July 05, 2004

Backwards on Iraq

After reading the link in the last post, where he talks about the Congo, I had high hopes for Gary Brecher. Then I followed this link from Amritas, where he talks about Iraq, and was disappointed. He said a lot of right things (I’ve had similar experiences with Arab merchants, for example, to the one he describes), but he gets the big picture backwards.

Try thinking about it for a second, actually thinking like an Iraqi guerrilla. You have nothing. You start from scratch. So step one is getting a bomb. That means dealing with a lot of people -- somebody's cousin who stole a couple of mortar shells, or a cop sent out the word he's actually on your side.

Before you even contact this guy you need to know, can you trust him? You don't get a second chance. If you contact him and he's actually working for the occupiers, they'll have you down in the basement with a guy smashing your fingertips with a hammer. Then they'll bring in your wife and start on her.

If you make contact and it goes well -- you get the explosives from him -- you're still a long way from being able to set up the bomb. You still need detonator wire and something like a blasting cap to set it off, so you have to contact another dude, maybe some guy who used to work in the Fallujah Radio Shack. Before you talk to him you need to know.for certain, no second chance, if you can trust him. If you're wrong: basement. Hammer. Fingernails.

So just getting your material is a big, scary step. It involves dozens of people, and if just one of them turns out to be working for the other side, your whole insurgent network will be wiped out before it carries out a single attack. The guy who told you who to contact -- what if they capture him and take him down to the basement? It won't be a nice polite interrogation. It'll be torture.

You can bet we're ready to use torture in Iraq, no matter what the papers say. It's basic practice in counter-insurgency warfare. We probably farm it out to Iraqis so we can deny taking part, but we're doing it.

I don’t believe the Americans are using torture in Iraq, that’s the stuff of conspiracy thinking – in this world such a thing couldn’t remain secret. But the other side can – and I’m sure it does.

Gary, try thinking about it for a second, actually thinking like an Iraqi villager: You may have some opinions, but mostly you just want to live what you’re used to thinking of as a normal life. There are some powerful people in town, powerful because they have guns and are ruthless. They have powerful friends in Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia who support them. They know you, and your family, and what you do – everything about you, because you and everyone else in town have lived there for generations. And they won’t wait for proof before they come for you. Any weirdness is suspect. If you’re a little odd, or doing drugs, or suddenly successful in business – it’s because you’re a collaborator.

That’s what gives the terrorists such freedom of movement around Fallujah, and in the Palestinian territories – but not in most of Iraq. The only way to beat it is from the inside; you need to understand the who’s who in the local scene. Israelis, Kurds, and the new central government in Iraq understand this. We can win this war.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at July 5, 2004 06:32 PM
Comments & Trackbacks

I am confused you say "I don’t believe the Americans are using torture in Iraq" but this is dated july 6, 2004 well after the abugrahab came out.

You also mentioned how Gary described an iraqi villager. I think Gary was not referring to a typical villager. He was reffering to a typical teenage, hot headed shite insurgent. In other articles Gary states that most villagers just want to get through it alive.

Posted by: Joseph Fallon at July 9, 2004 11:38 AM Permalink

I was referring to torture for the purpose of extracting information. What happened in Abu Ghraib was a bunch of bullies "having fun".

Gary's point was that in a typical village everyone knows who’s doing what, and if the secret doesn't get out it's because everybody supports it. I agree with the first part of his analysis but point out that there is a different reason the secret doesn't get out - that the bad guys also know who's doing what and won't hesitate to kill you.

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at July 9, 2004 02:48 PM Permalink

I don’t believe the Americans are using torture in Iraq, that’s the stuff of conspiracy thinking – in this world such a thing couldn’t remain secret.

Are you kidding me? It's not secret or a conspiracy theory at all! It's documented by the US Army, International Red Cross, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and many many others. It's well docmented that:

1) The Office of Legal Counsel (in the Justice Dept) wrote a brief (dated 01 Aug 2002) justifying torture, saying the Geneva conventions didn't apply, saying the President could break laws banning torture, and providing US gov't personnel (soldiers, etc.) legal strategies to avoid prosecution and conviction.

2) Gen. Miller was sent to Gitmo, then Iraq, to push more 'aggressive' interrogation techniques.

3) Several prisonors, including an Iraqi general, have died during interrogation. There were ~ 70 or 80 active investigations into such homicides in the Army as of a month or two ago.

4) The International Committee for the Red Cross; General Taguba, appointed to investigate these issues by the US Army; and many others have documented these issues.

These aren't conspiracy theorists and you can download and read everything I've mentioned above -- and I'm just talking off the top of my head. There's much, much more. The Washington Post has many of the documents for free.

You can easily find the documents mentioned above. Here's a bunch of articles:

"The Roots of Torture" Newsweek ~ 24 May '04

"TORTURE AT ABU GHRAIB" by SEYMOUR M. HERSH, New Yorker ~30 Apr 04

"GI: Boy mistreated to get dad to talk" Chicgo Tribune 20 May 04

"Abuse of Captives More Widespread, Says Army Survey" NY Times 26 May 04

"Harsh C.I.A. Methods Cited in Top Qaeda Interrogations" NY Times 13 May 04

"Rumsfeld Issued an Order to Hide Detainee in Iraq" NY Times 17 Jun 04

"'Beyond human imagination'" Toronto Globe and Mail 05 Nov 2003 (or just search the web for "Maher Arar" stories)

"General Advised on Use of Dogs In Iraq Prison, Army Report Says" Wall St Journal 26 May 04

"Rumsfeld Approved Methods For Guantanamo Interrogations" Wall St Journal 10 Jun 04

"System Failures Cited for Delayed Action on Abuses" Washington Post 20 May 04

"Angry Ex-Detainees Tell of Abuse" Wash Post 03 May 04

"Tough New Tactics by U.S. Tighten Grip on Iraq Towns" NY Times ~06 Dec 03 "American soldiers ... have begun imprisoning the relatives of suspected guerrillas ..."

"U.S. Decries Abuse but Defends Interrogations; 'Stress and Duress' Tactics Used on Terrorism Suspects Held in Secret Overseas Facilities" Wash Post 26 Dec 02

Posted by: Evidence at August 23, 2004 11:08 PM Permalink

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