Wednesday, May 19, 2004
If you are someone who knows me or reads much of my rantings, you know that two of the biggest things I hate are double standards and hypocrisy. I've found each in spades with this Iraqi prison "scandal". Today there was the news story of Specialist Jeremy Sivits' plea bargain. His plea bargain includes a demotion, a "bad conduct" discharge, and a year or so in prison. I believe this also means he'll suffer a severe cut in pay and retirement benefits. Also, he has agreed to testify against other soldiers who were in similar situations as he was in Iraq. Unless I'm mistaken, this Sivits fellow didn't even participate in the "abuse". He was just there, and he took some pictures.
As you know, I find it sickening that these low-level grunts are taking ALL the heat for this scandal even though most of them were simply following orders. We also now know that most of the stories of rape and murders by our troops in the prison are false. And yet these volunteer soldiers take it in the face. For basically nothing.
Perhaps you are now wondering where my double standard argument comes in. Here it goes. These men and women volunteered to risk their lives to do what our military asked of them. They were put in a country where they would fight animals with no comprehension of humanity, let alone human rights. However, when these same soldiers are ordered to humiliate said animals to soften them up for questioning, they get gut-punched by their own superiors. They are taken down as if they themselves were some of America's most wanted, like they themselves are terrorists.
And yet, we have similar (in my opinion worse) occurrences here in America. Every day our law enforcement agents steal whatever they want from people. They have the authority to do this without arresting or charging the person with any crime. All they must do is THINK that the "confiscated" items are ill-gotten gains from drug proceeds. These same "law officers" often beat, torture, and kill suspects. Sometimes this is done before an arrest. Sometimes it is after the arrest. Sometimes an arrest is never made, either because the "perp" was innocent, or is now dead. And does the Congress scream for special courts to jail these people, or even demote them? Of course not. On the rare case that the perpetrators actually end up in a trial, they are almost always exonerated by a court system that, to put it euphemistically, is on the side of the police to begin with.
Then we have our prison industry. Perhaps this is a little more in parity with the current situation in Iraq. I’m not going to quote the statistics again; you’ve no doubt heard them all before. America has the most people in prisons per capita, blah blah. If you want to check the stats, feel free. That’s what Google is for. Daily in these prisons, inmates are beaten, raped, killed. Often these acts are committed by other inmates, and when that is the case almost always the guards look the other way. And often, these acts are committed either directly by the prison guards, or under the direction of the guards. If you don’t believe me, just walk around town and find anyone who’s ever been in prison. Ask them what it’s like.
The same goes for the cops. If you don’t believe what I say about their actions, then pick up a paper. It seems that monthly there is another police shooting, or a death from a chase. Look it up.
And finally, on the issue of basic, everyday police brutality, I can give first hand information. I’ve been arrested twice for driving with a suspended license. The arrests were lawful; I don’t claim I was in the right. Also, I’ve been around when others were arrested. For drugs, outstanding warrants, different things. Usually I was just there because I knew someone. Sometimes I was just walking by. Once I was pulled over because I was behind two guys who were racing down the highway. The Sheriff assumed I was racing too. To this day I don’t know why. Though the specifics vary, in each incident I was threatened. I was told if I moved, I would be shot. I was told if I spoke, I would have my jaw broken. I was told I was going to jail to be raped, then the cop laughed about it. I have been frisked, and during the “pat downs” I was fondled and molested. All these things I KNOW FROM FIRST HAND PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. And you know what? No one cares. There is nothing I could do in any one of the above cases.
So here’s the basic thing I’m trying to get at. Our low level grunts in Iraq are getting drug across the fire for following orders. In doing so, they may have violated one’s civil rights. But these violations are incomparable to the violations happening everyday here in America by our own law enforcement and prison system. Americans can be beaten, raped, killed, threatened. And no one cares. But take a picture of a naked Iraqi man, and you go to jail
There’s your double standard.