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Monday, April 16, 2007

Homeboys in Camp Cropper

The best argument for bringing the military home sooner rather than later is that the military, and especially some of its practices and elements, is simply doing more harm than good. How can you stop an insurgency if your actions in stopping it consistently create ever worse conditions and impressions? How in hell can we "win", if we are constantly creating more enemies?

This Chicago public radio story (audio only) is about two Americans, not Iraqis and not even Iraqi- or Arab-Americams, who were caught up in a security detention at the Army's Camp Cropper in Baghdad, held and interrogated without charge or appeal for weeks (one for 3 months), and not allowed access to attorneys or consular officials, let alone their families who thought they were dead.

Their actions that led to detention? They had worked for an Iraqi-owned private security firm which gradually became (or which they gradually saw to be) a gun-running operation. As their suspicions of this arose, they began to inform the FBI at home and the State Department in Iraq of what they were seeing over an extended period. Finally, they came under suspicion by the Iraqi firm, and when apparently threatened by kidnapping or worse, were "rescued"by American forces that within a day, hustled them off to, um, Camp.

This is how Americans are treated by the American military system in Iraq. Can there be any question of why the Grand Old Surge can only fail? Why the entire military occupation has never stood a chance? How do we imagine they treat Iraqis? (Of course we saw this sort of thing beginning with John Walker Lindh, who-- regardless of his culpability-- was mistreated as a US military captive as well.)

This writer has consistently sought to uphold the diginity and honor of the American forces caught up in this undignified and dishonorable war. But there are clearly elements of the miltary who lack honor, and who are as much a disgrace to a free and democratic nation as the Occupant of the White House himself.

I always used to wonder how the School of the Americas turned out repressive death squads in Central and South American countries. Now I see why. Bring the troops home now: some of them, with rank, should come home in the shackles that these two loyal American civilians were forced to wear without cause or sense.

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