The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 Rebecca Gordon Archive
Saying No to Torture
A Gallery of American Heroes
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Why was it again that, as President Obama said, “we tortured some folks” after the 9/11 attacks? Oh, right, because we were terrified. Because everyone knows that being afraid gives you moral license to do whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe. That’s why we don’t shame or punish those who were too scared to imagine doing anything else. We honor and revere them.

Back in August 2014, Obama explained the urge of the top figures in the Bush administration to torture “some folks” this way: “I understand why it happened. I think it’s important, when we look back, to recall how afraid people were when the twin towers fell.” So naturally, in those panicked days, the people in charge had little choice but to order the waterboarding, wall-slamming, and rectal rehydration of whatever possible terrorists (and innocents) the CIA got their hands on. That’s what fear drives you to do and don’t forget, at the time even some mainstream liberal columnists were calling for torture. And whatever you do, don’t forget as well that they were so, so afraid. That’s why, says the president, “It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious,” too quick to judge the people in the Bush administration, the CIA, and even the U.S. military who planned, implemented, and justified torture.

The president has vacillated about just how long this period of exculpatory fear was supposed to last. Sometimes he seems to suggest that it’s just the responses in the more or less immediate aftermath of those attacks we shouldn’t feel too sanctimonious about. Sometimes it’s all those “years after 9/11” during which America’s leaders had to face “legitimate fears of further attacks” and therefore kept on torturing people.

However long the panic lasted, the important point is that, as Obama insisted in 2009, and again at the end of 2014, no one should be prosecuted for torture, because everyone was scared.

Anyone in President George W. Bush’s position would have declared that the Geneva Conventions, which are supposed to protect prisoners of war from mistreatment, don’t cover prisoners taken in the “war on terror.” Anyone would have told the pundits on “Meet the Press,” as Vice President Dick Cheney did less than a week after 9/11, that the attacks meant we would now have to work “the dark side.” Anyone in CIA Director George Tenet’s shoes would have agreed with Cheney when he said that “a lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies.”

And any attorney in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel would naturally have written the “torture memos” that John Yoo and Jay Bybee created in 2002, in which they sought to provide legal cover for the CIA’s torture practices by redefining torture itself more or less out of existence. For some act to count as “severe physical suffering” and therefore as torture, they wrote, the pain inflicted would have to be of a sort “ordinarily associated with a… serious physical condition, such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of bodily functions.”

Wouldn’t anyone do what these men did, if they, too, were frightened out of their wits? Actually, no. In fact, the sad, ugly story of the U.S. response to the criminal acts of 9/11 is brightened by a number of people who have displayed genuine courage in saying no to and turning their backs on torture. Their choices prove that Bush, Cheney, & Co. could have said no as well.

Though you’d never know it here, no level of fear in public officials makes acts of torture (or the support of such acts) any less criminal or more defensible before the law. It’s remarkably uncomplicated, actually. Torture violates U.S. and international law, and those responsible deserve to be prosecuted both for what they did and to prevent the same thing from happening the next time people in power are afraid.

Some of those who rejected torture, like CIA official John Kiriakou and an as-yet-unnamed Navy nurse, directly refused to practice it. Some risked reputations and careers to let the people of this country know what their government was doing. Sometimes an entire agency, like the FBI, refused to be involved in torture.

I’d like to introduce you to six of these heroes.

Sergeant Joseph M. Darby: If it hadn’t been for a 24-year-old soldier named Joe Darby, we might never have heard of the tortures and abuses committed at Abu Ghraib, 20 miles outside Baghdad. It had once been Saddam Hussein’s most notorious prison and when the U.S. military arrived in 2003, they put it to similar use.

Early on, however, the Defense Department was unhappy with the quality of “intelligence” being produced there, so Major General Geoffrey Miller was dispatched from his post as commandant of the jewel in the crown of the Bush administration’s offshore system of injustice, Guantánamo, to Iraq with orders to “Gitmo-ize” Abu Ghraib.

Joe Darby was a member of the Military Police assigned to that prison. One day early in 2004, Army Specialist Charles Graner handed him a couple of CDs full of photographs, thinking perhaps that Darby would enjoy them as much as he did.

Graner was one of the people in charge of the Army Reservists responsible for “softening up” prisoners before they were handed over for interrogation to Military Intelligence and the “Other Government Agency” (a euphemism for the CIA and its private contractors). Prisoners being softened up were stacked in pyramids like cordwood, paraded like dogs on leashes, bitten by actual dogs, and in at least one case, raped in the anus “with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick.”

When Joe Darby saw the photographs, unlike Graner, he was not amused. He was horrified. He recognized them as evidence of crimes and, after three weeks of internal debate, handed them to Special Agent Tyler Pieron of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, who was working at Abu Ghraib. From there, the photos made their way up the chain of command, via a leak into the hands of New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh, and eventually into U.S. living rooms on 60 Minutes II one Tuesday evening at the end of April 2004.

Darby hoped to remain anonymous, but he soon gained international renown for what he had done. With exposure came threats to him and to his family. In the immediate aftermath of the disclosures, while still stationed at Abu Ghraib, he feared — he told the BBC — that he might be murdered in his sleep. Still, he doesn’t consider what he did anything special. As he said, when accepting the Kennedy Library’s Profiles in Courage award, “It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.” Joe Darby may have felt fear, but he didn’t go along with a torture regime.

Major General Antonio M. Taguba: When the photos of Abu Ghraib came out, so did the calls for investigation into what many people hoped was either 1) not as bad as it looked (Rush Limbaugh famously compared it to fraternity hazing); or 2) a unique aberration. The Army picked General Taguba to investigate and he complied. The 2004 Taguba Report — officially, the “Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade” — is a model of restrained rhetoric in the service of devastating revelation. Read it and weep.

Did Taguba know that this assignment likely meant the end of his military career? The writing on the wall was pretty easy to read in the Bush-Cheney White House. Only a fool would have seen this as a plum assignment. And in 2006, the Army’s vice-chief of staff telephoned him to say, “I need you to retire by January 2007.” Taguba later told Seymour Hersh at the New Yorker that “he was forced into retirement by civilian Pentagon officials because he had been ‘overzealous…’ and ‘disloyal…’ I was ostracized for doing what I was asked to do.”

General Counsel to the Navy Alberto J. Mora: One of the first lawyers to attack the tortured logic found in the key torture memo written by John Yoo and Jay Bybee, Mora initially became concerned about U.S. torture practices in 2002, when he heard from the head of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service about some of the abuses at Guantánamo. Not grasping that the desire to torture came from the top, he assumed that, if his superiors understood what was happening, they would promptly end it. So he sought a meeting with William Haynes, then the Pentagon’s general counsel and a protégé of David Addington, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. When confronted on the issue on December 20, 2002, Haynes denied that the Guantánamo techniques (including sleep and light deprivation, forced stress positions, and so much else) were torture. Still, Mora left the meeting thinking he’d gotten through to the general counsel and that the practices, which he assumed were an aberration, a “blunder,” would be halted.

Suffice it to say that Mora was wrong and that torture practices at Guantánamo went right on. Mora nonetheless launched a full-scale memo-writing campaign against the torture regime, but in the end failed to stop it. His intervention did nothing, of course, to further his career. He left his post in January 2006 and eventually told his story to New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer, who is herself another of the other real heroes of the “war on terror” years.

John Kiriakou: Presently finishing a 30-month term — nearly two years in federal prison, a halfway house, and now home confinement — for having inadvertently disclosed the last name of a fellow CIA agent to a reporter. Threatened by the Obama administration’s Justice Department with a 38-year sentence for espionage, Kiriakou pled guilty to a lesser charge of releasing classified information. His real “crime,” however, was his refusal to participate in torture and his disclosure first to ABC News in 2007 that the CIA had used waterboarding, a torture technique of repeated near drowning, on suspected al-Qaeda operatives.

Kiriakou worked for the CIA for more than 14 years. After 9/11, he was made chief of counterterrorist operations in Pakistan, but he left the agency when it became clear to him that it was committed to torture. “I was at the CIA when the torture program was conceived,” he told the Daily Beast in 2014. “I refused to be trained in the techniques and when I left government I confirmed that torture was official U.S. policy.”

Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Couch: He is the latest addition to the list of torture rejecters. Couch is mentioned in the introduction to Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s newly published Guantánamo Diary, which chronicles the arrest, rendition, and torture of an innocent Mauritanian citizen who remains in segregation at the Guantánamo prison to this day. Couch was the military prosecutor assigned to Slahi’s case. He’d returned to active duty after the death of a friend, like himself a former Marine, who was the co-pilot of the plane that hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. He was eager to bring the people responsible for his friend’s death, as well as others, to justice.

As he prepared the case against Slahi in 2003, however, he began to worry about the “interrogation” techniques used on his future defendant and at Guantánamo more generally. As Larry Siems, the book’s editor, writes in the introduction ,“[Couch] had caught a glimpse, on his first visit to the base, of another prisoner shackled to the floor in an empty interrogation booth, rocking back and forth as a strobe light flashed and heavy metal blared .” He recognized the technique; he’d experienced it himself when “as a Marine pilot, he had endured a week of such techniques in a program that prepares U.S. airmen for the experience of capture and torture.” (Couch’s training was most likely part of the U.S. military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape, or SERE, program, which some have called a “torture school.”)

The more Couch learned about Slahi’s case, the more he became convinced that torture had been involved (as it in fact was on a startling scale). He withdrew from the case at the end of 2003. In an interview with the anti-torture organization Torturing Democracy, Couch described the moment he knew he had to end his involvement with the “military commissions” at Guantánamo.

“I was in church this Sunday, and we had a baptism. We got to the part of the liturgy where the congregation repeats — I’m paraphrasing here, but the essence is that we respect the dignity of every human being and seek peace and justice on earth. And when we spoke those words that morning, [although] there were a lot of people in that church… I could have been the only one there. I just felt this incredible, all right, there it is. You can’t come in here on Sunday, and as a Christian, subscribe to this belief [in the] dignity of every human being and say I will seek justice and peace on the earth, and continue to go with the prosecution using that kind of evidence. And at that point I knew what I had to do. I had to get off the fence.”

An unnamed Navy nurse: We know of at least one other person who directly refused to participate in acts of torture. He was an unnamed Navy nurse whose identity is being withheld on the advice of his lawyers, because he still faces legal sanctions for his actions.

In July 2014, after initially agreeing to participate in the force-feeding of Guantánamo prisoners on a hunger strike, this nurse realized that what he was being asked to do violated the fundamental values of his profession, that it was a form of torture. Since 2005, prisoners at Guantánamo had used periodic hunger strikes as a nonviolent method of protesting their harsh treatment, solitary confinement, and indefinite incarceration. Officials at the prison camp responded with violent and painful force-feeding, which they used not to save lives, but as a strikebreaking technique.

One victim put it this way in the New York Times: “I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat, and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before.”

The nurse’s attorney told NPR’s “All Things Considered”:

“He volunteered to go out to Guantánamo initially and then after he observed the way the practices were performed and he saw the ways in which the detainees were forcibly extracted from their cells and placed in five-point restraint chairs, and how they were fed with a tube through the nose into their stomach, and that the kinds of things that nurses would do — according to their professional responsibilities — those things were not done, he felt he could no longer participate in it.”

As a result of his refusal, the Navy sent him back to the States and threatened him with court martial and prison. That threat has been taken off the table, but the 18-year Navy veteran still faces possible involuntary discharge, and with it the loss of his pension, health care, and education benefits under the post-9/11 G.I. Bill. In spite of the risks, he stepped away.

In the 1960s, psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a famous series of experiments, in which subjects were convinced by white-coated authority figures to deliver what they believed to be painful and life-threatening electric shocks to people they believed were also experimental subjects. In the years since Milgram published his research into ordinary people’s willingness to torture strangers they’d just met, many people have come to believe that almost everyone will go along with torture — even if they’re not particularly scared. In fact, that’s not what Milgram found. A substantial minority of his subjects — around 35% — refused, and similar minorities have refused in subsequent studies.

So, yes, it is possible to say no to torture. These six figures did, each in his own way, and undoubtedly if we knew the full inside story of the American post-9/11 torture nightmare, the list would be significantly longer.

The authors of the U.N. Convention Against Torture (which our country signed in 1988 and ratified in 1994) knew that torturers would be tempted to use fear as an excuse for breaking the law. That’s why they included these words in Article 2:

“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability, or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

The Convention goes on to say this about torture and the law:

“1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

“2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties, which take into account their grave nature.”

Those who planned, executed, and justified American torture practices after 9/11 should not get away with it just because they were scared.

Rebecca Gordon, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States. She teaches in the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. She is a member of the War Times/Tiempo de Guerras collective. You can contact her through the Mainstreaming Torture website.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Torture 
Hide 23 CommentsLeave a Comment
23 Comments to "Saying No to Torture"
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. fnn says:

    Murrica [really the American Empire] is post-democratic, so there’s nothing we can do about this.

  2. Fake Name says:

    The Framers were stolidly opposed to a large standing army. Here’s one more reason why.

  3. Don Nash says:

    War crimes tribunals. Start them up and hold the war criminals to account. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Blair, Howard, and all those vile if not despicable Bushco minions that relish the impunity motif. Start there and the tribunals can work their way back to Clinton’s war crimes and then fast forward to Obama.

    • Replies: @The Grate Deign
  4. @Don Nash

    Mr. Nash,

    You will have credibility when you also demand war crimes trials for the head-choppers in ISIS. Until then, you’re just another exemplar of the old truism that a liberal is a guy who won’t take his own side in a fight.

  5. Melendwyr says: • Website

    I wonder what the results would be if the Milgram experiment were performed again, today? Ethics committees aren’t the only obstacle.

    I suspect the degree of compliance would be greater. The Powers that Be have been experimenting with ways to induce compliance for a long time. I expect it’s down to a science, now.

  6. GW says:

    Blah, blah, blah. Remind me again why women are allowed to speak on matters of national defense?

  7. Biff says:
    @The Grate Deign

    Joining one pack of criminals over another is a good idea? Have at it…. Bye…..

  8. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    I grew up with the radio which featured “crime shows” in which, more often than not, the police would soften up a ‘perp’ with the ‘third degree’. Torture that is and commonplace and American as …fill in the blank.

  9. Don Nash says:
    @The Grate Deign

    I agree with you Grate Deign and if I left off tossing in the jihadis, well, it was merely a matter of brevity. As for being a “liberal guy” you are way off the mark. Try keeping you snide epithets to yourself and especially so when speaking from ignorance.

    • Replies: @The Grate Deign
  10. @The Grate Deign

    You will have credibility when you also demand war crimes trials for the head-choppers in ISIS. Until then, you’re just another exemplar of the old truism that a liberal is a guy who won’t take his own side in a fight.

    Couple questions, GD —

    1. How confident are you that the British will give up the British-speaking gent involved in at least one of the beheadings?

    2. This morning Texas Rep. Mike Conaway appeared on C Span’s Washington Journal and discussed, among other things, Obama’s proposed AUMF. Conaway disagrees with the limitations the president proposes to place on US fighting; Conway stated,

    (@3.24 min)

    “The Authorization … should be straightforward: It should give the president the authorization to go get them and kill them.”

    Kill whom, you ask, and why?

    Conaway answers your questions in the context of a response to a Caller from New Hampshire who suggested that the Iraqis set up zones around their cities “like moats around the castle like in days of yore, and annihilate any ISIL member” who crosses the zone.

    Conaway responded:

    (@ 5:58 min)

    I like her phrase about eliminating them or destroying them.
    With the burning of the young Jordanian pilot, that was the event, in my mind, in spite of the crucifixions and the burying kids alive and the beheadings and all those other heinous things this group has done, in the name of radical Islam, that burning, I think, should galvanize all of our minds as to what this is, and it’s a fight.

    And there is no longer any middle ground.

    That is, Conaway believes that burning young people is such a heinous act that there should be no middle ground; one should either be in favor of going after folks who do these things or opposed, and the president should authorize going after these people and killing them.

    What are the similarities and differences between the heinous act of burning a young Jordanian pilot, an act which, for Conaway, is more egregious than “crucifixions and the burying kids alive and the beheadings”, and the 40 years of house demolitions, attacks with proscribed weapons including white phosphorus, DIME, and flechettes, in addition to the <a href = "July 2014 death-by-burning of a Palestinian teenager?

    Does it make a difference that Israelis use hi-tech weapons, supplied by the USA, to kill Palestinians under occupation? Is any Palestinian child who, over the last 40 years, has been killed by one means or another while under Israeli occupation, any less dead than if he or she had been set afire in a cage, or beheaded by a masked swordsman with a British accent?

    Conaway provides another clue to his thinking process:

    There is no middle ground, Peter: you’re either for radical Islam or you’re against it, there is no middle ground whatsoever in going after these folks.

    “Radical Islam” is the deciding factor that, Conaway argues, one should be “either for or against,” and the president should provide “authorization to go get radical Muslims and kill them.”

    Conaway implies that he considers this posture one of generosity to Muslims everywhere: “This is not the West against Islam,” the Texas congressman explains; “this is a fight for the soul of Islam.”

    King Abdullah has got it right. The Muslims have got to fix this problem. We can help, but it has to be them. . . .At the end of the day, the heart of Islam is at stake here. It’s gotta be the Muslims who fix this problem and they need to do the majority of the fighting. … We could put our elite trigger pullers in with these folks, to embed them, to take the fight to ISIL in Syria . . .”

    In other words, Muslims need to “fix” Islam by killing their fellow Muslims, with a little help from “elite” western “trigger-pullers.”

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Imagine if the same judgments were rendered about radical Jews such as the (admittedly criminal) Jews who poured gasoline down young Abu-Khdeir’s throat and set him afire. What if that act were attributed to “radical Jewishness” and the cry went forth from the US Congress, “There is no middle ground. You are either for radical Jewishness or you are against it.”

    What if the 40 years of compounded Jewish oppression and killing of Palestinians — the equivalent of generations of figuratively “crucifying, burying kids alive, beheading” Palestinians– by radical Jews were added to the “galvanizing” act of the incineration of the Palestinian child?

    Would Conaway and the US Congress insist on an Authorization to Use Military Force “give the president the authorization to go get them and kill them” in a case where “them” means JEWISH extremists?

    You say, GD, that “a liberal is a guy who won’t take his own side in a fight.”

    I submit that a traitor is a guy who deliberately takes the wrong side in a fight.

  11. @Don Nash

    My apologies, Mr. Nash. I should not have presumed.

  12. annamaria says:

    “because we were terrified” – there should have been “because Bush&Cheney were terrified” because they failed the US defense and because they wanted to protect their bosom bodies, Saudis. There will be no understanding of the systematic and large-scale sadism practiced by the US army after 9/11 until the 28 pages from 9/11 report become declassified.
    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2015/01/08/neo-cia-torture-report-incriminates-dick-cheney/

  13. annamaria says:
    @The Grate Deign

    You mistook an effect for a cause. The ISIS is a consequence of the illegal wars sold to the US by the home-grown war criminals. You should also check which armament the ISIS has been using. Americans citizens were being taken for fools by the plutocrats, and the plutocrats have no loyalties apart from their gold deposits and power (unaccountability):
    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2015/01/08/neo-cia-torture-report-incriminates-dick-cheney/

    • Replies: @The Grate Deign
  14. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @The Grate Deign

    @ The Grate Deign..

    Your statement is completely moronic. While not condoning ISIS, their existence is a natural response to the War mongering industrial-military complex that is ruling this world..

    The abuses at Gitmo and other US government-sanctioned facilities were perpetrated by US officials who were bound by oath to serve and protect the US Constitution. The abusers need to be punished for their actions. Bush and company needs to be tried as war criminals, the same way Saddam Hussein, Eichmann and other such deplorable “humans”

  15. One must include Brigadier General Rick Baccus and Captain James Yee.

    From my Dec 2003 Magazine: http://www.g2mil.com/dec2003.htm

    Bush Administration defies the Geneva Conventions

    In February 2003, the Geneva-based International Red Cross ruled that Muslims captured in Afghanistan were Prisoners of War (POWs) and entitled to the protections afforded by the Geneva Conventions. The Bush administration rejected this decision and shocked the world community by openly defying the Geneva Conventions and insisting the POWs were “detainees”. America’s corporate media ignored this story, implying that each head-of-state is allowed to interpret the Geneva Conventions however he pleases. The International Committee of the Red Cross is charged with interpreting the Geneva conventions and using diplomacy to encourage compliance. The world is outraged as the US military continues to violate the Geneva Conventions by interrogating POWs for long periods while boasting some will be executed.

    The Bush administration claimed that the execution of six German saboteurs during World War II set a precedent. However, a formal state of war existed at that time after a declaration of war by the US Congress, and those Germans were captured in the USA with plans for specific attacks, unlike the current prisoners who were captured on a battlefield overseas. The Bush Administration ordered soldiers at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (called Gitmo) to call their POWs “detainees.” Gitmo was chosen because of its unique status as a parcel of territory occupied against the will of a host nation. Cuba objects to the continued occupation of Gitmo and its use as a prison. The base was established after the Spanish-American war and no longer serves any military purpose.

    American military officers are taught the rules of the Geneva Conventions and told they must ignore illegal orders which violate these treaties, even if they come from “temporary occupants of the White House” as General Douglas MacArthur once described. This caused conflicts last year as a courageous General in charge of security at Gitmo, Brigadier General Rick Baccus, insisted on obeying the Geneva Conventions by referring to the prisoners as POWs. Baccus was removed after irritating Major General Michael Dunlavey, who is in charge of interrogating the prisoners, with his decision to allow the Red Cross to put up posters advising detainees they need only provide their name, rank and number during questioning.

    Meanwhile, quiet resistance within the US military delayed plans for military tribunals, avoiding another violation of the Geneva Conventions. The British sent stern warnings that executing British citizens deemed POWs by the Red Cross would not be tolerated, so their nine citizens have been excused from death threats. This past Summer, after months of private discussions about POW treatment at Gitmo, the Red Cross openly declared the US Government in violation of the Geneva Conventions based upon first hand reports from Cuba. Food quality and exercise rights were tied to cooperation during interrogations, reports of physical torture emerged, and it was revealed that three boys under age 16 were in custody. Since Gitmo was run as a high security facility with all activities considered secret, Gitmo commanders were enraged at the prospect of facing an international war crimes tribunal in the future.

    Three people who worked among POWs at Gitmo were promptly arrested, and espionage was suggested as the reason. The most noteworthy “spy” was US Army Captain James Yee, who was found to have notes about POWs in a briefcase when he flew into Jacksonville, Florida, which is not uncommon for a chaplain. This West Point graduate was not imprisoned at the Army stockade at nearby Fort Stewart as is customary; he was transported to a maximum security Navy Brig at Charleston, South Carolina, where three other US citizens are held without charges or access to lawyers. Yee was not formally charged within 45 days as required and not allowed free pending charges as is customary for a simple accusation of “mishandling classified information.” Yee was recently released after 76 days of confinement and charged with failing to use proper cover sheets for classified documents. Prosecutors also charged him with adultery and viewing pornographic material on a government computer. Since most US servicemen can be charged with such “crimes”, a strong message has been sent to every soldier at Gitmo to keep his mouth shut.

    According to an October 24, 2003 article in the Washington Post,

    Military authorities launched an investigation of Army Capt. James Yee, a Muslim chaplain at the Guantanamo Bay prison, after a series of confrontations between him and officials over the treatment of al Qaeda and Taliban detainees there, according to military officials and other informed sources.

    Yee, who ministered to the inmates at the U.S. Navy prison in Cuba, protested what he believed were lives of unrelieved tension and boredom experienced by his fellow Muslims in captivity, the officials and other sources said.

    Some interrogators at the prison complex objected after concluding that Yee’s private, one-on-one meetings with inmates interfered with their attempts to fully control the prisoners’ environment, numerous sources said. Some detainees appeared less cooperative in interrogations after visits from Yee, the sources said.

    Apparently, the senior intelligence officer at Gitmo, US Army Colonel Jack Farr, crossed his superiors too. On November 29, 2003 he was charged with “wrongfully transporting classified material without the proper security container on or around Oct. 11, 2003” and lying to investigators. Criminal charges for such petty violations are extremely rare, and indicate retribution for reasons which remain secret.

  16. Karl says:

    >>> the Geneva Conventions, which are supposed to protect prisoners of war from mistreatment, don’t cover prisoners taken in the “war on terror.”

    typical that it would a female who imagines that there are privileges that don’t intrinsically entail responsibilities. Rebecca cannot even conceptualize how gigantic is the “pussy pass” that gets extended to females. It’s gotten so bad that the pass is now supposed to be extended to guys who “feel” that they are females.

    The conventions define who is a “lawful combatant”. Only those persons are entitled to Geneva protections.

    • Replies: @Carlton Meyer
  17. Karl says:

    >>Israelis use hi-tech weapons, supplied by the USA, to kill Palestinians under occupation?

    If you say that the federal troops running the government in the South during the post-1865 “Reconstruction” were really only “martial law” and not an “Occupation”; then you have to admit that the Palestinians are also under Israeli martial law.

    Martial law is a domestic jurisdiction. Judea & Samaria “palestinians” are in a state of insurrection against the Hebrew government. Therefore, marital law is imposed.

    • Replies: @SolontoCroesus
  18. @Karl

    It seems that you didn’t bother to read the article to learn something:

    “In February 2003, the Geneva-based International Red Cross ruled that Muslims captured in Afghanistan were Prisoners of War (POWs) and entitled to the protections afforded by the Geneva Conventions. The Bush administration rejected this decision and shocked the world community by openly defying the Geneva Conventions and insisting the POWs were “detainees”. America’s corporate media ignored this story, implying that each head-of-state is allowed to interpret the Geneva Conventions however he pleases. The International Committee of the Red Cross is charged with interpreting the Geneva conventions and using diplomacy to encourage compliance.”

    It doesn’t matter what you think, nor Bush and Cheney. A ruling was made. The Nazis could have claimed that bomber pilots who were carpet bombing German cities were engaged in a war on terror and therefore not lawful combatants, yet even Hitler mostly obeyed the Conventions. Bush then went on to completely burn up the U.S. Constitution in the Jose Padillia case.This is where a US citizen was arrested in Chicago with no weapons and not engaging in any unlawful act. There was no hard evidence of a crime so after 90 days of delays a federal judge ordered him released. As he left he was kidnapped by federal goons with no warrant, taken to a naval brig in South Carolina and tortured for months with no access to lawyers or anyone and no charges filed. Any American who is not appalled by that case is no decent American citizen.

  19. @annamaria

    Dear Annamarina,

    While the M.I. complex bears great blame, the causes of unrest in the middle east are not of recent origin. The British Empire certainly bears a great deal of blame for the most recent spate of violence — say in the last 100 years — lumping together, as it did, disparate groups who had been at war for centuries. Mixing Christian tribes with curious and ancient pagan sects under one flag ruled by a Moslem puppet was a recipe for catastrophe. That British didn’t foresee this is a testament to force of prejudice.

    But among the causes of ongoing conflict, one must look to the nature of Islam itself, a religion of war, misogyny, pedophilia, and oppression if ever there was one. Mohammed began his religious career as a robber of caravans, later becoming what we would term a “war lord,” having married along the way an 8-year old as well as steal his own son’s wife. Moslems have followed in his footsteps since the beginning of Islam.

    The connection of the western M.I. complex with the perpetually warlike nature of Islam is a connection destined to afflict and degrade the world for a long time to come, perhaps until the parousia.

    • Replies: @solontoCroesus
  20. @Karl

    Nice try, E BenY, but casuistry, pilpul and not very compelling pilpul at that.

    Here’s some sound reasoning. Read and learn:

    As a first principle to this question, it must be understand that the West Bank is under a legal regime of belligerent occupation. Belligerent occupation is a specific category under the international laws of war that comes into effect when a state captures territory from another state during the course of war.

    On the first day that Israel came into possession of the West Bank and Gaza Strip from Jordan and Egypt, respectively, the IDF declared its authority over the territories, and that the international law of belligerent occupation would be the law of the land in those territories. Much to Israel’s credit, it has been the only state since the end of World War II to have formally applied the international law of occupation in a territory it has conquered through war. Occupation law in the territories is still enforced to this day, 46 years after it was established.

  21. @The Grate Deign

    what rubbish you fling about, Big Dog, in your panicked attempts to resist the facts and truths of history.

    “lumping together, as it did, disparate groups who had been at war for centuries.”

    Actually, the states of the ME, including the old Ottoman empire, had been relatively peaceful and prosperous until Europeans started mucking about and claiming this piece and that of the region as their own fiefdom.

    Today’s turmoil has far less to do with your equal parts bigoted and ignorant perception of Islam than it does with the entitlement to predation that is at the heart of Hebrew scripture and that many Christians — particularly Anglophones — have adopted as their own national epic, producing the morbid hyphenated freak, “Judeo-Christian,” with all its resemblances to “Shih Tzu-Great Dane.”

    Look to the history, man, not to your prejudices to assess the nature of the problem, thereby to figure out a solution.

    • Replies: @The Grate Deign
  22. @solontoCroesus

    Dear Angry solontoCroesus,

    In every area of the world where a predominantly Islamic culture borders a non-Islamic culture, there is either a state of ongoing conflict or there has been recently. While the cause of war is ultimately to be found within the human heart, there are influences which can inflame this markedly. Islam, in all its variants, is one of those influences. It is not the only one, but it is one.

    The reason for the baneful influence of Islam is found in its eschatology. Every remotely orthodox Muslim believes Islam will take over the world, by persuasion where it can, by force where it must.

    But Islam is not alone in this regard. Other philosophies such as Communism or the American idea of a manifest destiny taught a sense of entitlement to dominion. For true believers, this “obviously” justifies forcible conquest, for the unwilling must certainly be subdued.

    The most obvious offender in this regard, for our present time, is certainly Islam. If we’d had this conversation forty years ago, we would have said Communism was the great offender — and it may yet resume its bloody march. There are other offenders, but you get the idea.

    Peace, love, truth,

    The Grate Deign

  23. 1. I take it you’ve never read Hebrew scripture stories about how Jews slaughtered Egyptians, Persians, Canaanites — anybody who got in the way of what they considered their entitlement to the territory of another.
    The gate at the huge (and very wealthy) synagogue uptown, proclaims: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
    Here’s more from that passage:

    10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

    By this declaration Jews consider themselves entitled to take possession of the land, cities, houses, wells, vineyards, olive groves of another people.

    [MORE]

    As to the line about “slavery in Egypt,” consider Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s definition of slavery in this conversation on Jewish philosophy:

    I don’t think we should kill off all the liberals, however, when the Jewish people exited from Egypt and had to make this transition from slavery, which is essentially the ultimate in socialism, if you think about it: you’re slaves to the state; you work so that almost all your income is taken by the state and in return the state will take care of all your needs and it’s just another word for slavery.
    As we moved away from the ultimate of Egyptian based socialism to the freedom of an Israel-based free market economy 3300 years ago …

    The Rabbi’s complaint against Egypt — for which ‘crime’ Jews slew the first-born of all Egyptians, stole Egyptian treasure, and massacred Egypt’s leaders — was that Jews in Egypt were expected to contribute to the commonweal.

    Lapin preferred the “free-market economy” afforded to Jews, and he really means free: the land was stolen from its indigenous people, who were spied upon, subverted, invaded, and slain so that a few Jews could work out their “free market” utopian “freedom.”

    Bah.

    2. You will notice that Muslim states have been invaded by European & American states egged on by The Jewish State (see Canaan, Jericho, implied above). Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently proclaimed himself King of the Jews, urged US to wage war against Iraq in comments before Congress on Sept 12, 2002. In a bid to prove that Stoopid is immune to learning, Congress once again seeks the advice of Bibi, King of the Jews, on whether or not to invade another state in the ME, Iran, which, in addition to having an Islamic tradition, has a much older, Zoroastrian culture that was the predecessor of those (few) elements in Judaism that reflect ethical principles, and of the ethical principles in Christianity. There is a better-than-even possibility that Jesus was Persian as of any other ethnic background in and around the Roman Empire in the First Century AD.
    Some strains of Christianity, those that are closely identified with scripture, i.e. Evangelicals, elevate Hebrew scriptures almost equally with the teachings of Jesus, the New Testament. In my view, that’s not just a mistake, it’s an impossibility, as noted above.
    It’s worth noting that in Germany during the first-half of the 20th century Christian scholars and theologians sought to separate New Testament teachings from Hebrew moorings. Susannah Heschel called this effort _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _. I think Walter Grundmann, one of the leaders of the movement, was on to something and I hope some American or European Christian scholars can summon the intellectual and spiritual courage to once again pursue the project.

    3. Take a gander here, Grate Deign — “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” by John Perkins, pp 45-46:

    “I asked them why they thought the dalang had singled out Muslim countries, except for Vietnam.
    The beautiful English major laughed at this. “Because that’s the plan.”
    “Vietnam is just a holding action,” one of the men interjected, . . . a stepping-stone.”
    “The real target,” the woman continued, “is the Muslim world.”
    I could not let this go unanswered. “Surely,” I protested, “you can’t believe that the United States is anti-Islamic.”
    “Oh no?” she asked. “Since when? You need to read one of your own historians — a Brit named Toynbee. Back in the fifties he predicted that the real war in the next century would not be between Communists and capitalists, but between Christians and Muslims. . . . Read Civilization on Trial and The World and the West.
    “But why should there be such animosity between Muslims and Christians?” I asked.
    Looks were exchanged around the table. They appeared to find it hard to believe that I could ask such a foolish question.
    “Because,” she said slowly, as though addressing someone slow-witted or hard of hearing, “the West — especially its leader, the U.S. — is determined to take control of the world, to become the greatest empire in history. It has already gotten very close to succeeding. The Soviet Union currently stands in its way, but the Soviets will not endure. Toynbee could see that. They have no religion, no faith– soul, a belief in higher powers–is essential. We Muslims have it. We have it more than anyone else in the world, even more than the Christians. So we wait. We grow strong.” …
    “What a horrible thought!” I could barely contain myself. “What can we do to change this?”
    “The English major looked at me directly in the eyes. “Stop being so greedy,” she said, “and so selfish.”

    The last line is of critical importance.

    Cycle back to King Bibi’s comments on Sept 12, 2002. He urged Congress to take out Iraq, the “keystone of the network of terror.”
    “Who would be next?” Dennis Kucinich asked the King of the Jews. “Iran? Should Iran be attacked next?”

    King Bibi had a different plan in mind for Iran (in 2002). “Beam into Iran Beverly Hills 90210 and (some other equally vacuous TV sitcom whose name I’ve forgotten). “Let Iranian young people start to want the big houses, fancy clothes, swimming pools. That’s subversive.”

    Indeed it is. Let’s debase Iranian young people to become the same sort of greedy, self-absorbed consumer-machines as has become the norm in the USA. FIE on Sharia law, that teaches moderation, and fairness; long live the Capitalist idea, that makes 1% of the 1% wealthy beyond the bounds of excess, on the labor of the struggling 99%.

    That, Grate Deign, is what pious Muslims are resisting: the capitalistic exploitation of their values and culture.

    Would that American Christians had that kind of gumption.

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Rebecca Gordon Comments via RSS