As the story about the prisoner abuse continues to unfold in Iraq, Ali over at Iraq the Model gives us an interesting perspective from an Iraqi concerning the whole issue.
He recounts a story he had with a doctor who has been working at the prison since the days of Saddams rule, and believe it or not, he thinks the days under Saddam were worse....I know, how shocking.
"-Yes but what about the way they are treated? And how did you find American soldiers in general?
- I’ll tell you about that; first let me tell you that I was surprised with their politeness. Whenever they come to the hospital, they would take of their helmets and show great respect and they either call me Sir or doctor. As for the way they treat the prisoners, they never handcuff anyone of those, political or else, when they bring them for examination and treatment unless I ask them to do so if I know that a particular prisoner is aggressive, and I never saw them beat a prisoner and rarely did one of them use an offensive language with a prisoner.
One of those times, a member of the American MP brought one of the prisoners, who was complaining from a headache, but when I tried to take history from him he said to me “doctor, I had a problem with my partner (he was a homosexual) I’m not Ok and I need a morphine or at least a valium injection” when I told him I can’t do that, he was outraged, swore at me and at the Americans and threatened me. I told the soldier about that, and he said “Ok Sir, just please translate to him what I’m going to say”. I agreed and he said to him “I want you to apologize to the doctor and I want your word as a man that you’ll behave and will never say such things again” and the convict told him he has his word!!
Another incidence I remember was when one of the soldiers brought a young prisoner to the hospital. The boy needed admission but the soldier said he’s not comfortable with leaving the young boy (he was about 18) with those old criminals and wanted to keep him in the isolation room to protect him. I told him that this is not allowed according to the Red Cross regulations. He turned around and saw the paramedics’ room and asked me if he can keep him there, and I told him I couldn’t. The soldier turned to a locked door and asked me about it. I said to him “It’s an extra ward that is almost deserted but I don’t have the keys, as the director of the hospital keeps them with him”. The soldier grew restless, and then he brought some tools, broke that door, fixed it, put a new lock, put the boy inside and then locked the door and gave me the key!"
Omar also lists some responses from various other Iraqis found on the BBC Arabic site discussing the prisoner abuse stories. These comments should be kept in mind as we think about this story.
"-"Thank you Sir for apologizing on the abuse of the Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison. Here you opened an important file; I think that those criminals who were responsible for the mass graves in my country (who are now in your jails' cells) should apologize for their massacres against the Iraqi people".
Imad Al-Sa'ad - Netherlands.
-"Who reads the reactions of Iraqis will see how surprised they're by the way the Americans can prove that years of Saddam's rule and of his anti-American propaganda can be washed out by time; here we have the president of the greatest nation on earth apologizes for what a small group of pervert soldiers did. And here, the American press proves that it's free to show the truth. We lived with similar pictures for years until they became the basics of every prison's daily life and we never heard an Arabic paper point them out. These are lessons from the western culture entering the hearts of Arabs, whether the Arab leaders liked or not".
Sa'eed - Diwaniyah/Iraq.
-"I think that President Bush should talk to us to fill the gap between us and I wish I could see the Arab leaders talk to us like GWB did"
Jihad Abu Shabab - Germany.
-"I'm very happy to see Iraqis condemning the abuse and defending the rights of the prisoners and this is the first time they do something like this, which was impossible for them to do under the dictator's regime. I think that our Arab brothers should mind their own business and take a look at their own prisons".
N - Jordan.
-"I think that president Bush was honest in what he said. Those abuses do not represent the American people. As a matter of fact, we can find cruel men with no morals in any country; that's why we should not judge a whole nation for the violations of a small group of people and I'm sure that these will get the punishment they deserve. Here I'd like to direct my question to the Arabic media "where were you when Saddam mass-executed my people and used all kinds of torture against us?".
Reemon A'adel Sami -Iraq
-"I think that President Bush's statement will find acceptance from some of the Arabs, while the majority will not be satisfied with his words whatever apologies they included just because he is BUSH and he is AMERICAN. I'm sure that the American officials are more upset by the event than the Iraqis themselves because this doesn't belong to their culture or their ethics as a civilized nation.
I think that the event took more space than it actually deserves and the media are creating a mountain from a grain. It's enough for us to remember Saddam's doings to comment on what recently happened".
Here are some more Iraqi blog reactions, this one from Firas Gorges at Iraq-Iraqis,
"Here in Baghdad any one can see that the media is talking about Abo Ghraib more than the Iraqis themselves. Its not Iraqis they are crying on they are using this case against the Americans. Please try to answer these questions:
Is there any prison in the world with out humiliation?
Did any one talk about Iraqi human rights before April 2003?
Did any one ask what those people in Abo Ghraib did to be treated like that?
Can any Arab country open its prisons for any committee?
Would any one dare to criticize prisons system in any other Arab country?
Well……Thank you Arabs, we don’t need your voices now, we know how to solve our problems very well, and it’s being solved. We have our own government and its going to be more legitimate in next July and elected in 2005.
All I can think of now if I had the power is to start a huge campaign against those governments who tries to use us for there own settlements with others. At that time the world would see enough scandals that may forget about us and we would go ahead for prosperity more easily."
I encourage you to read the vaiour other Iraqi blogs out there to get a better perspective of the situation. Each Iraqi blog has links to various others that pop up all the time. Interestingly enough, I obviously don't need to remind anyone that these blogs are a by-product of Iraqis new found freedoms, brought to them by the Coalition.
In regards to Abu-gharib, my thoughts are simply this. The morons who played games and did torture prisoners at Abu-Gharib most certainly need to be court-martialed and dealt with accordingly. And as you can see, this is precisely what's happening. The stories of abuse are abominable, and I agree that just because Saddam did far worse during his tenure doesn't excuse us from our own atrocities. We are of a higher standard than that and need to be held accountable.
This being said, I am getting tired of the hand wringing and partisan political wars being fought over this issue. We continue to ignore the noble and honorable men and women from our Armed Forces that have actually done some AMAZING things in the last year. For instance, "Frisbees near Fallujah" is the latest news from Spirit of America, how many of you heard anything about this in the news? Yeah, that's what I thought. Well, I recommend reading this latest post in its entirety. It is important, yet since it's good news, it will never make the news.
We will only lose this war if we defeat ourselves. There is no army capable of challenging the US military. And the shoot and hide terrorists only strengthen our soldiers resolve. We will only fail in Iraq if we let partisan sniping and historical revisionism from the loony leftists defeat our will to tough it out and see through the hopes for a free and democratic Iraq.
I leave you with the latest thoughts from Joe Lieberman, who makes me wish he would have been nominated for President instead of Kerry....
“The behavior by Americans at the prison in Iraq is, as we all acknowledge, immoral, intolerable and un-American ... I cannot help but say, however, that those responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq, working to liberate Iraq and protect our security, have never apologized. And those who murdered and burned and humiliated four Americans in Fallujah a while ago never (apologized)....”
“I hope as we go about this investigation we do it in a way that does not dishonor the hundreds of thousands of Americans in uniform who are a lot more like Pat Tillman and Americans that are not known, like Army National Guard Sgt. Felix Delgreco, of Simsbury, Conn., who was killed in action a few weeks ago, that we not dishonor their service or discredit the cause that brought us to send them to Iraq, because it remains one that is just and necessary.”