Among the infamous pictures to come out of the Abu Ghraib scandal is one of Graner posing gleefully over a pile of naked Iraqi men in a humany pyramid. Graner's justification for these revolting actions came out this afternoon:
"Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?" Guy Womack, Graner's attorney, said in opening arguments to the 10-member U.S. military jury at the reservist sergeant's court-martial.Unbelievable. Despite the well-deserved international outrage to the actions that went on in Abu Ghraib prison, and the punishment meted out already to a number of the soldiers involved, it appears that somehow the main perpetrator still don't get it. Womack commented further:
"A tether is a valid control to be used in corrections. In Texas we'd lasso them and drag them out of there."Admittedly, a case like this is difficult, even if most people can see obviously where the line has been crossed. No one is holding the Iraqi prisoners to be innocent victims; they were all in Abu Ghraib for a good reason. The American soldiers responsible for guarding them were in an environment of constant stress and undoubtedly were under pressure to gain as much information out of the detainees as possible. These Americans saw that their fellow soldiers throughout Iraq were the targets of an insurgency, which they felt could be combatted more effectively with the knowledge the prisoners contained.
While the government asserts that Graner and his group were "rogue soldiers", Womack asserts that higher-up military intelligence officers ordered the abusive practices. Even if that is not true, it is fair to say that there were probably many in MI who at least condoned them. As we have learned, torture of prisoners has not been an isolated incident in the war on terrorism. Prisoner mistreatment has been noted in Iraq, Afghanistan, and perhaps most troublingly at the ultra-secret detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (read: this and this).
The Abu Ghraib scandal tarnished the U.S. image around the world. Unfortunately, I suspect it won't be the last embarassing episode to come to light. Mr. Womack, I'm afraid there's not much to cheer for!