Sunday, January 16, 2005

Army reservist should have paid attention in History class.

In 1945, in Nuremberg the trials began.
  1. Hans Frank
  2. Alfred Jodl
  3. Wilhelm Keitel
  4. Arthur Seyss-Inquart
  5. Constantin von Neurath
  6. Joachim von Ribbentrop
All these men were found guilty of Count Three: War Crimes.
These were the more traditional violations of the law of war including treatment of prisoners of war.
"I was just following orders"
was not a defense allowed then and it is not a defense allowed now.

US Army reservist Charles Graner Jr., convicted of mistreating Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison, said he had been ordered to abuse detainees as he took the stand for the first time today. He described himself as a by-the-book prison guard corrupted by superiors who ordered him to physically mistreat and sexually humiliate detainees.

He said he initially resisted pressure to mistreat prisoners, but his Army superiors made it clear to him that he was expected to obey the commands of the military and civilian intelligence agents who ran his part of Abu Ghraib.

Graner said a lieutenant in his unit told him:
“If (military intelligence) asks you to do this, it needs to be done. They’re in charge, follow their orders.”

10 Comments:

Blogger Jellyfish said...

Have friends in the armed forces and am just constantly, constantly disturbed by how institutionalised they are. They are programmed to not think for themselves AT ALL. I'm not saying it's a worthy excuse. But I do think the broader culture/atmostphere in which these people were operating ought to be held accountable, too.

Which, of course, it wont. Sigh.

1:43 pm  
Blogger weezil said...

'Just following orders' sounds like a valid mitigation, as long as those truly responsible (Bush, Rumsfailed) go to the Hague in irons.

-weez

3:33 pm  
Blogger Kartar said...

Well said. Though additionally, in the case of Nuremberg, the winners always dictate what is and isn't a crime. Thus they also dictate whose orders are okay to follow and whose result in war crimes. This poor kid, whilst obviously guilty, is going to be scape-goated. But he's just a grunt - I don't see any of his officers being tried with him.

The jury is still out on winners and losers (well other than the Iraqi population - who generally have been the losers for the last 50 odd years) in Iraq. But I figure whatever happens, George W., Rumsfeld or any other US leaders will not take any responsibility for the crimes of the US in Iraq. Hell they didn't in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos - where 2 million civilians died - so why start now?

5:29 pm  
Blogger Nic White said...

I have sympathy for people who are forced to follow orders they dont agree with and then end up getting nailed for it, its relaly not fair. But I have no sympathy for this guy. In the photos all those involved were quite obviously relishing their deeds and even getting enjoyment out of them. Hes lying.

Hang them high.

8:45 pm  
Blogger suki said...

Jellyfish,
I've often wondered if in these times of non-conscription, a 'certain' type of person is drawn to joining the military.
The military equally 'selects’ from a range of people that it will accept.
This then creates a homogenous group of similar types of people?!

In 2003, the ADF changed its rules and now, (if you can pass the fitness test) people up to 50 years of age can enlist.
This has changed the demographic somewhat with it not being unusual to see new recruits in their mid to late 30's.

8:52 pm  
Blogger Gerry said...

What gets me is that this guy claimed he was only following orders and yet never expressed any remorse. There's some kind of contradiction there.

10:33 pm  
Blogger suki said...

Perhaps he is still following orders. It dawned on me when I saw him in his full dress uniform going into court that he still identifies as a soldier.

Perhaps the Uniform and the construct that gives him makes it impossible to show remorse or regret.

It would be interesting to interview him out of uniform and a year into his incarceration...

10:54 pm  
Blogger Kartar said...

Again remember Vietnam and the only US soldier goaled for war crimes, Lt. William Calley. He ended up serving less than 2 years for the cold-blooded massacre of 500 or more civilians. If Graner serves most of his sentence I'll be damn surprised.

2:34 am  
Blogger suki said...

...and after being held for nearly three years without charge in the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Mamdouh Habib, is about to walk free.

Kartar, some days I do not know how to make sense of all the injustice.

8:33 pm  
Blogger Flute said...

There are some British soldiers facing court martials. Can you guess what their defence is?

1:45 pm  

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