James Yee’s book on Guantanamo, “For God And Country,” is required reading for anyone concerned about the maintenance of the rule of law in America. Yee, you may recall, was the Muslim chaplain at Gitmo, falsely charged with espionage, exonerated, and then cashiered by the military on adultery charges. See? The witnesses they cannot deny, they smear – which is why Ian Fishback has every reason to be worried right now. There is far too much at stake for the administration to allow the truth of their own policy of brutality toward detainees to be revealed. But Yee’s testimony is interesting about what the authorities, under instructions from the Pentagon, decided to condone and allow at Gitmo. We already know for a fact that one prisoner was “water-boarded” at Gitmo, we also know of at least two Koran abuse allegations upheld by internal investigation, we know that one CIA-approved technique was the smearing of fake menstrual blood, we know about the illegal use of dogs, and so on. What Yee testifies to is the fact that all this – and I’ve restricted myself here solely to those techniques conceded by the military itself (there are mounds of evidence that the abuse was far worse and far more widespread) – was directly encouraged by the commander, Major General Miller. Money quote:

Mr. Yee writes that when General Miller visited the prison, he would tell the guards sternly, “The war is on.” That remark and similar comments, Mr. Yee writes, were designed to let soldiers know they were operating in a combat environment where it was understood that rules protecting detainees were relaxed and instances of mistreatment would be overlooked.
“Soldiers know that when you are in combat there’s considerable leniency in the rules,” Mr. Yee said in an interview, “and the leaders, including General Miller, wanted to put them in that frame of mind.” He said that General Miller told him that he remained deeply angry over the loss of military friends who were killed in the attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. The general, who is now assigned to duty in the Pentagon, declined through a spokesman to comment on the book.
Mr. Yee says the guards were constantly reminded of the Sept. 11 attacks by General Miller and others, and they “retaliated in whatever way they could” against the detainees. “In some cases, punishment often meant physical force,” he writes.

This kind of atmosphere, in which detainees are regarded as deserving of brutal treatment, and in which beatings were tacitly condoned, was, of course, the very atmosphere that “migrated” to Abu Ghraib and throughout the war-zone. Recall that Miller was sent to Abu Ghraib to “Gitmoize” it. But only a handful of grunts were scapegoated for a policy crafted by Rumsfeld and Bush and enforced by Miller. Miller is still ensconced in the Pentagon. Do you realy believe he has changed his ways?


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