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Author Topic: Conservatives of Conscience
David Ricardo
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As systematic torture approved at the highest levels in the military is now coming into light, some conservatives are recoiling at the torture methods that they so vigorously defended not so long ago:

http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2005/08/04/a-personal-tipping-point/

quote:
God, how I hate this war.

Even though I still believe that it was right decision to liberate Iraq. Even though I still support the reconstruction efforts going on in that tragic, bloody, terrorist infested, miserable strip of land where the killing goes on and on. And even though I still support the President and his announced policy of bringing democracy to Iraq in the belief that the autocratic and dictatorial regimes elsewhere in the Middle East will come crashing down as ordinary people realize that ultimate power rests in their hands.

After saying all of that, I now believe it’s time to bring to account those who through their brutish and beastial treatment of prisoners, have besmirched the name and reputation of the United States and brought shame and ignominy to their comrades in arms and their fellow citizens.

This piece in the Washington Post, based on eyewitness accounts, classified documents, and interviews with investigators, paints a picture so at odds with what America should stand for – even in a brutal war for survival – that it should give all of us who still support this war and its objectives pause to reflect on a fundamental question: Is this really what we want our soldiers doing in our names to protect us?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/02/AR2005080201941_pf.html

quote:
Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush was being stubborn with his American captors, and a series of intense beatings and creative interrogation tactics were not enough to break his will. On the morning of Nov. 26, 2003, a U.S. Army interrogator and a military guard grabbed a green sleeping bag, stuffed Mowhoush inside, wrapped him in an electrical cord, laid him on the floor and began to go to work. Again.

It was inside the sleeping bag that the 56-year-old detainee took his last breath through broken ribs, lying on the floor beneath a U.S. soldier in Interrogation Room 6 in the western Iraqi desert. Two days before, a secret CIA-sponsored group of Iraqi paramilitaries, working with Army interrogators, had beaten Mowhoush nearly senseless, using fists, a club and a rubber hose, according to classified documents.

What this article makes crystal clear is that these methods of interrogation are not the product of the sick imaginings of a few sadistic soldiers. They did not spring into being in a vacuum. What the reports make unambiguously clear is that the soldiers believed the interrogation techniques were approved – approved at the highest levels in their chain of command.

The implications of this are too horrible to contemplate. It means that these are not the “isolated incidents” that I and most others who have been defending our detention policies over these many months have been excusing. It also means that there have been deliberate and systematic violations of both US law and the Geneva Conventions in the interrogations of prisoners.

And it means that those responsible for these policies must be brought to justice. Not just the perpetrators of the torture, but those who formulated and approved whatever guidelines the soldiers were using to justify these barbarous and unholy acts.

No matter where it leads. No matter who is involved. Justice must be done in order to restore some honor to the good name of the United States and its military. To do less dishonors the memory of those who have already died in this war as well as all those who we ask to put their lives on the line in order to protect us.

My own role as an enabler of this behavior has been unconscionable. By turning a blind eye to previous intimations of this organized and approved assault on simple human decency, I have, in a small but significant way, empowered those who have cynically used my support for the war and the President’s policies to literally get away with murder.

No longer. I am not going to give the benefit of doubt to an out of control interrogation process that treats human beings – even terrorists – as beasts to be beaten and murdered and pass it off as national policy. I didn’t sign on for that. I’m sure you didn’t either.


It’s one thing to be hard in war. It’s one thing to be pitiless in the prosecution of it. But its quite another thing to violate all tenets of civilized behavior in acheiving your objectives. Even in war, the ends cannot justify the means. If you believe that it does, then ask yourself what kind of country you will have at the end of it? Will it be the kind of country you can live in with pride? Or will history itself remember us with scorn and derision for abandoning the very principals we were fighting to protect.

There may be extreme circumstances where torture is justified. This incident wasn’t one of them. And if, as I now believe, these violations occur routinely and as part of a sanctioned interrogation process, then it is past time for a thorough, impartial, and independent investigation of the facilities where we house the prisoners, the soldiers and intelligence agents who carry out the questioning of detainees, and the interrogation policies and procedures formulated by the military and civilian elements in our government.

If the only way to make such an investigative body truly independent would be to allow international representation then reluctantly, I would have to agree with that stipulation. What’s at stake here is the very soul of America and in a larger sense, the values for which we in the west are fighting to preserve. And while I doubt such a body could remain above the political fray given the explosive nature of the subject matter and the division in our national polity, it must nevertheless go forward. Let the American people and indeed, the rest of the world decide who is playing politics and who is seeking the truth.

John Cole, who has been out front on this issue since reports of the torture and mistreatment of prisoners first began to surface, sums up the problems:

I really want to believe that this is just a few rogue soldiers in all of these cases, but the evidence keeps pointing back to approved interrogation techniques (and in fairness, much of this went well beyond approved methods), a sense of ‘anything goes’ because of the muddled legal status of the detainees, a general disregard in the chain of command, a chain of evidence linking policies to different detainment centers, willing participation by clandestine services working in concert** with military intelligence officers and being given free reign with prisoners and junior level enlisted men, and it stinks. It smells like institutional rot, and at the very least a pattern of negligence and callous disregard, something even the military appears willing to admit.

I’m forced to agree with Mr. Cole that what we’re looking at is nothing less than an institutional problem in the military. I cannot believe that all of these soldiers and CIA agents are members of some sadistic cult. They simply must be enabled by a culture that either approves of these methods or turns a blind eye during the practice of them. Either way, it’s high time we tear the whole rotten system down and put something else in its place. Anything – even turning the detainees over to civilian control – would be preferrable to this canker on the body politic that, if it continues to fester, will prevent us from winning this war and at the same time, inure us as a people to the brutality practiced by our sons and daughters in our name.


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David Ricardo
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John Cole follows up with his own sober view:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=5170

quote:
Rick Moran has had enough when it comes to the abuse/torture cases, and he is shrill. Well, good for him. And I don’t mean that sarcastically.

And to be perfectly honest, Rick is giving me far too much credit. I haven’t been out in front of this issue at all, and I ignored a lot of smart people, looked the other way, and made excuses all the way to my tipping point, which just happened to come a few months before Rick. I don’t deserve any credit- I was part of the problem. My friends on the left would say my continued support for the war is problematic, but we will just have to agree to disagree.

It is one thing to support this war, something I still do- and something that right now we really don’t have much choice, as we are there and not going anywhere. It is another thing to blindly support everything that is going on. Right now, there is too much of the latter happening.

What has happened in these cases needs to be examined thoroughly and it needs to be done now. And it needs to be done without excuse-making (‘this is war, these things happen’), it needs to be done without any preconceptions (‘there is no policy, this is just a few bad apples’), it needs to be done without lame attempts to blame the victims (‘you can’t trust them- they are terrorists and trained to lie,’ because as it turns out, in a number of cases they haven’t been terrorists at all), it needs to be done without lame and exasperating equivalency arguments (‘things are still better than when Saddam or the Taliban were in charge’), and it needs to be done without blaming the media for the unforgivable sin of reporting our failings.

It may not be the case that this abuse is widespread and rampant. It may not be the result of actual policy or have occurred by design. That matters not- it happened, people are dead, people have been (if we are to believe the reports) raped and sodomized, people have been beaten, and if it happened these several times, I am willing to bet it happened much more frequently than has been reported.

And all of it has been done in our name. There is a problem, and it is not clear if this administration intends to address it openly and honestly. As it stands, the administration continues to block the attempts to ban hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, as well as other straight-forward measures. If even that is problematic for this administration, it is safe to say things have gone awry.

And it does not inspire confidence that the only way this administration believes it can effectively wage a war on terrorism is to maintain its ability to keep detainees and their treatment hidden away from the resto of the world. It doesn’t inspire confidence at all.


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The Drake
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I don't really care about the ramblings from rightwingnuthouse.com and balloon-juice.com.

So let's look at the post article, shall we?

That the General died in this manner, indeed that he was treated in such a manner, is repulsive. We must make the people responsible pay.

quote:
Two Army soldiers with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fort Carson, Colo., are charged with killing Mowhoush with the sleeping-bag technique, and his death has been the subject of partially open court proceedings at the base in Colorado Springs. Two other soldiers alleged to have participated face potential nonjudicial punishment.
So, then, the people responsible are being punished. Which is completely appropriate. So we are left with the grand conspiracy theory. What is there to support that?

Most of the article ominously talks about the mysterious "Brian" of the CIA. The operative may well exist, probably does. I would be surprised if CIA was not involved in the interrogation of an Iraqi general. That the operative's identity would be hidden is not surprising - he's a field op.

Then follows an account of Mowhoush getting the ever-living crap beaten out of him. Not ok. Not in any world.

"The CIA has tried hard to conceal the existence of the Scorpions."

Gee, you think? Considering that some of those guys are probably still actively infiltrating insurgent groups?

I agree that it is unacceptable for the investigation to be blocked, as described. The Army investigators should not be prevented from unraveling this thread.

quote:
William Cassara, who represents Williams, cited Mowhoush's brutal encounters in the days before he died as possibly leading to his death. He said Williams, who was not trained in interrogation tactics, had little to do with the case.

"The interrogation techniques were known and were approved of by the upper echelons of command of the 3rd ACR," Cassara said in a news conference. "They believed, and still do, that they were appropriate and proper."

Any soldier knows the Geneva conventions against torture. Any soldier also knows that he should not obey an unlawful order. These guys are trying to deflect the blame. If they had anything substantial on their superiors, it would already be out.
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