What’s the resolution for the Iraqi prison abuses?
I think we all agree that what’s happened with the abuse of Iraqi prisoners falls squarely in the “bad thing” category. Regardless of how our solidiers have been treated at the hands of Iraqi prison guards, having members of our military act in the same fashion is not acceptable, not by any means. Clearly, some things need to change and, just as clearly, some folks need to be held accountable. The question is: what changes and who’s accountable?
I absolutely do not buy the argument that the soldiers who performed the actual abuses are blameless kids. “Kids.” I keep hearing that, usually in the context of “what happened to these kids to make them do that.” These aren’t kids. They’re legal adult citizens and soldiers of the United States of America and they should know better. “I was only following orders” hasn’t been accepted as an excuse for abusing prisoners since Nuremberg and it should not be given credence here. How many of us needed to be told at that age that it wasn’t proper behavior to wire people up to electical circuits and take pictures of them naked under duress? They knew it wasn’t right, wasn’t in keeping with the expected behavior of members of our military, and they did it anyway. That decision should cost them.
However, I also do not buy that they did this in a vaccuum. Somebody in the chain of command knew this was happening and may have even encouraged it. I want to know who those somebodies are. I want to know a) if they knew about it and why they thought it was acceptable or b) if they didn’t know, then where the hell were they? The Red Cross seemed to know this was going on and even reported it. To whom? Why didn’t the report move up from there, or better yet why were orders not immediately given to cease that shit? From the myriad of stories out about this matter, you hear that there was knowledge of the photos at some point back as far as February and that an investigation was in progress. Who was doing this investigation and why did the person in charge of that not see fit to report that it was in progress? At the very least the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs should have been advised. Better still would have been a report all the way up to the President. Why didn’t that happen? Both the President and the Defense Secretary seemed to find out about this the same time we did: when the story was broken on CBS. They’re both madder than hell and I don’t blame them.
(Side note: may I ask what Einstein thought it was a good idea to take these kinds of pictures, anyway?)
No question about it: this has hurt. So, what do we do about it? Reading opinions from around the blogosphere and stories in the news media, I believe a 2-tiered approach should be made. First, reform how were dealing with the prisons. Make 110% sure the soldiers doing this duty are aware of what is and is not acceptable behavior. If the CIA and their assigns are discovered to have contributed to this whole matter, make damn sure they understand that they aren’t calling the shots in prisoner treatment any more. Everyone in these prisons should be assessed – quickly – and if they’re not reasonably sure these people are terrorists, they should be let go. Those that are reasonably assessed as being a threat or possessing better-than-average intel on a threat can be detained further. Allow Red Cross observers to view the prison conditions. (Make sure they understand the definition of “observer”, however.) Lastly, this particular prison should be leveled. Completely. Build a soccer field on it, or whatever, but this building should be destroyed. Leave no brick standing on another.
Secondly, the unit involved in this scandal should be publicly dissolved. The members of the unit scattered to the 4 winds, the emblems and pennants removed from the Army’s roster, the entire unit simply eliminated. Publicly.
I feel these 2 measures would send a clear message that America does not approve of, and will not tolerate, this kind of behavior.