Wednesday, March 23, 2005

How's Your "Culture of Life"?

With all the screeching about the "Culture of Life", you'd think the talibanshees would take a good hard look at the "Culture of Life" training that the military is receiving and passing on to the people it encounters. Or is "Culture of Life" a convenient catch-phrase, a "hook" designed for maximum primal emotional response? Sure, it sounds good, it's easy to say - Culture of Life - but what does it mean? And what do the invokers of "Culture of Life" mean when they utter those words? Do they mean anything at all?

Sean Baker had some training in the military's "Culture of Life" for the prisioners at Guantanamo Bay.
On Wednesday, ABC News interviewed Sean Baker, a former US Army Specialist First Class, who was nearly killed by his fellow soldiers during a training exercise at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison camp. The interview conducted by Brian Ross presented a chilling real-time counterpoint to Bush administration denials that it routinely ordered the torturing of prisoners. It revealed instead a compelling picture of training in the kinds of systematic violence and abuse being meted out to prisoners both at Guantanamo and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The "Culture of Life" training, Bush administration style, for prisioners at Guantanamo led to near death and brain-damage for SFC Baker. This story started surfacing last fall and 60 Minutes II interviewed and ran a story on SFC Baker. Lisa Rein's Radar has links to the video of that program. Something you've got to remember, they stopped beating him after they found out he was a fellow soldier - do you think the beating would have stopped if he had been a real prisoner?

So, why am I writing about something that's sooo last fall? Well, because last fall's story was just the beginning, and the story continues.

Lawyer: 500 hours of Guantanamo Bay inmate abuse was videotaped
Mr Kenny said the US military videotaped the actions of the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF) who were responsible for prisoner control at Guantanamo Bay. He said evidence of the violence used by the IRF came to light when a member of the US military, whom he identified as Specialist Baker, applied for a medical discharge after being involved in a training session.

“He was dressed in an orange jump suit and the IRFing squad was instructed that he was a detainee who had abused a guard and was to be moved to another cell.

“What happened to him only came to light in Specialist Baker’s later hearing for a medical discharge from the military for the brain damage he suffered in the beating he received at the hands of that trainee squad.”

During the "investigations" into the torture at Abu Ghraib Rumsfeld blamed the cameras and the amature "photographers" who took the pictures for the abuse that was taking place, or at least for shedding light on the practice of abuse, humiliation and torture that was the "Culture of Life" for the prisoners at Abu Ghraib. All the work of a "few bad apples" Rumsfeld proclaimed. Now we have 500 hours of video taped humiliation, beatings and torture at Guantanamo Bay that are coming to light and a soldier who's life will forever be changed due to brain-damage he sustained while undergoing "Culture of Life" training at Gitmo.

While we're busy spreading the democracy and "Culture of Life" around, remind me again how many of these detainees have been charged with any offense? How many have had access to due process?