I am asking. I’m not sure whether this is a case of “correlation doesn’t equal causation” or not. Either way, I want to put this question out there, not as a Fox News-ish “some people say” but rather an honest question.
Right in the midst of the 2004 election, there was a major issue involving Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who was being “hounded” (read: asked questions) by members of the military, who were not being equipped properly, and so lots of them were being blown up and killed.
Obviously this isn’t something I’m just throwing out here. I’ve got some things to back up my question. Let’s start with 2001.
According to this timeline of the torture policy (which you might want to read before this post:)
September 17: Bush gives the CIA the authority to kill, capture, and detain al Qaeda operatives. The CIA lays plans for secret overseas prisons and special interrogations
December: The Department of Defense general counsel’s office solicits information (PDF) on detainee “exploitation” from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), which advises on counterinterrogation techniques known as SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape).
July 2002: Richard Shiffrin, a counsel in the Department of Defense, inquires about SERE techniques — initially designed to help U.S. soldiers captured abroad. Members of the CIA learn SERE techniques in September.
In October of 2003, the Red Cross says US is abusing detainees at Guantanamo. And then in March-April of 2004, stories broke about other abuses there by the military.
So that shows that the Department of Defense had been investigating SERE techniques for use since at least 2001, the findings were taught to the CIA, who used them. Then the whole policy spread throughout prisons in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and the CIA black sites.
The military was actually opposed to torture and objected many different times to its use:
The idea that torture is illegal, unethical and ineffective is well established in military circles. When elements of the military saw the interrogation plan being crafted by the White House, serious objections were raised. Those objections will be key to any prosecutions because they demonstrate that the White House should have been aware that what they were proposing was against the law.
The architects of the torture program, however, seem aware of the power of those dissenting views and, according to the Senate report, repeatedly denied receiving them.
Soon, the Air Force, Army, Navy and others voiced their objections. Nobody listened. They put their fingers in their ears and screamed. Then, of course, Rumsfeld signed off on the policy:
Despite the broad and deep concerns within the military, Haynes recommended to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that the bulk of the practices be approved. On December 2, Rumsfeld signed off, famously scribbling in the margins: “I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?”
Right. I guess you torture and scapegoat the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to scapegoat at a later time.
Then, once we invaded Iraq the troops started being, I guess, a military of whiners:
Specialist Thomas Wilson, a scout with a Tennessee National Guard unit set to roll into Iraq this week, was the first to step forward, saying that soldiers had had to scrounge through landfills here for pieces of rusty scrap metal and bulletproof glass — what they called ”hillbilly armor” — to bolt to their trucks.
”Why don’t we have those resources readily available to us?” Specialist Wilson asked Mr. Rumsfeld, drawing cheers and applause from many of the 2,300 soldiers assembled in a cavernous hangar here to meet the secretary.
There were a lot of these questions sincerely asked by our military, who just wanted to serve and be properly protected. A guy I went to school with, whom I hadn’t seen since sixth grade or so, died in Iraq because of faulty equipment near the beginning of the war.
And naturally, Rumsfeld expressed empathy and respect for our troops:
”Now, settle down, settle down,” he said. ”Hell, I’m an old man, it’s early in the morning and I’m gathering my thoughts here.”
”You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up,” he said. ”And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up.”
How sweet. You’re gonna get blown up, no matter what, so why should we waste money on your asses? Unless we’re paying to train people to torture for absolutely no reason. Then wasting money is perfectly fine. I mean, I stand eight hours a day, you can deal with some IEDs.
Which, by the way, was the whole fucking point of the request for more armor. IEDs. The insurgents had switched tactics at that point, so while they were making roadside improvised explosive devices, our troops were stuck with no armor.
And if for some reason you’re not completely pissed off yet, it gets a lot worse.
The LA Times has Rumsfeld telling us why the troops were being screwed out of equipment:
Rumsfeld responded that the Pentagon had taken steps to equip soldiers being sent to Iraq, but that factory production was limited. “It’s essentially a matter of physics. It isn’t a matter of money. It isn’t a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It’s a matter of production and capability of doing it.“
So it wasn’t that they were squandering money elsewhere or anything. It was a matter of physics. There was no one available to do any of the work to make sure the troops were equipped. That’s all. Not the administration’s fault. And nobody will ever say differently.
Except… the people who make the equipment:
WASHINGTON — The manufacturer of Humvees for the U.S. military and the company that adds armor to the utility vehicles are not running near production capacity and are making all that the Pentagon has requested, spokesmen for both companies said.
“If they call and say, ‘You know, we really want more,’ we’ll get it done,” said Lee Woodward, a spokesman for AM General, the Indiana company that makes Humvees and the civilian Hummer versions.
Why do O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt and AM General hate America?
This is how enormous of a problem there was at the time:
According to Army figures, there are almost 19,400 Humvees operating in the Iraq theater. Of those, about 5,900 were armored at the factory and armor was added to about 9,100 of them later.
Other vehicles also lack armor. The House Armed Services Committee released statistics yesterday showing that most transport trucks crisscrossing Iraq to supply the troops don’t have armor. Only 10 percent of the 4,814 medium-weight transport trucks have armor, and only 15 percent of the 4,314 heavy transport vehicles do.
Back to the LA Times article, for more screwing the troops:
It took the Pentagon nearly a year after President Bush declared an end to “major combat operations” on May 1, 2003, to equip all soldiers with protective plates for their protective vests. War planners had initially equipped only “front line” units with the plates. But militants made it clear that any location could become a battle zone.
The equipment problems were underscored in October when an Army Reserve supply unit south of Baghdad disobeyed a direct order to deliver fuel and other supplies to a base in northern Iraq. After an investigation into the incident, 23 members of the unit were given nonjudicial punishments, which could entail a reduction in rank and loss of pay.
A WHOLE YEAR after Mission Accomplished to equip them with protective vests? And, of course, when the administration screws up, look who gets fucked.
The guy who was president at the time, who’d authorized torture and training people to torture and military tribunals and rescinding Geneva Conventions protections and habeas corpus had this to say:
“The concerns expressed are being addressed, and that is we expect our troops to have the best possible equipment,” the president said in response to a reporter’s question at the White House.
“If I were a soldier overseas wanting to defend my country, I’d want to ask the secretary of defense the same question, and that is, ‘Are we getting the best we can get us?'”
“I’ve told many family I’ve met with, ‘We’re doing everything we possibly can to protect your loved ones.'”
I. HATE. that. guy. Can we please arrest him? Can we please prosecute all of these fuckers? It was already sick enough to see these people bash the troops, and to see Bush speak at anti-torture conventions about American values and all of that. But THIS.
They actively AVOIDED GIVING TROOPS ARMOR while fucking ordering them to torture.
Not to be outdone, there’s more:
“I think it’s good” that ordinary soldiers are given a chance to express their concerns to the defense secretary and senior military commanders, Rumsfeld told reporters during a visit to India.
“It’s necessary for the Army to hear that, do something about it and see that everyone is treated properly,” Rumsfeld said, referring not only to the complaint about insufficient armor but also to another soldier’s statement about not getting reimbursed for certain expenses in a timely way.
The military expressed reservations about torturing. Rumsfeld signed off. The military expressed reservations about being blown up by IEDs, Rumsfeld made smartass remarks.
And this was right in the middle of torturing, when the administration was paying and training people to torture. This was around the time that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld testified after Abu Ghraib that:
It’s my obligation to evaluate what happened, to make sure that those who have committed wrong-doing are brought to justice, and to make changes as needed to see that it doesn’t happen again.
It’s important for the American people and the world to know that while these terrible acts were perpetrated by a small number of U.S. military, they were also brought to light by the honorable and responsible actions of other military personnel.
I don’t even know what to say.
The LA Times article mentions that it “would cost” $9.5 billion annually to keep the military properly equipped. I’d have much rather paid for that than torture.
There were accusations at the time that one question by a person in the Army wasn’t his own, but was a reporter’s question. At the time, people were complaining. I’m glad it happened regardless of the controversy. Real people were really being blown up all the time, and I don’t care if it’s a reporter or a soldier who asks the question.
Is any of this seriously going to be looked at? We won’t investigate torture anymore deeply than a few troops, we aren’t even getting access to how much money was spent, or if it was diverted from equipment to torture planning and training by the Department of Defense.
In 2004, people were asking what is wrong with this picture:
But is this a topic that anyone wants to examine ever? Last April, the photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq shocked the world and put the treatment of prisoners in the headlines for several weeks. Then, Congressional hearings faded, military investigations were begun in all directions, a few individuals were tried without great publicity – and attention shifted to the presidential campaign, where no one was going to touch the issue.
As Mark Danner points out in his book “Torture and Truth” (New York Review Books), in the end the lurid photos may have deflected the central question of what role torture may have played, or yet be playing, in American policy for waging a war on terror into the question of individual indiscipline and sadism – “Animal House on the night shift,” as former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger called the Abu Ghraib atrocities.
So I want to know. I want us to investigate torture. I want to know where our money went. I want to know if any money was diverted to pay for torture. And if so, who authorized it. And of course everything else that will never be uncovered if no investigations happen.
Why can’t we look deeper into this?