Not that you should care...it's really nothing of any importance...don't even know whether it happened at all. AND IF SO, WHAT WOULD IT PROVE?
Anyway, since you're asking, here's the story (again, no big deal, really):
EU Soldiers Accused of Torturing Civilians in Congo The Swedish military has accused French soldiers of torturing civilians during the EU-led Operation Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003, one of the bloc's first joint missions.
Five years ago, the European Union sent some 1,500 soldiers to DR Congo as part of a UN mission to take action against the bandits marauding the north-eastern part of the country. The troops were there to protect the civilians.
Now the Swedish military is saying that French soldiers tortured Congolese civilians during the operation. The German government, which didn't send troops on the mission but provided logistical assistance, couldn't confirm the accusations.
"The Foreign Ministry is not aware of the report," a ministry spokeswoman told DW-WORLD.DE. "We will examine the issue."
Now - that means a lot, I can tell you. Until the examination is finished (somewhere in the vicinities of the 22nd century), the German media's coverage of the incident will be merciless till truth is found.
After all, what's all the fuss about torture? I mean, there was a war going on, and some folks got a bit agitated in the course of it... Perhaps these "civilians" weren't so civil at all?
Don't we have more important things to talk about? Such as this incredible, huge torture scandal in Abu Ghraib which for the upteenth time was presented in last week's edition of German left wing weekly magazine stern. (Hat tip Jane)
NOTE from Ray on selective headlines: Something to keep in mind over this Memorial Day weekend: While the US and world media are absolutely obsessed with presenting and re-presenting "US casualties" in every imaginable light and form - in what can only be characterized at this point as willful defeatism - there is virtually no acknowledgment that the US military is slowly bleeding Al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks to death - unless a leader so large is killed that they can't ignore it. Why won't they show the massive casualties taken by the insurgents? CNN will show snipers killing US soldiers - but they won't show you this.
Or perhaps author Justin Webb was correct. Writing of the European left, he observed:
"The protests against nuclear weapons, for instance,
concentrated on American weapons. The anti-war rallies were against
American-led wars. The anti death penalty campaign focused on Texas. A pattern was emerging and has never seriously been
altered. A pattern of willingness to condemn America for the tiniest
indiscretion - or to magnify those indiscretions - while leaving the
murderers, dictators, and thieves who run other nations oddly
Germany’s Defence Ministry today said it was investigating photos published by the country’s biggest-selling newspaper that appeared to show German troops in Afghanistan posing with a skull.
The Bild daily said the macabre pictures, one of which it printed on its front page, showed German peacekeepers near the capital, Kabul, in early 2003.
The uniformed men were seen holding up the skull and posing with it on a 4x4 vehicle; one is seen exposing himself with the skull.
Bild’s headline declared: “German soldiers desecrate a dead person.”
The newspaper said it was unclear where the skull came from, or whether it belonged to an Afghan or dated back to the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. It did not say how it obtained the photos.
“We are taking the accusations seriously,” said Defence Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe said. He added that Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung had ordered they be looked into immediately.
“It is clear and unambiguous that such behaviour on the part of German soldiers absolutely cannot be tolerated ... the pictures arouse repulsion,” Bild quoted Jung as saying.
One of the pictures shows a soldier holding the skull next to his penis. (At this time (October 25, 10 a.m. Berlin time) no pictures available on the BILD online site. Well, we can help out... See Update 1 below.)
I'm sure, the German media will - understandably - quickly draw comparisons to Abu Ghraib - especially since the Bundeswehr's image already has some not so pleasant spots. Also, questions will be asked about the responsibilities of Bush Schroeder and Rumsfeld Struck (the pictures were taken in 2003). Of course, the media will agree that the image of Germany is severly tarnished because of the acts of a few nuts. All this I believe to happen in the German media.
Also, I believe that Santa Claus will show up in person in December in all Christian households worldwide.
Update 1: I'm afraid, in the interest of historical truth I can't shelter you from this pic... (parental guidance advised). Tags: Germany, Bundeswehr, Afghanistan.
Update 2: More links: - Video (in English) from Reuters ("German outrage over skull photos") - Video (in German) about the reaction of Germany's defense minister.
MULTAN, Pakistan, May 6 (Reuters) - Students from an Islamic seminary in central Pakistan protested on Saturday against the death of a Pakistani in a Berlin jail by burning German flags and vowing to continue his jihad or holy war.
Amir Cheema, 28, died in custody after he was arrested in Germany on March 20 on charges of attempting to kill the editor of a German newspaper, Die Welt, for reprinting cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad first published in Denmark last year. (emphasis added)
Worldwide, more and more people question the authenticity of Germany's commitment to human rights! Many experts ask questions about the complicity of Germany's government! What did German chancellor Merkel know, what did Interior Minister Schäuble know?
It hurts so much to see Germany - of all countries! - abandoning the rule of law! We are disappointed beyond words in Germany!
Our sympathies are with the poor Pakistani chap who did nothing wrong but was trying to obey his religion's quest for harsh punishment of infidels. We definitely need to understand the root causes of his despair...
"Why is the German media reporting again about the horrible Abu Ghraib pictures taken by dishonorable US soldiers, but not about the even more horrible Darfur pictures taken by an honorable former U.S. Marine?"
In the repeated rush to judge the United States from the moral mountaintops of Europe, most German media have long forgotten Saddam Hussein's reign of terror. A morbid obsession with American crimes, real and perceived, has replaced most authentic concern for international human rights.
It's much the same with Guantanamo Bay. The American prison has become a perverse national obsession in Germany while most Germans ignore the plight of hundreds-of-thousands imprisoned, abused, tortured, and murdered in North Korean, Russian and Iranian prisons. Where is the balance? Where is the sense of proportion?
In pointing out these contradictions, we need to be very clear on one point: It is not our intent at Davids Medienkritik to quell or discourage discussion on the legitimacy of Guantanamo as a means of dealing with stateless enemy combatants or the very real abuses at Abu Ghraib. The very opposite is true: These are vitally important issues and we believe they must be discussed and debated openly and constructively.
But that isn't happening in Germany.Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have become little more than populist baseball bats with which leftists media and political elites repeatedly bludgeon the United States and George W. Bush. Why? Because Bush and fellow conservatives represent a massive ideological threat to everything they stand for. Fairness and objectivity have long been replaced by a sick moral relativism, as the cartoon below (from Tagesspiegel) demonstrates:
"I should have also made such pictures of my crimes at Abu Ghraib. Then maybe I also wouldn't have been held accountable..."
This cartoon is just another example of a media mentality grounded in an array of cynical, flawed assumptions. In this case they include:
The false assertion that President Bush ordered or supported criminal acts at Abu Ghraib and therefore must be held accountable. Unlike Saddam, who knowingly ordered the mass torture and execution of men, women and children, Bush has repeatedly condemned the crimes of American soldiers found guilty of torture and abuse.
The equation of Saddam Hussein's systematic, systemic and intentional mass-murder, torture, invasion and aggression with sporadic abuses committed by US soldiers in clear violation of US law.
A lot of well meaning people on both sides of the Atlantic talk about the need for greater dialog. But many of the same people don't understand how much damage the German media is doing. The central question is one of constructive versus destructive criticism. When we look out across the German media landscape over the past three to four years and beyond, we see far too much of the latter and far too little of the former. That has to change. If it doesn't, meaningful dialog will continue to grow increasingly difficult and the German-American partnership will continue to disintegrate.
Just when you thought you were safe. SPIEGEL has just released another one of its famous hate-America covers. They really can't help themselves. There is an enormous demand for anti-American innuendo in Germany that is simply too lucrative to pass up. The latest edition is a cynical masterpiece:
"America's Shame: Torture in the Name of Freedom"
Torture in the name of freedom? Since when has America advocated torture as a means of promoting freedom? When someone is tortured or abused in a German jail in violation of established standards, does that mean the German government is torturing in the name of democracy as well? When illegal immigrants suffocate or commit suicide in German custody is that also in the name of democracy? It is as if the United States had never addressed the issue. It is as if the McCain bill torture ban had never been passed by Congress and signed by the President.
This is a dangerously cynical equation of two concepts. Particularly in a Europe where the general public is already so jaded that many no longer believe in the concept of freedom. Why? Because instead of reporting on the systematic violation of human rights in nations like North Korea and Iran the German media finds it necessary to exploit two year old photos of Abu Ghraib for profit (again and again). Never mind that Saddam's Abu Ghraib was a thousand times worse or that hundreds of thousands are starving to death in Kim Jong Il's gulags. There is no need for context in the world of asymmetric journalism.
Germany's Shame: Standing By While Dictators Murder Millions
Germany opposed toppling Saddam and his regime of mass graves. It was not Germany or the UN but the United States that ended the killing in the Balkans. And while SPIEGEL lectures us on "America's Disgrace," the German government is out actively promoting business ties and trade fairs with the Sudanese government as the slaughter in Darfur continues. Ex-Chancellor Schroeder favored lifting the EU arms embargo on China, perhaps the world's most prolific violator of human rights. German efforts to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions have proven to be more of the same impotent diplomatic dupery that too many Europeans support at all costs. In the meantime the Iranians have taken advantage of the stalling to advance their insane ambitions to destroy Israel and threaten the world.
The most disgraceful aspect is that Germany has repeatedly coddled, condoned and even assisted regimes of dictatorship and mass murder despite its own disgraceful national history. And then, in an effort to relativize its own shameful history and diplomatic impotency, German media publications like SPIEGEL pump the numb, jaded audience full of the vile America hate to which so many have become emotionally addicted. The irony of it all is that publications like SPIEGEL would not even have the freedom to print this exploitative trash had it not been for the massive sacrifice in lives, blood and toil of American soldiers to liberate Germany from Fascism and defend it from Communism.
"The regulars here know that I consider what happened at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere torture. Spiegel’s latest has nothing to do with opposing torture. How could it? It plays into the hands of the torturers, and pulls the rug out from under those who genuinely oppose torture, and want to stop it once and for all. It is really just so much red meat thrown out to the hordes of pathetic, bitter, envious America-haters who are Spiegel’s “core constituency.” The editors know that anti-Americanism is synonymous with big bucks in Germany. It pays. They’ve been a little reserved in expressing it lately, though, because they know they’re being watched. They don’t want to sacrifice respectability entirely in the pursuit of profit. For that reason, the “new” Abu Ghraib” pictures seemed like a godsend to them. They could strike the all usual phony poses with all the usual fake pathos from the increasingly shaky high ground, and convince themselves no one would call them on it, because, after all, they were “opposing torture.” Their imbecile readers will swallow the bait as usual. Problem is, nobody with a brain is buying it this time around. It’s just to easy to see the money trail leading up to the “moral high ground.” (emphasis ours)
"The images from Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib will endure, and they will haunt America for decades to come. A global power can make mistakes and give in to folly, but when its moral foundation begins to crumble, it is constantly forced to deal with the images of its own humiliation and disgrace."
That is what it is really about for SPIEGEL: Long-term humiliation and disgrace for the United States. Abu-Ghraib as the new Mai Lai.This is not about thoughtful, constructive criticism. This is not about genuine, collegial interest in seeing America right its wrongs. This is not about transatlantic dialog and understanding.
This is about a harmful, vindictive rush to the moral high ground at America's expense. Americans should recognize this shameless bashing for what it is and become extremely wary of any and all criticism they hear blaring from across the Atlantic. Americans must begin to tune-out and turn-off the hateful voices that seek only to profit from their misfortune.
By the way, don't ever expect SPIEGEL to dedicate a cover to this story (no it doesn't matter that it's actually current and not over two years old): America's Pride.
The German media used the incidents in the Abu Ghraib prison to level serious charges against the American government. It was taken as granted that the abuses in Abu Ghraib by a few criminals happened on direct order of the U.S. government or at least with the tacit approval of Mssrs. Bush and Rumsfeld.
On Friday, January 20, 2006, the report 2004 of the "Wehrbeauftragte" (a kind of ombudsman for the German military) was discussed in the German parliament. Chapter 4, appropriately named "Einzelfälle" (single cases), lists an impressive number of abuses by members of the Bundeswehr. Just to name a few:
A private was confined to a locker by his comrades during his initial tour of duty and doused with water through the ventilation opening. The position of the locker gave the impression that they wanted to push it out the window. After reopening the locker the private’s comrades demanded that he climb on top of the locker and chug two bottles of beer. The private was humiliated by slaps to the face and forced to do push-ups and sleep in puddles of beer and broken glass.
A lieutenant commander beat several soldiers on the thigh, shoulder and back with the end of a cable. On another occasion, he got a first lieutenant in a painful head lock. He further struck a lance-corporal on the upper arm and kicked a petty officer first class in the backside.
A staff sergeant assigned to supervise a training station in a troop drilling area discharged a pistol at close range loaded with maneuver ammunition at another staff sergeant and a private. The private suffered a bruise on the thigh resulting from the shot.
In all these cases mild punishments were handed out. None of the culprits had to go to prison for his deeds. None lost his job in the Bundeswehr.
And nowhere did the German media imply that these incidents were typical for the Bundeswehr. The question of tacit approval of the German government for torture and abuse in the Bundeswehr wasn't even raised.
Well, you know, this is what you would expect from a world class media. No generalizations, no false accusations. Just balanced reporting. After all, this is what good old German journalism is all about, right?
On April 15, 1945, the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was liberated by the British,
who were appalled to find most of the 60,000 inmates in critical condition and who were totally unprepared to deal with the situation. During the next five days, 14,000 died, and in the following weeks, another 14,000 succumbed. Bergen-Belsen became the site of a displaced persons' camp, which remained in existence until 1951. Forty-eight former members of the camp staff were tried by the British. Eleven were sentenced to death, including Josef Kramer. They were executed on December 12, 1945. (Source)
Bergen-Belsen SS guards
"Living" conditions in Bergen-Belsen weren't exactly in accordance with the Geneva Convention (which by the way wasn't put into force until 1950):
Beginning in March 1944, Bergen-Belsen gradually became a "regular" concentration camp, the Germans transferring to it, from other camps, prisoners who were classified as "unfit to work." The first group of 1,000 that arrived from Dora were housed in terrible conditions in a new part of the camp; nearly all died quickly and at liberation, only 57 were alive. More transports arrived and most of the prisoners were housed in the former "prisoners' camp." German convicts were also transferred from Dora, to serve as "block elders" and Kapos. They treated the other inmates very brutally.
In August 1944, a women's camp was added. From Buchenwald, 4,000 women prisoners were transferred to the camp and then dispatched to Flossenbuerg. Most of them returned to Bergen-Belsen, sick or exhausted. Women from Plaszow and Auschwitz also were sent to Bergen-Belsen in October 1944, among them Anne Frank and her sister Margot.
At the end of 1944 and early in 1945, a complete deterioration of living conditions set in when thousands of survivors of death marches began to reach the camp. The administration did not even try to house them and a raging typhus epidemic broke out. From January to mid-April 1945, 35,000 prisoners perished.
Judy Rosenzwieg: "Suddenly we were marched into Bergen Belsen, that's where we were taken. In Bergen Belsen it was absolutely the worst of them all. It was not blocks; not organized. It was in the streets. We were just thrown in there between the electric wires, and wherever you could go-you go, and wherever you want to sleep-you sleep. No food. Only once or twice a week they were handing out some of that horrible grass soup."
Shmuel Judkiewitz: "The horror in that camp is indescribable. Worse than all the other camps."
The Liberation of Bergen Belsen Judy Rosenzweig: "All of a sudden out of the blue sky we saw tanks rolling into the camp…We had no idea what kind of tanks they were. Is it the Americans? Is it the Germans? Is it…We just didn't know. We just suddenly panicked… And loudspeakers started speaking loudly in German and in English: 'You are liberated.' 'We are the English Army - You are liberated.' 'Stay away from danger and stay inside and we'll help you.' 'Stay alive. Try to hang in there. We're here to help you.' And we knew we were liberated. Needless to say, our feelings were very mixed. So we were liberated. So thank God we are alive. But are we really thankful? Who are we? Where are we going to go? What are we? Nothing. That's okay, we're alive."
Josef Rosensaft: "Bergen Belsen, or Belsen, is a double symbol in the history of the years after the second World War; it is not just the name of a town in Northern Germany. The name 'Belsen' invokes tremor in Jews' hearts. Belsen is engraved in the Jewish consciousness as one of the most cursed places in Germany, where the bones of tens of thousands of Jewish victims are buried. The Belsen camp is, in Jews' memories and in the memories of all people in the world, a camp of starvation, and unbelievable filth which caused diseases and plagues. Belsen has become a symbol of man's inhumanity to man. On the other hand, Belsen is also the camp that was liberated on April 15, 1945, and then became a symbol for renewal and rebirth, and the 'return to life' of the survivors."
It should be noted that the German media these days report extensively on the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. Still, some go the extra mile: the conservative daily FAZ presents on April 15 a large painted picture of inmates being brutally beaten by guards.
Day for day in the German media, the United States is mercilessly criticized over abuses and alleged abuses that have occurred at Abu Ghraib and other military prisons. This open and harsh criticism continues to be regularly voiced despite the US government's highly visible efforts to punish those guilty of abuse while aggressively stepping-up military training programs to prevent future occurrences of abuse.
But when it comes to Chechnya, where up to 5,000 people have simply disappeared in a brutal Russian war that has claimed thousands of victims, there is no widespread outcry or criticism in the German media. When compared to the amount of reporting done on Iraq, the level of reporting on Chechnya is negligible. The bloody conflict in Chechnya has also barely been mentioned by Europe's
leading politicians of late and has never been cause enough for the
so-called "peace movement" to pound the pavement in mass
protest. After all, Vladimir Putin is seen as a valuable partner by Germany's leaders and welcomed with open arms on state visits. And mentioning the quagmire in the Caucuses or engaging in anti-war protests would only upset Gerhard Schroeder's brilliant Ostpolitik and his chummy Männerfreundschaft with Putin. Never mind the thousands of faceless victims in Chechnya...
So is it any surprise that more Germans trust Vladimir Putin than George Bush?
A recent poll by Infratest published in Die Welt revealed:
"The Russian President enjoys great trust especially in the east of the republic, so the result of the representative poll. While the national average is 29% for Putin and 24% for Bush, Putin gets 37% alone in eastern Germany (Bush 16%). To compare: In western Germany Bush has 27% and Putin 26%."
The results can be better understood in the context of an interesting article written by Adrian Pohr for Die Zeit entitled 'The "Missing" Chechnyans'. Here, now, is an exclusive translation of the article for our Medienkritik readers:
The “Missing” Chechnyans
"Human Rights Watch speaks of up to 5,000 cases in which
Chechnyan people have been abducted. In the Chechnya question the Europeans
have, to this point, made themselves noticed primarily through their silence.
Relations with Russia mean a lot to Europe. Unpleasant
topics are better left out, like the disappearing freedom of the press, the
centralization of power in Vladimir Putin’s hands or the Chechnya question.
While US President George W. Bush was latently criticizing the Russian
understanding of democracy during his meeting with Putin at the end of
February, his colleagues from France, Spain and Germany remained
rather silent during their four-way meeting last Friday. Neither Jacques Chirac
and Jose Louis Rodriguez Zapatero nor Gerhard Schroeder even uttered the word
Chechnya—and there have certainly been developments worth criticizing of late.
For example the killing of rebel leader Aslan Mashadov.
Russian troops murdered the moderate Chechnyan; the photos of the dead man were
released afterwards for a general display of the corpse. From Moscow one could
register celebration in light of the blow struck against terrorism. The fact
that the last Chechnyan leader willing to negotiate was executed has been
realized by the European media, but not by their national leaders. Today the
human rights organization Human Rights Watch released a report that forces up
further unpleasant questions about the Russian Chechnya policy and harshly
criticizes the accompanying European silence.
The report is the result of a comprehensive examination of
the human rights organization on the abduction of people in Chechnya. According
to the data from Human Rights Watch, between 3,000 to 5,000 Chechnyans have
become victims of abductions, which gives Russia the infamous distinction of
being the worldwide leader in forced abductions. The human rights organization
found it remarkable that the EU has for the first time not introduced a
Chechnya resolution at the UN Human Rights Commission: Looking away while human
rights violations are taking place is without scruple.
While Putin is claiming to the international community that
the situation in Chechnya is normalizing, abductions are taking place with the
full knowledge of the Russian government according to the report. The
government has admitted in an official statistic that at least 2,090 people
have disappeared since the beginning of the Chechnyan conflict. However,
according to the vivid reports in the report from Human Rights Watch the missing
do not simply dissolve into thin air, but are instead brutally ripped from
their families through the force of arms, as relatives recounted.
And the perpetrators of the kidnappings were identified by
the human rights organization: In the overwhelming majority of the cases the
perpetrators were without a doubt agents of the government, either federal
troops or (pro-Russian) Chechnyan security forces. And this also explains the
low rate of resolved kidnappings, which is a noteworthy zero percent: None of the
1,814 criminal investigations have led to conviction of the perpetrators
according to information from a Chechnyan official.
The missing are divided by Human Rights Watch into three
categories: Most are men between the ages of eighteen and forty who the
government officials believed had connections with the rebels. Secondly many
women have been kidnapped lately – a trend that can be traced back to the
recent participation of female Chechnyan underground fighters in terrorist
attacks in Russia. A minority has thirdly been abducted because of their
(familial) relation to rebels, probably to press information out of them about their
unpopular relatives or to put them under pressure. And so Human Rights Watch
complains about the possible (and in many cases, in their view, probable)
torture of those abducted.
Human Rights Watch has called on the United Nations to
actively take on these human rights violations. Because the Russian government
does not feel obligated to pursue the perpetrators. And that contributes to the
ongoing cycle of abuse summed up the human rights organization. In the view of
experts the Kremlin does not give direct orders to kidnap. But according to
Roland Goetz, director of the research group Russia at the Foundation for
Science and Politics in Berlin, Moscow allows its armed forces in Chechnya
large freedom. The abductions are at least not stopped on the part of the
Kremlin, which is a form of approval, says Goetz.
The perpetrators have two differing motivations to
kidnap people according to him. On the one hand they want to demonstrate their
dominance. On the other, the kidnapping of Chechnyans is also an excellent
source of money. For the kidnapped or the corpses of the kidnapped the
perpetrators demanded ransom. Good business was especially possible with the
dead; according to the beliefs of most Chechnyans, the souls of the dead first
find their peace when buried."
So where is the daily media outrage on Chechnya? Where is the anger at all of the widespread, systematic torture carried out by Russian troops and condoned by the Russian government? How could it be that virtually none of the cases of kidnappings have been legally resolved? Where is the German left in all of this? Why the outrage over Iraq and the deafening silence on Chechnya? Why the double-standard?
Why is virtually no one asking whether those abducted in Chechnya are receiving proper treatment and being tried in a fair and legal manner before a court of law? Are they receiving proper medical care and visits from the Red Cross? Are their international human rights being upheld? Are both male and female prisoners free from sexual abuse and humiliation? Where is the so-called "peace movement" when Vladimir Putin visits Germany? Why aren't they out beating their drums and waving their rainbow flags by the thousands?
Oh yeah, one final note: The results of the poll on who Germans trust is truly revealing. However, it would be even more revealing to see the results of a poll that asked Germans where they would prefer to live if forced to decide between Russia and the USA. As Markus Wolf, East Germany's notorious Stasi spymaster and the mastermind of the organization's counter-espionage department noted when the CIA attempted to recruit him at the end of the Cold War with offers of money and resettlement in California: "Life in Siberia isn't too bad either."
On a day where the 1,5 million victims of the Nazi terror in the Auschwitz concentration camp are remembered, some German left-wing media stress the connection to - Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, where on November 9, 2003, (see update 2) former employees of Saddam Hussein had the misfortunes of being mistreated by a few U.S. guards.
TAZ: The torture scandal of the US army in Abu Ghraib shows that sadism has a place in civilized nations, while Guantánamo Bay proves that the principle of the concentration camp, namely to provide a nationalized, radically lawless space, is being declared a respectable instrument in the "war against terrorism". If they had had a choice, most prisoners of a concentration camp would have opted for something like the cages of Guantánamo Bay, where you at least had a chance to survive. But this doesn't change the fact that the KZ (concentration camp) principle today is upheld with pride by the leading nation of the civilized world.
And the weekly "Die Zeit" prints an article by one Francine Prose, an American novelist (who protested against the election of George W. Bush still in January 2005, which tells you something about her post-election psychological condition). Prose, too, holds it necessary to compare Auschwitz to "Guantanamo" and "Abu Ghraib".
How things have changed. In the post-war past in Germany, the Right wanted to minimize the atrocities committed in the concentration camps in the name of Germany. Now the Left - in their never ending desire to smear the current U.S. administration - minimizes the image of the holocaust by comparing the years-long gassing of millions of jews in Nazi Germany to the mistreatment of a limited number of Iraqis on just one day or on a couple of days. And this comparison (1, 2) has already become something of a tradition in the German media.
You may throw up now...
Update 1: I think it is appropriate to put the taz quote into a pictorial context...
taz: "If they had had a choice, most prisoners of a concentration camp would have opted for something like the cages of Guantánamo Bay, where you at least had a chance to survive. But this doesn't change the fact that the KZ (concentration camp) principle today is upheld with pride by the leading nation of the civilized world." Hmm... "most people". Some of course would have preferred to stay with Dr. Josef Mengele in Auschwitz. Just in case they needed to see a doctor...
Update 2: Checking a trustworthy source it seems that the infamous November day at Abu Ghraib was the 8th, not the 9th.
Cowards of the left Our so-called liberal elite stands back and lets Iraq's fascists fight freedom with terror Nick Cohen, The Observer Sunday January 9, 2005
(...) Last week occured an event which was scarcely reported but which further called into question the notion of a principled liberal-left, let alone one coherent and confident enough to form an elite.
Hadi Salih, international officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, was tied and blindfolded and tortured by Baathist 'insurgents' loyal to Saddam Hussein before being forced to kneel, strangled by electric cord and shot.
I shouldn't be shocked that there hasn't been a squeak of protest from the anti-war movement at the killing of a brave socialist, but I am. Two years ago I believed that after the war people who opposed it for good reasons would vow to pursue Blair and Bush for what they had done to their graves, but have the intellectual honesty to accept that Saddam's regime was fascist in theory and in practice and the good nature to offer fraternal support the Iraqi socialists, democrats and liberals in their deadly struggle.
More fool me. The Stop the War Coalition, which organised one million people to march through the streets of London, told the kidnappers and torturers from the Baath Party and al-Qaeda that the anti-war movement 'recognises once more the legitimacy of the struggle of Iraqis, by whatever means they find necessary'. Its leading figures purport to be on the left, but have cheered on the far-right and betrayed their comrades by denouncing Iraqi trade unionists as 'Quislings' and 'collaborators'. (emphasis added)
The latest edition of Der Spiegel (August 30, 2004) takes on a hot topic – torture:
“Return to Barbarism: The Dark World of Torture”
[Photo: of all possible pictures, Der Spiegel chose one of a hooded Iraqi detainee in Abu Ghraib, even though other much more cruel examples stemming from Saddam’s reign were available – (1), (2), (3)]
The authors – proven front-line soldiers in anti-American ranks – present a historical summary purporting to show a connection between the Nazi’s murder of millions, the Stalinist Soviet Union’s Gulags, which also spelled doom for millions, and “the scandal that shook the Western world” (SPIEGEL). The scandal, of course, was the abuse of a maximum of several hundred, but presumably a distinctly smaller number, of prisoners in US-operated jails in Iraq. Sitting bent over for several hours, forced masturbation, being threatened by guard dogs, naked bodies on a leash, wearing a hood for days – all mentioned in the same breath with the Nazi’s mass executions, Stalin’s show trials leading to death sentences, and starving to death in National-Socialist and Communist concentration camps.
Even if Der Spiegel makes a couple of timid attempts to distance itself from its astonishing comparison setting Abu Ghraib equal to Hitler’s, Stalin’s or Saddam’s activities, the desired association is nevertheless transmitted to its faithful German readers.
And the magazine allows not a glimmer of daylight to pass between George W. Bush’s and Osama bin Laden’s methods:
Why is it that the war against terror, called into being by President George W. Bush, is conducted at the front lines with brutal methods similar to those used by the opponents?
Der Spiegel’s writers make sure we’re enlightened on this point – the USA has been preyed upon by a dark force (presumably a la “Star Wars”).
’God’s Own Country’ simply lost all its credibility after - according to its own pronouncements - going to war to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East. Amnesty International documented torture cases in over 150 countries in the last few years. The country that was an exception is no longer excluded – the dark force of torture has ensnared the USA.
Ensnared, just like it ensnared several other countries in the past.
In fascist countries from Italy to Argentina to Chile, in Communist dictatorships from the Soviet Union to China as well as in Nazi Germany, the rule of law was no longer protected by the government, but rather perverted.
We understand. Germany, like many, many other countries, was ensnared by the “dark force of torture.” Germany, a member of the Club of the Ensnared.
One could analyze Der Spiegel’s cover story sentence for sentence and still arrive at nothing more than the same conclusion a quick scan yields. Der Spiegel presents, from the picture on the cover to the last line in the article, a demagogic, biased, wholesale anti-Bush and anti-American screed.
Typical Spiegel fare.
Next week in Der Spiegel: "Bush and Hitler – Dog Lovers at the Reins of Government."
Here’s a neat little example of biased reporting the German media have developed into an art form.
The following AP Germany report appeared in numerous German print media over the last few days (our translation):
New Allegations of Prisoner Mistreatment in Iraq
Portland/USA (AP) U.S. soldiers have made new allegations against their own supervisors. …
First impression? Abu Ghraib continued. New allegations have been made, old suspicions are being confirmed. They’re torturing again, and doing it because of directives from on high.
A report published Sunday in the American newspaper The Oregon (sic) indicates that the abuse of numerous prisoners by Iraqi policemen was tolerated by U.S. commanders.
This sentence finally makes it clear that it was Iraqi policemen, not - as in Abu Ghraib - American soldiers who were responsible for mistreatment. However, the insinuation is obvious – US commanders are complicit in the Iraqi policemen’s deeds. (An aside – the newspaper is The Oregonian, not The Oregon).
And only in subsequent sentences do we find a more precise description of the incident:
The newspaper’s sources are Oregon National Guard soldiers who had tried to help the mistreated Iraqis. They had, however, been ordered to leave the prisoners to their tormentors.
PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon National Guard soldiers attempted to stop Iraqi jailers from abusing dozens of prisoners, but were ordered to return the prisoners to their abusers and leave, according to a published report. (...)
Neither a direct relationship between the Abu Ghraib abuses nor a claim of any conspiracy between Iraqi policemen mistreating their prisoners and US commanders is mentioned in the American AP report.
Why? Because the facts are these: American soldiers became aware of - presumed – mistreatment of prisoners by Iraqi policemen and intervened in the prison and gave the prisoners first aid. After checking with their commanders they left the prison. The reason? It was the first day after the transfer of sovereignty from the occupation authority to the interim Iraqi government. There was no legal basis for the American soldiers’ intervention. The American authorities wanted to avoid a conflict with the brand new Iraqi government. Rather than continue a direct intervention on the ground the American chain of command elected a political-military approach. They informed Iraqi authorities responsible for supervising the policemen in question.
Apparently this effort was successful, as reported in the original article in The Oregonian:
Guardsmen interviewed for this story said they've watched the detention facility closely since then, and that many of the prisoners were released soon after the raid on the detention facility.
The soldiers said they have not seen any further prisoner abuse occur there.
Doesn’t necessarily sound like “New Allegations of Prisoner Mistreatment in Iraq.” The German AP’s report, that the abuse of numerous prisoners by Iraqi policemen "was tolerated by U.S. commanders," is clearly wrong.
How skillfully the German media have associated this incident with the Abu Ghraib abuses can be seen in the following extracts:
Allegations against Senior Officers in Torture Scandal
US Soldiers Alleged To Have Been Ordered To Abandon Prisoners To Iraqi Tormentors
US soldiers have solidified allegations concerning the treatment of Iraqi prisoners against their superiors. A US military court postponed the hearing in case of Lynndie England, a soldier involved in the torture scandal at the Baghdad prison.
Focus Online: Torture In Iraq – Orders To Look The Other Way
According to a media report, US commanders consciously tolerated abuses in Iraq. A Tunisian released from Guantanamo Bay spoke of confessions obtained under duress. The hearing for a female soldier accused of serious crimes has been suspended so that a subpoena to US Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld can be considered.
We really don’t have to comment on this technique any more.
By the way, while searching for the original story in The Oregonian I found this article about a soldier returning to the USA from Iraq in another Oregon newspaper:
Roseburg High grad returns after 15 months serving in Iraq
(...) Despite the hardships -- being away from family, witnessing countless deaths and enduring intense heat and dehydration -- Clegg said he and the other soldiers kept their spirits. (...)
Clegg never doubted the reason for fighting the war, and he said the military's presence after the war is just as important as the fight.
"Whenever you take the army out of power ... you still have to stay there to rebuild the country," he said.
He said overall the Iraqi people appreciated the soldiers being there. People would stop them in the street and tell them they were doing a good job.
The unit was patrolling Baghdad in December and hadn't heard that Saddam Hussein had been captured. They found out because of gunshots in the streets.
"It was pretty amazing," he said. "That was one way they celebrated, was with gunfire."
After six years in the Army, Clegg's stint could have been up while he was in Iraq, but he decided to re-enlist for another three years.
"Being in the Army and being able to do my job, that's a fun thing to do," he said.
Tamie Clegg-Wedge was surprised that after more than a year in Iraq, she hasn't noticed any big changes in her son.
And we’ve noticed hardly any reports like this one in the German media – no abuse of Iraqi prisoners, Iraqis that thank the US soldiers, no delayed psychological trauma to the US soldiers. The article simply didn’t have the type of material that German journalists use to weave their Iraq reports.