An interesting aside to the talk about torture

Desertion is a moral imperative when continued service implicates a soldier in crimes against God and mankind.

Will Griggs who writes excellent pieces on is blog, Pro Libertate addresses frankly what it is people in the military are to do when confronted with commands from superiors that they commit illegal acts. Stopping along the way in his argument to point out that putting our soldiers in harms way is something they must expect when they enlist in the military, Griggs thinks there is no excuse for not releasing the photos.  He writes:

Yes, it’s entirely likely that releasing the photographs of torture and sexual assault — including homosexual rape and, God forgive us, the defilement of children — would lead to dangerous and potentially lethal complications for armed government employees who are killing people and destroying property in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, countries they invaded and continue to occupy by force.

If our rulers were genuinely concerned about danger to “our troops,” they would release the Abu Ghraib documents and bring the troops home. There — problem solved! Instead, they are illegally suppressing the photos and keeping the troops in the field — and now letting it be known that the U.S. military will remain mired in Mesopotamia (which is the more tractable of the two ongoing conflicts) for another decade or longer.

Well stated and let’s not forget several commanders of troops in war theaters have already averred that decisions regarding the “interrogation”, read torture, of detainees have put American personnel in danger with the indigenous societies they occupy, yet we hardly hear any objection to such tactics raised on those grounds.  What the release of those pictures would entail is the inescapable conclusion that US personnel must be prosecuted for war crimes, or at the very least criminal behavior, as it did in the case of several army personnel currently serving time for their part in actions caught on camera.

Griggs takes things a step further than any other writer I have read to date.  He chides and refutes the official reason for not releasing the photos, ‘the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy’ by saying, ‘the foreign policy referred to entails open-ended entanglements in the affairs of nearly every nation on earth, as well as plundering huge sums from taxpayers to sustain a grotesquely huge military establishment and bribe political elites abroad. That foreign policy cultivates misery and harvests war and terrorism.’  Griggs thinks, as do I, that there should be consequences for illegal activity and if releasing the photos causes some to fear those consequences, so be it.

Although I wish harm or death on no human being, it seems to me a good idea to adjust the current set of incentives in such a way that at least some American military personnel, as they deal with another gust of blowback, will have an overdue confrontation with their conscience and decide unilaterally to end their service of the world’s largest criminal enterprise, the government of the United State (spelling intentional).

Am I trying to incite desertion? Reducing the matter to terms simple enough for Sean Hannity to understand them — yes, I am, where desertion is the only way to avoid upholding an immoral, unsustainable policy and serving a depraved Regime. Desertion is a moral imperative when continued service implicates a soldier in crimes against God and mankind.

Perhaps that is one of the consequences the military establishment is trying to avoid, i.e. the moral awakening of its enlisted corps and their refusal to support goals that are anathema to American values. It’s a particularly sticky situation for politicians to espouse American values which include life, and liberty while asking people to risk their lives to curtail those very things either on a foreign and distant soil or on our own here in America. The turmoil caused by an awakening that such requests are inconsistent with all we’ve been taught is probably more traumatic than fighting the war itself. I have often wondered whether this conflict in the soul of the military is the reason for such a high incidence of suicide in the military; if that were the case, desertion would be a far better alternative.  Griggs makes a very powerful and strong case for members of the US military not remain within the military as long as it asks them to commit illegal and morally reprehensible acts against people under its authority. I fully concur.  Well done, Mr. Griggs!

Release the hounds!

releasing houndsIt started out as a trickle but it has crescendoed to the point it is becoming increasingly more difficult for the Obama administration to ignore, in my opinion, the call for an investigation into Bush administration era torture.

It began with the “conservative” radio personality ‘Mancow’ undergoing a fake waterboarding and then declaring to his radio audience it really is torture.  There was a slight diversion to this confession involving emails sent by publicists and whether what happened was real or fake; clearly it was nothing as horrendous as what actual detainees go through, but the distraction caused a blip on the national conscious.  David Petraeus continued the onslaught when he said that Bush violated the Geneva Conventions.  This was significant coming from a political appointee, as it were, of the Bush administration.  Unfortunately that admission has not been enough to get Bush, to shut up, as Mr. Cheney still insists that torture was NOT really torture, just enhanced interrogation techniques that are not violations of international law.

Janet Karpinski chimed in saying the orders for illegal and criminal behavior on the part of the soldiers under her command came from the very top of the military structure and beyond.  Her interview below, underscores the assertion that abusers at Abu Ghraib were merely following the orders given them by superiors outside the military command structure……intelligence “contractors”.

Lately we have General Ricardo Sanchez, the former commander of all coalition forces in Iraq, calling for a truth commission to investigate the abuses and torture which occurred in Iraq.  He went on to say that his troops were abandoned by the Bush administration while they were in Iraq and that here was not one instance of actionable intelligence that came out of interrogation techniques which were, or bordered on, criminality!

This last point was further underscored by CIA officials, past and present who ridiculed claims that illegal interrogations were necessary to stop imminent treats against the US.  This all leads up to a huge body of evidence that would seem to make it difficult for a controlling legal authority, ANY controlling legal authority to ignore and that efforts to initiate some type of criminal prosecutions of those people responsible are critical.  Do we as a country have to be observers to the prosecution of our elected officials by authorities outside our borders or will we be willing and active participants in bringing such people to justice?  Calls for the latter, in some form or another,  have come from every segment of our society, up to the very highest levels of the political and military branches of government.  To continue to ignore, placate, make excuses for and cover up criminal behavior only makes the US a pariah country on other countries’ lists, joining the likes of North Korea, Iraq, Sudan, Iran and old castaways like Libya, the former USSR, Nazi Germany,  There really is no choice for us but to pursue, at the very least, a grand jury to investigate charges against these officials.

I am happy to see that those no longer under the constraint of political correctness have come out and made strong statements of assertion against former political allies.  It’s now time for us as a society to do the same and demand that from our elected officials, under threat of a significantly truncated political career when their time for reelection comes up. Can we do that?