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Guard: Abu Graib Higher Ups Covered Their As*es

This is no surprise to those of us who have followed the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, but still, it's gratifying to hear one of the already sentenced guards, with nothing left to lose, say the abuse occurred at the orders of higher-ups:

Sergeant Javal Davis was sentenced to six months in jail after admitting to having deliberately stepped on the hands and feet of handcuffed prisoners. In an interview aired on Channel 7, Sgt Davis said he was instructed to make life as unpleasant as possible for those he was guarding.

"I was left with an open door to pretty much almost do whatever I want, you know like 'hey, make sure this guy has a bad night you know' or 'make sure this guy gets the treatment'," he said.

Sgt Davis says he found some of the things he was asked to do distressing. "For example, the nakedness, the hooding, the handcuffing of the detainees in compromising positions, like handcuffed behind their back in an uncomfortable way or handcuffed to the bar door door or something," he said.

He says he asked that orders he was given to abuse prisoners be put in writing.But despite repeated requests, his superiors never agreed to do so.

In other words, they covered their as*es.

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  • Re: Guard: Abu Graib Higher Ups Covered Their As*e (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:33 PM EST
    and yet, he stupidly went along with it anyway. had he refused, his risk was minimal. to court martial him would have required that his superiors admit, in a hearing, that they ordered him to commit illegal acts. what do you suppose the odds were that they were going to do that? while it's also possible that he would be subject to reprisals, when all this came down, his accusations would have had substantiation. on the other hand, there was no guarantee it would have come out. in the military, you are required to obey all lawful orders from a superior. clearly, such was not the case in this instance. further, i note that no names were named, just the usual nameless, faceless "they". not, mind you, that i don't believe his story, just that it would have more substance if he'd added specifics.

    Re: Guard: Abu Graib Higher Ups Covered Their As*e (none / 0) (#2)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:33 PM EST
    A perfect stooge. Javal Davis was charged with two counts of assault but was found not guilty in District Court in Baltimore County after his wife declined to testify. He is automatically tainted.

    Re: Guard: Abu Graib Higher Ups Covered Their As*e (none / 0) (#3)
    by CMike on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:34 PM EST
    cpinva wrote: and yet, he stupidly went along with it anyway. had he refused, his risk was minimal. Let's see, Sgt. Davis was in a war zone assigned to a dungeon amidst goings on such as those described here:
    In the same period, reporter Seymour Hersh, who helped uncover the scandal, said in a speech before an ACLU convention: “Some of the worse that happened that you don't know about, ok? Videos, there are women there. Some of you may have read they were passing letters, communications out to their men….The women were passing messages saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what's happened.’" “Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has.”
    At that time, those at highest levels of the US military and civilian command were directing and concealing all sorts of outrageous conduct towards detainees in US controlled prisons around the world - not to say they still aren't. The one hero in this entire Kafkaesque horror show, Specialist Darby, at some point had the fortitude to pass on photos of Abu Ghraib atrocities to investigators but he did so, at first, anonymously. Today Darby, back stateside, and his family are in protective custody - I wonder why? So in a dungeon in a war zone Sgt. Davis was told by superiors to treat prisoners sadistically and he obeyed. Some would say "had he refused, his risk was minimal." After all as everybody knows, the Uniform Code of Military Justice guarantees justice. Gee, why didn't Sgt. Davis act accordingly?

    Re: Guard: Abu Graib Higher Ups Covered Their As*e (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:34 PM EST
    Cmike: and, your point would be? that he might now be in protective custody? by comparison to being exposed, to the entire world, as a spineless pawn, willing to obey any orders, regardless of how immoral or illegal they may be, and sitting in jail as a result, being in protective custody doesn't sound so bad. but hey, that's just me.

    Cpinva: It is quite clear to me you have never been in a combat zone. Everyone in a hostile zone knows there are two types of orders, one written and the unwritten ones that if you fail to follow you do so at your own risk.
    and yet, he stupidly went along with it anyway. had he refused, his risk was minimal. to court martial him would have required that his superiors admit, in a hearing, that they ordered him to commit illegal acts. what do you suppose the odds were that they were going to do that?
    Unlawful and illegal orders? Is a Sgt supposed to be able to piece together the fineries of international law arguments that even the WH's foreign policy team is split on? You don't want this to go higher up so you are in favor of a very antiboots on the ground position. During the first Gulf War, for example, we had orders to warn before shooting when on guard duty. Our unwritten rules were expressed this way by our Sgt. of the Guard, shoot first, ask questions later, under the following situation, despite the fact we all knew this was in direct contravention to US policy.

    Re: Guard: Abu Graib Higher Ups Covered Their As*e (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:34 PM EST
    AW-So that makes it OK? I guess we shouldn't be surprised. When it comes to it terrorists, militias, street gangs, run of the mill thugs, and the US Military: they all act like cornered animals. Our grand civilization and self aggrandizing depictions of others as 'those animals', all looks pretty thin now; we are basically no more civilized than cave-people. Tony Shadid and his colleague Steve Fainaru paint a messy picture in Iraq that confirming that cro-magnons rule. Billmon provides commentary.

    Squeaky: The point I am making is this, CPINVA seems to be making the argument that the low level guys should be the ones getting burned, not the brass. Until & unless the brass are court-martialed and punished for giving such inhumane orders there will continue to be young men and women who are not scholars in the rules of war who will continue to follow orders. Put another way, Abu Gharib's punishment shouldn't fall solely on the shoulders of the troops. When dealing with allegations of CAH "just following orders" isn't a defense, however, it is mitigatory despite CPINVA's position. Those who issued the orders to torture at Abu Gharib should pay, and until they do, we will remain a rogue regime when it comes to enforcement of international human rights.

    Re: Guard: Abu Graib Higher Ups Covered Their As*e (none / 0) (#8)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:34 PM EST
    AW- I know that you are only looking out for the little guy here, but when does that start to look like the Nazi who claimed to be just following orders. I do not think anyone would disagree that the policymakers need to be held accountable for ordering or giving the nod to inhumane treatment of other humans.

    I think A LOT of people would disagree that the higher-ups need to be punished for the orders they gave, and I don't think you're giving ample weight to the amount of psychological pressure these people were under. The preponderance of evidence that, given the proper conditions, otherwise decent people will behave in cruel ways is staggering. Add to that the fact that soldiers are conditioned from day one to FOLLOW ORDERS. If they weren't, the military wouldn't work. "Go charge that hill." "Um, no, that looks incredibly dangerous. How 'bout I stay here?" Yes these people should be held accountable for their reprehensible actions, but those who created the atmosphere of torture, gave the wink-nod orders, and are responsible for what has and is happening in our detainment facilities should be punished far more severely.

    Re: Guard: Abu Graib Higher Ups Covered Their As*e (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:35 PM EST
    all writs: no, i've not been in combat. i have, however, had shots fired at me in anger. in my job, i've also had threats made against me and my family. that doesn't stop me from doing the right thing, nor should it. you apparently mis-read my post, or just chose to misunderstand it. i didn't even address the issue of punishment for those who gave the orders, that wasn't the focus of this thread. the focus was sgt. davis' statement that he knew what he was being ordered to do was wrong, wrong enough that he wanted those orders in writing. he didn't get what he asked for, but chose to follow the orders anyway, knowing in his gut it wasn't right. that makes him culpable, regardless of who gave the orders. those who gave them should also be held accountable, if sgt. davis and the other low level personell charged and convicted would ever bother to identify them. those parties should suffer even more, they violated their oaths as officers. your analogy is, at best, poor: being out in the open, as opposed to being in a controlled atmosphere, where you are the one in control, are two entirely different situations. but, you already knew that. the guards in the prison were not subject to hostile fire, they had the luxury of being able to take their time deciding what to do, as sgt. davis did. that is the difference.

    Re: Guard: Abu Graib Higher Ups Covered Their As*e (none / 0) (#11)
    by CMike on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:35 PM EST
    cpinva wrote:
    those who gave them should also be held accountable, if sgt. davis and the other low level personell charged and convicted would ever bother to identify them. those parties should suffer even more, they violated their oaths as officers.
    Cpivina, you are clueless. I am curious though about your take on another part of this story seein's how you started the thread by describing Sgt. Davis as acting stupidly and you, yourself, are just dripping with integrity (why armies wouldn't need rules if the ranks were filled by paragons like yourself). How come, given that there are video tapes of sodiers raping women in Abu Ghraib and video tapes of helpful allied locals raping children, there haven't been courts maritial in those cases?

    Re: Guard: Abu Graib Higher Ups Covered Their As*e (none / 0) (#12)
    by jackl2400 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:35 PM EST
    I'm sure that if Sgt. Davis had only asked for the offending orders in writing, they either would have been cheerfully and promptly provided, with no repercussions to Sgt. Davis for asking (just like he was told in his training about the Geneva Convention). Or his superiors would have realized the unlawfulness of their orders and would have retracted them, again without any negative repercussions to Sgt. Davis on his military career. LOL. I also am a still firm believer in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, no matter what people say.