Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Perception and Reality on Abu Ghraib

Despite his French name, Arnaud de Borchgrave at the Washington Times makes some important points about how the Army has handled the Abu Ghraib inquiry:

When a colonel testifies "under grant of immunity" against a sergeant who sicced dogs on prisoners at Abu Ghraib, it strikes the average onlooker as a miscarriage of military justice. Shouldn't it be the other way round? Or the sergeant being granted immunity to testify about a superior whose wink and a nod stained the country's honor, as it hadn't been in living memory?

Franz Kafka seemed to have joined the defense team when lawyers for dog handler Sgt. Michael Smith at the Abu Ghraib prison scandal trial suddenly dropped their request that an Army general involved in the affair be called to testify. Army Capt. Mary McCarthy told the military judge at the Washington's Navy Yard she no longer needed Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller to take the witness stand.
Even though dogs were first used at Gitmo, Gen. Miller says he never ordered Col. Pappas to use animals when questioning prisoners. But Col. Pappas already admitted in administrative hearings he improperly ordered the use of dogs. And it's an open secret among defense lawyers that Gen. Miller didn't put anything in writing. The cock of an eyebrow can be interpreted either way. Col. Pappas, according to lawyers, is convinced Gen. Miller got a wink, a nod or a hand signal from someone above his pay grade, most probably a civilian in the Pentagon.
There is little question Gen. Miller's call for tough, command-wide interrogation policies led to Col. Pappas' decision to authorize a dozen different techniques beyond those authorized in the Army Field Manual. Gen. Miller claims he discussed the use of dogs to help detainee custody and control. But Col. Pappas counterclaims Gen. Miller told him dogs were helpful at Gitmo by producing the right atmosphere (of fear) for interrogations.
To be sure, the allegations at this point are not backed up by evidence. But sometimes the appearance of impropriety with a perceived coverup can be worse than an actual impropriety promptly revealed. I think the Army's got a lot of work to do clearing the haze to salvage all our reputations from their recent decline.