Home > Personal > Just saw this on the BBC, and it's a disgrace.

Just saw this on the BBC, and it's a disgrace.

Iraqi abuse photos spark shock

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3672901.stm

Click to watch the CBS TV pictures (need RealPlayer)

Images of US soldiers allegedly abusing Iraqi prisoners at a notorious jail near Baghdad have sparked shock and anger.

Politicians in the US, Britain and the Middle East expressed disgust at the images, broadcast on US television, and called for those responsible to face justice.

CBS News said it delayed the broadcast for two weeks after a request from the Pentagon due to the tensions in Iraq.

Last month, the US army suspended 17 soldiers over alleged prisoner abuses.

Elsewhere in Iraq, US marines have begun withdrawing from the Iraqi city of Falluja after a month of bloody clashes with rebels.

“Saddam Hussein’s prisoners were not only tortured but executed. It was much worse than what is there now.”
Adnan Al-Pachachi
Iraqi Governing Council

Two battalions have been pulling back from front-line positions and are set to move further out during the day.

A new Iraqi force, led by one of Saddam Hussein’s former generals, is expected to move into the city while the US maintains a presence outside the flashpoint city.

‘Appalled’

Six soldiers – including a brigadier general – are facing court martial in Iraq, and a possible prison term over the PoW pictures.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was “appalled” and described the incident as regrettable.

“Nobody underestimates how wrong this is, but these actions are not representative of the 150,000 coalition soldiers in Iraq. We shouldn’t judge the actions of coalition soldiers as a whole by the actions of a few,” he said.

US Republican congressman, Jim Leach – who had opposed the war – said: “The US has historically prided itself on treating prisoners of war with decency and respect.

“This has to be investigated and accountability obtained within the American military justice system.”

Adnan Al-Pachachi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, said it would create a great deal of anger and discontent among Iraqis already concerned about security in the country.

But he rejected a comparison with the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad during the days of Saddam Hussein.

“I don’t think you can compare the two. Saddam Hussein’s prisoners were not only tortured but executed. It was much worse than what is there now.”

The graphic images include one of a hooded and naked prisoner standing on a box with wires attached to his genitals. CBS said the prisoner was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted.

Another shows naked prisoners being forced to simulate sex acts. In another, a female soldier, with a cigarette in her mouth, simulates holding a gun and pointing at a naked Iraqi’s genitals.

“We had no support, no training. I kept asking my chain of command for certain things… like rules and regulations.”
Staff Sergeant Chip Frederick – One of the suspended soldiers

CBS’s flagship 60 Minutes programme said it had been pressured by the Pentagon not to show the images, until the photos started circulating elsewhere.

“The Pentagon was really very concerned about broadcasting the pictures, and I think they had good reason,” said 60 Minute executive producer Jeff Fager.

“The idea that there are hostages being held in Iraq concerned us quite a bit in terms of broadcasting them. It wouldn’t take long to get on Al-Jazeera at all.”

Mr Fager told the BBC’s Today programme the pictures were initially brought to the attention of US military in Iraq, and formed the centrepiece of proceedings against the soldiers.

‘No training’

One of the suspended soldiers, Staff Sergeant Chip Frederick, said the way the army ran the prison had led to the abuse.

“We had no support, no training whatsoever. And I kept asking my chain of command for certain things… like rules and regulations,” he told CBS. “It just wasn’t happening.”

He said he did not see a copy of the Geneva Convention rules for handling prisoners of war until after he was charged.

Deputy head of coalition forces in Iraq, Brig Gen Mark Kimmitt told CBS the army was “appalled” by the behaviour of its soldiers.

He said the suspected abusers “let their fellow soldiers down”.

Meanwhile, a new opinion poll for the New York Times and CBS News suggested dwindling support among Americans for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Only 47% of 1,042 Americans questioned believed invading Iraq was the right thing to do, the lowest support recorded in the polls since the war began.

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What the hell? American soldiers shouldn’t treat prisoners like this; it’s counter-productive and makes us look like thugs. I also find it shocking that I’m not seeing this on the front page of either the WaPo or the NY Times yet. CNN has the story and so does a lot of European media sources.

I support the war. I’ll never support the abuse of prisoners in our care, even when the enemy doesn’t give a damn about how they treat any of our troops. That’s not the point. We’re supposed to be better than that. I particularly note the reaction of the staff sergeant Chip Frederick:

“We had no support, no training whatsoever. And I kept asking my chain of command for certain things… like rules and regulations,” he told CBS. “It just wasn’t happening.”

He said he did not see a copy of the Geneva Convention rules for handling prisoners of war until after he was charged.

Here’s the story on Sergeant Frederick. He’s a corrections officer in Virginia, whose warden described him as “one of the best.” He knows how civilian prisoners should be treated. I’m assuming he’s got the experience to know how to treat prisoners, civilian or military, correctly. He’s not solely at fault here as blame is also being laid on interrogators who came into the prison from various intelligence agencies, who asked the reservists on duty in the prison to help prepare the prisoners mentally and physically for interrogation, as well as the incompetent command of Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinsky, the general in charge of Abu Ghraib and two other facilities. Still. Sergeant Frederick was in charge, and is responsible for the actions of the soldiers under his command. He has failed in his duties. He failed, as an NCO, to maintain basic standards of military order and discipline. He failed, as an American soldier, to maintain the highest standards of conduct required by the United States Government. He failed, as a human being, to afford even the slightest bit of dignity and respect to those placed under his care. To only offer excuses that blame everyone else but himself is but the final stain. He was the guy in charge of this prison and will face a tribunal, along with the others being charged.

CBS’s story can be found here: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/27/60II/main614063.shtml

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