Prisoner Abuse Update

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108 deaths of U.S. prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan so far, Associated Press reports. Twenty-six of those deaths "have been investigated as criminal homicides involving the abuse of prisoners" by their captors.

[Link via Rational Review.]

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  1. All decent Americans abhor these completely justified acts of self defense. The military and the administration would never endorse the torture and murder of captives, despite the fact that such activities are absolutely necessary for the defense the United States.

    Why are looking at me like that? Mushroom cloud, mushroom cloud!

  2. Oh, come on, you can’t break an omelette without making a few mistakes.

    And really, these sorts of things happen all the time at secret society initiations. Trust me, I know.

  3. But if we stop torturing and abusing potential terrorists, then the potential terrorists win!

    This is why we need to tap your phones, bomb “safehouses,” and entice your neighbors to rat you out for criticizing our Fearless Leader. And if you oppose this way of thinking, you must be an Osama-lover!

    Ohhhh, let the eeeeagle sooooooarrr….

  4. 108? Those are a few busy bad apples we’ve got, huh, Admiral Church?

  5. Why does the Associated Press hate America?

  6. In other news, Eugene Volokh goes off the deep end defending torture.

    http://www.volokh.com/archives/archive_2005_03_13-2005_03_19.shtml#1111021309

  7. Get legs, get legs! Stand up and walk DAMN YOU!

  8. fxxx em and feed em fish heads

  9. still waiting for stats from WWI & WWII when we didn’t even take prisoners and just shot em on site so we could continue down the road. man america sucks don’t it? god damn we are the worst friggin country in the world. can i come down off my soap box now?

  10. You’re going to be waiting quite some time for statistics showing we didnt’ take prisoners in World War Two.

  11. hm,

    Saving Private Ryan isn’t necessarily a good place to look for facts on WWII.

  12. hm,

    There are better ways to win the hearts and minds of our Iraqi “hosts” other that beating the hearts and minds right out of them. Would you not agree? We are the good guys, right?

  13. What SPD said. Last I heard, this was was about more than just a military objective, it was about a social and political objective of transforming and liberalizing a region of the world.

    Liberalization is harder to do when crimes by government employees are shrugged off.

  14. thoreau,

    Why do you hate America? 🙂

  15. Well, this is certainly not good for any number of reasons, but I seriously doubt that it is causing us much in the way of “hearts and minds” trouble.

  16. Dean

    You are almost certainly wrong about that. I thought much the same thing at first, but everything I have come across pertaining to this, shows that the Iraqi public is highly sensitive on this issue, and it really does cost us.

    In the (alas, probably forlorn) hope of injecting something remtely analytical into this topic, here is a thought I’ve been kicking around.

    The AG abuses were committed by reservists. I can’t say about the rest, but I have suspicions. I wonder whether the command has made an important mistake re. the way reservists have been employed in Iraq?

    The tendency, I suspect, is to keep reservists in “fetch wood, carry water” tasks, and to use regulars for combat patrols. The assumption is to make the war more palatable – we made a lot of similar mistakes in Nam.

    Maybe it makes more sense to “use up” reservists in combat.

    A.) They just might be better soldiers – regulars are guys you NEED to have on hand…but they aren’t necessarily super-troops.

    B.) A guy might not WANT to go to Iraq, but he may want even less to go, then come back after a year of losing income, and sweating in the Oven…with one campaign ribbon, and stories about digging latrines.

    C.) Regulars might be better soldiers in one sense…they get pretty savvy about ignoring stupid orders and policies. Reservists have a much weaker sense of what really is, and isn’t, appropriate in the military environment.

    Am I making any sense?

    Now you can go back to spluttering with indignation. I must say, I am suitably impressed – both with your strong moral compass, and your mature grasp of the human realities!

  17. Comparisons to WW2 sicken me – how can anyone compare the very real dangers posed to us by Germany and Japan to the non-existant danger posed by Iraq?!

  18. Andrew-

    You may have a good point about not putting reservists in charge of prisons. Only time and more information will tell for sure, but you raise an interesting point.

    But I have to take issue with your assumption that reservists are chomping at the bit to fight. I suppose it’s possible that some reservists will be upset that they spent their tour in Iraq doing non-combat tasks, but I suspect that those who have seen combat will tell them to count their blessings.

  19. thoreau

    I dunno…people are hard to figure. The regulars aren’t necessarily chomping at the bit either, and they aren’t necessarily under a stronger moral obligation – BOTH enlisted to serve at the pleasure of the President, with a reasonable notion of what might be required.

    I think the concern to spare reservist casualties may be exagerrated…and the effect on both reservist and home-front morale misunderstood. Similar kinds of mistakes were made throughout the Viet Nam era – and say a lot about how far the civilian culture in America has drifted from the old martial ethos. DO people enlist in the reserves JUST for the benefits? It’s a part…but is it all? Maybe you get that kind of attitude, if you EXPECT it…and a lot of other misconduct, as well.
    People live up to what’s expected of them – and live down to what’s not expeceted of them.
    Reservists in supply columns and prisons take much of the same statistical risks – which, realistically aren’t THAT high, but are nerve-racking – AND endure all the same hardships…without glory. So…they take it out on suspects, who probably ARE low-level insurgents?
    The 20-year men will always see SOME combat – and likely be generously decorated – and continuous contact with the military culture gives them a lot of philosophical perspective.

    My point about the savviness of regular troops stands – it is hard to put a bullshit order past experienced NCO’s…they just won’t do it.

  20. You may have a good point about not putting reservists in charge of prisons.

    Especially if they’re prison guards in civilian life.

  21. So how many innocents do we have to torture and kill before we officially lose our “good-guy” status? Even the military has admitted a lot of the guys in our prisons there were innocents people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  22. So how many innocents do we have to torture and kill before we officially lose our “good-guy” status?

    in nebraska, et al: there is no way to lose good-guy status so long as we don’t “puss out”.

    outside the united states: status already long lost where it once existed, which is not too many places.

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