Friday, May 20, 2005

Light Weekend Reading

In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths

Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.


Specialist Damien M. Corsetti, a tall, bearded interrogator sometimes called "Monster" -he had the nickname tattooed in Italian across his stomach, other soldiers said - was often chosen to intimidate new detainees. Specialist Corsetti, they said, would glower and yell at the arrivals as they stood chained to an overhead pole or lay face down on the floor of a holding room. (A military police K-9 unit often brought growling dogs to walk among the new prisoners for similar effect, documents show.)

"The other interrogators would use his reputation," said one interrogator, Specialist Eric H. Barclais. "They would tell the detainee, 'If you don't cooperate, we'll have to get Monster, and he won't be as nice.' " Another soldier told investigators that Sergeant Loring lightheartedly referred to Specialist Corsetti, then 23, as "the King of Torture."

A Saudi detainee who was interviewed by Army investigators last June at Guantánamo said Specialist Corsetti had pulled out his penis during an interrogation at Bagram, held it against the prisoner's face and threatened to rape him, excerpts from the man's statement show.

Comment: Read this article even if you don't want to. Heartbreaking if even half of its true. Where the hell was the leadership? I could barely stomach reading this. I did not join an Army that lets asshole E-4 with "Monster" tatooed on their chests run amok and beat people to death. We can do better.

The rush to fight missiles aimed at planes

You can be pretty sure that when those two lost pilots in a little Cessna wandered out of Pennsylvania and into highly restricted air space near the Capitol and the White House last week, it wasn't just F-16 fighter jets and Blackhawk helicopters that were prepared to end their journey. Government men in black likely were posted atop key buildings with shoulder-fired missiles as well.

Such weaponry has been part of the US arsenal for decades. But just as many "bad guys" as "good guys" may be armed with MANPADS (man-portable air defense systems) these days, and some experts say that it would be far too easy for one of them to attack an American airliner. As a result, diplomats and engineers are scrambling to reduce the threat.

Comment: If we spend billions to protect the fleet of US Commercial Aircraft, all the terrorists have to do if shoot one from another country. Down an Aero Mexico plane as it makes it approach to the Austin airports, and you will still suceed in damaging the airline industy. Then you've got the public screaming "what did we spend all that money on?"

The best defense against terrorism is a good offense--military, politically, diplomatically. How about we take a billion dollars and invest it in language training programs so we can produce better HUMINT.

The Best P.R.: Straight Talk


The fact that the White House spokesman Scott McClellan spent part of his briefing on Tuesday excoriating Newsweek - and telling its editors that they had a responsibility to "help repair the damage" to America's standing in the Arab-Muslim world - while not offering a single word of condemnation for those who went out and killed 16 people in Afghanistan in riots linked to a Newsweek report, pretty much explains why we're struggling to win the war of ideas in the Muslim world today. We are spending way too much time debating with ourselves, or playing defense, and way too little time actually looking Arab Muslims in the eye and telling them the truth as we see it.

Comment: Worth reading.

Lessons for Iraq From Gettysburg

By David Ignatius

GETTYSBURG, Pa. -- The most famous battlefield of the American Civil War might seem an unlikely place to look for lessons about Iraq. But as historian James McPherson leads a group of Pentagon officials in a discussion of postwar reconstruction, some startling common themes emerge.

Comment: History is fun and useful.

A Report Card on Iraqi Troops

HILLA, Iraq, May 17 -- The Iraqi colonel had just finished telling Army Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, about the successful raids his brigade had carried out, the suspected insurgents captured and the weapons rounded up.

Then, on a screen at the far end of a narrow, cramped conference room where Casey was sitting, the colonel flashed a slide rating his brigade according to a system just devised by the U.S. military. The slide showed a nearly complete sea of red squares -- red for staffing levels, red for training, red for equipment and so on through several more categories.

Comment: Ah Jesus (or Allah whichever your prefer), now its death by powerpoint Iraqi style.

Mail-order Quran arrives with slurs

LOS ANGELES - A Muslim woman who said she ordered a Quran through only to find profanity and religious slurs written inside asked Wednesday for an apology and a full investigation by the online retailer.

Comment: Will Jeff Bezos get burned in efagy in a riot in Jalalabad?


At May 21, 2005, Anonymous Bobby said...

>>A Report Card on Iraqi Troops<<

I like the part about how subordinate commanders are lowering ratings in order to get more attention (training, equipment, money, etc.) to raise their performance.

It reminds me of something I saw almost six years ago. Incoming Division commanders have to do a "readiness assessment" of their units, within 60 days of taking command. For years, this was merely a "check the box" formality kind of thing (like the old OERs where everyone got a "1" block).

Then the new Commanding General of the 1st ID actually declared his unit to be unfit for combat. It provoked a firestorm of controversy, but ultimately the Department of the Army had to improve training, funding, and equipment in order to improve its readiness. It was a major coup for that new commander, who was given more opportunities than he would otherwise have had. Other commanders soon figured it out and tried the same trick, but the Army was on to them and has since changed the reporting criteria.

Who was that commander? A man by the name of John Abizaid...

At May 23, 2005, Anonymous Bill Badger said...

The out-of-control interrogators cited by the NYT were in the 519th MI Bn. The battalion commander was relieved of his command a year early. LTC Jim Edwards, who'd just been slated to take that command in summer 2004, left Ft Hood to command of the 519th in 2003. Things that make you go, "Hmmmm."


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