May 08, 2004


The scenes from Abu Ghraib have inspired Robert Fisk to apocalyptic hyperbole:

Just look at the way US army reservist Lynndie England holds the leash of the naked, bearded Iraqi. Take a close look at the leather strap, the pain on the prisoner's face. No sadistic movie could outdo the damage of this image. In September 2001, the planes smashed into the buildings; today, Lynndie smashes to pieces our entire morality with just one tug on the leash.

Our entire morality? Lynndie isn’t the only one doing some tugging here.

Could ever Islam have come so intimately into contact with the sexuality of the Old Testament? Could neo-conservative Christianity - Lynndie is also a churchgoer - have collided so violently, so revoltingly, so obscenely with Islam?

Making rather a lot of this, isn’t he? Lynndie also used to hang out at the local Dairy Dip. Maybe her victims preferred Baskin-Robbins. It’s the ultimate ice cream chain confrontation! Fisk believes that unnamed forces compelled Lynndie England -- Fisk refers to her as “a girl” -- and her fellow tormenters to carry out their loathsome acts:

They were told to do these despicable things. They were encouraged. This was an order from someone. Who? When can we see their pictures, their identity, their passports, their orders?

What does it matter? We’re all to blame, according to Robert:

Yes, it's part of a culture, a long tradition that goes back to the Crusades; that the Muslim is dirty, lascivious, un-Christian, unworthy of humanity - which is pretty much what Osama bin Laden (now forgotten by Mr Bush, I notice) believes about us Westerners.

Is there anything Fisk and bin Laden don't agree on?

UPDATE. Apparently Col. David Hackworth played a role in bringing to light the Abu Ghraib photographs, via the uncle of one of the accused:

He knew whom to turn to: David Hackworth, a retired colonel and a muckraker who was always willing to take on the military establishment. Mr. Lawson sent an e-mail message in March to Mr. Hackworth's Web site and got a call back from an associate there in minutes, he said.

That e-mail message would put Mr. Lawson in touch with the CBS News program "60 Minutes II" and help set in motion events that led to the public disclosure of the graphic photographs and an international crisis for the Bush administration.

Hackworth has lately experienced some public disclosure of his own. Old pal Phillip Adams was recently alarmed by reports in the Toledo Blade:

Ken Kurney, a former private, talked about the briefing he’d received when joining Hackworth’s Tiger Force. "What goes on here, stays here. You’ll never tell anyone about it. We find out you did, you won’t like it."

Times have evidently changed for the Hackster:

When he was a sergeant in Korea, one of his soldiers executed four prisoners after making them dig their own graves. Hackworth kicked the man out of his unit but didn't pursue charges, saying in "About Face" that no one reported war crimes in Korea because "all of us had seen too many atrocities, and what is war anyway but one raging atrocity?"

Posted by Tim Blair at May 8, 2004 09:29 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't the crusades a defensive reaction for Muslim incursions into Europe?

I have no doubt Lynndie and her trailer park buddies despised Iraqis and enjoyed humiliating them. Apparently this means our ENTIRE CIVILISATION can be judged by their actions.

Good thinking Fisk! So that means I, like Lynndie, can hate all muslims and feel no compuction about nuking their shitty countries off the map. After all, alot of muslims have behaved digustingly in recent times and we can judge their entire civilisation by it's illiterate, clitoris-slicing, truck-bombing, racist, shreiking, batshit insane Islamist element, right?

Fair's fair. And I know you're always rigorously fair, Fisk.

Posted by: Amos at May 8, 2004 at 09:43 PM

And another thing, why am I not surprised that Fisk is dumb enough to bring up 911 in a screed condemning the west for the Abu Ghraib abuse.

What an idiot. Just as the hated capitalist warmonger AmeriKKan running dog is feeling a tug of legitimate remorse for the poor little freedom fighters of Abu Ghraib, he thinks "Oh yeah... September eleven. Fuck those jihadi scumbags."

Posted by: Amos at May 8, 2004 at 09:49 PM

Okay, now that the Left have almost extracted the last bit of political mileage from the disgraceful actions of some US prison guards, watch as the spin goes into reverse cycle and the guards in court and in the media allege that it was the conditioning of the evil system and the Republican government that made them do it.

That should be good for another week of juicy media blurbs. They were just pawns of the neo-cons.

Posted by: The Gnu Hunter at May 8, 2004 at 09:57 PM

So let's, as the Americans say, get real. Who taught Lynndie and her boyfriend and the other American sadists of Abu Ghraib prison to do this?

There's always a first time for everything. I haven't heard of female captors pointing to male genitalia much before (well, at least in a military context).

I'm surprised a three-letter word starting with "J" and ending with "w" wasn't part of his answer. I can't find anything, but didn't Israel having female soldiers in the 1948 war cause a stir (and possibly urban legends)?

Posted by: Andjam at May 8, 2004 at 10:00 PM

It is time for a new meme. The left is proud of their "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" (VRWC)
I say that there is a "Vast Left Wing Idiocy" (VLWI) out there.

Posted by: the markman at May 8, 2004 at 10:02 PM

Love the way the bozo describes Lynndie as a neocon. It's the ultimate perjorative label for Fisk.

Posted by: am at May 8, 2004 at 10:06 PM

Who taught Lynndie and her boyfriend and the other American sadists of Abu Ghraib prison to do this?

MTV's Jackass.

Posted by: mishu at May 8, 2004 at 11:26 PM

Is there anything Fisk and bin Laden don't agree on?

What's Fisk's view on East Timor?

Posted by: Andjam at May 8, 2004 at 11:51 PM

the Muslim is dirty, lascivious, un-Christian

Hmm... You think?

Posted by: david at May 9, 2004 at 12:13 AM

"Could neo-conservative Christianity ..."

Now I know Fisk has really gone off the deep end.

I though neo-conservatives were all, you know, like Jews and stuff.

Blog Treatment

Posted by: Man Mountain Molehill at May 9, 2004 at 12:17 AM

Ann Coulter recently remarked on Fox that Lynndie England gives one more reason for not allowing women in the military: not only are women incapable of carrying even a medium-size backpack, they're too vicious. Actually, Lynndie England gives yet another reason not to allow women in the military, they tend to get pregnant.

Posted by: J F Beck at May 9, 2004 at 12:40 AM

Strike two! Yeah, taking women out of the military will cure that visciousness problem, you betcha. Men are as meek as lambs when women aren't around.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 9, 2004 at 12:45 AM

The military has a visciousness problem?

Posted by: Amos at May 9, 2004 at 01:05 AM

I freely admit to being brainwashed with all of the ugly attitudes from the Crusades. I feel so ashamed...

Actually I blame the 6:00 PM News for an all-to-common picture from the Muslim world: Men running around dusty streets, carrying AK-47's and RPG's, shooting somebody or something up. And this was before the US set foot in Iraq!

Posted by: zzx375 at May 9, 2004 at 01:06 AM

Hmm. I bet our boy Robert spent a lot of time poring over that photograph of Lynndie and the naked, leashed Iraqi prisoner. And a lot of time mulling the... um... lasciviousness of it all. After all, you only need one hand to hold a photograph.

Posted by: Rebecca at May 9, 2004 at 01:29 AM

No, Andrea, it's not that men are ``meek as lambs'' when women aren't around - it's that a lot of women will go out of their way to show that they're as tough as the guys, by being extra vicious. (My source for this is my son who did four years in the Marines and is now in the Army. And BTW the two .mil creatures he dislikes above all others are (1) MPs and (2) female officers.)

And Lynndie's boyfriend sounds like he was bad news even before this happened. Eight years in the USMC and never got beyond corporal? Restraining order taken out by the ex-wife? Definitely a stinker, and I hope he'll be breaking big rocks into little rocks for a long time to come.

Posted by: Annalucia at May 9, 2004 at 01:43 AM

JF Beck, your post is silly. As Andrea notes, visciousness has nothing to do with gender.

And it takes two to get pregnant (even with artifical insemination), unless there is divine intervention.

Women do well in the military, in spite of the "five percenters". Not everyone has to hump equipment to be a soldier; I haven't carried a rucksack in years. When Ann Coulter focuses on that minority of losers, she is not doing women in general any favor.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 9, 2004 at 01:46 AM

The Real JeffS,

The backpack and viciousness comments are Coulter's. My pregnancy observation is from experience. Back in the 80s I was stationed at a very isolated USN facility. The males had to suck it up and serve their 12 month tours. Many of the females actually sought to become pregnant as a way to get an early ticket home. Naturally, the males on the station were happy to help out but were none too happy when the females were sent stateside early while they were stuck out in the boonies.

Posted by: J F Beck at May 9, 2004 at 01:58 AM

Annalucia, I need to point out that MPs are generally unpopular in the military -- they are the "cops", and are viewed as such by most of their fellow soldiers. Not disliked, but not popular. I've done some MP time, and I've experienced it.

And as for females "being extra viscious" -- That would be extra aggressiveness. Women can be the most strac troop in the area , but might viewed as average simply because of their gender. This is especially true for female officers.

And, quite frankly, many men have a tough time taking orders from women. They will openly resent it. This is not a military thing, it's a human thing.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 9, 2004 at 02:00 AM

JF Beck, I've seen the same thing myself, only it was at Fort Bliss. No, I don't like it. But that doesn't mean all women get pregnant to get out of a bad assignment. They just have the option to do so, which might be restricted through the mandatory use of contraceptives. Since abstinence is the official method, we have to deal with this.

But not all women will do take that option, and that's my point.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 9, 2004 at 02:05 AM

And Annalucia, all experience is personal. I have known men who were in the military who have nothing but praise for their fellow female officers. I didn't enquire as to whether any of them became pregnant to get out of duty, but then I don't think that this would have been something my friends would have praised.

PS: I realize that the anti-womem remarks are Coulter's; but JF Beck seems to have accepted her assessment. Whenever it comes to Coulter I tend to take her statements with the same grain of salt I take the statments of the commenters from the other side, as she is given to the same sweeping generalizations about the things of which she disapproves.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 9, 2004 at 02:50 AM


Things are not always as they seem. Are you as vicious as you seem?

Posted by: J F Beck at May 9, 2004 at 03:35 AM

I think you've got Fisk wrong :

Would you be able to write anything with the chief Sunni's dick up your arse?

Would you retain your integrity if you check your bank account and the latest deposits are in from the Independent and Sunnis?

The man's a talent to write the lies he does under those conditions...

The Independent should be known as The Anti Semite and bring some integrity back.

Posted by: traps at May 9, 2004 at 03:53 AM

Gee, Beck, when did I step on your dick? Don't make me bring out the "I sense a problem here with women, generally" stick. Oops!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 9, 2004 at 04:19 AM

Oh by the way, the answer to your question is: no, I'm even more viscious in person. I rein myself in here, out of respect for Tim.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 9, 2004 at 04:21 AM

BTW, the word is "viciousness"... unless K F Beck and/or Andrea are high-"viscosity"?

Posted by: Richard McEnroe at May 9, 2004 at 04:52 AM

Whoops -- sorry, my fellow pedant. I knew there was something wrong with it, but I have been fighting off this virus and it apparently has affected my mental processes. (The stuff coming out of my sinuses certainly is viscous, of a very high viscosity indeed -- I am thinking of marketing it as an alternative to Superglue.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 9, 2004 at 05:09 AM

Hackworth is a well-known type of old soldier. For you Commonwealth types, he's the sort of fellow who spent his post-career years penning "Had Monty only listened to me..." memoirs.

He's also shown a complete inability to admit that the military has changed since his day, either doctrinally, operationally or technologically. For example, he completely bought into the claims that the Bradley was an expensive boondoggle when it was first adopted, and stayed with that meme in spite of all evidence to the contrary. I recall one CNN standup he did where he was castigating the Pentagon for reports that the Bradley fleet had been deadlined for transmission problems with the Kuwaiti dust during Gulf One — while a column of fully equipped Bradleys was rolling across the screen behind him.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at May 9, 2004 at 06:57 AM

I've enjoyed David Hackworth's writing in the past although I do agree with Mr. McEnroe's "memoirist" assessment.

Hackworth also has the Vietnam chip-on-the-shoulder attitude that feels the fighting man is surrounded on all sides by cruel enemies and cavalier/incompetent commanders (Think "Rambo", "Missing in Action", etc. Requisite line: "You set us up, you son-of-a-bitch!!!").

I predict a "Breaker Morant"-style portrayal of these sadists in Abu Gharib...oh sure, they did it but those "truly responsible" will evade punishment.

Hackworth had his own ribbons kerfuffle in the early '90's and resigned from Newsweek under a cloud when it was revealed he was wearing campaign ribbons that he apparently wasn't entitled to.

s/ He was set up, dammit! \s

Posted by: JDB at May 9, 2004 at 09:00 AM

Ann Coulter thinks women shouldn't be vicious [NB: one s, folks] in combat?

Re: "didn't Israel having female soldiers in the 1948 war cause a stir (and possibly urban legends)?"

No, err, hard data, but remember Jill Clayburgh's Israeli paratrooper character in Phillip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint?

[Second only to the Jenin Massacre as the first connection that comes up when you mentally google "Israeli soldiers" + "wanking".]

Posted by: Uncle Milk at May 9, 2004 at 09:24 AM

The problem of female soldiers getting pregnant to get out of bad assignments has been an ongoing problem since, well, probably since there were female soldiers. They are probably not representative (what thinking woman would saddle herself with an 18-or-so commitment to get out of a year-long-commitment?). Since pregnancy is easily prevented, the solution, of course, is to hit them in the pocketbook when they get pregnant. Accidental pregnancies might unfairly get included in that, but in my experience, there are no real "accidental" pregnancies.

Posted by: Rebecca at May 9, 2004 at 09:41 AM

"I'm surprised a three-letter word starting with "J" and ending with "w" wasn't part of his answer. I can't find anything, but didn't Israel having female soldiers in the 1948 war cause a stir (and possibly urban legends)?"

Some Arabist State Dept guy insinuated that we had Israeli interrogators in Iraq right after the war. No proof, of course, but look for this allegation to float around the conspiracy nut world forever, no matter how often it's debunked.

Posted by: Yehudit at May 9, 2004 at 09:41 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't the crusades a defensive reaction for Muslim incursions into Europe?

Almost - it was Muslim conquest of Byzantine Christian land, ie what it now modern day Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt.

The Byzantine Emperor appealed to the Pope for assistance, and the Western Church sent off the crusaders. (It was not for purely alterior motives though, the Pope hoped for the Eastern Church to be weakened and put into his debt).

Unfortunately the first city sieged, the Byzantines negotiated a separate surrender and occupied the city, while the Crusaders had done most of the fighting. From then on, the Crusaders refused to give back former Byzantine territory that they had "recaptured" for Christendom.

Posted by: Quentin George at May 9, 2004 at 09:58 AM

Bottom line: everyone was killing everyone else. According to Fisk this proves we're bad but they're not, and bear in mind this happened 1000 years ago.

Bottom line: Fisk is a moron.

Posted by: Amos at May 9, 2004 at 11:31 AM


"Meantime, the activities of Tiger Force – which has regrouped and now serves in Iraq – help explain why the US is unwilling to sign up to an international war crimes tribunal."

What Tiger Force did in Vietnam is disgusting. I'd be willing to support any US law to enable those who took part to be tried .. in US Courts.
(Even at this late date.)

I want US soldiers who disgrace the uniform and the country to be punished.

However, NOT BY ANY INTERNATIONAL COURT as it exists now. I'd be willing to have our allies, who are fighting with us in Iraq, to be part of a tribunal for trying US soldiers who disgrace us by their behavior in Iraq. I'd want any tribunal composed of allied military, not civilians.

I'd also be willing to have certain nations, like the UK and Australia, send military judges to judge the Vietnam-era soldiers.

So, I'm not unwilling to have our soldiers tried by non-US people, it's just that I'm very picky
about the composition of the tribunal (or court).

I don't consider any US citizen above the law. I also don't think the US is the only country able to judge our citizens. But the proposed World Court was a joke, at best. I'm glad Pres. Bush kept the US out of it.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at May 9, 2004 at 11:31 AM

I ain't no stoopit, slack-jawed hill jack. I'll get these here photos onta the 60 minutes so's my boy kin git a fair trial!

Posted by: Slack-jawed Hilljack at May 9, 2004 at 11:45 AM

Put yourself in a victim's place. You've been humiliated and the proceedings have been photographed. In the interest of justice do you want those pictures on the internet?

If appearing naked is the greatest humiliation a Muslim man can suffer, if it is, as so many have lately claimed, a far worse torture than that inflicted by Saddam, then who is guilty of a greater crime than 60 minutes, the program that magnified their torture by millions?

Posted by: Greyhawk at May 9, 2004 at 12:05 PM

That's a little spurious, Greyhawk. The abuse needed to be exposed and the perpertrators punished, in this case the press were doing their job.

Posted by: Amos at May 9, 2004 at 01:24 PM

Yeah -- getting eyeballs on their news reports to drive up ratings. This was no new revelation -- they'd been sitting on those photos for months, the investigation had been ongoing and wasn't a secret, but for some reason (cough the election wasn't as near cough) decided that now was the time to start the exhibit. What can I say -- this whole circus has made me... I don't know... cynical about the media. No doubt I'm wrong and this is a new Watergate or better yet, I Can't Believe It's Not My Lai™!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 9, 2004 at 01:41 PM

Has Robert the Fisked's head exploded yet? Geez, I'm picturing the histerical twat mouthing the words he's writing and spitting all over his monitor...


Hmm. I bet our boy Robert spent a lot of time poring over that photograph of Lynndie and the naked, leashed Iraqi prisoner. And a lot of time mulling the... um... lasciviousness of it all. After all, you only need one hand to hold a photograph.


Posted by: Spiny Norman at May 9, 2004 at 04:09 PM

Fisk the arsehole!
Talk about selective outrage!
To think that real torture as opposed to the prisoner abuses in Iraq (as unacceptable as they are) goes on every day in Arab world, shows just how genuine his concern for Human Rights really is. Not they he was ever fooling anyone anyway!

Posted by: Brian. at May 12, 2004 at 03:47 AM

Point 1
The crusades were nothing to do about Muslim threats to Europe...initially. They were catalysts in creating a threat... or should we say retaliation for christian (actually drunk/rape and pillage knights) attacks on an advanced and educated society.

Point 2
This is not an exercise to score more goals than the other team. If US/allies are supposed to be free and beyond reproach then how can we sell the benefits of our system when it appears as faulty as the Arab world?
There is no point in arguing that we are slightly less bad than the next torturer...think about it.

Posted by: james at May 12, 2004 at 06:17 AM

and another thing...

Nuking arab countries isn't going tosolve anything...

we need the oil (ask George) and Arab oil billions are supporting the NYSE and by default the US economy -do the math. We need each other, except this is a slow war of attrition to show who is boss.
George can talk tough but he knows he can't lean on the saudis. Ironic that they are and still are the bigger evil than Saddam ever was. He was just a side show distraction.

Posted by: james at May 12, 2004 at 06:25 AM