Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Abu Ghraib still echos on.

As another investigation is released to the public about the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, I still get the impression that the buck will stop far below where it should. The buck should be stopped at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for several reasons.

It starts at the beginning, before the war on Iraq even began. We were assured by Rumsfeld that the number of troops used for the invasion was adequate for the war. We found out in that first month that he was wrong as the military didn't have enough troops to stop the looting of hospitals, museums, banks, stores, and just about every place worth looting. Plain and simple, where were the troops? In the good article by The New Yorker that was issued back in May (see link) at about the same time the photos hit the media, they describe the relationship of Abu Ghraib and troop shortages.

"...Questioned further, the Army investigator said that (Staff Sergeant Ivan L.) Frederick and his colleagues had not been given any “training guidelines” that he was aware of. The M.P.s in the 372nd had been assigned to routine traffic and police duties upon their arrival in Iraq, in the spring of 2003. In October of 2003, the 372nd was ordered to prison-guard duty at Abu Ghraib."

These were not troops trained to run prisons, particularily in a war zone with prisoners that spoke different languages and placed there with little knowledge of their background. As the New Yorker article states, "As many as fifty thousand men and women—no accurate count is possible—were jammed into Abu Ghraib at one time, in twelve-by-twelve-foot cells that were little more than human holding pits. And the article goes on to say, "Most of the prisoners, however—by the fall there were several thousand, including women and teen-agers—were civilians, many of whom had been picked up in random military sweeps and at highway checkpoints. They fell into three loosely defined categories: common criminals; security detainees suspected of “crimes against the coalition”; and a small number of suspected “high-value” leaders of the insurgency against the coalition forces.

So the troops were not properly trained, nor were they in the numbers needed for the job. Rumsfeld can't pretend that he wasn't aware of problems in the military prison system as Human Rights Watch complained to him. Early reports were on his desk in January. As the head of the military Rumsfeld should long ago have examined the troop strength issue and on a constant basis. He just sat in his air conditioned office and didn't go and visually see with his own eyes. After the photos hit the media, Rumsfeld finally got off his butt and visited Abu Ghraib. He certainly could have left his office chair back when he had reports on his desk. It took bad publicity for him to act, and even that was more of a photo-op.

I have never agreed with the Iraq War and am not surprised at the numerous aspects of incompetence exhibited in the waging of this war. I look at the top, Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense has been an offense through this whole thing.


Post a Comment

<< Home