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Friday, June 21
The Indiana Daily Student


COLUMN: The truth making its way to the surface

Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled last Friday that the United States government must release potentially condemning photography of alleged detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. These pictures includes those taken at Abu Ghraib. This victorious ruling came about after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2004.

Some of the photographs in question, taken by service members in Iraq and Afghanistan, were captured during criminal investigations of alleged abuse.

In 2009, Congress passed a law allowing the Department of Defense to withhold the photos on the claim that releasing them would endanger the lives of U.S. citizens and military officials. Obviously, Judge Hellerstein had not been convinced of such when he ruled that the Department of Defense “failed to provide specific details of such a threat in this case,” as NPR put it.

The government has been granted two months to appeal the ruling, which would keep the photos hidden indefinitely. Eleven soldiers were convicted. It is beyond unfortunate if the release of these photos would result in endangering the lives of U.S. military personnel. Nearly as fortunate — those at the higher level who signed off on the controversial “enhanced interrogation” techniques more than a decade ago still have not been held accountable for their brash decision-making.

There is still a lot of misunderstanding out of the Middle East, what with all the scary anti-U.S. imagery. It is scary, but it’s not nearly as incendiary if you understand the genesis of their discontent.

Starting in the early phases of the 2003 occupation of Iraq, the U.S. disrupted and eventually disbanded all governmental and military entities, leaving hundreds of thousands jobless and without recourse.

Soon after Saddam Hussein fell, a month of steady looting ravaged Baghdad, leaving the Iraqi people culturally and socially destitute.

Targeting for detention was largely discriminant — U.S. troops tended to arrest males of military age. After the unchecked looting, economic collapse and abuse allegations, the Iraqi people became outraged, feeling shame for their naivety about America’s intentions.

I would be, too.

The connivance of then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, along with many others in the Bush administration, has yet to be answered for. In my opinion, most all of that administration should, and quite likely could, be tried for war crimes.

How is that the U.S. has become exempt from having to answer for its poor decisions? Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and other detention sites were kept away from U.S. jurisdiction, and this wasn’t an accident.

These guys knew they would get in hot water for abusive measures because even they knew what they were doing was unjust and unethical, not to mention illegal according to our Constitution and the Geneva Conventions. That’s the funny thing about the truth. You can hopscotch legal loopholes and funnel as much money as you want to suppress the actuality of events, but like a body in shallow earth, the truth will inevitably surface.

The Geneva Conventions were designed to value human rights, similar to our Bill of Rights. However, regardless of how these documents are interpreted, you don’t get to pick and choose which rules apply to you when it’s convenient.

At least, not forever.

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