Abu Ghraib officer fights reprimand

Discussion in 'Politics' started by ASLANSPAL, Mar 11, 2006.

  1. ASLANSPAL

    ASLANSPAL
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    WASHINGTON -- A senior staffer to a Republican congressman revealed Thursday that he has been formally reprimanded by the Army for his role in the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse scandal -- and that he is fighting the disciplinary move. He says that higher-ups were responsible for the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

    U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Christopher R. Brinson, who in civilian life works as the deputy chief of staff for Alabama Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, was directly in charge of some of the military police later prosecuted for abuse at Abu Ghraib during the notorious autumn of 2003. Brinson received the reprimand in January 2006, but it had not been revealed publicly until his attorney, David P. Sheldon, confirmed it to Salon Thursday, noting that Brinson has since submitted a rebuttal to the Army. The attorney would not reveal the exact reason for Brinson's punishment.

    Through Sheldon, Brinson told Salon that he was unaware of his soldiers' actions, and blamed superior officers for what happened at the prison.

    Abu Ghraib blame?
     
  2. carpro

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    Another Army Reserve officer refusing to acknowledge the responsibility that comes with command.

    What else is new?
     
  3. Dragoon68

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    This reminds me of a really good book titled "Company Command: The Bottom Line" by John G. Myer, Jr. who, at the time he authored the book, was an active duty Army Military Police Capitan. He did a great job on the subject of responsibility and accountability of command especially at the platoon and company echelon.

    Like many veterans, I remain disappointed about the misconduct that occurred in the handling of the detainees in Iraq but keep it in perspective and am very pleased with the Army's investigations - both command and criminal - that were already in progress before the matter was leaked to the public. Likewise I'm pleased with and support the follow up actions taken since including the discipline handed out to a wide range of participants of the lowest grades right on up to accountable brigade commanders. Some directly participated while others just didn't do their job of commanding and controlling their units. We can be proud that our military knows better and has a high enough standard to enforce the existing regulations, laws, and treaties in effect on handling of detainees including prisoners of war. We can rest assured knowing that the conduct was in no way typical of any part of our military nor in any way condoned nor encouraged by military or civilian policy.
     
  4. poncho

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    SOURCE
     
  5. Dragoon68

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    SOURCE </font>[/QUOTE]Military working dogs have long been approved for a wide variety of work but not for anything illegal. In this case, the purpose was suppose to be to help maintain order and detect any contraband within the prisoner population. To what extent, if any, they were used beyond that purpose has been alleged by some and refuted by others. Some reports have suggested some of the dogs and their handlers were not properly trained for the purpose. That's possible since they are very specialized by purpose and in very limited supply. We'll see how SGT Smith's alleged defense holds up to the evidence presented. I have confidence in the military justice system to find the truth and to administer the proper justice based upon the evidence.
     
  6. Dragoon68

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  7. UnchartedSpirit

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  8. Dave

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    A fact lost on many people is the fact that the Geneva Convention only applies to combatents of signatory nations. Terrorists are not only not combatents of signatory nations, but are not combatents of ANY nation (at least in theory).

    While such actions would not be keeping in a Christian spirit, they are certainly not illegal. Politically unpopular perhaps, but not strictly illegal on the international scene.

    As far as our own domestic laws being applied? That is also nonsense.
     
  9. Dragoon68

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    Two good points not at all lost of some of us!

    The distinctions on classification of detainees is very important. It's the same basis by which spies and saboteurs weren't classified as prisoners of war in times past and that terrorists shouldn't be today. They're all entitled to basic humane treatment but they're not entitled to the same degree of protection under the laws derived from the treaties to which we've subscribed.

    The distinction between the law of war and criminal law is likewise very important. Even terrorists should be given due process - such as it might be - but never to the same extent or under the same basis as others subject to civil government. We can not prosecute war as a law enforcement operation.

    We shouldn't torture any one - no category of person - but we should keep our options open to apply the fullest extent of legal measures to defend our nation including the rules applied to dividing out various categories of detainees, applying varying degrees of rules for interrogation, and subjecting them to due process according to their status.
     
  10. Daisy

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    Dave,

    WE are signatories. We agreed to follow the convention - there is no "out" clause saying it only counts if we invade another signatory nation.

    Prisoners of war get special protections. Citizens also get special protections, but that does not mean that everyone else can be treated inhumanely and certainly not tortured.

    How do you know which ones the terrorists are unless you catch them in the act? Many prisoners were sold to the Americans for a bounty. Many were simply in the wrong place after an incident. Still others were given over by rival tribesmen. Just because they were prisoners didn't mean squat.

    Ironically, the prison guards were told, falsely, that these were the worst of the worst when the actual worst of the worst were sent to the secret CIA prisons in other countries (or so I hear from an NPR reporter, but it fits). We won't know what became of them for decades, if ever.


    Dragoon, yeah - what you said.
     
  11. Dave

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    Daisy,

    That is what a treaty is. It is an agreement between the signatories, not a commitment to the world at large.

    Oh, and I was not condoning torture, just saying that there is no treaty with terrorists that would legally prohibit us from applying the technique.

    How do you know what is known about these detainees? Why are you second-guessing the people on the ground? Because some reporter got a half story from someone who had an axe to grind?

    Sometimes, in order to avoid undermining a war effort you have to trust the military to do the job they are trained and deployed to do. That sometimes involves methods that are not legal within your own country, but are perfectly valid on the battlefield.

    As far as torture is concerned, I believe the US military has rules in place prohibiting the use of that technique. That some may have violated such rules is regrettable. It is up to the military to investigate and apply disciplinary action, however.

    These things should not be played out in the court of public opinion, because the result of that is that others object, the story gets carried in the press, it makes it appear the people are not behind the soldiers and it encourages the enemy.
     
  12. Dragoon68

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    Absolutely correct! Torture has been "against the rules" for a long long time and every one in the military knows it and has known it. Not only is torture against the rules but so is a wide assortment of other misbehavior short of torture but of obvious improper conduct and of no useful value for interrogation or handling of detainees.

    It is under these rules that troops in this war - and every other war we've fought in modern times - have been charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced when they stepped outside the rules whatever their motives.

    Interrogation techniques are also defined by "rules" but these can, and have been, modified depending upon the situation by proper review and approval. None of these - original or modified - permit or condone the use of torture.

    We must retain the right to apply any and all legal means of interrogation. Controls and safeguards must be retained, reviewed, and adjusted when necessary. We must retain the right to properly classify detainees according to their true status and deal with them accordingly. We must not confuse unlawful acts of war perpetrated by unlawful combatants - terrorism by terrorists - with criminal conduct in general nor the rights of terrorists captured in war with those of accused criminals arrested in an orderly society.
     
  13. Dragoon68

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    It's great to have some meaningful discussion on this subject, Dave, and I respect your comments very much.

    Some may argue, with justification, that the Geneva conventions only apply between signatory nations. However, we have to remember that our implementation of the terms of the treaty - fulfilling a requirement of it - do not limit its application accordingly. Our laws, polices, regulations, and procedures apply in all cases to which we are a party regardless whether our enemy is a signatory to the Geneva conventions or not or if they are a signatory but don't honor the conventions. With respect to torture or inhumane treatment there are no exceptions on our books!

    Our laws, etc., do define the classification of detainees and thereby some of the rights afforded - or not afforded - to them. With respect to status there are important classifications. One key difference is that a true prisoner of war can not be tried or punished for acts performed in accordance with their duty as a lawful combatant - i.e., you can't try the enemy for killing your troops in lawful combat - while an unlawful combat can be tried and executed for their acts - i.e., you can try such an enemy for blowing up buildings with hijacked airplanes or similar acts and killing your troops or other citizens. This is just one reason why terrorists must not be improperly classified as prisoners of war.

    America, as a whole, has always followed the requirements for proper handling of prisoners of war, civilian internees, displaced persons, etc. - all detainees - even when our enemies did not such as was the case in Japan, Korea, and Viet Nam. We want to hold to that higher standard. We just don't want to limit our legal options on how we deal with terrorists, spies, saboteurs, etc. by giving them rights or privileges never meant for them.
     
  14. Dave

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    I agree that we should hold to the higher standard. Our laws require it because they are based in large part on the geneva convention, or the geneva convention was based on our laws, not sure which came first.

    I think you more accurately touched on what I see as the major issue around all of the criticism of the military on this matter. People want to categorize terrorists as prisoners of war and apply the rules governing that do their detention.

    Terrorists operate outside the laws of nations. They do not represent a nation, nor do they hold to any civilized convention of warfare. Japan, Korea and Viet Nam did not hold to what we considered a civilized convention, but they at least were soldiers of a legitimate country and abiding by the laws of that country such as they war. Terrorists recognize no such restriction.

    So I think we agree on this.
     
  15. Dragoon68

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    Excellent comments, Dave!
     
  16. Daisy

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    I see more of the opposite - people equating prisoners with terrorists. When people are held in secret, without knowing the charges and without any means of disputing whatever charges exist, how do you know which ones are the terrorists without a trial?

    An interesting report came out recently:
    This report is specific to Guantanamo Bay, of course. But then there are those like the Canadian citzen, Maher Arar, who was kidnapped on US soil (JFK airport) by the CIA. He was not lucky enough to go to Gitmo - he was whisked to Syria for a year for special interrogation. He was released without being charged of terrorism by the US, Syria or anyone else.

    I think we'll be reading more and more reports like these. I'm beginning to think that Bush, Alvaredo & Rumsfeld should be charged with war crimes.

    We were not the agressors in Afghanistan. The same cannot be said of Iraq.
     
  17. Dragoon68

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    Good counterpoints Daisy and worthy of discussion. I offer my thoughts - some from the heart - on this subject:

    In their status they simply do not have the same rights we would if charged with a criminal offense. They are not being detained as the result of some law enforcement action. They are being detained as unlawful combatants by the military. That is an open ended status. They are subject to interrogation without legal representation and military tribunal which is not a trial by a jury of peers. Again, they do not have the same rights we do. We need to understand this. That's why they're classified the way they are. Many have been released for various reasons.

    Certainly there are opportunities for mistakes to be made in this process and for abuses to take place. Some people are at the wrong place at the wrong time. Power does corrupt. We do have some oversight controls in place to help guard against these things and we need to always review and fine tune them. But no activity of mankind is free of these risks and war is full of it. None of it would be necessary were it not for the acts of terrorism carried out against us. These detainees are being held because of that evil - not some evil of our own making - and so they and their leaders are responsible for the fate that has fallen on those being held. We make mistakes but we'd never been there to make them were it not for the enemy's acts against us.

    In war time, we give people a lot of power. Our military leaders have near absolute power on the battlefield and in the realm of events surrounding it. Believe me, when you're holding the rifle, even as a young soldier you can squeeze the trigger or not. Despite all the training, ideals, and controls we hope prevent errors and wrong doing, you have, at that moment, absolute power over life or death and in most cases no one - even you and God - will know the difference. War is the ultimate conflict of mankind. It's rules are very different than they are in peace. Overall, no nation I know about has ever prosecuted war more humanely, more carefully, more compassionately, and more selflessly than America. It's still not pretty but it could be a lot uglier.

    The report may represent the conclusions reached after a period of time for some of the detainees but are not conclusions that could have been reached at the moment these people were captured and held as detainees. The challenge of sorting things out among a generally very uncooperative bunch has been great. That was one reason we wanted to apply more aggressive - but still completely legal - interrogation techniques. I think it will be a long time before the full, complete, and non-politized reports are available for students of war in subsequent generations.

    The Congressional resolution authorizing the war in Iraq clearly defines the reasons - over twenty of them as I recall - for why we did what we did. I'm quite certain Iraq - under Saddam regime's - was indeed very aggressive towards their neighbors, their own people, and us given the chance. We're trying hard to remove that chance and are making good progress towards that goal. I can't say how things will end up in Iraq but we've provided an opportunity many Iraqis would have never had before. Hopefully, they'll continue to take it, build upon it, and use it for their own best interest and ours as well. If it turns out differently, then we will at least have given it our very best and never backed away from our purpose.

    What "war crimes" have Bush, Alvaredo, and Rumsfeld been alleged to have committed? I seriously doubt such charges could ever be made legitimately much less proved by even a slight bit of evidence. Nothing has happened at our hands in the war in Iraq or Afghanistan that is anything like war crimes inflicted by nations on others in times past. The war crimes of this conflict were those committed by Saddam regime's against his own people and his neighbors. He's on trial for some of that now.
     
  18. Dragoon68

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    Obviously, I should have written this: ... absolute power over life or death and in most cases no one - except you and God - will know the difference. ...

    Why can't my computer understand what I mean verses what I type?
     
  19. Dragoon68

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    Speaking of releasing detainees, here's a bit of factual information on what's going on:

     

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