The two soldiers who were taken from the traffic checkpoint last week were found today. I should say, with as much anguish as I can put into my typing, their bodies were found, and according to the WaPo:
Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Muhammed-Jassim, head of operations at Iraqi Ministry of Defense said the soldiers had been "barbarically" killed and that there were traces of torture on their bodies. He offered no further details.
The families and friends of these soldiers, as well as the other soldiers in their company, will have a long road in dealing with the aftermath of this. It is impossible to say anything in the face of something like this other than to hope that there is some way for the families to find some way to channel this grief and pain and anger into something that gives them some measure of peace over time. But it will be a long road. (The NYTimes also has more on the story.)
Frankly, I just feel altogether hollow today, because a dear friend of mine e-mailed yesterday to let me know that her husband is on his way to Iraq in a few short weeks. And I am terrified for them, and for her, and especially for their children. Every time I pick up a newspaper or read something online, and read about how things are going in Iraq or Afghanistan (and now Korea), I worry about family and friends who are serving there — or who have served there and are likely to be going back again at some point in the near future. And about extended family of friends from college who may still be living there, because they have been too poor or too committed to their own nation’s rebuilding to leave.
And I just want to weep.
There is no excuse for torture — no matter which side is doing it, including our own side — and to have to endure the knowledge that your child may have been tortured before facing a horrible death…well, I cannot even allow myself to think about that this morning. My god, those poor parents, I just want to wrap my arms around them somehow to give them some form of comfort, but I know that will be impossible for them for a long, long time.
The people who perpetrated this torture against our soldiers should be caught and held to account — as should those people in our own military and government who have pushed the policies of state-sanctioned torture forward as legitimate means of government policy. We cannot on the one hand scream about someone else’s actions, while condoning actions of our own citizens which do not comport with the same standards. It’s called hypocrisy, and we are putting our own soldiers in greater danger for torture when they are captured – which is why, up until the Bush Administration, we actually tried to follow the law under the Geneva Convention.
That George Bush and his malignant band of cronies cannot understand something so simple as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." is appalling. Perhaps they could understand "An eye for an eye?" Of course, again, it gets visted on other people’s children, so perhaps it doesn’t have quite the same level of urgency for the policies to be followed to the letter. Or maybe shortcutting the law has become so common for the Bush Administration that they just don’t care about the long-term consequences of their actions any longer — and it truly is all about short-term CYA and political gains and justifying the ends by any means necessary.
And this whirlwind that we have sown…well the reaping of it continues to be done on the backs of an awful lot of grunts on the ground and innocent civilians who keep getting caught in the crossfire. And we will continue to reap it for generations to come.
Iraq is a mess. And our soldiers deserve better than to be left hanging out there because the President and his Secretary of Defense decided to do a little experiment about war on the cheap, never mind that the policy was fatally flawed to start with because it was built on lies.
You think Scooter Libby and Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and the WHIG were so obsessed with the Wilsons because they were bored that month? Please, it was all about CYA so no one would find out they were liars. And it’s continued forward as a diversion for them so that a complicit press — other than Murray Waas and Barton Gellman and Walter Pincus and a other journalists who have done the digging on this, even though it ends up on page A17 — wouldn’t look at the real story.
Why did they lie our way into a war being fought by other people’s children?
The fact that American soldiers have been moved around the board like sacrificial pawns since this war began is unconscionable. And appalling.
Private 1st Class John Hart whispered into the phone so he wouldn’t be overheard. It was just a matter of time, he said, before his buddies and he bumped down some back road in Iraq right into an ambush. They were so exposed, the somber young soldier told his dad, back home in Bedford, Mass. They were riding around in unarmored Humvees with canvas tops and gaping openings on the sides where doors should be. That seemed pretty stupid now that people were shooting at them and lobbing rockets. John, a 20-year-old gunner whose job it was to keep his head up and return fire, felt hung out in the breeze.
As John’s father, Brian Hart, remembers the conversation, he listened with growing alarm, then stepped into his home office so his wife, Alma, wouldn’t hear. It was October 11, 2003.
The Harts couldn’t have been prouder of their only son for answering the president’s call to fight the war against terror in Iraq. That very day, the Harts had accepted a contract to sell their clapboard house in historic Bedford, in part because they felt out of step with anti-war sentiments in town. Seven months earlier, on the eve of war, the congregation of First Parish Unitarian Church had unfurled a big blue banner emblazoned: "Speak Out For Peace." The Harts were offended. The banner loomed over the town common, hallowed ground where Bedford minutemen had gathered before the first battles of the Revolutionary War in nearby Lexington and Concord. The normally soft-spoken Brian Hart told town selectmen that if the banner didn’t come down, he’d sue the town. The day the war began, the Unitarians rolled up their peace banner voluntarily. Still, the skirmish left the Harts feeling so out of sorts with Bedford, their home of 14 years, that they planned to move away.
Now, talking on the phone with his young warrior, Brian tried to understand what he was hearing. Don’t believe spinmeisters on TV, Brian recalls his son saying; the Iraqi insurgency is real and building. John and his buddies in Charlie Company of the 508th Infantry Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade were patrolling ever longer distances in thin-skinned Humvees suited for hauling cargo, not for carrying soldiers under fire.
This was not the first time John had confided that the U.S. military was failing to provide him with essential equipment. In previous calls home, Brian recalls, John recounted a bewildering array of shortages and snafus. Before landing in Iraq that scorching July, John told his father, he’d been issued a winter-weight camouflage suit, body armor with protective plates too small to shield his broad chest, and a broken rifle. An expert marksman and former co-captain of the Bedford High School shooting team, John had been told to conserve scarce bullets by not taking practice shots to sight his weapon, he said. Summertime water rations were so inadequate that guys were passing out in the Iraqi heat….
Read this entire article. Every word of it. This is what I have been hearing from retired military, folks who have recently come back from Iraq, diplomatic types, intel folks…you name it. Over and over again. Still.
I am so angry this morning, I could scream. I do not care what political party you are in, I do not care what you think of dissent during a time of conflict…if you do not get angry reading this article then you do not in all honesty support the troops. What you support is propping up an Administration that is more interested in selling itself through false public relations campaigns, and the hell with the effects of its actual policies on the men and women in uniform who are risking their lives — every freaking day — because they are bound to follow the orders in their chain of command by their code of military conduct.
And those orders are given by a President and a Secretary of Defense who are more interested in covering their own asses than taking care of their men. I have had it with people who cannot see it straight out: you give the orders, you take responsibility for the consequences of those orders. It’s about goddamned time this President stood up and took responsibility for something…anything.
And if he won’t, then it is up to us to hold him accountable. Yes, I have damn well had enough.