WASHINGTON — More than one-third of U.S. soldiers surveyed in Iraq said they think torture should be allowed if it helps gather important information about insurgents, the Pentagon disclosed Friday. Four in every 10 said they approve of such illegal abuse if it would save the life of a fellow soldier.
They apparently never got the memo that says torture doesn't work.
The Pentagon released these numbers as part of its survey into the mental health problems faced by the troops, but a predisposition to torture would seem to have more to do with whether or not the commander-in-chief and his war cabinet really believe torture is a violation of human rights. This president has not made that clear since he issued a signing statement last fall after the torture bill was passed by congress that, in effect, lets him decide what's acceptable as far as detainee treatement goes. He did not ban torture. He gives it lip service while congress gave CIA agents immunity from prosecution for torturing people. What's a soldier to think in that instance?
...experts said, the new findings raised concern about the possibility of more incidents such as the November 2005 massacre of civilians at Haditha or the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib as tours grow longer to accommodate the present buildup in forces.
"What it says to me is we should get out of Iraq before a real disaster happens for us," said Cindy Williams, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher who specializes in military-personnel policies. "Iraq is already in chaos, but for us to stay there and continue to wreck our Army over this is a big mistake."
Although the present military strategy emphasizes the need to make the Iraqi populace feel safe, fewer than half of the service members questioned said that all noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.
About 10 percent of U.S. service members surveyed reported they had mistreated civilians in Iraq, such as kicking them or damaging their possessions needlessly.
Well, I don't what Williams considered the Abu Ghraib torture to be if not a "real disaster". And since that time, only cosmetic changes have been made to the army's training manual while soldiers who have been in the field far too long - powder kegs just waiting to explode - have never been given a strong enough message that abuse and torture not only violate the Geneva Conventions, but that they are inhumane practices. Period.
At a news conference to discuss the report, Pollock urged that the responses about the use of torture be viewed in the context of the war.
"These men and women have been seeing their friends injured, and I think that having that thought is normal," Pollock said. "But what it speaks to is the leadership that the military is providing, because they're not acting on those thoughts. They're not torturing the people."
How do we know if that's true? We don't. Not in an age where the Pentagon and CENTCOM do everything they can to either lie, fabricate or misinform people about what's really going on in Afghanistan and Iraq. They spend millions on propaganda programs so the public will never know the truth. Just look at how long it took for Vietnam war stories to make it to the public's radar screen. These spokespeople are not to be trusted.
And check out this contradiction:
Pollock acknowledged that the longer tours would increase stress. But in the wake of the report, she said, the military was doing more to train leaders to support troops and reduce stress.
The report recommends that after a deployment, soldiers be given between 18 and 36 months at their home station before being sent overseas again. The demand for soldiers in Iraq, however, has meant that few combat units are allowed to remain home for more than a year.
Pollock acknowledged that, for now, there was no possibility the Army could give soldiers that much time at home.
Ergo, the army is fueling potential Geneva Conventions violations by refusing to treat its soldiers according to what would be in their best interests. The military is creating this nightmare scenario once again.
And just look at how convenient the timing of the release of this report is for Bushco:
The survey was taken between Aug. 28 and Oct. 3, 2006. Although the report was completed in November, months before the decision to extend Army tours, the Pentagon did not release it until Friday.
So they could back up Bush's so-called surge plan which has only endangered even more lives on all sides.
That's what the so-called "commander guy" thinks of the soldiers doing his dirty work. They're just throwaway pawns. And if the congressional Democrats were able to find a collective spine they would demand that this war cease immediately instead of playing political games with peoples' lives.
The only things anyone can count on in this sorry chapter of imperialistic hubris are that more stories of torture and abuse will come out and that, by the time this so-called president leaves office, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will still be raging on.
(h/t to Stageleft)