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April 30, 2004
This is war

Using Abu Ghraib at all was a mistake and as I recall, many bloggers commented on it a year ago.

This was supposed to be a war on terror[ism], not a war of terror.

Using it to essentially continue Husseins' human rights abuses is intolerable. A lot of heads had better roll. Those flag-draped coffins we're not supposed to see deserve better than this as a legacy of their sacrifices. (Caution! Photographs.)

One of the soldiers facing court martial is Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Chip Frederick.

Frederick is charged with maltreatment for allegedly participating in and setting up a photo, and for posing in a photograph by sitting on top of a detainee. He is charged with an indecent act for observing one scene. He is also charged with assault for allegedly striking detainees – and ordering detainees to strike each other.

60 Minutes II talked with him by phone from Baghdad, where he is awaiting court martial.
Frederick told us he will plead not guilty, claiming the way the Army was running the prison led to the abuse of prisoners.

“We had no support, no training whatsoever. And I kept asking my chain of command for certain things...like rules and regulations,” says Frederick. “And it just wasn't happening."

The idea that someone had to specifically tell him and the other soldiers not to torture and humiliate other people is one of the most appalling things I've heard. Especially considering that he was a "corrections officer at a Virginia prison" previously. In what way did he feel he needed additional training?

Maybe the answer is later in the article…the stuff about helping to soften prisoners up for interrogation.

There's something seriously, seriously wrong. Many of us can't conceive of doing something we know, intellectually, morally, in our gut is wrong, but we're not in Iraq, we're not in that situation.

And, as we know, training for soldiers is specifically designed to break down ingrained social barriers.

This is why it's so critical that the Geneva Conventions must be applied to everyone taken prisoner in Iraq and that our Constitutional protections should apply. Soldiers on a battlefield don't have perspective. They're not objective. And, in this and other cases, their commanding officers completely failed to protect the soldiers from the consequences of their training and the situation.

The next time you find yourself wondering why some of us see war as an extremely dangerous, absolutely last resort, remember this incident.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:49 AM


Comments

I've read in a couple of places that the people in charge of the prison and the staff had not received Geneva Convention training. I know it was part of basic training in the 1960's, but apparently it is no longer done.

You can't hype people up to "kill the enemy" and then tell them they are prison guards. There are too many people filling jobs that they know nothing about. If they have training and guidence they can complain about procedures, but if they don't know what the military considers "right and wrong" they are cut off from the Inspector General system.

Posted by: Bryan at April 30, 2004 09:58 PM

I should be plain that the people involved belong in prison themselves, but so should those above them for not providing the training and guidence needed.

Posted by: Bryan at April 30, 2004 10:01 PM

I guess I can accept that people need "Geneva Convention" training but my heart and head both have trouble accepting that someone has to be specifically trained that a person locked up and helpless is fair fame for humiliation and torture.

I mean, I have the barest understanding of the training that got the soldiers to that point. I have neither understanding nor sympathy for their commanding officers. They're the ones who should be locked up. If the soldiers can't count on their officers to lead them, then....

Posted by: Anne at May 1, 2004 06:27 AM