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<nettime> The Buck Stops with Lynndie (fwd)
Alan Sondheim on Fri, 30 Sep 2005 00:35:27 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The Buck Stops with Lynndie (fwd)

This just absolutely deserves to be better known.

- Alan

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Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2005 21:24:01 -0400 (EDT)
From: moderator {AT} portside.org
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Subject: The Buck Stops with Lynndie

The Buck Stops with Lynndie

By Derrick Z. Jackson, Globe Columnist

Boston Globe
September 2, 2005

Lynndie England is convicted. Donald Rumsfeld cackles.
England, the 22-year-old private, was found guilty as
prosecutors convinced an all-male Army jury that she
bore full responsibility for "her own sick humor" in
the infamous photographs of her at Abu Ghraib holding a
naked prisoner on a leash and smiling as she pointed at
a prisoner's genitals.

Defense lawyers depicted England as a depressed
reservist, a mere file clerk who was compliant to
authority and easy to manipulate. The defense failed as
a prosecuting lawyer stained England for life with,
"What soldier wouldn't know that's illegal?"

Off in much higher, more stainproof places, Rumsfeld
behaved as if he were carving President Bush into Mt.
Rushmore. Last week, he serenaded the press about how
some of America's greatest moments were originally
considered failure or folly.

"Today, history records the brilliance of Lincoln's
Gettysburg Address," Rumsfeld said. "The Marshall Plan
helped Europe recover. And Ronald Reagan's tough line
at Reykjavik -- according to the Soviets, anyway -- was
the beginning of the end of the Cold War. In thinking
about Afghanistan and Iraq, we should ask what history
will say. . . . it will show . . . that America was on
freedom's side, and it will remember the millions of
people who have been freed and the hundreds of
thousands of coalition forces who helped achieve that

You would never know this was the Rumsfeld who said
last year about Abu Ghraib, "These events occurred on
my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for
them, and I take full responsibility."

The truth lay in the reaction to England's conviction
by Richard Myers, the outgoing chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff. He called it "one more example of
holding people accountable, because that's who did it."
He said, "We had a problem, and we dealt with the
problem and dealt with it in an appropriate way."

A problem? When Abu Ghraib exploded into worldwide view
last year, Bush said the prison practices "represent
the actions of a few people. . . . it's important for
people to understand that in a democracy that there
will be a full investigation." Since then, the number
of punishments handed out to lower-rung soldiers in
prisoner abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan has reached
230. The number of inquiries has passed 400. Bush has
blocked any calls for a full, independent

Just last week came the news that Army Captain Ian
Fishback and two sergeants from the 82d Airborne
Division wrote ranking members of the Senate Armed
Services Committee and told Human Rights Watch that
they witnessed torture of prisoners near Fallujah,
Iraq, in 2003 and early 2004, with some of the same
tactics depicted in the Abu Ghraib photos.

In a letter to Senator John McCain, Fishback said he
repeatedly asked superior officers for guidance on
handling detainees but "despite my efforts, I have
been unable to get clear, consistent answers from my
leadership. . . . I am certain that this confusion
contributed to a wide range of abuses including death
threats, beatings, broken bones, murder, exposure to
elements, extreme forced physical exertion, hostage-
taking, stripping, sleep deprivation, and degrading

The "confusion" started at the top, where then-White
House counsel and now-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
wrote the torture memo suggesting that the United
States need not follow international prisoner treatment
laws. It continued with Rumsfeld, who approved overly
aggressive tactics at Guantanamo Bay that were quickly
adopted in Afghanistan and Iraq. It continued with
Major General Geoffrey Miller, who imported abusive
tactics at Guantanamo Bay over to Abu Ghraib. It
continued with former Iraq commander Ricardo Sanchez,
who moved too slow on reports of abuse.

It is obvious that the administration wants the
"confusion" to continue. Embarrassed by the continuing
stench over detainee abuse, McCain, Senate Armed
Services Committee chairman John Warner, and committee
member Lindsey Graham, all Republicans, proposed an
amendment to the $491 billion defense bill that would
standardize treatment under the rules of the Army Field
Manual. Detainees would also be registered with the Red
Cross to prevent "ghost" prisoners. But Vice President
Dick Cheney has been lobbying to kill the amendment.

The same Myers who says "a problem" was dealt with was
in federal court last month fighting the release of
other photos of degrading treatment of Abu Ghraib
prisoners. Myers said if the photos were released,
"riots, violence and attacks by insurgents will
result." Of course, the more the White House
stonewalls, the more explosive the truth will be.

Derrick Z. Jackson's e-mail address is
jackson {AT} globe.com.

(c) Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.

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