Thursday, December 21, 2006

In Our Name

Thanks to Andrew over at Pixel Monkey for jogging my memory about the case of Donald Vance that was written about recently in the New York Times.

Vance is an American living in Chicago who was working with a contractor in Iraq and whose only “crime” was to be “associated” with the organization whose flaws he had been instrumental in illuminating, as noted in Andrew’s post.

So what happened as a result? Well, as the Times story tell us, he was captured by the U.S. military and tortured.

Now, let’s take a moment and really consider this again, please.

An American working in Iraq was captured by the American military and tortured by the American military.

Not the Shi’ites, or Sunnis, or al Qaeda, or any other faction that you would care to include in the unholy human stew presently boiling over in Iraq.

The American military.

To our knowledge thus far, Vance posed no threat. However, this is how he was treated.

American guards arrived at the man’s cell…shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.

The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.

“Even Saddam Hussein had more legal counsel than I ever had,” said Mr. Vance, who said he planned to sue the former defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, on grounds that his constitutional rights had been violated. “While we were detained, we wrote a letter to the camp commandant stating that the same democratic ideals we are trying to instill in the fledgling democratic country of Iraq, from simple due process to the Magna Carta, we are absolutely, positively refusing to follow ourselves.”

A spokeswoman for the Pentagon’s detention operations in Iraq, First Lt. Lea Ann Fracasso, said in written answers to questions that the men had been “treated fair and humanely,” and that there was no record of either man complaining about their treatment.
And as we know, silence equals consent as far as Bushco is concerned (and as Andrew points out, we truly have become what we sought to destroy).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The thing is, I don't think we ever can redeem ourselves.

America hasn't been a saint throughout its military and political history, but as many leftist columnists are now pointing out, we have dropped our bar so far below the one we set at Nuremberg that it's hard to see how the world can forgive us, never mind we, the people, forgiving the US Government.

Saddam, a dictator we helped create and helped carry out his war crimes, was executed in an instance, in the most inhumane way.

A member of the military I recently interviewed told me that "every military officer knew full well that Saddam would be executed the instance he was turned over to the 'Iraqi Government'," and those quotes are his, not mine. In his mind, and he has been in West Baghdad for the last year fighting on the front lines, the "Iraqi Government" is nothing more than a a few corrupt politicians and a few importantly-placed American agents. "We've turned over detainees who weren't even proven guilty of their crimes in Iraq, and the 'Iraqi Government' murdered them with a shot in the head before we were even out the door. We've all come to understand that 'handing someone over to the Iraqis' is doublespeak for 'send that person to die'. Who physically pulls the trigger is really an irrelevant detail."

So I don't want US Government officials telling us this is "their [the Iraqi's] system, their method of justice." It's ours, the blood is all over our hands.

The fact that we torture should come as no surprise. And the case of Donald Vance just shows that no one is safe, that we don't reserve our techniques for those we consider "evil", but that it has just become a routine process for our military operations.