List all torture incidents | List deaths | List by technique | List by location
Public support | Government policy | Accountability & cover-ups | Rendition | FoIA docs | NGO reports & legal actn
Consequences & blowback | The New Iraq & other broken promises | The media | The noble few

Monday, December 05, 2005

Troops don't want to be made into torturers

Today Salon (reprinted at Truth Out) will feature an article by Mark Follman titled 'America can't take it anymore'. In that article, several anonymous and named current and ex-military personnel will speak against the Bush Administration's torture policy.

Between them they will raise three major grievances with the policy. First, that the consequences of the policy will outweigh the benefits. Second, that the personnel lower on the hierarchy are being used as scape-goats for the policy. Finally, that the policy is damaging troops psychologically.

Quoting from the article on the first issue:

According to the senior Army JAG, who wasn't authorized to speak to the media and was granted anonymity by Salon, many fellow JAGs and military officers feel that the administration has long since veered into dubious territory. "There are plenty of us who think that the legal opinions put forth by the administration, while maybe passable from a technical standpoint, aren't serving our long-term interests. The feeling is that there are steep costs to the administration's views, and that we're just beginning to pay them."
Personnel lower on the hierarchy are being ordered by their superiors to torture detainees, yet these personnel know that they will be made the fall guys.
Although unwilling to talk on the record for fear of retribution by the military, a number of active-duty soldiers who've spoken with Human Rights Watch are increasingly angry about the torture scandals, according to researcher John Sifton. While some soldiers are wary that media and human rights groups are out to make the military look bad, Sifton says most of them realize that they are taking the sole blame for the abuses.

"A number of soldiers we've talked to have told us they were ordered by military intelligence to torture," Sifton told Salon. "And not just at Abu Ghraib but at forward operating bases across Iraq." According to Sifton, several soldiers who tried to report misconduct say their superiors told them to take a hike.

... One Army whistleblower who tried to report abuses in Iraq in 2003 was suddenly declared psychologically ill and forcibly shipped out of the country. "They were determined to protect their own asses no matter who they had to take down," said Sgt. Frank "Greg" Ford, in a Salon report last year.

"The message that's going out to guys is, as long as you're a senior military member or administration staffer, you're golden," says one active-duty Army officer, a veteran of combat in Iraq. "Just make sure either you've got a fall guy, or you're high enough up in the hierarchy, and you'll be fine."

Quoting from the article on psychological damage to soldiers
In an interview with Salon, [Army Capt. Ray Kimball] said [torture] also causes severe harm to U.S. soldiers themselves.

"Torture not only degrades the victim, it also ultimately degrades the torturer," said Kimball, who served in Iraq and now teaches history at West Point. "We already have enough soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder after legitimate combat experiences. But now you're talking about adding the burden of willfully inflicting wanton pain on another human being. You tell a soldier to go out there and 'waterboard' someone" - strap a prisoner to a board, bind his face in cloth, and pour water over his face until he fears death by drowning - "or mock-execute someone, but nobody is thinking about what that's going to do to that soldier months or years later, when it comes to dealing with the rationalizations and internal consequences. We're talking about serious psychic trauma."


Post a Comment

<< Home