"The Wrong Morons"

|

Excerpts from a newspaper's blistering editorial on the Abu Ghraib scandal:

Around the halls of the Pentagon, a term of caustic derision has emerged for the enlisted soldiers at the heart of the furor over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal: the six morons who lost the war.

Indeed, the damage done to the U.S. military and the nation as a whole by the horrifying photographs of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees at the notorious prison is incalculable.

But the folks in the Pentagon are talking about the wrong morons….

How tragically ironic that the American military, which was welcomed to Baghdad by the euphoric Iraqi people a year ago as a liberating force that ended 30 years of tyranny, would today stand guilty of dehumanizing torture in the same Abu Ghraib prison used by Saddam Hussein?s henchmen….

This was not just a failure of leadership at the local command level. This was a failure that ran straight to the top. Accountability here is essential—even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war.

The newspaper? The Army Times.

Advertisement

NEXT: Resign, Rumsfeld

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Just so it’s clear, the Army Times is privately owned and not directly officially affiliated with the Army, DOD, etc. (although presumably they have some close connections…).

  2. It isn’t Stars and Stripes. But it isn’t The New York Times either.

  3. It sounds like Geoffrey Miller should be looked at a bit closer. (No, I’m not being sarcastic, that was just the first link I found).

    UPDATE: They won’t let me post a .cn URL, so here it is in raw form:

    UPDATE 2: Put “.cn” after the com in the following: http://english.peopledaily.com/200405/10/eng20040510_142838.html

  4. blah, blah, blah. abu ghraib is starting to feel a lot like a mel gibson movie.

  5. KK,

    Ruby Ridge works…

    I think you see my point. Consistency and perspective.

    Many of my leftie friends, who are currently filling my email box with howls of indignation regarding the abuse in Iraq yawned at Ruby Ridge and Waco. Many of my conservative friends thought that Koresch was a slime that had it coming and they don’t seem too concerned about the prisoners either (one said he’d a posed them with a pig).

  6. Greetings Iguana!

    Your point is well received and appreciated!

    The Left should remember, that it was in favour of preemptive strikes on Yugoslavia out of “humantarian grounds”. And the Left Democrats voted for PATRIOT and for the military action “against terror”, that was cited as grounds for Iraq. They are certainly not ones for Schadenfreude here.

    Regards,
    KK

  7. R.C. Dean,

    Humiliation is one form of torture. Any manual on torture techniques will describe it, and methods on how to do it. You are simply wrong. I don’t particularly understand why people think that torture must include some form of physical abuse. It need not.

  8. Torture for a man from Belgium is being mistaken for a man from France.

    Levity aside, there is no surprise that the reaction to this highlights the inconsistencies born of ideology. One of the realities of war is that prisoners are always mistreated. Innocent civilians are always killed. The best any nation can hope for is to minimize the inevitable excesses. War is the most blunt of policy instruments. To think one can wage war without these things happening is foolish. The larger question is knowing such things will happen, is war justified?

    On another note, I tend to agree that leftists have seized on these terrible actions while turning a blind eye to atrocities committed by more politically palatable regimes. Of course, some conservatives have made excuses for the behavior while excoriating “death squads” in other places… but why should anyone find this surprising?

  9. ‘The Left should remember, that it was in favour of preemptive strikes on Yugoslavia out of “humantarian grounds”.’

    In Bosnia and Kosovo, there were credible oppositions to the Serbs who could be trusted to be reasonably liberal. We were intervening on the side of these forces, not declaring ourselves to be the righteous opposition.

    This is not primarily a moral point, but a pragmatic one – we went into Yugoslavia with a very good chance of succeeding, having laid the proper groundwork beforehand and established goals that were appropriate. Constrast to Iraq, with its Scooby Doo “It’s GOT to work!” delusions.

    This is why the ANSWER-left was pretty much on its own when it opposed the Kosovo war, but gained the support of so many Americans when they led the opposition to this war. Being aware of how unachievable the goals of this war were, and how much more sleazy and incompetant the people prosecuting it were, caused people like me, who supported Clinton in the Balkans, to come down on the other side.

  10. “blah, blah, blah. abu ghraib is starting to feel a lot like a mel gibson movie.”

    Starting to look like one, too. But which one? The Passion, or Mad Max?

  11. “And who would be the neutral party?”

    Benon Sevan, call your office.

  12. I kept seeing “Mel Brooks” instead of “Mel Gibson” up there. So let’s go with it: which Mel Brooks movie would it be like?

  13. j_ortega_y_gasset is spot on – what did people think they were supporting when they rushed to the flag and cried war? a lovely tea party?

    i hate to sound naive, but war is bad – people do horrible things to each other during and after them.

    thats why i was in favour of a peaceful solution.

    not because i wanted saddam to remain in power, but because i didnt want to see another generation mutated by another decade of mutual violence and cruelty.

  14. “In Bosnia and Kosovo, there were credible oppositions to the Serbs who could be trusted to be reasonably liberal.”

    So, what is going on now in Kosovo? Last I heard, there was a pogram against Serbs . . .

    We were aiding the drug-smuggling, Al Quada linked KLA over there, wern’t we?

  15. “Being aware of how unachievable the goals of this war were, and how much more sleazy and incompetant the people prosecuting it were, caused people like me, who supported Clinton in the Balkans, to come down on the other side.”

    I opposed the “sleazy and incompetant” Clinton administration in the Balkins (bombing from 60,000 feet makes it clear that you are more interested in your political career than in competant prosecution of the war), and I tend to support Bush in Iraq.

    My main reason for opposing war in the Balkins was that I didn’t see it in the US interest. In fact, I think it present a lesson to bin Laden et al that we were willing to kill but not to risk ourselves–sort of a follow up to the weak lesson we provided in Somolia when we pulled out after getting hurt in the “Blackhawk Down” incident.

    While I see Iraq as likely to fail, it is also a potential long term solution to Islamic terror–which is obviously in the US interest post 9/11. So far, no one on the left has offered any such potential solution. Of course, we might be better off without any long term solution (and simply responding in an ad-hoc manner to whatever the latest terrorist manifistation is), but I think Iraq is sufficiently promising to be worth considering. The problem the left has is that it’s critiques of Bush’s Iraq policy have largely revolved around “there’s no WMD in Iraq yadda yadda yadda we invaded for the oil yadda yadda yadda” junk speak.

  16. “Just so it’s clear, the Army Times is privately owned and not directly officially affiliated with the Army, DOD, etc. (although presumably they have some close connections…).”

    “It isn’t Stars and Stripes. But it isn’t The New York Times either.”

    A number of Army officiers don’t care for Rummy’s ideas on what the Army footprint should be. It’s not surprising that they would like to shift the blame upwards. So far I haven’t heard anything to support their position.

  17. Larry-

    It would be like the Inquisition scene in A brief History of the World, Vol. 1.

  18. WHAT? The The Army Times, the newspaper of soliders, wants to turn the blame away from the individual wrong-doers? STOP THE PRESSES!!! I hear they also blame the wrong-doers parents, the corporate-capitalist system and the letter Q as responsible.

  19. with significantly less singing and dancing.

  20. He calls those pics Horrifying? Get a clue asshole. What happened to Nick Berg was horrifying. What happened to the prisoners (murders and terrorists all) was more like a frat party.

  21. A Mel Brooks movie huh? Maybe the prison scene from “Robin Hood: Men in Tights?”

  22. Good thing they drummed Patton out of the Army for the slapping incident.

    I remember well how that one incident lost us the services of Patton and lost us the war.

  23. Torture? The only torture here is the twisting of definitions to make headlines where none existed.

  24. This is obviously the correct way to “win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi People”.

    May you experience these games when you are helpless, Walter. Coming from a culture where these methods were used in the darkest episodes of the 20. Century, I find it disgusting to minimise or mitigate these terrible, disgusting acts from the one nation that stands as the model of freedom, limited government, individual liberty and personal conviction.

    Trying to forgive these terrible acts as anything other than barbarism and a setback for the US is beyond comprehension.

    Regards,
    KK

  25. I find it disgusting to minimise or mitigate these terrible, disgusting acts

    True enough, and the were violations of the UCMJ the prosecutions of which began long before the current media frenzy. That said, it is important to understand that, while the photos driving this scandal certainly depict humiliation, none of them depict actual torture.

    There are allegations of beatings, and I believe a few homicide allegations as well, which if they prove out would certainly be torture and worse.

    But humiliation, even sexual humiliation, and SIMULATED torture, are not REAL torture, and treating them as if they are, “defining torture down” if you will, is a disservice to the prosecution and eradication of actual torture. There is a difference between hooking someone to fake electrodes, and hooking him up to real electrodes.

    When you reserve your outrage for the humiliation of prisoners by one nation, and have little or nothing to say about the very real torture and murder of prisoners by other nations, well, don’t be surprised if people suspect your selective outrage of having a political motive.

  26. well, duh. both sides keep spinning this so they can keep their bootlicking lil’ souls content.

    it would be interesting to see these same circumstances (assuming larger incidents of murder and even worse stuff don’t keep coming out) played out with different racial and ethnic groups in different countries. palestinians holding americans hostage, israelis doing it to palestinians, africans to americans, africans to africans…and so on. the bulk of each side would keep flipping the justifications and explanations so that their precious little blankie of political beliefs would never have to be questioned.

    fucking cunts the whole lot of them.

  27. Six morons are not capable of losing a war all by themselves, unless they’re high enough to be named in the Presidential Order of Succession.

    Walter and RC, this story is going to make your “we were winning before we were stabbed in the back by liberal, cosmopolitan, unpatriotic conspirators who control the media” meme tougher to pull off, no?

  28. Does being stripped naked, bound, and attacked by a dog meet the definition of torture? (especially given they are as filthy as rats or pigs to arabs)

    Being penetrated by lightsticks and broomsticks, or having phosphoric acid poured on you? Cold water?

    Being locked in a 3×3 room for days without food, water, medical attention, etc?

    Being sexually molested and having pictures of it traded between soldiers like cigarettes? We’re equal opportunity though- both men and women were sexually assaulted (and in a culture of shame and power where adultery is punished by death).

    As for the outrage, as soon as we live in Syria, or Zimbabwe, or Israel, we’ll focus on them. To claim that one can’t be outraged about our tax dollars being used to corrode our government, our reputation, and our moral integrity, because we didn’t protest about countries we have no control over, or responsibility for, is specious bullshit.

    Furthermore, most of us Lefties support Amnesty Int’l, the group who has been warning us about these abuses since April of last year.

    Indeed, it’s the conservatives who are late, extraordinarily so, to the torture outrage party.

    And finally, given Bush’s encouragement of torture in places like Syria (if we send people there to be tortured, we encourage them torturing), you should, and I quote, not “be surprised if people suspect your selective outrage of having a political motive.”

  29. Sir Real,

    I think the people who complain of the “lack of outrage” over Syria et al are doubly disingenuous. They only care about such atrocities when they are being committed by an official enemy of the U.S. government. When a military dictator or death squad state installed or propped up by the U.S. rules by torture, terror, and disappearance (e.g., Indonesia under Suharto, Nicaragua under Somoza, Chile under Pinochet), it never appears on their radar. At best, they use some lame-ass distinction between “authoritarian” and “totalitarian” regimes to claim it’s not as bad as it seems. But let such a regime stop taking orders, and they suddenly “discover” all the awful, awful things it’s doing; they’re completly on board the government propaganda campaign to demonize the worst regime since Hitler, preparatory to a new war.

  30. Up yours Andrew. Rummy and co. should be going to the Hague for this one. Although it does give the Bushies an air-tight excuse to bail. After all, they clearly can no longer be trusted by the Iraqi people, so let’s have a neutral 3rd party take over the transition to local governance. Hello, United Nations . . .

  31. Does being stripped naked, bound, and attacked by a dog meet the definition of torture?

    I’m not a lawyer but I think the *technical* term for that is abuse.

    Hahahahaha! Oh I kill me.

  32. The following is an outrage test. It is designed to determine whether the expressed outrages over prisoner abuse in Iraq are real or just plain expedient crocodile wailing.

    Listen carefully:

    Please rate your reaction to the incineration of the children and other innocents of Waco:

    A. They had it coming.
    B. It was sad but unavoidable and Koresch was at fault.
    C. The entire situation was mishandled from the beginning but the investigation was proper as were the results and conclusions arising from the investigation.
    D. It was an outrage. All government participants should have been arrested and charged with torture and manslaughter. Janet Reno should have been fired or resigned. Bill Clinton should have been ousted.

    Well? Didya pass?

  33. Iguana!

    I am sorry – I passed the test, but my browser had a glitsch, and I read instead “Ruby Ridge”. Other relevant data were also adjusted. Is this where you are going to? The dangers of an overzealot Federal Police? Are you warning us against the PATRIOT Act?

    In defence of Rule of Law and Individual Rights,
    KK

  34. “…so let’s have a neutral 3rd party take over the transition to local governance. Hello, United Nations . . .”

    And who would be the neutral party?

  35. Okay, so maybe I need to turn down my sarcasm button . . . The point is, these morons have given Bush et al. an exit strategy where none existed before.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.