jazzoLOG: Trophies Of War    
 Trophies Of War19 comments
picture11 May 2004 @ 03:46, by Richard Carlson

In a snowfall that covers the winter grass
a white heron
uses his own whiteness to disappear.


All religion begins with the cry "Help!"

---William James

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don't open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

---Jalaluddin Rumi

US Army Spec. Charles A. Graner, Jr (rear), and Pfc. Lynndie R. England are seen at Abu Ghraib prison.

The New York Times
May 11, 2004

Tourists and Torturers

So now we think we know who took some of the photographs at Abu Ghraib. The works attributed to Specialist Jeremy Sivits are fated to remain among the indelible images of our time. (Presumably this is the same Jeremy Sivits who will be tried on May 19th in a somewhat streamlined proceeding known as a special court-martial. ---jazz) They will have changed the course of history; just how much we do not yet know. It is arguable that without them, news of what happened within the walls of that prison would never have emerged from the fog of classified internal memos. We owe their circulation and perhaps their existence to the popular technology of our day, to digital cameras and JPEG files and e-mail. Photographs can now be disseminated as quickly and widely as rumors. It's possible that even if Specialist Joseph M. Darby hadn't gone to his superiors in January and "60 Minutes II" hadn't broken the story last month, some of those pictures would sooner or later have found their way onto the Web and so into the public record.

Leaving aside the question of how anyone could have perpetrated the horrors depicted in those pictures, you can't help but wonder why American soldiers would incriminate themselves by posing next to their handiwork. Americans don't seem to have a long tradition of that sort of thing. I can't offhand recall having seen comparable images from any recent wars, although before the digital era amateur photographs were harder to spread. There have been many atrocity photographs over the years, of course — the worst I've ever seen were taken in Algeria in 1961, and once when I was a child another kid found and showed off his father's cache of pictures from the Pacific Theater in World War II, which shook me so badly that I can't remember with any certainty what they depicted. I'm pretty sure, though, that they did not show anyone grinning and making self-congratulatory gestures.

The pictures from Abu Ghraib are trophy shots. The American soldiers included in them look exactly as if they were standing next to a gutted buck or a 10-foot marlin. That incongruity is not the least striking aspect of the pictures. The first shot I saw, of Specialist Charles A. Graner and Pfc. Lynndie R. England flashing thumbs up behind a pile of their naked victims, was so jarring that for a few seconds I took it for a montage. When I registered what I was seeing, I was reminded of something. There was something familiar about that jaunty insouciance, that unabashed triumph at having inflicted misery upon other humans. And then I remembered: the last time I had seen that conjunction of elements was in photographs of lynchings.

In photographs that were taken and often printed as postcards in the American heartland in the first four decades of the 20th century, black men are shown hanging from trees or light fixtures or maybe being burned alive, while below them white people are laughing and pointing for the benefit of the camera. There are some pictures of whites being lynched, too, but these tend not to feature the holiday crowd. Often the spectators at lynchings of African-Americans are so effusive in their mugging that they all seem to be vying for credit. Before seeing such pictures you might expect the faces in them to express some kind of collective rage; instead the mood is giddy, often verging on hysterical, with a distinct sexual undercurrent.

Like the lynching crowds, the Americans at Abu Ghraib felt free to parade their triumph and glee not because they were psychopaths but because the thought of censure probably never crossed their minds. In both cases a contagious collective frenzy perhaps overruled the scruples of some people otherwise known for their gentleness and sympathy — but isn't the abandonment of such scruples possible only if the victims are considered less than human? After all, it is one thing for a boxer to lift his hands over his head in triumph beside the fallen body of his rival, quite another to strike a comparable pose next to the bodies of strangers you have arranged in quasi-pornographic tableaus. The Americans in the photographs are not enacting hatred; hatred can coexist with respect, however strained. What they display, instead, is contempt: their victims are merely objects.

It is conceivable that such events might have occurred in a war in which the enemy looked like us —certainly, there are Americans to whom all foreigners are irredeemably Other. Still, it is striking how, in wartime, a fundamental lack of respect for the enemy's body becomes an issue only when the enemy is perceived as being of another race. You might have heard about the strings of human ears collected by some soldiers in Vietnam, or read the story, reported in Life during World War II, about the G.I. who blithely mailed his girlfriend in Brooklyn a Japanese skull as a Christmas present. And the concept of the human trophy is not restricted to warfare, but permeates the history of colonialism, from the Congo to Australia, Mexico to India. Treating those we deem our equals as game animals, however, has been out of fashion for quite a few centuries.

Of course the violence at Abu Ghraib was primarily psychological — hey, only a few people were killed — and the trophies were pictorial, like the results of a photo safari. Some commentators have made a point of noting this very relative nonviolence, contrasting it with the lynching of the four American military contractors in Falluja last month. This line of argument is notable for what it leaves out: there is a difference between the rage of a people who feel themselves invaded and the contempt of a victorious nation for a civilian population whom it has ostensibly liberated.

That prison guards would pose captives — primarily noncombatants, low-level riffraff — in re-enactments of cable TV smut for the benefit of their friends back home emerges from the mode of thinking that has prevented an accounting of civilian deaths in Iraq since the beginning of the war. If civilian deaths are not recorded, let alone published, it must be because they do not matter, and if they do not matter it must be because the Iraqis are beneath notice. And that must mean that anything done to them is permissible, as long as it does not create publicity that would embarrass the Bush administration. The possible consequences of the Abu Ghraib archive are numerous, many of them horrifying. Perhaps, though, the digital camera will haunt the future career of George W. Bush the way the tape recorder sealed the fate of Richard Nixon.

Luc Sante, who teaches creative writing and the history of photography at Bard College, is the author of "Low Life," "Evidence" and "The Factory of Facts."

One gallery of the photos, including the one mentioned in the article, is available here~~~ [link]

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11 May 2004 @ 04:20 by celestial : Responsibility
I find all of this appalling. The leaders ARE responsible and think, by prosecuting their underlings, that the world will be pacified. Knot sow.
Personally, EYE believe no president should be allowed into office for more than one term ov four years maximum.  

11 May 2004 @ 05:13 by shawa : The work of Modju
The work of "Modju" ? - see "Wilhelm Reich". We do, do we, see the sorry results of a twisted sexuality ?

11 May 2004 @ 06:36 by jazzolog : Orgonon Perverted
I believe I understand what Shawa is getting at here in reference to Reich. Of course I'd rather she write more extensively than to guess, but I would say the attacks upon and even arrest and imprisonment of Reich by the US government are indicative of the same mentality that would drape statues of Justice around the capitol buildings. In fact we watched a new presidential administration concern itself with such moral niceties at the same time it dismissed warnings of terrorist activity. Sex does lead us into such a frantic dance! I understand the charming couple in the photo above is featured in connubio throughout the video yet to be released.

As I may have written at this site sometime before, I went to college with Wilhelm Reich's son, Peter. He spoke of his father often, though haltingly. Later he wrote an autobiography, entitled A Book Of Dreams, that influenced many at the beginning of the New Age, and which I think is available nowhere at present. There's a current photo of Peter at the top of this page http://www.orgone.org/wrbiog/whos-who-photos/whowho00.htm . While I haven't seen him in years, I'd say he is the figure in the light jacket looking at the camera.  

11 May 2004 @ 07:42 by swan : * to anyone who already read my comment
I needed to modify it due to confidentiality* I spoke to a Vietnam vet who told me that when he was in Vietnam they took "trophy pictures" too. ( I won't go into detail about what he described to me as it turns my stomach just thinking about it). I find it shocking that someone could get so numb to the human experience that they could not only inflict pain on another person but also photograph it as a reminder!  

11 May 2004 @ 07:52 by shawa : I´m among informed people...??
Reich is a known reference among liberals. :-)  

11 May 2004 @ 13:30 by Quinty @ : Sante's observations
I think Luc Sante brings up many important aspects about this. The contempt the soldiers feel for the Arabs, who, after all, we are supposed to be helping, reflects their training and attitudes which, I believe, were instilled in them by higher ups. It's ironic, isn't it, that we are purportedly there to help the Iraqis, as their saviors, while treating these prisoners, most of whom aren't guilty of anything, as subhumans. The privates in these photographs reflect a culture, and in a sense I feel sorry for them, since I don't believe they are old enough or mature enough or perhaps intelligent enough to critically see through the dominant military culture which encouraged their behavior. I'm not saying that they don't deserve punishment. But I do think the planners, the leaders, the officers who created this environment are the true criminals.


Thank you Paul for your comment. Paul Quintanilla was one of a handful of extraordinarily brilliant roommates I was fortunate to befriend during my college years. His amazing life deserves a Log entry of its own...and I must get to work on it---unless he opposes of course. His father's staggeringly gorgeous art can be seen at a site Paul built himself~~~ http://www.lqart.org/

12 May 2004 @ 02:34 by jazzolog : Spinning Abu Ghraid
The New York Times head editorial today~~~

May 12, 2004
The Abu Ghraib Spin

The administration and its Republican allies appear to have settled on a way to deflect attention from the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib: accuse Democrats and the news media of overreacting, then pile all of the remaining responsibility onto officers in the battlefield, far away from President Bush and his political team. That cynical approach was on display yesterday morning in the second Abu Ghraib hearing in the Senate, a body that finally seemed to be assuming its responsibility for overseeing the executive branch after a year of silently watching the bungled Iraq occupation.

The senators called one witness for the morning session, the courageous and forthright Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who ran the Army's major investigation into Abu Ghraib. But the Defense Department also sent Stephen Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence, to upstage him. Mr. Cambone read an opening statement that said Donald Rumsfeld was deeply committed to the Geneva Conventions protecting the rights of prisoners, that everyone knew it and that any deviation had to come from "the command level." A few Republican senators loyally followed the script, like Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who offered the astounding comment that he was "more outraged by the outrage" than by the treatment of prisoners. After all, he said, they were probably guilty of something.

These silly arguments not only obscure the despicable treatment of the prisoners, most of whom are not guilty of anything, but also ignore the evidence so far. While some of the particularly sick examples of sexual degradation may turn out to be isolated events, General Taguba's testimony, and a Red Cross report from Iraq, made it plain that the abuse of prisoners by the American military and intelligence agencies was systemic. The Red Cross said prisoners of military intelligence were routinely stripped, with their hands bound behind their backs, and posed with women's underwear over their heads. It said they were "sometimes photographed in this position."

The Red Cross report, published by The Wall Street Journal, said that Iraqi prisoners — 70 to 90 percent of whom apparently did nothing wrong — were routinely abused when they were arrested, and their wives and mothers threatened. The Iraqi police, who operate under American control and are eventually supposed to help replace the occupation forces, are even worse — sending those who won't pay bribes to prison camps, and beating and burning prisoners, according to the report.

The Red Cross said most prisoners were treated better once they got into the general population at the larger camps, except those who were held by military intelligence. "In certain cases, such as in Abu Ghraib military intelligence section, methods of physical and psychological coercion used by the interrogators appeared to be part of the standard operating procedures by military intelligence personnel," the report said.

It was alarming yesterday to hear General Taguba report that military commanders had eased the rules four times last year to permit guards to use "lethal force" on unruly prisoners. The hearing also disclosed that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander in Iraq, had authorized the presence of attack dogs during interrogation sessions. It wasn't very comforting that he had directed that these dogs be muzzled.

These practices go well beyond any gray area of American values, international law or the Geneva Conventions. Mr. Cambone tried to argue that Mr. Rumsfeld had made it clear to everyone that the prisoners in Iraq were covered by those conventions. But Mr. Rumsfeld's public statements have been ambiguous at best, and General Taguba said that, in any case, the Abu Ghraib guards had received no training. All the senators, government officials and generals assembled in that hearing room yesterday could not figure out who had been in charge at Abu Ghraib and which rules applied to the Iraqi prisoners. How were untrained reservists who had been plucked from their private lives to guard the prisoners supposed to have managed it?

General Sanchez did give some misguided orders involving the Abu Ghraib prison and prisoners in general. But the deeply flawed mission in which he participates is the responsibility of the Bush administration. It was Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld, not General Sanchez, who failed to anticipate the violence and chaos that followed the invasion of Iraq, and sent American soldiers out to handle it without the necessary resources, manpower and training.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


12 May 2004 @ 02:56 by vaxen : hahahahahahaha...
Ever hear of "The School Of The Americas?" How about "Wounded Knee?" or, this beats them all, the project for ''The New American Century?'' All the while our ''elected'' president, har har, hides under his cloak of gooseberry down.


As a result of the manipulations of this “Consortium,” the majority of Americans are inculcated into the fiction of a representative government - a democracy - and that our scientists and representatives are “taking care of business” for us, and even if they are sometimes corrupt, they aren’t as bad as a totalitarian regime. It has become most definitely obvious in the past couple of years that this is not the case - and probably never was. We don’t even really elect our representatives. It’s all a sham. But the fiction propagated by the media has clouded the ability of the American people to see their society and government for what it really is: an oligarchy that pretends to be a democracy to placate and deceive the public.

To those who suggest that it doesn’t really matter since it is an efficient way to organize and manage millions of people, let us suggest that it is suicidal to think that an oligarchy is not primarily interested in maintaining its own position to the exclusion of all other considerations. When we consider the evidence, we see that the groups in question have never acted in the best interests of the public. If you doubt this, spend some time reading about nonconsensual human experimentation. And so, logically speaking, there is no reason to even suggest that the secrecy surrounding the “alien reality” is any different.  

12 May 2004 @ 09:53 by Quinty @ : The oligarchy
I would vote for Ralph Nader if he were a serious candidate. But as Jeff Cohen of FAIR recently said the difference this year between the Repub's and Democrats is not the same as Coke and Pepsi, but Coke and arsenic. And I see the world according to Bush and PNAC as constituting a state of national emergency. Nader, I think, goes to the root of the problem, that being the enormous power and greed of American corporations. And we have, as another commentator said, "the best government money can buy."  

12 May 2004 @ 13:39 by vaxen : MmHm
"The Federal Reserve is a Counterfeiting Syndicate." The 'U.S. Government' "IS" bankrupt and has been for quite awile! Who owns the corporation known as 'The United States Government?' Check it out. I am totally sure that you will come away aghast. As the thread unravels skein by blessed skein, you'll soon find yourself in a state of paralysis, if not paranoia, and shock. Shock and Awe! Awesome! MmHm

"Bureaucrats pay no taxes since their entire salries are taxes."--M.N.Rothbard  

13 May 2004 @ 09:14 by jazzolog : Planting Cut Flowers
We've been supporting Kucinich up until now, Paul, for many of the same attractive reasons that one finds with Nader. I've been interested in him for 25 years, and was delighted when he threw his hat in the ring. Of course, the media seems to have given him the blackball treatment, unless he simply refuses to court reporters. At the same time, we've started to contribute to the Kerry cause, have our bumper stickers ready, and Dana is involved nearly every night in some grassroots action. I'm hopeful the Representative is shooting for some speechtime at the Convention, before giving his support to Kerry.

And Vax, I've decided fascism is too soft a word for the process that is taking/has taken over the country...and the world. I think there's no reason to hesitate calling these people Nazis just because we don't think the ovens are warmed up yet. This government has every attribute of Nazi Germany right now, even the torture concentration camps. I prefer not to wait for the mass graves before calling this movement what it truly is!
I'm not sure what's the meaning of the quotation about bureaucrats and taxes though. Federal service workers don't pay Social Security taxes---nor will they draw any pension from there---but otherwise they certainly pay all taxes.

And now, on to Maureen this morning~~~
The New York Times
May 13, 2004

Clash of Civilizations


Testifying before the Senate yesterday, General Richard Myers admitted that we're checkmated in Iraq.

"There is no way to militarily lose in Iraq," he said, describing the generals' consensus. "There is also no way to militarily win in Iraq."

Talk about the sound of one hand clapping. And they say John Kerry is on both sides of issues.

Sounding like Mr. Kerry, General Myers summed up: "This process has to be internationalized. The U.N. has to play the governance role. That's how we're, in my view, eventually going to win."

The administration's demented quest to conquer Arab hearts and minds has dissolved in a torrent of pornography denigrating other parts of the Arab anatomy. George Bush, who swept into office on a cloud of moral umbrage, now has his own sex scandal — one with far greater implications than titillating cigar jokes.

The Bush hawks, so fixated on making the Middle East look more like America, have made America look un-American. Should we really be reduced to defending ourselves by saying at least we don't behead people?

Gripped in a "I can't look at them — I've got to look at them" state of mind, lawmakers grimly filed into private screening rooms on the Hill to check out the 1,800 grotesque images of sex, humiliation and torture.

"They're disgusting," Senator Dianne Feinstein told me. "If somebody wanted to plan a clash of civilizations, this is how they'd do it. These pictures play into every stereotype of America that Arabs have: America as debauched, America as hypocrites.

"Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz act like they know all the answers, almost like a divine right," she said. "They don't have a divine right, and they are wrong."

After 9/11, America had the support and sympathy of the world. Now, awash in digital evidence of uncivilized behavior, America has careered into a war of civilizations. The pictures were clearly meant to use the codebook of Muslim anxieties about nudity and sexual and gender humiliation to break down the prisoners.

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell said some photographs seemed to show Iraqi women being commanded to expose their breasts — such debasement, after a war that President Bush partly based on women's rights.

The problem, of course, is that the war in Iraq started with lies — that Saddam's W.M.D. were endangering our security and that Saddam was linked to Al Qaeda and 9/11.

In a public relations move that cheapens the heroism of soldiers, the Pentagon merged the medals for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, giving the G.W.O.T. medal, for Global War on Terrorism, in both wars to reinforce the idea that we had to invade Iraq to quell terrorism. The truth is that our invasion of Iraq spurred terrorism there and around the world.

That initial deception — and headlong rush to throw off international conventions and old alliances, and namby-pamby institutions like the U.N. and the Red Cross — led straight to the abuse of Abu Ghraib. Now the question is whether the C.I.A. tortured Al Qaeda operatives.

Officials blurred the lines to justify ideological decisions, calling every Iraqi who opposed us a "terrorist"; conducting rough interrogations, perhaps to find the nonexistent W.M.D. so they would not look foolish; rolling all opposition into one scary terrorist ball that did not require sensitivity to the Geneva Conventions or "humanitarian do-gooders," to use the phrase of Senator James Inhofe, a Republican.

Senator Fritz Hollings made it clear yesterday that Rummy has left us undermanned and undertrained in Iraq — another factor in the torture scandal. "Now, in a country of 25 million, you're trying to secure it with 135,000," he scolded Mr. Rumsfeld, adding: "We're trying to win the hearts and minds as we're killing them and torturing them." At least, he said sarcastically, Gen. William Westmoreland never asked a Vietcong general to take the town, "like we have for Falluja. We've asked the enemy general to take the town."

The hawks, who promised us garlands in Iraq, should have recalled the words of the historian Daniel Boorstin, who warned that planning for the future without a sense of history is like planting cut flowers.

E-mail: liberties@nytimes.com

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

13 May 2004 @ 10:15 by Quinty @ : Neocons, Nazis?
Jazz - you have voiced the unthinkable: that these folks are like the Nazis, or Nazi Light, or neofascist, or, simply put, what the fascists and Nazis were, crazy. For how else explain such a great disconnect between ideology and reality? Yes, racism, as expressed by our blind assumption that we, Americans, are superior to everyone else in the world (less why would so many want to come here?) is manifest in our foreign policy. The Bush neocons have revealed their fangs. Under our dominance the poor huddled masses of the world wil only benefit, they tell us, acquiring democracy, freedom, and advanced corporate capitalism. We, of course, by establishiing a pax Americana, will benefit by ensuring our economic well being. But at the base of all this there is the basic assumption of inferiority regarding all the other people's of the world, including even "old Europe," which challenges the US's assumptions. This is all very dark stuff indeed. I learned, somewhere along the way, after much foolish behavior of my own, that "preemption," or aggressive behavior, is never right, and expresses only fear. War is one of the greatest evils in the world. Bush's men, and women, have turned the world into a cauldren. If you don't believe me, look at the dark circles around Richard Pearl's eyes.  

16 May 2004 @ 02:20 by jazzolog : “Words don’t do it.”
See Rummy Spin. Spin, Rummy, Spin.
Arianna Huffington
May 12, 2004

To hear Don Rumsfeld tell it, even though the Bush administration had been told back in January about the abuse and torture going on at Abu Ghraib — and that there were photos documenting it — the idea that this might be a very bad thing didn’t really hit home until recently because no one in the White House had actually laid eyes on the photos.

“It is the photographs that give one the vivid realization of what actually took place,” Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. “Words don’t do it.”


So being notified by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that U.S. soldiers were torturing and humiliating naked Iraqi prisoners in the very place that had once been Saddam Hussein’s favorite Little Shop of Horrors wasn’t vivid enough to get the alarm bells ringing on Pennsylvania Avenue?

Neither apparently were the non-visual warnings about the mistreatment of prisoners delivered by the Red Cross, Colin Powell and Paul Bremer.

Why not? Is the country being run by a bunch of preschoolers who can’t process all those big words and will only sit still for a colorful picture book?

See Rummy spin. Spin, Rummy, spin.

Even the release of Gen. Taguba’s damning 53-page report detailing the “systematic and illegal abuse of detainees” wasn’t enough to pique Rumsfeld’s concern.

“The problem at that stage,” he testified, “was one-dimensional. It wasn’t three-dimensional. It wasn’t video. It wasn’t color.”

I challenge anyone to read the Taguba report and say that the nightmares it depicts aren’t chillingly three-dimensional. Even without pop-up illustrations.

According to Taguba, U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib were guilty of: “Positioning a naked detainee on a box . . . with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes and penis to simulate electric torture”; “Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees”; “Beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair”; “Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broomstick.”

Close your eyes. Now picture what you just read. Still need to see photos before you hit the roof? I didn’t think so.

What a colossal failure of imagination on the part of our leaders.

But even as ludicrous as the “No photos, no fury” justification is, let’s accept the premise that detailed descriptions of chemical light buggery and electrodes attached to genitals aren’t enough — that Rummy and company have made such a habit of twisting and spinning and manipulating words, mere language has lost its power to move them.


But since photographic proof is now the prerequisite for moral outrage, why didn’t Rumsfeld demand to see the photos as soon as he was told about them back in January? If you were in his shoes, wouldn’t you have ordered them to be on your desk within the hour?

Of course you would have. But not the man Dick Cheney just called “the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had.”

When asked by a reporter why he never got around to actually viewing the incendiary photos until the night before he was called on the Senate carpet, Rummy insisted the problem wasn’t his lack of interest; it was the lack of a good photo developer. Call it the Fotomat defense.

“I think I did inquire about the pictures,” he said, “and was told that we didn’t have copies.”

No copies? The biggest U.S. military scandal since My Lai and the secretary of defense can’t get any extra prints sent his way?

Memo to Rummy: We now live in the era of digital photos and instant uploads. “The dog ate my negative” just ain’t gonna fly.

Rumsfeld claims he was “blindsided” by the revelation of what he called the “radioactive” torture photos. But the timeline proves otherwise: He wasn’t blindsided, merely blind to the devastating impact the pictures would have once they became public.

That’s where this failure of imagination turned into a profound failure of leadership.

The White House has said that the war on terror is as much a war of ideas as a war of weapons. If that were more than rhetoric, someone there would have seen the writing on the prison wall and gotten out in front of this crisis instead of allowing the Taguba report to languish unread by the top brass and the photos to be made public by the press and not the president.

Indeed, they treated it not as a political land mine that could flatten America’s moral high ground but as a PR problem that would disappear if they kept the photos from public view.

Always a master of understatement, Rummy termed the Abu Ghraib scandal “unhelpful in a fundamental way.” The time has come for him and his cohorts to admit that the situation in Iraq has become untenable in a fundamental way.

We can’t put the torture genie back in the bottle. And we can no longer pretend that we have any chance of ushering democracy into Iraq so long as democracy has an American face.

See Bush crumble. Crumble, Bush, crumble.

© 2004 Christabella, Inc. All rights reserved.

16 May 2004 @ 15:56 by jazzolog : A Legal Foundation For Torture
Associated Press/AP Online (May 16, 05:01 PM) WASHINGTON - The Iraq prisoner abuse scandal shifted Sunday to the question of whether the Bush administration set up a legal foundation that opened the door for the mistreatment.
Within months of the Sept. 11 attacks, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales reportedly wrote President Bush a memo about the terrorism fight and prisoners' rights under the Geneva Conventions.

"In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions," Gonzales wrote, according to the report in Newsweek magazine. Secretary of State Colin Powell "hit the roof" when he read the memo, according to the account.

The White House did not immediately comment Sunday.


17 May 2004 @ 01:53 by jazzolog : A uterus no substitute for a conscience

Feminism's Assumptions Upended
A uterus is not a substitute for a conscience. Giving women positions of power won't change society by itself.
By Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author, most recently, of "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America."

May 16, 2004

KEY WEST, Fla. — Even those people we might have thought were impervious to shame, like the secretary of Defense, admit that the photos of abuse in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison turned their stomachs.

The photos did something else to me, as a feminist: They broke my heart. I had no illusions about the U.S. mission in Iraq — whatever exactly it is — but it turns out that I did have some illusions about women.

Of the seven U.S. soldiers now charged with sickening forms of abuse in Abu Ghraib, three are women: Spc. Megan Ambuhl, Pfc. Lynndie England and Spc. Sabrina Harman.

It was Harman we saw smiling an impish little smile and giving the thumbs-up sign from behind a pile of hooded, naked Iraqi men — as if to say, "Hi Mom, here I am in Abu Ghraib!" It was England we saw with a naked Iraqi man on a leash. If you were doing PR for Al Qaeda, you couldn't have staged a better picture to galvanize misogynist Islamic fundamentalists around the world.

Here, in these photos from Abu Ghraib, you have everything that the Islamic fundamentalists believe characterizes Western culture, all nicely arranged in one hideous image — imperial arrogance, sexual depravity … and gender equality.

Maybe I shouldn't have been so shocked. We know that good people can do terrible things under the right circumstances. This is what psychologist Stanley Milgram found in his famous experiments in the 1960s. In all likelihood, Ambuhl, England and Harman are not congenitally evil people. They are working-class women who wanted an education and knew that the military could be a steppingstone in that direction. Once they had joined, they wanted to fit in.

And I also shouldn't be surprised because I never believed that women were innately gentler and less aggressive than men. Like most feminists, I have supported full opportunity for women within the military — 1) because I knew women could fight, and 2) because the military is one of the few options around for low-income young people.

Although I opposed the 1991 Persian Gulf War, I was proud of our servicewomen and delighted that their presence irked their Saudi hosts. Secretly, I hoped that the presence of women would over time change the military, making it more respectful of other people and cultures, more capable of genuine peacekeeping. That's what I thought, but I don't think that anymore.

A certain kind of feminism, or perhaps I should say a certain kind of feminist naiveté, died in Abu Ghraib. It was a feminism that saw men as the perpetual perpetrators, women as the perpetual victims and male sexual violence against women as the root of all injustice. Rape has repeatedly been an instrument of war and, to some feminists, it was beginning to look as if war was an extension of rape. There seemed to be at least some evidence that male sexual sadism was connected to our species' tragic propensity for violence. That was before we had seen female sexual sadism in action.

But it's not just the theory of this naive feminism that was wrong. So was its strategy and vision for change. That strategy and vision rested on the assumption, implicit or stated outright, that women were morally superior to men. We had a lot of debates over whether it was biology or conditioning that gave women the moral edge — or simply the experience of being a woman in a sexist culture. But the assumption of superiority, or at least a lesser inclination toward cruelty and violence, was more or less beyond debate. After all, women do most of the caring work in our culture, and in polls are consistently less inclined toward war than men.

I'm not the only one wrestling with that assumption today. Mary Jo Melone, a columnist for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, wrote on May 7: "I can't get that picture of England [pointing at a hooded Iraqi man's genitals] out of my head because this is not how women are expected to behave. Feminism taught me 30 years ago that not only had women gotten a raw deal from men, we were morally superior to them."

If that assumption had been accurate, then all we would have had to do to make the world a better place — kinder, less violent, more just — would have been to assimilate into what had been, for so many centuries, the world of men. We would fight so that women could become the generals, CEOs, senators, professors and opinion-makers — and that was really the only fight we had to undertake. Because once they gained power and authority, once they had achieved a critical mass within the institutions of society, women would naturally work for change. That's what we thought, even if we thought it unconsciously — and it's just not true. Women can do the unthinkable.

You can't even argue, in the case of Abu Ghraib, that the problem was that there just weren't enough women in the military hierarchy to stop the abuses. The prison was directed by a woman, Gen. Janis Karpinski. The top U.S. intelligence officer in Iraq, who also was responsible for reviewing the status of detainees before their release, was Major Gen. Barbara Fast. And the U.S. official ultimately responsible for managing the occupation of Iraq since October was Condoleezza Rice. Like Donald H. Rumsfeld, she ignored repeated reports of abuse and torture until the undeniable photographic evidence emerged.

What we have learned from Abu Ghraib, once and for all, is that a uterus is not a substitute for a conscience. This doesn't mean gender equality isn't worth fighting for for its own sake. It is. If we believe in democracy, then we believe in a woman's right to do and achieve whatever men can do and achieve, even the bad things. It's just that gender equality cannot, all alone, bring about a just and peaceful world.

In fact, we have to realize, in all humility, that the kind of feminism based on an assumption of female moral superiority is not only naive; it also is a lazy and self-indulgent form of feminism. Self-indulgent because it assumes that a victory for a woman — a promotion, a college degree, the right to serve alongside men in the military — is by its very nature a victory for all of humanity. And lazy because it assumes that we have only one struggle — the struggle for gender equality — when in fact we have many more.

The struggles for peace and social justice and against imperialist and racist arrogance, cannot, I am truly sorry to say, be folded into the struggle for gender equality.

What we need is a tough new kind of feminism with no illusions. Women do not change institutions simply by assimilating into them, only by consciously deciding to fight for change. We need a feminism that teaches a woman to say no — not just to the date rapist or overly insistent boyfriend but, when necessary, to the military or corporate hierarchy within which she finds herself.

In short, we need a kind of feminism that aims not just to assimilate into the institutions that men have created over the centuries, but to infiltrate and subvert them.

To cite an old, and far from naive, feminist saying: "If you think equality is the goal, your standards are too low." It is not enough to be equal to men, when the men are acting like beasts. It is not enough to assimilate. We need to create a world worth assimilating into.
Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times  

17 May 2004 @ 03:36 by jazzolog : The Roots Of Torture
The link to the Newsweek feature article is here~~~


Read it and weep...

"Indeed, the single most iconic image to come out of the abuse scandal—that of a hooded man standing naked on a box, arms outspread, with wires dangling from his fingers, toes and penis—may do a lot to undercut the administration's case that this was the work of a few criminal MPs. That's because the practice shown in that photo is an arcane torture method known only to veterans of the interrogation trade. 'Was that something that [an MP] dreamed up by herself? Think again,' says Darius Rejali, an expert on the use of torture by democracies. 'That's a standard torture. It's called "the Vietnam." But it's not common knowledge. Ordinary American soldiers did this, but someone taught them.'"  

18 May 2004 @ 02:49 by jazzolog : This Torture Stuff Really Works
Homeland Security must be toughening up the local branches. I drove Ilona to school yesterday morning, and got pulled over on the way home for a routine check. The cop wanted to know if I realized what the speed limit was through that area. Before he listened to my answer though, he hooked me up to the car battery (which in a hybrid is considerable). The questions went quite smoothly for him after that, and the photos of my humiliation will be sure to keep me quiet for years to come.  

20 May 2004 @ 02:01 by jazzolog : Slideshow
As you may have heard, "May 19, 2004— ABCNEWS has obtained two new photos taken at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq showing Spc. Charles Graner and Spc. Sabrina Harman posing over the body of a detainee who was allegedly beaten to death by CIA or civilian interrogators in the prison's showers. The detainee's name was Manadel al-Jamadi." http://abcnews.go.com/sections/wnt/Investigation/abu_ghraib_photos_040519.html?ad=true The photos, which I understand ABC televised last night, are there.  

5 May 2005 @ 08:55 by jazzolog @ : Abu Ghraib One Year Later
I came back to this article for another look at Lynndie England back in the day. The judge in her military trial shocked the world yesterday by declaring a mistrial when he smelled a rat at the point of sentencing. I'm glad at least one judicial nose still works around here---and increasingly military noses, and especially those of generals, are detecting the worst odor in our history. That they are talking publicly about what they smell, and in supposed wartime too, is unprecedented. I refer specifically to the remarks of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff earlier in the week http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0504/dailyUpdate.html .

Most of the links above no longer work of course (and it is unfortunate the news passes us by so quickly) but I was surprised the Xinhuanet photos mentioned in the main article still are there. However, only those showing the facility itself remain; photos of abuse and the tragic lovers above have been removed.  

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