That's what I feel after seeing photos of the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of our troops. The posing and grinning of the soldiers, the sight of a female soldier grinning and aiming an imaginary gun at the genitals of a naked Iraqi man, of Iraqi prisoners being forced to simulate oral sex, leave one sick with shame that these are Americans. One cannot imagine a worse humiliation of an Arab man than this; as Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, says,
That really, really is the worst atrocity . . . It affects the honor and pride of Muslim people. It is better to kill them than sexually abuse them.I agree with all those who say that the low-ranking soldiers should not be the only ones being punished. Higher-ups who allowed, even encouraged, such behavior should be punished as well. Yet I find it impossible to excuse the actions of these soldiers, just as I couldn't excuse the actions of our soldiers who committed atrocities in Vietnam. It comes down to individual responsibility in the end, as we ourselves insisted on at Nuremburg. The single soldier who has been named in the media, Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Chip Frederick, worked as a corrections officer in the U.S., which (a) unfortunately, makes sense, and (b) gives me the willies as to what the conduct of supervisor-praised corrections officers might consist of.
Yet one can't ignore the fact that, once again, mercenaries with no accountability are involved:mercenaries are once again involved:
Lawyers for the soldiers argue they are being made scapegoats for a rogue military prison system in which mercenaries give orders without legal accountability.Kos sums up the awfulness of this, especially in terms of what this does to the entire world's view of the United States and our soldiers.
A military report into the Abu Ghraib case - parts of which were made available to the Guardian - makes it clear that private contractors were supervising interrogations in the prison, which was notorious for torture and executions under Saddam Hussein.
One civilian contractor was accused of raping a young male prisoner but has not been charged because military law has no jurisdiction over him.
So much for the battle for hearts and minds. The world just got a little uglier.