Ghosts of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib


The most egregious item in the growing list of war crimes committed by the Bush administration's illegal and unnecessary war in Iraq is the reckless military programming that has resulted in the international perception of our military as a large collection of brutally immoral war criminals. This universal indictment and resultant disgrace of our armed forces has now been affirmed by the massive civilian massacre at Fallujah and the POW tortures and murders at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. And now Bush has once again 'kicked it up a notch' by burning Iraqis to death using napalm.

It can easily be argued that the only politically defensible war our nation ever fought, a war of true self-defense emblazoned in our republic's brief history, was The War for Independence , our American Revolution. The Revolution is long gone and its principles and ideals have since degenerated into our current, insignificant socialist democracy. All other wars in which Americans fought were merely fiercely aggressive expressions of foreign policy. Yet those deadly, destructive expressions of policy via force were always made to appear as wars necessary for our defense.

Our prior wars required visible and publicly acceptable justification, consisting primarily of a real and impending threat. Although virtually all wars after the Revolution can now be objectively analyzed, given the advantage of time and the absence of emotionalism and partisan strategizing, we can now more easily identify the court-like shenanigans that led to the politically motivated posturing dehumanizing other nations, their people and their military forces. Excuses to initiate war were framed as a defensive, retaliatory necessity, played out by the president in requesting the Congress for approval and authority to declare war in response to an act of war perpetrated against US.

All of the blessings we enjoy, our freedom, our bounty, the unlimited opportunities for wealth and fame, promote a general sense of goodness and security in a nation that acts under the close and loving supervision of our Maker. Boys at play, during and after WWII, imitated their older brothers, uncles and fathers who served, playing 'soldiers' and 'war.' It wasn't at all frightening, nor did children even remotely consider the reality of death. WWII kids imagined themselves as conquering heroes and members of that great generation of warfighters.

Enter politicians Bill Clinton and George Bush. The former, a womanizer, an alleged rapist and a confirmed draft dodger, legitimized women in combat on the front lines. The latter has been fingered as a smirker and shirker of his Air National Guard duties while avoiding Viet Nam . Detached from actual fighting, politicians and bureaucrats Bush, Rumsfeld, Cambone and Ashcroft devised new POW standards that violated the Geneva Convention the US government signed and was party to. And key officers in our military 'just followed orders.'

The origins of the POW torture and murder started at Guantanamo under the direction of Major General Geoffrey D. Miller. It violates the national memory as to the morality and integrity of every American fighting man, and now woman, and robs our heritage of the nostalgic comfort we surrounded and comforted ourselves with during times of threat and hostility. Our fallback to a nation governed by justice and righteousness has been forever ruthlessly and brutally tarnished.

As 'grunts' have been tried and found guilty and sentenced, the plans and orders that came from Bush and Rumsfeld and delivered to the leaders of our once revered military are continuously being confirmed. As the grunts languish in prison, the Army officer directly responsible for 'gitmoizing' Abu Ghraib has been quietly transferred to another assignment .

In an article by Neal Lewis in The New York Times November 18th, 'Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guant'namo,' Lewis reveals yet another dimension of the Bush-Rumsfeld Prisoner Torture Special Access Program: 'The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion 'tantamount to torture' on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.'

The ICRC, which monitors POW activities to ensure compliance with the Geneva Convention rules, found another despicable dimension of prisoner abuse which entailed the exploitation of medical personnel and records to design psychological torture plans, thereby debasing medical practices and codes of conduct. And the Washington Post now reports that Army brass knew about the torture one month before the Abu Ghraib photos surfaced.

The Bush administration and their military brass not only knew about this, but the ongoing reports prove they planned it!

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Ted Lang's picture
Columns on STR: 6

Ted Lang is a political analyst and freelance writer.