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Nobody Wants To Touch This

That was the sentiment of the family of one of the soldiers charged in the abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison. They feared that a railroad job was in progress, and sought to get their side of the story out. The full story is in The New York Times. A couple noteworthy snippets:

The irony, Mr. Lawson said, is that the public spectacle might have been avoided if the military and the federal government had been responsive to his claims that his nephew was simply following orders. Mr. Lawson said he sent letters to 17 members of Congress about the case earlier this year, with virtually no response, and that he ultimately contacted Mr. Hackworth's Web site out of frustration, leading him to cooperate with a consultant for "60 Minutes II."

"The Army had the opportunity for this not to come out, not to be on 60 Minutes," he said. "But the Army decided to prosecute those six G.I.'s because they thought me and my family were a bunch of poor, dirt people who could not do anything about it. But unfortunately, that was not the case."

The kicker is that a laundry list of folks new about the story, and didn't break it:
He shared his frustration in his March 23 e-mail message to Mr. Hackworth's Web site, writing: "We have contacted the Red Cross, Congress both parties, Bill O'Reilly and many others. Nobody wants to touch this."

Less than five weeks later, images of his nephew - interviewed on "60 Minutes II" with Mr. Lawson's help - would be shown around the world. Far from untouchable, the story would become unavoidable.

I found a news post on the Hackworth web site where someone named Steve cut to the heart of the matter.
Understanding the culture of your enemy is of the utmost importance to every soldier serving on a foreign battlefield. Today, we are engaged in conflict with a people who's ways and values are far different from anything ever learned in this country. We really dropped the ball in Iraq with the recent photographic evidence of reservist screwing around with enemy POW's.

It does not matter that what transpired was not really torture. To an Iraqi man, being stripped naked and ridiculed by a woman is an insult worse than death. Women are second class citizens in Iraq and to have one meter out this type of treatment to an Iraqi man will only strengthen the resolve of the Iraqi people to resist. In my opinion, everything we have accomplished in Iraq has been blown to hell by these MP's and the officers who obviously were not supervising their commands properly. It really astounds me that today, after a century of warfare with foreign culture that this lesson still has not been learned by those planning the operations. This event, no matter how trivial in physical damage can have devastating effect on our mission in Iraq.

Then he offers the following advice for damage control:
Can damage control be done by the military? Possibly. First, the United States Military needs to pull every woman soldier out of Iraq. I know this sounds sexist, and is not politically correct but political correctness can go to hell when the lives of our grunts are at stake. Next, although I appreciate the job done by Army Reserve personnel, these individuals would be better used loading trucks than guarding enemy combatants. Part time soldiers just don't have the training and leadership of the regulars. This situation in Iraq is not a weekend drill or two weeks at Camp Grayling. Lastly, the soldiers that created this situation have to be brought to task for what has transpired, and we have to present proof to the people of Iraq that justice has been served. One more important thing can be done...let's educate our fighting men to the culture of our enemy.

Comments (4)

Re: the comments by "Steve"... (Below threshold)

Re: the comments by "Steve":

Assuming that it's true that being punished by a woman is a greater insult than actually being beaten/imprisoned/killed/whatever...isn't there then great VALUE in that as a subsequent threat to those that would oppose us in the region?

After all, if the normal "Click Click Boom" doesn't get their attention...maybe a nice set of bewbs will.

Some tend to think that an enemy so willing to die cannot be defeated because we stick with the notion that there is nothing worse than death, and when they eschew that belief, well, they've got us beat in way.

But suppose we recognize that for them, there IS something worse than death. If that's the case, and that particular thing doesn't raise any major moral concerns on our part (naked pyramids notwithstanding), then we can get a lot of mileage out of the possibility that Nurse Ratchet will be the one passing judgment on you.

Obviously, this doesn't justify the naked pyramid or the sexual abuse. But if we can get their goat with something so minor as a female in a position of authority (rightly exercised)--that isn't so bad.

Humiliation can be of great value as a tactic--might be worth looking in to.

After all, we're already the Great Satan...not like getting bumped up to "GreatER Satan" matters two shits...

"Lastly, the soldiers that... (Below threshold)

"Lastly, the soldiers that created this situation have to be brought to task for what has transpired, and we have to present proof to the people of Iraq that justice has been served."

What I think is wrong with this sentiment is that it is laying blame on the "soldiers" i.e., private first class. I have been supportive of Bush in this war, but frankly, this incident echoes previous mismanagement by this administration.

This situation is so grave -- and so grievious -- that you have to hold a high-level administrator to responsibility. To wit, if they went to war unprepared (i.e., depending too heavily on reservists, and the discipline of command hierachy wasn't functional), the blame lies with Bush and Rumsfeld.

An administration that goes to war has to have its house in order. They are, at least, expected to know IF their house IS in order. If it's not, a war such as the war on Iraq shouldn't have been launched. And the Bush administration certainly had time enough to know whether or not they were equipped to go to war in Iraq. At the least, they should have been professional enough to Ask The Questions that would determine if they were ready to launch such a war.

To my mind, the question is: Did they side-step this basic evaluation, and if so, why?

There seems to be a mismanagement rot in the Bush administration, and I think that is a growing concern. Unfortunately, I don't think Kerry addresses this issue -- his stance seems to be a matter of ignoring the issue in toto, instead of tackling head-on the short-comings of the Bush admin.

"cj" What the hell is this ... (Below threshold)

"cj" What the hell is this crap?

"To wit, if they went to war unprepared (i.e., depending too heavily on reservists, and the discipline of command hierachy wasn't functional), the blame lies with Bush and Rumsfeld."

Besides being blinded by ideology your a sorry assed apologist.

A soldier spends 18-20 years under the direct tutelage of his parents. With that comes lessons in honor, honesty, humility, respect for others, humanity, personel responsilbility, and many other traits that help an adult act in a responsible way.

The same soldier spends from 2 to 6 years, on average, learning military methods and how to protect the country. From the militaries perspective its a loseing proposition. From experience (20 years USN ret) I can tell you the chances are only about 20% in turning a neglected, spoiled brat of a kid into something other than cannon fodder.

Your statement echo very closely that of PFC Englands friends, and reletives.

RE: "She's a good girl," "It was the CIA," "That damm BUSH, its all his fault," "Rummy, fuc*ing Rummy!"


Military personnel can be p... (Below threshold)

Military personnel can be punished for refusing to obey a lawful order. The fact the word "lawful" is in there suggests that a soldier needs to be ready to recognize when an order is not lawful.

"I vuz only followink orders" didn't work too well as a defense at Nuremburg.






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