Monday, May 17, 2004

Word To The Wise - Sex, Torture & Videotape

We shouldn't be distracted so much by the revelations of sex, torture and videotape in Iraq that we ignore or forget that prisoners were beaten and killed there. We also shouldn't be distracted enough to ignore or forget that these allegations of beatings, torture, and murder have arisen elsewhere - in Afghanistan and Guantanamo.

Though we shouldn't be distracted, we also ought not be too myopic when we do focus our view on the events in Iraq. If, as Seymour Hersh reports in the New Yorker, this kind of interrogation has been designed and approved for use against prisoners of the Islamic faith in Guantanamo and Afghanistan, by our own civilian leadership and military command, then we have to question whether poorly trained reservists with little knowledge of Arab or Islamic culture would independently come up with similarly "effective" tactics in Iraq.

As we begin to get answers for these questions, we have to wake up to a sobering reality. These are war crimes, and the perpetrators ought to be prosecuted. Since the buck starts at the top, start with Rumsfeld, and work your way down. Sooner or later, someone will rat out someone above them, whether Rumsfeld or someone below him, down to the actual perpetrators of the acts in question, in order to avoid a lengthy prison sentence.

We must not bury our heads or the truth in the sands of Iraq. If there were systematic abuses of human rights and dignity, acts of torture and war crimes, then the system needs to be held to account along with the human beings who furthered it.

Also, if it's not a crime for American personnel, military or civilian, to use torture and sexual humiliation against prisoners in Guantamano, there is hardly cause to charge American personnel in Iraq for the same offenses, if under orders. Especially in the vacuum of clear leadership or language by our leadership, as well as training, such a double standard serves to undermine the dignity, at least what's left, of our own men and women in uniform who stand accused, not to mention undermines the cause of justice, which must be equally applied or not at all.

We don't need fall guys (or gals) - we need stand up individuals. Our name and honor are at stake.