Saturday, May 22, 2004

What happened? What the hell happened? 

That's what Steve McQueen says as he lays, shot and dying, at the end of "The Sand Pebbles." But it's also the only think I can think of in response to the daily drip of information concerning what our government has done, in your name and in my name, in Iraq. Via digby, from Newsweek:
Pummeling and humiliating and photographing Iraqi prisoners, Liang said, was the product of vague guidance, poor discipline, frustration that came with open-ended deployment, and boredom run amok. "I think it was just out of curiosity and boredom and anger," she said. "You're there 12 hours a day, every day, and you're pissed off at everything going on around you. We were told we were going home in September. You want to take out your anger against other people in the unit, but you can't do that. So some people took it out on the prisoners. What they [the MPs] did was wrong, but not everyone realizes that everyone in there attacked the Coalition forces and tried to kill us."

Some abuse photographs lacked context, Liang told NEWSWEEK. Take the widely-published image of a prisoner with his arms pulled behind his back and handcuffed to a bed, women's underwear pulled over his head. He was called "S--tboy," for his habit of smearing excrement on himself and the walls. "People don't know what kind of people were put inside that cellblock," Liang said. "They were crazy people. 'S--tboy' would smear it all over himself. That was the reason he was handcuffed." Liang said he spit on her as she tried to feed him. The underwear? "Just to make a joke," she said, adding that she can't recall who was responsible for it.

Another "crazy" man, in his late 20s, was brought in for allegedly looting. His refusal to eat meant the MPs fed him intravenously. He would babble over and over again: "I refuse to eat! Saddam's going to come back and kill us!" The guards invented nicknames for prisoners based on movie and television characters, Liang said. There was "Gilligan," a tiny, dim guy. There was "The Claw," whose birth defect made one hand resemble a bird claw. There was "Froggy," a man with bulging Marty Feldman eyes. And there was "Mr. Clean," who bathed obsessively. (After Mr. Clean tried to kill a guard with a pistol someone had slipped into his cell, his nickname became "Trigger.")
I'd comment, but I'm going to be sick. Bush says that this is not "what Americans do." Well, guess what, this is what they did. And they didn't just do it because they're a bunch of sick fucks who have been left in the desert too long with every morning bringing the possibility of an IED taking off both their legs. It's because their bosses, officers of the U.S. Army, the institution that, so often, in both peacetime and war, demonstrates the very best this country has to offer, told them to do this. This is what is being done to so that "we are free." Well, today, you and I are not free.

A few months ago I got all worked up about torture by proxy. Those were the days, eh?
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