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My View - On Generals
By John Zutz
September 11, 2009
Two ex-Generals, Charles Krulak and Joseph Hoar, printed an op-ed piece in the Miami Herald today titled "Fear Was No Excuse To Condone The Use Of Torture." The piece decries ex-VP Dick Cheney's defense of the use of torture by the US in the "War on Terror."
Now, I have a problem with high-ranking individuals who weigh in a day late and a dollar short, and expect to get patted on the back for being so brave and self-sacrificing. And why are they getting so annoyed at Cheney's defense? Where were they when the torture was happening?
I wrongly assumed they kept silent to protect their careers and pensions. VVAW's Austin, TX contact, Dave Collins pointed out that both Generals had retired well before Cheney engineered himself into the Vice Presidency.
I guess I'm grumpy today, but I'm not going to give them much slack.
Retirement doesn't excuse them: it only gives them "plausible deniability." They can claim they didn't really know we were torturing people.
But somehow I knew we were torturing prisoners. I suspect most readers of this paper knew. Those who cared saw the pictures. We watched Lynndie England get convicted. We read the stories about how the approval to use the various techniques came down from the top.
Certainly being Generals - and not being total idiots - and having their Old Boy connections, these guys knew too. Being silent when they had nothing in particular to lose IS condoning torture.
Dave would have me understand the "code of silence" that's beaten into officers somehow exonerates them.
To that I politely reply - bullshit!
As officers I'm sure they were trained to resist physical and psychological persuasions. Furthermore, I'm pretty sure that code of silence was unspoken. Nobody sat them in an orientation class and explained it to them.
They perceived it themselves and convinced themselves that it existed, and I'm sure it does - as I said before, these are not stupid people. But that leaves me to conclude that they accepted that code of their own free will. Minus any overt effort to avoid the restraints of that code is tantamount to supporting it.
So by staying silent for those years they not only condoned torture, they also supported the culture that propagated it.
Don't get me wrong, I'm happy the Generals are speaking up now, but it's like McNamara apologizing before he died. I won't get too excited until they come out strongly for criminal prosecution - and name some names.
So let's get to the point, see My View - On Torture (next article).
John Zutz is a VVAW national coordinator and a member of the Milwaukee chapter.