Was What Happened at Abu Ghraib Not “Real” Torture?

The other thing that is difficult to understand about the criminal acts of torture and human rights abuses that occurred Alan Henderson who are doing their best to try to minimize what happened.

Henderson’s approach is simply — he lists a number of reports of torture carried out by authoritarian states such as Syria or Iran and then ends with this bizarre flourish,

Calling most of the recent atrocities in Iraq “torture” is like calling a Mafiosa “Nazi” – equivocating two different degrees and kinds of evil.

Now there’s an argument that all Americans should be proud of — hey, our soldiers might have engaged in torture, but it wasn’t half as bad as that of a state like Iran! Well, duh — but these are American soldiers not theocratic thugs. They should be held to a bit higher standard, after all as President Bush constantly reminds us, we love freedom and our enemies in the Arab world hate freedom.

I would argue exactly the opposite from Henderson — the human rights abuses committed by the Americans are in some ways worse than those committed by the thugs in Iran or North Vietnam. Those who committed torture in those countries were simply following the logical outcomes of the official state policy. In Iraq, however, the soldiers and officers involved betrayed core American values, principles and laws that will allow our enemies in the war on terror to label us hypocrites. Another blogger who I can’t remember now labeled what happened at Abu Grahib as treason. That might be a bit of an overstatement, but American military abuses there did far more damage to the war on terror than all of the Ted Rall, Michael Moore and other silly left nonsense comments ever could.

I also have to disagree with Henry Hanks on this issue. I don’t think the press is going overboard on this at all — exposing this sort of stuff and getting to the bottom of it is exactly what the press in free countries needs to do. The Associated Press story he links to may or may not be accurate, but the Pentagon created the atmosphere in which stories like this have credibility due to their complete failure to deal with these problems much earlier and in a more public manner. The military adopted an apparent posture that they would be able to deal with this problem quietly and that blew up in their face.

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