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ISSUE 117 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/14/2004

Scandal Surfaces

By Megan Sutherland
Contributing Writer

Friday, May 14, 2004

Not that Im a cynic  note sarcasm here  but I cant say Im too surprised that U.S. soldiers were recently busted for abusing Iraqi prisoners. It seemed to me the next logical step in American arrogancehumiliate an already humiliated people, and do so under the guise of promoting democracy.

We barge into someone elses country without the approval of the United Nations, bomb their destitute, already rundown cities and overthrow their leader.

Afterwards, we declared ourselves benevolent and caring for rescuing them from a ruthless dictator. Now we parade naked Iraqi prisoners around, pointing out if they have small penises. Good job, guys. Cue Lee Greenwoods Proud to be an American.

The Abu Gharib prison, located near Baghdad, is the site where the incidents occurred. Several U.S. soldiers documented their deeds on camera, apparently too stupid to realize that if youre going to breach international declarations on how prisoners are to be treated, its best to not leave any proof behind. It seems that they didnt think anyone would ever stumble upon their documentation. However, Im quite pleased that the soldiers involved in this scandal were dumb enough to leave concrete proof of their stupidity behind.

The photos are quite unsettling. One prisoner was made to stand on a box with wires attached to his hands and a black bag over his head. He was then allegedly told if he got off the box he would be electrocuted by the wires. Others were beaten and/or sodomized with broom handles, harassed, threatened and made to take off their clothes. To add insult to injury, cold water was thrown on them. Others were forced to take off their clothes and forced to simulate oral sex with one another.

Sounds to me like the seeds of democracy are sprouting faster than I ever could have dreamed.

Granted, this isnt extreme torture, but it certainly is a far cry from the expectations of the Geneva Conventions. Its degrading and disgusting.

U.S. officials claim that the soldiers at the prison were not trained properly and most likely suffered from prison guard syndrome. Philip Zimbardo conducted a prison experiment in 1971 that helped form this theory of power effecting behavior negatively, but it still isnt an even remotely valid excuse for the soldiers behavior. Former Nazi guards tried that one too. No sell then and no sell now. Iraq has already been dumped upon and humiliated enough without a bunch of snotnosed American soldiers pretending to be in some fraternitys hazing ritual.

Im sure most people, like me, find this whole situation embarrassing and reprehensible. Our military has always been held in high esteem. Those who originally opposed the war with Iraq were condemned for not supporting their troops and being ungrateful for their freedom. Those who serve in the military get a lot of respect in outside world, and they dont necessarily have to do much of their service to earn it. The U.S. tries to project an image of honor and pride, and within its armed forces the dynamic of respect and duty are at the forefront. Most who are in the military are the brave, compassionate souls who dare to fight for freedom from oppression all over the world. Im sure they dont have giant moral lapses like the ones seen in the prison photos, but it still does not reflect well on the unit as a whole.

The government has, so far, been more than willing to admit that such behavior is not acceptable and that those responsible need to be punished. The government should punish the offenders to the fullest extent that the military court allows. The soldiers, however, should really be the ones apologizing. When you represent your country in an international forum, it is not the time to make personal statements and immature, repulsive actions are certainly unacceptable. I personally feel ashamed and embarrassed. I have no doubt that any confidence that the Iraqi people did have in us has been destroyed by a few immature, sadistic soldiers who thought they were being funny.

Staff Writer Megan Sutherland is a sophomore from The Woodlands, Tex. She majors in English and history.

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