Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Pfc. England "Taking the Fall"

It is hard to be very sympathetic for Pfc. Lynndie England, who has admitted mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

Photo of Pfc. England at Abu Ghraib

And yet in the same batch of news stories comes the report of an internal investigation conducted by the Army clearing officers of responsibility for this outrageous episode in the American campaign in Iraq.

According to the report:
In addition to clearing Sanchez, the Army inspector general has determined that there should be no punishment given to Sanchez's former top deputy, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski; to Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, who was Sanchez's intelligence chief in Baghdad; or to Col. Mark Warren, Sanchez's top legal adviser at the time.
Meanwhile Private England faces up to 11 years in prison. And Private Charles Graner Jr. was convicted in January on abuse charges and is serving a 10 year sentence.

I guess in America, the buck stops pretty fast. The little guys go to jail and the officers get cleared. I am ashamed.

It was the United States Justice Department that, as reported:
In the Justice Department's view -- contained in a 50-page document signed by Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee and obtained by The Washington Post -- inflicting moderate or fleeting pain does not necessarily constitute torture. Torture, the memo says, "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death."
And what happened to the author of that fateful memo who facilitated torture?
Photo of Judge Bybee

As reported on October 17, 2003:
The Nevada legal community gathered in Las Vegas Friday (Oct. 17) to celebrate the ceremonial investiture of Jay Scott Bybee as a judge of the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Surrounded by family and friends on the University of Las Vegas campus, Judge Bybee received the oath of office from Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder. Moments later, he was presented with his judicial robe by family members, including his wife, Dianna, and children, Scott, David, Alyssa and Ryan.
This President rewards an architect of torture with a lifetime judicial appointment.

And another woman, General Janis Karpinski becomes another scapegoat for this fiasco. As was reported:

She said current Iraqi prisons chief Maj Gen Geoffrey Miller - who was in charge at Guantanamo Bay - visited her in Baghdad and said: "At Guantanamo Bay we learned that the prisoners have to earn every single thing that they have."

"He said they are like dogs and if you allow them to believe at any point that they are more than a dog then you've lost control of them."

Gen Karpinski repeated that she knew nothing of the humiliation and torture of Iraq prisoners that was going on inside Abu Ghraib - she was made a scapegoat.
And that is exactly what happened to Karpinski. As was reported:
Only one senior officer, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who oversaw the prisons in Iraq, has been punished in connection with the abuse.

Brig Gen Karpinski was given a letter of reprimand and relieved of duty.
I am not proud of Lynndie England did.

But she didn't operate in a vacuum.

From the very top, the limits of inhumane treatment, the rationale about the Geneva Convention not applying was advanced, and the pattern of abuse was repeated in Guantanamo, in Abu Ghraib and in Afghanistan.

This is not the work of Privates in the Army.

America deserves better! America deserves integrity and leadership that is willing to take responsibility.

President Truman knew where the buck stopped. This President cuts programs for the poor and gives tax relief for the rich. His Administration provides cover for the Generals and sends the Privates to jail.

America needs a new President that can provide leadership and take responsibility for our Nation! America needs John Kerry!



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