Friday, March 24, 2006

Why Won't They Behave?

The Bush Doctrine

From the Department of Do as We Say, not...

The blindfolded detainees in the dingy hallway line up in groups of five for their turn to see a judge, like schoolchildren outside the principal's office.

Each meeting lasts a few minutes. The judge rules whether the detainee will go free, face trial or be held longer at this Iraqi base in northern Baghdad. But Firas Sabri Ali, squeezed into a fetid cell just hundreds of yards from the judge's office, has watched the inmates come and go for four months without his name ever being called.

He is jailed, along with two brothers and his father, solely as collateral, he says. The Iraqi forces are hunting another brother, suspected of being an insurgent. The chief American medic here says that he believes Mr. Ali to be innocent but that it is up to the Iraqi police to decide whether to free him. The Iraqis acknowledged that they were holding Mr. Ali until they captured his brother.

"I hope they catch him, because then I'll be released," said Mr. Ali, 38, a soft-spoken man who until his arrest worked for a British security company to support his wife and three sons. "They said, 'You must wait.' I told them: 'There's no law. This is injustice.' "

Such is the challenge facing the American military as it tries to train the Iraqi security forces to respect the rule of law. Three years after the invasion of Iraq, American troops are no longer simply teaching counterinsurgency techniques; they are trying to school the Iraqis in battling a Sunni-led rebellion without resorting to the tactics of a "dirty war," involving abductions, torture and murder.

The legacy of Abu Ghraib hampers the American military. But the need to instill respect for human rights has gained a new urgency as Iraq grapples with the threat of full-scale civil war and continuing sectarian bloodletting. It is not uncommon now for dozens of bodies, with hands bound and gunshot wounds to the heads, to surface across Baghdad on any given day.

"The legacy of Abu Ghraib hampers the American military..." has to be the understatement of the week--I mean, that's sort of like saying "the trip through Dealy Plaza hampered Mrs. Kennedy's stay in Dallas." Between the torture/abuse, the house raids that, for the Iraqis we supposedly "liberated," seem like an ugly anti-lottery, the "collateral damage," the "fog of war"--and the privatization of such practices...willful, aggressive ignorance of the's small wonder we've pretty much worn out any sort of welcome. Which makes it pretty goddamned difficult to provide instruction in legal niceties.

Besides, it's not like this administration has shown much in the way of example when it comes to following the law, either in letter or spirit. DC is awash in myriad scandal...and it's flavored one hundred percent with pure GOP elephant shit. Hell, watching this gang of clowns attempt anything with "ethics" or "morality" as the basis for action must be like watching Shrub try to lecture Jenna on the evils of drinking and drugs. Of course, the consequences in the Middle East are quite a bit more serious than Jenna's "appendectomy."

Geez...I never thought I'd look so forward to 2009--when I'll be even OLDER than I am right now...ahem, which allows me to segue to a side note: yep, officially I'm another year older, and, thanks to the joys of home ownership, deeper in debt than I ever imagined. But I'm not complaining, except for the pain in my back...and my shoulder...and my wrist. What a drag it is...laff.

Thirty-eleven...and counting.

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