DETROIT -- The commander in chief of America's military must take responsibility for creating a monster. Under the leadership of George W. Bush, far too many in our armed forces behave in ways that nurture terrorism and generate hatred toward Americans. Our own killing machine is self-perpetuating, creating more killers to go after in an unending cycle of violence. On that score, the plan is going very well.
It is no longer aberrant or unusual for people in U.S. uniforms to commit stupid, cruel and even murderous acts. Those who hate us can just sit back and watch with glee.
The Busheviks, especially Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his mob in the Pentagon, have done more to damage America's reputation in the world and fostered more Islamic rage than al-Qaeda and all the hate-spewing Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia combined.
The military monster serves those who despise us, and bin Laden can relax in his cave and let Field Marshall Rumsfeld do his recruiting.
The latest example of military-manufactured hate and resentment was spawned in the prison at Guantanamo Bay. "Newsweek" magazine reports U.S. soldiers at the detention camp in Cuba desecrated the Quran. Several former detainees said U.S. troops threw a copy of the Muslim holy book in the toilet to taunt prisoners under interrogation.
As the story spread last week, Muslims around the world conducted anti-American demonstrations. Violence raged in several cities in "liberated" Afghanistan and four police officers and a protester died in rioting. In Pakistan and Indonesia -- ostensible allies in the war on terrorism -- throngs were in the streets screaming anti-American slogans.
Jalil Abbas Jilani, a Pakistani foreign office spokesman, told a French news agency, "The government of Pakistan condemns the incident and demands an inquiry should be conducted to bring to justice the perpetrators of this shameful act." Don't hold your breath.
In the Gaza Strip, 1,000 Palestinians, including supporters of militant Islamic group Hamas, marched and chanted, "Protect our holy book." Stupid and poorly led U.S. troops will be responsible for more violence in the Middle East.
Guantanamo is operating outside the realm of U.S. civilian and military law, as well as international accords on the detention of combatants. Bush, Rumsfeld and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should all face criminal prosecution in the World Court.
When leaders behave with lawlessness, we should not be surprised when their subordinates do the same. In an interview with the BBC, Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost, an Afghan prisoner recently released from Gitmo, described the despicable behavior of U.S. troops. He says the desecration of the Quran has only resulted in detainees refusing to speak to the interrogators.
Scores of prisoners have died in military custody in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo. Only a handful of prosecutions have been carried out for the dirty deeds, further poisoning attitudes toward U.S. troops. Do we really think we can win their hearts and quell insurrection by killing their fathers, brothers and sons?
The Marine corporal who shot a wounded, unarmed Iraqi in a Fallujah mosque walked away scot-free. A freelance journalist on assignment for NBC caught the horrible incident on videotape. The Marine unit entered the mosque and found five men who were wounded in earlier fighting. The video shows a Marine in the background and he can be heard screaming obscenities and accusing one of the men of pretending to be dead. The Marine raises his rifle toward the man on the floor and shoots him.
After reviewing the evidence, Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said the Marine's conduct was "consistent with the established rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict." The general did not elaborate on what he meant. Army Pfc. Lynndie England is the poster child for the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib, and now she'll get a trial instead of copping a plea. That twist has some of the top brass in the Pentagon sweating. They would have preferred a deal that prevented any examination of the role those higher up in the chain of command played.
Rummy's generals shouldn't fret too much, even if they do get caught in the mess. Just look at what happened to the Army intelligence officer whose unit was in charge of interrogating prisoners at Abu Ghraib during the worst period of prisoner abuse.
The New York Times reports Col. Thomas Pappas will face no criminal charges. He's been fined $8,000 and issued a written reprimand for dereliction of duty. Pappas will probably get drummed out of the service, but that's better than a long stretch in the stockade -- the fate the enlisted soldier-torturers are facing.
Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of Abu Ghraib during the prisoner abuses, has already been demoted one rank to colonel for dereliction of duty. She says she's a scapegoat for her superiors. I'll bet she is. You don't expect the big boys to pay the price for accountability.
The Times report notes that an Army investigation last summer found that "military intelligence soldiers played a major role in directing and carrying out the abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, undercutting the Pentagon's earlier contention that a handful of renegade military guards were largely to blame."
The story of a former military police officer at Abu Ghraib prison paints a chilling picture of the war in Iraq preserved in photos. Aidan Delgado was an Army reservist who finished his tour of duty and then requested and received conscientious objector status. He was given an honorable discharge.
He told Bob Herbert of The New York Times about his experiences and the "extreme horrors of warfare" that drove him to leave the military. The photos include some taken after troops at the prison opened fire on detainees who were throwing rocks at them during a protest. As we've learned, the prisoners did have some legitimate complaints about their treatment.
Four detainees were killed in the confrontation and the photos Delgado obtained show "American soldiers posing and goofing around with the bodies of the detainees." The former soldier says, "These pictures were circulated like trophies." We now know many of the prisoners were innocent Iraqis who were not involved in terrorism or insurrection. American troops often rounded up the usual suspects -- young Iraqi men who were in the wrong places at the wrong times.
Herbert knows why the Pentagon wants these images hidden from our eyes. He says, "It's the sickening reality that is seldom seen in the censored, sanitized version of the conflict that Americans typically get from the government and the media. Americans' attitude toward war in general and this war in particular would change drastically if the censor's veil were lifted and the public got a sustained, close look at the agonizing bloodshed and other horrors that continue unabated in Iraq. If that happened, support for any war that wasn't an absolute necessity would plummet."
While many cases of military misconduct are clearly deliberate and premeditated, others are the result of inexperience, inadequate training and troops spread too thin and required to do too much. The killing of an Italian intelligence agent at a U.S. checkpoint in Iraq illustrates those failings at work.
Nicola Calipari was shot and killed while he was taking journalist and freed hostage Giuliana Sgrena to the Baghdad airport. She was wounded. Calipari died shielding Sgrena from a hail of gunfire.
The only witness to the incident to speak publicly is Sgrena and her account of what happened is in dramatic contrast to the official military line. The United States says the New York State Army National Guard member who fired into the car carrying Calipari and Sgrena acted properly.
Two Italian representatives on a joint U.S.-Italian inquiry into the shootings refused to sign off on the U.S. version of the incident. An Italian report found the U.S. roadblock near the airport was not properly marked and that "the soldiers in the American patrol opened fire out of inexperience and because of tension."
We can expect more tension in a military asked to do too much with too little. Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admits this. In a leaked classified report, Myers asserted that the U.S. military is "over-extended" in the Middle East. Caught in his own truthful assessment, the general quickly turned to damage control. He still believes the United States "will prevail" in Afghanistan and Iraq. A couple more Qurans down the toilet could change that rosy prognosis.
The Army has missed its recruiting targets three months in a row. The Marines have been falling short of quotas since January. This Friday, the Army will shut down all recruitment to devote the day to instructions and review of enlistment ethics.
Amid reports of widespread abuse and falsification of information used to qualify people for the service, the Army wants to warn recruiters to stop telling recruits where they can get fake diplomas and how to mask their drug use.
Maybe the Army could try some substantive moves to recruit the best among us instead of relying on desperate people looking for any job and social misfits seeking a place to exercise their perversions.
Two courageous and admirable Americans volunteered and served valiantly in our armed forces. In both cases, the Pentagon turned to lies to create military myths about their service.
Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch was wounded and captured in Iraq. An Iraqi doctor treated her and protected her. But the Pentagon myth-makers decided to say Lynch fought it out with her Iraqi captors, firing her weapon as the enemy moved in on her position.
The POW was rescued during a daring commando raid. Now the truth. Lynch was knocked unconscious when her transport truck crashed. She never fired her weapon. Iraqi soldiers had placed her in a hospital and had cleared out long before the special ops types arrived with their cameras rolling.
Lynch suffered and showed great character and perseverance. But the lie-makers at the Pentagon were not content with that. They had to create a better story and throw away the truth in the process.
Pat Tillman had the guts to do what no relative of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Limbaugh, O'Reilly and the whole nest of neocon warmongers would dare. He enlisted in the military. The former NFL player gave up a multimillion-dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army Rangers following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Tillman was killed during a firefight in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. The Pentagon claimed enemy fire caused his death.
The nation mourned this rare hero who gave up wealth, comfort and safety to sacrifice for others in the noblest military tradition. Now we know the Pentagon deliberately lied about the circumstances of Tillman's death. A new report shows Gen. John P. Abizaid, the Army Commander in Afghanistan, and other top brass were aware a barrage of American bullets caused by an act of "gross negligence" killed Tillman. They knew the truth four days before a nationally televised memorial service for Tillman, but deliberately withheld it. The report shows officers destroyed critical evidence and even kept the truth from Tillman's brother, also an Army Ranger, who was stationed near the attack.
The Army announced on May 29, 2004, that friendly fire killed Pat Tillman. The man who prepared the Tillman report, Brig. Gen. Gary M. Jones, claimed there was no official reluctance to report the truth. How dumb do they think we are?
But this is what the Busheviks have done to our military. They lie in all matters great and small. They ignored seasoned professionals in uniform who warned about the cost of invading Iraq and the consequences of a poorly planned, understaffed and under-equipped occupation. With too few boots on the ground, U.S. troops are now caught in the crossfire of unending violence.
Too many people have served so honorably and died so valiantly in the American armed forces to let this present crowd continue to use the military for their mad experiment in nation-building. We need more Jessica Lynchs and Pat Tillmans in the service. The people in the U.S. military desperately need better leadership. Most of all, they need a better commander in chief.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||May 17 2005|