Sunday, October 02, 2005

Intel Dump pays attention

Intel Dump, one of my most trusted blogs, is paying very close attention to the prisoner abuse story. I love this blog. In a period of three days they ran four posts with extended coverage of the issue:

Read them all. Go. Now. But since you won't, here are two poles of what you'll find there. The first Intel Dump post, The Hard Right Over the Easy Wrong, gets right to the heart of the matter:
The honor of his unit, and of the United States Army, does not consist of doing things that should be hidden from view, and it is certainly not 'honorable' to hide things from the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Is the Army officer corps under Rumsfeld becoming one full of 'yes-men' instead of those willing to do the right thing regardless of peer pressure and politics? More disturbing and dangerous, is it becoming one that puts loyalty to the president above loyalty to the Constitution?

I'd boil that question down to, are we already in a fascist police state? Are we that far gone?

Next up, in Abu Ghraib Deja Vu we get a more limited view of the story, one that imagines that the trail does not reach all that far up the chain of command. This view is still pretty damned fetid, and by no means makes excuses for the abuse.

Does this indicate systemic detainee abuse? Depends on how you look at it. If you want to see Administration or Pentagon malfeasance every time a soldier stubs his/her toe, then its absolutely systemic, from the top down. However, take away the press and anti-war exploitation of these events and this is a systemic problem like drug use is systemic, rape is systemic, and gay bashing is systemic. All are problems unique to individuals, not the Army as a whole, and the military is aware of and is trying to address these problems through training, investigation, military justice, and reculturization. The Army went through this with drill sergeant abuse scandals, the PVT Winchell scandal at Fort Campbell (another example of elite troops behaving like animals), and the Army will go through this with the next scandal that will pop up on the radar screen.
Boys will be boys? Like rape and drug abuse? Sorry. That's pretty lame. Does that explain why we see the same techniques, the same abuse, in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and Iraq? That's why three soldiers are, at immense personal risk, coming forward to allege that abuse was known and accepted, if not officially condoned. Sorry, this story strongly suggests something more systematic than that.

Finally, in Kill the Messenger? we find this cogent summation:

Yes, it is. If Captain Fishback is telling the truth (and his story sounds very credible) then there should be relief en masse for several officers - and, dare I say it, Mr. Rumsfeld. It was wrong to abuse detainees (period, non-negotiable, circumstances notwithstanding). ... Any officer in the chain of command that doesn't have the moral courage to step forward and do the right thing needs to be relieved from command before he can do more damage, both to his unit and to the honor of the United States Army, the noblest of our institutions and the guardian of the republic. This is too important for partisan politics.

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