What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Abu Ghraib: What Really Happened?

The so-called liberal media really slammed the Bush administration over the torture of Iraqi prisoners of war at Abu Ghraib prison, didn't they? Oh wait, the so-called liberal media did not. Like most Bush fuck-ups, our ever-vigilant press basically gave the Bush administration a pass on this issue. As Rush Limbaugh said, what happened at Abu Ghraib was really no different than what happens at a fraternity hazing ritual.

The news that was ignored, for the most part, was the report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba. Taguba investigated the claims of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. And no, it wasn't the same as a fraternity initiation.

For reference, you can read the third Geneva Convention, with the specific guidelines of how prisoners should be treated. Contrary to what conservatives might want everyone to think, we still are signators of the Geneva Convention. For instance, article three, section one states:

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) Taking of hostages;
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.

Although this is old news, it's worth repeating, to remind everyone of what happened. What did our military police do to the Iraqi prisoners of war? There are many violations of the Third Geneva Convention. Charges include:

-- Prisoners were punched, slapped and kicked.
-- Naked male and female prisoners were video taped and photographed.
-- Prisoners arranged in sexually explicit positions to be photographed.
-- Forcing prisoners to be naked for several days at a time.
-- Forcing male prisoners to wear women's underwear.
-- Forcing groups of male prisoners to masturbate while being photographed and videotaped.
-- Male guard having sex with a female prisoner.
-- Guards breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on prisoners.
-- Threatening prisoners at gunpoint.
-- Sodomizing a male prisoner with a light stick.
-- A prisoner's wound stitched by a guard, instead of a medic.
-- The use of unmuzzled guard dogs to intimidate prisoners and, in one case, the guard dog biting the prisoner.

Now, conservatives will see the list and say "It was worse under Saddam Hussein!" While it may have been worse, there's no question that the United States violated the provisions of the Third Geneva Convention.

Why would anyone defend what happened at Abu Ghraib? What would have the reaction been if it were U.S. prisoners of war being sodomized by Iraqi guards? Would conservatives say that what the Iraqi guards were doing to our troops was no worse than a college initiation? Would they defend the Iraqi guards, saying that they were just letting off steam? Of course not. If Iraqi soldiers captured American troops and subjected them to the same treatment as outlined above, conservatives certainly would be outraged and offended. Bottom line, even if the abuse wasn't as bad as what happened under Saddam Hussein, we violated international law at Abu Ghraib. Donald Rumsfeld should have lost his job just for the abuse. But no, conservatives need to defend the Bush administration, no matter what any member of that administration does. No one is accountable, and the buck is passed around to anyone who will take it.


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