Ron Moore asserts in a blog post, "Dumbing Down Torture," that the media and the military have over-reacted to incidents of Abu Ghraib prison abuse and "torture," as if they were no big deal and certainly not torture. No doubt this is how a lot of people in the military and in the administration feel. Look at the pictures on the CNN web site and decide for yourself.
The case against Private England was declared a mistrial because the judge was not convinced of her guilty plea. Her attorney maintained she was just "following orders." At her sentencing hearing, evidence was presented that:
- "senior Army commanders tolerated chaotic, dangerous and illegal conditions at the notorious prison outside Baghdad." (Washington Post)
Should she and others who told her to humiliate the prisoners, and higher ups who knew or should have known about abuse of prisoners go unpunished?
- What has happened to other reservists (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Spc. Charles Graner, the poster boy for Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, "was convicted of nine criminal counts in the brutality case and sentenced to serve 10 years at the military prison...Graner's mother charged that her son's superior officers were 'all guilty' but had passed the buck to their underlings. 'He got 10 years in prison for something he was told to do,' Irma Graner told reporters at Fort Hood, Texas, when she attended her son's court-martial in January," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The trials of the participants bring up graphic descriptions that should not be dismissed lightly:
"[Photographs] showed Private England holding a leash around the neck of a naked Iraqi prisoner, posing with a group of naked Iraqis who had been forced to simulate masturbation and with a pyramid of naked detainees, pointing at the genitals of a prisoner, and standing by another prisoner with the word "rapeist" written on his exposed buttocks....Private England contended it was for her fellow soldiers' amusement. -- "Private England Pleads Guilty to Abuses," The New York Times.
Other reports describe:
"forced group masturbation, electric shock, rape committed with a phosphorescent stick, the burning of cigarettes in prisoners' ears, involuntary enemas and beatings that end in death. (At least 30 prisoner deaths have been under criminal investigation.)...One detainee witness at the Graner trial testified in a taped deposition that he had been forced to eat out of a toilet...
"[At Sgt. Graner's trial], the trial's judge, Col. James L. Pohl of the Army, refused to allow witnesses to discuss which officers were aware of events in cellblock One-Alpha, or what orders they had given." -- Frank Rich, New York Times.
Abu Ghraib is NOT AN ISOLATED INCIDENT, but part of a pattern of abusing prisoners by Americans, especially at Guantanomo Bay, Cuba, according to Andrew Tulley of Radio Free Europe. He quotes Kenneth Allard, a retired U.S. Army colonel and former intelligence officer:
"He is certain the abuses by US military personnel at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay are linked. 'I think it's pretty clear that they're playing by the same playbook. I don't think there's any question about that whatsoever.' ...he believes it was the guards in Iraq who copied the methods of the jailers in Cuba....FBI e-mails describe prisoners who were bound and left on cell floors and subject to sexual and religious humiliation."
Writer Mark Danner nails the Abu Ghraib story in these articles:
"In pop culture, we approve of rogue heroes saving the day by any means necessary. It's all about getting the job done, and in getting the job done, there will always be casualties of war. And anyway, the bad guy deserved it. It's not so simple, of course, when as a nation we're confronted with our own culpability." - Teresa Wiltz in The Washington Post