Wednesday, April 26, 2006

NYT: Do we get excited as the whitewash continues?

The Army plans to charge Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, the former head of the interrogation center at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, with dereliction of duty, lying to investigators and conduct unbecoming an officer, Army officials and a lawyer for the officer said on Tuesday.
Colonel Jordan would be the highest-ranking officer at Abu Ghraib to face criminal charges in connection with the abuses at the prison. Ten low-ranking soldiers who served at the prison outside Baghdad have been convicted.

The above is from Eric Schmitt's "Abuse Charge Set for a U.S. Colonel" in this morning's New York Times. Is Jordan about to be charged? Based on anonymice, Schmitt concludes he is. Let's assume the mice are correct, what does it mean?

In some ways very little. Schmitt notes that currently the highest ranking to be charged has been Clarke A. Paulus (Major) who was found guilty (also of dereliction of duty, the charge supposedly coming Jordan's way). And? He walked without serving time.

An August 2004 investigation came to the conclusion that Jordan and Thomas M. Pappas should be charged. Pappas got a tiny fine (truly tiny -- eight thousand dollars) and a written warning for his file, no criminal charges. And no criminal charges can ever come his way. Why? He
was granted immunity from future prosectution.

Oh, you may be thinking, he turned witness for the prosecution? Usually, that's what gets you a grant of immunity. Pappas was granted immunity so that he could be . . . witness for the defense in the case of two charged. You read that correctly.

If Jordan is charged and if he is in found guilty, based on the previous experiences, it means very little. No higher ups will be punished. (Unless you consider a puny fine for the use of torture to be "punishment.") Where it may be of use is pointing up towards the top. Pappas's written warning for his employment file (that's how I'm looking at the write up) was for dereliction of duty. That's what Jordan will supposedly be charged with. How many people under Rumsfeld (who is under Bully Boy) can be guilty of dereliction of duty before the obvious conclusions are made (that dereliction continues on upwards since supervision has been derelict as well).

Derelection of duty? Considering the abuse, torture and deaths, it's a rather mild charge. Schmitt writes that it's likely Pappas (with his grant of immunity) will probabl testify in Jordan's defense. If whitewashes do it for you, today's possible news should have you very excited.

In the "sound familiar?" category, Martha notes Doug Struck's "In Canada, An Uproar Over Army Casualties" (Washington Post):

A day after Canada's newspapers carried front-page photos of the flag-draped coffins of four soldiers killed in Afghanistan, the Conservative government slapped a ban on news media coverage of the coffins' return home to Canada on Tuesday.
The order, and an earlier decision by the government not to lower the national flag to half-staff to mark the soldiers' deaths, brought criticisms that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is trying to muffle reaction to Afghanistan casualties.

"What is the prime minister trying to hide by dishonoring fallen soldiers?" Jack Layton, leader of the opposition New Democratic Party, demanded in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Yes, if you missed the last few weeks, things are going to hell in Afghanistan. The new actions are the promised ones (by the Taliban). This is the offensive that became public last month. The long spoken of British troop draw-down in Iraq is supposed to result (if it ever comes to be) from Blair and company's desire to redeploy British troops to Afghanistan. On Harper attempting to pull a Bully Boy, Canadians are much more vocal than Americans were:

"Mr. Bush instituted the policy of not allowing the caskets to be open to the media, and now Mr. Harper has lifted a page from George Bush's book," Ujjal Dosanjh, a member of Parliament and the Liberal Party's point man on defense, said in an interview from Ottawa. "This is absolutely unacceptable and un-Canadian. You don't build support with Canadians by trying to hide casualties."

Meanwhile creative fiction reporter Dexter Filkins tries to turn a web posting (video) that can't be verified into a long story. He's very creative and may follow in the footsteps of other creative writers such as Stephen Glass but he'll need to watch his tone (by the end of his article, he forgets that he's supposed to be saying "alleged" and accepts on faith -- so Dexy -- that allegations are facts). Closing out the entry, the Associated Press is reporting that Jordan's lawyer is saying his client will be charged Friday. Remember to listen, watch or read (transcripts) Democracy Now! today.

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