Abusing Our Soldiers

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There are many reasons we have the Geneva Convention, and protecting our own guards from life-long psychological problems is one of them.

What do you think is going to happen 15 years from now when one of these present-day guards is asked by his son, "What did you do in the war, dad?" All the horror of the beating and the killing is going to come rushing back to these men and with the passage of time, many will realize the crime they have committed.

I don’t care how hard you think you are, looking back at the beating and torture of men and boys who are shackled will be revolting. Those in Washington don’t have to worry because everything was "out of sight and out of mind" for them.

From documents dated August 16, 2003, and obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union by suing our government, we learn of this order given to our prison guards in Iraq, "Take the detainee[s] out back and beat the f__k out of them."

Think about what that order means to a young American soldier, who has watched some of his friends get killed or maimed over there.

From Independent News of the United Kingdom, 27 March, 2005, "Damning evidence of American soldiers abusing detainees at another prison in Iraq was made public yesterday. It details how prisoners were u2018systematically and intentionally mistreated’ at a military base in Mosul, culminating in the death of one. Nobody was court-martialed over the abuse."

You will notice that the new evidence of prisoner abuse was made public on Good Friday and this has become a Bush administration ploy used to minimize the impact of damning information about Bush’s War on Terror. Give the public information just before the weekend and there is a much smaller distribution to the citizenship.

The ACLU, "charged that the government is attempting to bury the torture scandal involving the US military by failing to comply with a court order requiring release of documents to the ACLU. The documents the government does release are being issued in advance to the media in ways calculated to minimize coverage and public access."

You see, if the Bush administration doles out the documents in small batches, the full impact of the torture is not learned until weeks, maybe months later. George Bush’s people know how to keep you and me in the dark about what they are doing in our names. Of course the rest of the world knows what is going on before we do, because the reports of torture and killing of prisoners by our troops are fully reported the world over with testimony from those we torture. Our media does not even contact those people.

Some of the documents released Friday tell of a high school student whose jaw was broken and that "Abuse of detainees in some form or other was acceptable practice and was demonstrated to inexperienced infantry guards almost as guidance."

The report also talks about the death of Abu Malik Kenami while in detention in Mosul, Iraq. While in a report in the UK’s Independent, "Last week the US reopened an inquiry into how an Iraqi government scientist died while in detention. Mohammad Munim al-izmerly, 65 when he died on 31 January 2004, is the only known weapons scientist to have died in US custody. The family commissioned an Iraqi post mortem, which found he died of a blow to the head."

The federal court order for this week’s document release came from a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace.

Veterans groups want to stop our torture of Iraqi prisoners, because they know how much our troops will suffer later on in life when they reflect on what they have done to helpless human beings.

One of the ways used to get American troops to torture is to use their hate and fear. Troops whose units had suffered from the enemy were put in charge of detainees and like the boy who had his jaw broken, "The detainees had sandbags over their heads that were marked with different crimes, leading the guards to believe that the particular detainee committed that particular crime." The bag on the boy’s head was marked "IED" the acronym for the roadside bombs that have killed and maimed so many American soldiers. None of the soldiers, who were in the room when this boy had his jaw broken, saw who hit him, so none were punished.

That is how it starts, you get your guards to believe that the people you have in detention are the people who hurt their fellow troopers, even if they were just taken in a sweep that took all males of a certain age. After repeatedly beating prisoners and being rewarded by your superiors for doing it, it gets easier and easier. We haven’t been in Iraq long enough to have mass killings yet, but that is just a matter of time.

The Pentagon admits to over 100 deaths in our prison camps and even admits that a couple dozen of those deaths were result of out and out murder. Those are the numbers the Pentagon will admit to and if you were ever in the service you have to know those numbers are very very conservative. The Pentagon would not admit to any of this unless the proof was irrefutable.

On August 12th, 1949, we signed the Geneva Convention to stop the abuse of Prisoners of War, but the Bush administration has turned a blind eye to the abuses we use in Afghanistan and Iraq. Soon we will have enough hardened prison guards and torturers to disallow that Convention completely if that is what we want to do, but we better think about what this is doing to those carrying out this horrible job for us.

Jim Glaser [send him mail], a Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran and Commander of VFW Post 3869, works to educate the American public on the consequences of war. His personal website is James-Glaser.com.

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