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There's a lot of talk going on right now about the photos depicting heinous crimes committed by various American soldiers, translators, and other associates. Most people seem to come down into one of two camps; either they want these photos released, ostensibly because it would lead to a reckoning of some sort, both for the persons depicted in them, and more broadly for America as a whole, or those who think releasing the photos will harm us in the international community and directly endanger our troops by enraging those who would do them harm, while also not doing much to further justice.

I am disturbed by the ease with which the issue of torture and institutionalized violence toward detainees, something also oft-discussed on this site, and these photos have been tied together. Many of the comments I read in diaries on the subject seem to indicate that releasing these pictures will perhaps open the floodgates, create the consequences for all our transgressions some people seek, somehow "Show the world what we did."

The thing I find amazing, at the risk of being ridiculed as one of the "few bad apples" zombies (and I'm sure that's coming, no doubt) is that some of us seem willing to accept the notion that the two things are even remotely related. They are not.

The use of torture was an institutionalized, proscribed tactic specifically designed for the purpose of fabricating evidence that supported an illegal war. They tortured people to get them to lie about stuff so we had an excuse to do whatever we wanted in Iraq. It probably reached the highest levels of the executive branch, and was certainly employed in the interest of furthering the ambitions of President Bush and his NeoConservative advisors.

The things depicted in these photographs are, until proven otherwise, examples of isolated, though apparently fairly widespread, abuses of a criminal nature. They're vile, they're horrible, and they represent crimes that MUST be investigated. My personal feeling is that anyone who could take some of the actions described in the articles about the photos deserves to be fucking shot. But they are evidence in a criminal matter. Evidence is not for public distribution, it's for the judge, the lawyers, and the jury to see. It is are not fodder for various political factions, including ours, to spin in a way that benefits our cause.

The argument that they will be used against us for recruiting purposes is a perfectly valid one. As I said, if released, people will use the images to further their agendas. It is my estimation that the President weighed the likely outcomes of this decision, and chose this path because he believes it's best for the country. We have to give him the benefit of the doubt sometimes.

The major caveat to this view is that I am, for the purposes of this argument, assuming that these incidents were the result of actions undertaken by a few criminal assholes that were acting on their own. Obviously, were anyone to produce proof that these actions were ordered or sanctioned by someone up the chain of command, that is something that would be and should be investigated thoroughly and exhaustively. But the likelihood is that that is not the case. And to trot out the justification that "this was done in our name" for releasing these pictures dilutes something much more important; the necessity of an investigation into the torture that ACTUALLY WAS committed "in our name," insofar as it was sanctioned and ordered from the top down.

The GOP noise machine is trying to equate the two things, to mash up Abu Gharib and torture-for-"proof" and these photos into one 30-second soundbite that they can dismiss with one central argument: "We did it all for our country." The view of some on this site seems to be that if that's their opinion, we should make them own it by releasing the photos and somehow forcing them to justify what's depicted in them. This is folly, for two reasons. One, they'll just weasel out of it, and two, it's allowing them to dispatch a much more significant issue right along with this.

This is another conceit of this diary; I feel that the greater crime by far is the torture ordered by our government to lie our way into a war. Maybe some people feel differently. I don't think by any means that these abuses are no big deal, as I said, I think they are crimes that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and if I had my druthers I'd be OK with hauling the rapist translator out back and putting a bullet in his head. (That's me, and it's probably a good thing I'm not in charge of that stuff.) But the point remains; these are two separate issues, and should not be equated to one another, or even put on the same level in terms of our outrage.

Releasing the photos would put these crimes front and center, and would suck all the air out of the discussion of torture, just as the evidence is mounting to warrant an investigation. It takes a systemic crime of epic proportions and gives it a human face, a few scapegoats to blame to whole issue on. Sorry, but the news-watching, non-Kos reading American public is not likely to draw distinctions. We'll make a big show, put a few people on trial, and the whole (much more important) torture discussion goes away.

It's a smokescreen. Someone is pushing this agenda, playing the media here to get these two things lumped together. People do horrible things every day, much worse than what's in those pictures. Just because it happens in a war zone or a military prison does not mean it was done "in our name." These are criminals, the photos are evidence, and it should be handled as such. Torturing detainees to get false information was a separate, much more dangerous crime, and THAT is the crime that was committed "in our name." The right wants the two to be the same issue. Can we afford to let it be framed that way?

Originally posted to Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:34 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips / Falmes (14+ / 0-)

    Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

    by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:34:53 AM PDT

    •  Good Points (3+ / 0-)

      Interesting read.

      The concept of a hereditary leader is as absurd as that of a hereditary mathematician ~ Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

      by Illustrious86 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:41:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Flawed premise (13+ / 0-)

      You try to draw a distinction between what happened at Abu Ghraib and what you assume to a more systemic, top-down attempt to torture up "evidence" of a Saddam-AQ link. But no such distinction exists. All of it, all of it, results from a president-directed policy of torture. You can draw line from the CIA-run black sites to Gitmo to Bagram to Abu Ghraib.

      What's more, you and others keep saying the photos belong in a trial, but the only chance of getting trials is for evidence like these photos to come out.

      •  What Happened at Abu Ghraib, remember (8+ / 0-)

        was a direct result of General Miller's transfer from Cuba to Iraq, where he had orders to "Gitmo-ize" the prisons there.

      •  You're right but you're missing the point, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cotterperson

        as I understand it, which is essentially to not to let the general public miss the forest for the trees.

        The issue can be presented many different ways, but to get caught up in the specific instances of torture loses sight of the underlying policy of fixing "intelligence" around the policy.  That is a challenging argument to make in our national discourse, especially when it has been superseded by a debate about the release of photographic evidence.

      •  Anybody who is above a City Councilmember (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cotterperson, pontechango, allep10

        in government or a sergeant in the military, and who is not familiar with the Stanford Prison Experiment, should not be able to plead ignorance as an excuse for abandoning the legal safety nets (Geneva Conventions, Military Handbooks, rule of law) put in place to prevent these completely predictable effects of asymmetrical power and dehumanization.

        Twenty-four undergraduates were selected out of 70 to play the roles of both guards and prisoners and live in a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. Those selected were chosen for their lack of psychological issues, crime history, and medical disabilities, in order to obtain a representative sample. Roles were assigned based on a coin toss.[1]

        Prisoners and guards rapidly adapted to their roles, stepping beyond the boundaries of what had been predicted and leading to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations. One-third of the guards were judged to have exhibited "genuine" sadistic tendencies, while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized and two had to be removed from the experiment early.

        I would imagine that the worse crimes (rape, murder, brutal physical beatings) were not specifically authorized. On the other hand, anybody far enough up the chain of command who was powerful enough to declare that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to these prisoners, and to declare that some forms of historically acknowledged actions designated as torture were now OK, would have been knowledgeable enough to realize that more brutality was bound to follow.

        I agree that the photos should not be released. I think our motivations for wanting to see them are not pure, and I think that they will put our men and women in uniform in significantly greater danger. I think that all of the memos authorizing torture ought to be released, and I think that the House & Senate should authorize a special prosecutor to investigate, and I think that after the investigation is complete, any who are responsible (including, I hope, Dick Cheney) should be prosecuted for war crimes, preferably in the same courtroom which saw the trial of Saddam Hussein.

    •  Disagree (3+ / 0-)

      Torture is torture is torture is torture.
      No matter whether it's systemic following top-down orders or done by a few "bad apples" it's always criminal. And the former perhaps more so than the latter, because the former is done with reasoned-out criminal intent, the latter might be simply the result of individuals being mentally disturbed.

      We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

      by Lepanto on Thu May 28, 2009 at 10:02:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you (0+ / 0-)

        I'm just recommending that we keep the two issues separate for the purpose of doing them both the justice they deserve.

        Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

        by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 10:38:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Congress will make your wishes come true (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, Joe Beese

      They will do their best to keep these photos hidden (even though many congresscritters have seen them).

      Congress moves to withhold detainee abuse photos
      Congress is moving to stop a federal court order that would disclose government information to the public — this time the photos of terrorist detainee abuse that President Barack Obama no longer wants to release.

      Just days after Obama reversed his position on the photos, Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., backed him up by adding a rider late Thursday to the Senate's version of a $91.3 billion supplemental appropriation covering the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

      ...snip...

      The Lieberman-Graham provision would allow the defense secretary to certify to the president that release of photos or video taken between Sept. 11, 2001, and Jan. 22, 2009, of people captured by U.S. forces outside the United States would endanger lives. In such cases, the release could be prohibited for at least three years.

      The House version of the supplemental appropriation bill has no such provision, and the two chambers must still agree on whether to include it in the final bill before it becomes law. Democratic aides say the White House backs the provision.

      Some leadership from Lieberman and Graham on this nation-defining issue.

      "We have trouble in the oil states because the President is viewed as favoring cheap energy." ~ George W. Bush in 1992.

      by chapel hill guy on Thu May 28, 2009 at 10:09:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  All this talk of torture...Hey do you remember... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux, Surly Cracker

      that this country was taken to WAR on a pack of LIES?

      ...but never us mind, right?  Move along, right?  You make me sick.

  •  Can you elaborate on this oxymoronic statement? (10+ / 0-)

    The things depicted in these photographs are, until proven otherwise, examples of isolated, though apparently fairly widespread, abuses of a criminal nature.

    "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." - President Barack Obama, April 5, 2009

    by justmy2 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:42:05 AM PDT

    •  I mean that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psychodrew

      While they apparently happened in discrete locations, that fact is not, until proven otherwise, evidence that they were the result of some sort of standing sanction or order to rape people.

      It was poorly worded, you're right.

      Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

      by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:45:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The wording was fine. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Surly Cracker

        I'm gay, I'm pissed, I'm not giving up, I'm not giving in, I'm not shutting up, and I'm not going away. Deal with it.

        by psychodrew on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:48:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  you're on a roll ! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Simplify, The Raven, WattleBreakfast

        "facts, evidence, until proven otherwise" ... so, if presented as "evidence" in a court of law, then will it be proven that there are some "facts" to be had, so then can we lock the bastards up? Im not so sure it happens in that order or that way. You dont seem to believe the "evidence" is... uhm... evidence.

        Im lost. Dizzy.

        Buy the ticket, take the ride. ~HST

        by Lady Libertine on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:51:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No. (0+ / 0-)

          The photos are evidence of individual crimes, not of some greater plan. No one seems to be coming forward to say they were being ordered to commit these atrocities.

          Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

          by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:58:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rummy said (5+ / 0-)

            "Take the gloves off," and Takuba discovered that the Gitmo program was exported to Abu Ghraib. The trail is clear. You won't find written orders to rape (I'm betting) but you will find CIA interrogators taking over and going batshit crazy on the captives as a direct result of orders to increase the harshness of interrogations in a search for the smoking gun that would justify the invasion.

            We should release the photos in order to "get it out there" and stop people from fantasizing things that are worse. History has demonstrated that it's always better to release the evidence. It's always worse to suppress it.

            Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

            by The Raven on Thu May 28, 2009 at 10:02:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I Think A Lot Of People Forget, Maybe More Than (5+ / 0-)

              any organization the military is based on rules and following orders. When you are told to do something by a superior, you do it. You don't debate the topic.

              I don't think for one second these folks were "freelancing." They were doing exactly what they were told to do.

              "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

              by webranding on Thu May 28, 2009 at 10:10:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Basically yes (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                amazinggrace

                But also what we did in the torture program was to replicate the Stanford Prison Experiment.

                So yes there were orders, but also we know that this kind of general arrangement of roles and environment will tend to produce this kind of outcome. It takes a very great amount of discipline and control to avoid Stanford results and here we have prisons situated on the edge of nowhere that are run as little islands unto themselves.

                Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

                by The Raven on Thu May 28, 2009 at 10:33:32 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  well (5+ / 0-)

            an official Investigation would take care of that.

            A little bright, healthy sunshine and fresh air, so that an educated population knows what was done and how, can show where the tunnels were bored, when the truth was subordinated; what institutions were subverted; how our democracy was compromised; so this grim history is not condemned to repeat itself; so a knowing public in the clarity of day can say, "Never, never, never, again;" so we can keep that light - that light that is at once America's greatest gift and greatest strength - brightly shining. To do this, I submit, we must look back.
            ~Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

            We've heard from quite a few people on this. (Look over at the Rec List.)

            Fmr. Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski

            Olbermann: What does the Levin tell us about this prison and what happened there.

               Karpinski: It basically says there's a direct line from these memorandum, the policies and the permissions and the directives included in those memorandum through Gen. Miller at Guantanamo Bay Cuba, migrated directly with Gen. Miller and his Tiger Team of about twenty four people who came to advise the military intelligence interrogators of these harsher interrogation techniques. Straight line.

            and

            She has a few words for Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush administration that let the soldiers take the fall for their decisions.

               Karpinski: This is one of the most shameful aspects of these memos and the knowledge that people at the highest levels of our government had about these memos, actually sat together and wrote them and rewrote them and crafted them to meet the requirements of these techniques they wanted to use.

               They were well aware, these people, Rumsfeld, Sanchez, all of them and were well aware of these policies and these memorandums while these soldiers were being accused....five years ago. And if it was okay Mr. Former Vice President, if you're saying that this was necessary today and that it produced good intelligence..where were you five years ago stepping up to the plate and saying hold on, we can't discuss this because this is classified information, but these soldiers did not design these techniques? Where were all of those heros then to step up to the plate and defend these soldiers and to defend me? These were soldiers that were serving in a combat zone that were good Americans and remain good Americans and that were so unfairly blamed. Five years this month to get these memos released, declassified and released and people still trying to say that what happened at Abu Ghraib was different than what these memorandums were directing. No! It is not!

            Buy the ticket, take the ride. ~HST

            by Lady Libertine on Thu May 28, 2009 at 10:07:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Consider (5+ / 0-)

        The fact they happened to be the inevitable result of a poorly run facility which also happened to have torture as an institutionalized policy.  The lack of integrity and accountability IS a "top-down" phenomenon.

      •  I don't agree that it was isolated incidents (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Surly Cracker, FreeStateDem

        But I do think that no one here, as of yet, has considered the victims of these crimes. Do they want the visual documentation of their greatest humiliation displayed around the world or do they want prosecution & punishment for their tormenters. We would be in jeopardy of re-victimizing these individuals in the name of a national awakening. In agreement with you, this evidence belongs in court.

        All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

        by amazinggrace on Thu May 28, 2009 at 10:39:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Given that almost all such (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          justmy2, skrekk

          photos could easily simply have faces blurred out on victims, just as crime shows do today when they've got people in video that haven't been charged, that's a very weak argument.

          Bah. Typoed during acct creation. It's Ezekiel 23:20

          by Ezekial 23 20 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:36:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I have considered these victims, and the future (0+ / 0-)

          victims, including Americans. And I conclude that it is necessary to make sure everyone is aware of the actions taken in our name to stop future actions.  

          This must be brought into the sunlight.  

          Let me tell you about some past pictoral documentation of crimes.

          Lynchings
          Gas Chambers
          Tienamen Square
          Shooting a child in Vietnam War
          Katrina until Bush shown DVD
          Hosing of Civil Rights Activists
          Emmitt Till
          John Lewis being beaten
          Rwandan Genocide
          Dogs attacking civil rights leaders
          Rodney King being beaten

          So I reject your argument that pictures of victims necessarily being inconsequential.  On the contrary, in many cases, it is the very demonstration of photographic evidence that is the catalyst for governmental action.  We currently have psychopaths downgrading torture, making it more likely in the future.  It is critical that this view not take hold in the general public, and pictures, heavily redacted, or even vivid descriptions from a government source in special cases are likely critical in this case.

          Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

          "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." - President Barack Obama, April 5, 2009

          by justmy2 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 01:17:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I lived through the history you (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Robinswing

            have cited above except the WW11 era. Which is why I did not mention it in my comment. I can tell you, having been there, photos stopped none of it.

            All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

            by amazinggrace on Thu May 28, 2009 at 02:48:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Let's agree that the pictures did not (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              amazinggrace

              stop these crimes immediately.

              Would you agree that the pictures were catalyst for the eventual results?

              Could the Civil Rights Act been passed without the pictures?  Would the Vietnam War have stopped without public opinion changing (many state that was the key reason, do you disagree?)?  I am positive Bush would not have acted without video.

              If your argument is that pictures have no impact, we will have to agree to disagree.  However, I think you severly underestimate their impact, or you do not want to disagree with the Administration which is understandable in a sense.  If pictures are meaningless, I would ask you why pictures of coffins coming into Dover were not allowed for 5 years?

              "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." - President Barack Obama, April 5, 2009

              by justmy2 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 03:04:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I appreciated your well thought out (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                justmy2

                well documented comments enough to leave my office computer & crank up my home computer to reply to you. I do not underestimate the impact of these images. On the contrary I understand quite well. The photographic documentation of the atricities, mistakes & inequities perpetrated throughout the history of this country have value in historical context. Did they bend the arch of justice at the time? It is my contention, as well as experience they did not. The photos of Emmett Till's broken & beaten body was diplayed in white barber shops & watering holes throughout the south. Civil rights workers being knocked down by fire hoses & chased by dogs were laughted at & derided.The trajectory was changed by the active participation of African Americans against the inequities of this society. I applaud your optimism that the publication of these photos will bring about the neccessary public outcry, but I am more jaded & less sure of the outcome. This is the experience of my generation, but it warms my heart that your generation feels otherwise. My generation has had to rely upon the law for any justice.I think here at Kos we feel that all citizens of this country possess a sense of right & wrong, a moral imperitive that will lead them to do the right thing. My experience tells me not. I ask that you be a little patient with our President to do the right thing & prosecute these offenders within the law. If the pictures are ever published, in retrospect they will add to the documentation of crimes punished, inequeties righted,& the moral imperitive restored. Thank you for this discusson & keep fighting the good fight.

                 

                All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

                by amazinggrace on Thu May 28, 2009 at 03:45:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  A very thoughtful response...thanks (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  amazinggrace

                  Well, you assumed that I was not part of my generation, but I will give you that one (but not as far removed as you may think ;).  It is nice to see the broad diversity of demographics on the site though.

                  Did they bend the arch of justice at the time? It is my contention, as well as experience they did not.

                  I can honestly state that this is a point of view that I have not been exposed to.  It is interesting to read how these media events affected you and your perception of their ultimate impact.  

                  Do you think that your view is the minority view, or due you think that the impact of those pictures were overstated once they were documented?  If so, what do you think was the reason?

                  I will admit that I do believe that transparency is the cure, but not a vaccine, to address these issues.  But there is no doubt the vigilance is incredibly important.  We can never let our guards down.  It is the reason that you see the jewish community fight so hard at even the hint of antisemitism.  There is no gray.

                  My generation has had to rely upon the law for any justice.I think here at Kos we feel that all citizens of this country possess a sense of right & wrong, a moral imperitive that will lead them to do the right thing. My experience tells me not. I ask that you be a little patient with our President to do the right thing & prosecute these offenders within the law.

                  I plead guilty.  I do believe that given the opportunity the majority of people will reach the appropriate moral conclusions, but it is not automatic.  I will also tell you that the vast, vast majority of us pushing back on this in contrast to the President's current position still strongly approve of the President in the aggregate.  As a matter of fact, I was polled by Gallup last Friday and I couldn't have been more positive (granted, they didn't ask any torture questions).  

                  Many of us, including myself, are willing to be patient.  However, we are concerned that there will be no prosecutions.  The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  Obama compromised on FISA.  He has shown deference to Joe Lieberman.  He has stated that now is the time for reflection not retribution.  All of these lead me to believe that a prosecution is not currently in the offing. (not to mention the lack of leaks and the infinite blabbering by potential defendants which is unusual if you think an investigation is possible).  Do we really think Obama is ready to take on the Conservative and Washington establishment.  It is political suicide.  

                  However, I do believe that he is willing to change course, if we the people provide him with the appropriate political cover.  

                  Put simply, I think not pushing back when appropriate against the President goes against his wishes.  I distinctly remember him saying that "we are the ones we are waiting for".  He needs us in some cases to "allow" him to do the right thing.  I have no illusion that he is not getting an all out assault from the right and many career military and intelligence professional against prosecutions, primarily to protect themselves.  I strongly believe we have to push from the left (although I don't think war crimes prosecution is a liberal issue, but that is another story) to provide him with political cover.  He wants it.  He has made this clear.  He even reversed himself.  It couldn't be clearer.  Let's make him do it. Now is not the time to let off of the gas, in deference to the President.  We all know what the right thing to do is.  Let's do it.

                  In any event, I appreciate your the eloquent response.  We may not fully agree on the path forward, but at least we can agree on our ultimate destination.

                  "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." - President Barack Obama, April 5, 2009

                  by justmy2 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 04:18:29 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Hindsight is 20/20 (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    justmy2

                    I cannot speak for a majority, I can only state opinion based on what I know & disussions with my peers, anything else is purely conjecture.This nation has come along way, but we still have along way to go. I know that when a group of people are villified in this country, when they are portrayed to be less than human, any injustice, indignities, or breech of the law is considered justified. After 9/11 the Muslim community as a whole was portrayed as such.They were considered different, less God like, a threat to both the American way of life, as well as an abomination against God. I have seen African Americans, Vietnamese& with the nomination of Sonia Sotemayer, Hispanics portrayed as a threat to the American culture & way of life. The "Other".When you represent any group of people as less than human, the outcome is always the same, humiliation, degredation & yes torture. Years of witnessing this behavior in this country has shaped & molded my views.I believe that as a Black man, in this country Barack Obama understands this better than many may think. I am also aware that after 8 years of the Bush administation there is question as to how thing should be conducted & in what jurisdiction these issues fall. In my mind this is a Justice Dept. issue, to be investigated & litigated within the legal system. We all recognize the right thing to do, however I believe the pressure should be on the judicial system. Barack Obama is cleaning up a lot of shit since the circus left town & I beleive he has left this issue in the hands of Eric Holder.It has been four months to address & correct what has happened over 8 years.I am willing to allow the strategy to play out. If we do not see either action or results in the immediate future I will be right there with you when we make our voices heard in Washington. Look for me, I'll be the attractive black lady with the gray hair. Peace be with you,take care.

                     

                    i  

                    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

                    by amazinggrace on Thu May 28, 2009 at 06:09:09 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  The evidence is that much of the abuse was both (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        justmy2, dconrad

        formal and informal policy - first by stating that Geneva didn't apply and that "the gloves are off", second by having "IRF squads" whose task was to brutally subdue prisoners for the slightest infraction (and sometimes for no reason at all...just to maintain fear).

        Documentaries like "Taxi to the Dark Side" have interviews with guards at Baghram who indicate that abuse was standard operating procedure.  In fact, I'm unaware of any evidence indicating that humiliation, forced nudity, physical and mental abuse, and torture methods like sleep deprivation were not the norm.  You can argue that certain tactics like water torture may not have been widely employed (although DoD autopsy reports show that some of the prisoners murdered by the military had water in their lungs, indicating use of that tactic beyond the CIA), but other tactics like sleep deprivation, forced nudity and physical abuse were widely practiced.  The point is that prior to Hamdan, the US routinely violated the Geneva Conventions, and there is ample evidence of widespread violations of the CAT.  Remember the CAT does not prohibit just torture - it also prohibits "Other Cruel, Inhuman
        or Degrading Treatment or Punishment".

        You simply cannot argue that violations of the CAT and of Geneva were not routine as a matter of policy.  Prosecutions have only occurred after events like Abu Ghraib became public...even though the DoD had been aware of what was going on.  That reveals policy.

    •  Damn, I posted with almost the exact same starter (0+ / 0-)

      comment before reading down far enough in the comments, heh.

      Bah. Typoed during acct creation. It's Ezekiel 23:20

      by Ezekial 23 20 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:35:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I really have issues with this. (7+ / 0-)

    Someone is pushing this agenda, playing the media here to get these two things lumped together.

    (emphasis mine)

    Not all "agendas" are equal.  This is the same way (although not, I hasten to add, the same argument) that anti-gay people use to besmirch the gay rights movement -- use "agenda" in a negatively connotative way that implies toxicity.

    You say it is perfectly valid to opine that people will use this as a recruiting tool.  How?  What's the evidence that the Abu Ghraib photos were used to enhance terrorist recruitment beyond what was already happening?  Everything I've heard indicates that people in Iraq and elsewhere in the middle east already know what war crimes are being committed -- that they aren't even as shocked as we are by these photos.

    I don't care about seeing these photos myself.  They're sick and disgusting and that's the exact point.  People in THIS country need to see these photos, to see what is being done in our name.

    Because my life doesn't need to be an educational experience for someone else. (-6.62, -6.26)

    by AndyS In Colorado on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:42:12 AM PDT

  •  More nonsense.... (5+ / 0-)

    Most rational people are not saying that they should not be used in a court of law.  They are saying they should not be released into the public domain because to do so victimizes the victims over and over again.

    These photos can be used as evidence without making them public.  

    And, I'm getting tired of people comparing this to "The Holocaust."  For Christ's sakes, get a book about the Holocaust and read it, such comparisons are idiotic and trivialize what was a massive and institutionalized attempt to exterminate an entire people.

    If I said something that upset you...I probably didn't do it on purpose.

    by David Kroning on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:43:48 AM PDT

  •  Personally I'd Like The Photos To Be Released (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaFajita, Surly Cracker

    but this is an instance where I might be wrong. It is a complex topic on many, many different levels.

    "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

    by webranding on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:44:36 AM PDT

    •  No, not complex (0+ / 0-)

      Actually, quite simple.

      They are material evidence of a criminal conspiracy to commit war crimes. Obama doesn't want those crimes prosecuted. So he wants to bury the evidence.

      The "protecting the troops" excuse is the kind of rancid bullshit that would be universally denounced if it came from President McCain.

      •  He's doing no such thing. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        amazinggrace

        No one has EVER said that they won't be used as evidence, nor do I make that point, in fact I think I made it clear that that's how I want them to be used.

        There's no reason you and I need to see them unless we're on the jury.

        Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

        by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:18:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lady Libertine, Surly Cracker

    I think this diary could be tightened up a little bit, but I'm strongly recommending it on the point about confusing instances of torture with a deliberate policy of extracting false confessions to justify a war of aggression.

  •  Have you even looked for proof against your main (7+ / 0-)

    caveat?

    The major caveat to this view is that I am, for the purposes of this argument, assuming that these incidents were the result of actions undertaken by a few criminal assholes that were acting on their own.

    Have you read the Senate Armed Services report that makes mincemeat of this caveat?

    From the NYT articled the day it came out...

    The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the report says, "was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own" but grew out of interrogation policies approved by Mr. Rumsfeld and other top officials, who "conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees."

    If you haven't I would suggest reading it and updating your diary accordingly.

    "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." - President Barack Obama, April 5, 2009

    by justmy2 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:46:03 AM PDT

    •  And I make the point that it should (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      amazinggrace

      be investigated. Clearly, if that's the case it would change things. Regardless of what's in that report, it clearly wasn't compelling enough to put Rummy on trial, right? And I state explicitly that that aspect of this thing should be investigated, the possibility that it was endemic as opposed to random. Thus far, no one has been able to prove that. And if this situation contributes to that revelation, there is no reason why it wouldn't come out in the context of a jury trial of those depicted in the photos, with the proper handling and privacy for the victims with respect to the evidence in that trial.

      My whole argument is that we should be focusing on the top level of this thing, not making a huge story out of the low-level players.

      Because if we do, it will end there.

      Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

      by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:25:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Thus far, no one has been able to prove that." (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        justmy2

        That's where you're wrong.  The Taguba report proved it years ago.  The Levin report proves it too.  Testimony by guards proves it.  There is no doubt this was formal policy.  Read those reports, then update your diary.

        •  Why no trials, then? (0+ / 0-)

          Others in this diary would tell you it's because there's not been enough "public pressure."  

          Yeah, because that works great in a non-election year.

          If there is proof, and if it can be traced back up the ladder to the ones who crafted the policy, great. The legal system will get there, slowly and methodically.  

          My point is that releasing the photos is not an integral part of getting us to that point, and could even hurt.

          Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

          by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 12:12:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That is a terrific question... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            skrekk

            here is my answer, the power protect the powerful.  And until the public creates an environment where this is unacceptable, as opposed to creating an environment legitimizing it because their party is in power...it will continue.

            "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." - President Barack Obama, April 5, 2009

            by justmy2 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 01:26:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I think there's pressure from all sides to bury (0+ / 0-)

            this issue, both due to complicity (or lack of oversight) from Congress, and because high-level people are rarely ever prosecuted.  It's also hugely embarrassing to the DoD and CIA, and there is essentially no Republican support for investigations, much less prosecutions.  The Obama administration clearly views prosecutions as politically inconvenient.

            I disagree with you about the photos, because public pressure on Congress can make a difference...and the 2010 election campaigns have already started.  Most people don't and won't read a long, technical, obtuse report about torture and abuse...but readily understand the truth that a photo conveys.  That truth exists even in cases where the particulars of the photo are misleading (as with the iconic hooded prisoner with "electric wires" attached to his hands).  Making the photos public in no way impedes their evidentiary use, although an argument could be made that any such publicity might bias a jury.  That cow however, has long since left the barn.

            Even apart from prosecutions, it's important for the government to be as open as possible so as to appear not to be hiding the issue.  This has severe ramifications for conduct by our opponents in future wars, and in our relationships with other countries - some of whom will no longer extradite to the US because of torture, and are far more careful about what intelligence they share with us.

  •  asdf (9+ / 0-)

    The argument that they will be used against us for recruiting purposes is a perfectly valid one.

    I don't think it is. I think it's horribly naive. the acts themselves were recruiting tools. The release of  the photos and trials of the responsible are anti-recruiting tools.

  •  Reasonable...but I disagree. (0+ / 0-)
    1. I want an investigation to find out whether this was the activity of a few bad apples, or part of something okayed by higher-ups. I don't want to draw the conclusion that these incidents were isolated...I don't want to draw ANY conclusion. I want an investigation to find out.
    1. I, of course, want an investigation of those incident which...well, we pretty much KNOW...were criminally approved by the Bush administration.
    1. We The People have done ourselves no service...actually disgraced ourselves...by NOT demanding accountability for the torture that's already been revealed. I see these photos as one last hope to spark outrage by the American people. If we fail to respond to even THESE kinds of abuses...then we are not much better than the enemies we condemn.

    THEY coddle terrorists; WE coddle torturers.

    Pretty disgusting in my book.

    When a government violates the unalienable rights of the people, it loses its legitimacy.

    by Rayk on Thu May 28, 2009 at 09:50:45 AM PDT

  •  This is exactly wrong. (8+ / 0-)

    It's a smokescreen. Someone is pushing this agenda, playing the media here to get these two things lumped together. People do horrible things every day, much worse than what's in those pictures. Just because it happens in a war zone or a military prison does not mean it was done "in our name."

    You don't get to decide that. Jesus. Ask an Iraqi.

  •  I agree that the photos should not be released (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, amazinggrace

    And we should start framing this conversation in a better way as to show that this is a crime, pure & simple.

  •  You make a good point (3+ / 0-)

    that the photos are already part of the criminal investigation record. There is no need to show them to the public. If the perpetrators of the torture are going to be prosecuted, they will be, and the photographic evidence will be a part of the record.

    What good does showing them to the public do? If you already think torture should be prosecuted, showing the photos won't change your mind. If you are a mindless Rush-bot who thinks torture was necessary, showing the photos won't make you think it should be prosecuted.

    Who knows how the photos would be shown, which photos would be shown, what parts would be blacked out, etc. If the photos were released, who's to say the corporate mouthpiece media wouldn't frame the photos in such a way to minimize the torture issue. They could show the tamest photos and say "Look, it wasn't that bad! There's no need to prosecute". The media always frames these issues and tells the public what to think.

    It's naive to think releasing the photos would lead to a groundswell of public support for prosecuting torture.

    Tipped and Recommended.

    •  The people in the photos (0+ / 0-)

      These people have already been punished as per WH Press Secretary Gibbs

      "The president would be the last to excuse the actions depicted in these photos," the administration official said. "That is why the Department of Defense investigated these cases, and why individuals have been punished through prison sentences, discharges, and a range of other punitive measures."

      The government made no claims of on-going investigations or prosecutions that could be jeopardized by the release of the photos in their filings in this case.

      Further the court ordered the photos to be redacted to prevent identification of the victims and perpetrators. This redaction is the responsibility of the Department of Defense PRIOR to the photos being released. It isn't up to the ACLU nor the media to do their own redaction.

      Eventually these photos will come out. Right now we have to wait while President Obama plays the role of Lyndon Johnson and digs us deeper into Afghanistan and pushes the fight into Pakistan.

      But when they do the outrage will be not only on the acts but on the punishments handed out to the perpetrators that amounted to wrist slaps when some should have been executed, others serving life, and others serving at least 10 years in a military prison. Oh, and there will be anger aimed at Obama for covering this up longer than it should have been covered up. This will be magnified because his reason for doing so is so that he can push his agenda of getting another 65,000 soldiers and marines into Afghanistan.

      It won't lead to a groundswell of support for torture prosecutions? You may be right. Considering that if these people involved have already been prosecuted for any lesser crimes we can't go back after them for more heinous crimes. There are still hundreds, if not thousands, of military personnel that need to be charged, removed from the service, demoted, etc.

      But it doesn't matter if any of that happens. The whole point of the ACLU action is to hold the government accountable to the people in whose name they carried out these crimes.

  •  They will be coming out (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    costello7

    A dozen or so were already posted that I saw on digg, and I would bet anything that the rest are leaked (And I'm not a betting man).  It certainly will not be a glorious day in the USA when they do, but I believe that its something that we'll have to live with.

    This point does not compute.  Releasing the photos will take pressure off of torture prosecution? Seriously? And people will blame the individuals who committed the acts after all the evidence has been pointing to the higher ups?  And after the Abu Ghraib prosecutions?

    Releasing the photos would put these crimes front and center, and would suck all the air out of the discussion of torture, just as the evidence is mounting to warrant an investigation....We'll make a big show, put a few people on trial, and the whole (much more important) torture discussion goes away.

    •  Well, if that's the case, I hope I'm wrong. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ohio Max

      I'd be happy to be proved wrong about the publics' short attention span and inability to separate issues like this.

      Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

      by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 10:36:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why would the public (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Surly Cracker, amazinggrace

      change their minds because of the photos? If you don't already want to prosecute the sick bastards who ordered the torture and did the torture, you're not going to change when you see some photos. There are limits to what can be shown on TV and print, so the general public will never see the worst photos anyway. These criminals should ALREADY be in jail. Anyone who is still a torture apologist is not going to change their mind if they see the photos. They might even get off on it.

      The public will see the photos and, aided by the corporate media, will zero in on the particular individuals in the photographs. This is what they did with Lyndie England. They became focused on the personalities. The media did not use that occasion to blame the higher-ups. They blamed the soldiers in the photographs.

      •  I agree Free State (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Surly Cracker, FreeStateDem

        I have witnessed quite a bit of history in my time. I can honestly say the photos of atrocities never modified the underlying agenda. I wish it were so, but historically it cannot be supported.

        All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

        by amazinggrace on Thu May 28, 2009 at 10:55:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you. Exactly. nt (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        amazinggrace, FreeStateDem

        Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

        by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:14:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FreeStateDem

        Many Most people I know who are quite moderate think that the acts we committed are equivalent to high school or college hazing rituals.  Sleep deprivation, getting naked and forming a pyramid, dogs just out of striking range biting at a person all seem like child's play when compared to beheading.  I fundamentally disagree that we should judge our conduct by our enemy's code of conduct, but that is another discussion.

        Rape is not something that can be dismissed as hazing.  Neither is bringing in fluorescent light bulbs to perform sexual acts.  These acts cannot be swept under the rug or dismissed as "not really all that bad".  If you think that 10 day sleep deprivation and walling is torture (as I do), you are unfortunately going to find yourself in the minority.

        We know what happened.  We are Kossacks.  We obsess about all things political.  Do you expect 50% of the population to know that detainees died during interrogation?  

        Your argument for zeroing in on the particular soldiers involved also ignores the point I made previously.  After all the discussion about who authorized it, Cheney stepping forward to defend it and even take credit for it, and after the scapegoating which occurred after Abu Ghraib, the case is clear.  It is not 2004.

        •  You are right that (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ohio Max, Surly Cracker, amazinggrace

          it is a different time now than in 2004, and the discussion has shifted more toward who authorized torture, and unfortunately the whole discussion has somehow turned into a debate about the merits of torture, which I have mostly tuned out because I think that is not a legitimate debate and the people claiming torture has merits are fucking sociopaths. But nevertheless, I do agree that if any photos were released now, the focus would be more on who authorized the torture practices than it was when the previous photos were released.

          My problem is I don't trust the corporate media to frame this issue correctly. Talking about releasing photos, you're basically talking about delegating responsibility to the mass media to distribute the photos and encourage dialogue around it. When have they ever done the right thing when given this kind of responsibility? They can't show rape photos on network or cable news programs. The public will not see the worst. The media will show them what they want.

          I don't need photos to know torture happened. You just need to tell me rape, sexual abuse, water boarding, and sleep deprivation happened and that's all I need to know that prosecution should go forward. I don't need to see it.

          If the media currently is misleading the public and not telling them the truth about the horrific torture practices that were used, then why should I expect them to start telling the public the truth when they have photos? They aren't doing their job now, why should I expect them to do it then.

          •  Point taken (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Surly Cracker, FreeStateDem

            I see exactly where you are coming from.  

            I was optimistic when the torture debate went mainstream, and I really thought "wow, just might be served here".  You obviously know how disheartening it was to see it turned into an argument over the merits of torture, and I felt the exact same way.  It kind of broke my heart.

            I can't really see how you could change the framing of this issue to ignore what obviously must be done after photos are released.  But I will admit that I could not see how the media turned a debate over the use of torture into a debate about its merits.  I underestimate the shiny object effect.

  •  only pictures convince (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrekk, dconrad

    in the USA only pictures can convince the people that real atrocities happened. We all know they raped kids and tortured many other humans in Abu Ghraib but America and the world can and will ignore it until they see pictures. The rightwing will lie and deny until they see pictures prove them wrong. And most importantly the MSM won't even call it torture unless there are horrible pictures for them to show. Only pictures can stop torture. Only pictures.

    •  Then show them to the jury (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      amazinggrace

      I'm already convinced. The people out there who aren't going to change their minds are too. This is exactly what I'm talking about, it's not going to be a watershed moment. It's going to do nothing, except maybe make various things worse.

      As I've said to others, I'd be happy to be proven wrong on that point.

      Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

      by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:13:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Where were the officers? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrekk, MindRayge, amazinggrace

    Even if the actions depicted were, as you say, the deeds of "a few bad apples", it is for me a principle of military discipline that the chain of command is at all times aware of what is going on.

    I simply cannot believe that the US military is so dysfunctional that it would have been possible for SO MANY "few bad apples" do SUCH APPALLING THINGS for SO LONG without the chain of command knowing.  If this were indeed the case, the entire chain of command deserves to be cashiered.

    So the inescapable conclusion is that these actions are the result of a deliberate dereliction on the part of the chain of command.

    γνωθι σεαυτόν

    by halef on Thu May 28, 2009 at 10:59:29 AM PDT

  •  strongly disagree, tho an excellent point: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Surly Cracker

    It's the court of public opinion we're talking here, and using the photos to build the groundswell for prosecution of the perps. But--an important point--the perps are only secondarily the people doing the raping. They were the handmaidens of Bush/Cheney, the same poor, often brown, schmos (it's not entirely tangential) who traditionally have to go because they don't have opportunities.

    And to some extent they were OUR handmaidens, because many of US approved, or lusted for revenge, on ANYONE. And this isn't tangential, either, because in the court of public opinion WE ALL MUST FEEL THE SHAME.

    But the photos shouldn't make us take our eyes off the prize--Bush/Cheney and the war criminals who pushed us to war, got a million killed, created a refugee crisis of enormous magnitude, worsened the situation in the middle East, etc., and who then sought to justify their war by cooking up false evidence through torture.

    Why are we on this side so much like the other side when it comes to tribe loyalty? Nada Lemming

    by Matthew Detroit on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:16:49 AM PDT

    •  You seem to understand what I'm getting at (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matthew Detroit, amazinggrace

      And I'm not suggesting that we abandon accountability for the actions of these individuals. On the contrary, screw them, lock them up.

      However, I don't know that it needs to be tried "in the court of public opinion" when we have actual courts and a legal system that is designed to deal with this sort of thing, even to hopefully follow it back to where it originates, with Rummy and Cheney and Bush.

      I think that "the court of public opinion" is dangerous and detrimental to doing actual justice in almost all high-profile crimes.

      If someone's going to be on trial in the public eye, let it be the bastards whose fault this all is, not some Private from the midwest with a chemical imbalance and a head full of sick ideas, some of which, no doubt, were put there by his superiors, but just as many all his own.

      I want the big fish here.

      Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

      by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:38:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  agreed, and agree to disagree (for now) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Surly Cracker

        about what gets you there. I think--I may be wrong--that with the release of the photos Obama and Holder cannot hold back the public clamor for justice.

        Why are we on this side so much like the other side when it comes to tribe loyalty? Nada Lemming

        by Matthew Detroit on Thu May 28, 2009 at 12:08:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Isolated though widespread... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dconrad

    Vaguely oxymoronic there.

    When you have multiple instances of the same sorts of thing going on, they're generally related, if at a higher policy level.

    Policy: make credit cheap
    Result: many many 'isolated yet widespread' instances of people using credit to buy too much stuff.

    The individuals may not have coordinated their decisions to buy all that cheap crap on credit, but they all did so as a result of cheap, easily obtainable credit.

    Ditto torture and rape of prisoners.  The 'widespread isolated incidents' show that this was a result of higher level policy, NOT hundreds of US soldiers who were just 'individual bad apples'.

    So I think the thesis of your argument fails.

    Bah. Typoed during acct creation. It's Ezekiel 23:20

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:33:30 AM PDT

    •  Already addressed above (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      amazinggrace

      Semantics don't make my point invalid.

      Show me proof. An excellent chance to get some of that proof would be to try these criminals properly, not in the shadow of the media feeding frenzy that would surround making these photos public.

      Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

      by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:40:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Semantics? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        justmy2

        Did you read the rest of my comment?

        What do you need as proof to show that people behave in predictable ways in mobs?  Take a sociology course.

        We'll see plenty of proof if this ever comes to trial.  Getting t5he pictures out is how you create enough pressure to get it to trial.

        Bah. Typoed during acct creation. It's Ezekiel 23:20

        by Ezekial 23 20 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:44:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm sick of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          amazinggrace

          people in these comments telling me that the very fact that these things happened is "proof" that there was a widespread policy of raping people in our military. That's flat-out ridiculous. You don't decide to rape someone based on a "culture" of any kind permeating your workplace. You have to be a sick fuck, and you were certainly not ordered to do it.

          Who's saying they don't want these people tried? Not me. And if some evidence does surface in the course of that trial that indicts their superiors, great.

          You and I don't get to be the judges of that, though. That's why we have a legal system. There's a lot of people who seem to want to try this case in the media, when it should be tried in court, if we ever want to get to those who are REALLY responsible.

          Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

          by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:52:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  the Senate Armed Service Committee disagrees (0+ / 0-)

            with you...

            I trust them.  But who knows..

            "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." - President Barack Obama, April 5, 2009

            by justmy2 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 01:21:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Really? 3 comments making the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              amazinggrace

              same nothing point?

              Look, if there was compelling evidence that people were being ordered to do this stuff from the top down, then why has no one been tried? WHY NO TRIALS?

              You say above something alluding to the notoin that Obama is protecting these people, which means I'll have no truck with your crackpot theories. There are two potential reasons why no one has been tried.

              a) There's not enough evidence, yet, and the Justice Dept is still working on it.

              or

              b) The abuses from the photos and other reports and testimony and whatever don't contribute enough to the overall body of evidence of a larger "culture" of abuse to warrant a trial, and that may or may not change.

              Releasing the photos DOES NOTHING for the legal process that will eventually get us somewhere. It might make you feel better about what bad guys Bush and Rummy were, and give you something to email to people or whatever, but unless you work in the Justice Department or the White House or the Pentagon, you having access to them is not your fucking right, nor is it useful to anyone.

              Advocate for whatever you want. The photos are evidence. If you show them to everyone, it compromises your investigation. Then you don't get to convict anyone. And then you're screwed.

              Just because it'll make you feel better doesn't make it a good idea.

              Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

              by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 01:45:02 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Are you feinging stupidity? (0+ / 0-)

                Look, if there was compelling evidence that people were being ordered to do this stuff from the top down, then why has no one been tried? WHY NO TRIALS?

                Is that really your argument?  Who was in control until the last 3 months?  Let's see...THE PEOPLE WHO WOULD BE AT RISK?

                Are you kidding me?  Please tell me you don't really believe a crime doesn't exist because the executive branch decides not to investigate it.  Really?

                Ask John Dean and Richard Nixon and Casper Weinberger about that explanation...

                WOW!!!

                "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." - President Barack Obama, April 5, 2009

                by justmy2 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 01:49:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  The court of public opinion???? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Surly Cracker

          Did not stop the genocidal methods used against the Native American. Did not stop the savage treatment of Africans during slavery. Did not stop lynching & Jim Crow policies post civil war. Did not stop Japanese Americans from interment camps. Did not stop within a reasonable time frame, the carnage in Vietnam. Did not stop torture post Abu Ghraib. Did not prevent the re-election of George W. Bush. And now the court of public opinion will create pressure? My money is on the court of law. The court of public opinion has failed miserably throughout history.

          All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

          by amazinggrace on Thu May 28, 2009 at 11:55:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            amazinggrace

            We are a society of laws. This isn't Chris Brown hitting Rhiana we're talking about here, we don't need a fucking instant poll on E! about it. It's not a joke (and no, neither was the other thing I mentioned,) and it needs to be dealt with in a manner consistent with hundreds of years or legal tradition if we have any hope of getting to the bastards that caused it.  

            Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

            by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 12:08:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And I think (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Surly Cracker

              The Justice Department is crafting a hell of a case against those responsible. That is where it belongs, in the legal system. This country has been unaccustomed to how things should work as a result of 8 years of Bush. Not everything is political & certainly everything does not play itself out in news cycles. Thanks for the diary.

              All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

              by amazinggrace on Thu May 28, 2009 at 12:14:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  So basically (0+ / 0-)

            we should all just curl up in a corner, stop writing letters to the editor, stop mailing our Congressmen, stop blogging, because public opinion doesn't ever cause politicians to do anything?

            Thanks for that, amazing the time and effort wasted, and we only had to ask you to find out it was pointless.

            Bah. Typoed during acct creation. It's Ezekiel 23:20

            by Ezekial 23 20 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 12:20:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  As with the rest of the comments in this thread (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Surly Cracker

              You have missed the point. But you are a little too combative to continue this conversation. Get the chip off your shoulder. It inhibits the exchange of ideas.                                          Ezekiel 23:20 (New International Version)
              20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.

              If this is who you are, never mind.

              All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

              by amazinggrace on Thu May 28, 2009 at 12:26:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Coming from someone (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              amazinggrace

              who got started here what, last week?, I'm not really insulted.

              Hang around a while, it it quickly disabuse you of the notion that anyone cares what you, I, or anyone else on the internet thinks, least of all politicians.

              We both want the same thing, I just think the Justice Department and Presidents' method of getting us there is better than the one you suggest.

              Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

              by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 12:33:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've hung around since November (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                justmy2, Surly Cracker

                Just got around to feeling I had a feel for the place.

                And I tend to agree more with you (we do want the same thing) than I do amazinggrace.

                I just feel frustrated that we don't really seem to be getting there, and photos will ratchet up public protests.  Isn't that why we never got to see coverage of military coffins coming home while Bush was in office?  Because photos cause people to agitate.

                If Obama would come out tomorrow and say 'Yes, we intend to prosecute', I'd drop all my calls for the photos to be released.

                Bah. Typoed during acct creation. It's Ezekiel 23:20

                by Ezekial 23 20 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 12:43:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Actually it was photographic and video (0+ / 0-)

            evidence that were critical to bringing an end to many of those atrocities...

            but that doesn't fit into your point, so I guess it shouldn't matter.

            "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." - President Barack Obama, April 5, 2009

            by justmy2 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 01:22:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Specifically (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Surly Cracker

              Your premise is untrue. The atrocities against Native Americans continued unabated with no real public outcry. Slavery ended when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to cripple the south during the civil war. The abolitionist movement did not end it. Lynching & Jim Crow laws continued unabated without a huge public outcry. Whites traded lynching postcards with one another. Images of them having picnics under swinging black bodies. Japanese citizens where not released from interment camps until the end of WW11 & Roosevelt was never prosecuted for war crimes. The Vietnam War continued four years after the Mai Lai massacre photos were released. So please,what was your point again?

              All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

              by amazinggrace on Thu May 28, 2009 at 02:25:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  ok..if you must...a point by point refutation (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                amazinggrace

                Did not stop the genocidal methods used against the Native American.

                not stopped, no mass publishing mechanism at the time and actually it never stopped.  However, I said many of these atrocities, not all.

                did not stop the savage treatment of Africans during slavery.

                The record shows books such as Uncle Tom's Cabin, as well as writings of abolitionists, had a profound impact of changing public opinion in non-slave states, and some have said Uncle Tom's Cabin was a catalyst for the ultimate conflict that helped end slavery.

                Did not stop lynching & Jim Crow policies post civil war.

                It was not until pictures of people being hosed, dogs attacking citizens, and massive non-violent protest broadcast across the land did major civil rights changes and policies of the Jim Crow era were overturned by the Civil Rights act of 1964.

                Did not stop Japanese Americans from interment camps.

                Pictures and video of internment camps played a role in determining and generating public support for reparations.

                Did not stop within a reasonable time frame, the carnage in Vietnam.

                Photos such as the boy being shot in the head and Walter Cronkite declaring the war is lost on video were part and parcel to moving public opinion towards ending the war.

                Did not stop torture post Abu Ghraib.

                100% false.  It was not until the photos of Abu Ghraib were released that the Bybee memos were overturned and official policies allowing torture were withdrawn.  This is all part of the public record.

                Did not prevent the re-election of George W. Bush.

                You got me there and I think we both are pissed about that.  BUT, pictures of Abu Ghraib and Katrina were critical to the election of a Democratic Congress and Senate in 2006 and a Democratic President in 2008.

                So no, none of these things stopped on a dime.  But direct correlations can be made to the impact of mass communication including photographs and video on causing public opinion to turn enough to give politicians the political cover to make decisions they likely would not have made if public opinion differed.

                If your argument is that release of the pictures will not stop all war crimes forever immediately after their release, well I will give you that strawman argument.  But fortunately, no one here has argued that.

                (I am assuming that you don't need citation for all of these, but let me know if you do.)

                "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." - President Barack Obama, April 5, 2009

                by justmy2 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 02:51:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  not convinced (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Surly Cracker, amazinggrace

    Since I too have mixed feelings about releasing the photos, I read your post carefully. In the end I cannot agree with your reasoning.

    First, the separation you draw cannot be supported. The torture was the result of the orders from the top, even if they didn't order each instance specifically. They turned this tiger loose, and this is what happens when you do. That's one reason the military is (usually) so strictly against torture: once you start enabling the sadists they always go farther than you originally anticipated. So the military keeps strict controls in place. The point is, the individual instances are inextricably linked with the official policy.

    Second, (as has been well stated already) DOING the torture created the recruiting tool for the terrorists. Fixing the problem takes away the recruiting tool. Not fixing the problem gives them a continuing recruiting tool.

    We have heard about a couple of outrageous acts that are shown in the photos. But what else is shown? If there are photos that show people shackled in stress positions, maybe we can get the press to quit giving the torturers a free pass on the "sleep deprivation" meme. The noise machine now gets to dismiss sleep deprivation as if it means we didn't let them sleep in on Sunday morning. It's a little harder to dismiss when you understand it's really a cover for shackling them in stress positions for days on end.

    I'm in agreement with cacamp, photos have great power to convince, and to move public opinion. In fact my own reservations about releasing them stems from this fact. However, I can't agree with you that releasing them will distract from the people at the top. I'm sensing that the torture issue has momentum now. Once these photos get out--officially or otherwise--I predict it will create a tipping point and there will be no turning back.  

    •  I hope that's the case. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      amazinggrace

      I would be glad to be proved wrong, I just worry that a culture that's so focused on individuals, on personalities, would turn this thing into yet another distraction. I want these people to be prosecuted. I just think the media will focus on the individual crimes, rather than the context in which they were committed, because that seems to be their pattern. It's easier to write stories that way, and I don't think the catharsis that some people will feel if there's a couple convictions of bit players is healthy. I want people to be outraged, but I want them outraged at the people who caused this, not those who participated in it.

      Dance like no one is watching with one fist in the air... We are stronger than everything they have taught us that we should fear.

      by Surly Cracker on Thu May 28, 2009 at 12:04:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  then keep the pressure on (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Surly Cracker, amazinggrace

        because we aren't yet at the point that anyone is going to get prosecuted.

        I'm old enough to remember Watergate. Many of us knew Nixon was a crook even before he took office. It took several years of drip, drip, drip, more information coming out every day. In the end even the Republicans told him he had to go.

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