Friday, May 20, 2005

Supporting the troops

Okay, so I'm gonna inch ever closer to the latest third rail in the political world. Supporting the troops. Via Digby This report in the New York Times is enough to turn your stomach. A choice excerpt:
Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

Jesus Christ.

Now here's the thing. Damn, do I admire the people who would volunteer to put their lives on the line to defend us. I support the troops. I really do. But I don't support them unconditionally. And I condemn this.

So, the question is at what point does this sort of atrocity become prevalent enough that you can no longer support the troops as a whole. When have the "bad apples" grown so prevalent as to destroy the integrity of the entire institution. There is a line out there somewhere even if it's invisible to us right now. But will we even know it when we cross it?

And what really peeves me is that most of these bad apples probably wouldn't be bad apples were it not for the fact that they're in an impossible situation. And war "does stuff" to you. That for me is probably the biggest reason to always view war as a last resort and never for such touchy-feely things as spreading democracy. Because war breeds monsters. And those monsters will be doing your work.

I swear it's as if the guys in the White House running this whole shit storm have never seen a war movie or read a war book not written by Tom Clancy. It's the common theme. Apocalypse Now? Full Metal Jacket? War makes assholes out of everyone. How long before we're all assholes.



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