One of the most negative instances of the "War on Terror" occurred at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, as the reader finds out in John Barry, Mark Hosenball and Babak Dehghanpisheh's "Abu Ghraib and Beyond;" many detainees, suspected terrorists, and Taliban fighters, were tortured by U.S. soldiers in an effort to extract information. The instances of torture were photographed and eventually made their way to the press and widespread viewing by the world.
In the ensuing session of finger-pointing as to who was responsible, the soldiers who committed the acts claimed to have been told to do so by their superiors; their commanders denied having instructed them to humiliate the prisoners and torture them. The end result was that the soldiers were punished, Donald Rumsfeld's credibility was decimated, and the Islamic world became enraged at the American treatment of the prisoners.
The writers of the article take the reader through a brief history of the need for U.S. prisons in the Middle East and the resulting choice of Abu Ghraib by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller as the seemingly best place in Iraq for an "interrogation facility." The names of the worst "interrogators" are given in the article, for they often striped and tortured the inmates, rather than simply interrogating them. It is commendable that the article is not written in a way that condemns Lynndie England (one of the stars of the illicit torture photographs), but it points the blame higher to military officials, with being overt in doing so.
Given the timing of the article (soon after the torture incidents, in the spring of 2004), the authors of the article show quite a bit of restraint in reporting the events at Abu Ghraib. Unlike most of today's reporting, the article is written in a matter of fact manner, without a lot of the leftist rhetoric found in today's reporting of the war (or anything having to do with George W. Bush). Additionally, it should be noted that in 2004, it was considered un-American to take the U.S. military to task on their behavior in the Middle East. This article shows a great deal of bravery by the authors, for the response to the piece could have been quite negative.
Surprisingly, I agree with the tone of this article, for it doesn't condemn and it reports the facts in a clear manner; such is not always the case in the leftist leaning Newsweek magazine, in which this article was originally found. As far as how I feel about the subject itself, my feelings are not politically correct in any way, but are simple and probably alarmist. If torture of supposed terrorists and Islamic extremists leads to saving American lives, then it should be used. No one in New York or Washington asked to be attacked six years ago, yet that is exactly what happened, and it happened in the name of Islam and Islamic fanaticism. If there is a reason to believe that a detainee or prisoner is a member of an extremist group, and that he or she has information regarding terror plots, then torture could and should be used. Again, my feelings are far from humanitarian or politically correct, but if it's Islamic fascism or the American way of living, I'll take American life each and every time.
Rottenberg, Annette, and Donna Haisty Winchell. The Elements of Argument. 8th ed.
Clemson: Clemson University, 2006.