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"The Wrong Morons"

An article in the Financial Times mentioned this
editorial yesterday in the Army Times newspaper, but I haven't seen it cited anywhere else, so I thought I would post it here:

Published: May 17, 2004

Editorial: A failure of leadership at the highest levels

Around the halls of the Pentagon, a term of caustic derision has emerged for the enlisted soldiers at the heart of the furor over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal: the six morons who lost the war.

Indeed, the damage done to the U.S. military and the nation as a whole by the horrifying photographs of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees at the notorious prison is incalculable.

But the folks in the Pentagon are talking about the wrong morons.

There is no excuse for the behavior displayed by soldiers in the now-infamous pictures and an even more damning report by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba. Every soldier involved should be ashamed.

But while responsibility begins with the six soldiers facing criminal charges, it extends all the way up the chain of command to the highest reaches of the military hierarchy and its civilian leadership.

The entire affair is a failure of leadership from start to finish. From the moment they are captured, prisoners are hooded, shackled and isolated. The message to the troops: Anything goes.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on May 11, 2004 | Permalink


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Actually, the article was cited in TV news reports, I think I saw it on the Newshour. They quoted the "wrong morons" line too, I had a good chuckle at that one...

Posted by: dave | May 11, 2004 4:47:26 PM

I've posted an extended commentary regarding the actual military laws and regulations that cover the treatment of detainees at my blog here:


Most commentators have been focusing on the Geneva Conventions, but there are actually DoD regulations that are more pertinent, that every enlistee or reservist is supposed to have read, and that also define the responsibility up the chain. Read 'em and weep.

Posted by: rick freedman | May 11, 2004 8:09:23 PM

One of the scariest elements are the "contractors" i.e. mercenaries, who are not subject to the rules of military conduct and who are waging so much of this war for us. A privatized army, beyond the reach of the laws of civilized conduct.! Amazing what we have come to.

Posted by: paul c | May 11, 2004 10:58:37 PM

Published May 17, 2004?

Posted by: Jon | May 12, 2004 8:28:39 AM

Notice how the GOP politicians who are going on and on about how the atrocities committed aren't so bad, are the same ones that are against protections for gays and lesbians because gay sex is an abomination?

Sex between 2 *CONSENTING* males is abhorrent, but forcing a couple of prisoners to do it is just "blowing off steam." Incredible.

Posted by: Robb | May 12, 2004 7:10:33 PM

"The six morons who lost the war".

Wow. Are they really saying that? If so, it indicates that 1) they believe the war is lost, and 2) they are almost mad. Sure, it would be understandable to pin the loss of the war on six private soliders for PROPAGANDA purposes, but if they are saying this PRIVATELY AMONG THEMSELVES, that's just crazy.

Why not just call Lynndie England et al the November Criminals and be done with it?

Posted by: Voice of the Democracys | May 21, 2004 10:21:48 AM

I had always imagined that top Al Qaeda captives might be tortured, but the extension of such techniques to Iraq, where Geneva must apply, is really incomprehensible. Until you realize that it is the Bush re-election effort that is the driving imperative-the insurgency threatens the re-election, and all restraints have been cast aside to try to end it. Iraqis were tortured and our reputation in the world besmirched in behalf of the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign.

Posted by: Bob H | May 30, 2004 2:55:19 PM

This is horrible.
We should put all the terrorists into planes and fly them to their country - landing the plane into ground at 500 mph!

Posted by: David | Jun 6, 2006 2:45:13 PM