I have seen the atrocities committed against the Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison. I have listened to the bombastic rhetoric from the Senators and Congressmen and Women as they each try to outdo each others descriptions of outrage and horror as they get their thirty seconds before the camera.
Horror, torture, barbarism, inhumane cruelty, revulsion; these were only some of the words used to describe the descriptions of the photos as seen by the members of Congress and Senate. Why, they were so shocking that we need to replace the Secretary of Defense, any number of Generals and yes, even the President.
What the hell pictures were they looking at?
Have any of these high handed, holier than thou elected officials ever been to the Mid East? And I don't mean a four star hotel on a beach in Kuwait. Has Ted Kennedy (a guy who has never had to do an honest days work in his life) ever taken a look at the inside of a prison in Egypt, Syria, Iran, . . .Turkey?
You want to see horror, torture, inhumane cruelty? All you have to do is look. Compared to the norm in those countries Abu Ghraib would be rated P.G.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning the mistreatment of prisoners under US custody. After all, we are the “civilized” model to the rest of the world and we should live up to the high moral standards that we espouse to the countries we are trying to drag into the 21st century.
What was going on at the Abu Ghraib prison amounts to little more than humiliation and some scare tactics. We put our own Special Operations personnel through P.O.W. training that is more stressful. And don't give me any crap about the sexual taboos of the Arab culture. If you've ever lived there you'll know that the trade in sex is rampant and includes, women, men, homosexuality and both female and male children.
How dare anyone call the treatment of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib an atrocity.
An atrocity is when all the adults in a village are rounded up and forced to watch as all of their children are executed in front of them.
An atrocity is when you discover a mass grave with 172 old men, women and children machine gunned in a ditch and bulldozed over.
An atrocity is when a young woman is raped by 22 prison guards just for being from a certain city and family.
An atrocity is when a young reporter is videotaped being decapitated just for being Jewish (Daniel Pearl).
An atrocity is when 4 Americans (my personal friends among them) are mutilated, burned, dragged though the streets and hung from a bridge.
An atrocity is when a suicide bomber boards a bus and blows himself up, killing 12 children on their way to school.
An atrocity is when five cowards hide their identity behind masks, chanting “Allah Akbar” (God is great) and take a young man who is bound and tied and proceed to hack his head from his body, in front of a video camera, purely for propaganda.
Unless the definition or generally accepted interpretation of what is an atrocity has changed, then I certainly don't think it applies to what happened at Abu Ghraib. Those acts (Abu Ghraib) do not qualify as atrocities.
Or perhaps, our elected officials have a different dictionary than the rest of America.
Ernest R. Emerson
May 11, 2004