Monday, December 1, 2008

We are a nation we once condemed

How have we as a people let ourselves become a nation that once we condemned? In WWII, and in Vietnam we condemned the torture of prisoners. John McCain, as one of the most well known POW's has spoken out against his treatment by his captors as terrible. Some of the worst pain anyone could endure. Withholding medical treatment, inflicting pain in various ways, even the water boarding we hear so much about. All of these are forms of torture.

During WWII the German's did this in the POW camps, they used the Jewish people as test subjects in the camps before they put them to death. Sometimes death was a blessing, harsh as that sounds. The Japanese, were terrible in the treatment of prisoners. Even though this isn't really discussed. Some books on the war do talk about it.

But, now, we are guilty of these same types of things. At first, when the word of Abu Ghraib came out, it was said that it was just a few of the lower ranks who were involved in it. You remember, Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick,Pfc. Lynndie England, Spc. Sabrina Harman,Cpl. Charles A. Graner Jr.,Spc. Jeremy Sivits, Sgt. Javal S. Davis, Spc. Megan Ambuhl, Spc. Armin J. Cruz Jr., and Spc. Roman Krol. These are the ones who were court-martialed and convicted of crimes committed at Abu Ghraib prison. As of today the only one still in prison is Charles Graner, Jr. He is in solitary at Leavenworth Prison, Kansas.

All the others have either served the time they were given or had their time commuted. No officers were ever convicted of a crime or ever even tried for any crimes. The doctrine of command responsibility, according to Paragraph 501 of Army Field Manual 27-10, holds that a commander is legally responsible not only for orders handed down but "if he has actual knowledge, or should have knowledge ... that troops or other persons subject to his control are about to commit or have committed a war crime and he fails to take the necessary and reasonable steps to insure compliance with the law of war or to punish violators thereof."

While no officers have been court-martialed, the Army says it has taken nonjudicial action against some officers for crimes at Abu Ghraib. Beyond the nine convictions detailed below, Army public affairs officer Maj. Wayne Marotto told Salon by e-mail that three soldiers and one officer received nonjudicial punishments, and four soldiers and eight officers received official reprimands. In addition, "a number of officers were suspended or relieved of their duties," according to Marotto. He declined to provide further details about these personnel, citing the Privacy Act of 1974, which prohibits the Army from "publicly releasing certain items of information" about individuals regarding nonjudicial actions taken against them.

There are two publicly known cases of military leaders from Abu Ghraib receiving nonjudicial punishment. According to a May 5, 2005, Army press release, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, was relieved of command, was demoted to colonel and received a letter of reprimand. And on May 13, 2005, the Department of Defense announced that Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, was relieved of command, received a letter of reprimand and was fined $8,000. (One day earlier, the Washington Post reported the reprimand of Pappas, citing an unnamed Army official.)

While all of this is telling, even more so is the fact that above the military orders were the orders that the military were following. Those orders came from somewhere. At the same time they were doing the "interrogations" at Abu Ghraib others were being done by "OGU" or as they have now been identified CIA were doing their own interrogations and using some of the same if not worse tactics as seen by the photos which were released when we were introduced to "Lynndie and Charles" the couple who took the pictures of the naked prisoners. The orders for all these interrogations came from the same person. From the top. Of course there is speculation there as to who is the top. Is it Bush or is it Cheney?? But that is where it starts, then Rumsfeld, down from there. So, why aren't they answering for these crimes? Will they have to answer for them? That's the question that remains to be answered some day.

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