let’s review some of these standards, shall we?
Prisoners of war are in the hands of the enemy Power, but not of the individuals or military units who have captured them. Irrespective of the individual responsibilities that may exist, the Detaining Power is responsible for the treatment given them.
This would tend to infer that Bush and Rumsfeld are responsible, especially since no case for war against Iraq has ever been made or substantiated.
Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. … Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.
The Pentagon especially dispatched Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller from the Guantanamo Concentration Camp to the Abu Ghriab Concentration Camp because of his expertise at mental as well as physical torture.
Prisoners of war are entitled in all circumstances to respect for their persons and their honor. Women shall be treated with all the regard due to their sex and shall in all cases benefit by treatment as favorable as that granted to men. Prisoners of war shall retain the full civil capacity, which they enjoyed at the time of their capture. The Detaining Power may not restrict the exercise, either within or without its own territory, of the rights such capacity confers except in so far as the captivity requires.
How does this square with the “Statue of Liberty” wiring and hood torture?
Every prisoner of war, when questioned on the subject, is bound to give only his surname, first names and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number, or failing this, equivalent information. If he willfully infringes this rule, he may render himself liable to a restriction of the privileges accorded to his rank or status.
No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.
See 13 and 14 above.
The Detaining Power shall be bound to take all sanitary measures necessary to ensure the cleanliness and healthfulness of camps and to prevent epidemics.
Like urinating on prisoners?
Immediately upon capture, or not more than one week after arrival at a camp, even if it is a transit camp, likewise in case of sickness or transfer to hospital or another camp, every prisoner of war shall be enabled to write direct to his family, on the one hand, and to the Central Prisoners of War Agency provided for in Article 123, on the other hand, a card similar, if possible, to the model annexed to the present Convention, informing his relatives of his capture, address and state of health. The said cards shall be forwarded as rapidly as possible and may not be delayed in any manner.
Why PSHAW, even “enemy combatants’ in the PRISON NATION of the United States aren’t allowed these rights under Bush and Trashcraft’s United States of America Patriot Acts I and II!
Prisoners of war shall have the right to make known to the military authorities in whose power they are, their requests regarding the conditions of captivity to which they are subjected.
They already knew!
Every death or serious injury of a prisoner of war caused or suspected to have been caused by a sentry, another prisoner of war, or any other person, as well as any death the cause of which is unknown, shall be immediately followed by an official enquiry by the Detaining Power.
Think of the dogs turned loose on a naked prisoner. Think of the corpse in the plastic bag. Of course we answer to no one but God, and God has authorized US through George Bush to declare this filthy vermin as non-human. Killing them will certainly guarantee US heaven, even when these examples of inhumanity think killing US will provide them with 70 virgins in the next life.
And of course, the low level grunts and mercenaries who carried out the torture will be tried and disgraced, while the real criminals, starting with two-star General Geoffrey Miller, will probably get a pass, as will Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. You see, the grunts were only following orders, which was determined not to be an excuse during the Nuremberg trials after WWII. But Miller, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were following orders from God!
© 2004 THEODORE E. LANG All rights reserved
Ted Lang is a political analyst and a freelance writer.