Monday, May 03, 2004

The torture

The torture:

  1. That picture, that iconic picture of the torture victim standing on the box, Christ-like, with a hood from a Spanish Easter procession or the KKK, with the backlighting and the wires hanging down like in an old science fiction movie, that picture is the representation of the new American Empire, the symbol that the whole world now identifies with the Evil of the United States of America. They should send the Statue of Liberty back to France - the values she represented are no longer American values - and replace it with a model of this Iraqi prisoner. I wonder if he is still alive, and what state he is in. Do you think they might find it in their stony hearts to let him out of prison?

  2. As Robert Fisk quite properly points out, this mistreatment is a product of years of systematic anti-Arab racism (of course, the whole attack on Iraq, the idea that it was morally acceptable to apply 'shock and awe' to innocent civilians, is a product of the same racism). The knuckle-dragging hillbillies who so enthusiastically participated in the torture aren't very far removed from their lynch mob ancestors who so easily did the same thing to American blacks. They pathetically claim they can't be held accountable because they didn't have sufficient training in the niceties of the Geneva Convention. Do they mean to argue that they actually thought it was acceptable to humiliate, torture, rape and murder prisoners of war? Do they need a PhD in international law to know that this is wrong? What kind of animals is the United States producing? Since the whole attack on Iraq is illegal, literally every soldier in the U. S. army is guilty of obeying illegal orders, so I guess they are just following their usual pattern of obeying illegal orders.

  3. The United States is in full damage-control mode, with everyone saying they are suitably appalled. Of course, they have known about this for months, and have done absolutely nothing about it, so their claims of being disgusted ring rather hollow now. Various human rights groups have been complaining since last summer about the deplorable treatment afforded to prisoners picked up by the United States, and nothing has been done about it. Prisoners are often arrested for purely arbitrary reasons, jailed indefinitely with no access to legal counsel, and their relatives aren't even informed of where they are being held. If American officials were really concerned, they would start by emptying those prisons.

  4. Despite the attempts to pin this on one U. S. Army Reserve General and a few of the soldiers, it is clear that this abuse was a systematic and official act by the CIA and military intelligence to 'soften up' prisoners before they were interrogated. Seymour Hersh has seen the secret internal military report which confirms that the torture was an official and sanctioned action of the American government, known to Army leadership at the highest levels.

  5. The worst torturers were apparently private military contractors, presumably hired as it was feared that the soldiers would not be stone-cold psychopathic enough to do the job properly (they needn't have worried). As they were private contractors, they will escape all American military discipline and will get off completely scot-free.

  6. Anecdotal evidence reported in the Arab press indicates that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of the horrors inflicted on Iraqi prisoners. In particular, we have not heard all the stories of sexual abuse of male prisoners, and have not heard anything about what they did to women prisoners.

  7. To fix the problem, the Americans are sending the general who was in charge of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay to Iraq! This proves the utter contempt the Pentagon has for the Iraqi people and for international law. This general will not be an expert in how to run a humane camp, as he ran one of the greatest examples of an inhumane camp in the world. What he is an expert in is running an inhumane camp while covering up all evidence of it. The Pentagon realizes that their real problem isn't the torture, but that they got caught doing it.

  8. The Pentagon will pick a few low level scapegoats, people who were guilty but just following orders, and give them a nominal punishment. Like Lieutenant William Calley, they will be quietly released after a short period of time. I guarantee that no one will serve any serious punishment for their actions.

  9. The British have a similar problem with their own torture. Again, they had warnings of the problem for months, and have done nothing about it. As Britain joined the International Criminal Court, Britain won't be able to sweep this problem under the rug. If they try to, another country will be able to initiate proceedings against the guilty. Since the guilt almost certainly goes right up to the top of the British military, not to mention into the world of politicians, this could get very interesting.

The torture finishes off the last argument for the attack on Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction, no Saddam connection to al Qaeda, no prospect of democracy, and the Iraqi people worse off than under Saddam and headed for worse things yet. The last thing the Americans had was that at least the brutality had stopped. The massacre at Falluja and the torture have finished all possible arguments for this illegal and immoral attack on the people of Iraq.