Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The Taguba Report, Part 1

Well, I've now read the entire Taguba report, which apparently puts me one up on Donald Rumsfeld, General Myers (the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs), and the President of the United States. How the hell do these guys expect anyone to believe them when they talk about how seriously they're taking the Abu Ghraib atrocities, if they haven't even read the damn report? I mean, don't they even bother to keep up appearances anymore?

No. Obviously they don't, or you wouldn't see Rumsfeld attempting to draw a distinction between "abuse" and "torture." Here's the definition of torture under international law:
For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
And here's a partial list of the things that the Army acknowledges were done to Abu Ghraib detainees:
Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.
If beatings, anal rape, and police dog bites don't qualify as torture in Rumsfeld's eyes - as they clearly do under international law - I'm honestly not sure what would. Certainly the U.S. considered rape and beatings to be torture when they happened under the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Really: the Bush Administration desperately needs to convince the world that these actions are abhorrent to Americans, that they do not represent business as usual, that they are not condoned in any way by the military or civilian power structures. Bush can go on Arabic-language TV and read stirring lines off the TelePrompTer until he's blue in the face - and no one's going to believe a word of it, if Rumsfeld is splitting hairs about "abuse" vs. "torture" to American reporters. It would be ludicrous, if it weren't so morally repellent.

I see that I've gotten completely off the topic of the Taguba report. Let me try that again in another post.