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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.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Sunday Round Up

Remember the "axis of evil" as defined by George W. Bush? Here's what he said in his Jan 29, 2002 State of the Union address:

"Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.

Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.

Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world."

And so it was, a little over a year after Bush delivered his speech, that we invaded Iraq, presumably to round up the huge stockpiles of weapons we thought they had, only to discover there were none.

North Korea, on the other hand, not only has made public its many weapons programs, but within the last few days, may have actually fired a test missile.

What are we going to do about it? After all, George W. Bush didn't want to wait around for Iraq to develop its weapons programs to the point that they would be a threat to us, as he said in a speech in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002:

"Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. As President Kennedy said in October of 1962, 'Neither the United States of America, nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world,' he said, 'where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nations security to constitute maximum peril.'"

So, we have the clear evidence of peril (North Korea's weapons programs) and we know they have the capability to fire long-range missiles.

Why did we go after Saddam Hussein instead? North Korea presents a much danger threat than Iraq ever did, and are we waiting for that mushroom cloud? I don't know, but as usual, the Bush administration acts in a way to completely befuddle the minds of the masses, to the point that no one wants to bring the issue up to Bush.

Detainees Mistreated at Gitmo

Another report confirms that some prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were mistreated or humiliated.

If you've ever discussed the issue of prisoner abuse with your favorite right-winger, they're likely to say that the events at Abu Ghraib were "isolated." Which just isn't true, as the Church Report revealed, the U.S. had confirmed dozens of abuse cases. Yet even with confirmation that abuse did occur, senior NCOs and commanders so far have not been held accountable for what happened at Abu Ghraib. So far, the soldiers prosecuted were low-level enlisted personnel, most recently Private First Class Lynndie England (you may recall her from the Abu Ghraib photographs, grinning and pointing at the genitals of a prisoner with a cigarette dangling from her mouth).

For reasons that remain unexplained, the Pentagon is not holding higher-level Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) or commanders in the field responsible for what happened at Abu Ghraib. Let me quickly talk about rank structures in the military to illustrate this point. Enlisted personnel are the folks that sign up for military duty (usually without a college degree). The enlisted ranks start at the bottom with "E-1" and go up to "E-9." Anyone E-3 and below is at the bottom level of the chain of command ladder. In other words, the fresh recruits out of boot camp or other soldiers who have only been in the service a year or so.

Non-Commissioned Officers generally run from the rank of E-5 to E-9; these soldiers would be the ones in charge of the lower-ranking soldiers. From there you move into the officer ranks -- those soldiers with college educations who have attended ROTC, officer candidate school, or graduated from a military academy. These officers are generally leaders of larger groups of soldiers.

In the Abu Ghraib case, only one high-level officer has been "punished," Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinsky, the former commander of the of the 800th Police Brigade at Abu Ghraib, received an administrative reprimand.

Otherwise, the higher-level NCOs and officers have not been held accountable for the actions of the troops in their command. And the thing about the military is that these folks are supposed to be held accountable. An E-6 with 12 years of service knows what actions are acceptable and what are not. An E-3 with a year of service may not necessarily know the rules and regulations the E-6 would.

Donald Rumsfeld even offered his resignation twice to George W. Bush, after taking full responsibility for what happened at Abu Ghraib, and Bush did not let him resign. Throughout the Abu Ghraib investigation, there has been no accountability for those senior officers and enlisted folks at Abu Ghraib. And Congress doesn't seem all that interested in holding those people accountable.

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