Friday, May 28, 2004


America deserves better # 14A

Dear friends,
Upon reflection and further reading, the Abu Ghraib situation looks worse and worse, and the responsibility moves higher up. Following is a quote from one of you, with which I heartily concur.
I personally believe that we have set the stage for the abuses in Iraq with our deliberate disregard of civil liberties in this country: throwing 1200 people in jail after 9/11 with not one, as far as I know, ever charged with terrorist activities; our detention of the two Americans in the US without any access to an attorney; and even the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. They were placed there in a kind of legal limbo, so that we could call them "enemy combatants" and justify their not having the same legal rights as anyone else. I can't remember how many we have already released (at least 50), so we obviously captured innocents as well. If these people are guilty, they should have the right to be charged and tried.
And remember, it is this administration that has flaunted and formalized the disregard for civil liberties.

Following is an excerpt from Seymour Hersh's article that brought these shameful abuses to public attention.
As the international furor grew, senior military officers, and President Bush, insisted that the actions of a few did not reflect the conduct of the military as a whole. Taguba’s report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority.

The mistreatment at Abu Ghraib may have done little to further American intelligence, however. Willie J. Rowell, who served for thirty-six years as a C.I.D. agent, told me that the use of force or humiliation with prisoners is invariably counterproductive. “They’ll tell you what you want to hear, truth or no truth,” Rowell said. “‘You can flog me until I tell you what I know you want me to say.’ You don’t get righteous information.”

Under the fourth Geneva convention, an occupying power can jail civilians who pose an “imperative” security threat, but it must establish a regular procedure for insuring that only civilians who remain a genuine security threat be kept imprisoned. Prisoners have the right to appeal any internment decision and have their cases reviewed. Human Rights Watch complained to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that civilians in Iraq remained in custody month after month with no charges brought against them. Abu Ghraib had become, in effect, another Guantánamo.

Note the charge in the last sentence. Rumsfeld was aware of systematic violations of the Geneva Conventions, but did nothing. And Bush appointed and supports Rumsfeld. Please recall letter #12. America, under this administration, has become a nation that ignores civil liberties, tortures prisoners at random, violates the Geneva Conventions at will, and wages war under false pretenses. Lady Liberty can now extinguish her beacon of freedom. I am outraged, and I hope you are too.

America deserves much much better. Make Rumsfeld resign now, and defeat this administration. Murray

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