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Your talking about "the misdeeds of a few", now perhaps such misdeeds are bound to happen when you just declare compromises like the Geneva Convention "old Europe" and create a new sort of prisoners with no defined rights. Being responsible for that, by not applying standards to avoid it, is of course not a "moral catastrophe". It's just a "mistake". I mean such standards already exist and could just have been used, but of course Mr. Bush new it better.
As you mention the "disinterest in the victims of the Saddam Hussein regime", I suggest you should also mention the disinterest in the victims of such allies of the US like Usbekistan, but of course they are second class victims as they don't support your case. Bad luck for them. Just like it's bad luck for Saddams victims that they don't support the case of Spiegel against Bush.
Also good you mentioned the WMD again, as it appears even by applying torture to "extract information" the US are not able to to find WMD in Iraq. I suspect they'll have to bring them over themselfs to support their pretext for this war.
But of course all this cannot put a stain on the the story of success of the president of the United States. As you put it so nicely: "to act and make mistakes in the process".

Umm, Jens? Funny you mention Uzbek. I read this yesterday, surfing from I can't remember where.

http://www.solport.com/roundtable/archives/000609.php

...I recently attended the National Pastors Convention in San Diego with several thousand pastors from many different denominations. During one of the general sessions, the Master of Ceremonies introduced a pastor from Uzbekistan. He had traveled the farthest to attend the convention. I don't remember his name, and even if I did, I know I couldn't pronounce it. However, I do know this: I will never forget this man.
Right away, I liked him. He was humble, sincere, and gracious. He apologized for his broken English, though I thought he spoke very well. As the MC interviewed him, he began to share about his ministry in his country that borders Afghanistan. He talked about the church he pastors of a few hundred people. He also shared how it is illegal in his country to be a Christian. You see, his church is an "underground" church. Amazingly, his city also has 3 "underground" Christian schools. He talked about how the Christians have been arrested and even killed in his country.

Then, as the interview was about to end, he began to speak very urgently and passionately. He said something to this effect: "I would like all of you to know that my church and the Christians in my country are praying that President Bush will be reelected."....

@Ray D.
Doesn’t that represent massive interference in internal US affairs?

You mean similar like when Jesse Helms, back then a Republican on the US-Senate Foreign Relations Committee, threatened in the week (talking of sharp timing!) before the German Federal election of 2002 to propose to withdraw US-troops from Germany if the German people should re-elect Schroeder and if a "constructive dialogue" (e.g. saying Yes) on Iraq wouldn't be achieved?

I find such outside "pressure" for elections stupid and most of all counter-productive (achieving often rather the opposite, a Trotz-Reaktion), but a democratic right of free citizens organized in free political parties.

UPDATE for our readers: You can contact a number of organizations and institutions to voice your displeasure on this matter, we suggest contacting the White House, the State Department and the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. Please email us with any other suggestions as to whom it would be useful to contact on this.

If you guys indeed feel this is a worthy cause (which I don't), try also listing a German line of approach, not just one for American citizens. You know...things like US-embassy in Berlin, German Foreign ministry, Green Party, etc.. As this is a blog by a German!?

BTW: Condi Rice will be in Berlin on May 17th AFAIK. If you guys organize a small support-rally for her, I'll come watch and say Hi to you. (alternatively a protest-rally outside the German foreign ministry?)

Hier wird versucht, Misshandlungen von Gefangenen durch Sadams Massengräber zu relativieren.

Die Einseitigkeit von Spiegel-Online ist immer wieder offensichtlich, aber ihr seid keinen Deut besser - diese Seite ist ein Paradebeispiel für schwarz-weißes Denken!!

Ich beobachte diesen Blog regelmäßig und mir ist unverständlich, wie man so konsequent eindimensional argumentieren kann-!

Politisch-differenziertes Denken bedeutet, jeden Sachverhalt aus mindestens zwei Perpektiven zu beleuchten - das könnt ihr so wenig wie Spiegel-Online.

Schönen Gruß
Henning

Helms’s comments were made as part of a much more detailed response as it pertained to members of the SPD making a comparison of President Bush to Hitler. Helms voiced the opinion of many Americans. It is unfortunate he chose to retire from the Senate.

Of course, what Helms was actually seeing was that NATO had accomplished it mission and should in many ways either be restructured or disbanded. It would seem this has become the position of the German government as it relates to NATO.

I fully support the withdrawal of US forces from Germany. I think this is very much a position that both the German people and the Germany government agree with. The quicker this withdrawal takes place and the sooner NATO is disbanded Europe will able to implement its own vision and version of a common European foreign and defense policy.

Klink,

I can't believe HOW pathetic you are... So those posters have nothing to do with interference in internal affairs of another country ???? Your desperate efforts to relativate this negative campaign is amazing !

How can you compare what was said by one Republican voice before German elections with this carefully orchestrated and wide-spread Green campaign ? You really don't see ANY difference ? Are those poster quite OK for you ??

Are you going claim that this is NORMAL behaviour on part of the Greens ? I can only begin to imagine how the German media and politicians would react if a US party had a poster similar to those ones. Klink, oh Klink...

Someone here please help me to understand the current rot that is so damn pervasive in the minds of many in germany- With the entire country of germany being both an economic and a moral disgrace- how do they make such constant criticisms of the US military when the cowardice of modern day german "soldiers" is as legendary as their past military blunders? How do you explain that a country that was refuge for both the madrid and the US terror attacks shows no shame in this and does NOTHING but lash out at a country like the US whose successes make germany's quite shallow.
Why no mention in the german press any in-depth coverage of US/UN military FEMALE (48 yrs old!) police being killed by a jihad pussy from Jordan while in Kosovo? When are you fools in germany going to have even the slightest capability to either fix your own pathetic country and clear the heads of your citizens whose dilushionment and embrace of a brain-less welfare existence is extraordinary?
Germany- Continue your anti-american drivel that serves you well in keeping you from seeing your own horrendous society and please advise the US govt that ALL US MILTARY PERSONEL currently in germany can re-locate elsewhere and that you will neither soil your lederhosen in fear or cry tears at the departure. Enough is enough of your sophomoric and pathetic crap Germany. You (explicative del.) are now on your own.
The brightest of the minds and the intellectuals left europe of the last several centuries, leaving nothing but you modern day fools behind- and now you fools have filled that void with welfare seeking (explicative del.) who share your views of Israel and disdain for the US
Germany played no role in the toppling of the 21st century's greatest dictator, a guy one notch below the german leader Hitler. The German contribution to his fall was simply petty obstructionism and cheap child-like comments that your giovt and pathetic press share so well. That is fact and something that should be hard to swallow for most germans. It is time for germany to show the WORLD that IT can take care of itself and has the ability to follow-through and repair the GERMAN internal crises created by the 1 million potential jihadi cowards among you. Or will you and your kind continue to (explicative del.) until they behave like good little immigrant refugees? Are you so dependent on their "tax revenues" that you are willing to whore yourself out to them?
I predict an enormous failure of the "eu" across the board, and I will re-visit this site in 12 months to celebrate the down-fall of this welfare shell game.
An article from the Telegraph describing the modern day heroism of the german troops trying to do something other than (explicative del.) their own continent again, but fail-
* "German troops 'hid like rabbits' in Kosovo riots"
By Tony Paterson in Berlin for the UK's Telegraph
(Filed: 09/05/2004)

German troops serving with the Kfor international peacekeeping contingent in Kosovo have been accused of hiding in barracks "like frightened rabbits" during the inter-ethnic rioting that erupted in the province in March.
A hard-hitting German police report sent to the Berlin government last week criticises the troops for cowardice and for their failure to quell the rioting in which 19 people died and about 900 others were injured.
German soldiers board a transport aircraft bound for Kosovo at the military airport of Wunstorf, Hanover.
The charges - the most serious made against the German army since the Second World War - have been levelled by police officers serving with Unmik, the United Nations civil administration in Kosovo.
During the two-day riots between Albanian and Serbs, an Albanian mob burnt and looted 29 Serb churches and monasteries in the southern city of Prizren, and caused several thousand Serbs to flee their homes.
Leaked excerpts from the report on the conduct of the 3,600-strong German contingent based in Prizren disclose that Unmik police were left to fend for themselves at the height of the rioting.
"Despite continuous appeals for help from Kfor, nobody from the military appeared to back up the police," the report said. "Kfor proved to be incapable of carrying out the duties to which it has been assigned."
Further damning evidence, based on interviews with Unmik officers, Serb church leaders and unnamed UN officials in Prizren, was published in Der Spiegel magazine.
The magazine concluded: "The German soldiers ran away and hid like frightened rabbits in their barracks. They only reappeared in armoured vehicles after the Albanian mob had wreaked its havoc and left a trail of destruction."

Col Dieter Hintelmann, who heads the German Kfor contingent in Prizren, insisted that his men had simply obeyed Kfor rules of engagement. They prohibit troops from protecting buildings and allow the use of firearms only in self-defence. "We were acting exactly according to the rules," he said.

However, the Unmik officers claim that the Kfor troops had breached their rules of engagement because they failed to protect them even though they were legally bound to do so.

The allegations have come as a severe embarrassment to Gerhard Schroder's government, which in the past has gone out of its way to praise the German Kfor contingent for the role it played in the troubled province through its excellent contacts with local people.

After the rioting, Serb Orthodox church leaders in Kosovo described the German deployment in the region as a mistake, and demanded the troops withdraw.

So far, the German government has refused to acknowledge publicly the complaints made in the police report. However, the defence ministry is believed to be recommending that the law be changed, allowing soldiers to use tear gas grenades for riot control.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/05/09/wkos09.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/05/09/ixworld.html

Note from David: Regarding the deletion of a few explicatives in this comment please see my remarks at the end of the comment of Dennis.

How sad is pato's comment ?
Imagine there would be such a comment from bush-critics on this blog. What would happen ? It would be deleted immediatly without comment, not only for all the swearing, but also for the content. And rightly so. If you want to keep up the dialogue with people of the other party, I suggest to delete this comment. Not only is is highly generalizing and packed with cliches, it also insults (not critisize) all germans. And for me personally, it hurts to see such a radical on this blog. If you want to be progressive, you can't allow such comments, because it stops the dialogue, and thus this blog would only be a place to spread propaganda. Nothing more.

Note from David: I censor when people in this blog's comment section attack this block or Ray or me with foul language. Attacking the U.S. or Germany is not forbidden.

Having said that I would have liked Pato to avoid some of the language he used. We have asked him to refrain from this in the past, and we will do this again in this case. I will delete some of the explicatives in his comment. Other than that, his comment can stand. Don't forget, Americans lost thousands of their folks liberating Germany. They later spent billions to defend us. It is understandable that they are upset about us criticizing them in harshest words. I don't understand why we should be upset about them. How and when did we earn that privilege?

BTW: I occasionally had asked people in the past not to get into the habit of counterattacking each and every posting in this blog. I had deleted some comments in such instances. I'm not doing this anymore. It's too time consuming.

I'm a little confused about the Green platform. It seems to me that the comment about having to do everything to make sure Bush doesn't get re-elected was something Cohn-Bendit said in an interview, and you say that it is part of the Green party's official platform. Could you provide a link where this is included in their official platform?

Note from David: The Cohn-Bendit interview on their official election web site. This is not Cohn-Bendits site, it's - I repeat it for better understanding - the official web site of the Greens for the European election.
Also, you may want to check the Bush critic in the Green's European election programme.

@WhatDoIKnow
How can you compare what was said by one Republican voice before German elections with this carefully orchestrated and wide-spread Green campaign ?

What "carefully orchestrated and wide-spread" campaign? Have I missed something then please enlighten me. I see a newspaper-interview with one Green voice reprinted on the Green's website. Is that a "carefully orchestrated and wide-spread" campaign?

As I said, I find Cohn-Bendit's remark rather stupid (like my other comparison as well) and also to re-print this interview on their site and I have no doubt that - the Greens being typical Greens - you can find more of such voices as Greens are traditionally anti-Right, but "carefully orchestrated and wide-spread" is to me more massive TV-spots, etc., not a lone interview in a newspaper. Duh.

Note from David: Check their poster regarding cloning (you mention it in your next comment). Check the Green programme. Also, the Cohn-Bendit interview is listed on the official election homepage of the Greens.

Further, the chairman of the Greens demands Rumsfelds resignation.

I forgot their one poster with the gazillion Bush-pictures.

Guest Commentary
Double-Standard Journalism

By James L. Lambert
May 7, 2004

(AgapePress) - Since the release of the pictures showing the abuse of the Iraqi prisoners featured on 60 Minutes II, we have been reminded of this catastrophe every day by our friends in the media.

Certainly the actions of a small group of service people were abhorrent. What was done in this Iraqi prison does not represent the U.S. armed forces in general. However, you would not know this from the reaction from the media. They are obsessed with the prisoners' abuse, repeatedly showing the photos, describing the occurrences in detail, and questioning every one in sight. Make no mistake, the actions of these few military personnel are inexcusable and should be dealt with severely. Yet, there is an obvious double-standard in the journalistic community -- and we should be reminded about it as well.

While it is natural for the media to question this prison abuse, we are warned by the media of their reluctance to show the mutilated bodies of the four American civilian contractors who were murdered outside of Fallujah, Iraq. Not only were these Americans brutally burned and murdered, some of their bodies were dragged through the streets by a group of chanting thugs and then hung on poles.

Yet those same media groups were quite anxious to show us the images of the Iraqi prisoners who were forced into terribly compromising positions while under the watch of American troops. Yet they were reluctant to distribute, and in some cases would not show us, the graphic images of those Americans who were brutally killed and paraded around in Fallujah. Why?

September 11 was a terrible day in American history! America absorbed the worst single-day mass murder of its citizens in history, but already many liberals in the media don't want to remind us with these "old" images. On the first and second anniversaries of 9-11, television media were reluctant for us "to relive" these images. Some, like CNN, would not re-air some of the graphic scenes from this important episode in our history, even though many of their friends in the media (CBS, NBC, ABC) were just miles from the epicenter of this disaster. Even some in the European press still believe that 9-11 was a "Zionist" fabrication that was used to sway sympathy toward America and against Arab countries. Not only do they want to keep these vivid images out of the American consciousness, they would like to soften the truth for public consumption.

Words can be a powerful thing. Remember this passage when you were growing up? "The pen is mightier than the sword." This is especially true with words used by the media. These days we don't want to offend people by saying "murderers"; instead, we'll replace it with "freedom fighters." "Killers" is too harsh of a word; we'll replace it with "sympathizers."

The irony of much of this twisted reporting is that the media did not even want to show one of its own who had been brutally murdered by Islamic extremists. Remember Daniel Pearl? As a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Pearl was seeking an exclusive interview in Pakistan. He happened to be captured by some terrorist group. Pearl was brutally murdered and beheaded. Pictures of his head were released by the murderous thugs to the Arab media.

But here in the U.S., our media friends were again reluctant to show these pictures. Many media groups would not! Why? If anything, these pictures would clearly show what these terrorists are all about. Perhaps this would be too much for the American public to handle? But these same media groups were quite eager for us to see the images of the abused Iraqi prisoners.

What is sad about all this is that if anything, this recent effort by the media will endanger lives in the Middle East. President Bush attempted to relay the message that these actions "by the very few" does not reflect our servicemen and servicewomen in Iraq and is "not the America that I know."

This is the message that the media needs to convey -- instead of its own spin.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

James L. Lambert, who resides in San Diego, California, is a frequent contributor to AgapePress. He is the author of Porn in America (Huntington House), which can be purchased through the American Family Association; and a licensed loan sales agent who offers all types of real-estate mortgage loans. He can be reached via his website or by calling 1-800-656-8603.

© 2004 AgapePress all rights reserved.

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http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/5/72004jl.asp

Klink,

You know what ALL Communist Party activists had in common ? Whether they were informed or not, the MAIN thing was to be louder than anyone else. The less arguments they had, the more aggressive they were. They made an art out of this.

I don't think you have any sympathies for them, but whether consciously or unconsciously you behave just like them. It is at times repulsive.

@Dennis,

Would you please identify which part of Pato's post that both upset you and you found to be so distasteful.

Thank you.

Hi there,

why exactly do you complain that American soldiers who torture Iraquis are more interesting to media (any media, be it American, British or German) than Baathists who torture Iraquis. This ought to be so.

We know that Iraq was run by a dictator, we know that hundreds of thousands were killed. That is what we expect to happen in a dicatorship. This is why the operation is called "Iraqui Freedom".

What we do not expect is that soldiers from a democratic country torture prisoners. And the way it looks now, they most probably were ordered to do so by secret service officials.

Media write and talk about the unusual not the usual. That's the way it is.

Matthias

Note from David: That's humbug. The media want to write and talk about Bush's alleged failures, that's the reason for all the critique. If it were because of torture and violence in a "democratic country", why not extensively report on the widespread abuse of prisoners and asylum applicants in Germany? The material is easily available...

@WhatDoIKnow
Whether they were informed or not, the MAIN thing was to be louder than anyone else. The less arguments they had, the more aggressive they were. They made an art out of this.

Not just the communists, but any slightly fanatical political people as well. (I won't quote any Rummy-bonmots from press-conferences now when confronted with difficult questions. ;-) Or religious fanatism.

I don't think you have any sympathies for them, but whether consciously or unconsciously you behave just like them. It is at times repulsive.

It comes from the "Oberlehrer"-hat I am having on here. When in Rome,..., you know the mantra.

I will show your quote about me though to me GF and maybe a couple of colleagues - it'll be a riot for them. Maybe we'll meet some day in RL, then you'll how far off you were. *g* (you live in Germany, right?)

Dennis and Joe:

This article about what happened during the riots in Kosovo is news to me. On the U.S. side, we only heard a small blurb about riots in Kosovo. We did not hear anything about the performance of KFOR in exercising their duties. Pato, despite his rhetoric, has served this blog well by informing us on an issue in which the press has not followed up on.

Second point, I believe Pato is neither a U.S. citizen or German, he is Dutch. I think Germans need to be aware that before they go off lecturing Americans about "torture" that there is a coalition of the willing that have soldiers in Iraq too. 99.99% of both American and coalition soldiers have performed honorably in executing their duties in Irak.

David, re. your earlier response to my post of 7:06 p.m.: With all due respect, I think it is disingenuous of you to refer to an interview presented on the Greens' website as part of their official platform - as if the party members all got together and signed off on Cohn-Bendit's statement verbatim.

As for the Greens' transatlantic agenda: okay, it points out what the Greens envision re. transatlantic relations and in that context they critique current US foreign policy. No big surprise there. Did you expect them to be Bush fans?

Note from David: It is highly unusual for a political party to sharply criticize in an election programme and on the official election web site the government of an alliance partner. It's even worse because the foreign minister of Germany is member of the Greens. Just try to imagine the reaction of the German media if the U.S. Republicans would make the removal of Schroeder and DOD minister Struck a topic on their election web site. But don't worry, the Republicans wouldn't do this, though they certainly are no Schroeder fans...

In any case, whatever the Greens put on their official election site can be interpreted as their official position. It's their responsibility to prove the opposite.

@George M.
This article about what happened during the riots in Kosovo is news to me. On the U.S. side, we only heard a small blurb about riots in Kosovo. We did not hear anything about the performance of KFOR in exercising their duties. Pato, despite his rhetoric, has served this blog well by informing us on an issue in which the press has not followed up on.

Uuuh, Pato's Telegraph-Article was actually mostly only a short summary of the original 5-page documentation on this issue in this week's SPIEGEL. Telegraph even credited SPIEGEL.

But since SPIEGEL isn't really welcome here, I guess we had to wait until other media mentions it?

BTW: SPIEGEL additionally mentioned how troops from Italy, France or Greece had injured soldiers during the riots, but no injured amongst Germans (cause they had hidden apparently). And how German police-men stationed there frantically radioed German troops for help, but none came. SPIEGEL's reveleation was a disturbing read and I hope it will trigger consequences, if only half of it is true.

Note from David: It may come as a surprise to you, Klink, but in fact I try to avoid reading SPIEGEL, simply because the journal has become so disgusting. I do read it, though, whenever I learn about an interesting article, as in this case.
Wished, I had heard earlier about the behavior of the German troops in Kosovo. In any case: we'll do a posting on this. Will still be news to our American visitors.

With all due respect, I think it is disingenuous of you to refer to an interview presented on the Greens' website as part of their official platform

OK, just go to the Green's web-site:

http://www.gruene.de/index.htm

Then click on "Themen" on the left-side, then click on "Internationales." It is the 8th article, right there on the Green web-site, clear as can be. If it is not their "platform" how would you describe it? It is certainly a position the party clearly supports and is exploiting to get elected. I think their poster featuring dozens of pictures of Bush has already made that clear.

We can argue about definitions, whether this article represents a "platform" or a "position." But it is clear that Fischer's Greens are engaged in a cynical game of America bashing for political gain.

anonymous at 10:20 (is this David?),

Note from David: No. It was Ray. He filled in his name in the meantime.

Perhaps we quibble over terms. To me, an official platform is something that is presented as such and is agreed on by the party in some way. The collection of links on the page you pointed me to is a series of news items outlining positions of various Green politicians. So be that as it may - I'd call it a position, you want to call it a platform, I don't have much beef with that - it's the 'official' label that I would dispute.

I disagree with your characterization of the Greens as being "engaged in a cynical game of America bashing for political gain" - there is a certain lefty, anti-American demographic in Germany, and the Greens to a great extent represent that. What is cynical about it? That's like saying that the CDU cynically exploit Christian values for political gain.

I disagree with your characterization of the Greens as being "engaged in a cynical game of America bashing for political gain" - there is a certain lefty, anti-American demographic in Germany, and the Greens to a great extent represent that. What is cynical about it? That's like saying that the CDU cynically exploit Christian values for political gain.

The difference is the CDU is not tearing down Christian values to get elected. The Greens are tearing down the USA. Not only is that America-bashing, it also represents a degree of intellectual bankruptcy. Instead of being able to get elected on their own merits, they have to tear someone else down and exploit people's hate/jealousy to collect votes. It is their good right to have that position, but again, the USA and the Bush Administration also have the good right to react accordingly to it.

politicians go for political gain and in doing so engage in cynical techniques?
really? you must be kidding me.
I never heard of that one. That really marks a new deep in the history of partypolitical attrocities.
gone are the days where the only ones you could trust were political parties.
:)

I am a bit surprised by some of the comments made here. I am sure that many share the views expressed by Jens. What is surprising is their failure to see the complexities that exist in the war on terror. European posters have repeatedly told me that they possess the ability to see the complexities of modern world where most Americans lack this ability.

There are three objectives in the war on terror, which at times are times in conflict with each other. The first of these goals is to control the terrorists and to eliminate them as a threat to our society and our way of life. The second goal is to punish these terrorists for the acts they have committed. The final goal is to obtain information from them to prevent future acts of terror.

I would think a more detail discussion of not only what these conflicts are, why they exists or the problems they present to western democracies is not necessary. Where there might be a need for more discussion is when and under what set of conditions do these competing objectives take prescient.

Of course, it is more likely they chose not to see any of this. I am equally sure they feel that places like Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald did not exist either just as their grandparents failed to see.

Imagine the Republicans hyping the dirty deads of Germans in order to win the anti-German votes in the US. Other than being completely worthless since Americans are indifferent to Germany, I could imagine the outrage in the German media. How dare they! If one remark by Rumsfeld about "Old Europe" can cause such a hellstorm in Germany...

@David and Ray:

The KFOR incident that Pato, and later Klink mentioned, caused me to do some reflecting.

One of the reoccuring themes coming out of World War II was the role of the Wehrmacht. Wehrmacht officers were trained in old world chivalry and tradition. They were sometimes out of step with the NSDAP, whose members were fanatic and lunatic about their Party's political agenda.

Everyone acknowledges that the hard core NSDAP and their military units (SS, Einseldienst, GESTAPO ) commited atrocities, whether during Operation Barbarosa (The invasion of the Soviet Union) or during the execution of the "Final Solution." These were people that were either clouded by their fanaticism or who were just plain evil.

A question that is often asked is why didn't the Wehrmacht intervene. Certainly, the Wehrmacht had personal knowledge of massacres by the Waffen SS and SS Einseldienst in Russia. Certainly, Wehrmacht officers must have known that these killings were counterproductive to their mission in Russia. All that the killings did were to solidify Russian resistance to the German invasion.

Dito in regards to the Final Solution. Transportation resources were redirected from the war effort to support the transportation of victims to the gas chambers.

Although the Wehrmacht did not participate directly in atrocities, the world has judged against the Wehrmacht because their non-interference or condonement of the killings was an omission.

An omission can be as damning as a plain error.

With this backdrop, what a few Americans did in Iraq to abuse Iraqi prisoners was plain error.

However, can not what the Bundeswehr did in Kosovo, specifically hide in their barracks during an uprising when they had a duty to protect the local populace, be classified as a grave omission?

This is not the first time that Europeans have committed omissions in the Balkans. Remember Serbinicia. A battalion of Dutch soldiers, tasked by the UN to guard this predominately Muslim city from the Serbs, basically laid down their arms and handed over the male population to Bosnian Serbs, who killed these people. The Dutch were afforded safe passage out of town, without thier weapons or equipment, and were later observed drinking beer at a beach resort on the coast.

In the incident described above in Kosovo, 9 people lost their lives, arguably because the Bundeswehr did not do their duty. If the Bundeswehr could have saved these people if they had immediately and dutifully acted, then isn't the Bundeswehr responsible for more deaths in Kosovo then U.s. soldiers are alledgedly responsible for in the torture scandal. (I have heard that the Army is classifying two deaths of Iraqi prisoner's as homocides. There may be more deaths classified as homocides as investigations proceed.)

I am not saying that the U.s. soldiers in question, and their chain of command are not culpable, and that there are major consequences for their acts. But I am also saying that Europeans, especially Germans, should not be so smug. Through their omissions, they have unclean hands.

I'd like to hear from guys like Klink to see what kind of spin they may have on this subject.

" A battalion of Dutch soldiers, tasked by the UN to guard this predominately Muslim city from the Serbs, basically laid down their arms and handed over the male population to Bosnian Serbs, who killed these people. The Dutch were afforded safe passage out of town, without thier weapons or equipment, and were later observed drinking beer at a beach resort on the coast."

Interesting you should bring that one up. As a result of this incident, the Dutch PM and his entire cabinet took responsibility and drew the consequences... they resigned.

Matthias: re: "What we do not expect is that soldiers from a democratic country torture prisoners. And the way it looks now, they most probably were ordered to do so by secret service officials."

That is totally irrelevant. The soldiers themselves are responsible for their actions.

This was settled once and for all in the court martial concerning the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam.

When enlisted, the very first objective in the soldier's oath is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. This was obvious to me when I took that oath myself in 1969. The My Lai trial settled that this is our soldiers' primary obligation. Cruel and unusual punishment is most definitely un-Constitutional. Every single one of those people had the responsibility to refuse to obey any orders given to that effect. If they had to defend themselves in a court martial, they would have won their case without question.

I expect that the responsibility goes as far as local battalion or company officers, but no further than that. Washington does not micro-manage the military... they expect them to protect and defend the Constitution as sworn in their enlistment oath.

PS: The Secret Service protects political figures like the President and the Supreme Court. They are NOT an "intelligence" organization, and are not in Iraq at all. They are employees of the Treasury Department, not the Defense Department.

The Bundeswehr's omission is certainly noteworthy and should be investigated, if it hasn't been already, and the appropriate measures taken.

As for comparing the exact number of people dead (9 in the Kosovo incident vs. whatever number that were killed in the prisons in Iraq - see below) strikes me as nitpicking - we are certainly talking about the same ballpark here, so what's the point? Not only that, I think it misses the point as we are comparing apples and oranges. Why look at the murders in isolation instead of in the context of an organised torture program that was tolerated and apparently condoned by the Bush administration at fairly high levels?

Keep in mind that Bush was briefed not only about such things going on, but was explicitly warned (by Bremer) that if this policy was not changed, the political fallout would be substantial and damaging to American interests in the region. Bush failed to act as a result of this, as did Rumsfeld. Staying the course was certainly not the right answer in this case.

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Twenty-five prisoners have died while being held by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and two of them were murdered in Iraq by Americans, U.S. Army officials said on Tuesday.
[...]
The official said a third death among the 25 being investigated was ruled a justifiable homicide, saying it occurred while a prisoner was attempting to escape.

Of the other 22 death investigations involving prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, 12 prisoners were found to have died either by natural or undetermined causes and a further 10 deaths were still being investigated. The Army did not say in which countries the 25 killings occurred but said the vast majority were in Iraq not Afghanistan."

http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=5038799&section=news

Theresa, I think you're absolutely correct in saying that the soldiers themselves are accountable. However, by the same logic so are any superior officers, however high up the chain, who were aware of such behavior and tolerated it. Would you agree with that?

Hi Theresa,

you are certainly right that these soldiers should have refused to carry out these orders.

Nevertheless I think it is one thing if soldiers overreact or develop the so-called "prisoner's-guard syndrome" and a completly different thing if there is a system of abuse and mistreatment in order to make prisoners talk. The emphasis should then be on trying to find the responsible people in the various intelligence agencies rather than getting these soldiers to court.

Matthias

P.S.: I sloppily translated "Geheimdienst" into "Secret Service" in my earlier post. Thanks for putting it right.

"Keep in mind that Bush was briefed not only about such things going on, but was explicitly warned (by Bremer) that if this policy was not changed, the political fallout would be substantial and damaging to American interests in the region. Bush failed to act as a result of this, as did Rumsfeld. Staying the course was certainly not the right answer in this case."

I may be wrong about Bush himself being briefed about this. Here is one source:

"Bremer repeatedly raised the issue of prison conditions as early as last fall -- both in one-on-one meetings with Rumsfeld and other administration leaders, and in group meetings with the president's inner circle on national security. Officials described Bremer as 'kicking and screaming' about the need to release thousands of uncharged prisoners and improve conditions for those who remained." (Washington Post, Graham, 5/7/04)

It doesn't actually say that Bush himself was briefed, only his "inner circle on national security". If it's true, however, that Bush himself was not involved in such a meeting, it doesn't speak well at all of the attention Bush paid to a central issue in his presidency - what is going on in Iraq and how that affects US national security.

@more human than human,

I am not so sure the term you and the much of the German and Arab media of torture is accurate. Abuse, yes. Something not to be proud of probably. But torture, that is a little bit dramatic. It is however an excellent choice of words for those who continue to both oppose the war and who chose not to involve themselves.

Joe,

A curious point you make...

We have yet to hear exact details of what happened, but so far we have heard of beating or applying "stressful positions" leading to death in at least two cases, we have heard of several cases of rape (which apparently were videotaped), and we have vicious dogs let loose on a naked and defenseless man and drawing blood. In my book, that's pretty "dramatic" stuff. Unless these turn out to be complete fabrications, then I would think that's just a little beyond "something not to be proud of", and even the term 'abuse' seems mighty euphemistic.

Why you would shy away from the word torture in such cases is something I don't understand. Where exactly would you draw the line? How much further would they have to go for you to call it torture?

From your last sentence it seems you are simply unwilling to use this word because you perceive it as undermining your political side, namely the pro-war side.

I think that even (or especially) the pro-war side should have an interest in seeing this addressed promptly (even being upset that it wasn't dealt with earlier and more effectively) since it is the abuse and torture (especially if systematic and condoned from on high) that severely undermines one of the pillars of what the coalition is hoping to achieve in Iraq - namely to win hearts and minds in order to establish a pro-Western democracy.

Joe
I am sure that many share the views expressed by Jens.
...
I am equally sure they feel that places like Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald did not exist either just as their grandparents failed to see.

[quote repeated for additional attention. gsr.]

@George M.
With this backdrop, what a few Americans did in Iraq to abuse Iraqi prisoners was plain error.

Your backdrop is silly. This isn't a "my country's history vs. your country's history"-contest and second, I don't see how you can even suggest a comparison of this incident to Hitler's Wehrmacht. Of course the Wehrmacht gets the bad-guy-card there - trivial truth. Do you really wanna make such comparison and does that change anything?

And while the wideness of the problem is currently investigated, the real problem about these Iraqi incidents was mostly the dramatic visual effect in the pictures - the martyr-pose on a box, the guy crawling on the floor on a leash held by a female soldier, etc. It was about symbolism - without the pictures, it might be out of the news by now.

"Plain error" is when I punch in the wrong code for my ATM-card, not when I leash a naked man.

But I am also saying that Europeans, especially Germans, should not be so smug. Through their omissions, they have unclean hands.

Through their omission in this one incident, the German KFOR-Unit has apparently special guilt on their hands, which was now reported in Germany's largest weekly magazine.

Through the omissions in Kosovo in the past years, all of KFOR has guilt on their hands. Organized crime is booming like nothing and we all (including Germany and US) looked the other way and these riots were predictable - it was just a matter of when. I fear a similar fate for Afghanistan, btw.

@Klink:

"through their omission in this one incident, the German KFOR-Unit has apparently special guilt on their hands, which was now reported in Germany's largest weekly magazine."

Is this same largest weekly magazine calling for Schroeder's or his Defense Minister's resignation?


@George M:

"Is this same largest weekly magazine calling for Schroeder's or his Defense Minister's resignation?"

Why, was the omission sanctioned from on high?

Try this story on for size:

http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/006726.php

I'm sure the Euro media wont be correcting themselves on this one...

I hav found a nice site about tortoure in Irak,
(Not interesting for fans of Saddam Hussein, includes no evil American)

http://www.handsoffcain.org/caino/navig/argomentolist.jsp?id=121

@more human than not

It is very obvious that you tend to believe all the press has reported to date. Given the position that Big Media takes on most of these issues, I am not at this time prepared to accept all of these reports at face value. I am more than prepared to call torture, torture if that is in the end what it was. Of course, I am not particularlly pleased with any of it. Having said that I also have a realistic view of the actions taken.

We truly do disagree on the defintion of abuse and torture. Most of the pictures I have seen are of abuse and culture humiliation not torture.

I am sure those who did this will be punished as they should be. Equally this is not a process where there should not be a rush to judgement because as much as these actions undermind the goals and objectives of what is trying to be accomplish, a quick judgement however desireable that might be would be equally wrong.

>Why, was the omission sanctioned from on high?

I guess yes. This turning the blind eye on the ongoing crimes in Kosovo cannot possibly have slipped the mind of German leaders (and if it had, even worse). Much as I'm sometimes very unjust in my comments about the US government, when I get upset with the way it's hailed here (and I admit, my top comment is really too harsh and far from fair, so I apologise), but the German governments record in Kosovo is far worse than the US record in Iraq.

>Why, was the omission sanctioned from on high?

I guess yes. This turning the blind eye on the ongoing crimes in Kosovo cannot possibly have slipped the mind of German leaders (and if it had, even worse). Much as I'm sometimes very unjust in my comments about the US government, when I get upset with the way it's hailed here (and I admit, my top comment is really too harsh and far from fair, so I apologise), but the KFOR record in Kosovo is far worse than the US record in Iraq.

Oops, sorry didn't mean to send this twice.

@Klink

I suggest you read the comment made by Jens.

And are you really telling me that no members of the Wehrmacht ever committed either abuse or torture during the war? I find that some what hard to believe.

Of course, it is very possible they did not. Their actions in Kosovo would indicate today they do not engage in any hositle acts against anyone.

@Joe:

"I'm sure the Euro media wont be correcting themselves on this one..."

Why, has he been reported as a genuine victim?

@Joe:

Never mind - just saw the update that he's been shown on SBS TV and German news.

The recent riot in Kosovo cost 19 lives and 900 injured!
Of course I was also reminded of the Dutch. After they left the scene shamefully and frightened 8000 Muslim men were murdere by the Serbs a few hours later! Men? Not only! The Serbs took also all the boys from 12 upwards!
And of course many women were killed, too. A lot were raped and kept in "recreational areas" for Serb soldiers to be raped again!

Now we are told that possibly an Iraki woman was raped in an American prison! This news without proof is more interesting for the German media for the next 25 years than 8000 murdered Bosniaks!

@more human than human,

You now have me more confused. BTW which is very easy to accomplish. I am not sure what the euro media was going to correct .......and what did you just see on the news.

Thanks.

@ Marabut

For a rape to occour does not surprise me. Those things happen be they in Iraq or the US or Germany or any place else. This is very much a crime. I would not consider it to be torture but a crimial act and should be treated as such. Under the US Code of Military Justice the sentence for this can be very hard. If this individual is convicted it would not surprise me that the sentence would be in the range of 15 - 20 years. While the death is a possible sentence as well as life, I do not think this would be the sentence as much as some would want to make an example of this individual.

@Joe:

"Given the position that Big Media takes on most of these issues, I am not at this time prepared to accept all of these reports at face value."

I did qualify it a number of different ways, that we had to wait for more detail, these could be fabrications etc. but if what we have heard (but has not yet been confirmed) is true, then I would definitely file it under torture. I agree with you that some of what has been portrayed in pictures falls under abuse, not torture. The recent picture of the naked man with dog handlers around him just about crosses the line, especially if the account that follows is true - that the dogs were let loose on him and bit him, drawing blood. The men who were beaten to death were subjected to torture, not abuse, in my book. You don't abuse someone to death without ever crossing the line into torture.

"Most of the pictures I have seen are of abuse and culture humiliation not torture."

You say "most" - which ones would you say depict torture?

I also happen to agree with you that, while the process must be seen to be starting soon, it should also be thorough, and the time taken to do this properly.

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