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Taking a different slant on things.........

by Del McMullen / May 7, 2004 5:27 AM PDT

Anyone who has read my comments regarding the criminal abuse of Iraqi detainees by American MP's certainly know that I feel those MP's should be held legally accountable for their actions, and that instructions or encouragement from MI personnel should not stand to mitigate individual responsibilities.

I also agree that the Congress has every right to ask "What did you know, and when did you know it, and why wasn't the Congress and the President advised immediately". I can accept the premise that having been advised that there were allegations of "abuse" and that an investigation was under-way would create a particular mental image of the problem, an image that would change dramatically once the photos were viewed. As dramatically as our perception of "terrorism" on 9-10-'01 would change on 9-11-'01.

And now I''ll move to the other side of the room, and ask a few questions from that vantage point.

Is it proper for the Congress to publically investigate this situation, and demand "heads", while the criminal investigation is yet on-going? Can or will this public investigation influence/impede the outcome of the criminal investigation ?

If the MP's were as poorly trained/informed of their duties, as some have claimed, where and when did they become expert in their knowledge of the Iraqi/Arab psyche, so as to know "which buttons to push" in their "interrogation conditioning" activity ?

Were these particular detainees picked at random from the general population, or were they known or suspected quanitities, and were picked on that basis ?

If there is any way to determine, did the "conditioning" lead to the production of otherwise unobtainable "actionable intelligence" ? Had these personnel been interrogated, without positive results, earlier ?

Accepting that some sergeants and privates will stand criminal trials for the abuse they suffered upon the detainees, how high up the Chain of Command, ie Lt, Capt, Maj, LCol, Col, should the arm of justice reach ?

Should that one-star general, who had a half dozen or so sub-commands under her authority and responsibility, with some 3500 or so personnel, be personally responsible for the actions of a few on the lowest level ?

Assuming that these kinds of interrogations might well stretch beyond our normal sanitized methods of interrogation, should those MI personnel who tasked the MP's be also held criminally responsible ?

If, during the criminal investigation, individuals up the chain of command exhibited a cavalier attitude toward these abuses, or toward an expeditious advisory of the problem being sent up-stream, should they be legally dealt with ?

Are these Congress Persons sincerely concerned that these detainees were abused, or is their concern more of an indignancy for not having been informed earlier, and using the tarnished image of the USA as a cover ?

Comments anyone ?

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Hi Del...
by Pat S / May 7, 2004 5:49 AM PDT

All good questions. While not being too much in support of the Iraqis they are humans and as such have basic human rights. It appears these young soldiers decided this was a game and the prisoners were there for amusment and boredom relief. I don't for a minute buy the excuse that "I was just following orders". I can't believe any of our soldiers are that stupid. But, they did photograph this stuff and circulate it so maybe I'm wrong. As for the superiors, any one of them at the local command level who has a supervisory position should be dealt with severely. The one-star, while not blameless, bears less culpability because she hadn't been in the command for very longand, as you point out, had a multitude of commands to oversee. Now what I don't like is the posting of the names of the acused - last time I looked you were innocent until proven guilty - and the length of time between the actual events, the investigative reports and the publishing of the pictures. ANYONE who knew about this and held it close to the vest is an accessory. They were hoping it wouldn't see the light of day - pure and simple.

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Re: Taking a different slant on things.........
by Dave Konkel [Moderator] / May 7, 2004 6:11 AM PDT

Hi, Del.

All good questions, but I fear you're missing the bigger picture. I think there a very good chance that what we've seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg -- that similar "softening" techniques (and I believe that's what they were, not merely bored soldiers playing sadistic games) may have been used in other prisons, including the Guantanamo facility. I would definitiely include the Colonel, as he's the one who reportedly told the one-star she should mind her own business when she complained that she was DENIED ACCESS to that wing of the prison. While she was nominally in command, she apparently wasn't actually in command of that wing. Perhaps that in itself is enough to merit a deriliction of duty Article 32 -- despite regularly watching JAG, I'm not enough of an expert on the code of military justice to know.

-- Dave K.
Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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You bet it's just the tip of the iceberg......
by Del McMullen / May 7, 2004 6:43 AM PDT

Returning MP's are starting to talk, and the IIRC (Red Cross) says they have been reporting abuse for over a year.

There's a big difference between energetic intimidation and abuse. Recall months back where a prisoner, out with line units, was refusing to talk, and a LCol fired a pistol close to him, and he fell apart and talked. The US was able, from the information, to ambush three Iraqi ambushes during the next twelve hours. The LCol received a Letter of Reprimand, which effectively took him off the promotion roster. American lives were saved, but firing a pistol is not nice.

When you're working with sneaky people you need to become sneaky. Sometimes speaking to them "in language they understand" produces results.

If an interrogator has reason to believe that lives can be saved, or he can gain other high value intelligence
from a particular individual thru intimidation, where do you draw the line.

This is far different from a high speed car chase for a stolen vehicle.

I agree that things can probably be cleaned up, and improved, in dealing with these prisoners. But I must bear in mind that most are not nice people. At the same time, we must supervise our people and make sure they are treating everything "as a job", and not taking it personal.

What we've seen in these pictures, is way over the top.

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Re: tip of the iceberg -- another accused soldier: 'our job was to make it hell.'
Charged Soldier Speaks Out.
(Washington Post login: semods4@yahoo.com; pw = speakeasy)

And she WAS assigned to the unit, so I suspect your comment about England "just visiting her boyfirend" may be off the mark, Del.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!
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Assigned to the Unit............

...but not to the duty of close-guarding of male inmates, and she shouldn't have been in that area. Big, BIG, difference.

This is a case of a totally undisciplined organization, complete with depraved individuals. I'll bet the entire MP program will be closely examined, from recruiting to personality examination of existing personnel. This is a case of 'If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it'.

Brings to mind those scenes in the movie Patton, where on the day of his arrival, he visited the officers mess, etc.

This certainly is a classic example of just how loosly organized/ineffective the leadership/and poorly trained too many "Reserve" units really are. Certainly not prepared for any kind of effective deployment, inside or outside the country. Too many times the monthly training meetings are no more than pizza and coke social get-togethers for those few who actually show up.

The "real problem" is certainly systemic, and until the root cause is addressed, don't expect drastic improvement.

Reserve and guard units do not like to be integrated with active duty units, claiming they are treated as disposable, yet, when deployed as stand alone entities too often they fall on their face, as we've seen here.

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Of course more will come forward and some ...

will be truthful while others are just looking for notoriety and recognition.

At this point in time far too many people (and this includes Congress Critters and other supposedly well educated people) are thinking with the old mob mentality (not thinking at all) and are out for blood and "immediate punishment and results" rather than letting the multiple investigations that were already initiated proceed.

Although "she WAS assigned to the unit" she would not be assigned to guarding male prisoners except possibly from guard towers overwatching the yard. Close proximity--NO! (You and the custodial staff are all "assigned" to the same institution but I will bet they don't spend much time sitting at faculty desks and faculty doesn't spend much time in the janatorial closets.)

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Some later news...........
by Del McMullen / May 8, 2004 2:35 AM PDT

....and subsequent to posting in this thread, as I posted in another thread, after I saw the first pictures, I had wondered from day one why a female guard was assigned to the male area. Apparently she wasn't assigned there, she was "visiting" her boyfriend. In one or more pictures there were several uniformed people in the room. Talk about "morally deficient" ! Anyone in that room who didn't act to stop the activity, and report the incidents up-stream, should be charged with at least negligence or direliction of duty, regardless of rank.

When you have weak leadership at the top, it reflects all the way down, and grows in intensity as it decends. This has certainly been brought out in the bits and pieces we have seen so far.

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