It never fails to astound when simple, straightforward, facts are processed through the Beltway insiders and their corporate media, and is then regurgitated back in a form that is totally disconnected from any modicum of truth or reality. Nowhere has this become more obvious than in the botchery of the reported events surrounding the Iraqi POW scandal our troops were involved in.
Here are some examples. First, whether or not every American soldier in Iraq was or was not involved is not the issue. The focus should be on those involved - period, end of discussion. And the focus should be on those who elected to be involved in placing themselves in photos while still partially in the uniform of the United States military. Not concerning oneself with the possibility that such photos could eventually fall into the wrong hands, as they have, demonstrates both stupidity as well as a reckless disregard for the possibility of disgracing the military of the United States of America. And please, enough already with 99.99 percent of our military being offered as serving correctly - how was this statistic derived at and via what collection of actual, documented facts and evidence? This situation does not equate to an Ivory Soap commercial.
Secondly, extensive facts and information abound via the real press, specifically the foreign press and the Internet, which assert that these interrogation procedures were ordered via the highest levels within the Pentagon - again, period and end of discussion. The Pentagon specifically transferred the general, a two-star major general, who was formerly in charge of Camp X-ray at Guantanamo, to Abu Ghraib to soften up Iraqi prisoners of war that had been detained there.
Now for those individuals who are unfamiliar with the chain of command and military rank, rank in all services, except the Navy, progresses grade-wise at the general officer level as follows: second lieutenant, first lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel, colonel, and then general. Five-star generals are a rarity, but usually appear during major conflicts. Starting with a one-star brigadier general, the stars and rank proceed as follows: two-star, major general; three-star, lieutenant general; and four-star is simply termed general. A five-star general is designated as General of the Army.
Even a two-star major general, such as Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, must follow orders, and those orders usually come from a three-star lieutenant general, one star and one immediate rank below that of Generals Lance Smith and Richard Myers, both of whom had just testified along with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld before the United States Senate. What I am saying, is that the transfer of Maj. Gen Miller from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib was decided at the highest levels, and was decided for a specific reason.
The obvious conclusion that can be drawn from this is that Secretary Rumsfeld was indeed involved in this decision before the revelation of prisoner abuse and the now-infamous photos that have been displayed on TV and the Internet. Secretary Rumsfeld has intimated that he didnt know about these events until January, but that might be limited only to his knowledge concerning the existence of those photographs.
What does this all mean? It means that Rumsfeld not only knew beforehand what was going on at BOTH Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, but his delaying action on such publicly released information occurred because he was trying to figure out how to suppress or at least contain the photographic evidence of abuse. Containing the abuse investigation, therefore, has two motives; first, blame will be upon just the low-level participants offering their behavior as having just been bad, isolated incidents; and second, to prevent an investigation from spiraling upward to Pentagon leaders.
Rush Limbaugh and other Bush administration sycophants will point out that the torture of Iraqi prisoners was either staged and therefore fake, or not at all that bad when compared to what the Japanese did to American prisoners of war at Bataan and during World War II, or what the North Koreans did to American POWs. And if the North Koreans violated the Geneva Convention, and the North Vietnamese did likewise, is that justification for US to do the same, even on a much milder basis? And in all likelihood, the Geneva Convention was drawn up specifically to address the ill treatment of prisoners during WW II.
Suddenly, there are new standards for the treatment of prisoners of war. And if thats the way things ought to be, why change the rules now during a military action? Why werent these rules changed sometime during the last 55 years since theyve been in effect?
Already, the Bush spin-doctors are weaving their magic. In a Washington Post article evaluating the cover-up machinations now in progress, a May 12th article entitled Leadership Failure is Blamed in Abuse, staff writers Bradley Graham and Thomas E. Ricks relate, The Army general who investigated the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad said yesterday that he had found no evidence the misconduct was based on orders from high-ranking officers or involved a deliberate policy to stretch legal limits on extracting information from detainees. Notice how there is no actual denial - only that no evidence was found that the misconduct was based on improper orders generated from higher-ups. But shouldnt the question be: Did such orders exist?
The Army officer referred to in the Post article was of course Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, who was neither investigating Abu Ghraib nor intelligence methods. His report and investigation concerned military police control of prisons and detention centers, and that did not include Abu Ghraib specifically. Why has this report come up, and why is it now being used as a standard for the Baghdad prison?
Actually, the only viable investigative and independent monitoring authority in this sordid affair is the International Committee of the Red Cross, or the ICRC. This is the independent organization specified in the terms and conditions entered into by the 191 nations that signed the Geneva Convention in August 1949.
In another article on the subject on the same day, and also writing for the Post, R. Jeffrey Smith and Josh White come closer in their assessment, offering The U.S. general who was in charge of running prisons in Iraq told Army investigators earlier this year that she had resisted decisions by superior officers to hand over control of the prisons to military intelligence officials and to authorize the use of lethal force as a first step in keeping order - command decisions that have come in for heavy criticism in the Iraq prison abuse scandal. Now how does that square with the Bush sycophants saying that our prison troops were just clowning around and the Abu scandal is much ado about nothing? These are the Armys own reports!
The article entitled General Asserts She Was Overruled on Prison Moves, goes on to state: Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski, head of the 800th Military Police Brigade, spoke of her resistance to the decisions in a detailed account of her tenure furnished to Army investigators. It places two of the highest-ranking Army officers now in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, at the heart of the decision-making on both matters.
Now consider these revelations against what has been offered by the Bush administration as reported by the Posts Graham and Ricks article: Instead, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba attributed the scandal to the willful actions of a small group of soldiers and to a failure of leadership and supervision by brigade and lower-level commanders. Similarly, the Army's top intelligence officer, Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, sought to portray the abuse as the deeds of a handful of military police soldiers, with the peripheral involvement of U.S. military intelligence personnel in Iraq.
See whats going on? The military police command is accusing the intelligence command, and vice versa. And thats good --nothing like competition to root out the incompetent and the product failures. It will be interesting to see how the Bush administration solves this dissension in the higher ranks. In all likelihood, the Bush cover-up machinery will figure out the best way to b.s. US and get away with yet another unconscionable crime against the people of America and the United States Constitution.
The Smith and White article provides even more insight on how this POW disgrace came to be: [Brig. Gen.] Karpinski said the decision about transferring control of the prison to military intelligence officials was broached at a September 2003 meeting with Miller, who was then in charge of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, known colloquially as Gitmo. Miller had come to Iraq at the insistence of top political officials in the Pentagon, who were frustrated by the meager intelligence coming from prisoners. Two weeks ago, he was appointed to reform the U.S.-run prisons in Iraq. Karpinski, the first female general officer to lead U.S. soldiers in combat, was a beleaguered field commander trying to cope with what she and others have described as constantly shifting assignments, poor living conditions and near-daily mortar attacks on Abu Ghraib. Karpinski recalled that Miller told her he wanted to Gitmo-ize the prison -- a concept that critics have said opened the door to the use of aggressive interrogation techniques suited to loosening the tongues of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo, not Iraqis in a common jail. Miller said through a military spokesman yesterday that he does not recall using the word Gitmo-ize.
we can all safely assume, that whether Miller used the term or not, that
term describes precisely his intent and the Pentagons mission for
him. In a
previous article, I cited only a handful of the Geneva Convention
rules violated by this high-ranking Bush bunch that have disgraced America
in the eyes of the world. And the idiotic neoconservative ploy to compare
our level of compassion in terms of degrees of torture to the brutal and
disgusting savagery that was the Nick Berg murder, has absolutely nothing
to do with this POW scandal. Those five masked killers do not necessarily
represent all Muslims, but the responsible high-ranking generals, the
Pentagon and the President of the United States do represent ALL the American
© 2004 THEODORE E. LANG All rights reserved
Ted Lang is a political analyst and a freelance writer.