May 1st, 2004


More details on the abuse at Abu Ghraib.

Seymour Hersch of the New Yorker has obtained a fifty-three-page report by Major General Antonio M. Taguba which documents the reasons for and level of abuse in Abu Ghraib prison. His article details the level of abuse in considerable detail, and also points at it being contributed to, in part, by orders from military intelligence.

One point that Gen. Taguba makes clear is that this isn't an isolated issue. He mentions numerous "systemic problems" that have been faced elsewhere, including Afghanistan, where M.P.'s get directed to assist Military Intelligence in breaking prisoners.

"I find that personnel assigned to the 372nd MP Company, 800th MP Brigade were directed to change facility procedures to 'set the conditions' for MI interrogations."

More specifically, the report documents Military Intelligence clearly as encouraging and being witness to Military Police abusing the prisoners. One M.P. who was not accused said that Military Intelligence encouraged MPs to "take away their mattresses, sheets, and clothes," and reports that some from Military Intelligence were witness to naked, shackled inmates being abused.

Whether the allegations against Military Intelligence will be followed up remains to be seen. Hopefully, their contribution to these incidents will not be swept under the rug.

Iraqis thoughts on the prisoner abuse scandal.

Here are the thoughts of Faiza, an Iraqi mother, on the scandal. The thoughts of Khalid, her son. A debate between two Iraqis on different sides of the issue. The thoughts of Riverbend, another Iraqi female.

General reaction? Extreme anger. The Iraqis heard for months about abuse and torture against both men and women in Coalition hands, but most didn't believe it. Now they don't know what to believe, but the pictures they *DO* know are true have opened the door to all sorts of other pictures and stories which are even more horrific, albeit highly questionable. The Iraqis don't really believe there will be any real justice in this case, and many of them want a public trial... some even want these cases to go before a war crimes tribunal. They don't seem to believe that this is just an isolated incident, in large part because more cases keep being reported in the world press. Amnesty International has documented approximately 30 other incidents of torture, abuse, and murder, and I myself have read accounts from U.S. servicemen who have mentioned soldiers in other units who have beaten Iraqis.

Maybe that's part of the problem. It happens, but it's always someone else's unit. And maybe it's completely unrealistic to expect it to not happen too. This is a war, after all, and when people are (or might) be trying to kill you and your buddies, it makes you pissed off, and mercy is probably the last thing on your mind.

Frankly, maybe the situation is such that we can assume that there will always be another accusation of an unconscionable act against the Iraqis, and always another Iraqi who is set upon revenge, no matter what the U.S. military does or doesn't do -- whether the allegations are true or not. I feel sympathy for those serving over in Iraq, who must feel immensely frustrated and powerless over such accusations. No matter how much they do, no matter how good they are, does it matter? All I can say is yes, it does. Even if the U.S. leaves Iraq and everything goes to hell, individual acts of kindness and mercy matter. They may make all the difference to you someday as to whether Iraq was worth it.

Maybe it isn't the Iraqis who should hope for a merciful, benevolent occupier... maybe it is the U.S. who should hope for forgiveness and mercy from the Iraqi people. If the situation were reversed, I am not certain that they could expect the same from us.

A song about a previous Gulf War.

"Gulf War Song"
by Moxy Fruvous

"We got a call to write a song about the war in the Gulf
But we shouldn't hurt anyone's feelings
So we tried, then gave up, 'cause there was no such song
But the trying was very revealing
What makes a person so poisonous righteous
That they'd think less of anyone who just disagreed?
She's just a pacifist, he's just a patriot
If I said you were crazy, would you have to fight me?

Fighters for liberty, fighters for power
Fighters for longer turns in the shower
Don't tell me I can't fight, 'cause I'll punch out your lights
And history seems to agree that I would fight you for me

So we read and we watched all the specially selected news
And we learned so much more 'bout the good guys
Won't you stand by the flag? Was the question unasked
Won't you join in and fight with the allies?
What could we say...we're only 25 years old?
With 25 sweet summers, and hot fires in the cold
This kind of life makes that violence unthinkable
We'd like to play hockey, have kids and grow old

Fighters for Texaco, fighters for power
Fighters for longer turns in the shower
Don't tell me I can't fight 'cause I'll punch out your lights
And history seems to agree that I would fight you for me
That us would fight them for we

He's just a peacenik and she's just a warhawk
That's where the beach was, that's where the sea
What could we say...we're only 25 years old?
And history seems to agree
that I would fight you for me
That us would fight them for we

Is that how it always will be?"