I don’t know what is in the water today, but first I agree with Kevin Drum, now I find myself at odds with Bill Quick (although not completely). Bill, in reaction to the CBS reports about American soldiers torturing GI’s, states:
This sort of thing may be deplorable, but would anybody want to bet me that Rather won’t try to make the case that forcing a man to stand on a box while lying to him about the effects of some wires he’s holding are precisely equivalent to “torturing beyond imagining and executions without reason?”
I know Bill well enough and respect him enough to understand that he is responding more to Dan Rather’s
dubious complete lack of impartiality, and not dismissing the abhorrent acts alleged to have been committed by our troops. However, this is one issue in which Rather’s comments don’t need to be exaggerated.
Gary Farber (who should be given credit for pointing this out to me- I missed it)points to this website, who has posted the pictures. In order to save her bandwifth, I have copied some of the pictures and posted them here, but by all means, I recommend you go to there to view all the pictures and her commentary. And no, I don’t know who she is or what her politics are, but she is spot on when she states this:
You need to face what is happening in Iraq, and I don’t give a shit if those images are too graphic or shocking for you because this is reality. While you’re sitting on your couches watching American Idol, these kind of war atrocities are happening which violates the Geneva Convention. So much for us being there to liberate the Iraqis. We’re no better than Saddam when we do this kind of crap.
Take a look for yourself (the commentary is hers, not mine):
This Iraqi prisoner had electrical wires wrapped around his arms, his legs, and his testicles. He was told that if he stepped off the box, that he would be electrocuted.
They were forced to do oral sex on each other at gunpoint.
Look at the big, wide smile on the woman’s face as she does a thumbs-up and points at the exposed genitals of the Iraq man with his two other prisoners sitting on the ground with bags over their heads.
This is the body of an Iraqi man who died of beatings at the hands of the American soldiers. This is the “freedom” that we brought to Iraqis like this one. Isn’t freedom so wonderful this way?
Again, there is more of this, and I recommend that you view it. Yes, it is painful to look at- I was initially horrified, and that turned to a deep shame, and then to a seething anger. This is torture, and the people who did this are no better than Saddam and his fascists or ttheir Nazi rolemodels from a half century ago.
Several commenters have noted in previous posts that at least it appears the military is taking this seriously and reacting appropriately. That is scant solace.
Do these soldiers understand how many of their brothers-in-arms they have just executed?
Do they understand how many Improved Explosive Devices they just built?
Do the recognize how many random grenade attacks they have just initiated?
And on a simply human level- Have they no sense of fundamental decency?
I am so ashamed. That is my uniform they are wearing.
*** Update ***
Jim Henley comments– I don’t agree with everything hesays, but your should read it.
Excellent, John. This needs as much exposure as it can get.
And it’s not you that needs to feel the shame. It’s them. It needs to be brought to their attention with the full force and authority of the UCMJ.
I agree with much of the post, but I think Slart is right on. What these troops did brought dishonor upon themselves and the service. But what they did in no way reflects upon your own service.
We should have an immediate, public investigation and courts martial of any parties that participated in these incidents. We need to demonstrate to the American people, the Iraqis and the world at large that the US military does it’s absolute best to prosecute war against the enemy while respecting the basic human rights of prisioners and non-combatants, and that should incidents occur they will be prosecuted swiftly and justly. This sort of thing is just red meat for the extremists of both the left and the right.
While I hate to use this term, I think our men and women in Iraq might need a bit more sensitivity and ethics training.
I agree with the above. You served honorably, and need feel no shame for it.
The people involved, though, have shamed us all, civilian, military, veteran or not. This was done in our name, whether we approved of it or not.
I admit I read your orignal story and assumed it wasn’t true.
But it is.
Things like this make me ashamed to be an American. Worse, they undermine our efforts in Iraq at a very dangerous time. And worst of all, they are examples of utter inhumanity.
God damn them.
Sorry, but I’ll wait until the investigation is done and the military is done dispensing justice before I’ll get worked up about this. We can re-pave the “Arab Street” if it rises up. The prisoners were allegedly humiliated, that’s all. Deplorable, if true, but not summarily executed and dumped into a mass grave. When they and their bloodline are running airliners into our skyscrapers killing thousands of innocents, being made to stand on a box with playing electric ghost is something I can’t get fired up about.
I appreciate the probability that some will be offended and may cause trouble, but this is a scant % of the prisoners we hold.
Patrick, with all due respect, you are full of shit to your ears, and John is ENTIRELY right.
The fact is that we MUST be better than this, or we are lying to ourselves about what we stand for. I would have no problem whatsoever with a “forceful” field interrogation of prisoners to obtain tactical information, etc. But once we are out of tactical danger, we MUST treat prisoners the way we would have OUR military treated, were they captured by the other side. I know that the other side, particularly the Islamofascists, do NOT treat our prisoners better than this, but that is their sin; it should NEVER be ours.
If we aren’t better than our enemies, we don’t stand for shit. I am proud of my country, and I am proud of the men and women who serve in my country’s military, but I recognize there are bad apples in EVERY barrel – the trick is to find them and dispose of them, post haste. The “soldiers” who perpetrated this shameful episode should and must be punished to the full extent of the law.
And John is right; more men and women in our uniform will die because of what these subhuman assholes did.
If you think 9/11 justifies our acting like savages, you are sadly mistaken, and a sick individual.
These soldiers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of military law… hell, put ’em in Gitmo. But I could do without the commentary from this obvious leftist… a few soldiers do something horrible and now we’re NOT bringing freedom to Iraqis? We’re no better than Saddam now? Newsflash: In Saddam’s army, you got PROMOTED for this sort of thing.
P.S. I don’t want to hear from the left that the fact that someone served somehow makes them immune from criticism from now on…
There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said by everyone (but Patrick). John, while I understand the general shame you must feel – as all decent Americans must feel when one of their own does something so inhuman – I can’t emphasize enough that you needn’t feel any personal shame. While you may have shared the same uniform as these sadists, you are not in any way responsible for their actions. These “people” are war criminals and deserve to be treated as such.
I don’t feel ashamed in the guilt sense- I feel ashamed in the general collective sense we all should feel. Don’t make this about me.
We need a full, immediate, determined investigation with no whitewashes and no cover-ups.
And whoever is found guilty must then be punished to the fullest possible extent of the UCMJ and the law.
If we do not act with honor, if we do not act rightly, if we cannot convince the Iraqi people that we are just and sincere, then what we are trying to build in Iraq will never actually work.
We cannot be ‘Meet the new boss, he’s sorta less brutal than the old boss but still an asshole.’ We have to show what America is truly all about. We have to lead by example.
This… filth… is *NOT* an example. It’s something that needs to be purged from our armed forces. Immediately.
I feel saddened that the fine and heroic service of so many can be so easily made to feel shamed by the depravity of so few.
“Don’t make this about me.”
That’s crazy talk, John.
If she got the photos by capturing images from Sixty Minutes II, like she said, why aren’t these all over CBS, CNN, NBC, FOX, ABC, etc?
I have only seen a few hours of news since Tuesday, But I have not heard word one about this on the TV.
I looked for but didn’t find the source of these pictures. They certainly are abuse if they are genuine. However, I would like to find out if they are real or fakes manufactured for propaganda purposes.
IF… those are actual pictures of US Armed Forces involved in the torture of Iraqi prisioners, I agree, they should be Court Martialed and if found guilty, given the maximum penalty allowed.
BUT… if those are “doctored” photos (as the one with the female pointing and smiling appears to be) then all Hell should be raised in order to exonerate our military. This shit just doesn’t occur: I can’t believe we have people that would begin to tolerate this inhumanity.
I agree with CadillaqJaq. And I think we all have to.
I am 1) extremely hard pressed to believe that American soldiers actually pulled this kind of shit. 2) That doesn’t mean I don’t believe it will happen. Human beings are capable of a lot of “amazing” things.
If it does turn out that this is 100% genuine torture of POWs by Americans I hope all the US soldiers – a group I proudly serve with every day – face execution. The US is known for excellent treatment of prisoners and, again, if this stuff is true, this ruins that reputation.
If it’s fake, and frankly, it looks just a bit too staged to me… I mean, why blot out the genitals? Why blot out anything? If it’s fake, then I want to see entire docotoral dissertations in anti-terrorism regarding the use of this stuff, the photofactories where it’s produced, etc.
“Sorry, but I’ll wait until the investigation is done and the military is done dispensing justice before I’ll get worked up about this.”
Thought experiment: these words are spoken/written on September 12th. Your reaction?
Once again, we see the beginnings of the playing out of the drama, no, comedy, no, tragedy still on display a few doors down on this blog in the entry on the Marine phone: people coming out of the woodwork to insist it is an obvious fake (in that thread, complete with tankers full of abuse for anyone to whom it isn’t “obvious”).
If not to insist, then to cast knee-jerk doubt.
Apparently, the Army has locked up all those people, recommended courts-martial, dismissed a Brigadier General and her entire command staff, reassigned the commander of Guantanamo, the President of the United States has spoken out on it, and, you know, that’s all because CBS manufactured the incident by reporting on it weeks later.
What are you going to believe? Your eyes, or the voices in your head?
John, respectfully, I hope to never see uou write again about how this sort of thing is prevalent on only one side of the political spectrum, or is typical or revealing of its natural tendencies.
It’s not. It’s tendency of human morons, found everywhere.
I just checked out the photos at the Memory Hole website.
1. The photos of the gleeful Americans – they’re really clear shots. What are the names of these people? Does anyone know?
2. Is there some reason the woman wanted her picture taken thus? I mean, to whom would you show these things to? “hey mom, here’s what I did in Iraq? I made a guy suck another guy’s dick! Isn’t that great?!”
3. According to the Memory Hole several soldiers (including a one-star) were discharged – I may have this wrong and I don’t feel like going back and checking…). This is bigger than My Lai. When Sgt. John Ronghi raped and killed a Kosovar Albanian girl in 2000, the story was all over the place – including the Stars and Stripes! His photo, the little girl’s (she was 12, I think) photo – in the hands of her crying father, etc. And didn’t a hasty LTC get in a lot of trouble a few months ago for putting a gun in an interrogee’s face?
3. Does JAG not teach the soldiers any more? Is there so little MWR that this passes for recreation? What the FUCK?! What is even the point of torturing POWs? what is even the point of even wanting to do this?
Typo: Marine photo.
I appreciate this, John. It’s good to know that the mainstream left and right are essentially on the same side.
I’ve never hit your site before today. I’m sending this link to everyone I know. We should know this. The world should know this.
Every damned “Milblogger” should see this.
Every sanctimonious “patriot” should see this.
I’m for either (a) hanging them in public, or (b) turning them over to the families of the Iraqis they tortured and killed.
Not in my name.
The people who did this ceased being U.S. soldiers when they did it. They’re punks and sociopaths who somehow managed to get into the military.
Try ’em, fair and square, and then send them up the river for 20 years. The damage they’ve done is incalculable, especially to the valor and sacrifice of those who’ve gone by the rules, fought and even died, honorably.
Please, apply no political angle to this — never mind about Rather, Bush, Kerry or whoever. This is a matter of right and wrong, and anyone with two functioning brain cells and an ounce of decency will get it right.
These uniformed turds will be spending a looooong time turning big ones into little ones. They will then be turned out as unfit to wear the uniform of a United States Serviceman.
What they deserve is to be shot just below the sternum so they die SLOW!
Will, why don’t you click on John’s trackback, and check out the 13 blogs who have linked to this. Almost all of them are right-of-center “warbloggers” who supported action in Iraq. All of them unequivocally condemn the actions of the dirtbags involved in this. What happened was wrong, and it doesn’t require your left-wing mindset to recognize barbarism and condemn it when it’s on display. Please get off your high horse, since virutally nobody is defending the indefensible.
“Improved Explosive Devices.”
I believe that’s “Improvised,” by the way.
Crap, I was supposed to be taking a brief break from this. My Inner Proofreader never quits. Sorry.
Those soldiers involved in this disgraceful incident have dishonored their fellow soldiers as well as their country. It would be well to keep in mind that the half dozen involved no more represent the majority of our troops than such execrable individuals as Hesiod and atrios represent most Americans.
Ooh, way to mentally link leftists with soldiers torturing prisoners.
This isn’t just this half-dozens soldiers. The kind of brazenness necessary to take pictures of torture as souveneirs simply does not take place in any context other than a total institutional breakdown. We will find that torture was endemic to this institution, and that a large number of US soldiers were involved.
Of course, we’ll cover it up, but that’s how this Administration works.
Kimmitt: where the fuck is your evidence of a cover up, you stupid shit, communist?!
“We will find…” posts Kimmit. In his wisdom, Kimmit admits to carrying a mouse in his shirt pocket and condemns the entire military.
I haven’t seen a TV news cast since yesterday afternoon so I’m not up to date on what’s been happening, but my mouse and I surely pray that those guilty are a miniscule minority and that they receive their just punishment quickly and openly for all of the world to see, particularly in the middle east.
As if even that would console them in their hatred: this is irreparable IMO, and certainly not political in nature.
Accusations of this type are too disgusting for any serious commentator to initially dismiss them as “obvious fakes”. Doing so sets one up to be so discredited that one cannot even comment later, regardless of the final outcome. What we know right now, oddities and all, passes the red-face test.
Since I pretend to be serious and capable of critical thought, my initial and continuing response is to be horrified by what appears to have occurred. There’s no relativity involved, either – even if they’re “hazing stunts” that don’t compare to evils past.
However, in my pretense to seriousness and critical thought, it also never occurred to me that these actions are representative of anything but the actions of the individuals involved. In other words, sorry – I can’t reach the point where I let these actions dictate to me who I am, who the US is, and what our military or government stands for.
After giving it a bit of thought, I’d hope to find that most others would agree.
My bad…I should have included Kimmitt among the list of execrable individuals. Consider the earlier list “amended.”
Kimmitt, you really are a piece of work aren’t you? You’re so cocksure that there is a complete and total institutional breakdown in the military that a large number of U.S. soldiers would actually condone and/or participate in such atrocities. And of course, as usual, you have no facts…not one…to verify this and not a single shred of hard evidence to even faintly suggest a cover-up. You have watched one too many episodes of The X Files.
Damn, Kimmitt drank the kool-aid. I disagreed with him most of the time, but he was not a mindless drone until now. We’ve lost another reasonable lefty to the tinfoil brigade.
KimmittI take strong personal exception to your remarks. Care to back them up with something concrete, rather than just smearing everyone in uniform? Or is this a preview of what we can expect to hear from this point forward.
The institution I sought to refer to was Abu Ghraib detention facility, not, of course, the US military, which is a little large to be encapsulated by any single incident, thanks.
I would be absolutely startled if torture was not de rigeur at Abu Ghraib. People do not take photos of themselves smiling while torturing people unless there is a larger culture of impunity.
Before everybody ruptures their spleens calling Kimmit names, read this. Or this.
This stuff shames us all. And I’m less and less convinced that the six reservists involved acted entirely without supervision.
Look, I can’t stand Bush, I am often frustrated by our government’s lying, and I would be delirious if this episode would be enough to sink the current administration. However, those pictures with Americans in them look fake to me. In the one of the woman smiling and the man standing behind the naked pyramid, the smiling faces look like head shots, as does the one with the woman pointing. I am puzzled as to why there seems to be widespread acceptance of these pix as real.
Because they are real, Reading Glasses. As is the picture of the British soldier pissing on an Iraqi prisoner at another facility. And the stories provided by JKC give more depth to these stories. People have already been relieved of duty over this. So, no more speculation that these are fakes. They are unfotunately very real.
I’ve submitted two posts on my blog in as many days about these “soldiers” who should spend a lot of time in prison.
I am a retired veteran, a Milblogger, but I am not YOUR “damned MilBlogger.” I’ve heard of guys named “Will” who are child molesters. That doesn’t make you one.
The military thinks these events are real enough, and prevalent enough, to have ordered Karpinski out in January and an internal investigation that found widespread torture, including pouring acid on prisoners – who are often swept up randomly or on anonymous “tips”, shades of the Bastille here – and sodomizing them, (broom handles mentioned) and those ex-military “civilian contractors” engaging in rapes, and several dead and concealed beating victims.
Problem is, the secret 53 page report for Pentagon Eyes Only, commissioned by some guy named Sanchez, got out.* And there is more to come, according to other soldiers. And this isn’t taking into account the whole British side.
This has been simmering for a long time. Remember the forklift incident? Remember the allegations of beatings and innocents imprisoned, all the usual behavior of an occupying force, from the beginning? No? Was I the only one paying attention?
Tbe CIA is involved, people. A General in command of a prison doesn’t just “forget” about an entire wing on command of some random civilian flunkeys.
We helped train the Shah of Iran’s police. We helped train the Hondurans. Some actively, and some by turning a blind eye, our regime *is guilty* of torture. Just as our criminal justice system is full of criminal injustice.
The Enemy *Is* Us, Dammit.
I only hope that some soldier of conscience was the one to blow the whistle on the new Pentagon Papers, just as those who remembered conscience started all of this in the first place.
*Yes, I do know who Gen. Sanchez is. (I listen to NPR.) And I still think that if they had yanked Bremer last year and given Petraeus his job, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
Well, Kimmit and JKC, I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong. I just wish to God I wasn’t wrong about something this horrific and inexcusable. This morning on the way into work, I heard two separate reports on two separate radio stations (one was NPR) indicating that these were not isolated incidents. Furthermore, according to this Amnesty International press release, this sort of thing has been going on for the past year:
JKC’s links to the NY Times and New Yorker articles seem to suggest that the U.S. intelligence community was well aware of what was going on and even encouraged such behavior, at least at Abu Ghraib. Here’s another from the London Free Press:
I’m not naive enough to think that the U.S. has NEVER engaged in torture and abuse of detainees (or that Janis Karpinski was unaware of what went on), but I sincerely thought that such incidents were isolated and perpretrated by a few loose cannons. It sickens me to think that this may be a pattern of behavior among the troops at Abu Ghraib. And now the remaining 99% of the troops who are honest and decent will be painted with the same brush.
Several Brit papers are running with the claim that the Brit pictures are fake, challenging the Mirror, hardly a paper known for its journalistic integrity and lack of shrill overblown reporting. So I’d reserve judgment as far as the Brits are concerned at this juncture.
Meanwhile, one highly placed source is saying that these prisoners were the ones who did the same to our soldiers. Of course the mainstream press here wasn’t nearly as interested in that story as it happened. Not that it fully justifies it, but if true, the press has a responsibility to get the facts out there.
Sounds to me like this highly-placed source is blowing a lot of highly placed smoke. Don’t inhale.
I wish I was wrong, and that you were right. Worse still, this article in today’s NY Times suggests (by way of Obsidian Wings) suggests this disgusting behavior may not have been limited to Abu Ghraid.
So they are, HH. I thought I’d read they’d been verified. Obviously they have not been. But nevertheless, the American photos have indeed been verified and people have been removed fom duty because of it.
this is really disgusting and tell the real story of brutal attact. this is the real face of imperialist us and uk. it should be condemmed universall
Thanks for the link to the NY Times article. People have a tendency to overreact when something as terrible as 9/11 takes place and take out their anger and frustration on the likeliest suspects. I actually had a friend who thought we should set up internment camps a la Joe McCarthy for all Muslims until we found out who was responsible. Of course he came to his senses after a day or two. I’m not excusing such behavior, my point is the sort of backlash mentioned in the article is not surprising given what happened.
I actually expected to see articles like this all over the place just after 9/11, but I didn’t. It seems a little surprsing that the NY Times should run it 2 and a half years after the fact. While it’s equally deplorable, it has nothing to do with the situation at Abu Ghraib as far as I’m concerned. What I find ironic…and again, let me reiterate to the spinmeisters out there that I in no way condone or approve of what happened…is that there is more furor and outrage about this than about what happened to the four contractors in Fallujah. You would think that the media would have spent at least equal time vilifying the murder, mutilation, burning and public display of civilian U.S. contractors as they do the humiliation and psychological abuse of enemy combatants.
I agree that what happened in Abu Ghraib is disgusting and brutal and it should be condemned universally, but I wholeheartedly disagree with bhasha singh that this is the REAL face of an imperialist U.S. and U.K. We don’t see the pictures of U.S. soldiers helping Iraqi citizens, giving out food, or administering medical care because the media chooses not to show them.
“is that there is more furor and outrage about this than about what happened to the four contractors in Fallujah.”
Well, yeah. We expect insurgents to be brutal and inhumane, so it was pretty awful (and got a lot of attention), but, ultimately, something of a “dog bites man (a lot)” kind of story.
Don Rumsfeld: “I think that — I’m not a lawyer. My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture. I don’t know if it is correct to say what you just said, that torture has taken place, or that there’s been a conviction for torture. And therefore I’m not going to address the torture word.”
Hey! Where’s the outrage for the 4 Americans who fried to a crisp hanging upside down last month in Falluach? Where’s the Muslim outrage? Oh, I see….it’s different when a small group of idiots in our Military screw up uder orders from civilan contractors.
Well, yes. Because no one objected to what happened to Americans in Fallujah.
I’m glad this obscure happening was pointed out, because otherwise we might all have missed it.
There was no outrage about it, or, of course, military response. It was all obscure. Hidden. Not referred to on the front page of every newspaper in the world for weeks.
Where would we have known if not for this comment?
Why did Bush take Iraq?
Search for weapon of mass distruction?
Free the Iraq people from the rule of Saddam?
Yes! But the American taken over the role of Saddam!
a message for idiot american troops is to move there ass from iraq and goto hell or wherever they fell like doing this with each other.otherwise they will be the prisioners soon.
To think that this is even a point of discussion for you guys makes me sick. These are sick acts period. Only sick people like you will try to have a debate as to whether they are justified or not. Perverts!
do you suppose to you are god?
I think these acts against the Iraq’s are inhumane, but neither of us are over there nor in these US soldiers shoes. We don’t see the things that they have to see, we dont see someone we have known for an X amount of time get blown up in front of us. I think what they did was wrong, but maybe thats the way they are expressing the anger and resentment they are having to hold inside for being there. We are not the ones to judge these folks and make decisions on what punishment should be taken, nor can our sick ass Government. Hes the jackass and the reason for our men and women being away from their famliy and friends, praying for a safe return. He needs to take his ass over there and fight the battle. If you want to know my opinion. This is a neverending SAGA and it will continue for years, so keep praying and ask GOD to watch over your loved ones. Love you all
I am sooo embarassed to have military this STUPID AND SICK!!!