Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Loyalty Uber Alles

Evildoers torture
But we do not
Not our culture
Not even a thought
We interview hard
And maybe use chains
For men in the yard
To check on their brains

Recently, Senator McCain and 90 additional senators placed an amendment on the Military Appropriations Bill that would have the US military use its own Field Manual and the Geneva Conventions with military prisoners. The deepest irony is not that the Senate did so, but that the amendment was needed by an Administration that is out of control. McCain can be a highly partisan politician, but he knows more about torture than all the George Bush, Alberto Gonzales and Donald Rumsfeld staff weenies put together. The Administration wants the “freedom” to use extraordinary methods. Now let us be clear. If we do not use the methods described in our own manuals, then what are the standards to be used by our military? Could it be that the War President wants fuzziness so that we can continue to prosecute nobody any higher than a sergeant? Whether it is the specific intention of the President or not, this does demonstrate that it is policy to have methods outside the law, and he is threatening to veto the appropriations bill because of it.

Now let me review all this. The President says that he does not want torture, but given the opportunity to reinforce already standing military policy that prohibits torture, he threatens a veto. What is most alarming about all this is that the whole world views the dozens of incidents in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo as the American Shame. How much longer can we use the excuse that torture was only the work of a few low level soldiers when the President refuses to reinforce the rules at a perfect opportunity? If we return to the first major investigation of Abu Ghraib by Major General Taguba, it was reported then that Major General Miller was sent to Abu Ghraib to “Gitmoize” the prison in Iraq. Internal investigation methods did not permit Taguba to fault Miller; still, the evidence was put on the record. If that does not connect the dots for you, perhaps the fact that 34 prisoners died in custody should. Also, identical illegal techniques were used in all three places. If this were the work of low-level soldiers, is it not a little unusual that they all used the same techniques? Maybe it was email in the ranks and not policy and maybe the Tooth Fairy has a dental clinic.

There is one bright spot in all this. Captain Ian Fishback, a West Point graduate, has taken it on himself
to report violations, first through the chain of command and then through the United States Senate. Unfortunately, the US Army is holding Captain Fishback in custody at Fort Bragg. The Army appears to be threatening him with charges. At each step along the way, commanders attempted to talk him out of reporting the torture he witnessed. Several Non Commissioned Officers corroborated Captain Fishback’s account and the Army is threatening him with charges for withholding information instead of conducting investigations that might demonstrate that the morality of this administration is as bankrupt as the Treasury. While this is nothing new in the Army, it reaches a new level of official misconduct. In my own experience when I supported one of my officers who had, in turn, supported a student officer who objected to some minor extortion (a couple cases of beer for the return of a guidon stolen by cadre), all hell broke loose and I was accused of not respecting tradition. In my twisted mind, extortion was not a tradition worth keeping, but things would have been easier if I had been loyal to the brass instead of the men and the law.

Maybe that is what all this is about. This President would prefer personal loyalty over truth and justice. Loyalty is his strong suit. Loyalty over competence. Loyalty over fairness. Loyalty over performance. Loyalty over the Constitution. Loyalty Uber Alles. We have a motto.


Blogger Lou Delgado said...

This is a great commentary.

11:38 AM  

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