Americans torturing prisoners in Iraq! I cringed when I
saw the pictures and felt the sinking horror of a few bad apples
tainting the Tree of Liberty and Freedom, the ultimate reason we are
fighting in Iraq. But it was the ugliness of war, and the
Complacency of the world to step in eradicate tyrants that led to this
bitter scenario. Does it mean America is wrong or should leave
Iraq, or that all the deaths of the brave who gave their lives so far
have been demeaned by such actions? Find out.
Saturday, May 2,,
2004—Ground Zero Plus 963
Torture, Terrorism & Iraq:
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--May 2, 2004 -- I am saddened this
morning at the cycle of the Quagmire.
A few days ago
was the 25th anniversary of America's withdrawal from Vietnam
A few days ago was the 25th anniversary of America's
withdrawal from Vietnam, to some, it marks the first time America was
defeated in a war against tyranny and oppression.
It was a double anniversary, for it also marked
the date in 1954 that the French withdrew from Vietnam after seeking
to bring Vietnam into the world of democracy.
But what is most troubling about this date is the
impending fear that America will be driven out of Iraq by the same
quagmire that resulted in its retreat from Vietnam.
The pressure is exacerbated in Iraq by the recent
disclosure of torture and humiliation of some Iraqi prisoners by
American military police guarding them in prisons in Baghdad.
world photos of tortured Iraqi prisoner were shown
Across the world photos of Iraqi prisoners
with bags over their heads standing on wooden boxes with electrical
wires dangling from them, allegedly hooked up to generators that would
shock them if they fell from the boxes, crashed across the world.
Those opposed to the presence of American forces in Iraq pointed to
the abuse as similar to what Saddam Hussein applied to the people of
the country where 140,000 American troops are fighting to liberate.
President Bush called the situation "disgusting" and issued immediate
orders for those involved to be punished.
War is ugly.
In Vietnam I witnessed the horrible
torture of prisoners, and the inhumanity of some against captives.
War brings out the Beast of Terror in us all. The nature
of War is not humane, and the fine line between "moral" and "immoral"
actions of individuals becomes so blurred that none of us can imagine,
least of all truly measure.
This inability to control and measure the
actions of individuals in war creates the quagmire, for while a few
might tip over and become the Beast they fight, using the cruel and
inhumane tactics of the enemy they seek to destroy, the vast majority
remain on the side of humanity and civility, but the taint of the few
poisons the well. The bad apple infects the good
soldiers remove barbed wire from the highway linking Baghdad to
Then there is the use of Iraqi
troops storming into embattled towns wearing former Iraqi uniforms to
the cheers and jubilation of citizens who hate American occupation.
American Marines retreat from the city Fallujah turning it over to
those former Iraqi soldiers, hoping that the local people can calm a
city rather than forcing Americans to fight house to house to
eliminate the insurgents.
This shift in power suggests defeat,
for some believe we are turning the country back over to the next
generation of Saddam, to men with guns and a license to kill to calm
the populace, rather than exposing Americans to the job of destroying
the enemy, who, can hardly be distinguished from the innocent.
When I saw the pictures of the
military police torturing and humiliating prisoners, my stomach
knotted. I knew this was more than the beginning of
the end of American presence in Iraq.
The sad part of it is that
Terrorism wins by default, one more time. We become
the worst of our own enemy, for when we fight Terrorism we endanger
ourselves to becoming what we fight.
"Those who swim with sharks
will be eaten by them."
The few who participated in the
tortures and humiliation of the prisoners have been eaten by the Beast
of Terror, swallowed and digested, and excreted out as the Beast's
"I know the
I know that feeling. When
I first went to war the idea of killing turned my stomach, but after
witnessing the killing, you become numb to it. Your moral
compass spins about. You watch your own buddies maimed and
killed by enemy snipers or booby traps, and you seek vengeance for
their deaths. You sight in and kill with no compunction, and,
you show no mercy to prisoners who may be able to tell you where the
next booby trap or sniper is, for the life of the enemy is demeaned to
nothing compared to the life of a comrade.
While I cannot justify or
condone what the military police did to the prisoners, I understand
their actions. I understand also that if one of the
Terrorists who flew the planes into the World Trade Center survived
the crash, that thousands of people on the ground, had he been able to
walk about, could easily have become so enraged that they might have
ripped him to pieces with their bare hands, taken chunks of concrete
from the rubble and bashed his head into pulp, gouged out his eyes.
These people could have been
men and women, mothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters
of those victims who senselessly died. Not all
the people might have participated, but they would have watched as the
"enemy" was kicked and beaten to death.
A "terrorist" who rapes or
abuses a child can easily infect a parent with such "killer" rage, to
seek vengeance for the crime of violation against the innocent.
Those military police torturing those prisoners may have picked the
worst of the criminals, the ones running rape and torture rooms, and
tried to deliver their own illegal and immoral justice and retribution
against them. We do not know the conditions surrounding their
acts, only that the guards took the law of perverted justice into their own hands, and
those hands have transformed into the claws of the Beast of Terror.
My wife made a comment to me
about the situation: "If we don't want these things to
happen, we have to stop going to war."
My wife said
"If we don't want these things to happen, we shouldn't go to war
She didn't mean get out of
Iraq. She meant that war perverts us all, especially those
fighting in it.
She realizes, as I do, that war
is the ultimate pustule of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
For years the world sat back and let Saddam grow into a Beast.
The United Nations continued to debate the right of a tyrant to ravage
his people and took no action. Then, when the United State
singularly took on the role of "Terror Hunter," it thrust its power
against the Beast of Terror as it has throughout history, and in the
process, put its Soldiers of Vigilance into the jaws of the Beast.
Few people want to remember how
American soldiers shot German prisoners with their hands up at
Normandy on D-Day. The movie Saving Private Ryan
showed some scenes of vengeful Americans pumping lead and bayoneting
the surrendering German troops, but that scene, as all scenes of war,
was simply part of an ugly bloodletting that evokes the Beast in us
all when we try to account for the deaths of our friends, our buddies
and pass grace on to those who took their lives.
It would be hard for any human to hug
and love the person who raped, mutilated and killed one of their family
members, but war asks us to shift gears from "trained killer" in one
breath into machines of compassion and humanity in the other.
We are supposed to be able to flick
off and on the "humanity" and "inhumanity" switch when we move from
the battlefield to guarding the enemy we just sought and vowed to
kill, and that transition is like making black white, or white black.
There is no
excuse for crossing the line
This is not an excuse for
behavior that crosses the line between Vigilance and Beast, protector
and prosecutor, guardian and tyrant, but it is a fact.
In Vietnam I witnessed many
tortures, far more brutal than anything exposed in the recent scandal.
The perversion of war itself twists all moral basis because one gives
another a gun to kill the rules change, and the one with the gun or
the bomb becomes "almighty," now able to draw his or her moral lines.
Parents exhibit this "almighty power"
in the abuse of their children, ranging from "being too busy to
listen" to a child's thirst to share the excitement of a day, to the
threatening raising of a hand that endangers the child's helpless body
if he or she violates the "rules."
take pleasure in "torturing" their children
Some parents take great pleasure in
"torturing" their children by "punishing" them in brutal ways, either
physically or emotionally. If a mother says to a child:
"I wish you were never born," or, "it's too bad you're not as pretty
as others," or, "it's too bad you're not as smart as others," there is
little difference between such torture to a child's innocence or its
self image than making an Iraqi prisoner stand on a box with a hood on
and electrical wires dangling from various body parts.
This may be an "ugly" perspective,
but it all comes down to the source of Terrorism.
That source can be traveled back to the family household, whether it
be in Iraq or America. A Terrorist is bred by its
Nevertheless, I am sickened and
saddened but not surprised by the photos. Each and every
day in America at police stations throughout our nation, thousands of
"torture" reports are filed. Men and women file complaints
for abuse, where one or another attacked and brutalized the other
weaker one, and this includes the children whose bodies swell with
bruises from belts or pinch marks or slaps as well as the hidden
bruises on their souls where words or perverted actions, slamming like brass-knuckled fists
against their self image or self worth, left deep scars on their
There are Corporate Terrorists
at work, lording vicariously over employees as Saddam Hussein might,
threatening their job security if they don't do this or that, turning
workers into slaves bound to the necessity of a job, and berating them
with whips and threats of being fired or not getting the promotion
often dangled above them as a tool to seek submission.
The torture in Iraq is one of
many kinds of Terrorism we live with daily, but to isolate it out of
the pack and make ourselves feel "cruddy" or to impugn in value of
America's role as "peacemaker" or "TerrorHunter," or "Sentinel of
Vigilance" would be wrong.
What we need to do is to
take a look at the sources of war, and to realize that if we,
Americans, become the Nation of Vigilance, where each and every parent
vows to ward off the Beast of Terror in our own homes first, then we
will be much safer in going to other lands to help them instill the
same Principles of Vigilance in their lands.
If we are at
war with ourselves, how can we spread peace to the world?
If anything, the torture of the
Iraqis remind us that we have a ways to go within our own country to
become Sentinels of Vigilance, for we cannot spread to the world
"peace" if we are still at war with ourselves.
We can start by all taking the
Pledge of Vigilance. Doing that, and reducing the torture
and pain and suffering we impose on our children through issuing them
unwarranted Fear, Intimidation and Complacency will go a long way in
the process of creating peace and ending conflict.
In the interim, before we impose
harsh judgment on those who abused and tortured the Iraqis, we need to
do an inventory on whether we are a terrorist at home or work, and ask
our children or employees, as well as ourselves, what degrees of Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency we inject upon them by default or design.
When we're done examining our own
"Terrorist Inventory," if we have time, we can then throw rocks at
others, but not until.
April 29--A Tribute
To A Fallen Marine Sentinel of Vigilance