Who Cared?

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It seemed only fair, in light of my accusation in the previous post, to do a Google search (based on the following sentence from the initial January communiqu? announcing a military inquiry: ?An investigation has been initiated into reported incidents of detainee abuse at a Coalition Forces detention facility?) and see if any media outlets then bothered checking into the allegations of mistreatment.

Didn?t find much original press or TV material using those terms (you will discover an AFP wire report on the news item from Pakistan?s Daily Times), but here are some excerpts from a February 6 piece by Ben Ehrenreich of L.A. Weekly:

Though they have received minimal attention in the U.S. press, allegations of mistreatment of detainees have been surfacing persistently for at least the last six months. The allegations range from generalized neglect ? unsanitary conditions and exposure to the elements ? to beatings, electric shock and other forms of torture.

It was not until early this month, though, that the U.S. military?s Central Command released a brief and tersely worded statement announcing, ?An investigation has been initiated into reported incidents of detainee abuse at a Coalition Forces detention facility.?

The announcement, so vague as to be enigmatic, came after several days of Defense Department denials in response to repeated inquiries by the L.A. Weekly about allegations of the torture and mistreatment of Iraqi detainees. Just two days earlier, a Defense spokesperson said, in regard to the over 13,000 Iraqis currently in coalition custody, ?No rights have been violated to my knowledge.?

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  1. OT:
    Judge Orders N.Y. Couple Not to Conceive

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) – A couple has been ordered not to conceive any more children until the ones they already have are no longer in foster care.

    A civil liberties advocate said the court ruling unsealed Friday was “blatantly unconstitutional.”

    Monroe County Family Court Judge Marilyn O’Connor ruled March 31 that both parents “should not have yet another child which must be cared for at public expense.”

    Article Here

  2. With minor modifications, Shannon’s arguments could be used by police forces to justify all sorts of inaction:

    “The fact that the LAPD pays compensation for mistreatment or property damage gives desperately poor black people a powerful incentive to lie or exaggerate.”

    “The best place for police corruption to flourish is in a place where everybody already suspects the police to be corrupt.”

    “There are lots of women who make false claims of rape. How were we to know that THIS woman’s claim was legitimate?”

    “Unwashed hippie-types are always bitching about the evilness of corporations. How were we supposed to know that Enron and Tyco really were as corrupt as claimed?”

    “Atrocity stories come out of every war. How were we to know that the Nazi concentration camps were real?”

  3. Jennifer,

    Nothing I said justified any action whatsoever. I merely offered an explanation as to why the media did not see the initial reports of the Abu Ghraib. You and others have simply fallen victim to the hindsight fallacy, “The media should have distinguished allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib from all the other allegations of abuse at the time because the allegation at Abu Ghraib turned out to be true and the other didn’t.”

    People who make casual or irresponsible accusations do bear responsibility for allowing real crimes to go unpunished. In WWI, the British propaganda machine widely exaggerated German crimes in Belgium and elsewhere in an attempt to poison American public opinion against Germany. After the war, most of the stories where shown to be false. The came to be known as Hun stories. When in the early days of WWII, Americans heard tales of German atrocities, they thought these too were just propaganda fabrications.

    Unfortunately, the War on Terror is filled with Hun stories. In Britain now it appears that somebody fabricated photos of British soldiers abusing Iraqis that got published in a major paper. Last year reports of abuse in some POW camps in southern Iraq surfaced before the camps were even built. The US military has investigated hundreds of reports of misconduct and found only a couple of dozen actionable cases.

    With so many people crying wolf, don’t trivialize the job of those it is to protect the sheep.

  4. “Ehrenereich” can be loosely translated as “honest government.” Appropriate, in this case.

    Stack: What in the world does ordering someone in America not to conceive children have to do with torture of prisoners in Iraq?

  5. In the media’s defense, there have been so many cries of “wolf” in the last 3 years that separating hints indicating real abuse from the steady stream of false or exaggerated reports must be a real challenge. The Arab media, which in theory would be the best source for filtering, is hopelessly comprimised. Even the military justice system is swapped trying to track all these stories down. The fact that the US pays compensation for mistreatment or property damage gives desperately poor people a powerful incentive to lie or exaggerate.

    The best place for a conspiracy to flourish is in an environment were everybody suspect a conspiracy. The best place for abuse to occur is an environment were spurious cries of abuse are raised at every corner. People keen to find fault with the US have produced so much noise that finding the real signal is a challenge for reporters, human rights workers and military justice.

    The report that the Department of Defense was investigating Abu Ghraib, simply got lost in the report of all the other hundreds of investigations, most of them groundless, that the military reported they have launched over the last 3 years. What about this particular report should have made someone’s ears perk up?

  6. Shannon wrote: “The report that the Department of Defense was investigating Abu Ghraib, simply got lost in the report of all the other hundreds of investigations, most of them groundless, that the military reported they have launched over the last 3 years.”

    Just keep it whoring for the state, Shannon. I’m sure Rummy will leave you an extra $20 on the dresser afterwards for the fine service.

  7. Shannon Love asks –
    “What about this particular report should have made someone’s ears perk up?”

    Try this –
    ?An investigation has been initiated into reported incidents of detainee abuse at a Coalition Forces detention facility.?

    Of course, if one believes that its all much ado over small potatoes as you apparently do, then it becomes very easy to overlook this report.

  8. Shannon Love,

    Though I’ve not read it, you can also peruse the work:

    “The Rape of Belgium” by Larry Zuckerman.

  9. Shannon Love,

    And I should also note that David Fromkin’s new book smothers the Fay-Tuchman notion that WWI was due to happenstance or poor luck. It places responsibility where it belongs – with the German and Austrian governments.

  10. joe,

    It has come to light that the German and Austrian governments were working on the creation of a war against Russia June of 1914 (German paranoia about being surrounded by enemies, about the industrial growth in Russia, etc. were part of the rationale for attacking Russia); they weren’t “plans,” they were orders to make it occur. Niall Ferguson argued in 1999 that the rest of Europe should have stood still and watched the invasion, and that a Europe dominated by Germany would have been beneficial (he is the same person that praises the British empire and calls on the US to emulate it). I think what the Germans did to Belgian civilians is indicative of how wrong this thesis is.

  11. Hold it now, JB, let’s not let the czar off that easily. He couldn’t wait to march his army west, to become the protector of his orthodox brethren.

  12. Shannon Love,

    “I merely offered an explanation as to why the media did not see the initial reports of the Abu Ghraib.”

    Is there any evidence that were “hundreds of investigations?”

    “In WWI, the British propaganda machine widely exaggerated German crimes in Belgium and elsewhere in an attempt to poison American public opinion against Germany.”

    The Germans enslaved over a hundred thousand Belgians and forced them to work in German factories; they looted and destroyed the homes of Belgians and Frenchmen; they also stole resources of both Belgium and France (iron ore; coal; factory equipment; etc.); and they invaded a neutral country which they had pledged via treaty not to attack. In doing the above they also violated their own commitment to the Hague Convention of 1907 regarding conduct in war.

    “After the war, most of the stories where shown to be false.”

    Actually, its apparent now that a pro-German propaganda campaign after the war kept the truth about them underground.

    “When in the early days of WWII, Americans heard tales of German atrocities, they thought these too were just propaganda fabrications.”

    Yes, because they had been lied about the real nature of German actions in WWI; that they had committed atrocities; that they had enslaved Belgians and Frenchmen; that they had murdered civilians in cold blood; etc.

    BTW, I suggest that you read John Horne and Alan Kramer’s, “German Atrocities, 1914 – A History of Denial”; it goes into detail concerning the thousands of civilians (6,500 by their count – Belgian and French) the German army murdered in their drive towards Paris before the “Miracle of the Marne.”

    From Professor Horne:

    “In August-October 1914, some 6,500 Belgian and French civilians were massacred by German soldiers, over twenty thousand buildings were deliberately destroyed by arson and artillery fire, civilians were widely used as ‘human shields’ by German troops advancing into battle, and tens of thousands of inhabitants of the invasion zone were deported to Germany where they were interned. In the most notorious incidents, the historic university library of Louvain was destroyed while much of Dinant was razed and 674 of its inhabitants killed.”

    Quit being an apologist for German atrocities in WWI.

  13. Goddam Europeans, nothing but trouble.

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