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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rummie the Coward

Donald Rumsfeld's pretty much exactly where he belongs; out of work and in the hot seat. Too bad everyone in the White House isn't in the same situation. Last week, the Center for Constitutional Rights brought a complaint before german courts accusing him of war crimes. The abuses at Abu Ghraib weren't the acts of 'a few bad apples,' as Rummie said, but was ordered by the former SecDef.

At this point, there's very little doubt about it. Former US Army Brigadier General Janice Karpinski told a spanish paper that Rumsfeld ordered prisoners be treated in violation of Geneva.


"The handwritten signature was above [Rumsfeld's] printed name and in the same handwriting in the margin was written: "Make sure this is accomplished"," [Karpinski] told Saturday's El Pais.

"The methods consisted of making prisoners stand for long periods, sleep deprivation ... playing music at full volume, having to sit in uncomfortably ... Rumsfeld authorized these specific techniques."

The Geneva Convention says prisoners of war should suffer "no physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion" to secure information.

"Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind," the document states.

Violating the Geneva Conventions is profoundly unamerican. The people who carried out Rumsfeld's orders were fallguys when it came time to pay for the crime. If following illegal orders is a crime, then issuing illegal orders should be at least as criminal.

The details of the complaint can be found here. What gets me about all of this is that these are the same people who tell us to 'support the troops.' Of course, they never actually meant that we should support the troops, since sending them off to die in a godforsaken hellhole isn't actually very supportive. What they meant was 'support what we do.' If Rummie were actually interested in supporting the troops, he wouldn't have thrown people following his direct orders to the lions to save his own skin. People went to prison for his crime and he's still walking around loose. He, like most of people in the Bush administration, is a coward.

And a shameless coward. Rather than standing by the people who'd worked under him and taking responsibility for his actions, he blamed everything on the individual soldiers and pretended he had nothing to do with it. If he believed that what was being done at Abu Ghraib was necessary, then he should've found it defensible. That which is right can be proven right. Rumsfeld couldn't defend his actions, so he tried to hide them. He obviously never thought abuse of prisoners was right. Torture was merely expedient.

When people are backed into a corner, they'll do crazy things. The neocons backed themselves into a corner with this bloody, stupid, pointless war in Iraq. In trying to justify a mistake after the fact, they felt forced to go to extremes. They had to produce and if that meant people would have to be tortured by americans, then so be it. They were bigger than the law, bigger than their nation. They were the idiot visionaries of the New American Century. They were untouchable and unstoppable. They were the future.

There's so much here that needs to be sorted out. How do we stop seriously demented people from gaining so much power? Rumsfeld is typical of the Bush administration -- deluded and cowardly and so damned sure he's right that he believes he's allowed to do anything. Screw the Constitution, screw international law, screw morality and ethics and responsibility. Those are for the weaklings who don't rule the world. None of it applies to the elite.

When the crimes are exposed, it's not the world builders who pay for them. It's the grunts who do what they're told. Rummie's above the law.

Or maybe not. It may be that just once, one of these deluded visionaries pay for their crimes. In fact, the Geneva Conventions demands it. According to Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith, writing in The Nation:

Rather than being a farfetched idea from the American left, the principle of universal jurisdiction under which Rumsfeld and his potential co-defendants would be charged is enshrined in Article 49 of the First Geneva Convention: "Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches [of the Geneva Convention,] and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts."

Not prosecuting Rumsfeld would be criminal.


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1 comment:

Comrade O'Brien said...

Dear Comrades,
We are creatively protesting the Torture Bill by gathering 315 copies of Orwell's 1984, which will be shipped directly to each Member of Congress who voted for the Military Commissions Act. More info at