Bush, Torture and American Values in Iraq
by : Frank Wallis
Wednesday June 23, 2004 - 03:28
by Frank Wallis
The Use of Torture
During his invasion of Iraq, George W. Bush warned Iraqis about their treatment of American prisoners of war on 23 March 2003: “I expect them to be treated, the POWs, I expect to be treated humanely, just like we’re treating the prisoners that we have captured humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals.”
A Bush radio address on 5 April 2003 claimed “...the citizens of Iraq are coming to know what kind of people we have sent to liberate them. American forces and our allies are treating innocent civilians with kindness and showing proper respect to the soldiers who surrender. The people of the United States are proud of the honorable conduct of our military. And I am proud to lead such brave and decent Americans.”
In view of the Abu Ghraib human rights violations and the Fallujah Massacre, these comments are ironic at best. Support, permission, defense, and authorization for the use of torture came from the absolute highest levels of the Bush government, including the president himself. What is more astonishing and revelatory is the active and intentional participation of religious Christians in top-secret policy making which led to torture and crimes against humanity. Some of the names are familiar, such as Bush and Ashcroft, but others are less well known, such as Walker and Bybee.
In the American news media, CBS “60 Minutes II” (28 April 2004) was the first to report the excesses at Abu Ghraib. Seventeen soldiers and officers were being investigated for abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the military prison in Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad. The most sensational aspect of the TV story and later throughout the news media was the publication of explicit photographs of bizarre acts of sexual abuse by American troops. In most of the pictures, “...the Americans are laughing, posing, pointing, or giving the camera a thumbs-up.” Iraqi men are seen hooded, but naked, forced to masturbate, pose in humilating positions, and stacked in piles or pyramid formations. Gen. Mark Kimmit, spokesman for the US occupation, defended his military: “The Army is a values-based organization. We live by our values.” CBS also revealed that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, USAF Gen. Richard Myers, sought to delay broadcast of the story, but relented when other news outlets began to leak photos and bits of the whole story.
Treatment of Iraqi prisoners captured by US forces clearly did not receive the same degree of solicitation from the Bush government as it demanded for its own troops. Adel al-Allami, an official at an Iraqi human rights organization, along with officials at the ICRC, protested to US authorities in 2003 about violation of prisoners’ rights in US-run facilities throughout Iraq.1
The Red Cross said its president, Jakob Kellenberger, had personally warned three of George W. Bush’s most senior officials, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, “of widespread abuse tantamount to torture.”
At the 15 January meeting Kellenberger told Powell, “We have serious concerns about detainees in Iraq.” The next month, the Red Cross summarized its previous findings in a harsh 24-page confidential critique of abuses against Iraqi detainees between March and November 2003, calling some of them “tantamount to torture.” The report described an inspection of the Abu Ghraib prison in mid-October 2003 in which Red Cross officials witnessed abuse. During his January visit Kellenberger met with Powell, Rice, and with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. L. Paul Bremer III, the US pro-consul in Iraq, was also notified of ICRC findings in January 2004. Powell said that he, Rice, and Rumsfeld kept Bush informed about the ICRC reports.
The mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by the American military has been explained as the result of outsourcing and privatization of military intelligence, or to the presence of women in the military, or to sexual tension between men. Civilian contractors were employed as prison interrogators, as at Abu Ghraib. Peter Singer, an expert on the privatization of war at the Brookings Institution, and author of Corporate Warriors, said: “We’ve pushed the boundaries of this far beyond everything we’d conceptualized. These contractors were originally intended for lawn-mowing at bases.”
Conservative White House mania for privatization of military functions was a common thread in both Fallujah and Abu Ghraib (also noted by Paul Krugman in a NY Times Op-ed on 4 May 2004). Contractors from CACI and Titan were still on the Pentagon payroll, months after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was investigated back in January 2004. The mercenary greed of conservatives not only stoked the furnace of war fever, it also led to incompetence in Fallujah and human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib. “For one of the employees, the Army report recommended "termination of employment" and revocation of his security clearance. For the other, it urged an official reprimand and review of his security clearance.” Neither company had heard anything about this from the Pentagon, and its employees were still in Iraq, including the two named in the Taguba report, John Israel and Steven Stephaniwicz. Allen Weiner, a professor of international law and diplomacy at Stanford University law school, said that military officers are responsible for contractors’ misdeeds.
Joe Ryan, a former Army Green Beret working in Abu Ghraib for CACI International, a defense contractor, logged a diary for a conservative talk-radio station in Minneapolis, KSTP 1500. A copy of Ryan’s diary was obtained by the blogger Billmon (www.billmon.org). There is no mention of abuse in the diary and nothing to suggest that Ryan was involved, but he did write of interrogator “Wild” Bill Armstrong, “Bill is married with five kids and a devout Christian, father, and husband ... Politically, Bill makes [the right wing radio host] Rush Limbaugh look like a flaming liberal.”
With the prison abuse scandal breaking headlines, it could be said that women had achieved equal rights at last. They proved themselves as equally depraved as the men. Four names associated with the Abu Ghraib scandal are female: Pfc. Lynndie England of the 372nd Military Police Company, Capt. Carolyn A. Wood of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, head of the prison, and Brig. Gen. Barbara Fast, the intelligence deputy to General Sanchez and apparent head of interrogation at the prison. But lets not forget the men: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, General Sanchez, Lt. Col. Steve Jordan, commander of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib (established in September 2003), and Col. Thomas M. Pappas, apparently the warden of Abu Ghraib beginning in November 2003). England’s face and thumbs-up posturing with naked Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib have been all over the news media. By May 2004 she was back home, pregnant by fellow abuser Cpl Charles A. Graner.
Conservative Linda Chavez thought women were behind the weird sex torture at Abu Ghraib. Having women in the military caused men to do bad things.
Josh Marshall opined that “...when men try to humiliate other men by calling them "fags" and forcing them to simulate homosexual acts...I’d say it’s an issue of sexual tension between men, rather than between men and women.” Marshall, also pointed out that the man in charge of Pentagon intelligence is Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, who is known for showing up in uniform at churches and preaching that America is fighting a Christian holy war against the Muslim Antichrist.
There is a more probable answer to the question “why”? The answer is that both the US and UK military are trained to use sex torture in interrogations. The Pentagon knew about this method, so why would they be concerned about keeping a lookout for abuses of this type when it was established SOP to use sex torture?
The British and US military were trained in torture techniques taught at the Joint Services Interrogation Centre in Ashford, Kent, now transferred to the former US base at Chicksands, UK. British and US Special Forces learn about the degradation techniques (R2I, or resistance to interrogation) because they are subjected to them to help them resist if captured. The techniques are intended to prolong the shock of capture. Female guards are used to taunt male prisoners sexually and at British training sessions when female candidates were undergoing resistance training they would be subject to lesbian insults. Trainers recognize that in inexperienced hands prisoners can be pushed into psychosis. These techniques are widely known in the business.
Techniques include keeping prisoners naked; inmates being forced to crawl on a leash; forced to masturbate in front of a female soldier; mimic oral sex with other male prisoners; and form piles of naked, hooded men; hooding; sleep deprivation; time disorientation; and depriving prisoners not only of dignity, but of fundamental human needs, such as warmth, water and food.
The US commander in charge of military jails in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, confirmed use of fifty techniques used against prisoners. Miller, who ran the prison camp at Guantánamo, said his main role was to extract as much intelligence as possible. British intel officers were stationed at Abu Ghraib, and members of British MI6 visited the prison regularly in 2003 when the most flagrant abuses took place.2
The CIA was authorized to use water torture in a “...technique known as "water boarding," in which a prisoner is strapped down, forcibly pushed under water and made to believe he might drown.” It is no surprise that the torture techniques are the same as those outlined in the Guardian article above: “...authorized tactics are primarily those methods used in the training of American Special Operations soldiers to prepare them for the possibility of being captured and taken prisoners of war.” After 9-11, Bush authorized the CIA to use any means necessary to get bin Laden. The specifics of these directives are not public, and perhaps may never be under the secret government of Bush. “The C.I.A. has been operating its Qaeda detention system under a series of secret legal opinions by the agency’s and Justice Department lawyers. Those rules have provided a legal basis for the use of harsh interrogation techniques, including the water-boarding tactic...” Legal loopholes to absolve US officials of war crimes include torturing the prisoner in another country, or using surrogates to do the actual torture. Or by calling prisoners "unlawful combatants". One intelligence official said “There was a debate after 9/11 about how to make people disappear.”
The elite American Delta Force also used torture at a BIF (battlefield interrogation facility) near Baghdad’s airport. It was
“...the scene of the most egregious violations of the Geneva Conventions in all of Iraq’s prisons. A place where the normal rules of interrogation don’t apply, Delta Force’s BIF only holds Iraqi insurgents and suspected terrorists - but not the most wanted among Saddam’s lieutenants pictured on the deck of cards....Prisoners there are hooded from the moment they are captured. And in the BIF’s six interrogation rooms, Delta Force soldiers routinely drug prisoners, hold a prisoner under water until he thinks he’s drowning, or smother them almost to suffocation.” Rumsfeld said “Iraq’s a nation. The United States is a nation. The Geneva Conventions applied. They have applied every single day from the outset.” Apparently Rumsfeld knew all about BIFs and Abu Ghraib.
US prisons in Iraq also became dumping grounds for “ghost detainees”. The report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba found “Various detention facilities operated by military police in Iraq, hosted "ghost detainees" - unidentified prisoners brought to them by "other government agencies".” Taguba reported that the 320th Military Police Battalion at Abu Ghraib “...held a handful of "ghost detainees" that they moved around within the facility to hide them from a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross survey team....This maneuver was deceptive, contrary to army doctrine and in violation of international law.” British officials believed Abu Ghraib became a secret substitute for the controversial US prison facility at Guantánamo, which was attracting hostile international attention.3
Naked Iraqi prisoners were a common sight in Abu Ghraib prison, to the point where nobody questioned it as being abusive or unusual. Reports of forced nakedness at US prisons in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo were nothing compared with the more aggressive practice at Abu Ghraib. Making prisoners naked started as far back as July 2003, three months before the infamous events revealed in the Taguba report took place. According to the NY Times, prisoners were paraded naked past other prisoners and guards of both sexes. Prisoners were ordered to do jumping jacks and sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” naked. They were kept naked for a week at a time, and forced to stand for hours in public on boxes or platforms while naked.
Douglas Jehl and Neil A. Lewis reported on 22 May 2004 that “The use of dogs to intimidate prisoners during interrogation at Abu Ghraib in Iraq was approved by military intelligence officers at the prison, and was one of several aggressive tactics they adopted even without approval from senior military commanders, according to interviews gathered by Army investigators. Intelligence officers also demanded strict limits on Red Cross access to prisoners as early as last October...”
Army investigators cited accounts by American dog handlers who said use of attack dogs in interrogations at Abu Ghraib was approved by Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. Previously, Pentagon and Army officials had said that only the top American commander, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, could have approved the use of dogs for interrogations. A “memorandum for the record” issued on 9 October 2003 by the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib listed a procedures that were allowed only with approval from General Sanchez. The use of dogs in interrogations and detaining prisoners in isolation cells was permitted in some cases without prior approval from Sanchez.
At least two noncommissioned officers, Sgts. Michael J. Smith and Santos A. Cardona, said they had used unmuzzled attack dogs to intimidate prisoners during questioning. They said they were acting under instructions from Col. Pappas. Both sergeants said Pappas had assured them that the use of dogs in interrogation was permitted.
Another four-page report issued by the Red Cross in November 2003 said “Prisoners were found to be incoherent, anxious and even suicidal, with abnormal symptoms provoked by the interrogation period and methods....[and] intelligence officers at the prison and civilian contractors under their control adopted harsher tactics than previously known, and enlisted the military police in some of their interrogation methods.”
One intelligence officer, Spc. Luciana Spencer, said interrogations had been staged “in the showers, stairwell or property room” of the cellblock, as well as in two interrogation centers that were formally in control of the Joint Information and Debriefing Center. The officer in charge was Capt. Carolyn A. Wood of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, who other Army officers have said brought to Iraq the aggressive procedures the unit had developed during her previous service in Afghanistan, from July 2002 to January 2003. She served in Afghanistan as the operations officer in charge of the Bagram Collection Point.
Steven A. Stefanowicz, a civilian interrogator, described the “Sleep Meal Management Program,” in which prisoners were allowed no more than four hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, over a total of 72 hours. Stefanowicz said that military police were “allowed to do what is necessary,” to keep prisoners awake during that period short of killing them.
Among the previously unknown incidents was the death in January 2004 of an Iraqi prisoner at a forward operating base in Asad, Iraq, where a detainee had resisted questioning by Special Forces soldiers from Operational Detachment Delta. The prisoner died after he was gagged and his hands were tied to the top of his cell door, in an incident being reviewed for “consideration of misconduct”.
In a second incident in June 2003, at a “classified interrogation facility” in Baghdad, an Iraqi prisoner was found dead after being tied to a chair for questioning, and after being subjected to physical and psychological stress. The Denver Post said an autopsy had determined that he died of a “hard, fast blow” to the head, but no disciplinary action was taken.
A third incident involved Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, who died in November 2003 at a detention facility run by the Third Armored Cavalry, a unit based in Fort Carson, CO. A 27 November announcement by the American military command in Baghdad described Mowhoush as having died “of natural causes.” In fact, he died after being shoved head-first into a sleeping bag, and questioned while being rolled repeatedly from his back to his stomach. Then an interrogator sat on the general’s chest and placed his hands over his mouth. The “preliminary report lists the cause of death as asphyxia due to smothering and chest compressions.” American intelligence officials have said Mowhoush died several days after C.I.A. employees handed him over to the military, but the agency’s inspector general is examining possible wrongdoing.
An AP report by John Lumpkin on 22 May 2004 said the Pentagon was investigating 37 prisoner deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. The excuses for such murders are laughable. “Shot while trying to escape” was one of them. A few in Iraq were killed by CIA interrogators. The cause of death was either head injury or suffocation.
Pfc. Andrew J. Sting of Bradner, and Pfc. Jeremiah J. Trefny entered guilty pleas at a 14 May 2004 court-martial in Iraq. They pleaded guilty to giving electric shocks to an Iraqi prisoner at the Al Mahmudiya prison. Sting and Trefny were infantrymen with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and attached to the 1st Marine Division based at Pendleton. Sting pleaded guilty to charges of assault, cruelty and maltreatment, dereliction of duty, and conspiracy to assault. He was sentenced to a year in prison, a reduction of rank, forfeiture of pay and a bad-conduct discharge. Trefny pleaded guilty to cruelty and maltreatment, dereliction of duty, false official statement, violating a lawful order, and conspiracy to commit assault. He was sentenced to eight months in prison, reduction of rank and forfeiture of all pay, and he will also receive a bad-conduct discharge.4
Two soldiers at Camp Bucca, Iraq, (Tim Canjar and Lisa Girman) were discharged from service for abusing prisoners. Guards interviewed by CBS told of deplorable conditions and prisoners shot or left to die after viper bites.5
Sen. Charles Schumer called for the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the “slipshod” hiring process that allowed four troubled state prison officials to work as private contractors at Abu Ghraib. Terry Stewart was sued by the Justice Department in 1997, when he ran Arizona’s Corrections Department. The lawsuit charged that at least 14 female inmates were repeatedly raped, sexually assaulted and watched by corrections workers as they dressed, showered and used the bathroom.At the time, officials also charged prison authorities had denied investigators access to staff and prisoners to examine abuse complaints. John Armstrong left as Corrections Department chief in Connecticut last year after the agency was sued by female guards who alleged they were sexually harassed. Armstrong denied his departure had anything to do with the lawsuit. O.L. “Lane” McCotter resigned under fire as head of the Utah Corrections Department after a mentally ill inmate died after spending 16 hours strapped naked to a chair. McCotter’s predecessor, Gary DeLand, headed the agency in the late 1980s, when civil rights lawyers charged his department denied appropriate medical care to inmates.
SOURCE: Devlin Barrett, "Senator Cites Contractors in Prison Abuse," AP, June 3, 2004.
On the weekend of 8 May 2004 White House officials reviewed hundreds of additional photographs collected as part of the investigation of abuse of prisoners in Iraq, “...some showing new cases of the humiliation of captives and many consisting of heterosexual pornography involving soldiers in uniform.” Military officials said the images, including digital video files, depicted more physical abuse of prisoners. Said one, “It’s not snapshots of people pointing at detainees - it’s live-action abuse. It’s horrible.” Some White House officials pushed for the immediate release of the photos. But Rumsfeld and the Pentagon held back, and only offered secret viewings to members of Congress.
On 13 May 2004 Rumsfeld told troops in Baghdad he had just visited the Abu Ghraib prison and received assurances from those in charge that abuses had ceased. “We’ve spent the day talking to people and seeing the steps that have been taken to see that those types of abuses to people for whom we have responsibility and custody will not happen again,” and that the abusers “betrayed our values and sullied the reputation of the country.”6 He was not being ironic. He had authorized everything.
Although Americans can sue foreign governments for war crimes committed as long ago as World War II, Iraqis will not be able to sue either the US or UK military over war crimes in 2003-04, because CPA Order 17, which granted immunity from prosecution in Iraq, was extended past the 30 June 2004 handover of “sovereignty” to the puppet regime appointed by the Bush government. Who Authorized the Torture?
In the War on Terror those at the top sought solutions to the problem of gathering valid intelligence. As revealed by veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, “The solution, endorsed by Rumsfeld and carried out by Stephen Cambone, was to get tough with those Iraqis in the Army prison system who were suspected of being insurgents. A key player was Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the commander of the detention and interrogation center at Guantánamo, who had been summoned to Baghdad in late August to review prison interrogation procedures...” Miller turned Abu Ghraib into an interrogation center instead of a detention facility. “Rumsfeld and Cambone went a step further, however: they expanded the scope of the SAP [special-access program], bringing its unconventional methods to Abu Ghraib. The commandos were to operate in Iraq as they had in Afghanistan. The male prisoners could be treated roughly, and exposed to sexual humiliation.” Beginning in the late 1970s neocons had been interested in exploiting the Muslim obsession with sex.
Officials interviewed by Seymour Hersh said that “...the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld’s long-standing desire to wrest control of America’s clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.” He created a secret spy agency within the Pentagon to conduct covert kill or kidnapping, and info extraction ops in Afghanistan against al-Queda, and then expanded it in Iraq to discover the secrets of the insurgency. “The operation had across-the-board approval from Rumsfeld and from Condoleezza Rice, the national-security adviser. President Bush was informed of the existence of the program...” CIA ceased cooperation in the fall of 2003 when it looked like the SAP was dealing more and more with arbitrarily abducted Iraqi civilians.
In April 2003, the Pentagon approved twenty methods of torture to be used in military interrogation. “The classified list of about 20 techniques was approved at the highest levels of the Pentagon and the Justice Department, and represents the first publicly known documentation of an official policy permitting interrogators to use physically and psychologically stressful methods during questioning. The use of any of these techniques requires the approval of senior Pentagon officials — and in some cases, of the defense secretary.” Mark Jacobson, a former Defense Department official who worked on detainee issues while at the Pentagon, said “I think we are too timid.”
Some senior officers from the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps alerted New York human rights lawyer Scott Horton about violations of human rights in 2003 and expressed alarm that “...with the war on terror, a fifty-year history of exemplary application of the Geneva Conventions had come to an end.”
The JAG officers told Horton that protective policies were discontinued in Iraq and Afghanistan. Interrogations were routinely conducted without JAG oversight. Worse, contractors were allowed unprecedented participation in the interrogation process, according to Joe Conason. Horton said “The Uniform Code of Military Justice, which governs the conduct of officers and soldiers, does not apply to civilian contractors. They were free to do whatever they wanted to do, with impunity, including homicide.”
When Horton and his New York bar colleagues wrote to the CIA’s general counsel, they “...were met with a firm brushoff. We then turned to senators who had raised the issue previously, and [we] assisted their staff in pursuing the issue directly with the Pentagon. These inquiries met with a similar brushoff.” The Bush government wanted no interference from human rights lawyers as it brought democracy and freedom to Iraq. Abu Ghraib: Depository of US Torture Plans
A classified report by Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller on 9 September 2003, demanded “...that the military police at Abu Ghraib be dedicated and trained to "set the conditions for the successful interrogation and exploitation of internees/detainees." The report, which Stephen Cambone has testified was presented to his deputy William Boykin, contained five recommendations spelling out how this was to occur and reported it had already begun.” Miller oversaw interrogation at Guantánamo and had recently completed an inspection of Iraqi prisons. A 19 November 2003 memo from Sanchez’s office formally placed the two key Abu Ghraib cellblocks where the abuses occurred under the control of Col. Thomas M. Pappas and his 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. Pappas implemented a torture plan, approved in twenty-five instances by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.
Videotaped beatings of prisoners at Miller’s Guantánamo camp suggested the severity of the general’s methods. Lieutenant Colonel Leon Sumpter, the Guantánamo Joint Task Force spokesman, confirmed this: all ERF actions were filmed so they could be reviewed by senior officers. All the tapes are kept in an archive. Sumpter refused to say how many times the ERF squads had been used and would not discuss their training or rules of engagement, saying: “We do not discuss operational aspects of the Joint Task Force missions.” ERF stands for Extreme Reaction Force, a five man punishment squad used to beat and torture prisoners for breaking prison behavior rules.
A 12 October 2003 memo signed by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez called for intelligence officers at Abu Ghraib to work more closely with the military police guards to “manipulate an internee’s emotions and weaknesses.” The backdrop for the policy was an event that occurred on 1 May 2003. Bush landed that day on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln off San Diego and declared that major combat operations were over. His declaration meant prisoners were no longer to be treated as POWs, but as civilians held by an occupying power.
In a memo signed on 18 August 2003, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, acting on a request from Rumsfeld and his top intelligence aide, Cambone, ordered Maj. Gen. Miller to conduct his inspection of prisons in Iraq. As discussed above, Miller finished his inspection on 9 September and left behind his own list of interrogation techniques.
Military officials said a female Army captain memorialized it in a wall posting that said the use of long-term isolation, “working dogs,“ sleep disruption, “environmental manipulation” and the use of forced "stress positions" were acceptable, but only if they were specially approved by Sanchez. Sanchez signed a September 2003 memo codifying the Miller torture policy and then sent it to CENTCOM for review. The memo was then revised to drop the detailed list of techniques that required “special approval”. On 12 October 2003, Sanchez signed the new memo [approving torture].
But on 13 May 2004 after photos of the abuses had provoked a political firestorm, Sanchez signed another memo, which replaced the 12 October 2003 policy and explicitly ruled out any approval of “stress positions” and other unspecified techniques.
The Pentagon on 16 May 2004 announced that certain methods of torture would no longer be permitted. “Guards will not be allowed to deprive prisoners of sleep for more than 72 hours, to place hoods over their heads or to make them kneel or stand uncomfortably. Several Democratic senators, as well as human rights activists, have said the methods used to deal with Iraqi prisoners were in breach of the Geneva Conventions. But US defense officials have strenuously denied that charge, saying all the techniques were legal.” Yet, if they were not unlawful, why discontinue them?
The problem with all of this torture was that it didn’t work very well, as experts have shown for decades. Unnamed military sources told NY Times reporters that the value of information gleaned from Abu Ghraib prisoners was very low. The best intelligence came from the field, at battalion level, from rebels captured during battle.
George Paine blasted this policy on 7 May 2004,
“This is institutional. This sadism, this cruelty, this inhumanity. It is institutional. It is a result of a message from the top. It is a result of rhetoric about good and evil. It is a result of painting people as "evil". It is a result of politicians and political appointees bragging about how the "gloves have come off". It is a result of talk about how "everything’s changed". It is a crisis of leadership, alright: a crisis of the White House, a crisis of the Pentagon E Ring.
As an American I am ashamed, I am angry, I am furious...My nation has been dragged through the mud and deposited at the gates of Hell. Sadists have been allowed to run amok, videotaping and photographing their terrible deeds without fear. They, at the direction of Military Intelligence, at the direction of the Central Intelligence Agency, tortured people and photographed and videotaped their crimes....They passed them around to their friends, laughing...”
A writer from Iraq (in Baghdad Burning), seethed with hatred for Bush and imposed “freedom”:
And through all this, Bush gives his repulsive speeches. He makes an appearance on Arabic TV channels looking sheepish and attempting to look sincere, babbling on about how this "incident" wasn’t representative of the American people or even the army, regardless of the fact that it’s been going on for so long. He asks Iraqis to not let these pictures reflect on their attitude towards the American people….Your credibility was gone the moment you stepped into Iraq and couldn’t find the WMD... your reputation never existed.
It seems that torture and humiliation are common techniques used in countries blessed with the American presence. The most pathetic excuse I heard so far was that the American troops weren’t taught the fundamentals of human rights mentioned in the Geneva Convention… Right — morals, values and compassion have to be taught [!]
All I can think about is the universal outrage when the former government showed pictures of American POWs on television, looking frightened and unsure about their fate. I remember the outcries from American citizens, claiming that Iraqis were animals for showing America’s finest fully clothed and unharmed. So what does this make Americans now?
Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? We’ll take our chances- just take your puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go. Conservative Support for Torture
Republican Sen. James Inhofe (Oklahoma) claimed Iraqi prisoners had no rights: “I’m probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment,” he said at a U.S. Senate hearing probing the scandal. “These prisoners, you know they’re not there for traffic violations. If they’re in cellblock 1-A or 1-B, these prisoners, they’re murderers, they’re terrorists, they’re insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands and here we’re so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.”7
Inhofe noted, “I am also outraged that we have so many humanitarian do-gooders right now crawling all over these prisons looking for human rights violations, while our troops, our heroes are fighting and dying.” Prisoners were terrorists and criminals. He droned on about the crimes of Saddam. Inhofe thought that for every released photo of prisoner abuse, a photo of a Saddam victim should also be released.8
From the 4 May 2004 Rush Limbaugh Show:
CALLER: It was like a college fraternity prank that stacked up naked men...
LIMBAUGH: Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we’re going to ruin people’s lives over it and we’re going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I’m talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?
The day before, on his May 3rd show, Limbaugh observed that the female Americans who mistreated Iraqi prisoners were “babes” and that the pictures of abuse were no worse than “anything you’d see Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage.”
LIMBAUGH: And these American prisoners of war — have you people noticed who the torturers are? Women! The babes! The babes are meting out the torture.
LIMBAUGH: You know, if you look at — if you, really, if you look at these pictures, I mean, I don’t know if it’s just me, but it looks just like anything you’d see Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage. Maybe I’m — yeah. And get an NEA grant for something like this. I mean, this is something that you can see on stage at Lincoln Center from an NEA grant, maybe on Sex in the City — the movie.
The following are excerpts from Michael Savage’s May 11 and May 12 radio show, “Savage Nation,” that highlight his views of Arabs, immigrants, and minorities. In the course of the shows, Savage called Arabs “non-humans” and “racist, fascist bigots”; that Americans would like to “drop a nuclear weapon” on any Arab country; and that “these people” in the Middle East “need to be forcibly converted to Christianity” in order to “turn them into human beings.”
American conservatives urged the US military to exterminate the subhuman Iraqis. As reported in the New York Times, Bob Mansen of Oswego, IL, said “Let’s kill them all. Let’s wipe them off the face of the earth.” And Rush Limbaugh stoked the furnace of genocide by saying “They are the ones who are perverted. They are the ones who are dangerous. They are the ones who are subhuman.”9 Add these to the psychotic babble of Sen. Inhofe and you get disturbing echoes of Nazi Germany.
Sen. Trent Lott spoke in favor of torturing and killing prisoners, in an interview taped May 24 and aired May 26 on WAPT-TV in Jackson, MS. “Frankly, to save some American troops’ lives or a unit that could be in danger, I think you should get really rough with them....Some of those people should probably not be in prisons in the first place ["probably should have been killed..."]....Nothing wrong with holding a dog up there unless it ate him.... (They just) scared him with the dog.” Lott was reminded that at least one prisoner had died at the hands of his captors after a beating. “This is not Sunday school. This is interrogation. This is rough stuff.”
The line in brackets is not in the transcript of the TV station website. It appears in the Washington Post, “Lott Defends Treatment of Iraqi Prisoners,” June 3, 2004; p.A6. I asked the reporter about the discrepancy and she wrote:
Dear Mr. Wallis; I’m not sure what transcript you saw but the one I got from the station (maybe a corrected version) had the clause as quoted in my story. Realizing how sensitive the whole interview was, I also got a tape from the station, which clearly includes the remark as quoted. The interviewer was also talking at the time, which could have explained the omission from the earlier transcript. It was difficult although clearly not impossible to hear. Thanks for your interest. - Helen Dewar" (email 3 June 2004)
Rep. Steve King, (R-IA), wrote in the Des Moines Register “What amounts to hazing is not even in the same ballpark as mass murder.”10 However, in hazing there is an element of consent. One must ask why hazing is deemed acceptable conduct among conservatives. Hazing is humiliation. It is intended to humiliate and demean. Conservatives believe this is good fun. Were frat boys in charge at Abu Ghraib? Were frat boys in charge at the White House and Pentagon? What fraternities did these leaders belong to? Are such fraternities fundamentally Republican?
Op-ed columnist Ted Rall responded to conservatives for deflecting attention from Abu Ghraib because Saddam did worse: “Shall we forgive Hitler for killing six million Jews if someone else kills seven?” Legal Position of Bush
On 15 May 2004, Alberto R. Gonzales, counsel to the president, wrote in the NY Times, “Both the United States and Iraq are parties to the Geneva Conventions. The United States recognizes that these treaties are binding in the war for the liberation of Iraq. There has never been any suggestion by our government that the conventions do not apply in that conflict.” According prisoner-of-war status “...to terrorists who hide among civilian populations and viciously flout the core Geneva principle of protecting the innocent would provide a perverse incentive to terrorists to continue to operate in violation of the laws of war.”
But insurgents are not wearing uniforms and do not belong to the Iraqi army. Reading between the lines, Gonzales confirms that the US does not have to follow the Geneva Conventions when dealing with insurgents or other “terrorists” in Iraq, which is not the intended message of his op-ed.
This dual message of Gonzales had been apparent in the Bush government for a long time. “They do not love liberty, they do not respect law, they do not cherish life.” - Alberto R. Gonzales. In February 2004 he said al-Queda was a “foreign enemy force” and the US was in a war against it. “The law applicable in this context is the law of war - those conventions and customs that govern armed conflicts. Under these rules, captured enemy combatants, whether soldiers or saboteurs, may be detained for the duration of hostilities.” The President decides who is an enemy combatant. He does not need to explain his reasons. Al-Queda is not a government. So, what is the status of a US citizen who works for al-Queda? Gonzales said that the determination of status is achieved after the Attorney General, the Director of CIA and the Secretary of Defense make an evaluation and send it to the President! That is incredibly high level evaluation for a mere “enemy combatant”. Then he slipped and called them “these terrorists.”
Treating enemies of the United States as an amorphous group of terrorists had consequences for people in Iraq. Responding to charges of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, the Pentagon responded on 24 December 2003 with a confidential letter asserting that many Iraqi prisoners were not under the Geneva Conventions. The Pentagon emphasized “military necessity” of isolating prisoners for interrogation because of their “significant intelligence value,” and said prisoners held as security risks to US troops could be handled differently from “prisoners of war or ordinary criminals.”
In public statements though, White House officials said that the Geneva Conventions were “fully applicable” in Iraq. That placed American prisons in Iraq in a different category from those in Afghanistan and in Guantánamo, where members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban have been declared “unlawful combatants” ineligible for protection. However, the 24 December letter undermined Bush claims of the Geneva Convention’s application in Iraq.
The Army lawyers who drafted this excuse letter thought Article 5 of the Fourth Geneva Convention allowed the US to capture and imprison people who were deemed a threat to soldiers. However, arresting people in Iraq just to obtain information through interrogation is not allowed by the Convention. Torture is also not allowed. The letter was addressed to Eva Svoboda of the Red Cross, who is identified as the agency’s “protection coordinator.” In October 2003 there were 601 prisoners at Abu Ghraib defined as “security detainees.”
Yet, at the beginning of the Iraq adventure, Rumsfeld and the Pentagon were excused from following the Geneva Conventions. A 100 page Pentagon report, slimmed down to a 56 page memo, titled “Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism: Assessment of Legal, Historical, Policy and Operational Considerations” (submitted 6 March 2003), was written by military and civilian lawyers for Rumsfeld, and detailed legal arguments that could be used to justify the use of torture by US officers and troops. The legal brief was the product of a committee appointed by the Defense Department’s general counsel, William J. Haynes II. The group leader was Air Force General Counsel Mary L. Walker, whose input included top civilian and military lawyers from each branch of service in consultation with the Justice Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies. The report found that the US military could defend torture on the grounds of state necessity. The president could justify his authorization to torture people because the Constitution said he could: authority to set aside the laws is “inherent in the president.” Actually, Article II, Sec. 3 of the Constitution gives no such authority. It says the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” not that he has permission to abrogate laws! With Bush, we have entered a new era of presidential dictatorship.
It was not only in Iraq that Bush permitted torture. “Methods now used at Guantánamo include limiting prisoners’ food, denying them clothing, subjecting them to body-cavity searches, depriving them of sleep for as much as 96 hours and shackling them in so-called stress positions....Although the interrogators consider the methods to be humiliating and unpleasant, they don’t view them as torture...”
The fact of Mary L. Walker’s founding membership in a Bible Christian organization in San Diego called Professional Women’s Fellowship (page seems to have been yanked), an offshoot of the Campus Crusade for Christ, has not been a good advertisement for the Prince of Peace. In an interview with the Pentagon lawyer Walker said: “My relationship with God and with others in the community of faith has been central in my life....It’s a travesty to be in a place of strategic importance to the world as a business or political leader and not allow God to accomplish the truly significant through you....Making moral decisions in the workplace where it is easy to go along and get along takes courage. It takes moral strength and courage to say, "I’m not going to do this because I don’t think it’s the right thing to do."” Copies of the interview are here and here. Walker sees herself as God’s instrument. Sadly, the instrument she became was in fact an instrument of torture.
Another Bible Christian, Attorney General John Ashcroft, supervised the promulgation of a 50 page Justice Department memo dated 1 August 2002, “Re: Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A,” defending the torture of terrorism suspects. It was authorized by Jay S. Bybee, head of the Office of Legal Counsel, which means the memo was legally binding. “The document provided legal guidance for the CIA, which crafted new, more aggressive techniques for its operatives in the field....Ashcroft yesterday refused senators’ requests to make public the memo, which is not classified, and would not discuss any possible involvement of the president....A former senior administration official involved in discussions about CIA interrogation techniques said Bush’s aides knew he wanted them to take an aggressive approach.”
Like Ms Walker, Bybee is a fierce religionist. He is a “saint”, i.e., LDS, a Mormon. He graduated from Brigham Young University Law School in 1980, joined the Department of Justice in 1984 under Reagan, in the Office of Legal Policy, and from 1989 to 1991 served George Bush I as Associate Counsel to the President. Bybee taught constitutional law for ten years, the last post being at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2001, after which he worked for Bush II. He was nominated by Bush II and sworn in as a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in March 2003. Bysbee is also a member of the conservative Federalist Society. “It’s no surprise that Bybee’s interest in the rule of law extends to a study of ancient law, notably in Old Testament times. As the Gospel Doctrine teacher in his ward, he saw parallels in the way people interpreted and applied ancient law to the way many individuals do so today.” In High-Tech Gays v. Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (F.2d, 1990) Bybee defended a mandatory screening process for all “known or suspected” gay employees because their participation in “acts of sexual misconduct or perversion [are] indicative of moral turpitude, poor judgment, or lack of regard for the laws of society.” He also criticized the Supreme Court’s incorporation of the First Amendment into the Fourteenth, an extreme right-wing viewpoint espoused by the failed white southern segregationists in the 1950s.
Lawyers from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, John Choon Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty, penned a 9 January 2002 memo to the effect that international treaty obligations did not apply to the President or US military in the war on terror, but the President could put enemy combatants on trial as war criminals for violating those same laws. Clearly a double standard, yet legalized by Bush lawyers, who spent a lot of time cooking up ways to justify torture and imprisonment without trial.
Yoo is on record as opposing the Chemical Weapons Convention, banning chemical weapons of mass destruction. His allies on that issue included the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, Midge Decter, Douglas Feith, Steve Forbes, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ed Meese, Charles Krauthammer, Norman Podhoretz, Donald Rumsfeld, Phyllis Schlafly, George Will, and Casper Weinberger. The usual cast of characters from the extreme right-wing. Yoo has recently written that the United States, as the most powerful international actor, has the right to launch preemptive war on the basis of preserving the status quo, not on the basis of imminent attack.11 Yoo belongs to the Federalist Society, and clerked for GOP Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court. He was a visiting fellow of the arch-conservative American Enterprise Institute. His typical conservative views on the primacy of the executive branch helps to explain Yoo’s easy acceptance of torture, as long as the President authorizes it. US Law on Torture
Title 18, Sec. 2340A(a) USC states that the penalty for the crime of torture is: “Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”
Outside the United States includes the high seas, US aircraft, US ships, lands bought or leased by the US, and “...diplomatic, consular, military or other United States Government missions or entities in foreign States, including the buildings, parts of buildings, and land appurtenant or ancillary thereto or used for purposes of those missions or entities, irrespective of ownership.” (Title 18, Part I, Chapter 1, Sec.7)
Title 18, Sec. 2340A(a) USC states that those who conspire to commit this offense are subject to the same penalties.
Torture is defined under Title 18, Sec. 2340 USC - Definitions: “...an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control...” And “severe” is defined as
“...the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from - (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering; (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality; (C) the threat of imminent death; or (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality...”
We are dealing with legal definitions and statutes, but the law is not statutes only. The law is also the opinion of courts and judges interpreting the statutes in relation to the facts of a particular case. There is plenty of wiggle room in these torture statutes, the principle one being the question of intent. Did the US military intend to cause “severe” pain or suffering according to the USC definition?
In light of what we already know of policy decisions at the highest levels in the White House and Pentagon, the aim and intent of the Bush government was to inflict suffering on anyone who seemed to have information about people who opposed the invasion of Iraq. If the abusers cannot be prosecuted over torture charges, then other charges would suffice, like assault and battery, or any other crimes involving abusive conduct. Those who authorized abuse, such as Rumsfeld and Bush, must be held accountable for their actions in a court of law. But the larger issue is one of morality. Bush cannot claim the moral high ground in this filthy descent into barbarism. US Military holds Iraqis Hostage: Commits War Crimes
Kidnapping family members is a form of abuse and torture. Iraqi human rights groups say they have documented dozens of cases in which family members who were not accused of any crimes had been detained for weeks or even months and told that they would be released only when a wanted relative surrendered to US forces. “We have many cases of Americans going to a house looking for someone, and when they can’t find him, they take another family member in his place,” said Basem al-Rubaie, director of the Council of Legal Defense Care, a group of Iraqi lawyers that has been campaigning for prisoner rights. “This has been going on since the early days of the American occupation.”12
“It’s clearly an abuse of the powers of arrest, to arrest one person and say that you’re going to hold him until he gives information about somebody else, especially a close relative,” said John Quigley, an international law professor at Ohio State University. “Arrests are supposed to be based on suspicion that the person has committed some offense.”13
Human rights activists said the US military held dozens of Iraqis as bargaining chips to put pressure on their wanted relatives to surrender. These prisoners were not accused of any crimes, and experts say their detention violated the Geneva Conventions and other international laws. It made America look hypocritical.14
On kidnapping, Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said such methods were used to gather intelligence. On 23 July 2003 Hogg said his men seized the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: “If you want your family released, turn yourself in.” Hogg claimed such tactics were justified because, “It’s an intelligence operation with detainees, and these people have info.” The kidnapping tactic worked well enough. On 25 July the wanted man appeared at the front gate of the US base and surrendered.15
However, holding innocent civilians hostage in order to force their relatives to surrender is a violation of Articles 31, 33, and 34 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, signed at Geneva, August 12, 1949, and ratified by the US Congress:
Art. 31. No physical or moral coercion shall be exercised against protected persons, in particular to obtain information from them or from third parties.
Art. 33. No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.
Art. 34. Taking hostages is prohibited.
Art. 4. Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.
Art. 146. The High Contracting Parties undertake to enact any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present Convention defined in the following Article....Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts...
Art. 147. Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the present Convention: . . . unlawful confinement of a protected person, [and] taking of hostages...
The United States, in the War Crimes Act of 1996, codified at Title 18, sec. 2441, of the United States Code, implements articles 146 and 147 to provide criminal penalties for “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention:
Title 18, Sec. 2441, USC. War crimes.
(a) Offense. - Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.
(b) Circumstances. - The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing such war crime or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).
(c) Definition. - As used in this section the term war crimes means any conduct -
(1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party.
Thus, every member of the US military and every US national responsible for holding an Iraqi hostage in order to force his or her relative to surrender is guilty of a “grave breach” of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and of Title 18, sec. 2441, USC. Every such person (particularly commanders) should be prosecuted as a war criminal. They should know better. They do know better. What are they teaching these people at West Point?
An unnamed military official said “The coalition does not take hostages. Relatives who might have information about wanted persons are sometimes detained for questioning, and then they are released. There is no policy of holding people as bargaining chips.” The ICRC quoted military intelligence as saying that between “70 and 90 percent” of the nearly 8,000 Iraqis detained by occupation forces had been arrested “by mistake.” In some cases, the report found, US troops continued to hold people for several months after they had been cleared of any wrongdoing. (see Bazzi, op cit)
Yet again, the Chicago Tribune (among others) reported in April 2004 about Sgt. Samuel Provance’s account of a prisoner’s son in an attempt to get the father to talk. Americans at Abu Ghraib stripped the boy naked, threw him in the back of an open truck, and drove him around in public spattered with mud and filth. The boy was displayed to the father, who then agreed to tell the Americans anything they wanted. Provance’s account echoed concerns raised by the ICRC, which had received reports that interrogators in Abu Ghraib were threatening reprisals against detainee’s family members. Provance had been deemed a credible witness by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba.
The US also ratified (1994) the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Bush Thesis on American Values
Throughout his presidency Bush struck a high moral tone suffused with religious piety and expressions of traditional American values. The contradictions between his pious rhetoric and the unethical deeds of his agents was most glaring in the Iraq adventure, and especially in the Abu Ghraib scandal. Some observers thought Bush was acting. Josh Marshall thought “The president’s stylized expressions of outrage and disgust are further revealed, I believe, as play-acting, like his feigned outrage over the outing of Valerie Plame by one of his top advisors...”
Yet, time and again in his tenure Bush appeared to be sincere and shameless in voicing a kind of false American innocence and superiority that drives liberals mad. Bush ceaselessly reiterated key words and phrases such as “family and friendship, values and character, values of respect, character and values, so loving and so decent, compassion, campaign against evil, protect our children, good versus evil, morality, dignity, respect the faith, man’s moral responsibility.” Related to the Iraq adventure these words will forever haunt the Bush presidency with the ghost of hypocrisy. These key words and phrases are highlighted in bold in the following quotes from Bush:
“We’re sending a clear message overseas, that ours is a proud nation that will promote the peace... We’re going to stand tall for freedom and America; that what’s good for America is going to be paramount to my way of thinking....a country that values family and friendship; a place where people learn values and character.”
“We can teach our children values that will make an enormous difference for our country as a whole, the values of respect: respect the land; respect somebody with whom you may not agree; respect your neighbor, regardless of where they were raised or where they were born; respect somebody else’s religious views, be willing to listen....Part of respect is to respect your mom and dad....Now, this is a nation of character and values....our country is the greatest there is. And the reason why we are is because the people of America are so fantastic and so loving and so decent.” - Bush, August 14, 2001.
“Compassion is one of the values that builds communities of character, because every community of character must be a community of service.” - Bush radio address, August 18, 2001.
“As a Nation, we have a renewed dedication to our freedom, our country, and our principles. In homes, schools, places of worship, the workplace, and civic and social organizations, we must continue to encourage responsibility, compassion, and good citizenship.” - Bush proclamation of Family Day, September 23, 2002 Bush on Islam and Evil
“Americans understand we fight not a religion; ours is not a campaign against the Muslim faith. Ours is a campaign against evil.” - Bush remarks at O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, IL, September 27, 2001
“The teachings of many faiths share much in common. And people of many faiths are united in our commitments to love our families, to protect our children, and to build a more peaceful world.” - Bush, Message for Eid al-Fitr, December 13, 2001.
“We’re taking action against evil people. Because this great nation of many religions understand, our war is not against Islam, or against faith practiced by the Muslim people. Our war is a war against evil. This is clearly a case of good versus evil, and make no mistake about it — good will prevail.” - Bush at a Town Hall Meeting, Ontario, CA, January 5, 2002.
“I have a hope for the people of Muslim countries. Your commitments to morality, and learning, and tolerance led to great historical achievements. And those values are alive in the Islamic world today. You have a rich culture, and you share the aspirations of men and women in every culture. Prosperity and freedom and dignity are not just American hopes, or Western hopes. They are universal, human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of the Middle East, America believes those hopes have the power to transform lives and nations.” - Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership, The Rose Garden, Washington, D.C., June 24, 2002.
“Islam is a vibrant faith. Millions of our fellow citizens are Muslim. We respect the faith. We honor its traditions. Our enemy does not. Our enemy doesn’t follow the great traditions of Islam. They’ve hijacked a great religion.” - Bush on U.S. Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan, Washington, D.C., October 11, 2002.
“We see in Islam a religion that traces its origins back to God’s call on Abraham. We share your belief in God’s justice, and your insistence on man’s moral responsibility. We thank the many Muslim nations who stand with us against terror. Nations that are often victims of terror, themselves.” - Bush, undated speech to Muslims at Iftaar Dinner in the White House. Bush Response to War Crimes
Bush praised his own decision to remove Saddam. “There are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq.”16 This was of course wildly incorrect, as there was a mass grave in Fallujah, filled with civilians killed in Operation Vigilant Resolve, April 2004. Bush was aware of what was happening at Abu Ghraib prison, and the sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of American GIs, before the story broke on CBS “60 Minutes II”.
On 7 May 2004 in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, Bush said “the cause of freedom is in good hands.” About the Abu Ghraib crimes, he said “Those few people have stained the honor of this country.” Earlier in the day, in Dubuque, Iowa, he said: “They do not reflect the nature of the men and women we have sent overseas. We’ve sent decent, compassioned, honorable, sacrificing citizens....I can’t tell you how proud I am to be their commander in chief.”
Next day, Bush said, “In a free society people will see the truth...the truth will be known.”17 Bush was willing to place blame on others, but not on himself:
“America and the world have learned of shocking conduct in Iraqi prisons by a small number of American servicemen and women. The shameful images of prisoner abuse and humiliation do not reflect American values. They are a stain on our country’s honor and reputation....We will learn the facts, the extent of the abuse, and the identities of those involved. They will answer for their actions. All prison operations in Iraq will be thoroughly reviewed to ensure similar disgraceful incidents are never repeated. The actions depicted in those photographs show the wrongdoing of a few, and do not reflect the character of the more than 200,000 military personnel who have served in Iraq since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Our troops perform a thousand acts of kindness, decency, and courage every day in Iraq. More than 700 Americans have given their lives. These acts show the true character of America...Our forces will stay on the offensive, finding and confronting the killers and terrorists who are trying to undermine the progress of democracy in Iraq.” - Bush radio address, May 10, 2004.
Their greatest act of kindness was consenting to be placed in such a way as to be killed for a cause that was based on fundamental deceptions. The deceptions about imminent threat of attack; nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; and Iraq as an important ally of Osama bin-Laden. Americans don’t want to believe this. They want to pretend that the President would never do such a thing. If Americans could take the time to understand what Bush permitted and ordered in their name, perhaps their dangerous innocence and naiveté would vanish once and for all.
President Bush’s G.W.O.T. (Global War on Terrorism, or perhaps Godly War on Terrorism) became a Republican sex scandal. It is a stain on his presidency (and unlike the stain on Monica’s blue dress, this one involves 10,000 dead Arabs). It shows Bush to be a hypocrite: complaining about rape rooms under Saddam, while at GI-administered Abu Ghraib young boys were raped. Women were forced to expose parts of their naked bodies for photos, and worse. So much for clap-trap about women’s rights. So much for clap-trap about righteous crusades.
Frank Wallis runs Powerskeptic.net, a website that "questions authority, including Republicans, conservatives, fascists, communists, and other authoritarians who abuse power."
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