Meet The Democrats - Show Notes from 11/7/2005
Guest: Anthony Fazzio (Lafayette Parish Democrat Executive Committee and Louisiana State Democratic Central Committee)
Host: Stephen Handwerk (Lafayette Parish Democrat Executive Committee)
Show Topic: The Bush Administration's Sanctioning of Torture
After Army Spec. Joseph Darby exposed the Abu Ghraib abuse, his photos and videos exploded across European newspapers like the Sunday Herald. When the Sunday Herald broke the story of torture by American held facilities in Iraq, Europe was socked by a headline that talked about torture of children: "A Sunday Herald investigation has discovered that coalition forces are holding more than 100 children in jails such as Abu Ghraib. Witnesses claim that the detainees - some as young as 10 - are also being subjected to rape and torture." The article described "the rape of a boy prisoner aged about 15." The witness explained, "The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets.... Then, when I heard the screaming I climbed the door ... and I saw (the soldier's name is deleted) who was wearing a military uniform." The witness then described how the soldier raped the child.
However, news critical of the Bush administration travels slowly here at home, if at all. Such was the case in U.S. But Americans saw only some of the photos, giving the impression the stories were "baseless, unproven assertions." Immediately after articles about torture raced across Europe, the Bush administration lowered the Neo-Con Curtain across America to hide the truth about torture in Iraq. Americans were allowed to see sanitized versions of the Iraq abuse. Picture of soldiers humiliating prisoners appeared in U.S. newspapers, the most notorious as the photo of Prvt. Lynndie England holding a prisoner on a dog leash. Then the unimaginable happened.
Army Maj. Gen. Taguba issued a report on the Abu Ghraib abuse, which referenced "sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick," cryptically noting the existence of "numerous photos and videos of actual detainee abuse ... not contained in [the] investigation." A select few saw the excluded photos and videos, and what they reported was shocking.
Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, gave a shocking account of the sexual abuse of women and children. Gen. Taguba called what he saw "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses." Donald Rumsfeld admitted, "I looked at them last night ... they're hard to believe ... [Acts] that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman." After seeing some photos, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said his "stomach gave out." Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., raged, "The American public needs to understand, we're talking about rape and murder here. We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience; we're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges." For conservative Republicans to use those words, you know it's very bad.
Rumsfeld apologized and then, along with Dick Cheney, working frantically to prevent regulation of the confinement of detainees even if the detainees are children. Why? Secrecy is the way the Bush administration plays the "patriot game.” Secrecy prevents accountability.
Prvt. Lynndie England, the Abu Ghraib dog-leash girl, told reporter Brian Maass that higher-ranking officers allowed the abuse. Gen. Anthony Taguba, who had investigated, confirmed England’s account. In response, Donald Rumsfeld all but called Taguba a liar. Currently, in partly secret proceedings in a Manhattan U.S. District Court, the ACLU and others are urging a federal judge to let America see all the evidence. So far, the Pentagon has defied every court order to release all the photos and videos. But why secrecy? If correct, the abuse would lead back to the Bush administration. Here’s the trail.
Bush confidant, Mickey Herskowitz said, before he was elected president, Bush talked about invading Iraq as a way to reinvent his unaccomplished life and eclipse his overachieving father. Former CIA chief, Vince Cannistraro explained, although unconnected, Bush used the September 11 attacks as the opportunity and weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) as the rationale to invade Iraq. But, the absence of WMDs raised the stakes for Bush. Bush became “frustrated by the lack of information…from detainees…about WMDs," Cannistraro said, which "translated into taking off the gloves."
White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, warned Bush that Bush risked “domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act" unless Bush declared detainees outside the Geneva Conventions. Consequently, Gonzales wrote his infamous memo calling the Geneva Conventions “obsolete” and inapplicable to detainees.
Journalist Seymour Hersh revealed that the Bush administration became obsessed with Raphael Patai’s 1973 book, “The Arab Mind,” which portrayed Arab males as particularly vulnerable to sexual humiliation. Desperate for detainee information about WMDs, the Bush administration allowed detainee abuse to go too far. Commenting on the Abu Ghraib abuse, conservative Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained, “We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience. We're talking about rape and murder." ." Conservative Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ), himself a victim of Vietcong torture, agreed.
Recently the Senate approved a McCain/Graham anti-torture amendment to a defense-spending bill. The measure is now in the House of Representatives, but the Bush administration opposes it. Rep. Charles Boustany should show courage and vote to end torture.
What do you think Acadiana?