Saturday, May 12, 2007

Torture I: A Letter to the Troops

When the war in Iraq slouches to its dreary conclusion, there will be plenty of blame to go around, but General David Petraeus will most certainly be an exception.

That the commander of American forces in Iraq felt compelled to stand up to the commander and chief and write a letter linked here to the troops that in so many words forbids the use of torture is sad testimony to the destructive mentality of the Bush administration.

The letter begins thusly:

Our values and the laws governing warfare teach us to respect human dignity, maintain our integrity, and do what is right. Adherence to our values distinguishes us from our enemy. This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we—not our enemies—occupy the moral high ground. This strategy has shown results in recent months. Al Qaeda’s indiscriminate attacks, for example, have finally started to turn a substantial portion of the Iraqi population against it.

In view of this, I was concerned by the results of a recently released survey conducted last fall in Iraq that revealed an apparent unwillingness on the part of some U.S. personnel to report illegal actions taken by fellow members of their units. The study also indicated that a small percentage of those surveyed may have mistreated noncombatants. This survey should spur reflection on our conduct in combat.

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