As the witch-hunt to punish those responsible for the Iraqi Prisoner Abuse Scandal begins, I can't help but feel sorry for the poor dupes whose lives it will probably ruin. Even if they did everything they're accused of, I don't think many of them should be held accountable or that their "crimes" are as heinous as they're being sensationalized to be.
First of all, a lot of them are kids. They've spent a fair amount of their young lives learning to follow orders from older authority figures. It doesn't suit The Military to have its dogfaces evaluating the merit of each order before executing it, and rightly so. When you're given an order that isn't obviously illegal or immoral, you DO it. Double time, ya whining slacker!
And that leads to the second problem. Most of the Torture and Abuse that's been released for public consumption ranks up there with fraternity hazing. It seems to me to be an insult to actual torture victims to call posing for goofy photos torture. Humiliation, while unpleasant, is not in the same league as electro-shock or being savagely beaten and raped.
I can't say for sure, but I'd bet that the men who were held at the Hanoi Hilton would have been happy to do naked jumping jacks with pillowcases over their heads. That's because most of the time when they were jumping it was because someone was running high-voltage through their nutsacks. Humiliating pictures would have been a vacation.
The degradation of these prisoners shows a great degree of insensitivity, but again, that is what The Military needs. You don't get a bunch of kids to march into combat and kill strangers by teaching them that those strangers are people with families and mothers and feelings that might be hurt.
You demonize the Enemy. They aren't people. They're mindless brutes who want you dead and your country in ruins. They have to be stopped by whatever means necessary.
The thing only that will keep these wretched beasts safe once they're captured is if their captors are highly disciplined and living in constant fear of the swift and terrible retribution that will rain down upon anyone who raises a hand toward them.
"Boys, we're in charge of a kennel full of rabid dogs. But we WILL be humane. Anyone who gives these bastards even a tiny taste of what they probably have coming is going to have my foot so far up his ass he'll be polishing my boot with his tonsils. Are we clear, sweethearts? The only way we prove we're better than these pigs is by not acting like pigs ourselves."
They don't call it Command And Control for nothin', Bubba.
But this isn't the pep talk the guards received. Not by a long shot. Instead Spec. Lynndie England says she was told by a Superior Officer to hold a leash around a prisoner's neck and pose for a few pictures. So she did it. Double time.
It probably seemed like a stupid prank at worst. Small town kids fresh out of their teens aren't prone to thinking in terms of International Politics or National Image. It wasn't like being asked to drive nails through their hands or brand U.S.D.A. on their asses. Those would be obviously illegal orders that she may have questioned and refused. But hey, they were just fooling around. So she posed.
Now the same press that elevated Jessica Lynch to a hero status that she herself seems to feel is a bit unwarranted is painting Lynndie England as an insensitive, abusive shame to her uniform and her country. The best she can hope for is that they become bored with her before they do too much damage.
The Beast needs to be fed and you better hope it's in a good mood when it shows up on your doorstep.