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US troops criticized for parading naked Iraqis

Iraq US troops Naked Iraqis

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#1 Palisades

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 07:07 AM

SFGate:

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The incident, reported in the Oslo-based daily Dagbladet, involved American soldiers who took four young Iraqi men prisoner, stripped them, burned their clothes and paraded them naked around a public park where light weapons were being stored. (Mirror).

1st Lt. Eric Canady, the American commanding officer on the scene, claimed that "as many as 100 people had been trying to steal the weapons, including Kalashnikov rifles, which [were] being stored to eventually rearm Iraq's security services." (Pak Tribune; photos available)

The story made headlines in Europe but was mostly ignored in the United States.

"We ... saw four naked Iraqi guys with four American soldiers," said Norwegian reporter Line Fransson, who witnessed the incident along with a photographer colleague. "We thought they were going to the bathroom. They went into a building, and a minute later [the soldiers] pushed them out into the main street." The naked men had the Arabic phrase "Ali Baba, Haram" ("Thief, Unclean") written in marker on their chests, an allusion to the old tale "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves."

Canady was quoted as saying, "I think our job is to keep people out of the park to prevent theft of weapons. We have started doing several things, and I don't think this is too much." Although three of the Iraqis managed to get away, one 20-year-old returned wearing a pair of shorts he found in a looted house. He told Fransson that he and the other three Iraqis had entered the park through an open gate to look for a missing teenager.

Canady "claimed he got the idea to strip [the young men] from people in the neighborhood" (Pak Tribune) and "confirmed [that] their clothes had been set on fire with gasoline." Described as "laughing," the U.S. military officer reportedly said, "It's not as bad as it seems. We only do it to the people who are stealing weapons. A little public shaming; no physical damage and everything will be fine tomorrow."

After seeing the article in Dagbladet, Amnesty International said, "If these pictures are accurate, this is an appalling way to treat prisoners." Such degrading treatment is a clear violation of the responsibilities of the occupying powers."

This is NOT the thing to do if you want to win hearts and minds.
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#2 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 07:20 AM

QuantumFlux, on May 5 2003, 04:57 AM, said:

This is NOT the thing to do if you want to win hearts and minds.
Interesting how one week the complaint is US troops aren’t doing anything about looting and should be using potentially lethal nonlethals against looters.   The next week they are being too harsh by simply embarrassing the err off some Iraqi looters.  Have to love the double standard.    

The historic and widely accepted punishment for looting is summary execution at the discretion of the commanding officer.  If they were lucky then maybe some quick field justice followed by a year or more in prison.    

These men were very lucky it was US Forces rather than the militaries of many other countries.
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#3 silverwind

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 07:23 AM

Such treatment is still inappropriate, IMHO.   :angry: Saying "Well, it could've been worse" seems too much like a cop-out.
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#4 Palisades

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 07:34 AM

I disagree that I'm espousing a double standard. When's the last time the US punished one of our own by parading him or her naked through the streets? As far as I'm concerned, what those soldiers did was highly inappropriate and set a bad example for the enlightened democracy we’re supposedly trying to foster. Maybe my standards are just too high.
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#5 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 07:39 AM

What I am suggesting is that administering justice in the field is no small affair or easy one.  You have very few options in a mass looting situation like Baghdad has become.  You can either shoot violators on site to deter other looters or you have to find some other way to deter the masses.  Locking up, imprisoning, and then carrying for large amounts of prisoners in an ideal setting is hard enough.  Troops on the move who are trying to aid in the rebuilding of the country don’t have that capability.  I don’t think anyone wants to toss them into the local hellhole prisons Saddam ran.  You do what you can and this one is pretty good tactic as we don’t want to do this without bringing any physical harm to our examples.          

Though if we wanted be less ethnocentric and more culturally tolerant we could arm our troops with sabers.  That way they can carry out the age-old local tradition of removing the hand of a thief.
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#6 Delvo

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 07:41 AM

Such humiliation of an Iraqi by an Occidental (who laughs about it) involves bigger issues than just the thief and what he deserves and what might deter other thieves. If we weren't a country that some people in that one are already suspicious of and/or weren't still running it after having just conquered it, this would be fine. But as it is, in a culture that values image and status and symbolism more than life in many cases, using "potentially lethal non-lethal weapons" or even just shooting a thief would be better than this. This is taunting and mocking the Iraqis, taking them down a notch below real people.

To make it clear that these soldiers' ludicrous frat-like idea of a joke or any other disrespect of the Iraqis is not what we're about, the perpetrators must now be equally shamed. They should be sent back home and a public display and message should be made of it, possibly involving their being forced to board their departing vehicle in their underwear (or less) or change to civilian clothes in public, with something written on their bodies about being useless for their disobedience.

#7 Bad Wolf

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 08:39 AM

I'm with QF, Shal, and Delvo.

And frankly, I find the suggestion that faulting soldiers for mistreating PRISONERS is somehow at odds with the idea that soldiers should prevent looting to be more than a little ludicrous.
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#8 Ilphi

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 12:14 PM

Yeah, no matter what logistics problems there are, this kind of treatment is unacceptable.

#9 ElJay

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 04:31 PM

So send in a police force!  These are soldiers.  They are trained to *KILL* people.  They are not cops.  They are not diplomats.  They are warriors who found a non-leathal way to deal with looters; I think that's deserving of some support.  Was it the "right" way?  Maybe not, but its a hell of a lot better than most of the available alternatives.  If you want an effective POLICE FORCE, send in some cops and let these guys and gals come back home.
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#10 Rov Judicata

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 04:48 PM

I'm with Lil, QF, Shal, and Delvo.

However, the claim that it was ignored in American press is false. I don't watch much TV news, but I did catch this on MSNBC. Also, how do you decide something is 'largely ignored'? I guarantee this was or will be mentioned in the NY Times, and that's one of our most widely distributed periodicals.



Quote

Canady "claimed he got the idea to strip [the young men] from people in the neighborhood" (Pak Tribune) and "confirmed [that] their clothes had been set on fire with gasoline." Described as "laughing," the U.S. military officer reportedly said, "It's not as bad as it seems. We only do it to the people who are stealing weapons. A little public shaming; no physical damage and everything will be fine tomorrow."

That's just stupid.

That being said, it was better than the treatment the criminals would have received from any other military. If it were virtually any other country that had to deal with this, the looters would be shot and the story would be ignored by the media at large.

Still, that was a very poor decision to make.
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#11 Palisades

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 07:50 PM

ElJay, on May 5 2003, 09:21 AM, said:

So send in a police force!
Why haven't we?
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#12 Rov Judicata

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 07:52 PM

QuantumFlux, on May 5 2003, 10:40 AM, said:

ElJay, on May 5 2003, 09:21 AM, said:

So send in a police force!
Why haven't we?
^

That's an excellent question.
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Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
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#13 eryn

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 09:57 PM

^

Well, apparently Canada is sending in DART units and RCMP officers (Mounties) to assist and advise the Iraqi police force, that is if the proposal is approved. Plus some other stuff like money and our CC-130 Hercules aircraft.

http://www.canadiane...ge/index-en.asp (The second article from the top)

http://www.pm.gc.ca/..._20030429_e.htm (The complete article)

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#14 Rov Judicata

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 09:59 PM

^

Excellent.

Despite how amazingly well this has gone overall, I do think there are a lot of valuable lessons to be learned from our failures. :).
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~~ Josh, winning the argument.

"Congress . . . shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis[.]" ~1 U.S.C. § 1, selectively quoted for accuracy.

#15 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 05 May 2003 - 11:21 PM

QuantumFlux, on May 5 2003, 05:40 PM, said:

Why haven't we?
You have to secure the country against a military threat before moving in large numbers of civilian law enforcement.  Your average beat cop is not trained or equipped to deal with being jumped by a group of well armed paramilitaries.  I’m not sure what the legality of moving law enforcement officers into a combat zone would be but the risk would be very high.  The US is also lifting in some civilian law enforcement along with Canada as suggested by mystic.  That implies that the situation has stabilized enough on a military front to start reestablishing the law enforcement system.
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#16 Aurelius

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 01:04 AM

Javert Rovinski, on May 5 2003, 08:49 PM, said:

^

Excellent.

Despite how amazingly well this has gone overall, I do think there are a lot of valuable lessons to be learned from our failures. :).
Amazingly well!!!!!!!!????????

I can't begin to comprehend how you could describe this war as having gone amazingly well Rov. Up to one hundred Allied troops killed....includingly at least 20 by friendly fire; God knows how many Iraqi civilians killed, not to mention those maimed or bereaved; widespread destruction across Iraq; Looting and anarchy for a time, massive destruction of priceless history (the Baghdad Museum) and Saddam is still on the loose.

Granted, it certainly could have been a lot worse..but it could have been much better. To say that it went amazingly well is just beyond my understanding

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#17 tennyson

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 01:30 AM

A force of troops, operating at the end of a massively long supply line annhilated a force that outnumbered it more than three to one within three weeks and only lost a little over a hundred people. In the annals of military history this is not only unprecidented, it is so unlikely as to be laughable if if hadn't already been shown to have happened. So what you will about having the war itself, the war as run was ridiculously successful when even war supporters were thinking there would be a few thousand Coalition casualities.
There wasn't "widespread" destruction, no civilians were inrtentionally bombed and right up until the regime dissingigrated the lights and water and everything else was still on. This has never happened before in the known history of warfare, the civilian casualities as well as Coalition casualities were unpresecendently low for any conflict of this size that has ever been recorded.
As far as the Iraq infrastructure is concerned, the electric lines, generating plants, water pipes, oil wells,the vast majority of the residental housing, it is all still sitting there as nice and pristine as it was to start with. There was virtually no house to house fighting, no widespread destruction of city centers as Coalition forces move from well held street to well held street and now the breakdown of order has been reveresed. I can understand if you didn't want the war in the first place but calling it unsucessful is just wrong. You will never have a bloodless war but every measure was taken to make this less bloodly and to keep civilians out of it. Even by the standards of the first Gulf War Coalition losses were minscule and the damage done to Iraq was limited.
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#18 Rov Judicata

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 02:24 AM

Quote

I can't begin to comprehend how you could describe this war as having gone amazingly well Rov. Up to one hundred Allied troops killed....includingly at least 20 by friendly fire

We went to war with a nation of millions, killed thousands (tens of thousands?) of enemy soldiers, captured many more, took over the capital, and did it all in less than a month.

Never have so few done so much in so little time.

Quote

God knows how many Iraqi civilians killed, not to mention those maimed or bereaved

Once again, you have to compare it with previous wars. According to the best source there is on this, (in part because it's hostile), the count is at about 2670 killed. For a full-scale military operation, that's extremely low.

Is that pleasant? No.

Is it better than the alternatives of waiting for Saddam's regime to pass naturally, and for millions to die? I believe it is.

I never said it was an easy choice.

Quote

widespread destruction across Iraq

That's vague, but more or less accurate.

Quote

Looting and anarchy for a time, massive destruction of priceless history (the Baghdad Museum)

And that's one of the mistakes I was alluding to earlier. I think if we had been more prepared for that, we could have been ready.

Quote

and Saddam is still on the loose.

I'm not so sure. We'll see. We have no idea what his disposition is.

Quote

Granted, it certainly could have been a lot worse..but it could have been much better. To say that it went amazingly well is just beyond my understanding

We did the best we could. Factoring in the realities of war, how long Saddam had to prepare, being on the offensive, our many objectives, etc.

This has been the most successful military campaign ever. The political aspect may become troublesome--we'll see-- but I do believe the military campaign went swimmingly.

Was it the most successful military campaign ever? Yes
Was it perfect? No
Can we analyze and learn from what went wrong? Absolutely. That man stripped naked and the Baghdad Museum are two examples of that.
St. Louis must be destroyed!

Me: "I have a job and five credit cards and am looking into signing a two year lease.  THAT MAKES ME OLD."
Josh: "I don't have a job, I have ONE credit card, I'm stuck in a lease and I'm 28! My mom's basement IS ONE BAD DECISION AWAY!"
~~ Josh, winning the argument.

"Congress . . . shall include every idiot, lunatic, insane person, and person non compos mentis[.]" ~1 U.S.C. § 1, selectively quoted for accuracy.

#19 Delvo

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 05:34 AM

Widespread destruction across Iraq? Wow, you have been seriously taken in by somebody's propaganda. A handful of specific targets demolished here and there in an overwhelmingly untouched Baghdad, the most heavily bombed city of them all... a whopping 9 oil wells set on fire and put out in a week or two... I think a dock or a dockside warehouse or two got sunk in a port city...

The bleak, dead landscape you're seeing on TV has already been like that for centuries. It's called a "desert".  :D

#20 Guest-AleisterCrowley-Guest

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Posted 06 May 2003 - 09:56 AM

Oh for goodness sakes...they were paraded naked.  Somebody call a damned lawyer because obviously these gents will have psychological damage for years to come.

It's not as if they were forced to eat feces or were raped or anything of that sort...you know, the sort of thing a certain other nation did to a smaller neighbor it occupied for a short time?

Edited by AleisterCrowley, 06 May 2003 - 10:13 AM.




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