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At Least Nobody Got Killed

Martin Peretz: "Seventeen people did not die at Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib. The subject this week is not the misdeeds of government. The subject this week is the misdeeds of journalism. No wonder many editors and editorialists want to change the subject." Good point, except:

Pentagon officials on Friday increased to 37 the number of detainee deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan that have prompted investigations, including at least eight unresolved homicides that may have involved assaults before or during interrogation.
That was the Los Angeles Times on May 22, 2004. Always helpful to get the facts. Kudos to Andrew Sullivan for keeping this whole "U.S. interrogators have tortured over two dozen detainees to death" thing in the public view. The power of visuals is such that almost everyone in mainstream circles seems to have convinced themselves that the Abu Ghraib photos -- gross, awful stuff -- are and were all these is to it. We haven't seen photos of the corpses. But people were killed. Nevertheless, the United States government retains its distinct moral superiority, treatment-of-prisoners-wise, over Sadam Hussein's Baath Party. And that, it seems, is good enough for a lot of folks. Something about moral clarity, I believe.

May 19, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

I'm torn between the fact that we need to see the photos to understand what's going on as a country and the fact that, well, if we publish them lots of our guys will die.

I guess one way out is to say that if we don't get them out, Al Jazeera eventually will.

Posted by: Kimmitt | May 19, 2005 12:50:44 PM

Let justice be done, though the heavens fall...

Posted by: JP | May 19, 2005 12:53:07 PM

Pentagon officials on Friday increased to 37 the number of detainee deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan that have prompted investigations

Of course, Iraq and Afghanistan =/= Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, so the Peretz quote is perfectly accurate.

Moreover Andrew Sullivan is a liar. And Matthew is a liar for citing it here. "U.S. interrogators have tortured over two dozen detainees to death" is completely, utterly false.

Posted by: Al | May 19, 2005 12:53:21 PM

Well, since the CIA, according to various reports, has reconstituted the Mukhabarat (the much feared Saddam's secret police) and is now trying to unleash it upon the Iraqi population, I wouldn't be so sure about this 'distinct moral superiority'.

Posted by: abb1 | May 19, 2005 12:53:44 PM

"Good point" - even if what Peretz says were true, how is this a good point?

If the US had desecrated the Koran, how does that justify the rioting that killed 17 people, and how is Newsweek culpable?

This is madness.

Posted by: theCoach | May 19, 2005 12:56:55 PM

Just clicking through to the LA Times article, we get:

"Of the 37 deaths detailed Friday, investigators found that 15 were due to "natural or undetermined" causes other than homicide, in many cases heart attacks."

"Eight deaths were ruled justifiable killings. In those cases, soldiers followed so-called standard rules of engagement and killed detainees either to protect other troops or prevent prisoners from escaping, the senior military medical official said."

None of those were "tortured to death" by "U.S. interrogators".

Yesterday, Matthew seemed to imply that lying was bad. Will he acknowledge his own lie here?

Posted by: Al | May 19, 2005 12:57:33 PM

So, basically, Marty there (charter member of the neo-con branch of the Democratic party or the Democratic branch of the neo-con party, whatever) figures we got a coupla thousand to a coupla hundred thousand corpses worth of wiggle room before we're like tyrannical and stuff?

ash
['Would he add some more hisownself? Or is this more one of those outsourcing thingies?']

Posted by: ash | May 19, 2005 12:59:56 PM

What's amazing, and incredibly under-reported, is that virtually none of those detainees are Al Qaeda, but either Arabs just abducted by the Northern Alliance for the sake of being sold to the US, or NATIONAL terrorists, i.e foreign nationals who went to training camps in Afghanistan to train so as to GO BACK to their countries of origin in order to spark revolution.

But I think this is part of US strategy, to keep the Middle East region placated. They know full well that they are not detaining Al Qaeda members...

Then the torture becomes even more gratuitous...

Posted by: RIPope | May 19, 2005 1:08:48 PM

The power of visuals is such that almost everyone in mainstream circles seems to have convinced themselves that the Abu Ghraib photos -- gross, awful stuff -- are and were all these is to it. We haven't seen photos of the corpses.

That remark is kind of funny and horrifying, since the Abu Ghraib photos did include photos of corpses, goddamnit, though the repitition that it was 'just some abuse' has convinced even people like Matt to forget that. Inordinate power of visuals isn't what we need to worry about here.

Posted by: Toadmonster | May 19, 2005 1:12:23 PM

Will blowback from the Newsweek story be the attention to the U.S. non-American prison situation? Let’s not mention something that could be defined as protracted. Let’s see, they’re not American so we don’t have to act American to them.

If you are going to go to war, you have to be war like in thought and deed or you will not win. The same is true if you go to war in defense but less so. What the soldiers in field do is one thing, what you do as a nation is something else.

Just as the endorsed and supported teaching of hate for Westerners in general and Americans in particular by Islam will come back to haunt the Middle East, our official treatment of people in our custody will come back to haunt Americans.

Will the non-American prisons last until the next election?

Posted by: scou29c | May 19, 2005 1:14:23 PM

"people were killed"

No. People died. The purpose of those investigations is to determine whether they were killed.

Typical, really.

Posted by: ronb | May 19, 2005 1:14:53 PM

What Toadmonster said. There were photos of corpses. The collective amnesia on this subject is quite shocking.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | May 19, 2005 1:16:45 PM

Let's not forget this:

Report: 108 Died In U.S. Custody

(AP, March 16, 2005) At least 108 people have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of them violently, according to government data provided to The Associated Press. Roughly a quarter of those deaths have been investigated as possible abuse by U.S. personnel.

Posted by: RT | May 19, 2005 1:19:47 PM

Are we now to fear the truth?
Or will the truth set us free?

Posted by: epistemology | May 19, 2005 1:23:07 PM

Roughly a quarter of those deaths have been investigated as possible abuse by U.S. personnel.

Hmmm, from "roughly a quarter of [the 108] deaths" have been "investigated" as "possible abuse", Andrew Sullivan says (and Yglesias approvingly cites him) "U.S. interrogators have tortured over two dozen detainees to death."

How many times shall I repeat: Andrew Sullivan is a liar. And Matthew is a liar for repeating it.

Posted by: Al | May 19, 2005 1:31:03 PM

Goddamn, Al, it must be totally fucking awesome to be you -- all facts are 'biased lies,' you are so simple-minded that there is no filter between Rush and your mouth, and you have nothing to do with your life but troll here at at Kevin's!

Posted by: Al Gore | May 19, 2005 1:44:52 PM

Al would have made an outstanding Minister of Information for Saddam Hussein. How much fun he would have had, explaining how many of Saddam's prisoners had died of heart attacks, or while trying to escape, etc. And I'm sure Saddam would have rewarded him well -- it's hard to find people with so little self-respect that they'll lick your boots as enthusiastically as Al.

Posted by: grh | May 19, 2005 1:49:21 PM

"Are we now to fear the truth?
Or will the truth set us free?"

Both, maybe. Why do we suppose people do not fear freedom?

Posted by: Glaivester | May 19, 2005 1:49:36 PM

How many times do I have to repeat it: Andrew Sullivan is a liar. The sun, as anyone can plainly see, revolves around the earth, suspended in the heavenly firmament by the ten spheres, and devoured nightly by the serpent-king Apep, to be reborn again in the form of a bird come dawntime on the morrow.

Posted by: Al | May 19, 2005 2:04:06 PM

Al would have made an outstanding Minister of Information for Saddam Hussein.

No, you have it backwards, grh. I'm the one who was for getting rid of Saddam Hussein. You are the one who was in favor of leaving him in power. Thus, YOU would be the better Minister of Information for Saddam Hussein.

Posted by: Al | May 19, 2005 2:10:08 PM

all facts are 'biased lies,'

No, Al Gore, only the biased lies are 'biased lies'. And what Sullivan said, and Matthew approvingly cited, was just one of those cases.

Now, I thought that the left-wing was supposed to be "reality-based," in that they looked at the facts rather than rely on ideology. Apparently that isn't the case, here.

Posted by: Al | May 19, 2005 2:12:32 PM

Notwithstanding the deaths of detainees, Peretz's point still isn't a very good one. The Newsweek story was an indirect cause of these 17 deaths. It was only deadly due to the response of the Arabs who took to the streets in Afghanistan. Abu Ghraib and the other prison abuse has indirectly led to who-knows-how-many deaths via the response of Arabs. Even the Newsweek-based deaths would not have happened without a background of real, documented prison abuse. The reports of the abuse of detainees have been piling up, one of them finally sparked an immediate violent response, and that happened to be one of the unsubstantiated ones. Newsweek's insufficient efforts in verifying the report are only a small part of the story.

Posted by: Blar | May 19, 2005 2:27:58 PM

Al:

No, you have it backwards, grh. I'm the one who was for getting rid of Saddam Hussein. You are the one who was in favor of leaving him in power. Thus, YOU would be the better Minister of Information for Saddam Hussein.

"No, you have it backwards," said the Iraqi Minister of Information. "I'm the one who was for invading Iran and getting rid of Ayatollah Khomeini. You are the one who was in favor of leaving him in power. Thus, YOU would be the better Minister of Information for Khomeini."

This is fun!

Posted by: grh | May 19, 2005 2:31:22 PM

The thing I really appreciate about Al and his ilk is that they help you imagine what it was like to live in Baathist Iraq, the Soviet Union, etc. Al uses all the moronic rhetorical devices of your standard apparatchik, Baathist, etc.

You'd think they all went to the same school somewhere. But of course they didn't -- it's just that there are only so many way to be a drooling lickspittle, and the drooling lickspittles of all cultures hit on them sooner or later.

Posted by: grh | May 19, 2005 2:37:37 PM

So, is the Rodney King jury responsible for the L.A. riots?

Posted by: modus potus | May 19, 2005 2:47:16 PM

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