Monday, March 13, 2006

Everybody Knows

Everybody knows the boat is leaking,
Everybody knows the captain lied
                  -Leonard Cohen

TortureWhat everybody knows, as further trials of military noncoms occur, is that the hypocrisy of blaming the torture of detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib (and god knows where else) on low-ranked American soldiers is utter nonsense. The order that allowed and encouraged this tragedy wiggles its surreptitious way straight up the military chain-of-command at least as far as Donald Rumsfeld, probably all the way to the Commander in Chief, who happens to be our president.


Everybody knows the military didn’t hatch this plan on their own. The Army and Marines, from time to time, uncover a rogue soldier or officer and when that happens, Mai-Lai style courts martial are the result. There are codes of honor in the military and they are taken seriously.


Rumsfeld_1Everybody knows the torture scheme was cooked-up in Rummy’s office, or possibly at Camp David, out of absolute panic that the systems in place to protect mainland America from another 9-11 were non existent. We're only lately finding that out. Others knew it for a long time.


Everybody knows that torture is worthless in collecting intelligence, it's the trade of the desperate or the sadistic and it's done mostly to intimidate, rather than garner information. Only two types emerge from the typical torture scenario; those who die (or kill themselves) rather than divulge anything worth while and those who spread liberal amounts of bullshit to stop the abuse. Neither is worthwhile.


Everybody knows the further we sank into the mire of Iraq, the further Pentagon desperation took us into abuse, just as everybody knows how hard Dick Cheney fought to exempt the CIA from McCain’s anti-torture bill. Everybody knows as well that ‘Pentagon’ means Donald Rumsfeld, because that’s the way he runs the place, a micro-manager of policy who's not smart enough to arrange deniability for anyone but his boss.


Everybody knows we’re shipping off kids, barely out of their teens, to prison sentences for an incredible culture of abuse that was perpetuated, encouraged and then systematically denied by the command structure. Plenty of dereliction of duty and nearly all of it within the officer corps.


Everybody should know that the primary duty of a commanding officer is to protect and preserve the integrity of the Military Code of Justice. Officers know damned good and well that if that is not done, it is the officer-in-charge who comes before a court martial.


Everybody knows that a military prison, whose commanders fail to see anything, do anything, report anything, or supervise anything is a military prison run amok. The officer corps, the NSC and the CIA stand damned by that obvious evidence, no matter the efforts to keep it quiet.


Everybody knows it was commanders and not enlisted men who stood trial at Nurnberg.


Everybody knows that the system of military courts martial being used to pass off three-star blame to corporals and sergeants is a sham. The problem of course, is that once everybody knows that the current political administration, in cahoots with the Secretary of Defense, has used senior military commanders to thwart international law, well then the cat is very much out of the bag.

GenpeterpaceSenior command has been a virtual revolving-door within an unwilling Pentagon, as Rummy tried and failed and tried again to find senior officers willing to sell out their military. He seems to have found one such officer in General Peter Pace.


“The Iraqi people looked into the abyss of civil war and stepped back,” said Pace, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs who, like his Commander in Chief, apparently no longer reads the reports from Iraq. What a sad, derelict Marine Pace has sold himself out to become.


Ex-Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, Generals Hugh Shelton and Richard Meyers are gone, apparently without the stomach to accommodate Rumsfeld. Generals Tommy Franks put out to pasture, John Shalikashvili gone as well, having made the error of telling the Senate how many troops we actually needed in Rumsfeld’s credit-card war.


The rest of the General Staff knows that all bleeding stops eventually. Amazingly, what everybody knows, none have the courage to stand up and say. It must be very hard to be close to that next star on the shoulderboard and risk it for no more than the reputation and honor of the military they serve.


Everybody knows, but that doesn’t heal the wounded or bring the politicians and generals to justice.
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