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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » WIll the torture appologists agree that highly trained troops don't have "slip-ups?" (Page 1)

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Author Topic: WIll the torture appologists agree that highly trained troops don't have "slip-ups?"
Sancselfieme
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Navy Probes New Iraq Prisoner Photos


quote:


CORONADO, Calif. (AP) - The U.S. military has launched a criminal investigation into photographs that appear to show Navy SEALs in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees, and photos of what appear to be bloodied prisoners, one with a gun to his head.

Some of the photos have date stamps suggesting they were taken in May 2003, which could make them the earliest evidence of possible abuse of prisoners in Iraq. The far more brutal practices photographed in Abu Ghraib prison occurred months later.

quote:
These and other photos found by the AP appear to show the immediate aftermath of raids on civilian homes. One man is lying on his back with a boot on his chest. A mug shot shows a man with an automatic weapon pointed at his head and a gloved thumb jabbed into his throat. In many photos, faces have been blacked out.What appears to be blood drips from the heads of some. A family huddles in a room in one photo and others show debris and upturned furniture.
What really gets me is this
quote:
The images were posted to the Internet site Smugmug.com. The woman who posted them told the AP they were on the camera her husband brought back from Iraq. She said her husband has returned to Iraq. He does not appear in photos with prisoners.

The Navy goes to great lengths to protect the identities and whereabouts of its 2,400 SEALs - which stands for Navy Sea, Air, Land - many of whom have classified counterterrorist missions around the globe.

"Some of these photos clearly depict faces and names of Naval Special Warfare personnel, which could put them or their families at risk," Bender said.

Wow, so not only does this violate the rights of the prisoners, it can endanger our own troops and intelligence operations as well. Great job. I seriously doubt Navy SEALS, the most highly trained troops the US has, would engage in this kind of behavior unless it was approved from VERY high up.

[ December 04, 2004, 05:21 AM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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ATW
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quote:
Originally posted by Sancselfieme:
I seriously doubt Navy SEALS, the most highly trained troops the US has, would engage in this kind of behavior unless it was approved from VERY high up.

Why do you have that serious doubt?
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Kit
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The SEALS are some of the most effective combat troops in the world. They train to kill and defeat the enemy. They are not prison guards and most likely don't have much training in "detaining" rather than "dispatching from the mortal realm with extreme violence".

In other words, people in the middle of a fight are more likely to be "unkind" and shouldn't be expected to treat the opponent the same way a prison guard would.

I agree with this quote from the same article:
quote:
Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge who teaches at the United States Military Academy, said the images showed "stupid" and "juvenile" behavior - but not necessarily a crime.

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Pete at Home
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Kit's put his finger on it. Highly trained people are less likely to slip up with regard to the tasks that they are highly trained in. By Sanc's equivocational logic, if the Navy Seal's wife had aired a video of her husband getting hit in the crotch with a football, that too would be a government conspiracy, since "highly trained troops don't slip up."
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JLMyers
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I was going to post a post asking why people seem so eager to jump on our soldiers, but I figured I better read the whole article before posting, and though I'm still wondering why some people seem so happy to find our soldiers acting badly, now I'm wondering how anyone could draw the conclusion that such juvenile, inhuman--or perhaps all too human--behavior is condoned by US military officials? I see no sound rational reason to draw such a conclusion. Unless of course, that is what you are looking for?

KE

[ December 04, 2004, 04:58 PM: Message edited by: JLMyers ]

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Sancselfieme
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Kit, that is only dealing with the images showing them sitting on the prisoners, it doesn't cover the images of the bloodied, beaten prisoners, the one with the gun to his head, the ones with heads bleeding and bodies mutilated. Funny how you would pick the most innocuous of the pictures to attempt to describe the nature of all of them.


As to others' objections about my "equivocational logic," SEALs aren't just highly trained combat troops, they are also our most highly trained intel. ops in the armed forces as well. With that training comes basic necessary diplomatic and international law training as well to provide for successful intel. understanding and complementary skills. My oldest nephew who is in the marines spoke with a few of them and this is pretty much standard. To say that these SEALs can't expect to have training to be decent guards or to treat their prisoners with basic human respect is not only ludicrous, it's flat-out intellectually dishonest. Don't play stupid over such an obvious issue.

[ December 04, 2004, 05:06 PM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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JLMyers
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I agree that Seals--all US military personell--should be expected to treat people with dignity. However, I still don't see how you can condemn the whole US military based on this evidence. Perhaps people will stop playing stupid, when you stop playing at being an all knowing God?

KE

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Pete at Home
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Does the emperor have clothes, or are we all just a bunch of fools who don't see them?

To talk about what SEALs should or should not expect, evades the issue. The relevant question is, DO they, actually, receive training to be decent guards or to treat their prisoners with basic human respect. That's a simple question of fact, and it's intellectually lazy to accuse someone who poses a valid question of "intellectual dishonesty."

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Sancselfieme
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They do, not only is it part of their intelligence operation gathering training, but it is also part of the normal training that every soldier receives to train them on what to expect as "faire treatment" as a prisoner should they be captured, and how they should treat others as well.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
They do, not only is it part of their intelligence operation gathering training
Feel free to source me on that claim. All I "know" about the SEALs is what I saw on GI Jane, and the prisoner-handling training there wasn't very velvet-glove [Big Grin]

quote:
it is also part of the normal training that every soldier receives to train them on what to expect as "faire treatment" as a prisoner should they be captured, and how they should treat others as well.
Ah. That explains Abu Ghraib didn't turn into a sadistic homoerotic frathouse for a couple weeks.
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FiredrakeRAGE
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Some of the things the media is screaming about are pretty standard forms of interrogation. The Geneva convention doesn't stop interrogation, it merely disallows some tactics. While the Iraq-prison issues were torture, sleep deprevation (to a limited degree - which is policed by the GC), constant light, threats, lies, etc. are all legal forms of interrogation, afaik.

While we should never cross the line defined by the Geneva Convention in terms of treatment of prisoners, we should not shy from actions within the limits of the GC, where appropriate. Lives could depend on garnered intelligence.

It sounds to me like in this particular case, many of the questions accented by the pictures are unanswered. Was 'dripping blood' caused by pre-capture injuries? Where the Navy Seals sitting on prisoners directly after capture? Without more information, it's pretty simple to make a case for either side.

--Firedrake

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Adam Lassek
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We need a new word for what happened in Abu Ghraib. Calling it torture trivializes torture, and trivializes the experiences of POW's who have actually been tortured.

Why is the Geneva Convention constantly brought up as a standard when it isn't even applicable? Why not the ROE?

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stayne
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Try reading some of Dick Marcinco's books, the real ones, not the fiction. SEAL's are trained to kill people, break things, and stay alive. They are trained to fight as dirty as possible, so as to crush the enemy and not get killed. They are trained to exploit any advantage possible to adapt and overcome, to fulfil their mission first and foremost, and to stay alive if at all possible. They are trained to do what they _must_, and if that means breaking some paper pusher's rules or offending some outraged civilian's dainty sense of decorum, they will do it in a New York minute.

What your average SEAL suffers just in training makes the so called 'torture' of Abu Ghraib and these pics look like a freakin' cake walk: a week or more at a time without sleep, and brutality both physical and psychological. They pass crushing tests of endurance to physical and mental hardship. They are pushed near to the limits of human ability, under the constant threat of washing out.

They are trained to do just as they have done, and the thanks they get is to be accused of villainy from traitorous civilians who have not the slightest _clue_ of their situation. It's disgusting to see how far some partisans will go to sink a knife in the backs of these men. They are doing what we told them to do, the best way they know how, the best way _we_ know how.

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LadyKat
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[applause]
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Haggis
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quote:
What your average SEAL suffers just in training makes the so called 'torture' of Abu Ghraib and these pics look like a freakin' cake walk: a week or more at a time without sleep, and brutality both physical and psychological.
I'm not going to dispute the point being made, however, I think it's important to point out that SEAL training is 100% voluntary and SEAL candidates can drop out at any point in the training.
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The Drake
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From the article:

"These and other photos found by the AP appear to show the immediate aftermath of raids..."

I think that's a pretty important distinction. If the soldiers just finished a combat operation, it is not really a "prison guard" kind of situation. Just minutes before, the guy they're sitting on might have been fighting them. Even if not, the SEALS would have been fully prepared to expect resistance.

I'm not going to condemn the guys for taking some juvenile trophy pictures, when they just stuck their head into a doorway not knowing if they might get shot.

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Kit
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quote:
Originally posted by Sancselfieme:
Kit, that is only dealing with the images showing them sitting on the prisoners, it doesn't cover the images of the bloodied, beaten prisoners, the one with the gun to his head, the ones with heads bleeding and bodies mutilated. Funny how you would pick the most innocuous of the pictures to attempt to describe the nature of all of them.

Sanc, I think it applies to all of the photos, not just the sitting on detainees one.

And, as has been pointed out, if taken right after the SEALS were involved in a firefight, I expect there too be a buch of bleeding, dead bodies on the ground. That is one thing they are very good at; making corpses of the bad guys.

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Sancselfieme
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If they have time to take a photo of them holding a gun to a beaten, bloodied man's head, they are obviously not in a fire-fight and that qualifies as torture, pure and simple: case closed.
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ATW
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quote:
Originally posted by Sancselfieme:
They do, not only is it part of their intelligence operation gathering training, but it is also part of the normal training that every soldier receives to train them on what to expect as "faire treatment" as a prisoner should they be captured, and how they should treat others as well.

And not scrupulously abiding by the rule set forth in training is proof to you that their actions were "approved from VERY high up".

[Roll Eyes]

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Sancselfieme
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Like I said, maybe with greenhorn recruits you would expect this kind of thing, not with the most highly trained troops employed by the US: troops that are fully aware of the diplomatic and combat guidelines for prisoners because of their delicate status as intelligence gatherers and the particularly high danger of THEY'RE being caught and interrogated, etc.

In addition, these are pictures, it is reminiscient of Belet Huen. You don't just slip up and accidentally happen to take a picture of it while you're making your mistake, these things are obviously planned if at least a few hours in advance or more.

[ December 05, 2004, 10:56 AM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
I'm not going to dispute the point being made, however, I think it's important to point out that SEAL training is 100% voluntary and SEAL candidates can drop out at any point in the training.
I'm not going to dispute the point being made, because I agree with Haggis, but just to be obnoxious and obstructionist, I'll point out that at least some of the Abu Ghraib detainees could have dropped dime, and opted themselves into cushier treatment.
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stayne
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quote:
I'm not going to dispute the point being made, however, I think it's important to point out that SEAL training is 100% voluntary and SEAL candidates can drop out at any point in the training.
Without doubt. And those resisting the SEALS when they are in pursuit of their mission have the option to cooperate, as well. I have no doubt that the photos _are_ premeditated psy-ops, and I fully approve.


I see absolutely no problem whatsoever in actual combatants enduring anything up to and including the training measures our own soldiers are expected to endure. Getting roughed up in a combat operation is absolutely not torture. If getting killed in combat is acceptable, I simply cannot see the objection to getting some lumps or being made fun of. It's not torture.

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Sancselfieme
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I doubt the photos were taken with actors with fake blood who agreed to help create photos that would scare other prisoners. That is *really* stretching it. If you meant something else by "psy-ops" please explain. Oh, and using real prisoners for that purpose IS torture in the sense that they are being purposefully harmed outside a combat setting where they are not a threat, and they are being phyiscally exploited and having their life threatened for no legitimate reason.

quote:
tor·ture ( P ) Pronunciation Key (tôrchr)
n.

Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain.
Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony
Something causing severe pain or anguish.


That definition is consistent with the United Nations Convention Against Torture, The Geneva Convention, and the Torture Victim Protection Act.

[ December 05, 2004, 11:29 PM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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The Drake
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It's interesting how much the Geneva Convention gets thrown around against our soldiers, but you never hear about how driving a truck bomb into a school is a violation of the Geneva Convention.

That said, to ask that the letter of the Convention be followed on the front line is extremely naive. War is chaotic and brutal. It is not a game of capture the flag, and humanitarian conventions only exist to preserve reciprocal rights.

If the reciprocal rights are not present, the incentive to follow the conventions are removed, and the decisions of battlefield commanders will reflect that situation.

Luckily, we'll be fighting our next war with robots, and we can keep them programmed not to take any humiliating pictures.

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Sancselfieme
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You have a nice argument about how terrorists do not follow international law, but how does that excuse us from following it? Typically the last resort of those who know they are wrong is to point to someone else and say "look at them, they're worse!" What a shame.


You think they have self-gratifying photo-shoots near the "front-lines?" You think they take time during the heat of battle to stop and snap a keep-sake or two? This stuff obviously didn't happen during hostile exchange, and the poses and other details suggest it was premeditated up to at least a few hours or more.

[ December 06, 2004, 04:43 AM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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EvanWeeks
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What was a SEAL team doing in a prison?
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
If the reciprocal rights are not present, the incentive to follow the conventions are removed, and the decisions of battlefield commanders will reflect that situation.


This is the kind of fuzzy logic that makes international agreements impossible. Reciprocal rights are NOT the only reason we follow the Geneva Accords, in fact they are merely a fringe benefit. We signed them because we recognized them as describing proper conduct for honorable soldiers. Its a unilateral declaration that our honor is valuable to us and will be maintained. Its unfortunate that you feel such honor cheap and easily discarded, hopefully our soldiers DON'T feel this way (none that I know do).
Adam

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Koner
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quote:
You think they have self-gratifying photo-shoots near the "front-lines?"
Actually yes I do. I would point you to the pictures and videos of the beheaded, obviously tortured individuals. I would point you to the pictures and videos of the burnt and mutilated bodies of the American soldiers that surfaced on Aljazeera and other Arab TV networks and news papers. Or do you simply chose to ignore those?

As a US Naval submariner I've had the pleasure of working with SEAL teams on several occasions. Submarines happen to be a very effective means of SEAL team deployment. I can tell you that SEALs are a unique bunch of men. Highly motivated and highly dedicated to one thing, completing their mission. Sitting on a RECENTLY obtained prisoner to prevent him from escape or harming someone is NOT torture. Holding a gun to the head of someone who was very recently pointing one at you, in order to ensure his cooperation is NOT torture. In fact I would like to commend these SEALs on the remarkable amount of restraint that they showed in not shooting that prison in the head as it is without question that should their roles have been reversed the prisoner would surely have shot the SEALs.

If you honestly believe that physically restraining a prisoner by sitting on them or by pointing a gun at them is torture than you really have no clue. Torture is shoving bamboo slivers dipped in human feces under the fingernails. Torture is forcing prisoners to sit for weeks in cages the size of a large television. Torture is forcing prisoners to live cages that are sumerged in chest deep muddy water forcing them to stand at all times. Torture is being beaten with whips and clubs. Torture is having electrical leads attached to various body parts and given a series of shocks in an effort to extract information. Torture is having body parts like fingers and toes slowly cut off with dull bladed knives.

What took place in Abu Ghaib was unfoturnate. It was not what we have come to expect as appropriate behavior of our military members. It was abuse of prisoners. It was abuse of power. I would accept that some of those abuses could be considered forms of torture. The United States military is not in the practice of REAL torture. Hell we even gave Sadaam surgery to repair a hernia that he has had for several years in order to "relieve his discomfort".

As a member of the military I fully expect that should I ever be captured, I will be physically restrained by having someone sit on me. I fully expect that I will be stuck in the process of being capured. I fully expect that I will have a gun pointed at my head. Whether pictures of the events are taken or not is irrelevant.

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JLMyers
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quote:
You have a nice argument about how terrorists do not follow international law, but how does that excuse us from following it?
It doesn't.

KE

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
quote:
If the reciprocal rights are not present, the incentive to follow the conventions are removed, and the decisions of battlefield commanders will reflect that situation.


This is the kind of fuzzy logic that makes international agreements impossible. Reciprocal rights are NOT the only reason we follow the Geneva Accords, in fact they are merely a fringe benefit. We signed them because we recognized them as describing proper conduct for honorable soldiers. Its a unilateral declaration that our honor is valuable to us and will be maintained. Its unfortunate that you feel such honor cheap and easily discarded, hopefully our soldiers DON'T feel this way (none that I know do).
Adam

I'm only describing what will happen to a selection of human beings on the front line. Honor is important, but so is not dying. Take the provisions on surrender. If you try to accept the surrender of three different enemies, and you see your friends killed for their trouble, you're going to stop accepting surrender.

I didn't say "all commanders" or "all decisions". And acting honorably towards a dishonorable foe will always require more effort on the part of the combatant. I just don't think you can equate some picture taking on the front line, with electrocution under interrogation. Do you really consider these Navy Seals to be dishonored?

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Do you really consider these Navy Seals to be dishonored?
Absolutely I do. That doesn't mean I condemn them, or that I don't understand and sympathize with the realities of combat. But the people who did this chose to cheapen their own honor, thats a fact.
Adam

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TomDavidson
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"They are doing what we told them to do, the best way they know how, the best way _we_ know how."

I'm reasonably certain I didn't tell any SEAL teams to torture Iraqis. Did you?

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
quote:
Do you really consider these Navy Seals to be dishonored?
Absolutely I do. That doesn't mean I condemn them, or that I don't understand and sympathize with the realities of combat. But the people who did this chose to cheapen their own honor, thats a fact.
Adam

Well, I can't bring myself to call soldiers dishonored for something I did to my brother about 100 times when we were growing up -- sitting on his chest and joking about it.
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A. Alzabo
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quote:
As a member of the military I fully expect that should I ever be captured, I will be physically restrained by having someone sit on me. I fully expect that I will be stuck in the process of being capured. I fully expect that I will have a gun pointed at my head. Whether pictures of the events are taken or not is irrelevant.
Koner, I mostly agreed with you up to this point. While people in the service can reasonably expect no quarter from the enemies we fight these days, posing for pictures and yukking it up for the camera with your captives is simply not professional behavior for U.S. military personnel (or any, for that matter). I don't claim that this treatment ranks up there with the Bataan Death March -- just that it's not what our troops should be doing. I realize it happens, but I am appalled that people seem to think it's a good thing, or that it's justified by what they do to us. We know that a lot of the bad guys are utter bastards -- the point is that we're not.
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Well, I can't bring myself to call soldiers dishonored for something I did to my brother about 100 times when we were growing up -- sitting on his chest and joking about it.
This is the same device employed by many on the right after Abu Ghraib broke: minimizing or apologizing for the abuses. Rush Limbaugh was the most notorious; he compared the events at Abu Ghraib to a frat induction. The fact is that what these photos show is a far cry from what you did to your brother, if only due to context. You remark is similar to me saying I cannot condemn a rapist for doing something I do to my own wife.
Adam

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The Drake
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To clarify my point of view, AA, I don't think it is a good thing, and I don't find it justified. I do think that it should be kept in proportion, and compared and contrasted to how our enemy acts. My problem is when people are more outraged by a bloody nose than a beheading.

It is also important to understand the psychological effects on troops who are subject to the horrors the enemy perpetrates on civilians and fellow soldiers. It's pretty easy to get desensitized in a war zone, IMO. Not an excuse, more along the lines of a mitigating circumstance for an action that wasn't all that terrible to begin with.

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
The fact is that what these photos show is a far cry from what you did to your brother, if only due to context. You remark is similar to me saying I cannot condemn a rapist for doing something I do to my own wife.
Adam

You were making a good point, until you went over the top. Which is exactly what I've been talking about.
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Koner
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I have this really cute framed picture on top of my television of my nephew when he was 3 years old. He has his back to the camera but its obvious that he is playing in the fish aquarium. Pictures may speak 1000 words but as cute as this picture is it doesn't begin to tell the whole story. If I had known when I snapped the photo that my innocent seeming nephew was in fact biting the heads off of my fish I would have stopped him before he got to any more of them rather than take a picture and quietly call my sister into the room to see what her son was doing.

These pictures look bad I don't deny that. The fact remains that I don't know what really took place, and neither do any of you. And the article, while seeming to report the entire story most likely falls far from the mark. What I did notice was that it says that the Navy is investigating it. My suggestion to anyone who reads this article would be to wait and find out what the result of the investigation is before you go accusing men who would die for you at the drop of a hat of something as heinous as torture.

If in the end the its determined that torture or any other criminal acts occured, then and ONLY then should anyone attack these men. Until then you should show them the respect of "innocent until proven guilty".

quote:
posing for pictures and yukking it up for the camera with your captives is simply not professional behavior for U.S. military personnel (or any, for that matter). I don't claim that this treatment ranks up there with the Bataan Death March -- just that it's not what our troops should be doing
I agree with that. But how do you know that they were posing? How do you know that they were "yukking it up"? You don't know what was going on when these photos were taken. Its very likely that what these pictures show could very well be legitimate pictures of the aftermath of raids as the article says they are. Its very likely that the SEALS took the photos not as a joke or as trophys but rather to document the events. As I said, you DON'T know the whole story so stop jumping to a guilty verdict simply because you saw some pictures on the internet.
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A. Alzabo
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quote:
These pictures look bad I don't deny that. The fact remains that I don't know what really took place, and neither do any of you. And the article, while seeming to report the entire story most likely falls far from the mark. What I did notice was that it says that the Navy is investigating it. My suggestion to anyone who reads this article would be to wait and find out what the result of the investigation is before you go accusing men who would die for you at the drop of a hat of something as heinous as torture.

If in the end the its determined that torture or any other criminal acts occured, then and ONLY then should anyone attack these men. Until then you should show them the respect of "innocent until proven guilty".

I'm not "attacking" anyone. And it is true that we should wait for the findings of the NCIS before deciding what should happen. The "scary" pictures sound like the most legit ones, for documentation/identification purposes.

quote:
agree with that. But how do you know that they were posing? How do you know that they were "yukking it up"? You don't know what was going on when these photos were taken. Its very likely that what these pictures show could very well be legitimate pictures of the aftermath of raids as the article says they are. Its very likely that the SEALS took the photos not as a joke or as trophys but rather to document the events. As I said, you DON'T know the whole story so stop jumping to a guilty verdict simply because you saw some pictures on the internet.
Another article I read indicated that some SEALs were taking turns posing with the captives. That's "yukking it up", not documentation, and it's unprofessional. It's quite probable that there was overlap between legitimate pictures and personal trophies.

I don't know the whole story, but I do know enough military personnel who have screwed around before in minor ways, and this doesn't seem that dissimilar to me. This stuff doesn't approach the abuses at Abu Ghraib, but it is not something that should be encouraged or ignored.

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Adam Masterman
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Hopefully I got your attention. Please don't think that my exasperation is directed at you exclusively, or even particularly, but if you can't even acknowledge these actions as crimes or see that any wrong has been committed, then there is a big disconnect. Imagine how you would feel if your spouse was publicly humiliated by an occupying army, in such a way as to deliberately violate tenets of your faith or strong social customs. Then, imagine members of the occupying culture dismissing such activities as "no big deal". If my analogy made you feel offended, maybe you now understand my point.
Adam

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