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Iraq's Fraternity House By: James Spadola
NJHerald.cm | Monday, May 10, 2004


For the past few days, any time I turn on the news for more than a half hour, the pictures of the Iraqis being abused are paraded in front of me, like they're the wildest "atrocity" on film since the holocaust.  I worked in prisons throughout Iraq during my time there, and it shocks and saddens me that my fellow soldiers, would commit those acts.  However, I won't use the word torture to describe the pictures, because they seem more remniscent of a Friday night at some fraternity house than sadistic torture techniques. 

I'm not making light of them nor condoning the soldiers' actions, but the severity of the pictures seems to be exaggerated in our media and especially abroad. In Iraq and across the Arab world, people express their "shock" and "outrage" at the human rights abuses by our forces.  This is a culture that through its depravity, poverty, and backwardness has provided some of the world's most despotic rulers, an atmosphere for terrorism and suicide bombers to flourish, and some of the worst living conditions imaginable, yet humiliating nakedness at the hand of the 'infidel' is just crossing the line.  It's too bad that Arabs couldn't and can't collectively direct their anger at their own rulers, so possibly they could provide their own self-determination and freedoms without Western countries doing the dirty work.

Maj Gen Taguba has just completed a report which documents abuses by U.S. forces against Iraqis, ranging from dumping cold water on naked detainees to sodomizing them with broomsticks.  I must say, I will have to see hard proof before I believe those allegations, due to the fact that every prison I was in would not allow and would not facilitate that type of behavior.  Knowing our media though, this news will continue to make headlines with or without hard proof of actual torture.

One last worrisome thought of mine is how these accused soldiers are going to be judged, and how justice is going to be meted out to them. Judging from the comments made by President Bush and the majority of ordinary Americans, it seems a crucifixion may be too easy on the soldiers.  President Bush would have no problems with an extremely harsh, if not overly harsh punishment because it would show that there are always a few bad apples in the barrel, and that is the case here, but in America those bad apples are dealt with severly.  However, I advise no one to judge these soldiers until you have been choked by the noxious mixture of putrid, 130 degree air, flies and sand that make a home in your mouth and in your eyelids, living with your buddy an arms length away, waking up to the soothing sound of mortars crashing around you, and home being a distant thought, with it becoming even more distant with every Department of Army approved extension.  In war, people, and feelings, get hurt.




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