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Wednesday, February 16, 2005



As a Conservative, as a supporter of Both Gulf wars, This Sucks... Big Time Sucks... Big Time!!!!!!


Oh, and as a Veteran too. And it Still Sucks!!!


I can't say I precisely agree with the administration's attempt to stiff these guys, but I have to admit to more than a little sense of irony here. If Saddam were still in power, the only scenario in which the vets might get their payment would be through some attachment to Oil-for-Food. I don't know enough about how that program was administratively set-up to know if it could have been accessed via civil suits, but I'll bet not. Now, after we topple Saddam, our vets want to get recompense from the new government for actions under Saddam. It's hard for me to see how, if the Kuwaitis can't get compensation from the post-Saddam Iraqis, our people would be exempted from the same treatment. There are so many weird, ironic angles to this situation, the mind boggles. I'm thinking of the compensation handed out to Iraqis who's homes we've destroyed or who's family members have been killed. I'm wondering if there's any plan to compensate Iraqis who were tortured by our soldiers at Abu Ghraib. I could go on, but it just gets weirder the more I contemplate the whole picture.

In the interest of fairness and justice - but mostly not looking stupid, the administration should engage in a bit of behind-the-scenes dealing with whoever the Iraqi government appears to be at this particular moment (I'm not sure - is it still Allawi ?) and have them publicly assume the burden of this court ruling, issue a formal statement of regret to the Gulf veterans in the name of the Iraqi people (presumably Saddam didn't personally torture these guys, so there's somebody running around in Iraq, possibly even members of the new army or police, who hurt these guys) and call it all part of their interest in good relations with their big buddy, the U.S.of A. Then take the mil out of some of the cash that's not being spent on reconstruction. This money is peanuts in the scheme of things - more money than this has been doled out in brown paper bags to foreign contractors on a daily basis. It's really sort of a maze of ironies when you start to try to follow any logic - but any insider with a decent sense of PR - if not justice - should be able to figure out a way to make everybody happy and make the story go away. Let's face it...any money paid out by the Iraqi government for anything at this point is going to come out of our taxes. So they should just come up with a method of transfer our taxes to these POWs that makes us all feel good and takes away the bad taste of our vets getting brushed aside or screwed. I guess the question I have that places this outside of a simple slam-dunk in favor of the vets is the question of whether or not an Iraqi who suffered torture, false imprisonment, or whatever under Saddam would also be able to hold the new Iraqi government responsible. If not, why can our vets get compensation from same ? Is there some sort of national collective guilt in POW torture cases even if the regime responsible falls ? And of course, since there's still a war going on and new victims of the continuing violence every day, it puts a rather stark frame around the issue of what happened to who a dozen or more years ago.


"I'm wondering if there's any plan to compensate Iraqis who were tortured by our soldiers at Abu Ghraib."

Well, duh, yeah. It says so twice in marc's post.


"We see here an example of how the White House developed a propaganda line, fed it to the press, and the network correspondents dutifully reproduced the lines fed to them by their official "sources," usually without criticism or qualification. The Bush administration campaign worked brilliantly and the news, discussion shows, and media agenda were dominated by the POW issue for the next several days. Commentator after commentator followed John McCain's line that the appearance and discourse of the POWs proved that they were beaten or tortured, though occasionally an honest voice suggested that the injuries could have been sustained by ejection from the downed planes, but these cautionary voices were overwhelmed by the hysterical demonization of the Iraqis. Radio and television talk shows were dominated by discussion of the topic, with caller after caller insisting that the POWs were indeed beaten, tortured, and brutalized by the Iraqis, views which demonstrated the success of the Bush administration propaganda campaign.

After the war, the POWs appeared healthy, well-fed, and safe, and admitted that they had been well-treated by the Iraqis. Jeffrey Zaun confirmed that most of his injuries were sustained from his ejection from his plane, adding that he had punched himself in the face a few times so that the Iraqis wouldn't put him on TV.[5] McCain, Bush, and the many media commentators who claimed that the POWs were beaten and tortured had thus disseminated disinformation, and the public, which passionately bought into the Iraq torture discourse, was duped."



Ok steve, let me see if I understand you. 1.) Iraq held some POWs who were a.) well fed, b.) appeared uninjured and c.)beat themselves up so the Iraqi's under Saddam wouldn't put them on tv.

After the war, those same POWs 2.) Sued in a court of law, a.) presented evidence, b.) heard by juries and c.) won a settlement.

Before that however, 3.)Bushites fed the media a line about a.)how badly the POW's were treated, b.)the MSM bought the line and c.) had tap on supporting evidence and that 2.) c.) won a settlement.

Since then, our own DOJ and Bush de facto 4.) overturned a court award so that a.) Daddy Bush would look bad for 3.)a.)selling the line about how bad the POW.s were treated so that the MSM and the LATimes could publish nefarious lies to get Bush in Trouble via Marc's blog and my blog, and Marc and I are on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

which Leaves 5.) either you have taken off your tinfoil cap, 6.) you have just lost track of your senses or 7.) you really are a troll in her just to disagree with Marc or anyone else in a fit of self aggrandizement.

Oh, and I forgot, these poor POWS were spit on when they returned...... sheesh!!!!


I'm sure they were spit on when they got back, how could I doubt that?
But the torture accusations? most likely hype, much like the jessica lynch stories, other stories of 'tortured' pow's from this war [in fact, to date it's the US that has the record in torturing POWs in Iraq...but, hey, who's counting, certainly not the corporate owned media]...

And why wouldn't the corporate media fall for and repeat lots of nonsense with no evidence? Witness the incubator babies, the fake photos of the 'iraqi troop movements on the saudi border'...and, the recent fake photos on CNN of Iranian and North Korean 'satellite photos' of 'nuclear facilities'...


The corporate media at work for GM and GM showing little or not appreciation...

Marc Cooper

Stay on topic or take it to email. We're done with the spitting debate. Forever.

Let me also take the opportunity to express my complete and total digust with this guy steve. I am absolutely nauseated by this comment above. While I wish no pain on any individual, I have to say that locking steve up as a POW for 6 or 7 months in one of Saddam's prisons might have confered some character on him. What disgusting crap you post. I have allowed you to stay on this blog only as a concession to some of the other commenters who have pleaded on ur behlf. But the fact is, steve, you have all the compassion of a Don Rumsfeld. You add absolutely nothing to our conversations. Your only role is to be a quite covenient punching bag. And Im about bored to death punching you.

If I hear no further objections from the mob, you're gone.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

I find the anger here silly, very silly. It is true that the prisoners were mistreated. Color me unimpressed.

First, $1 billion is way too much compensation for the minor injuries. You could get hurt worse falling down the steps.

Second, it is normally U.S. policy to fight against these sorts of things when the money is big enough to screw up foreign policy. All presidents do it.

Third, these are obviously punitive damages, since nobody suffered $1 billion in actual damages. But who are we punishing? The guys who did it or authorized it? Nope - Iraq itself, now a nation that is fighting to not become a torturer. In that sense, the money is an odious debt, that should be repudiated.

Fourth, those levels of violence are nothing compared to what usually has happened to US prisoners of war. The POWs in Korea and 'Nam were really tortured, not just whacked around a bit. Some were killed in captivity. Many were crippled (ever notice that John McCain cannot raise his hands very high). On the other hand, the torturers of US POWs in Hanoi, who were much, much, much worse are still there. Anyone here crying for $500 billion from them for punitive damages? How about damages for victims of prison rape within the US? Hypocrisy isn't pretty, folks, but the smell is floating around here. Did any of the angry folks who commented here call for damages from North Vietnam and North Korea? Hypocrisy!

Fifth, the POW possibility was part of their volunteering - you don't get to be a flyboy without knowing you are *volunteering* to be shot down, captured and tortured. Every one of these folks had been through SERE school just like me. They knew the risks and they volunteered anyway.

As I have mentioned, I sustained levels of torture similar to that IN TRAINING. Boot camp (Marine or Navy) is just as bad. While it is true they suffered, and so did their families, it was part of the gig.

So come on folks, lets have a little critical thinking here instead of chest thumping emotion. And lets have a little honesty by comparing their situation to others.

Point #3 - punitive damages - is enough to blow this idiotic punitive charge out of the water - both on the grounds that punitive damages that don't punish the malefactors are dumb and immoral, and the doctrine of odious debt should apply even moreso.

Or, as folks in the service would say, "what's yer bellyaching? You thought this would be a picknic?"


You can be staggered by the irony of this, but not by the injustice. $900mn is hardly "just" compensation.

Only if they were denied access to all other avenues of compensation would your outrage be justified.


Marc, why not ban John Moore too while you're at it, seems compassion isn't one of his strengths either....

too many steves

On first reading I find this action disgusting, in much the same way GM does. Then I read Reg and mutter "hmmmm", interesting point - sort of along the lines of my mother saying "if I give you one then it's only fair to give everyone else one too". Now it occurs to me that this is similar to our looking the other way as poppy agriculture reemerges in Afghanistan - they need the money to rebuild their society. I end up being reminded of how inhuman - as in lacking compassion, kindness, or mercy - large bureaucratic organizations can be.

richard lo cicero

Pardon me if I also don't get quite as riled up as Marc. Just like the farmers who are seeing their welfare - I mean farm subsidies - cut, I bet most of these vets voted GOP. After all they "support" the troops, right? Don't vote for the war hero, vote for the draft dodger and the deserter! Watch as they cut VA programs and try to cut combat pay! Well at some point I say to these people tough shit! Actions have consequences and endorsing these criminals by putting them in office takes away any sympathy I might have felt.

Though I may share some of the ambivalance Reg expresses, and may even agree with John about the size of the award (653 million, minus lawyers fees), I would note that the plaintiffs offered to settle for `pennies on the dollar', and the government refused the offer.

And, let's be honest here, the administration IS arguing against the intent of the Anti-Terrorism Bill because, well, Iraq is our friend now.

BTW, John, hope you enjoyed Vegas...

Wagner James Au

Marc, this is really the wrong row to hoe. The Coalition (both Bush and Blair) have spent the last couple years convincing European creditors to cancel the billions in old outstanding debts still owed to them by Iraq, on the very plausible rationale that those loans were made to a dictator, and therefore, the new Iraqi government cannot now be held accountable to them. Are you honestly suggesting that Bush should tell the Europeans to forgive the debt owed to them by Saddam-- while *also* telling the Iraqis that they're still on the hook for what Saddam did to our troops?


You know, I have to admit...when I first read this, I didn't digest that it was Billion, not Million... A billion would be a nice dramatic number if you were still trying to shame and isolate Saddam, but under the current situation that's too much money unless a bunch of these guys need some kind of long-term care for injuries, which I doubt. BUT...as the lawyer said, they'd settle for less so it just seems stupid and callous not to make a deal with them for a reasonable settlement AND proffer some official apology or letter of regret from an official Iraqi entity to acknowledge their experiences - which they'd clearly agree to.

Also, I don't understand why Woody, on the last thread can make a brazen argument that, on the face of it, is anti-American in the most fundamental sense (i.e. his claim that those of us who have contempt for the Bush administration - or any Prez, for that matter, if you follow his logic - have contempt for our country. One of the worst, most rabid, proto-totalitarian posts I've ever read here...) and steve gets bounced for reprinting some guy who questions the evidence of what happened to POWs. Based on actual evidence that came out at the time, Steve is right about some of the Kuwaiti claims that were cooked up around the Gulf war - literally by a Washington DC PR firm - to rouse stateside public opinion so I don't understand how it can be beyond the pale to even raise questions about this stuff, distasteful as it may be. John Moore is a semi-professional hatchetman when it comes to slandering decorated veterans and calling them liars (which includes nearly every vet who served with Kerry on his Swift Boat and consistently backed up the official Navy version of what happened to them in Vietnam) and he helped spread that venom relentlessly into the body politic under the rubric of "truth". If you can stomach that weasel - or Woody peeking out from behind the flag (which, frankly, I find just a bit ironic for a son of the South) to question other people's love of country because they honestly detest the Bush/Rove/Cheney charade - I don't get the rough treatment for steve.

Also, after my usual excoriation of John Moore for his association with proven prevaricator John ("I either lied to the President, or I'm lying to you") O'Neill, I have to agree profoundly with one thing he said that might actually address a serious problem that gets ignored or taken for granted: "How about damages for victims of prison rape within the US?" If prison guards and administrations or at least their employers - states, counties and the feds - were held responsible for violent, damaging abuse of prisoners in their custody (i.e. rape and beatings beyond minor inmate scuffles and squabbles) it might not be eliminated, but it could be lessened dramatically. It appears now that it's just taken for granted as part of the deal, which I think is inexcusable. I've never really investigated this issue and I'm basically talking out of my butt, but John's aside struck me as very sensible. If it hurt the pocketbook of the agencies which hold prisoners in custody when they experience stuff like rape, they would be more proactive in trying to keep it from happening, do more serious investigation and mete out harsher punishment and/or isolation for offenders. My sense is that the tendency is to accept it.

My last word...internet diddling is a curse.


My last word...really...I just read a very thought-provoking post by Michael Turner that's conveniently located toward the end of the last thread. I'd recommend going back there and checkin it out...it's not a rant, it's not a pretentious "my two cents passed off as a dollar", and it's not a predictable "my guys are better than your guys". Concise, serious and fresh.

Michael Turner

$9 billion. For 17 soldiers. Hm. About $50M per GI. OK, call it $30M after lawyers fees. OK, OK - call it a nice, even $1M after "pennies on the dollar".

Now multiply that by the number of Iraqis who experienced similar or worse treatment at the hands of U.S. GIs, national guardsmen and "consultants" at Abu Ghraib (just as a start - it doesn't end there, not by any means). And then you see the REAL problem that the Bush administration is trying to duck. They're just thinking a couple more political moves ahead of the game than any of you.

A million dollars here, a million dollars there, pretty soon you're talking about a lot of money.

Marc Cooper

GM.. Old pal... interesting, dont u find, how the liberals and lefties on this board have joined GW Bush in promoting tort reform and capping liability when they are not so sympathetic to the victims. Likewise, the conservatives -- except in your case-- decide their own compassion is more with the official ideaologues in the beltway than with the poor bastards who got kicked around in Abu Ghraib by Saddam. Sort of renews one's faith in humanity, doesnt it?

P.S. Richard lo cicero (our new pedigreed lefty) takes the cake. He can at once deny payment for the suffering of these folks AND be self-reghteous at the same time..(!) You see, he was smart enough to vote against Bush while these other people were so stupid they "endorsed criminals." WHy, they are just like little Eichmanns!

jim hitchcock

BTW, the anon post after lo cicero was me. Not that it matters a hoot, but I try to exercise personal accountability...


Marc...more at the risk of looking foolish because I swore off this thread than your ire at overposting, let me take exception to one snarky comment you made that's not fair. My ambiguity about this isn't because I'm not sympathetic to the victims, because I am. I don't think I made any growls or grunts to that effect, other than defending steve's right to growl and grunt about whatever. My questions are about the moving target of who exactly is being held responsible...Saddam's army/regime, the Iraqi people collectively, the guys who actually practiced the abuse ? This isn't even really comparable to when some dumb executive like Dick Cheney buys into another company's liabilities on a hot-button issue like asbestos, because they made that choice as a deliberate business decision. In many cases the people in the current Iraqi government personally experienced worse treatment at the hands of Saddam's regime than these GIs. Plus the only money that is effectively on the table is American tax dollars, if you are honest about it. I find it hard to believe you can't see any grey areas here. Bush's boyz are being stupid and dogmatic...but it's not a slam dunk case since the guy who, in effect, was being sued is currently eating off of a tin tray and doesn't get to wear a belt or shoelaces. Frankly, the fairest and undoubtedly most satisfying way to settle this would be to give these guys some quality time with Saddam in the prison yard. I'm sure there would be a bi-partisan consensus here to support that solution.

Anthony Nassar

Since the Kuwaiti incubator story is invoked so ritualistically ("See, that story turned out to be false! Now I don't have to believe any atrocity stories if it doesn't suit me!"), it might be useful to recall that Amnesty International believed it at the time (cf. Atlantic Monthly's profile of Hania Masri).



Thanks for the link... sadly, the author you site presents questionable information at best. In fact, he's citing comments made by Zaun WHILE IN IRAQI CUSTODY. As a March, 2003 Reuters story notes: "[I]n 1991 three Americans, two Britons, an Italian and a Kuwaiti, bruised and disoriented, were shown by Baghdad in televised messages seen around the world.

'I think our leaders and our people have wrongly attacked the peaceful people of Iraq,' Navy Lt. Jeffrey Zaun said in that 1991 broadcast. And Guy Hunter of the Marine Corps called the war, 'An aggression against peaceful Iraq.'

further on in the same article:
"Zaun, whose battered face became one of Americans' most memorable images of the 1991 war, told NBC television news, "This kind of thing shouldn't be unexpected." Zaun said he was isolated for weeks at a time and then regularly subjected to karate chops to the throat and blindfolded for mock executions."


In fact, I found this and various interviews with Jeffrey Zaun in about 5 minutes through a simple Google search. While Zaun does worry about the harm to civilians in wartime, he's hardly a symbol against US propaganda and war. The guy gave an interview last year saying the Geneva Conventions don't apply to Iraqi prisoners or those from terrorist groups.

I consider myself part of the left, but I hardly think lame scholarship needs to be used to back the asinine claim that Saddam treated US POWs well. Okay, lets pretend the earth is flat and that's true. But then look at the treatment Iraqi, Iranian and Kuwaiti prisoners received in Saddam's jails. Just thumb through Amnesty and Human Rights Watch reports. Answering these claims by ignoring them and pointing to human rights abuses by the US doesn't change what happened under Saddam.

About banishing Steve: Considering defenses of the Bell Curve have been presented on this site by other posters, I don't why Steve should be singled out for expulsion for his claims. Or is there a reason that sloppy "left" commentary is more offensive than sloppy "right" commentary? Ultimately, though, it is your site Marc, and banishing someone from posting is not destroying his/her right to speak their mind online. It's easy enough for anyone to set up a free blog of their own.

Marc Cooper

Jack.. thanks for ur posting. Steve has no monopoly on making stupid comments. My problem with him is something else.. there's a way he comments that retards rather than facilitates the flow of comments. He is a serial ankle-biter (which is different than being outrageously opinionated and wrong). Experience has proven that things simply go better without him. That's what Im going to do for a while. I steve feels injured by this, I will be happy to pay the 4.95 a month to open him up a blog account of his own.

Mavis Beacon

Thanks, Marc. That article made me late for work yesterday.

“First, $1 billion is way too much compensation for the minor injuries. You could get hurt worse falling down the steps.”

Well, JM, at least you’re consistent. Whether it’s Saddam’s goons or American guards, nobody can torture hard enough for John Moore to get worked up. And you and Steve agree that Saddam either didn’t torture Americans or didn’t do it nastily enough. Maybe you guys can move in together. It’d be like the odd couple. Only with one very long spitting conversation.

The punitive damage awards were around 1/3 of the total award. If the government had tried to negotiate away some of the damages, no big deal. Instead, they’re trying to stiff the POWs on the entire sum. It’s the government who failed to see any shades of grey in dealing with the matter. Instead, they chose to pronounce the POW’s claim invalid. Bullshit if you ask me.

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