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I don't understand why people were "shocked" over the tortures at Abu Ghraib

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Locut0s Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 12:07 AM
Original message
I don't understand why people were "shocked" over the tortures at Abu Ghraib
I know not all were but there was definitely a smaller subset of people who voiced opinions along the lines of "how could WE be involved in such a thing". The way I see it the moment the government signed off on going to war was the moment they signed off, officially or not, on any number of heinous crimed committed in the name of war. Like it or not torture in one way or another has been part and parcel of warfare since the beginning. Atrocities are committed routinely in warfare by both sides. War has always been about dehumanization of "the enemy". There is a reason your are "broken" in boot camp and subsequent early phases of deployment. Biologically and culturally we are not built to kill easily. Hence military culture on both sides and warfare in general is set up to foster a mentality that makes such actions easier to absorb. Things like torture and brutality are a natural outgrowth of warfare that has been with us since the beginning of time. Not recognizing this is one of the KEY evils of the mindset and administration that got us involved in this war. Dress it up all you like, sign as many conventions as you like, if you sign off on war you are singing off on all the hellish shit that goes with it and you don't get the luxury of being surprised when something like this turns up.
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lunatica Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 12:17 AM
Response to Original message
1. The soldier trained to dehumanize and kill the enemy is one thing
The government, and especially the President and his cabinet giving direct orders to torture is another.

But I do agree with you in everything you said about war. My argument has always been that if war was really part of our nature then why do trained soldiers come home after a war and never again feel the urge to kill. The great majority of people do not kill naturally.
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SharonAnn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 12:17 AM
Response to Original message
2. I was horrified, but not really surprized. When * basically got rid of oversight ...
there had to be a reason.

One doesn't hide in the dark in order to do good things.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and there was no sunshine.
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DrDan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 06:57 AM
Response to Reply #2
8. also his lack of support for the International Criminal Court
he knew he would eventually have to face the consequences of his actions . .. the Cretin.
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lordsummerisle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 12:26 AM
Response to Original message
3. Torture is Illegal
by US law and international treaty.
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JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 01:01 AM
Response to Original message
4. George Washington set the standard: Americans treat prisoners of war with decency
Edited on Sun Aug-30-09 01:07 AM by JDPriestly
and respect.

Read Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer and you will understand why torturing prisoners is a heinous crime. The British were cruel to the American rebels they captured in the Revolutionary War. They foraged for food in the fields of the American farmers. They bivouacked in the abandoned homes of Americans. They were intruders (although they saw their fight as noble and just) and took advantage of Americans' subservient status. In so doing, they strengthened our revolt against them and the crown.

Here are excerpts from Washington's Crossing

Page 376:

In Congress, John Adams took the lead. To his wife he wrote, I who am always made miserable by the Misery of every sensible being, am obliged to hear continual accounts of the barbarities, the cruel Murders in Cold blood, even the most tormenting ways of starving and freezing committed by our Enemies . . . . Those accounts harrow me beyond Description. (John Adams to Abigail Adams, 17 Feb. 1777, Adams Family Correspondence, ed. Lyman Butterfield, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1963) 2:163.) John Adams resolved that the guiding principles of the American Republic would always be what he called the policy of humanity. He wrote, I know of no polcy, God is my witness, but this Piety, Humanity and Honesty are the best Policy, Blasphemy, Cruelty and Villainy have prevailed and may again. But they wont prevail against America, in this Contest, because I find the more of them are employed, the less they succeed. (Ibid.)

Another issue was the treatment of prisoners. After the battles in New York, thousands of American prisoners of war were treated with extreme cruelty by British captors. Some Americans were confined in the churches of New York City, which were desecrated by scenes of cruelty, suffering, and starvation. Other Americans went to prison hulks in New York harbor and died miserably in large numbers. Some escaped, and their reports had the same impact as those of American prisoners of the Japanese in the Second World War.

An American policy on prisoners emerged after the battle of Trenton. Washington ordered that Hessian captives would be treated as human beings with the same rights of humanity for which Americans were striving. The Hessians expected a different fate, with good reason after Long Island and Fort Washington. (Citations here are to Washington Irving, The Life of George Washington <1854-58; rev. ed. 4 vols. In 2, New York, Crowell, n.d.>, 2:235-58.) They were amazed to be treated with decency and even kindness. At first they could not understand it. One of them, Johannes Reuber, thought his good treatment by the rebels must have been the work of Colonel Rall. With his last breath, Reuber wrote, he thought about the Grenadiers and asked General Washington to leave his men unharmed. (Ibid., vol. 2, chaps. 9-35; for Washingtons conflicted character, 2:151, 195).

He learned otherwise when the Hessians were marched to Philadelphia and paraded through the city, where the old women ho were present screamed at us in a terrible manner and wanted to strangle us because we had come to America to steal their freedom. (Wills, Cincinnatus, 246.) The American army protected the Hessians, and Reuber learned to his surprise that General Washington had issued a broadside declaring that Hessian soldiers were innocent people in this war, and were not volunteers, but force into this war. The general asked that the Hessians should be treated not as enemies but as friends. Reuber wrote that conditions improved for us. Old, young, rich and poor, and all treated us in a friendly manner. (Herbert Butterfield, The Whigh Interpretation of History .

At page 379, David Hackett Fischer tells the story of Hessian soldiers who were captured and sent to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The were accompanied there by Pennsylvania militia. Once they reached Pennsylvania most of the militia left and the one remaining officer told the Hessians that they were just going to have to march on to Lancaster on their own. None of the Hessians took advantage of the opportunity to run away. Fischer states that, "Of 13,988 Hessian soldiers who survived the war, 3,194 (23 percent) chose to remain in America. Others later emigrated to the New World with their families.(Herbert Butterfield, The Whig Interpretation of History )"

Washington's Crossing is extremely well documented. I thought it was a moving story, well told. For me it was a page-turner. I strongly recommend it.

Once you have read it, you will understand why torturing people, even the most horrible people, is a huge mistake in addition to being immoral and inviting treatment of the same sort to our own troops.

The Hessians ran their bayonets through our surrendering soldiers. They were cruel. Inhumane is not a strong enough word for them. They were mercenaries, professional soldiers paid by the British to kill Americans.

I will never forget my own experience living in small towns and villages in W. Germany and Austria some years ago. Every once in a while, an older gentleman would come up to me and ask me whether I was the American. Then they would tell me how much they liked Americans because Americans had been so kind to them when they were prisoners in the United States. I especially remember one man who told me with great joy how much he had enjoyed living with a family on an American farm while a prisoner of war in the U.S. That is how you change people's hearts and minds. That is how you win their cooperation.

On edit, Fischer especially explains the relevant international law applicable to insurgents and non-uniformed, non-military combatants at the time of the Revolutionary War. Legally, the British were entitled to treat them cruelly. Many of our soldiers were militia. They had ad hoc uniforms if any uniforms at all. So, Washington's edict against torture, his order to treat all prisoners with respect and kindness applies to non-combatants and insurgents as well as to trained soldiers. It applies to any
prisoners who are captured.

Of course, we are correct to be appalled at the torture. And those who ignored the noble tradition are an insult to our nation. They broke laws that are sacred in that they are basic to the established values of our country. Those who authorized and carried out the torture should be investigated and, if the facts support it, tried.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 01:06 AM
Response to Original message
5. We should have seen it coming when Bush put all those Iran Contra felons
into his administration.
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 01:10 AM
Response to Original message
6. I can't believe I'm reading this on DU.
Just because a bunch of asses have been doing this for their entertainment because they got broken in boot camp seems a bit of a stretch. If the military is that Nazi in these later days, we need to re-think what we are doing.
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Locut0s Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 02:07 AM
Response to Original message
7. Woah hold on a minute guys. I guess my post was worded badly. I AM NOT saying that torture should...
be accepted. My argument is the old war is hell argument that I don't think enough people have bought deeply enough. There is hardly a single war that I can think of in which horrible acts have not been committed by both sides. Gulf War (highway of death), Vietnam war (fagging of officers, killing of innocent villagers) etc etc... You simply won't find a war in which questionable acts were not committed. I'm not saying these acts should be in any way condoned but that they are part and parcel of the nightmare of war itself. War can't and should never be used as a political tool the way it has been too often in the past because it simply glosses over the true horrors of the act.

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Smarmie Doofus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 07:32 AM
Response to Original message
9. That's why the IWR vote was so excruciatingly important.
>>>>>>>Things like torture and brutality are a natural outgrowth of warfare that has been with us since the beginning of time. Not recognizing this is one of the KEY evils of the mindset and administration that got us involved in this war. Dress it up all you like, sign as many conventions as you like, if you sign off on war you are singing off on all the hellish shit that goes with it and you don't get the luxury of being surprised when something like this turns up.>>>>

And continues to be important. People who don't understand the truth of what you say above should not be making policy. Period.
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Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 08:57 AM
Response to Original message
10. When America discovered these evil deeds and was outraged, Republicans
said they were "Outraged at the Outrage"..And I truly believe they still are.
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NNN0LHI Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 08:58 AM
Response to Original message
11. Wait a minute. You weren't shocked to find out detainees were being raped by US soldiers?
http://www.truthout.org/052909R

Taguba Saw "Video of Male Soldier Sodomizing Female Detainee"

Friday 29 May 2009

In 2007, shortly after he was forced into retirement, Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba made a startling admission. During the course of his investigation into the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Taguba said he saw "a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee."

Taguba told New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh that he saw other graphic photos and videos as well, including one depicting the "sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees."

That video, as well as photographs Taguba saw of US soldiers raping and torturing Iraqi prisoners, remains in the possession of the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID).

Taguba said he did not discuss details of the photographs and videos in his voluminous report on abuses at Abu Ghraib because of the Army's ongoing criminal probe and the photographs' "extremely sensitive nature."

Taguba's report on the widespread abuse of prisoners did say that he found credible a report that a soldier had sodomized "a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick."


I realize that this was not depicted in any photos we saw but if you read the accompanying Taguba Report you would know about it. Did you read that well publicized report? Here it is: http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/iraq/tagubarpt.html

Don
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