A Cheer for Torture
The trial of US army specialist Charles Graner, charged in the Iraqi prison torture scandal is underway. His lawyer, Guy Womak, in his opening remarks made the following statement,
Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year? Is that torture?
Well Mr. Womak, if we forced cheerleaders to perform pyramids while hooded and naked, all the while surrounded by mocking uniformed thugs, it would be. The lawyer also compared the leashing of naked prisoners to, "parents putting tethers on toddlers."
I haven't seen much comment about this from conservative bloggers at this point. You will hear about it from me. Anyone who know me understands that I am not an anti-American. Quite the contrary. But what happened at that prison in Iraq runs contrary to the values which Americans themselves hold dear. In my view, the actions of the prison guards ought to be severely punished and anyone who allowed the abuse to take place ought to be punished as well, no matter how high up the chain of command this goes.
Lest any reader is tempted to assume airs about our inate moral superiority as Canadians, I remind you of what happened in Somolia a few years ago when certain members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment tortured a 16 year old prisoner named Shidane Arone to death. His crime was attempting to pilfer some items of minor importance. He was beaten to death over a period of several hours. Soldiers sleeping in tents only a short distance away claimed they did not hear his screams of agony and terror. The murder was a blot on the proud history of the Airborne Regiment and ultimately provided the pretext for the Liberal government to disband our most effective fighting regiment.
Permitting, or encouraging, the abuse of prisoners is not consistent with good order and discipline of a military force. The Abu Ghraib incident harmed the reputation of the American forces and government at a very critical time. It is simply not defensible and it needs to be punished fully, in accordance with applicable law.
And as for you Mr. Womak. By your odious comparison to cheerleaders, you have shamed your profession, just as Specialist Graner shamed his. Away with you both.