Monday, September 03, 2007

The Lieutenant Colonel and the Untersturmfuhrer

The Lieutenant Colonel

Last week I read a news story (in my local Pasadena Star News) saying that the only U.S. military officer criminally charged for the Abu Ghraib tortures had been onvicted on just one of four counts.

Lieutenant Colonel Steven L. Jordan was acquitted of:
  1. cruelty and maltreatment for subjecting detainees to forced nudity and intimidation by dogs
  2. dereliction of a duty to properly train and supervise soldiers in humane interrogation rules
  3. failing to obey a lawful general order by ordering dogs used for interrogations without higher approval.
Lieutenant Colonel Steven L. Jordan
However, he WAS convicted of:
  1. disobeying a general's order not to talk to others about the investigation into the abuse
In other words, Colonel Jordan's only crime was his failture to conceal information about the torture from other people. Ultimately THEY wanted YOU and ME to know as little as possible about what went on.

What was the Colonel's punishment? He was given a reprimand. The most lenient punishment allowed. Case closed

Read about Abu Ghraib torture at Wikipedia (with lots of good links) and at Wikipedia and at Salon (where these torture images came from.) The picture of Colonel Jordan came from Wikipedia also. Read about the person who SHOULD have taken responsibility for Abu Ghraib here.

The S.S. Untersturmfuhrer

The news about Colonel Jordan reminded me of a chapter in the book "The Good Old Days" The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders (editors: Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen and Volker Riess). This chapter is about the case of S.S. Untersturmfuhrer Max Taubner (pp.195-207).

I'm not suggesting a correspondence between Abu Ghraib and the Jewish Holocaust. I'm not suggesting a comparison between Bush and Hitler. The U.S. has a long way to go before comparisons with Nazi Germany are germane. (Although we do need to check the truth of that statement rather more frequently lately, I fear.)

I am suggesting, however, a comparison between:
  • the case of Col. Jordan (who was the only officer convicted over Abu Ghraib but only for talking about it, not for torturing anyone) and

  • the case of Untersturmfuhrer Taubner (who was the only officer convicted by the Nazis for participation in the Holocaust but only for taking unauthorized pictures and showing them around, not for actually killing anyone - which he had actually done.)

In 1945 Taubner was given a full pardon. Case closed.

I scanned these pictures of and by Taubner from "The Good Old Days". The book is a reader of primary materials about wartime reactions to the Holocaust by average Germans. It's a very disturbing book. I recommend it. Here and here are reviews of the book.

Not much is available online about Taubner's story. Here's an abstract for an article (which you'd have to buy.) I probably shouldn't have posted the Taubner pictures without permission - so please buy a copy of the book and I won't feel so guilty.

The Killing Fields

Here are two excellent but disturbing pictures taken very recently by Kristina, a friendly barrista at my local Starbucks, on her visit to the Killing Fields in Cambodia.

Cambodian Killing Field skulls picture by Kristina
Cambodian Killing Field skulls picture by Kristina

Torture Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I Can't Believe It's Not Torture

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