Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Ugly Truth About American War Crimes

As noted before, one of my biggest disappointments with Barack Obama is that he has refused to open the lid on American war crimes and torture that were official policy under Bush/Cheney.  The provisions of the Geneva Conventions were knowingly and deliberately ignored and violated and in the process America lost all moral standing to ever criticize other nations for human rights abuses.  Worse yet, war criminals such as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have been allowed to go free of any consequences.  Andrew Sullivan sums the situation up this way:
The country still won’t come to terms with the fact that the US perpetrated a global campaign of war crimes, torture, dehumanization and cruelty for seven years, and its impact is still being felt. It is felt not simply among all those dictators – from the master-torturer, the King of Jordan, to the Chinese and Russians, beaming broadly, knowing that the US has now no moral legs to stand on, especially since Obama’s decision to ignore binding Geneva Convention laws that require prosecution of the guilty.

But there is a human toll as well: not just among those still living with PTSD from the brutal torture sessions, but from the perpetrators as well. Many did so with qualms, under orders; others, given the signal from the commander-in-chief that torture was now an American value, took to it with relish and occasionally desperation. One reluctant participant soldier, just killed himself – yet another one – because he couldn’t live with what he had actually been ordered by his president to do.
Sullivan is referring to the suicide of  Daniel Somers who was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  In his suicide note, Somers gives an indication that things that were done are far worse than most Americans realize.  Somers and others like him simply found it impossible to go on living knowing what they had done under orders.  Here are portions of Somers' suicide note via Gawker:

On June 10, 2013, Daniel wrote the following letter to his family before taking his life. Daniel was 30 years old. His wife and family have given permission to publish it. 
I am sorry that it has come to this.

The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.

You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.

To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. .  .  .  .  And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for

The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle?
 Bush and Cheney in their megalomania and religious insanity simply did not care what was done to others.  The same holds for many in the "Christian" Right who view non-Christians as not even human.  And, apparently, Obama is little better.  How else to explain his refusal to see that war criminals be brought to justice.  Americans need to know the horrors done in their name.  By doing nothing, we all end up with blood on our hands.  I find myself less than proud to be an America as any decent moral person should be.

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