Friday, January 13, 2006

Did You Order the Code Red?

by Joe Miller

Seems that real-live general officers have more sense than Aaron Sorkin's colonels. Kevin Drum and Andrew Sullivan both discuss the news that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, the man responsible for, well, let's call it "improving the efficiency of interrogation" at Gitmo and later tasked with bringing that improved efficiency to Abu Ghraib has invoked his Article 31 rights when faced with new questioning about detainee abuse. For those not up on the UCMJ (and really, who isn't?), Article 31 rights are approximately the equivalent of 5th Amendment rights. MG Miller, in other words, has declined to testify on the grounds that his answers might be self-incriminating.

There really isn't much that I can add to what Kevin and Andrew have already said. Andrew, in particular, has been tenacious in keeping the whole issue of torture front-and-center in the blogosphere. So let me just reiterate their analysis: MG Miller's decision to invoke Article 31 lends at least a bit of credence to the claim that the torture issue goes a bit higher than a few enlisted reservists.

So far, the military's response to the now-clear evidence of widespread detainee-abuse has been to (a) scapegoat a few expendable grunts, (b) quietly reprimand or discipline a few other particularly bad offenders, then (c) duck and cover and hope that the whole thing will go away. As it becomes clearer that this strategy isn't going to work, the military will have to rethink its strategy. So for what it's worth, here is my prediction for the next grand strategy: (a) scapegoat some high-ranking, not-so-expendable general officer, (b) quietly reprimand or discipline a few other particularly bad offenders, then (c) duck and cover and hope that the whole thing will go away.


Anonymous Mitch Ullman said...

"I may not have told those boys to use dogs in the course of interrogations, but I sure as hell told them to sufficiently scare the wits out of those Qur'an-thumping terrorists." -- The part of the interivew with Gen. Miller that was left out of the publication.

Seriously, there are plenty of folks in the military, officer-rank or otherwise, that don't see --or don't care about-- the negative effects that torture almost certainly would have on any information gleaned from detainees under duress. They simply look at it as another part of their job that is being hindered by the bleeding-hearts and artists.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous jimi said...

This from Veterans for Common Sense, an organization to which I belong:

Major General Geoffrey D. Miller, former commander of the Guantanamo prison and a central figure in the prisoner abuse scandal, refused this week to testify or meet with defense attorneys in a pending court-martial. General Miller cited his Article 31 rights through his attorneys, the military equivalent of 5th Amendment rights to refuse to self-incriminate.

Veterans for Common Sense supports the rights of an American citizen to refuse to testify, as was written in the Constitution we swore to protect. However, Miller's refusal to speak raises grave questions which still remain unanswered: who authorized prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and other locations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo; and why has punishment been restricted only to junior officers and enlisted personnel?

This selective punishment, which saw the greatest sentences handed down to junior enlisted personnel at abu Ghraib, even though numerous other similar incidents have been reported, has most recently resulted in the launch of SupportMPScapeGoats (, a group calling for clemency for some of the soldiers convicted of abuse at Abu Ghraib.

Veterans for Common Sense believes, both on moral and pragmatic grounds, that the abuse of prisoners is detrimental to our nation's values as well as damaging to efforts to succeed in Iraq. However, the conviction of a few low ranking soldiers does not effectively address the problem. This is a matter of failed leadership, and in order to protect our troops into the future, our nation must address the issue of command responsibility.

Sadly, the release of a new set of documents by the Pentagon shows that some abuses occured at least well into 2004 after the release of the abu Graib photos. Documents released under the lawsuit led by VCS, ACLU and other organizations include new reports of detainee deaths and beatings.

I'm also curious to know how Gen. Miller feels about Bible-thumping terrorists.

4:41 PM  

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