September 29, 2005


Even the most committed Rumsfeld-phobe (which I most assuredly am) struggles to believe this:

Another source informs that the word is around that Rumsfeld has taken a strong interest in this. He is quoted as saying "Either break him or destroy him, and do it quickly." And no doubt about it, that is just what they are doing. Expect some trumped up charges against Fishback soon, similar to what they did to Muslim Chaplain Captain James Yee, whom they accused of treason with no solid evidence and then, when those charges evaporated, went on to accuse him of adultery. The bottom line, as the NYT reports today, is that the military and the Bush administration are determined to stop any real investigation about how torture and abuse came to be so widespread in the U.S. military. The scapegoating of retarded underlings like Lynndie England is an attempt to deflect real responsibility for the new pro-torture policies that go all the way to the White House. It's a disgusting cover-up and it rests on breaking the will and resolve of decent servicemen and women brave enough to expose wrong-doing.

Would Rummy, who while despicable on many levels, I wouldn't accuse of being dumb (aside from his dim inability to plan for the post-war and an insurgency), really say "(e)ither break him or destroy him, and do it quickly"? I will say this. If I conclude in the coming days, analyzing data as rationally and reasonably as I can, that a cover-up to silence Fishback is being mounted from the top, that's when I get off the bus.

Posted by Gregory at September 29, 2005 03:57 AM | TrackBack (15)

After what they pulled on Yee? Haha - just make sure the bus is stopped in a safe neighborhood when you get off of it.

Posted by: Jamesaust at September 29, 2005 05:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I will point out that I stand by my earlier comments that clear guidelines from the top on what sorts of coercive measures are and are not allowed are necessary, and shutting off debate (such as in the famous memos) over what is and is not allowed because it should be "obvious" will merely lead to more abuses.

Posted by: John Thacker at September 29, 2005 05:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Indeed, both the letter in the Washington Post and the recent Human Rights Watch report spoke more of confusion, lack of guidance, or an unwillingness to define what was torture and what was merely acceptable coercion. They did not speak of actual encouragement to torture, but rather a policy of "humane treatment," of "no torture but coercion allowed," and such that, in the word of the Human Rights Watch report, "left each officer to define humane treatment."

And that is an enormous problem, and I blame both those at the top for failing to offer a clear policy and guidelines as well as those short-sighted people who attacked any creation of guidelines and defining what did and did not cross the line as tantamount to encouraging torture. No, refusing to let clear guidelines be created is tantamount to encouraging torture.

Posted by: John Thacker at September 29, 2005 05:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

John, read my post on the subject...

The September and October 2003 Sanchez memos dictated quite clearly what was allowed and what wasn't, it also said that the Geneva Conventions were applied, and that they should consult the Army Field Manual 34-52 on guidelines for their approaches to prisoners.

The very fact that Human Rights Watch doesn't even mention the existence of these documents and the policy they contain speaks volumes.

With that said, it is quite obvious that there may have been some lack of communication, or what I almost see as a form of plausible denial on the part of many soldiers in conducting the type of abuse happening at Camp Mercury. It is so easy to have some "fun" with the Iraqi prisoners, and then say afterwards, "but I didn't know it wasn't allowed... no one told me that wasn't allowed."

The fact remains that no one told them what they were doing was explicitly allowed, although according to these accounts, officers didn't really care when the abuses were happening. If that is the case, then those officers need to be indicted, and everyone else that was involved in the abuse.

Posted by: Seixon at September 29, 2005 10:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Get off what bus?

Posted by: bob mcmanus at September 29, 2005 01:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You're still on the bus? The tone of your writings of late do not suggest it.

And that begs the question...why are you on the bus?

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at September 29, 2005 01:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

the 'bus' is the current administration. i simply can't support one that, not only won't completely vet abuse/torture scandals metastasizing quite signficantly (which is bad enough), but even more scandalously, and evidently with some enthusiasm (if one believes sully), is pursuing a cover-up even well past AG. again, if a reasonable review of the situation reveals this (rumsfeld condoning or egging on a cover up re: Fishback) to be the case in the coming days, my humble little blog will no longer be able to support this President's Administration. this is a non-negotiable red line for me.

this, of course, does not mean i will be sailing into the Democrat column. i will be observing foreign policy and drawing conclusions, as ever, and the democrats have nothing more compelling on offer (again, their victory would have all but assured defeat in Iraq, currently we at least have an even (or slightly better than even) chance of prevailing.

And let me say this. Where is the courageous Democrat to stand up and condemn these hugely important abuse scandals? Where is their political courage? Kerry couldn't bring himself to make it a major issue in the campaign, of course, thus helping ensure i wouldn't support him, because he is, sorry to say, something of an unprincipled coward and read the polls (70% of Americans were supportive of Rummy post AG, and clearly a lot of folks don't care if a few A-rabs get their legs broken with a good 'ol Lousiville slugger, b/c of an absence of clear guidelines from on top, b/c anyway those towel-heads had it coming and 'they are worse than us' (TM)).

again, why are my only hopes on this issue repubs, McCain & Warner? where are the democratic statesman who care about this deep moral stain on our nation? seriously, where?

Posted by: greg at September 29, 2005 02:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


" even (or slightly better the even) chance of prevailing?"

That bus tragically left the station months ago. We are watching Iraq decend into the abyss, and this administration hasn't a clue about how to stop it, assuming that it could be stopped at this point.

You are right on the Dem's, where are they?

Posted by: Thom at September 29, 2005 03:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Rummy and crew have been getting away with unethical, immoral and criminal behavior since before Iran/Contra. All that ever results is that are rewarded by subsequent Republican administrations.

They have learned that outlandish behavior is 1) publicly ignored 2) privately rewarded.

So, yeah, of course Rummy would say that.....

What is saddly ironic is that Fishback is a solid Christian and his speaking out is coming from those beliefs.

The right wing, loudly self labled as the party of God, seeks to destroy a model of what they profess to believe in.

The more they talk about their faith, the more assuredly they are hypocrites; I always say.

As for the democrats speaking out, I too would like to hear more out of them on this issue, bit really they have been saying something. The problem is they can't do anything because ***they are not the majority party. The repubs own all sectors of govt lock and stock and they have been effective at 1) shouting down the dems and 2) thwarting efforts to do something.

So, Greg, your complaint rings a little hollow.

Posted by: avedis at September 29, 2005 03:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm a Yellow Dog Democrat and I agree that the Democratic Party has been MIA on this issue. It pisses me off. A lot.

It's true that Dems have no power and no hope of getting this issue addressed in the Senate or in the House.

But there is nothing stopping them from hitting the talk-show circuit, making impassioned speeches, or how about an unannounced visit to one of the US Bastilles? How about bringing some of the survivors of the US Bastilles to the US to speak on the floor of the US Senate, or even just on the steps of the Senate Bldg?

But nooo. They don't to be accused of "emotionalism," or "partisanship," or "sensationalism."

Well, hell, kidz. We're gonna be accused of that *anyway.* No matter what Democrats do or say or prove, the GOP will do as *it* always does and dismiss the entire thing as "partisan politics."

So the Democrats might as well be hung for a pack of wolves as a cote of lambs, y'know?

Oh, how I wish.

Posted by: CaseyL at September 29, 2005 04:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The thing I always rely and respect the left for is to press the cause of decency in this country, when the right, for reasons of commerce or national greatness, have decided to abandon it. The left did better when it was fed by America's religious tradition (see the Black Church's, the catholic Worker movement), rather than in battle against it. I keep looking for the return of the religious left -- and keep not seeing it.

I think the Democratic left's refusal to take up the torture issue is that they don't want to look like they are slandering the troops. They remember that their outrage at the MyLai massacre bought them nothing they didn't already have in terms of votes. As greg intimates in his comment, there is a large group of Americans who don't think torture is a big deal, as long as it isn't family and friends being tortured. It's a national weakness. There's no great constiuency who is outraged by torture, and not already otherwise in the Hate Bush camp. (I know of only three, Andrew Sullivan, our host, and myself -- and Andy isn't a citizen) So, don't look for much other than a ritual soundbite by Howard Dean, who has done outrage so much already that any additional outrage does not feel all that authentic.

So what does it take. John McCain. Again? That's actually, unfortunate. McCain is not the only voice of decency in the party, despite what the media thinks. Maybe folk like Lindsey Graham or Johnny Isaacson can step up.

But, greg. May be time to admit it. You don't have a party anymore.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at September 29, 2005 06:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"But, greg. May be time to admit it. You don't have a party anymore."

Umm, I have nothing nice to say about Democrats today. :)

The Republican Party is not pro-torture. There are what, 50 million of them, and if dozens or hundreds or thousands at the top have been to some degree corrupted that still leaves tens of millions decent Republicans. The mass may be excessively loyal or acquiescent or confused or conflicted but the Republican party is not evil, however its leadership may behave. It is very difficult for the base to come out in active opposition to its leadership, especially when in power and achieving some successes, and any steps in that direction should be respected. It is often very difficult to distinguish between support for specific policies as policy and support for policies as support for the leadership or the Party.

I have some core disagreements, I think, with the Republican base on ideological or philosophical grounds. I do not think one of those differences is acceptance of torture. I do not ask Republicans to change their beliefs or leave their party. I would hope they might change or criticize their leaders, if they find themselves misrepresented.

Posted by: bob mcmanus at September 29, 2005 07:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


the question at bar is this:

Will you change your vote (or stay at home) because your party's leaders have promoted policies directly resulting in the torture of Iraqis and Afghanis?

For most GOP, most GOP leaners, the answer seems to be no. My hunch is that that's probably true on the left, too. Both parties don't let individual decency get in the way of the perceived greater good.

Posted by: Appalled Moderate at September 29, 2005 07:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So, there are just a few bad apples, who by some strange accident happen to be on the top? Just like the millions of decent Germans who just happened to elect Hitler&Co?

Sorry, but in a democratic society this kind of claim isn't working very well. I do not say that the politicians like to torture people - not at all, I am sure they would be appalled at such proposition just as much as you or me. But being against it is not a good politics now, and they (they = both parties) know that well. And it is not a good politics for the reasons that have nothing to do with the politicians, and everything to do with the average citizen and his opinions. Who doesn't care about few mistreated towel-heads, who are terrists anyhow.

Posted by: Michal R at September 29, 2005 07:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You're a funny man. Torture, rape, murder, death porn, lying about WMD---esp. nuclear weapons, lying about Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch, paying off warlords in Afghanistan, STILL not re-imbursing troops for buying their own armor, etc ad mortam..
One little statement by Rumsfeld isn't going to make you get off the bus. Stop kidding us.

Btw, enjoy the death porn, and I hope you enjoy the child rape photos coming out (Abu Ghraib) that the judge just ordered released AGAIN. Oh but wait, this judge doesn't have any divisions to back him up---never mind.

Enjoy the ride, bus-rider!

Posted by: marky at September 29, 2005 07:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry. I don't give a flying-f about it right now. It's Carthago Delenda-time. Win the war, then wring hands.

Posted by: igout at September 29, 2005 09:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Isn't it about time we start to think about scrapping the two-party system?

Posted by: fling93 at September 29, 2005 11:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

fling93, parliamentary systems aren't really any better. Having a vote of no confidence would be nice, but the need to build coalitions to have a governing majority doesn't work out very well. The US is already so polarized and balkanized that our experience with coalition governments is likely to resemble Israel more than the UK.

The basic problem is that we have an apathetic, ignorant, attention span- challenged electorate easily swayed by whoever has the loudest megaphone.

Fix the voters, first.


Hell if I know.

Posted by: CaseyL at September 30, 2005 12:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is now longer a ethical, moral or democratic republic. It is let by 'christian' who has no understanding what this means and a GOP who controls the Congress, is a viscous, unethical and morally bankrupt political party that seems to have forgotten what it means to legislate and to have oversight of the administrative branch. They seems to think that to legislate is to dictate and as far as the administration nothing is too unethical, or immoral or sleazy. Not in my book.

There maybe republicans who are moral and ethical, but if they support their party's leader they are no longer ethical or moral. Were we not saying 60 years ago that if a german had supported Hitler just by being a party member, and not doing any unethical, he was still guilty and had to pay a price for that decision.

Why should that be any different today. We have a congress and the president supporting torture and the killing of civilians right and left. We have a military where only privates and sargents are guilty and no officer in the chain of commands. We have a Defence department that think it is OK to have the GI post the trophy photos of dead civilian iraqis with clever sayings like roasted iraqi , etc. and all the gory remains in living color while the stand around the body with big smiles on the faces and in uniform, and have that posted on a porn sight so that they can have free access. Is that the type of army that should represent us abroad. Or the soldier who proudly proclaims that he will shoot anything and anybody in Iraq and NEVER ASK A QUESTION AFTERWARDS.

If that is what it means to be a proud american patriot, I will pass.

Posted by: stunned at September 30, 2005 02:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

CaseyL: parliamentary systems aren't really any better. Having a vote of no confidence would be nice, but the need to build coalitions to have a governing majority doesn't work out very well.

A multi-party system doesn't necessarily mean moving to a parliamentary system. We could keep an independently elected President along with a multi-party Congress. Or move to a semi-presidential system (as that has more of a track record with multi-party systems).

Also, parliamentary systems don't necessarily require coalitions. Canada, for example, allows the party with a plurality of seats to govern even if it doesn't have a majority. This means coalitions form per-bill instead of per government.

Coalitions happen in our system too (e.g. fiscal conservatives . They're just much harder to change, and voters have less say in them. More stable, but less flexible and more stagnant. And stagnation leads to corruption...

Posted by: fling93 at September 30, 2005 02:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

“I think the Democratic left's refusal to take up the torture issue is that they don't want to look like they are slandering the troops.”

The Democrats can’t speak up without appearing to slander the troops because most of them are aligned with groups who actually DO slander them.

As one example, note Hillary Clinton not only failing to denounce Cindy Sheehan as a nut job for her comments about an “occupied New Orleans”, but meeting with her to explain her vote for OFI so not to lose the support of the anti-war Left for her upcoming Senate campaign. In doing so, she trades her moral authority for political expediency. Having done so she can’t just ask for it back this week because she’d like to use it.

How much footage of last week’s rally did I have to watch before Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton were seen on stage applauding Cindy? About 3 seconds.

Frankly, there are some very fine people in the Democratic Leadership (see: Lieberman, Joe). But until they deal with their need for the far-Left’s approval, they’ll never be free enough to exercise the kind of moral authority required on issues like prisoner torture and Abu Ghraib.

It’s not that they can’t speak because they have no power. They have no power because they are afraid to speak.

Posted by: kevin at September 30, 2005 04:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh, the bus. That sad little broken down bus. How much will it take before you finally get off it, Greg?

I admire your rationality, Greg, except when it comes to Democrats --- you seem to have a very detailed and rich picture of Republicans, for good and bad, but Democrats all seem to fade into the background as folks not even worth thinking about seriously. I recommend that you try putting aside your party affiliation and take a fresh look at some of these folks, not assuming they're craven or stupid or whatever. Just pretend that they're moderate Republicans instead of Democrats. I think you might be surprised that they're hardly as wacky as you seem to think.

The evidence of the incompetence of this Administration is so massive --- it's amazing you're still bothering to ride that bus. Come over to our bus, Greg. It's plain and sometimes breaks down too, but at least it runs.

Posted by: Mitsu at September 30, 2005 10:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

On the issues that matter to me, neither party has a clue. And the issues that matter to me are matters that matter primarily to Col. Fishbeck, though I suspect we'd agree on little else, (and disagree about the means to address those things we do agree upon.)

But first and foremost, a public servant must be above reproach - which doesn't mean he doesn't get caught, it means that he's open about who and what he is, or at least doesn't deny it. And I do not think it too much to ask that he not enrich himself from the public purse.

Second, she must be a person of integrity; one who owns the consequences of her decisions. I do not expect a politician to make correct decisions all the time, or gain the outcome they expect even when I believe them to be correct. I just expect them to do the right thing at the right time to the best of their ability, and worry about election at election time.

I don't want to elect a coconut monkey. If the party has a policy he or she disagrees with, I expect them to dissent - even if I disagree with them on the point myself.

I do expect them to be either as smart as I am, or to surround themselves with people who are. I expect them to be informed. I hope they are wise. I would like to trust them to act honourably even when the cameras are not pointed their way.

Note that nothing I have said reflects on any usual issue or policy - although it is relevant to Abu Ghrab.

There are some issues - and this is one of them - where the question of what it does for the poll numbers should be irrelevant. And I can easily argue this from both right and left-wing perspectives, with a very large centrist overlap.

I count myself as a Libertarian Progressive, so there are planks from both parties I consider important, and other issues I think go un- addressed by both. But I will vote for an honest person of any party so long as I'm convinced their honesty is informed by reality and they are not blinded by the wilful ignorance that ideology has come to be.

Posted by: Graphictruth at October 1, 2005 02:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm going to have to disagree with the general slant of these comments. Why? Just logically - what would Rumsfeld and the gang get out of telling soldiers to beat the shit out of detainees?

Do you guys think that Rumsfeld and Sanchez approved the Louisville Slugger Bash Fest?

I think that this is more of a fratboy type of mentality that has unfortunately been able to permeate throughout parts of our military. Fishback didn't seem to care about the beatings since he believed that was our policy. What?? He thought the policy of the USA was to beat the living day lights out of prisoners? Yeah, that's "humane" alright.

There has definitely been some failure for whoever was in charge of these guys to get them on track and stop doing this nonsense. I'm not familiar with military hierarchy, but if there's one guy who was in charge of Camp Mercury, and he let all of this happen... how does that go further up the ladder?

Lieutenant General Sanchez gave memos in September and October 2003 outlining that the Geneva Conventions were to be followed, and gave a list of authorizes approaches for prisoners.

Fishback and his chums at Camp Mercury seemed completely unaware of these directives. Why?

That is the question we need answered. Calling for the heads of whomever your partisan fantasies call for is just lame. I thought people were innocent before shown guilty?

Sanchez gave the directives. Who didn't follow them?
Why didn't Fishback and the Integrity Squad say anything about this WHILE IT WAS GOING ON?

From the sounds of the other two accounts that Human Rights Watch has obtained, it sounds like the soldiers knew what they were doing was wrong, but they just didn't give a damn.

Posted by: Seixon at October 1, 2005 03:29 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I call "Godwin!"

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at October 4, 2005 01:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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