Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The Real-Life JAGs were Ignored

You are going to see the same names in the administration come up throughout the Abu Ghraib investigation. Another neo-con Bush appointee Douglas Feith is knee deep in this mess along with other familiar names (see Monday's post below):

Lawyers from the military's Judge Advocate General's Corps, or JAG, had been urging Pentagon officials to ensure protection for prisoners for two years before the abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison came to light, current and former JAG officers told ABCNEWS.

But, the JAG lawyers say, political appointees at the Pentagon ignored their warnings, setting the stage for the Abu Ghraib abuses, in which military police reservists photographed each other subjecting Iraqi prisoners to physical abuse and sexual humiliation.

As the military's uniformed lawyers, JAG officers are in charge of instructing military commanders on how to adhere to domestic and international rules regarding the treatment of detainees.

"If we — 'we' being the uniformed lawyers — had been listened to, and what we said put into practice, then these abuses would not have occurred," said Rear Admiral Don Guter (ret.), the Navy Judge Advocate General from 2000 to 2002.

Specifically, JAG officers say they have been marginalized by Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, and William Haynes II, the Pentagon's general counsel, whom President Bush has nominated for a judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

But asked about some of these issues during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, the current Army JAG, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Romig, was less dismissive, calling the charges "troubling" and saying, "We're trying to get to the bottom of it."

And from Reuters:

Three top U.S. generals on Wednesday denied approving coercive interrogation techniques to soften up Iraqi prisoners but acknowledged there may have been confusion at lower levels of the U.S. military.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, who is responsible for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee there were systemic problems at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, where U.S. personnel took photographs of detainees being abused and sexually humiliated that have shocked and angered Americans and fueled anti-American anger overseas.

"Abuse has happened in Afghanistan, it's happened in Iraq, it's happened at various places. I think the question before us: is there a systemic abuse problem with regard to interrogation that exists in the Central Command area of operations," Abizaid said.

Note that the robotic right media is determined to limit the damage to seven enlisted troops. But the Army knows better. They are admitting that known abuses have in fact taken place elsewhere - and it must be driving Limbaugh, Hannity etc. nuts, because an increasing number of people don't believe their extreme right wing moronic conclusions. Has anybody noticed that they used the opposite kind of an argument Monday to say that one old artillery shell was, once again, proof positive of massive amounts of WMDs in Iraq?

The job approval rating of the president is down to 42%. That means we are biting into the Republican base finally as they see the possibility of THEIR sons and daughters being drafted if Bush is reelected.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link