Adam Ash

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Women of Gitmo

Here's a feminist issue, starting with that poor chick Lynndie England, who got shafted because she was in love with a bastard, and bore his child, while superiors like General Miller go scot-free. From the NY Times:
The Women of Gitmo
There are countless reasons to be outraged about the abuses of detainees at American military prisons. But there is one abuse about which there can surely be no debate, even among the die-hard supporters of President Bush: the exploitation and debasement of women serving in the United States military. This practice must come to an immediate end, and the Pentagon must make it clear that such things will never be tolerated again.
Surely no one can approve turning an American soldier into a pseudo-lap-dancer or having another smear fake menstrual blood on an Arab man. These practices are as degrading to the women as they are to the prisoners. They violate American moral values - and they seem pointless.
Does anyone in the military believe that a coldblooded terrorist who has withstood months of physical and psychological abuse will crack because a woman runs her fingers through his hair suggestively or watches him disrobe? If devout Muslims become terrorists because they believe Western civilization is depraved, does it make sense to try to unnerve them by having Western women behave like trollops?
Yet those appear to be the operative theories at Guantánamo Bay, where military jailers developed the "aggressive" interrogations that were later exported to the Abu Ghraib prison. A Pentagon report released Wednesday contained page after page of appalling descriptions of the use of women soldiers as sexual foils in interrogations. One officer ordered a soldier to buy some perfume at the PX and rub it on the arm of a detainee "to distract" him. The report said that in response, the prisoner tried to bite her, "fell out of his chair and chipped his tooth." It doesn't say that he was moved to divulge any secrets.
There were several instances when female soldiers rubbed up against prisoners and touched them inappropriately. In April 2003, a soldier did that in a T-shirt after removing her uniform blouse. Following up on an F.B.I. officer's allegation that a female soldier had done a "lap dance" on a prisoner, the report described this scene from the interrogation of the so-called 20th hijacker from the 9/11 attacks: A female soldier straddled his lap, massaged his neck and shoulders, "began to enter the personal space of the subject," touched him and whispered in his ear.
To us, that sounds a lot like what Mayor Rudolph Giuliani tried to ban from Times Square. But the Pentagon seemed utterly unconcerned with the fact that women in uniform had been turned into sex workers at Guantánamo. The report's only conclusion was that whatever the female soldier might have done, it wasn't really a lap dance. Another instance, in which a female interrogator touched a prisoner with red ink and told him it was her menstrual blood, was judged out of order - but only because the interrogator had cooked up the scheme to get back at the prisoner for spitting at her. The report said "retaliatory techniques" had to be approved in advance.
The report talks about how guards forced a captive to wear a bra, put thong underwear over his head, made him stand naked in front of women guards, put a dog leash around his neck and forced him to do stupid pet tricks. If that sounds familiar, it should. We all saw photographs of this exact behavior at Abu Ghraib.
Indeed, the abusive interrogations at Guantánamo Bay were developed under Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who later reorganized Abu Ghraib. To their credit, the authors of the report suggested that General Miller should be "admonished" over the interrogation of the 20th hijacker. But they were overruled by his commanding officer, Gen. Bantz Craddock, whose previous job was as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's military aide.
Religious conservatives have made their presence felt in so many other parts of the Bush administration, but they have been strangely quiet about these practices. And where are the members of Congress who wring their hands over the issue of women in combat? It's obvious that the Bush administration will never offer a real reckoning on the prisoner abuse, or that the Republican Party will demand one. But surely the dehumanizing of America's military women is a nonpartisan issue.


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