Wednesday, June 21, 2006

GIs' deaths 'barbaric'

Commentary by Pat Murphy


Pat Murphy

There wasn't a prayer those two American GIs captured in Iraq would be accorded humane treatment or would even survive.

The Iraqi military's description that the bodies showed signs of being "tortured in a barbaric fashion" was predictable. Insurgents that Vice President Cheney insists are "in their last throes" are bloodthirsty, uncivilized.

Then there are morally indefensible policies of the Bush administration, whose hands are drenched in repugnant episodes of inhumane and abusive treatment of Muslim detainees.

Insurgents undoubtedly have burned in their minds the administration's history of U.S. practices and policies:

· Detainees humiliated by U.S. guards at the Abu Ghraib prison.

· Bush advisers claiming Geneva Conventions for humane treatment of detainees don't apply to the United States.

· Captured "suspects" classified as "enemy combatants" rather than "prisoners of war" so U.S. interrogators could justify physical abuse and demeaning questioning tactics during detention, as well as spiriting some to foreign prisons to evade U.S. law and court jurisdiction.

· Accusations of torture of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

●· Refusal of the Bush administration to file charges against detainees or provide them legal counsel, unless ordered by a court.

Americans were warned by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain of revenge torture and killings of GIs if Bush & Co. didn't abandon its cowboy, tough-guy policy of abusing detainees: Insurgents would justify ghastly treatment of captured Americans as tit-for-tat.

Vice President Cheney, the five-time military draft evader trying to prove his manhood by swaggering like a frontier saloon gunslinger, still hasn't repudiated torture or abuse as U.S. policy. He's pleaded with Congress to write a law exempting "aggressive" treatment of detainees, while the president hints he might ignore McCain-sponsored legislation banning abusive treatment.

Sadly, the price for this smug cockiness will be paid by soldiers spilling blood on the front lines, not by politicians in comfy, heavily guarded offices of the White House and Pentagon, where macho strutting is out of harm's way and a cheap political artifice to reassure gullible Red State simpletons.

Meanwhile, the Republican chant of "stay the course" is pure red meat appeal to a witless mentality that believes killing more insurgents and spending more billions of dollars (thanks to IOU credit of the Chinese) is a winning war policy. That strategy didn't work in Vietnam.

The "course" President Bush has set includes more inane boasts about "progress," even as bodies of more GIs return home in coffins and deaths of perhaps more captured GIs will be described as the result of barbaric torture.

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