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"Since when do Americans need training not to torture people? Since when do Americans need a posting of the Geneva Convention regulations in order to behave like decent human beings?"

 

 

Abu Ghraib? WHAT'S GOING ON?
Posted June 21, 2004 thepeoplesvoice.org

By: Ted Lang


Timothy B. Clark is the editor and president of Government Executive magazine, a publication concentrating on the news that is generated by government activities and business. In the June 1st edition, Clark writes in his column "Editor's Notebook," "As a partisan of the public sector, it pains me to see it in decline. Our democracy can only suffer if citizens think poorly of their government. And it's simply tragic that so many of the wounds are self-inflicted - as one can sense from reading this issue."

Understanding the direction in which Mr. Clark is proceeding, I take mild exception to the concept that citizens thinking poorly of their government threatens freedom. I offer a different viewpoint, which suggests that citizens who think poorly of poorly managed and dangerously inefficient partisan government is their guarantee of continuing liberty.

Clark's concerns are over articles carried in the current issue concerning problems with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, government contractor problems, IRS problems, etc. My concern is with what is beginning to appear as yet another well-orchestrated cover-up on the part of the secret Bush regime with the help of the government-controlled corporate media. And I'm sorry to say, that I find fault with Senior Correspondent Katherine McIntire Peters' article concerning her assessment of the prison torture scandal.

In her article, "Duty, Honor, Country," Peters' tone is apologetic and biased towards senior government leadership, while unduly harsh towards Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski because of Karpinski's role as head of the Abu Ghraib prison during the time of the prisoner torture incidents. Peters parrots the same tired old corporate media line offering, "Undisciplined soldiers, negligent officers, a high-pressure environment, low morale and a muddy chain of command all contributed to the abuses that have not only tarnished the Army, but have endangered troops on the battlefield and shaken U.S. foreign policy."

The first part of that observation is sheer Bush regime propaganda and nonsense! It is designed to make it seem as though the prisoner torture activities represented isolated incidents by a handful of "undisciplined" troops instead of the policy pronouncements coming directly from President George W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Undersecretary Stephen Cambone, and Attorney General John Ashcroft. Of course, Peters' follow-on observation concerning the tarnished image of our Army and the disgust the rest of the world now feels towards our brutal, savage nation of imperialistic genocide, torture and murder, is right on.

And while we're on the topic of the Bush regime senior leadership that dreamt up and established the torture policy, let's not forget the actual Army officers that really carried it out: Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller who transferred to Abu from "Gitmo;" Lt. Gen Ricardo Sanchez, who was in charge of that theater of war; and Military Intelligence leader, Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, the latter the area guru of Army Intelligence directly responsible for intelligence and therefore the torture.

Ample evidence is now on hand implicating President Bush directly via White House Counselor Alberto Gonzales' memo of warning, Ashcroft's admission before the Senate that there was documentation between Pentagon lawyers and "Justice" Department lawyers concerning the Bush regime's torture policy, and of course, Ashcroft's same tired old line dragged out again to protect the Bush crime family in the name of "national security," "state secrets," "national interests," yada, yada, yada.

Peters' Government Executive article never mentions the Gonzales memo, and casts Sanchez in the favorable light of requesting an investigation taking special care not to mention specifically when Sanchez took this action, saying that it was initiated only after Bush's torture policy became public knowledge and resulted in a criminal investigation. In fact, her own summarized time line clearly shows a "CYA" response from Sanchez.

Peters offers, "The picture that emerges from the remarkably candid investigation by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba is of a unit out of control." And "Taguba, who briefed his superiors on his findings on March 3, discovered that basic administrative procedures for keeping track of prisoners were not followed; soldiers were not trained to manage prisons - nor did their commanders seek to obtain training; soldiers were unfamiliar with laws and regulations governing their jobs - the Geneva Conventions were not posted ." I think the picture is clear. Again, not mentioned was the fact that Taguba was initially engaged in an across-the-board investigation, not originally focusing on Abu Ghraib alone.

The Gov. Exec. article strives to represent the prison torture scandal not as a despicable, un-American policy disaster emanating directly from the Oval Office and the Pentagon, but a sort of local "accident." Since when do Americans need training not to torture people? Since when do Americans need a posting of the Geneva Convention regulations in order to behave like decent human beings? The whole thrust of this article is yet another corporate media attempt to whitewash Bush, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft's war crimes. And some of these torture sessions resulted in the death of detainees, most of whom were neither combatants nor criminals but just ordinary citizens of Iraq.

Peters expands upon this unfortunate "accident:" "More than two dozen civilian contractors involved in intelligence operations operated freely within the prison, and guards often confused them with military intelligence personnel." [Emphasis added] So who was in charge of intelligence? It is clear that Army Intelligence and its most senior leader, Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander was, along with Sanchez, and under him, Col. Thomas Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski had pointed out from the get-go of this impending kangaroo investigation that Army Intelligence was given full control over Abu Ghriab, something that Karpinski had vehemently protested against. Clearly, she was outranked and therefore neutralized insofar as her ability to effectively manage the running of the prison.

The problem is a basic one: soldiers are trained to fight wars, not run prisons; that indeed is a shortcoming, but certainly not a shortcoming that can be laid at the feet of seven enlisted personnel and Brig. Gen Karpinski. Proof that the prison torture policy came directly from both the White House and the Pentagon is readily discernible: why was Maj. Gen Geoffrey Miller transferred from Guantanamo Bay, where we supposedly had combat prisoners of war, to Saddam's former torture prison to institute the Bush-Rumsfeld torture policy against innocent civilians, virtually all of whom were rounded up because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time? Who authorized and engineered Miller's transfer to "Gitmoize" Iraqi citizens? Are we to understand that the United States Army cannot distinguish between prisoners of combat/war and randomly rounded-up and detained innocent civilians?

And if the Miller transfer was indeed to facilitate the "Gitmoization" [read inhumane torture] of innocent civilians because of a desperate need for intelligence, who would be the ones to request such intelligence? In other words, what was the motive for Bush's torture policies? Of course, rank and file soldiers can guard POWs, but not civilians. And if soldiers are not qualified to guard civilian prisoners, then we are now to believe President Bush and Rush Limbaugh that non-uniformed intelligence officers and their contractors can?

So it is indeed an accurate observation that there was confusion, chaos, and total mayhem at Abu Ghraib, but the White House and the Pentagon caused it, not seven enlistees and Karpinski. In an interview with the B.B.C., and posted on their website June 16, Karpinski is quoted as saying she is being made a "convenient scapegoat" for abuse ordered by others. [Emphasis added] The article, "Iraq abuse 'ordered from the top'" goes on to say, "Top US commander for Iraq, Gen [sic] Ricardo Sanchez, should be asked what he knew about the abuse, she told BBC Radio 4's "On The Ropes" programme. A while back, Karpinski admitted that Sanchez and Miller double-teamed her to implement the Bush-Rumsfeld torture policy.

Consider also, the recent press release that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld PERSONALLY singled out one, I repeat, ONE detainee for special handling. Rumsfeld ordered that the selected detainee be held, that no record of either his arrest or detention be prepared, and that his arrest and detainment be specifically kept from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Did Rumsfeld know about the Geneva Convention violations he was directing? Did he purposely and with malice of forethought seek to avoid the ICRC protection for the prisoner? Wouldn't this violate American Constitutional law if the detainee were an American Citizen? Not any more - Attorney General John Ashcroft took care of all of that with his USA Patriot Acts I and II! But what kind of a stretch is it then to conclude that Rumsfeld designed and initiated the torture policy?

Gov. Exec. again: "Equally troubling, on Nov. 6, 2003, the International Committee of the Red Cross submitted a report to Karpinski documenting prisoner abuses in units under her command, according to Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, who testified at the May 11 hearing. Karpinski did not respond until Dec. 24, he said. Karpinski has publicly disputed Alexander's account, saying she saw the report only after others on Sanchez's staff had reviewed it, and that the response she signed was actually drafted by a lawyer on Sanchez's staff."

Considering the obvious hostility Alexander has shown towards Karpinski all throughout the reports of this outrageous disgrace upon America and its military, it now becomes a simple matter of whom to believe. I choose to believe Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, and not the Army "good ole boys" of Alexander, Miller and Sanchez. These guys were just following orders. They summarily dismissed as well as ignored Karpinski's complaints and pleas, and Miller "Gitmoized" randomly detained, innocent Iraqi civilians over Karpinski's protests.

Concluding her article, Peters makes it clear whose side she is on: "With numerous probes underway and the eyes of the world upon it, the Army is working to discover how things went so far off the rails at Abu Ghraib and take corrective action. In the meantime, Karpinski has launched a public relations blitz. She told U.S. News and World Report in May that the Army is making her a scapegoat and that Taguba was a 'kiss-up' out for a promotion. That response is 'shocking,' [retired Maj. Gen. Robert] Scales says. 'If the ship runs aground, the captain takes responsibility. That's the way our culture works.'"

Well, General, sir, that sure is the way our culture works! And that is precisely why Bush and his band of war criminals should be impeached and tried for high crimes and misdemeanors, especially for lying US into this unnecessary war! I, along with Walt Whitman, believe that the captain for this manufactured and unnecessary mess operates from the White House, and not the wheelhouse!

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THEODORE E. LANG 6/20/04 All rights reserved. Ted Lang is a political analyst and a freelance writer.

 

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