AN INSIDER'S COMMENTS ON ABU GHRAIB
The following comments were sent to me by an individual with extensive military experience, currently working with the CPA in Baghdad. He deplored the actions of those he termed " the fools " running Abu Ghraib but he added some important caveats that bear repeating to keep the scandal in perspective. I have emphasized a few of his points:
"MI folks are pretty danged good about sticking to the Geneva Convention, it's a pride thing; most interrogators like to think of themselves as MASTERS of interrogation and they don't need extra abuse stuff. So although the MP folks claim that they were directed to abuse soliders, I highly doubt it...if they were directed to abuse soliders, that's not a defense
[that line of argument] didn't work for the Nazis either...The US Army is horrible understaffed,there are 33% of the interrogators in the military as there were 10 years ago and there weren't enough then. The army is short in nearly every manning position so if a commander happens to have an interrogator there is not guarantee that they will be working in that capacity, they may well be a mail clerk because the unit doesn't have enough of them either.
Bottom line, these fools were understaffed, shot at on a daily basis, put under incredible pressue to find out things to keep people alive or support interrogations and obviuosly not well led. There is a vehicle for dealing with bad troops, it's called a court martial...we certainly don't need any multiple star generals briefing congress....who's treating teh Iraqis worse...the 10 people who are making ass pyramids or the 100's that are lobbing bombs and shooting at the prison? ....like for example how about the 40 "BAD PEOPLE" that were released today to help quiet things ? Yep we just released 40 KNOWN criminals
[ because]that's what you have to do to fix things...Crazy...and when some tradgedy happens you know who will get the blame? The Intellingence Community ! Despite the fact that they don't allow us any of the tools that we need to help them and when we do find stuff out action is not taken. "
I had not realized, as it was not in any of the news accounts, that Abu Ghraib had to regularly take hostile fire. That doesn't excuse the abuse but it does add a dimension that helps explain the creation of the reckless mindset that carried it out. I had assumed that Abu Ghraib was a " safe " rear echelon position because historically with field armies, some of the worst behavior takes place among those " in the rear, with the gear " ( what the Germans referred to in past wars as " etappe " - a nifty word combining a number of unsavory aspects comparable to Sherman's " Bummers " in the March to the Sea. ).
I was wrong in that assumption and realize now that there are probably a large number of American personnel who served honorably at Abu Ghraib and will now have their reputations tarnished. It's a shame.