Standard Operating Procedure
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Witness one of the worst debacles in American military history. Enter Abu Ghraib. This award-winning documentary uncovers the dramatic series of events that led to torture, international outrage, and forced a president to apologize to the world.
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Heavy viewing material but worthwhile. A few reflections ... :
It's unfortunate, but not at all shocking, that the people held responsible for criminal acts were all enlisted soldiers. I agree that they were in a catch-22 situation. Soldiers can't resign in protest or to demonstrate civil disobedience. And the military isn't fond of whistleblowers either. Not only did Army officers deflect blame but so did CIA and FBI agents and, frankly, so did Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush. After the story broke, Rumsfeld and Bush made evident they had okayed what they euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation procedures" because "the United States does not commit torture. Ever." Rumsfeld offered to resign his Cabinet position, but Bush, till after he was re-elected, would not be swayed that Rumsfeld didn't have the moral authority or vision to perform his job effectively. This is déjà vu by this point. How many more times will Americans let military leaders blame enlisted soldiers with no consequences to officers?
That said, I was a bit struck by some interviewees who still did not recognize why their actions were wrong. I realize they were in a dangerous situation with no escape clause, but after being convicted and spending time in prison with nothing but free time to ponder what they had done, some were adamant they were irrationally blamed. I'm not judging their perspective, just noting I found this interesting because even the photos labeled standard operating procedure I personally thought were cruel and/or dehumanizing, given Iraqi prisoners in all likelihood were observant Muslims and would be horrified to have a female soldier cut their clothes off with a knife, watch them shower, etc.
And it was all for naught anyway. The majority of those prisoners did not know state secrets, nor have most prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The most solid outcome of the mistreatment of these "terrorists" and "enemy combatants" (another euphemism, used instead of "prisoners of war," who have rights and eventual release dates under the Geneva Convention) is swaying large groups of men and their soon-to-be-adults children, who have legal and/or easy access to automatic weapons, to consider the United States an enemy that has no respect for other sovereign nations or the Muslim faith.