"Compared to Saddam, the Americans are better"

I first learned about the Iraqis-tortured-by-MPs story here, and my immediate reaction was to figure out how to stop the torturers from returning to the United States and finding work as police. I figured, if this story only leaked to the press by accident, what more might there be? If the stories are true, I share Glenn Reynolds' and Kim du Toit's view that the guilty parties ought to be punished as severely as possible. To the extent possible, the world should not be allowed to imagine that the United States tolerates stuff like that.

This Canadian news report didn't get much play in the American press, but it recites a long litany of prisoner abuse by American MPs, and General Karpinski (head of the military police) is described as not responding to questions.

Still, things could be worse. As one prisoner observed,

Compared to Saddam, the Americans are better.
Reassuring, but hardly a job recommendation for police work here in the United States.

The only accused parties so far are the ones dumb enough to have appeared in the pictures. What about the others? The fact that they were brazen enough to photograph their handiwork suggests that this was openly winked at -- or worse.

Do you want such people coming back here and finding work as police?

This is not my idle speculation. It is a fact that many MPs return to the United States and directly enter law enforcement. (I know this because I served on the Berkeley Police Review Commission, and became familiar with hiring procedures.)

Already, there are signs of families and friends covering things up:

A Cumberland woman with a relative in the unit said that all six soldiers were from the 372nd, based in Cresaptown, a few miles southwest of Cumberland. She said that at least a few of the six lived in or around Cumberland, a small city surrounded by mountains in rural Western Maryland.

She said that the 372nd had been attached to the 800th Military Police Brigade, based in Uniondale, N.Y., which was in command of soldiers from various units guarding Abu Ghraib prison.

"A lot of us have known about the arrests and the court-martial, but everyone knew to keep their mouths shut," said the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of hurting her relative's military career.

She said that some local families had hoped that early reports mentioning only the 800th military police unit would keep reporters from discovering its connection to the 372nd. "It only takes one person to spoil the reputation of the whole" unit, she said of the desire to keep the connection secret. (Link.)

If I were in charge of the hiring, I'm not sure I'd take a chance with anyone who served in these units.

The problem is, they'll want to come back and work as police.

It gives me the creeps.

"Better than Saddam" is too low a standard.

UPDATE: One of the chief culprits -- Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Chip Frederick -- was a prison guard from Virginia. Might the most damning aspect of this story be that he exported his "skills" to Iraq? If that's the case, then my worries may be sorely misplaced. Few people care what goes on in American prisons as it is. The fact that a U.S. soldier blew the whistle on this sadism might indicate that the problem is a pre-existing American problem which has unfortunately found its way into the military. That it is being addressed speaks well for the military -- but it doesn't speak well for what goes on in this country's prisons. I hope they get to the bottom of this, because it really stinks.

Depressing as hell is right. Guys like that shouldn't have been working here in the first place. It's ironic -- and sickening -- to learn about them this way.

MORE: A comment in support of prison sadism confirms what I just said. The sad reality is that the commenter is not alone; I've heard similar sentiments voiced elsewhere (usually by people who forget that so many things have been criminalized that most of us are felons).

AND MORE: Via Drudge, here's an appalling in-depth report by Seymour Hersh. It sickens me to read about Americans (including women) doing these things to people. I don't want them returning home to work as police OR prison guards. God forbid that they might be allowed to raise children.

posted by Eric on 05.01.04 at 11:43 AM







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» Winky winky from One Fine Jay
A few mornings ago my sister put her foot down on the Iraqi prison scandal by saying the following in Filipino, which I gladly translated for you all, dear friends: We all know that stuff is happening, it's only that people were stupid enough to tak... [Read More]
Tracked on May 7, 2004 3:57 PM



Comments

I will now look at every irac person the same as i looked at them in the beheading video of nick berg. pure hate anger and i hope one day i will be able to do something that will let them know.REVENGE IS OURS COUNT ON IT!!!!!! YOU WILL NEVER HURT ANOTHER SOILDER OR CIVILIAN OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AGAIN.YOU HAVE DRAWN THE LINE NOW AFTER EVERYTHING WITH 911 YOU SLAP THE U.S IN THE FACE AGAIN WITH THIS. I'LL DO MY PART U.S DO YOURS.MY HEART GOES OUT TO THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND THE WHOLE U.S, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE YOUR PAIN, CAUSE MINE NOW WILL NOT STOP.

revenge is ours   ·  May 17, 2004 12:30 AM

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