Monday, May 10, 2004

Training Days

When news of the abuse and torture that was Abu Ghraib prison first surfaced, we were informed that the soldiers had not received appropriate training. It remains an underlying theme as a cause for this 'breakdown':
Several of the soldiers who were interviewed said they received little guidance from superiors.

'It was figure it out as you go,' said Spc. Jose Victor Leiva. 'The leadership were more worried about our dress code, as opposed to the situation at Abu Ghraib, being mortared every night, having security issues. There was nothing set in place.'

Sindar said the only training he received was brief.

'The training I got was common sense, use my head and have my morals about me,' he said.[Nitpicker emphasis]
However, it would appear from General Taguba's report that at least one man, Master-at-Arms First Class William Kimbro had sufficient training:
In his devastating report on conditions at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq, Major General Antonio M. Taguba singled out only three military men for praise. One of them, Master-at-Arms William J. Kimbro, a Navy dog handler, should be commended, Taguba wrote, because he "knew his duties and refused to participate in improper interrogations despite significant pressure from the MI —military intelligence— personnel at Abu Ghraib.” Elsewhere in the report it became clear what Kimbro would not do: American soldiers, Taguba said, used "military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.”
In addition, Taguba's report was prompted by the actions of courage and conscience of a young Army specialist, Joseph Darby, who leaked both information about and photographs of, the abuse. His only training, an upbringing in which he was taught right from wrong. These are exceptional men who had the courage to go up against a culture created the the the likes of Rumsfeld who thinks the Geneva Conventions don't apply to the U.S., and his friend and religious-right nut, Lieutenant-General William "Jerry" Boykin, who believes the war on terror is a war against Muslims. A culture that protects not only these individuals but even in the investigation of torture, maintains RHIP (rank has its privileges).
But except for one brief mention, the 55-page report contains nothing about the role of the top military intelligence officer in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast. As head of intelligence for the U.S. command in Baghdad, Fast was in charge of interrogators at Abu Ghraib, where prisoners were beaten, sodomized and photographed in sexually degrading positions.[Nitpicker emphasis]
Why would she be exempt from scrutiny and blame?
That the investigation into prisoner abuse was conducted by a major general may be one reason why Fast, an officer of equal rank, apparently has undergone little scrutiny, one expert says.

"The military is very conscious of rank - if you want to investigate a major general you need a lieutenant general," said Larry Korb, a former Navy captain and assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.

"I think when they appointed a major general they never assumed it was going to go much higher - they figured it was basically a bunch of out-of-control young reservists and didn't realize the extent to which they had a problem, not the least of which was who was in charge."[Nitpicker emphasis]
If you need a Lt. General to investigate a Maj. General, who do we get to investigate all the way up to the pResident? It's important to remove those responsible for the environment that was created that not only failed to prohibit these actions but, in fact, both encouraged and/or ignored them at the highest levels.


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