Here's an idea or something possibly to consider (and I have to thank a reader --JS
-- for reminding me of this connection).
In many of the articles
on this emerging Iraqi prisoners story, it has been claimed that some of the key instigators or enablers of bad acts were military intelligence officers.
Now, who's the head of military intelligence? 'Head' is too vague. There's no such post per se
. But what comes pretty close is the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.
And who's that? Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin.
Remember him? He's the one who got in trouble last year for describing his battle with a Muslim Somali warlord by saying "I knew that my God was bigger than his God. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol", saying President Bush was chosen by God, and generally that the war on terror is an apocalyptic struggle between Christianity and Satan.
Last fall, after Boykin's efforts to channel Charlemagne or perhaps Urban II became known, he asked Don Rumsfeld to initiate an 'investigation' into whether his comments "violated any Pentagon rules or procedures
" whatever that might mean. Just this week it was reported
that the 'investigation' still
continues; and Boykin has not been disciplined in any way.
In any case, I doubt very much that all this mess we've gotten ourselves into is attributable to this one man. But at what point in this scandal does someone ask whether some of this might have some connection to the fact that the guy running military intelligence believes the war on terror is a literal holy war pitting Christian America against Satan and his Muslim minions?
And then there's another possibility, perhaps distinct, perhaps overlapping.
in the Guardian
-- this piece is truly gripping, a must-read -- there is an interview with a military intelligence officer who served at Guantanamo and then later served at Abu Ghraib as a contractor for CACI.
The upshot of the piece is that the place is so mismanaged and there's so much pressure for contractors to produce people to fill slots as interrogators that they end up sending people with no experience whatsoever. "If you're in such a hurry to get bodies," he says, "you end up with cooks and truck drivers doing intelligence work."
The intelligence officer, who was involved in processing people at Guantanamo, thinks that more than a third of the people in custody there had no ties to terrorism at all.
And then there are passages like this that are at once entirely predictable and yet leave you wondering what things have come to ...
"A unit goes out on a raid and they have a target and the target is not available; they just grab anybody because that was their job," Mr Nelson said, referring to counter-insurgency operations in Iraq. "The troops are under a lot of stress and they don't know one guy from the next. They're not cultural experts. All they want is to count down the days and hopefully go home.
"I've read reports from capturing units where the capturing unit wrote, 'the target was not at home. The neighbour came out to see what was going on and we grabbed him'," he said.
According to Mr Nelson's account, the victims' very innocence made them more likely to be abused, because the interrogators refused to believe they could have been picked up on such arbitrary grounds. Interrogators "weren't interested in going through the less glamorous work of sifting through the chaff to get to the kernels of truth from the willing detainees; they were interested in 'breaking' tough targets", he said
Then there's the matter, reported some time ago
, that one contractor working in Iraq was employing Apartheid-era paramilitaries, some of whom had had to seek amnesty from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission for war crimes, terrorism and murders they'd committed under the old regime.
It gets deeper and darker.