When We're the Evildoers in Iraq

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Iraq, Saddam Hussein Views: 3262

President Bush is again refusing to take responsibility for any of the horrors happening on his watch. This time it is the abuse of Iraqi prisoners carried out by low-ranking military police working under the direct guidance of military intelligence officers and shadowy civilian mercenaries. Our president launched this war with the promise to the Iraqi people of "no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone." What went wrong?

The president has called the now-exposed pattern of violence an isolated crime performed by "a few people." Yet the Pentagon's own investigation of the incident shows that not only was the entire Abu Ghraib prison out of control, it was the MPs' immediate military superiors who "directly or indirectly" authorized "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" of the prisoners as a way to break them in advance of formal interrogations.

"Military intelligence interrogators and other U.S. government agency interrogators actively requested that MP guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses," says the report. The report, completed in March and kept secret until it was revealed on the New Yorker website Friday, also stated that a civilian contractor employed by a Virginia company called CACI "clearly knew his instructions" to the MPs called for physical abuse.

Furthermore, in a statement released Friday, Amnesty International reported that in its extensive investigations into human rights in post-invasion Iraq, it "has received frequent reports of torture or other ill treatment by coalition forces during the past year," including during interrogations, and that "virtually none of the allegations of torture or ill treatment has been adequately investigated by the authorities."

Recall that a key excuse for the U.S. invasion was to ensure the safety of Iraqi scientists and others in the know so that they might feel free to reveal the location of weapons of mass destruction or evidence of Saddam Hussein's potential ties to Al Qaeda. Shockingly, some of those scientists are now in coalition prisons, even though the weapons clearly don't exist.

In this context, of course, it makes sense that U.S. interrogators would feel enormous pressure to use any means necessary to verify the absurd claims made so aggressively by the president and his Cabinet before the war. Far from the jurisdiction of the U.S. legal system, they apparently felt quite free to approve techniques clearly banned by war crimes statutes.

Yet, astonishingly, weeks after the Pentagon's own damning internal report on the torture at Abu Ghraib, and several days after CBS' "60 Minutes II" broke open the story worldwide by showing those horrific photos, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld still had not been briefed on the report, a spokesman said Sunday. Similarly, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers, admitted Sunday that he hadn't yet bothered to read the 53-page report filed by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, even though he had successfully requested that CBS delay its "inflammatory" broadcast. This shows far more concern for public relations than for finding out the truth.

How could it be that the top officials responsible for the military were not themselves interested in keeping abreast of the investigation - even after the story had exploded into a global scandal?

After all, an ambitious promise to bring democracy and the rule of law to Iraq became the ex post facto rationale for the invasion, once it became clear that the earlier claims of weapons of mass destruction and Hussein ties to Al Qaeda were a fraud.

So it should have been a clear and high priority to make certain that Iraqi prisoners incarcerated in Hussein's most infamous prison did not receive the same brand of "justice" the dictator had been doling out for decades. That they did is now a deep and dirty stain on the reputation of this nation.

Yes, it's great that we are still worlds away from being Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia or Hussein's Iraq.

We are a free society in which, it is hoped, truth eventually comes out, and thanks to what seems to be one brave whistle-blowing soldier and a responsible officer to whom he reported the torture, these crimes have come to light. Those are the acts of true heroes, and we should be proud of them.

Yet, before we go overboard in celebrating our virtues, let's admit that Americans too can be "evildoers," especially when we embrace, as the president consistently has done, the terribly dangerous idea that the ends justify the means.

The ultimate cost of a foreign policy based on blatant lies, and that equates military might with what is right, is that the brute in all of us will not inevitably lie dormant.

Robert Scheer writes a weekly column for The Times and is coauthor of "The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq".

  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Iraq, Saddam Hussein
Views: 3262

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Older Comments:
Private U.S. citizens convicted of such crimes have received the death penalty. Did the perpetrators pause, for even one moment, to consider what they might be preparing for themselves - when they set about "making it hell" for kidnapping victims? May God have mercy on each of their souls.

salamu alaykum.
canucker, that was very interesting. true to point. there is a difference, though its hard to argue the contrast in immorality, there IS a difference. in parts of the muslim world where torture is widespread, killings and trampling on the invidial rights of prisoners is the norm, but sadism and explicitly sexual torture is just beyond anything muslims are accustomed to. uzbekistan, just about the worst place a muslim can live right now, boils practicing muslims. literally, they're boiled in oversized pots of water. but even for them, sexual torture is unheard of. which is why muslims the world over are appaled. it isnt the beatings, its the nakedness, the implied sexual acts with men et.cetera. in all muslim societies, sadism and everything implied with it is just about the worst thing a muslim can be put through.

from the late 80s onward, american society has had this collective pro-war feeling of invincibility. the humilitation of the vietnam years were all but forgetton, its evident in the types of movies become blockbusters. which is unfortunately very telling, the thought of society being fashioned by the tele.
every war where the numbers of american dead outcap the number predicted, society suddenly becomes decidely antiwar. as though it took american deaths to remind people that bombing others needlessly is wrong. everyone was prowar before the vietnam years, the same feeling prevailed, even after dresden where we killed 80.000 civilians needlessly. since there were little american deaths, the killings of others was acceptable.
i agree with akbar that the world isnt going to wait for americans to lose their pacifist ideals once again, and wait to bomb another unfortunate country in the next 5 years. this trend leads to nowhere but to oblivion. i can see america becoming another england post 1945. with the economic powerhouse of the chinese on one hand, and the euro bloc in the other, its not exactly a bad predic

Well Jacko, our military courts will be trying at least 7 soldiers on a variety of criminal charges. It will be a fair process in which the suspects and alleged victims can all have their day in court. That sounds like justice to me.

To Nick Cameron.
Action. Those who committed those crimes against humanity should be charged for war crimes.
Justice that's what muslim want. Not just words.
When Iraquis had american POWs, Rumsfield was talking and remindng them to treat them according to Genova Convention laws. Same thing has to be done toward Iraquis POWs.


Bush has said enough. Muslims do NOT want him saying stuff now. They want him DOING stuff now. The hell with a "I am sorry Muslim people". I mean come on, you yourself agree that American shouldn't be in Iraq. Get the hell out man! That is what the Muslims want. Actions speak louder than words.

And for all those who say, "Muslims are hypocrites, that suddenly when Americans torture Iraqi's everyone talks but no one talked when Saddam did it or etc." Think about this. Supposing your dad "tortures" you when you are young. I mean he constantly spanks you, belittles you, threatens you and makes your life hell. Evil? Indeed. Now consider a person whom your dad really hates. Let's just say his boss at work. It just so happens that this boss's son comes to your house and starts spanking you all the time now, instead of your dad (he brings his friends and locks up every member of your house, and takes the house for himself). Do you guys see a difference?

Ofcourse torture is torture. Either Muslim on Muslim or non-Muslim on Muslim...both are evil, and deserved to be condemned. But please see the difference of the two kinds. Invasion is one thing. Torture on someone else's soil is like adding insult to injury. The worst part was that the whole purpose of the invasion was to free the Iraqis of torture.


It is very unfortunate that once again our country has aired its dirty laundry in another foreign nation. Hopefully the American people will realize that President Nixon, er, I mean President Bush will be shown to be the war monger just like Nixon was. Hopefully also the American people will rise up against our government officials and demand their resignation/impeachment. We did it to Nixon and now it's time to do it to Bush and his cronies.

Nick the superstar of non-sense land, you are truly priceless, "Bush already said sorry..what more Muslims want him to say", at least you achieved something, you made me smile even if I'm about to vomit (sight)...

Assalaamu'Alaiykum to all,

Romesh, I must say it's nice to hear you accept the truth, kidding aside, I agree with almost everything you said, except for the end where you state that "Iraq should not expect any help from the rest of the world", and by this if you mean that that no one from another nation will come to the aid of Iraqi's to fight against American occupying forces, I disagree with you on that, simply because ultimately as the Iraq crisis unfolds even further, the stability and future of both continents of Africa, and Asia are involved in the turmoil taking place in the middle east. I say this because the United States, like in Vietnam, talked about creating a 'counter domino-effect' that would stop the so called domino effect of communism, and be replaced with democracy. So this is nothign more than a rehash of US Policy all over again, just this time it is facing a different kind of situation. You see...the future of the people's all the way in Indonesia, to Morocco, will be affected by whatever will be established or whatever will take place in Iraq. As we can already see, even as far as Spain has felt the repercusions of making a wrong military move. Sooner or later I see the situation as being one like this....because of America's war crimes in Iraq, and up and coming crimes which should be revealed more and more, will result in all of these Crusader,Masonic,Communist,so called Democratic, and neo-conservative, and Zionist governments to fall, one after the other.

Real Eyes Realize Real Lies.

Abu-Ghraib = GITMO-2.

Funny, US Army has not learned any lessons from Vietnam -- the Mai Lai Massacre. Also let us not forget that Lt Calley was held responsible for Mai Lai, was senenced by the Army; but immediately freed by Richard Nixon. That is the extent of US Justice and respect for Human Rights. Does anyone expect that any senior officer of US army will be punished for Abu-Ghraib; not a chance.

A person has to be totally naive to believe that US attacked Iraq to liberate Iraqis and bring democracy to them!!

Iraqis will have to act like Vietnamese nationalists to fight the US; Vietnamese, after tremendous sacrifices defeated US on the battlefield; let us see, whether Iraqis have the brains to defeat US on the battlefields of Middle East. And they should not expect any help from the rest of the world, because others don't want to get involved in somebody else's wars.

Bush already said sorry. I don't know what more that Muslims want him to say.

...and sort of unrelated...

But I just wanted to know something. Can these soldier's be called terrorists? How come that word has not even been mentioned as of yet?

What about the MASS murder of muslims in Nigeria at the hands of the Christians? No one seems to broadcast that...perhaps it's not terroristic enough? I mean right now it is only the muslims being murdered by the christians. Perhaps if one of those muslims retaliates, then maybe we have ourselves a story.
Check it out:


Great article once again by Scheer of LA Times. Johannes, I know that you are maybe an Outkast in Stankonia, but are you not an American? If so, then there is hope yet that not ALL Americans have the intellect of a cockroach. Since about half of the people polled here have doubts as to the credibility and rule of Bush, it is imperative that we keep pushing. When so much is going right, people don't question the behavior of the government, but NOW is the time people. The great ideals this country was founded on exist now only in the minds of some of us. The government no longer gives a damn, and must be held accountable!!!

It is a nice expression of free views. It is now most important for American to decide who is the responsible of evildoing of U.S soldiers in Iraq. After U.S invasion of Iraq,k I was in Baghdad and I personally observed lowest moral of some U.S soldiers as they were worst in behavior with Iraqi women. I recorded a video when a women said Saddam Hussain soldiers were far better than American. For one hour, she was not allowed to pass a street as she was going to her job in Baghdad. There was no American female soldier to check her body but male U.S soldier checked her and she was angry as she was an Iraqi Muslim.

Striking resemblence to what one of the British Muslims alleged on prisoner torture and sexual abuse as he was released from Guantanamo Bay over a month back. You can read the transcript on the net if want to see it.
Also, remember the liar Colin Powell going on TV denying everything.

After 9/11, christian leaders were condemning the muslim community for not speaking out against the atrocious act. Why are they muffled by the cruel and brutal acts of the americans in Iraq? I am still waiting these christian leaders and ministers to condemn these despicable american adventure. When they are doing it to muslims, its ok. what kind of religion are they professing?

May Allah have mercy on us all.

Reports of WMD were clearly in error - and possibly even fraudulent. Iraq's support for global Islamist militancy (over approximately the last twenty years) has been less than America's. Iraqis taken prisoner in Iraq have clearly had a legitimate reason for being in Iraq while the same can no longer be said for American's armed forces. American administrators are attempting to assemble a government of Iraq that will give American armed forces permission to remain within Iraq. Considering all of these points, what justification can Americans offer for detaining, much less interrogating, ANY Iraqis who have been abducted within Iraq by American military personnel?

When I attended foru meeting in Washington and London by an invitation from US secretery of state for reconstruction of Iraq. and prommises became true bys assulting my people in Iraq ...shame on you Talebani Bush Shame on you america dont forget that I will have my turn

Assalamu aleikum Johanned, I could hardly have time to read this article for now, much less writing and posting a comment, just extremely busy Alhamdulillah, but your post caught my attention, because I absolutely agree with the way you stated your opinion and and expressed your frustration, it is indeed sad and disgraceful to hear the media refering the "arab streets" and the 'arab frustration". I am an Arab Muslim, and I found this type of reference extremely offensive and insulting to me as Muslim. You can hear it from the non-muslim media as well as from most Arab media, which is mostly controlled by the Arab rulers who still hold on to the sickening and absurd (and moribond I hope) arab nationalism, but I can safely assure you that it is not the way, we the Muslim people of the street generally reference the Arab Muslim mass, we tend to say "al Mouslimine'

Your reaction and the reaction of Muslims all over the world has one more time proven that our Holy and Beloved Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, is PERFECTLY right when he said that His Ummah is like one body, if one part of the body aches, the whole body feels the pain, I apologize for the translation, and I humbly apologize to you and to all the Muslims on behalf of our misguided brothers. May Allah bless the Ummah, and thank you for making an extremely important point.

Allah Hafiz

salamu alaykum
a few grammatical errors in my previous posting, i'm sure 'youse all' just disregard 'em.

in addition, i'm amazed, flabbergasted even at the thought of people being surprised at this. the american populace has the intellectual capability of a cockroach, their reaction is understood. but for non americans, who've witnessed the many - very many conflicts in which the american military has been deployed, cant in good faith claim to be surprised. there isnt a single war where we havent destroyed cities, blown up apartment buildings and shot fleeing civilians. this prison torture thing cant begin to compare with what we did in vietnam.
we've used terror, genocide and mass murder for hundreds of years. beginning with the natives, and today in iraq.
its what americans do.

salamu alaykum
what bothers me about the arab reaction to this is that they've completely disregarded the proverbial "muslim world's" reaction to the torture. arab media have repeatedly resorted to "the arab street" - "the middle east is disgusted" et.cetera. completely disregarding the fact that the entire muslim world is in absolutely revulsion.
no offence to arab muslims, they are my brothers and sisters. but in the western world - arab opinion isnt worth much. arab armies apart from egypt are inept and incapable of swatting a diseased fly. that however is true considering the might of the 'entire' muslim world. from lagos to xinjiang, muslims the world over are shocked and disgusted. the entire muslim world considered, our opinion carries weight.

it would be in the arab world's interest to stop referring to the unemployed 'arab street', and show solidarity with the rest of the ummah.

Excellent article! It is articles like this one by Scheer that can enlighten people here in the USA. The last article by Marina was accurate, but I garantee you that when most people start reading about "the Imperialists", they turn off.

I can not trust any sytem which uses the instruments of evil to carry out its designs. Bremer occupies Saddam's palace at a time where they criticised him for spending oppulantly whilst Iraqis died. Then they used the same prison of Abu Gharib to carry the same acts as Saddam does. The place carried dead karma. If they were real heros then they shud have bulldozed this evil building and built a more humane facilities. instead they bulldoze people's homes based on heresay intelligence, just like those WMD intelligence. Yet thos photos are a year old and one must wonder how much is hidden and as the human rights iraqi appointee has already said in our local papers; he pointed out similar atrocities to Bremer but he never did anything about them. Filed in the rubbish bin!

The same goes for Iran for those who accuse us that we only criticise America! They too use Avin prison which the Shah did. Such vile institution that wreack of blood of the innocent must be razed from the face of the earth for they carry too much bad karma. but when the occupiers have other evil designs then one can not expect them to give a damn about karma but it will soon visit you for sure.

did any american know falluja of muqtada sadr before and they were no enemies of america but now they sure are. you guys must take active responsibility to choose your leaders wisely instead of sitting at home and only caring for your own. your country has an immense power but with that comes immense responsibility and it is in your hands. better believe it. humanity is an ocean, we share the same waters. stand up for truth and speak agaisnt evil no matter where it is, even agaisnt your own. such is the measure of a true human being and I am the first to bow down to such a human being. such is the recipe for winning the hearts and minds. never too late for doing good. God is all forgiving and so we must also be.

i would just like to say that i am disgusted that i have a president who will not stand up for his action. he is supposed to be our leader in that i should feel proud but look what he has done to our people. being responsible for taken prisioners and treating them in an inlawful way. this outrages me and my husband mohamed.

Definitely a well thought out and well written article. The whole Iraq war affair seems to be a mad-house. We as a nation and as human beings need to stand up for basic human rights. It is high time proper role was given to UN. We need to stop acting unilaterally and seek truly international solutions.