You Disgrace Your Uniform, Sir!'

How many patriots work in the Pentagon? Lots of professional military officers work there--Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines--hurrying along the corridors, good and decent men mostly. Wouldn't it be wonderful to read their thoughts, as they conduct America 's military business?

Years ago, some of the Joint Chiefs of Staff'the highest ranking generals who work there at the Pentagon'devised a policy paper called Operation Northwoods. That bit of skullduggery called for black operations against Cuba , particularly remote control of a civilian passenger jet, crashing it and killing everyone aboard, and blaming the Cubans for the dastardly deed.

Fortunately, JFK nixed the idea of attacking our own citizens. That was just one of the many reasons President Kennedy was eliminated, I'm convinced.

So I'm hardly surprised when a USAF colonel responds to some luckless internee/ political prisoner/ terrorist (you choose) at Guantanamo with the remarks: 'Mr Abbasi, your conduct is unacceptable and this is your absolute final warning. I do not care about international law. I do not want to hear the words international law. We are not concerned about international law.'

Longtime Middle East reporter Robert Fisk observed of this colonel: 'clearly a disgrace to the uniform he wears,' and as a former US Air Force veteran with an honorable discharge, who once spent time in the military stockade, I would have to agree with Fisk.

Hey, colonel: you disgrace your uniform!

As a trainee, every soldier, sailor or airman is given a copy of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). If that colonel had read it, and the doctrines enforced by those generals in the Pentagon, torture would be a court martial offense.

Fisk goes on to note a US Army Chief Warrant officer, a high-ranking military man named Welshofer, convicted of suffocating an imprisoned Iraqi general. Welshofer, a murderer by most standards and a war criminal by the standards of Nuremberg , broke down and cried, as did his wife.

Touched by such compassion, the military court gave Welshofer a reprimand! I kid you not!

By contrast, I got 35 days in the brig for stealing a car and going AWOL while this weepy war criminal received a reprimand. As Fisk observed: 'Yes, I guess torture is tough on the torturer.'

You can lay the blame for these abuses and outright felonies with the superiors of these two officers, but I believe each man is born with a sense of decency and loses it piece-by-piece along the way. During his training at West Point or the Citadel or Annapolis , every officer, if I am not incorrect, attends a class in military justice.

So who, or what, did lead these top officers astray, dangerously close or directly into felonious behavior? Why none other than their top civilian leaders, of course. Because if the top men condone criminal behavior, indeed order criminal behavior, all those directly below them will obey the direct orders'or be forced to resign or face the repercussions.

Former Reagan official Paul Craig Roberts observed: 'President Bush described the Constitution as 'a scrap of paper.' Bush's attorney general, vice president, and secretary of defense have openly defended the Bush administration's practice of torture, violations of habeas corpus, and illegal spying. These high officials, in violation of their oath of office, have openly declared that Bush, as commander in chief, is above the law.'

Thus, not surprisingly, we hear of rogue American officers breaking laws of humanity and ignoring the Geneva Convention. They disgrace their uniforms.

If any of them had a sense of history, they would realize there is not a dime's worth of difference between their conduct and that of brutal, Soviet interrogators at those notorious prisons, Lefortovo and Lubyanka Prison.

As for those dumfuck US enlisted men who got caught on film and took the fall for torturing Iraq prisoners at Abu Gharaib: They didn't devise those methods on their own initiative. They had orders from above to soften up the prisoners.

Likewise those trigger-happy troopers who recently shot that Iraqi family of eleven, mostly kids. Who ordered them to attack? Some sergeant, who got his orders from some lieutenant, who got his order from some major, who got his orders from some general, all the way up to Rumsfeld.

Curiously, the Nazi POW camp commanders, unlike our boys in 'liberated' Iraq , didn't systemically torture and execute American prisoners of war during World War II (although they did shoot escapees). Nor did American prison commanders torture or systemically brutalize German prisoners sent to the States (I lived blocks from a former POW camp in Tempe , Arizona ). One important reason was that each side feared the summery execution of their own soldiers if they engaged in torture and execution of captured enemies.

But since none of the Neocons ever fought in a war, or so much as stood on a battlefield, or ever read a history book, they don't respect the rules of war, as outlined in the Geneva Convention and codified in the UCMJ. Instead they assert their 'right' to torture and brutalize.

Predictably, they break international laws formulated to protect enemy combatants. And by directing their subordinates, whether colonels or corporals, to commit war crimes, they disgrace their high offices and compel every soldier to disgrace his uniform.

No wonder we lose wars against Third World countries, their citizens fighting ferociously to oust our occupying armies. No wonder a large portion of our own troops flee the military at the first opportunity. No wonder a sizeable portion of our soldiers suffer emotional problems, attempt suicide, or desert. Lay they blame with our Commander in Chief and his cronies, principally, who devised draconian guidelines, for a few good men to go terribly wrong.

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Douglas Herman's picture
Columns on STR: 138

Award winning artist, photographer and freelance journalist, Douglas Herman enjoys exploring the occasional ghost town or spooky conspiracy and can be found wandering the back roads of America. Recently Doug finished writing, directing and producing an independent feature film, naturally a "road movie," and credits STR for giving him the impetus to write well, both provocatively and entertainingly. A longtime gypsy, Doug completed a 10,000 mile circumnavigation of North America, by bicycle, at the age of 35, and still wanders between Bullhead City, Arizona and Kodiak, Alaska with forays frequently into the so-called civilized world of Greater LA.