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Torture, it’s okay if you’re just watching…

According to US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld torture is okay if you’re just watching. What’s amazing is that the five star general with whom Rumsfeld was giving the news conference disagreed with him.

Asked about torture by Iraqi authorities, Rumsfeld said that “obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility” beyond objecting. Pace disagreed, saying that each and every U.S. soldier has an “absolute responsibility” to stop inhumane treatment if he or she sees it. Rumsfeld disagreed, saying, “I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it. It’s to report it.” Pace fired back: “If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.”

Pretty clear who was giving the orders at Abu Graib. Clearly it wasn’t the army but the politicos. Rumsfeld doesn’t move without Vice-President Cheney’s permission.

These torture policies go along way to explaining the suicide – or murder – of Colonel Ted Westhusing, professor of military ethics at West Point, who had volunteered for a tour in Iraq. It’s a chilling story.

One hot, dusty day in June, Col. Ted Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base near the Baghdad airport, a single gunshot wound to the head.

The Army would conclude that he committed suicide with his service pistol. At the time, he was the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.

The Army closed its case. But the questions surrounding Westhusing’s death continue.

Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army’s leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.

So it was only natural that Westhusing acted when he learned of possible corruption by U.S. contractors in Iraq. A few weeks before he died, Westhusing received an anonymous complaint that a private security company he oversaw had cheated the U.S. government and committed human rights violations. Westhusing confronted the contractor and reported the concerns to superiors, who launched an investigation.

While thieves and brigands rob the public purse and send youths to murder and mutilation, men of honour drink hemlock.

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