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Permissions and Punishments

Posted by Bob · May 11th, 2004 · 9 Comments

You would think that a US military policeman in Iraq would have a strict set of orders on how to treat prisoners if for no other reason than the Geneva Convention.

Or how about the concept that we are better than our enemy?

Or maybe the question of what the world would think if we mistreated these slobs?

I spent five years of my life in the military and I don’t ever recall a military policeman who would not follow rules and regulations to the letter. These guards in Iraq had to have been told to treat this enemy with a new set of regulations.

And the source of those new regulations ultimately is the Bush administration.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the world has been put on notice that they are either “for us or against us”.

Anyone who dared question Rumsfield at a press conference got the long stare, the “protecting America” speech and its implication that you can just leave the country today if you don’t agree.

The Democrats rallied behind this president when the Patriot Act was voted on. Anything else would have been political suicide. How can a politician run for re-election with a reputation as the “anti-patriot”?

Countries fell in behind us in this war on terror and on the surface it appeared that everyone was serious about it.

But as time has gone by, there have been those people and nations who have questioned this administration and paid the price. Has anyone ordered “Freedom Fries” lately? Anyone read about that “crybaby” Richard what’s-his-name that said the administration didn’t take terrorism seriously at the beginning? How about that other guy from Treasury who said that this administration was hungry for Iraq from day one? Funny how their faults were offered as reason for their dissent.

But when push came to shove and we were “deciding” about invading Iraq, somehow the abbreviation “US” no longer meant “United States” but “us,” as in we don’t need you. To the outside world, the “us” stood for we don’t need your military help, we don’t need your political help and we don’t need your public opinion.

Inside the “US,” “us” meant we are the current administration, leave the job to “us,” we’re fighting a war on terror here and don’t bother “us,” in fact, don’t watch too closely because this is a terrible war we’re fighting and you’ll be safer in the end because of “us.”

But when all is said and done, we have to ask the tough questions, we have to see how the war on terror is being fought otherwise it’s not a ‘”j’us’t” war. You see, when a military guard treats prisoners like we’ve seen in the media, its because he was TOLD it was alright. Military guards just don’t do anything on their own, there is too much supervision, too many eyes watching. And those eyes saw what they wanted to see, that prisoners were singing like a boys choir and giving up information because of humiliation and fear.

The Patriot Act was passed on October 25, 2001, less than sixty days after the attacks of September 11th. Considering how many days the Congress was closed due to anthrax attacks and scares in the meantime, how many legislators actually read the document? But on a pragmatic level, how could a politician vote against this and survive?

We gave the powers to “us” to fight a war against an evil, sadistic enemy that deserved no mercy. They have taken that mandate as permission to fight a war that circumvents our core values, especially the Constitution.

“Enemy Combatants” can be locked up forever with no charges brought against them? Unconstitutional but its OK, it’s just “us.” Invade a sovereign nation that had essentially been defanged by a decade of sanctions, no problem, just watch “us.”

The truth here is that we have been circumventing so much that makes us American that we’re changing into something else, just what I’m not sure.

Like a particular comment-writer on this blog, our ethics are situational, fit nicely to any circumstance where following rule of law and logic is messy.

In lieu of what we’ve seen from this administration, how can these horrible images surprise us?

The end result could be an essential re-definition of what America is and stands for, not now but in the next twenty years or so. With our unilateral actions in the history books, what country would not fear the world’s greatest military power? Is that our new modus operandi? Do we go from a nation proud of defending ourselves when attacked to the aggressor nation in this “war on terror”?

This weekend my wife and I attended a book signing in Fresno by an author named Chris Scheer. His book is called “The Five Biggest Lies That Bush Told Us About Iraq.” I have not finished his book but his remarks have started me asking questions about just where we are going and how we’re supposed to see ourselves once we’re there.

So two questions I post for the good readers of this blog:

  1. Is this administration fighting a war that you would define as “just”, “right” or “American”? I am especially interested in any points of view from overseas, what does the world think?
  2. Where are the Democrats? Their behavior appears “nitpicky” in Chris Scheer’s words. They will make a point to ask why more body armor was not provided to our troops but not question the whole method of the war being raged on “our” behalf. Can someone in the Democratic party see a way to lead us through all of this and still retain the values that makes us “American”?

We will eventually have to hand the flag over to the next generation. What will we hand them? A valid Constitution or dangerous precedents giving them permission to go around the Constitution?

FOOTNOTE: Since writing this article I saw a news item that the Dow Jones has fallen below 10,000 today. This brings to mind another question: what happens if WE lose faith in “us”?.

If the economy falters would voters finally consider replacing this administration? Is THAT what it would take, our pocketbooks … over our ethics?

Categories: The U.S. & The World · The War President


9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nat Dawson // May 11, 2004 at 7:08 pm

    Please. Where is your sense of decency?

    Does your very obvious, ongoing and deep-seated animus towards President Bush give you the right to assert …

    “.. These guards in Iraq had to have been told to treat this enemy with a new set of regulations. And the source of those new regulations ultimately is the Bush administration.”

    That, clearly, is PURE SPECULATION on your part.

    You are constantly getting on to me about supporting various statements I make on this weblog. Where, then, is your evidence to support such a contention?

    Honestly, I am sick of all the Bush-bashing by people who probably couldn’t even point to where Iraq is on a map.

    I started covering Presidential elections with the Nixon-McGovern contest (well, not much of a contest, 49-1) in 1972 and I have NEVER seen such absolute, poisonous HATRED from the political left as I have witnessed in this campaign thus far.

    It is truly frightening to watch you people, who claim to be the party of compassion, and here you are, every single day pumping the atmosphere with the most evil, foul language about a really very decent man.

    I PROTEST. You people have gone way too far.

    Have you no sense of decency, Sir, at long last?

  • 2 Bob // May 11, 2004 at 7:54 pm

    Considering the news that came out today I have to comment to my own article.

    A man was beheaded on video, intentionally, so it could be shown to the world. This man was in his twenties and not a combatant. He was killed for shock value, media coverage and just because he was an American, an infidel.

    From such disgust sometimes comes clarity.

    The ?humiliation? that the Iraqi prisoners caused outrage in the world, the whole world. As of this writing, I cannot find an Arab country that has stated their outrage at the beheading of a human being. By the way, those ?humiliated? Iraqi prisoners are still alive.

    So where is the outcry from Arab governments, from our ?allies??

    If this administration is going to stand by the ?for us or against? us mentality, where is their outrage that our Arab ?allies? are silent? Why is the potential insult to an ?ally? to be considered more heavily than the insult to Americans when we can?t see the photos of coffins returning from Iraq? In short, why are these pseudo ?allies? treated with more respect than us?

    Bush went on Arab TV to apologize but doesn?t respect his own citizens!

    – Why was the testimony from the National Security Advisor before the 9/11 commission so difficult for this administration to give permission to?

    – Where are these weapons of mass destruction?

    – Where did this intelligence that was so compelling to America, but not to our allies, come from?

    – Why were we dragged into Iraq in the first damn place? What was the rush?

    # # # # # # #

    Where is the outrage from the ?peaceful? followers of Islam?

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned the murder of an American civilian in Iraq by a group claiming links to Al-Qaeda.

    A video posted on an Internet web site shows the beheading of a Philadelphia man working as a contractor in Iraq whose body was found on a highway overpass in Baghdad on Saturday. The group that carried out the killing said it was in retaliation for the ongoing Iraq prison abuse scandal.

    In its statement, the Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said:

    “We condemn this cold-blooded murder and repudiate all those who commit such acts of mindless violence in the name of religion. We call on people of all faiths and cultures to work together for peace and reconciliation, not war and destruction.”

    CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 26 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.

    Source: http://www.cair-net.org/asp/article.asp?id=33237&page=NB

    An organization that protects the civil liberties of Muslims in America condemns the murder. That?s it?

    In their prelude to this murder, one of the captors said that Muhammed beheaed his enemies in the Koran and they were following his example.

    How about we just get on the blower and call the largest mosque in Los Angeles and check their schedule this week? Weddings??yes, daily prayers??check, beheadings??are you kidding, we?re ?civilized?. You could repeat that drill in every city in America and even in Iraq. Beheadings are not a part of this century.

    In fact, where was the outcry when four American ?security consultants? were shot to death in an ambush, their bodies burned, dragged through the street and then hung from a bridge?

    Yes, those were American ex-military working for incredible wages in a dangerous place but where was the ?peace? of Islam when they were strung up? To the Arab world, was that a source of pride or a source of humiliation?

    When will we appeal to the integrity of Islam to help end this? There are more clerics in the world than those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is there a middle ground that we can mobilize?

    So what am I asking of this administration?

    I am asking for an administration that agressively fights this war within the bounds of our Constitution.

    I am asking for an administration that communicates with its citizens. I want this administration to realize that it is fighting for democracy in a democracy.

    I am asking that the feathers of our “allies” get ruffled when they deserve it. We cannot face the Arab world seen as an addict to oil. We must demand the same integrity being asked of us as an occupier of Iraq.

    I am asking that the moderate world of Islam be shown and encouraged to speak out in favor of peace, not politics, but peace.

    Source: http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=44795&d=12&m=5&y=2004

  • 3 Mark // May 11, 2004 at 7:59 pm

    It doesn’t seem to me that I recall anyone accusing Shrub of murders he didn’t commit, of fathering children he didn’t father, of doing all sorts of things that he never did.

    The Republicans paid legions of people to lie about Bill Clinton.

    Yet, they go absolutely ape when someone tells the truth about Shrub. Not that I blame them. If I supported Shrub, I’d be pretty upset if the truth about him were known.

    What some people are saying these days (even some Republicans, Nat) is that the buck ultimately stops somewhere. Now we know that Shrub doesn’t really run anything in his administration. We know that he has no interest or desire in running things. But at least for the sake of appearances (f not for the sake of genuine accountability), some heads should roll. And his handlers should make it appear that Shrub is the one who made the heads roll.

    Noneother than George Will was saying that in his column this week. Does that make George Will someone who is full of hate in your book, Nat? Be reasonable. You have shown glimpses here that you can make a at least a glancing blow at reason. I’m optomistic that you’ll show us more of this in the future.

    Are you going to be the last one standing who worships Shrub as if he were a god, Nat?

    Everyone makes mistakes. Shrub could be the poster boy for that observation about the human condition. And yes, his handlers who started this mess and are running this mess have made some big mistakes. Even some Republicans are saying so.

    Honest criticism of what is actually happening in an administration is not indicative of hatred, Nat. It’s indicative of patriotism and everything several of my ancestors fought for in wars against powers who attacked us first (that’s a novel idea for a war, isn’t it?).

    Paying people to lie about a President — now THAT is what I would call unwarranted, immoral, and un-American hatred.

  • 4 Bob // May 11, 2004 at 8:02 pm

    The CBS News/New York Times poll last week found that 76 percent of Americans think that the president is either hiding something or lying outright in his statements about Iraq.


  • 5 Bob // May 11, 2004 at 8:09 pm

    Senator Jay Rockefeller on MSNBC tonight:

    “That prison (where the abuse happened) was just too high profile to be run that way”.

    (not a direct quote but a paraphrase, I can’t type that fast!)

    A PFC in Iraq doesn’t do ANYTHING they are not instructed to do. PFCs don’t think, they DO.

    There is a higher command being protected and it may not be military. That is my speculative opinion but I’d bet my paycheck on it. After five years of active service I am SURE that there is a higher command involved.

  • 6 Nat // May 11, 2004 at 9:49 pm

    It’s an OUTRAGE! I hope the American people see what the left is doing.

    These inmates in this prison are the most vicious, murderous terrorists in the world. They have the blood of Americans on their filthy, murdering hands. For the leftwing Liberal Democrats to practically demand that we put these people up in luxury is SO CONVOLUTED, it just boggles my mind.

    I hope the American people see the HATE on the left’s faces and, this November, REJECTS the Democrats – the party of HATE.

  • 7 Rick // May 11, 2004 at 9:56 pm


    Most of the prisoners[]?by the fall there were several thousand, including women and teen-agers?were civilians, many of whom had been picked up in random military sweeps and at highway checkpoints. They fell into three loosely defined categories: common criminals; security detainees suspected of ?crimes against the coalition?; and a small number of suspected ?high-value? leaders of the insurgency against the coalition forces.

    So reports The New Yorker.

    You can read more about it in my latest post, titled “Accountability.”

  • 8 abi // May 12, 2004 at 2:18 am


    You asked for the view from overseas. Remember that the UK is probably the most US-friendly country in Europe. So what I’ve seen here is as pro-America as you get. It’s also unlinked, because I do actually have a life, and only so much time to search it all out.

    Frankly, opinion is deeply divided. A small proportion of people think that the US and UK were right to go into Iraq, WMDs notwithstanding. Another group were willing to go into Iraq on the basis of WMDs, and now feel lied to, both by the British government and by the Americans. (There was a huge politcal scandal about it, starting when one of the scientists who questioned the government’s view committed suicide.)

    But even at the peak of his support, Blair didn’t have a majority of British voters behind him about military action in Iraq. The view was, and is, that this is an American war, for the profit of American corporations and the benefit of the American people.

    There is a feeling that Tony Blair went along with GWB’s plans for Iraq to curry favor with America, or to keep some leverage that he already had. Senior diplomats and politicians are now starting to call for him to use that influence, that “special relationship”, to get the US to show a little more balance in its deaings with the Israelis and Palestinians, since that is the engine that drives so much of the terrorism we are threatened with.

    Remember that the UK was subject to a sustained and vicious campaign of bombing by the (US citizen-funded) IRA. Those terrorists killed members of the Royal Family, children going out to buy Mother’s Day cards, and even had a go at a sitting Prime Minister. People here have seen terrorism, and have seen how to defeat it.

    There was a time when the British security forces made pretty much all the mistakes that the US is making, internally (Padilla, for instance), externally (Abu Ghraib), and, erm, neither internally nor externally (Guantanamo Bay).

    The British wish the US would learn a lesson or two from that, and move on to how to really address terrorism, which involves such controversial things as talking to your “enemies” and eroding their support by making concessions to the moderates while shunning the extremists. It’s hard to be passionate about moderation – it’s much easier and showier to send in the troops – but that’s what actually ends extremism.

    But the one aspect of American politics that completely floors the British is the vitriol and fury that politics seems to uncork. With a much wider range of views over here, there’s still less of this bellowing of entrenched opinions at one another. (And the whole anti-French thing? Juvenile. Like a toddler calling you a poopoohead because you told him not to do something.)

    I spend a lot of time trying to defend, or explain, America and American politics to my British friends and colleagues. And frankly, from over here, Bush is an embarassment that Clinton never was. Sex scandals are all very exciting at the time, but it’s the secrecy, greed and paranoia that really undermine a country in the eyes of the world. How would *you* explain a “Free Speech Zone” two miles from Bush, and the arrest of anyone with a sign criticising his policies, to someone who’s reading the First Amendment? (Actually, can someone explain that one to me?)

  • 9 Bob // May 12, 2004 at 7:31 am

    In the statement, the captors refer to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of U.S. military personnel, saying the “picture of dishonor and the news of Satanic assault on the people of Islamic men and women” will not be tolerated.

    This is one of the reasons why you don’t abuse prisoners, or don’t get caught at it. Do these zealots need more reason to do what they do?

    “Where is the compassion, where is the anger for God’s religion, and where is the protection for Muslims’ pride in the crusaders’ jails?” the statement says.

    Indeed. Where is the compassion and outrage for our people and yours? Even in time of war there is room for humanity. Compassion will have to be shown at some point before this country will become a government and eventually a nation.

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