Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Abu Ghraib

I hope the morons who did this end up going to prison for a long time. Not just because they mistreated prisoners. Not just because their disgusting actions defiled the uniforms they wore. Not just because it served as supporting evidence to all those who say, "the liberators are worse than the dictators." For all those reasons, yes. But most of all because they have made it more difficult for us to prevail and more likely that we will go home without having fixed what we broke.

Some have said (or implied) this is no worse than fraternity hazing. Although I was never involved in a fraternity, I think that anyone who takes an serious look at the list of depraved acts which the accused are alleged to have committed can conclude with me that we are not talking about mere harmless pranks. If a fraternity were to act like this, they wouldn't get a pass from the university or the law. They would get kicked off campus and the guilty parties would go to jail. (And I don't just mean them who actually did it.)

This kind of behavior is abhorrent. It is disgusting, reprehensible, and unworthy of an American soldier. That said, most of these actions could not be called torture, although there are plenty of people who have done so. Most, I said. Raping a prisoner (as one soldier is alleged to have done) we can safely call torture. But posing prisoners with dog collars for photographs is not torture. Making male prisoners wear women's underwear is not torture. It is cruel and demeaning, but it is not torture. It is mistreatment. Calling it torture dilutes the meaning of the word and belittles the suffering of those who have in truth been tortured.

By whatever name, though, it's a crime and those responsible need to be punished. Again, not just because of what they did to those prisoners, but because of what they did to America and to Iraq. More on this later.


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