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Graner found guilty in Iraqi prisoner abuse case

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
This is breaking news, so it'll be several minutes before details are published.
post #2 of 22
I'm glad but I hope he now mouths off about who told him what.
I just don't believe this was just a random sadist. I think
Rummy's policies set this up and he should have to have
some accountability.

Do you want to know something ironic? Rummy was against the Vietnam war cause he thought they didn't have a good strategy over there. Ironic huh? He was actually considered a dove during the Nixon years. I saw a great Documentary on him on Frontline.
post #3 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
This is breaking news, so it'll be several minutes before details are published.
Guilty of all counts. By a jury of enlisted personnel. Gratifying.

But -- when do we see the higherlings brought to justice?

Jim
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/01/14/gr...ial/index.html

Is there no longer such a thing as "political accountability"? Seriously, I would've expected (a) resignation(s) at the DOJ or DOD, or more vehement confirmation hearings of Gonzales in the Senate, due to the "torture memo".
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat

http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/01/14/gr...ial/index.html

Is there no longer such a thing as "political accountability"? Seriously, I would've expected (a) resignation(s) at the DOJ or DOD, or more vehement confirmation hearings of Gonzales in the Senate, due to the "torture memo".
I heard the President of Yale Law School today saying that torture memo was the most erroneous legal document he had ever read. I mean it's not even legit according to him.
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marge
I heard the President of Yale Law School today saying that torture memo was the most erroneous legal document he had ever read. I mean it's not even legit according to him.
He may have only slightly overstated the truth. I suspect worse legal opinions may have come out of Nazi Germany. But that is debatable. That piece of paper made me ashamed of my profession.

The most responsible party will soon be our new Attorney General and he is most likely enroute the Supreme Court.... God save us all.

I will say that I am proud of one group of lawyers who were regrettably kept maliciously muzzled during the development of this sordid bit of our nation's legal history -- the respective JAG Corps of the military services. I am proud to have been one of their number. They were intentionally not consulted, as the culprits knew exactly what their opinions would have been had they been permitted to express them. As they, one by one, leave government service they are being heard from.

Jim
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Graner has been sentenced to ten years: http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/01/15/gr...ial/index.html
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
Graner has been sentenced to ten years: http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/01/15/gr...ial/index.html
Wow, if he really was following orders he must be angry, I mean they may not let him talk, but I am sure, knowing the power of vengence he will find a way to try to get even.
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marge
I'm glad but I hope he now mouths off about who told him what.
He apparently did name specific officers: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2005Jan15.html

On the question of accountability, the Washington Post has an editorial about Gonzales's probable confirmation that I believe makes some very good points: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2005Jan15.html

Keep in mind that both the Graner trial and the confirmation hearings have gotten a lot of publicity abroad; they are by no means just "domestic matters", but have an impact much farther-reaching than simply on prisoners in Guantánamo, Iraq and Afghanistan. The whole world is watching, and if all of those involved in the torture itself or the circumstances allowing it, like Assistant Attorney General Bybee, who co-wrote the memo and advised Gonzales, Gen. Miller, who seemingly "transported" the interrogation practices from Gitmo to Abu Ghraib, and Gen. Karpinski, supposedly "in charge of" Graner's unit, don't suffer consequences, the damage done to the U.S.'s reputation will be irreparable. The failure to oust Rumsfeld alone did more than raise eyebrows.
Rumsfeld is still Defense Secretary, Bybee was appointed an appeals judge, Miller was promoted to Army assistant chief of staff, and Gonzales is going to be Attorney General? What kind of message does that send?
post #10 of 22
I find it interesting that on cnn this morning, the lead story talks of how the Iraqis believe the sentence was too lenient, yet if you look at the results of the cnn poll on the homepage, the majority of who I assume to be Americans voting, feel that it was too harsh. How can you look at this story and not be constantly reminded of A Few Good Men? I find, as with many of these stories, that I am conflicted in my opinion. I do believe what was done was wrong. But I also am not so sure how prepared for this duty reservists are. Perhaps I am being too harsh in referring to them as 'weekend warriors', but there is a part of me that believes many sign up for the reserves as a good way to earn some extra bucks and not because they have some powerful desire to defend the country. Now this guy will serve 10 years busted down to private with no pay and be dishonorable discharged when it's all over. All over something he claims he was following orders to do. If you don't think this will follow him in his civilian life afterwards, think again. The whole thing just boggles my mind.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deb25
How can you look at this story and not be constantly reminded of A Few Good Men? I find, as with many of these stories, that I am conflicted in my opinion. I do believe what was done was wrong. But I also am not so sure how prepared for this duty reservists are. Perhaps I am being too harsh in referring to them as 'weekend warriors', but there is a part of me that believes many sign up for the reserves as a good way to earn some extra bucks and not because they have some powerful desire to defend the country.
That's a very apt comparison.
One major problem the National Guard is currently experiencing is a big (30%)deficit in sign-ups, which they (Lt. Colonel Michael Jones) say is due in part to soldiers' not wanting to join the Guard after active duty, because then they could be sent right back to Iraq. The "stop-loss" orders keeping other soldiers on active duty also prevent them from joining the Guard, so at present less than half of the Guard's troops have military experience. The Guard accounts for about 40% of the force in Iraq.
post #12 of 22
I am not surprised. I know of a number of educators who are reservists, as well. Prior to Iraq, the prevailing attitude was 'one weekend a month, 2 weeks in the summer - who can beat it?' It's a far cry from ringing up Big Gulps at the 7-11 when you need the extra income. When folks work full time in demanding professions and still don't make a decent enough wage, they sometimes turn to quick fixes. One couple I know were both reservists. She ended her tour when she wanted to get pregnant. After major fertility problems and a poor prognosis for that ever changing, she ended up pregnant with twins. I'll bet you can guess the next part of the story. Midway through the pregnancy, the reservist hubby got his card pulled for Iraq. He has been gone a year, and while he was allowed to come home for the birth of the babies, he has been over there ever since. I don't think people really think of all possible outcomes when they sign on the dotted line. And to me, at least, reservists do not make the best choice for having our most qualified troops in a situation where, on every level, conventional warfare is out the window.

Does this make me for or against the war in Iraq? I just don't know anymore. The issues are all so complex and multi-faceted that I find it hard to have a clear-cut opinion.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Wow, if he really was following orders he must be angry, I mean they may not let him talk, but I am sure, knowing the power of vengence he will find a way to try to get even.

Yes, the same thought occurred to me. I think of the movie "A Few Good Men" where Tom C. was badgering Jack N. to confess that he (the superior officer) commanded the "code-red" that accidently wound up killing a marine. Of course in the movie, the accused marines get absolved and the Commanding officer gets punished. Real life don't always work that way.

If this guy really does 10 years for something he was ordered to do (just like the two accused marines in AFGM, then when he gets out, he MIGHT be bitter enough to do some REAL damage.

Sometimes I really dislike the way our military protects itself at the top and lets the small guys take the fall.
post #14 of 22
Ah, but if you recall in A Few Good Men, the little guys did not get off. They were still dishonorably discharged, because although they, too, were 'following orders', the court didn't feel that they acted in a way that helped to protect the guy who was killed. That's where the difficult questions come into play. A successful military unit is dependent on training its people to strictly obey orders in all situations. But what happens when the orders seem to contradict what is morally right and just? Was Graner truly between a rock and a hard place?
post #15 of 22
Yes, Deb I recall that they were dishonorably discharged because they failed to "do what was right" The one confused marine said "Hal, WHAT DID WE DO WRONG??" (with tears welling up in his eyes), Hal's response was "We didn't stick up/fight for Willy".

But they didn't get 10 years in prison (as this real-life military guy did).
post #16 of 22
True, they didn't get prison time, but I feel the film opens up the same questions that the Graner, et. al case does. If, it is in fact true that these soldiers were acting on orders given by higher-ups, where does following orders start and stop? The military as a unit can't survive without the hierarchy. It's a troubling issue, to be sure.
post #17 of 22
Good points Deb, The thing that troubles me is the photos. IF Granger was following orders, why did he look like he was gloating in the pics?? Same with the woman. They appeared to be ENJOYING the power trip. I don't know. It is just a bad situation whatever spin is put on it. I know if I were ordered to do something like that, I wouldn't. I would take the consequences from NOT following an immoral order rather than face dishonorable discharge and prison time later on.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
One article I read, I believe in the Washington Post, had excerpts from emails Granger sent to his family, describing his treatment of prisoners, that had been presented to the jurors. The impression I got was that he had enjoyed himself, but why would anybody gloat to his family about mistreating others? As a defense mechanism? It was very strange.
The Israelis didn't buy the, "I was just following orders" defense after they caught Eichmann, but he wasn't just a little cog in the wheel, like Granger. I'd like to know what consequences a U.S. soldier faces for not following orders (Jim, Argo, or George? - I'm too lazy to research it tonight). Also, was he required to follow orders from civilian interrogators?
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deb25
...where does following orders start and stop?...
You have put your finger right on the critical legal issue before Graner's court-martial, Deb. Where does following orders start and stop?

Having faced such issues myself, I came up with my own answer to this difficult question. To paraphrase how pornography has been defined, "I can't explain for you where the line is, but I'll know it when I am faced with it."

Your question was answered by the Nuremburg tribunal, but it could be said that the line that was crossed at Auschwitz, the line that was crossed at Malmedy, were bright, clear and unambiguous. There are those who honestly feel that the line at Abu Ghraib was not so clear. (I'm sure you have seen enough of me on TCS to have figured out that I am not one of those).

Every serviceman and servicewoman is trained that a lawful order must be obeyed. The key word here, of course, is "lawful." This doesn't give us much help answering your question, does it? I have just substituted an equally difficult question for your question. If the order is not "lawful," if it is an illegal order, then it need not be obeyed.

The serviceperson finding herself in this situation, having to decide whether or not this order she has just received is a legal order, is in a most unenviable position. On the one hand, if the order is illegal she can face criminal prosecution for obeying the order. On the other hand, if the order is, say "disturbing," but not illegal, she can face criminal prosecution for refusing to obey the order. Talk about a hole and a hard place.

Mentally put yourself in that situation and see if you feel any butterflies in your stomach. I have been there. It is not a pleasant experience. I must say that military law does give that servicewoman a little edge -- when push comes to shove military law presumes that an order is lawful. The burden is upon the prosecution to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the order was illegal in order to convict her of doing the act which she was ordered to do.

So -- in the Graner trial the military jury at trial had to have decided, beyond a reasonable doubt, (1) that Graner had not been ordered to do what he did, or, alternatively, (2) that while, or if, he had been so ordered, the order received was illegal, and therefore should not have been obeyed.

One can have a difficult choice in this circumstance, but difficult choices are faced all the time. Some cause you to face difficult consequences, but this does not mean that a choice does not have to be made.

I cannot say whether or not Graner was ordered to do what he unquestionably did. Keep in mind that he never testified, contrary to what you may have read in some sloppy reporting in the national and international press. After he was convicted by the jury, never having taken the stand, as was his privilege, he made an unsworn, repeat, unsworn, statement in hopes of mitigating his sentence. Not only was the statement unsworn, but his lawyer was able to question him, and the prosecution was not permitted to cross-examine him.

This was his right, one you will not find in a typical civilian courtroom, and the military judge instructed the jury that they could not hold the fact that Graner did not testify against him.

I cannot close this missive without expressing my personal opinion, based solely on the hearsay we have all seen in the media, that Graner was in fact told by one or more military superiors to do the horrible things he and others did. I am convinced that he honestly felt that he was militarily obliged to do this, at the behest of superiors. I also feel that he was guilty as charged, since the order(s) he received, if they were received, were unlawful.

I pray that our military justice system now looks up the chain and action is taken with respect to Graner's superior(s). In my opinion, legal opinion, not political opinion, the groundwork for what happened in Abu Ghraib was laid by our highest leadership, and I am pointing all the way up to the personal staff of the Commander-in-Chief, if not toward him himself.

I have heard nothing to cause me to question my belief that Graner had a fair trial, and that the judge and jury followed the correct law, correctly. I have often said that, on the basis of my experience with the military justice system, if I were ever charged with a serious crime, and I were given my choice of juridical forum for my trial, it would be a court-martial. The rights afforded an accused by the military justice system are much greater than those enjoyed by a civilian in a civil court.

Cheerio,

Jim
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
One article I read, I believe in the Washington Post, had excerpts from emails Granger sent to his family, describing his treatment of prisoners, that had been presented to the jurors. The impression I got was that he had enjoyed himself, but why would anybody gloat to his family about mistreating others? As a defense mechanism? It was very strange.
The Israelis didn't buy the, "I was just following orders" defense after they caught Eichmann, but he wasn't just a little cog in the wheel, like Granger. I'd like to know what consequences a U.S. soldier faces for not following orders (Jim, Argo, or George? - I'm too lazy to research it tonight). Also, was he required to follow orders from civilian interrogators?
I think I may have passed on some thoughts about this in my post which crossed in cyber-mail, except for your last question, i.e. was he required to follow orders from civilian interrogators?

I am sure that the gentle readers will be pleased to know that the answer here is a clear and unambiguous "Maybe." This can be clear; it can be unclear. For example, it is clear that he is under the orders of a couple of civilians named Bush and Rumsfeld. It may not be so clear in the case of the civilian (both CIA and non-CIA) interrogators at Abu Ghraib. This would depend, as a matter of law, I would suggest, upon whether his military superiors placed him under the supervision and orders of a civilian by way of a lawful order. (Here we go again).

If this were an important element at Graner's trial it would be something subject to proof, like everything else at a trial.

Hope this helps,

Jim
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
It does, but the whole business of turning interrogations over to private security contractors (I believe the name I read was Blackwell, or something similar), or "outsourcing" them to Egypt, Syria, or Thailand (the "undisclosed locations", according to TIME), really leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I've seen arrests in Iraq filmed by embedded (non-U.S.) reporters on TV, and it appeared that any and all adult males were rounded up, and that at times the soldiers involved weren't even sure of the addresses, and there was an incredible amount of confusion about names due to the lack of "standard" Arabic to English transciptions, and a lack of interpreters. James Schlesinger's report said that "all too often", the Abu Ghraib prisoners were "bystanders caught in random roundups". Today, I read that 60 (or 80, depending on the source) "Taliban" prisoners were released from Gitmo. I suppose that means there was really no reason to detain them for so long? And now they'll be released in Kabul, with no arrangements for them to be returned to their villages, and no compensation for unlawful incarceration? http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapc....ap/index.html
Aren't we setting a terrific example of the "rule of law"?
Argo objects to my referring to "Faux news", but I have to say that I'm so upset with the one-sided coverage on that channel that I gave notice to our cable company on Friday. I blocked its reception today. I've seen enough "reporting a lá Leni Riefenstahl" to recognize propaganda when I see it.
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
It does, but the whole business of turning interrogations over to private security contractors (I believe the name I read was Blackwell, or something similar), or "outsourcing" them to Egypt, Syria, or Thailand (the "undisclosed locations", according to TIME), really leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I've seen arrests in Iraq filmed by embedded (non-U.S.) reporters on TV, and it appeared that any and all adult males were rounded up, and that at times the soldiers involved weren't even sure of the addresses, and there was an incredible amount of confusion about names due to the lack of "standard" Arabic to English transciptions, and a lack of interpreters. James Schlesinger's report said that "all too often", the Abu Ghraib prisoners were "bystanders caught in random roundups". Today, I read that 60 (or 80, depending on the source) "Taliban" prisoners were released from Gitmo. I suppose that means there was really no reason to detain them for so long? And now they'll be released in Kabul, with no arrangements for them to be returned to their villages, and no compensation for unlawful incarceration? http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapc....ap/index.html
Aren't we setting a terrific example of the "rule of law"?
Argo objects to my referring to "Faux news", but I have to say that I'm so upset with the one-sided coverage on that channel that I gave notice to our cable company on Friday. I blocked its reception today. I've seen enough "reporting a lá Leni Riefenstahl" to recognize propaganda when I see it.
So true, Tricia, so true, I find it interesting that we did exactly the same thing at our house. Leni's current counterpart is no longer permitted into our house, actually or virtually. We went a bit more drastic, when we cut the "cable cable" en toto. Our Australian friend is acquiring more and more of the U. S., perhaps I should say "the world's" media, to the dismay of Ann and me. It, of course, can be bought, like anything else, if you have the money, and Rupert Murdoch has an endless source of that.

Take a look here for an opportunity to see, and show others, the scarifying truth.

Cheers,

Jim
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