Torturing the Truth in Iraq

If photos had not been presented to document the torture (abuse in Rumsfeld-speak) of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. and British forces, the international media would have never paid attention at all. Somehow, despite the iron-fisted attempts at control of the media by the Bush administration, those photos made it to publication. No doubt the profit/ratings motives of media wee enough to overcome the throttling by government censors, although the photos now in circulation were taken months earlier and were no doubt very nearly suppressed by the Administration.

It would be very interesting to hear the internal conversations at the highest levels of the Administration, the military and the prison bureaucracy in the past few months. Arguably, the emphasis of some of those internal dialogues has been the critical importance of never allowing cameras in those facilities in the future, never allowing circulation of any photos that have been taken in the past, and making sure that all involved know the seriousness of the political fallout of disclosure. There is little doubt that the biggest catastrophe from the insiders in the Administration and military is, not that these events took place, but that they were recorded and disclosed to the American public and to the world public at large.

With that in mind, it is also important to think about the Iraqis who were so abused in those prisons. These were not military captives or intelligence agents, or even known "insurgents". These were men of military age who happened to be kidnapped off the streets and even from the privacy of their own homes in "raids" by coalition military forces. These were the people who were minding their own business, only to have their doors knocked down while soldiers rushed in, put rifles to their heads, and marched them off to "detainment". This "detainment" is the evil twin of "liberation" of Iraq by coaltion forces, which have been desperate to develop "intelligence" about the insurgents and insurgent organizations that have been effectively resisting the occupation.

Thus, non-warriors are stipped naked, humiliated, perhaps raped, and held for indefinite periods of time in cold and darkness and hysteria and pain just so that the coalition can try to find out if they have any knowledge of who may be fighting (resisting) the occupation. If this is what liberation is like, no doubt many Iraqis yearn for a dictatorship where at least Iraqis are tortured by fellow Iraqis.

And all of this makes you wonder — how can we have any certainty whatsover that these sort of activities do not routinely take place at each and every military prison. Should be ever take the word of the U.S. military or the Bush administration when claims are made that such incidents are rare and not systemic? It would be absolutely insane to believe such pronouncements!

Why would some prisonsrs of non-military background be subject to torture for the purposes of "intelligence-gathering" and others in other facilities not be? Such a supposition flies in the face of common sense or tactical uniformity by the military, which orients itself on uniformity. And, since the photos and reports of those atrocities occurred months after the fact, and likely were suppressed for a period of time, there seems little reason to doubt that such abuses are widespread, even standard operating procedure in such facilities.

Moreover, if mere detainees are treated with such severe abuses, what about REAL terrorists, real prisoners of war, real threats to American security? There is little doubt that such persons are tortured with even more severe methods. There is no doubt that if cameras could record the "interrogations" and the "softening up" of known Al Qaeda operatives, the archives would be more gruesome than even the American public could stand (even after exposure to special effects movies, horror flicks, and the Terminator movies).

And we must also wonder what has been the fate of all the senior Iraqi government officials that were taken into captivity by coalition forces? Are any of them alive? Are any of them dead? What has their treatment been like? Has it conformed to the Geneva Conventions? How long will those people be held? Will they be murdered (indeed have they been murdered) in custody to prevent the possibilty of them ever disclosing their treatment to the outside world?

And what of the innocent detainees that have been tortured? What will the U.S. government pay them to make them whole? Is there an international court that has jurisdiction over such grievances? Is it any wonder that the U.S. has steadfastly refused to sign international agreeements that would allow U.S. military or government to ever be charged and prosecuted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, etc!

Make no mistake about it — these actions by the U.S. military were planned, intentional, deliberate, and repeated. The U.S. considers terrorists to be worthy of torture by any means necessary to prevent further terrorism. And the U.S. mililatary obviously cannot distinguish between Iraqi citizens, Iraqi non-combatants, and Iraqi insurgents or Iraqi terrorists. They all look the same to the U.S. military. There is no way an Iraqi can prove his innocence. So they are all take to prison and treated like terrorists. Factual innocence is irrelevant, and war is hell. and the U.S. military feels no remorse for putting Iraqis through hell.

After all, didn’t the Iraqis deserve this war. Didn’t they constitute an immiment threat to the U.S.? Didn’t they support Al Qaeda and send their men to crash jets into the World Trade Center? Didn’t Iraqis invade Kuwait and don’t they still have to pay for that, too?

If you say that none of those accusations are true, then you will begin to understand the continuing torture of truth in Iraq. This will continue as long as the occupation continues, as long as a puppet government is in place, as long as the well-being of the occupiers demands such torture.