Published on Saturday, March 5, 2011 by CommonDreams.org
: Is Army Aping Mafia?
by Ray McGovern
If the Mafia comparison strikes you as a tad over the top, perhaps a seven-year trip down memory lane may prove instructive. Remember what happened after the
Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba led the first (and only honest) investigation of the scandal. In May 2004, he completed a report that sharply criticized the Army and the higher-ups in the Bush administration for creating the conditions that permitted the mistreatment to occur.
When the report leaked to the press, Taguba found himself treated like a disloyal capo who had talked out of school about the Family business. Rather than thank Taguba for upholding the honor of the
In an interview with New Yorker reporter
As the two men sat in the back of Abizaid’s Mercedes sedan in
“I’d been in the Army 32 years by then,” Taguba told Hersh, “and it was the first time that I thought I was in the Mafia.”
It was also an early indication that Taguba’s military career was nearing its end because he had given the American people a glimpse into the dark world of the Bush administration’s policies of torture and murder.
Hersh wrote that the sensitivity over Taguba’s report went beyond its graphic account of physical and sexual abuse of Iraqis detained at Abu Ghraib; it also brought unwanted attention to a wider pattern of criminal acts committed with the approval of President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
“The administration feared that the publicity would expose more secret operations and practices,” including special military task forces set up to roam the world and assassinate suspected terrorists, Hersh wrote. Hersh quoted a retired CIA officer as saying the task-force teams “had full authority to whack – to go in and conduct ‘executive action,’” a phrase meaning assassination.
“It was surrealistic what these guys were doing,” the ex-officer told Hersh. “They were running around the world without clearing their operations with the ambassador or the [CIA] chief of station.”
Then, in January 2006, Taguba’s career got the proverbial kiss on the check. Gen. Richard Cody, the Army’s Vice-Chief of Staff, called Taguba and without pleasantries or explanation told Taguba, “I need you to retire by January 2007.” [New Yorker, June 25, 2007]
No Medal for Honesty
So, the general who had violated the omerta code of silence was banished from the Bush administration’s Mafia.
Of course, Taguba was not alone. There were other brave souls – albeit not enough – who challenged Bush’s unconstitutional and illegal policies. All of them met similar fates of banishment, punishment and ridicule, the likes of Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke, and Deputy Attorney General James Comey.
There is a long list of disgraceful examples of war crimes (some of them continuing)
Just last month, there was Gen. David Petraeus shocking Afghan government officials with his suggestion that Afghan parents are burning their own children to cast blame on the U.S. military for civilian casualties from air assaults.
For his part, Taguba remained a stalwart on behalf of the Army’s honor. He publicly condemned prisoner abuse and eventually called for the prosecution of those responsible. He has written
"There is no longer any doubt that the current [Bush] administration committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account."
More than two years after President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney left office, it seems safe to guess the answer to Taguba’s question. Accountability? Foggetaboutit!
For various reasons ranging from expediency to cowardice, the Obama administration has taken no steps to hold the perpetrators of those war crimes accountable. The only jeopardy that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the faux-lawyers who "approved" the torture face at this point, is eventually being held accountable abroad under the international legal principle of universal jurisdiction.
This danger already accounts for why many senior Bush-era officials do not venture abroad; they fear capture and prosecution. Rumsfeld had to beat a hasty exit from
Manning’s Forced Nudity
Even worse, the recent behavior of today’s Pentagon brass – and their new political overlords – gives further support to Taguba’s allusion to the Mafia.
When Private Bradley Manning put his conscience ahead of his personal well being by allegedly releasing important information to the world’s public via WikiLeaks, he was apprehended and put into an inhumane solitary confinement. And he now faces charges that carry the possibility of him spending the rest of his life in prison.
One of the charges is “aiding the enemy,” a military crime punishable by execution. Pentagon officials apparently thought they were showing some mercy, though, when they let it be known that they would not seek the death penalty for Manning.
Still, the Army has been treating Manning in ways reminiscent of the detainees at Abu Ghraib and the CIA’s various “black sites.” He has been locked in his cell at the Marine brig in
On Wednesday, Manning was stripped of his clothes and forced to remain naked in his cell for seven hours. He also was required to stand naked during an inspection. A
On Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Geoffrey Morrell defended the general conditions of Manning’s maximum security imprisonment due to “the seriousness of the charges he’s facing, the potential length of sentence [and] the national security implications” as well as his personal safety. [NYT, March 4, 2011]
So, authorizing, plotting, and carrying out torture, assassinations, and aggressive warfare – violations of both U.S. and international law – get you no punishment, only hefty speaking fees from friendly political groups and fat contracts from book publishers.
But sharing facts with the public – and actually helping the spread of democracy across the
If the allegations against him are true, it appears that Private Bradley Manning did essentially what Daniel Ellsberg did four decades ago when he exposed the duplicity of the White House and the
The duplicity, corruption and abuses in
Official documents and video
Indeed, the photography and dialogue brought back memories of Ronald Reagan-style World War II films highlighting the most cruel and gruesome behavior of German and Japanese troops. And yet, I was in no way surprised to hear that a brief Army “investigation” of the July 2007 incident concluded that the troops in the Apache chopper were without fault. The Army ruled that they were following the “Rules of Engagement” — an even more damning admission, in my view.
Why no outcry among Americans aware of the footage, to which WikiLeaks gave the title “Collateral Murder?” Why? Because the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) suppressed it, and all too few Americans — including those considering themselves progressive — took the trouble to simply type “Collateral Murder” onto their URL line.
YouTube says its posting of the (shorter) 17-minute version of “Collateral Murder” has received 11 million views. But who are these people; and why do they remain silent? It is not too late to view the footage. And, if 17 minutes is too long for you, try this “Panorama” program from German ARD TV, which made a special effort to “undub” it back into the original English for a hoped-for American audience. Even with commentary, The Panorama program runs for only 12 minutes.
I find it a vivid reflection of the moribund state of the FCM that no “mainstream” outlets have had the integrity to undertake a similar commentary, or even the courage to simply show the raw footage. In contrast, “Collateral Murder” has met with considerable resonance abroad (in case you are among those still wondering “why they hate us”).
In a just world, we would be considering Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize, if only because his alleged release of U.S. war logs and diplomatic cables about wrongdoing in places like Tunisia and Egypt did much more to oust dictators and give hope for democracy than speeches-sans-follow up by our mellifluous President.
Shouldn’t Manning be accorded honors heavier than the cumulative weight of the ten rows of ribbons, badges and medals weighing down the left breast of Gen. Petraeus and so many other oh-so-admired generals?
And, if their inept and brutal war making was not humiliating enough, they now have to swallow Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s opinion (quoting Gen. Douglas MacArthur) that anyone who “advises the president to again send a big American land army into
However, instead of lining up at the psychiatrist’s office on the nearest base, the Army brass has decided to imprison Bradley Manning for the rest of his life. Apparently, if you can’t kill the messenger, the next best thing is to lock him up forever.
How better to demonstrate to other soldiers the punishment that one should expect — being locked away in a tiny cell with minimal human contact for a half century or more — should s/he be tempted to follow Manning’s example. How better to divert attention from the damning substance of the WikiLeaks documents, and to focus attention instead on the supposed sins of releasing classified material.
And how better to divert attention from the awkward fact that many of the documents were only classified to prevent embarrassment to the
Despite much teeth gnashing in the Fawning Corporate Media about the irresponsibility of Manning and WikiLeaks, the Army has been unable to make a single credible claim that anyone, or anything but reputations, has actually been hurt by the disclosures.
One of my greatest regrets is that the Army in which I felt honored to serve has become quite a different animal. It is hard to avoid concluding that the biggest difference between Mafia dons and today’s Army brass is that the dons are less ham-handed about what they do.
Below is a Sept. 9, 2004 Memorandum addressed to “Current Government Officials” from “the Truth-Telling Coalition,” suggesting that it is sometimes required, as an act of conscience and patriotism, to make sensitive information available to the American public
It is time for unauthorized truth telling.
Citizens cannot make informed choices if they do not have the facts — for example, the facts that have been wrongly concealed about the ongoing war in Iraq
Many Americans are too young to remember
Some of you have documentation of wrongly concealed facts and analyses that — if brought to light — would impact heavily on public debate regarding crucial matters of national security, both foreign and domestic. We urge you to provide that information now, both to Congress and, through the media, to the public.
Thanks to our First Amendment, there is in
There is a growing network of support for whistleblowers. In particular, for anyone who wishes to know the legal implications of disclosures they may be contemplating, the ACLU stands ready to provide pro bono legal counsel, with lawyer-client privilege. The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) will offer advice on whistle blowing, dissemination and relations with the media.
Needless to say, any unauthorized disclosure that exposes your superiors to embarrassment entails personal risk. Should you be identified as the source, the price could be considerable, including loss of career and possibly even prosecution. Some of us know from experience how difficult it is to countenance such costs. But continued silence brings an even more terrible cost, as our leaders persist in a disastrous course and young Americans come home in coffins or with missing limbs.
This is precisely what happened at this comparable stage in the Vietnam War. Some of us live with profound regret that we did not at that point expose the administration’s dishonesty and perhaps prevent the needless slaughter of 50,000 more American troops and some 2 to 3 million Vietnamese over the next ten years. We know how misplaced loyalty to bosses, agencies, and careers can obscure the higher allegiance all government officials owe the Constitution, the sovereign public, and the young men and women put in harm’s way. We urge you to act on those higher loyalties.
A hundred forty thousand young Americans are risking their lives every day in
Appeal from the Truth-Telling Coalition
Edward Costello, Former Special Agent (Counterintelligence), Federal Bureau of Investigation
Sibel Edmonds, Former Language Specialist, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Daniel Ellsberg, Former official,
John D. Heinberg, Former Economist, Employment and Training Administration,
Larry C. Johnson, Former Deputy Director for Anti-Terrorism Assistance, Transportation Security, and Special Operations, Department of State, Office of the Coordinator for Counter Terrorism
Lt. Col Karen Kwiatowski, USAF (ret.), who served in the Pentagon's Office of Near East Planning
John Brady Kiesling, Former Political Counselor,
David MacMichael, Former Senior Estimates Officer, National Intelligence Council, Central Intelligence Agency
Ray McGovern, Former Analyst, Central Intelligence Agency
Philip G. Vargas, Ph.D., J.D., Dir. Privacy & Confidentiality Study, Commission on Federal Paperwork (Author/Director
Ann Wright, Retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel and U.S. Foreign Service Officer
This article first appeared on Consortiumnews.com
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs