« Yes, Virginia, You Are a Bunch of %@$#s | Main | Blogs I like »

May 10, 2004

Comments

Well, I think sooner or later we're going to find out if this report by the Red Cross is true:


Up to 90 percent of Iraqi detainees were arrested "by mistake," according to coalition intelligence officers cited in a Red Cross report disclosed Monday. It also said U.S. officers mistreated inmates at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison by keeping them naked in totally dark, empty cells.
This whole thing may come down to a question of he said, she said.

Very interesting post. Now if there's one area I don't claim expertise in it's the law. You say: No prosecutorial quarter [...] Follow the trial wherever it leads.

What if it leads outside Iraq? It's not only Abu Ghraib and the other prisons in Iraq, reports from Bagram and Kandahar are much the same (no photos though).

If the crimes are above theater level (ie, Iraq or Afghanistan), what kind of jurisdiction would a court have to have (and pardon my bad legalese)?

And I know about Gitmo, no court has jurisdiction there.


Very interesting post.


Now if there's one area I don't claim expertise in it's the law. You say: No prosecutorial quarter [...] Follow the trial wherever it leads.

What if it leads outside Iraq? It's not only Abu Ghraib and the other prisons in Iraq, reports from Bagram and Kandahar are much the same (no photos though).

If the crimes are above theater level (ie, Iraq or Afghanistan), what kind of jurisdiction would a court have to have (and pardon my bad legalese)?
And I know about Gitmo, no court has jurisdiction there.


Someone civilian, and reasonably high ranking, at DoD seems to have been responsible for no JAG officers being present, based on Steve Buyer's account and what the other JAG officers told Joe Conason. I don't think Doug Feith, or whoever, is eligible for court martial.

I think Rumsfeld's done a bad job overall, and he serves at the pleasure of the President, and if his responsibility for Abu Ghraib is not bad enough to be a firing offense on it's own it's sure as hell enough to be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Bush is not going to say, "I've f***** up, don't re-elect me".

I can't tell you how much more calmly I'd take a Bush victory in November if a Nunn or a Lugar (Indiana pride) was going to be Secretary of defense.

I don't see it happening, though, and I don't think it's only because of the fear of confirmation hearings--I really hope someone in the Democratic party is grownup enough to consult confidentially behind the scenes to ensure a swift, bipartisan confirmation of a solid candidate. Firing Rumsfeld would be an admission of error by Bush, and he doesn't do that.

I don't think this is on the level My Lai or the Tiger forces, but I would not chalk it up to something inevitable in war. This is not some kid panicking and doing something terrible in the heat of battle. This was an environment we had a lot of control over; and prisoners we had almost total control over. If you think you're in danger, you're not taking snapshots. (Why are there SO MANY pictures? Were they taken for interrogation purposes, as Hersh believes? Whatever the case, they indicate a lack of immediate danger and a belief in impunity.) We had procedures, before, for preventing and minimizing this sort of abuse. They were not followed.

FYI --

I corrected some typos in the post, and an inadvertent double comment by me.

If the crimes are above theater level (ie, Iraq or Afghanistan), what kind of jurisdiction would a court have to have (and pardon my bad legalese)?

My understanding is that soldiers are subject to the uniform military code regardless of where they operate (and that's bad legalese by me, because I've never practiced military law). Civilian contractors are also subject to the certain civilian laws that apply in and out of theatre, albeit perhaps not to many criminal laws that may ordinarily apply.

As for following the "trial" [my sic -- should be "trail"], if it goes to Rumsfeld, follow it there. But have evidence: my argument is that a "rush to judgment" (awful phrase) is pernicious -- and not just to the (possibly) unjustly condemned.

Well said, Katherine. I can certainly understand your views.

Arguing that, apart from the practical and political concerns, Rumsfeld should not be fired over this, is akin to arguing that, apart from the icebergs, the Titanic should not have sunk. Positions of trust are not entitlements.

Certainly torture and abuse (and far worse) are parts of war, and the ranks will be emptied out very quickly if people were sacked for every instance. Contrariwise, failing to put your foot down on the most grievous of breaches leads us to, well, where we are today.

Joffre was by no means a just jurist when he sacked French generals right and left during the last two weeks of August, 1914. His actions sent the message that defeatism was not to be tolerated, which allowed the French armies to counterattack and throw back the Germans at the Marne.

Firing Rumsfeld may not be just (and, in fact, probably is not sufficient to clean up the mess). From past experience, we know that Rumsfeld will avoid effective action on this and will do just enough to make the press go away. Putting somebody else in that position will at least give us a better chance that meaningful steps will be taken to prevent such things from happening.

The question then becomes, who?

By the way, Steve Buyer was the ringleader of the circus that called John Murtha a traitor. I think he seems himself as a rising star in the Tom DeLay faction.

So while he may be right about the JAG thing, I view him with more than a little distrust.

As always, fafblog has the last say. If Rumsefeld resigns, the terrorists win!

If Rumsfeld resigns the terrorists will win, because we will have done exactly what they wanted us to do. All of their suicide bombings and rocket grenade killings and getting tortured by guards have been leading up to the moment when they can trick American politicians to pressure Donald Rumsfeld into quitting. And if he quits it will be appeasement - appeasement to terror! It will be Madrid and Neville Chamberlain and "The Spaghetti Incident" all over again!

To everybody who wants a weak America, who wants a pansy-ass runnin-scared fraidy-cat America, Giblets has this to say: God bless Donald Rumsfeld because he is taking the fight to the terrorists, in some vague, ill-conceived sense that doesn't seem to be working out well but hey, Giblets is not a "details" person he is a "big picture" person. And even if you do get rid of this one good man, I am confident that there are a lot more where he came from.

"A tautalogy, yes, but a true one."

A tautology about tautologies! Damn that's clever. It's that law education.


Rumsfeld is under the gun for this because people, including military people (see: Army Times editorial section), already don't like him, because he is the most public face of the available, and because he's close to the President, so he represents a wound as Jack the Butcher would say.

But I think it's nonsensical to start from the top. You start with the people who forced Iraqi prisoners to form naked pyramids and gave the thumbs up, then you move to the people who tolerated that. And if the person commanding that person was complicit, keep moving. It's fine with me if Rumsfeld is the last person (or even the second to last person) to get hit with the hammer for this, but you have to get there rationally.

Yeah, but sidereal, you have to admit that the man has made some inflammatory statements about the Geneva conventions and so forth.

I think it's only natural, given his past rhetoric, that he undergone some serious scrutiny.

"I think it's only natural, given his past rhetoric, that he undergone some serious scrutiny."

Oh absolutely. Fire him for being an ineffective, self-aggrandizing blowhard who puts image and politics above all else.

But don't fire him for Abu Ghraib without going through the right steps.

All right, so we're at war with these people. And they're in a prison where they're being softened up for interrogation. And we hear that the most humiliating thing you can do is make one Arab male disrobe in front of another. Sounds to me like it's pretty thoughtful. Sounds to me in the context of war this is pretty good intimidation – and especially if you put a woman in front of them and then spread those pictures around the Arab world. And we're sitting here, 'Oh my God, they're gonna hate us! Oh no! What are they gonna think of us?' I think maybe the other perspective needs to be at least considered. Maybe they're gonna think we are serious. Maybe they're gonna think we mean it this time. Maybe they're gonna think we're not gonna kowtow to them. Maybe the people who ordered this are pretty smart. Maybe the people who executed this pulled off a brilliant maneuver. Nobody got hurt. Nobody got physically injured. But boy there was a lot of humiliation of people who are trying to kill us – in ways they hold dear.
Sounds pretty effective to me if you look at us in the right context.

- Rush L. defends (?) Rumsfailed.

Rumsfailed.

Heh heh.

Von, thanks very much: I now understand your point of view a lot better. (Um, one more typo: "they may include a few rouge Military Intelligence officers" should, I think, be rogue MI officers...)

I agree with Ploeg, though. It may not be just to fire Rumsfeld - but it would send the right message, that abuses of the prison system will not be tolerated.

Up to 90 percent of Iraqi detainees were arrested "by mistake,"...

I would have gone for "up to 100%", myself, but that would have been a dead giveaway. Up to 90% of the American population would recognize that for the meaningless factoid that it is.

Sorry for using the C word, but isn't there a bit of conflation going on here between professional accountability and criminal accountability?

While the folks who are criminally responsible should clearly lose their jobs, I get the sense that some folks feel that all firings should be subject to similar standards of evidence or as rigorous an investigative process as is applied to cases where prison time is the likely penalty. How many screwups warrants a firing from the Bush administration anyway? Only one, if the screwup is going off-message, infinity if the screwups are plunging an already crumbling society into chaos and establishing a kinder, gentler regime of terror and torture?

Rumsfeld will just go through the revolving door to a nice cushy defense consulting job anyway, unlike the folks who actually put boot to neck. The consequences for our country, on the other hand, could be pretty severe if he stays.

Both the Navy and Army Times have called for Rummy's resignation/firing.

Frankly, Von, you can generate all kinds of excuses along the lines of "war is hell" and "everybody does it"--but it looks as if Rummy is losing the hearts and minds of his subordinates.

Both the Navy and Army Times have called for Rummy's resignation/firing.

Am I going to have to take your word for this?

Am I going to have to take your word for this?

Gosh, it would be a tough thing to find on the 'net. And surely major defense contractors wouldn't have such publications anywhere near their facilities.

Well, yanno, I'm lazy. I figure if you actually read something like that, it'd be fairly easy to provide date and page number. Burden of evidence, and all that. Even a minor defense contractor ought to be able to do something like that.

Well, yanno, I'm lazy.

Sounds about right. Probably nothing much happening with the program, huh?

Link here.

Please note that the Army Times and the Navy Times are not publications of the United States military.

Please note that the Army Times and the Navy Times are not publications of the United States military.

Quite true. However, they are considered the "industry" papers for their respective services and they strongly reflect the views and interests of the services.

As Colin Powell put it, in 1992: "A few weeks ago, all of the troops out in the field were still reading retrospectives about how well they had done in the Persian Gulf. They don't read The Washington Post. They read such things called the Army Times, Navy Times, and the Air Force Times. Once a week, these are published, and they go all over the force. This is what the troops read."


Point made. But I'd be a bit reluctant to claim that this is a point of view expressed by the troops, as opposed as a point of view expressed to the troops.

Sounds about right. Probably nothing much happening with the program, huh?

That'd be programs, plural. And incorrect. How's life inside the beltway?

But I'd be a bit reluctant to claim that this is a point of view expressed by the troops, as opposed as a point of view expressed to the troops.

Of course you would, given your lack of service experience. And to be sure, there are probably those in uniform who would disagree with the Army, Navy, AF Times. However, these papers have strong ties to the communities they serve; it is highly unlikely they'd take a stance antithetical to the interests of the majority of their readership.

That'd be programs, plural. And incorrect. How's life inside the beltway?

Not what I hear *inside the Beltway.* I'd be dumping stock. But why snipe? We should do dim sum the week of the 22nd. Is Ming Court any good?


Slart makes a linguistic point: "Up to 90% of the American population would recognize that for the meaningless factoid that it is."

From the report:

Certain CF military intelligence officers told the ICRC that in their estimate between 70% and 90% of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake.

Note that my understanding of the ICRC report suggests that (as far as they knew) those "abused" were for the most part not drawn from the main detainee population but had links to the old regime or were otherwise suspected of having useful intelligence.

I'd be dumping stock.

Your company or mine? I've enough work for two or three people. If you're looking for a job, you might want to submit a resume.

Is Ming Court any good?

I've only eaten there once or twice; if you're looking for good Chinese, Orlando is the wrong place to look.

rilkefan:

That's better. I wouldn't go so far as to say my point was a linguistic one, just that "up to 90%" can mean anything between 0 and 90%.

Slart, I probably dislike the up-to-x formulation at least as much you do, but your "0-x" interpretation does not reflect what those who use the formulation mean. So I think "linguistic" above was correct.

...but your "0-x" interpretation does not reflect what those who use the formulation mean.

That's because I'm having a hard time reading their minds. Maybe it's the distance. Or the concentration of decongestants in my bloodstream, at present.

They mean, "x is a standard deviation away from the estimated central value so we need to consider policy implications of x", or they ought to.

Just chided Josh Marshall at talkingpointmemo for being sloppy with the #s discussed here. I feel informed.

Note that my understanding of the ICRC report suggests that (as far as they knew) those "abused" [sic] were for the most part not drawn from the main detainee population but had links to the old regime or were otherwise suspected of having useful intelligence.

Yep. Which really undercuts the idea that these were just a few morons out to have fun in a sick way. Via Making Light, Arkhangel says There is no honor.

The comments to this entry are closed.