Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Collective Guilt

"The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

"Do not shame or humiliate a man in public. Shaming a man will cause him and his family to be anti-Coalition.

The most important qualifier for all shame is for a third party to witness the act. If you must do something likely to cause shame, remove the person from view of others.

Shame is given by placing hoods over a detainee's head. Avoid this practice.

Placing a detainee on the ground or putting a foot on him implies you are God. This is one of the worst things we can do.

Arabs consider the following things unclean:

Feet or soles of feet.

Using the bathroom around others. Unlike Marines, who are used to open-air toilets, Arab men will not shower/use the bathroom together.

Bodily fluids."
(From a Marine Corps pamphlet explaining Iraqi culture to troops, according to the May Harper's. )

Men little think how immorally they act in rashly meddling with what they do not understand. Their delusive good intention is no sort of excuse for their presumption. They who truly mean well must be fearful of acting ill.
(Edmund Burke. Appeal. V. 131).

Mark Danner has long and very worthwhile two-part essay concerning the current U.S. torture policy/scandal in The New York Review of Books.Part One is here and Part Two is here. Danner notes:

Behind the exotic brutality so painstakingly recorded in Abu Ghraib, and the multiple tangled plotlines that will be teased out in the coming weeks and months about responsibility, knowledge, and culpability, lies a simple truth, well known but not yet publicly admitted in Washington: that since the attacks of September 11, 2001, officials of the United States, at various locations around the world, from Bagram in Afghanistan to Guantanamo in Cuba to Abu Ghraib in Iraq, have been torturing prisoners.
In Part One, Danner recounts the experience of Hayder Sabbar Abd, the object of Pvt. England's amusement in the now infamous Abu Ghraib photos. Abd, after his torture was never even questioned by Military Intel.

In Part Two, Danner includes the account of two Reuters employees first revealed in Editor and Publisher. These innocent civilians were were made to put their fingers in their anuses and then into their mouths.

Reuters Bureau Chief Andrew Marshall had this to say:

"It should be noted that the bulk of their mistreatment -- including their humiliating interrogations and the mental and physical torment of the first night which all agreed was the worst part of their ordeal -- occurred several hours AFTER I had informed the 82nd Airborne Division that they were Reuters staff. I have e-mail proof of this."
As Danner unflinchingly reminds us, our silence on this issue of torture is equivalent to consent. We can no longer plead ignorance, as was the conventional excuse when George Bush Sr. covered up the torture and abuse of nuns and priests in Central America, and then pardoned many enablers who are now, not coincidentally, back in power via George W.

The National Security Archives has pdf's of previous U.S. torture manuals put together by the CIA (and made known to then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney.) These documents trace the precedent for the current torture of Iraqis.

Yeah, as George Bush said, they hate of because of our freedoms. He forgot to add...and because we deny others theirs.

Freedom in America seems to mean freedom to remain ignorant or uncaring about the actions of our government, both in America and around the world.

Some things bear repeating.

Certain [Coalition Forces] military intelligence officers told the ICRC that in their estimate between 70 percent and 90 percent of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake.

The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke