Immediately after exposing the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh
spoke of the story he was reporting as not only the story of the prisoner abuse taking place in Iraq but the story of these abuses being prosecuted by the US Military as criminal acts perpetrated by individual military personnel and not as violations involving the chain-of-command and its administration by government departments, agencies, systems, policies and procedures. Hersh was reporting a story of two forms of abuse: the treatment of Prisoners of War in Iraq photographed at Abu Ghraib and the treatment of a handful of the lowest-ranking military personnel who were photographed at the scenes of the abuse of Abu Ghraib prisoners.
The army investigation report
confirmed the involvement of high-ranking Military Intelligence officials and a systemic and chaotic environment of brutal methods of incarceration and interrogation. Investigations into practices at other Iraqi prisons and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba seemed to confirm Hersh's report of a complex problem encountered by the US Military, the Department of Defense and the Commander-in-Chief in the detention of political prisoners.
Duncan Hunter, Chairman of the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, didn't let that get in the way of concluding at the Congressional Hearings
that the "military started the investigations. The military first reported them to the public. The military took aggressive steps to identify any systemic problems that contributed to the abuse. The Department of Defense took immediate steps to correct problems as it uncovered them. And today, the Department is revising it's doctrine, training and policies in order to ensure the detainees are treated in a manner consistent with our values and obligations. That's the image of the military that must replace the faces of a few individuals photographed disgracing their uniforms, in violation of their orders, their training, our policies and our values."
Sabrina Harman will face court martial on March 8, 2005, International Women's Day. What is the relationship between those systemic problems, the doctrine, training and policies of the US Military and the photographic images of Sabrina Harman at Abu Ghraib?
Like countless other military personnel, Sabrina Harman joined the Army Reserves in order to finance her education, supplementing her income as an Assistant Manager at a fast-food pizza franchise. She wanted to pursue a career in Law Enforcement, following in her father's footsteps. Before the US Military "revised its doctrine, training and policies to ensure detainees are treated in a manner consistent with Anerican values and obligations," Sabrina Harman was shipped to Iraq and assigned to guard the prisoners being aggressively interrogated by MI for information on the Iraqi insurgency and international terrorism.
The issue of Gays in the Military was to the 1992 Presidential election campaign following the first US war with Iraq what Gay Marriage has been to the 2004 campaign during the second US war with Iraq. At the height of the 1992 campaign, the Washington Post ran a centrespread story about Dee Mosbacher,
the daughter of prominent Republican Robert Mosbacher, George Bush's Secretary of Commerce and fellow-Texas oil owner and executive. An activist with the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, Dee Mosbacher exposed a dangerous GOP hypricosy, welcoming her and her lover Nanette Gartrell to the White House, embracing them with love in the family and community of Texas and Washingron circles, while publicly promoting legislation and policies that are cruelly discriminatory and placed the most vulnerable at increased risk, particularly young people and people living with AIDS at a time when the epidemic was as much a tsunami upon the shores of the gay community as it is now in Africa and among the world's poorest countries.
Undoubtedly, when "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was conceived as a good-mannered compromise, the prospect of an army reservist being court-martialed in a case of international infamy and overwhelming significance could not have been anticipated. Beyond imagination that letters from the front, sent home to her lesbian lover would be key evidence in the defense of Sabrina Harman.
This week, as the Inaugural proceedings were commencing under unprecedented security, as American military and Iraqi security forces, candidates and citizens suffered increased casualities in anticipation of the upcoming elections, the Sunday New York Times published the wedding announcement of Dee Mosbacher and her partner Dr. Nanette Gartrell. After their San Francisco vows were annulled and a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage
was introduced by Republicans, their 30 year relationship was officiated as a marriage in British Columbia, Canada.
This week, Seymour Hersh was once again prominent in the news as his New Yorker article on secret US military intelligence, including its covert activites in Iran
hit the newsstands. Ironically, this same week Sabrina Harman, her lover and her lawyer each made their first public appearance on ABC's 20/20.
Quite a week for gay weddings and court martials. The right-wing may successfully oppose gay marriage and military service, but it certainly hasn't spared us being entangled in the complexities of both.Email me!
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