WHY ABU GHREIB HAPPENED

And no, it has nothing to do with war pr0n. Although discussion of same did lead to this trenchant post by Angry Bob on corpnews, which I’ll quote from at length because, well, it makes more sense than anything I’ve read on the subject yet.

From what I read, the entire command in charge of the prison system there is a composite reserves battalion. So nearly everyone there was a Reservist from units scattered all over the country. So lets see. You\’e2\’80\’99ve got guys worried about making the bills back home, worried about what sort of shit is going on with his family, with shitty gear he barely knows how to use, with very little military discipline still in him because in all realty he\’e2\’80\’99s been a civilian the whole time, in a country with a shitty climate and populated by people who hate him and the only people to keep him company are complete strangers who he may or may not get along with. And now he\’e2\’80\’99s charged with guarding people who are suspected of being the ones trying to kill him. Stir in what would almost certainly be an inadequate and mostly absent (command guys don\’e2\’80\’99t work nights and they don\’e2\’80\’99t like leaving AC) command structure made up of people who don\’e2\’80\’99t know each other and have never worked together before and you\’e2\’80\’99ve got a recipe for disaster.

These guys should have never, never, ever been put in charge of prisoners. By the Army\’e2\’80\’99s own admission they\’e2\’80\’99d never even been briefed on Geneva Convention rules or even told what was or wasn\’e2\’80\’99t legal to do. Being Reservists the shit they learned in Basic probably got forgotten within a few months of getting back home. Without a doubt, an Active Duty police unit should have had this command, with active duty MP\’e2\’80\’99s supplemented by reservists under their direct supervision.

Unfortunately, personnel seem to be so limited nowadays since abandoning the two war concept, they\’e2\’80\’99re using reserve units like they\’e2\’80\’99re active duty and they\’e2\’80\’99re just not made for it. Not in quality, attitude, or ability. And hey what do ya know, it turned around and bit us in the ass.

Yet another example of Rumsfeld thinking using enough troops for the job is “old thinking”. Bleah. I still think McCain/Powell ’00 would have led to a much safer world today. And an administration closer to core conservative values.

WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS, CHAPTER 457

Remember the mind-blowing story of Elena, the crazed Ukranian biker chick who tore through Chernobyl with a camera and a Kawasaki Ninja for kicks?

Yeah. Sadly, too good to be true.

I’ll give an example – one of the pictures on her original site was inside a kindergarden. It’s a picture of a baby’s crib, with a photo of Lenin, a child’s gas mask, and some toys. These photos were ‘staged’ by Elena’s husband. He found the photo of Lenin elsewhere, put it in the cott and placed a gas mask alongside then took a photo of it.

This annoyed Rimma immensely. She was not impressed from start to finish about Elena and her husband, as they seemed to be trying to take photos for shock value – not how the place really is. I had no intention of doing such things (in fact, I saw the very cott they took the picture of I mentioned above, still in the same state that they left it in), and Rimma picked up on this. She took me to MANY places she didn’t even tell Elena about. As part of my day’s tour, I took over 400 photographs. I watched Rimma remove the gas mask and photograph of Lenin, and put them back in their original homes.

The reason I was told all of this was because Rimma is very annoyed about the whole affair – she’s getting phone calls from movie producers wanting to make movies about this “heroic” girl. She’s getting people demanding the same unlimited access pass that Elena supposedly has. These do not exist, and she’s sick of explaining it to people.

Of course, 75% of the comments in the thread were:

She has a husband? Oh well…

You know, you people really need to get out more. Yes, I mean you.

In other news, the reactor’s still falling apart. Want to see for yourself? Not a problem! (Disclaimer: if you plan to start a family, do so before tour.)

GODDAMIT, BRANNON BRAGA, JUST DIE ALREADY

No spoilers for you Europeans who haven’t seen the season finale of Enterprise yet (although the comments probably will – forewarned is forearmed or something).

Just turn off the TV after you see the weapon blow up. It’s better that way. Trust me.

God. For the first 50 minutes I was thinking that they finally recaptured the best of all the Treks – rip-roaring adventure from the original series, complex arcs and sub-arcs from DS9, the Enterprise was ACTUALLY LOOKING LIKE IT WAS IN A WAR instead of Voyager’s pristine “oh, we wash the ship after every episode”, and the Andorians even got to play Han Solo. Then… bleah. An ending Voyager fans would groan at.

Just shoot the corpse and walk away. It’s better that way. And this from a diehard Trek fan.

NO MOORE, PLEASE

So the French love Michael Moore’s new film! Whoulda thunk it.

I’m sure in their mind they believe they’re sticking a thumb in the awful, awful Imperial American eyeball. And readers of this blog will note that I’m far from approving of our current misadventures in Iraq, or quite frankly much else of our current Administration.

However, what pisses me off about Moore is that he’s an opportunist masquerading as a thinker. His films are leftist diatribes that pretend to be humorous (sadly, the Left pretty much ran out of good humorists when Al Franken got a new job) and his latest, which essentially blames Bush for 9/11, is just obscene. I’m sorry, there’s no other word for scenes like this:

In one of the film’s most dramatic moments, we watch the president attending an elementary school class on that ill-fated morning of Sept. 11. An aide whispers to him news of the plane crash into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The look on Bush’s face is stunned, as any person’s would be. A clock ticks away. The president looks as though he’ll never get up from that seat. The minutes tick by.

“Was he wondering if he should have shown up to work more often?” Moore says in voice-over, this comment connecting with glimpses earlier in the movie of Bush’s frequent stays in Texas to clear brush and play golf. The president stares at the children’s book he’s holding. It’s called “My Pet Goat.”

Reading this, I’m just sort of stunned myself. What the hell did he EXPECT Bush to do, leap into the air like a superhero and swat other rogue planes out of the sky? Yeah, he was stunned. NO SHIT, sherlock. We were all fucking stunned. We’re all STILL fucking stunned, 3 years later. And I’m stunned this rancid idealogue is perverting the incendiary memories of 9/11 to leverage his own wacko conspiracy theories about, among other things, Bush spiriting Bin Laden relatives out of the US right after 9/11. When all air travel was grounded. Yeah. Uh huh. Was that before or after he warned the Jews in the towers, Mike?

Jesus. I don’t blame Moore for being what he is; a pig will, inevitably, continue to rut in mud. I do wonder at the ever-enthralled wonder of the Euro-intelligentia that sees fit to hate Western civilization in general and Americans in particular, except, of course for the Americans who do quite enough hating of their own. As Christopher Hitchens, no raving right winger himself, put it,

But speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well, it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans. They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they\’e2\’80\’98ve taken as their own, as their representative American someone who actually embodies all of those qualities.

There’s a need for critical appraisals of our Iraqi policy or lack thereof. There’s a need for reasoned opposition to our government’s loss of direction. And there’s a need for a historical narrative of what happened to all of us 3 years ago. I haven’t seen Moore’s movie (for much the same reason I haven’t seen Mel Gibson’s splatter porn epic — many, many other things to do) but somehow, I rather doubt he’s capable of any of the above. Besides, I already saw the movie that SHOULD have won the Palm d’Or, so there.

Tell you what, Left, you can disown Moore, and we jackbooted fascists on the Right will disavow all knowledge of Ann Coulter. Deal?

A LITTLE DEATH

“The logic of occupation is actually a form of madness. Violence breeds violence without end.”
– Aron Trautman
Israeli peace agitator

The more details come out, the more ashamed of my nationality I become, and the more enraged I become that our military, by failing to police itself, has completely failed in its stated mission in Iraq.

I’m sure 99.99% of the American forces in Iraq aren’t card carrying perverted sadists. I’m sure that we can comfort ourself with that at the next funerals for the victims of the next suicide bombers, motivated to blow themselves up on anything approximating the hated occupier. Us.

THE FOLLOWING IS A TRUE STORY.

I bet they were busy trying to figure out if they should put meat on a burger or not.

– Beene, comment in last entry

OK, there’s an explanation for this, really. Went to a dinner the other night with a group of net.acquaintances (“Does EVERYONE at this table have a blog? Oh god, we do. Kill us.”) at a diner. Everyone orders their food, and I order what looks to be the “lightest” thing on the menu, a “burger basket” of appetizer tiny-burgers or whatever. Everyone else of course is on Atkins and ordering huge slabs of raw meat or something. But anyway. I get my basket, and notice that something is missing. Namely, the burgers. Buns? Sure. But no actual meat was involved. The faux-burgers were meticulously laid out, pickles placed in each tiny bun, a tap of mayonnaise on the top bun, but, um, no meat.

So I look at it quizzically and point it out to my dinner companions. “Um, is it under the fries?” “No.”

The waitress comes by. I say, “Excuse me, there seems to be something missing.” and show her my meatless basket.

“AY YIE YIE!” she says. (Direct quote.) She runs off. Brings another, older waitress. They stare at my basket, giggle, then take it into the back.

Other people start peeking out from the back at our table. Clearly, this is not something that happens on a regular basis here. Finally the manager comes out with a coupon for a free dinner (which I promptly give away) and, some time later, the cook, chastened, comes out with approximately 30 burgers in a basket. “I, um, made extra.”

(Bear in mind, I ordered this specifically because it was the least amount of food on the menu.)

So I’m starting at this basket of now meated burgers. People are STILL poking their head out from the kitchen looking at, I guess, the site of the Basket Incident. I try to finish the basket. Really, I do. But I just wasn’t that hungry.

So finally the waitress comes and takes our plates. She looks at mine so sadly. “You not finish? It not good?” she says forlornly. I honestly don’t know what to say. I feel like I’ve made such a scene in this poor place by insisting on burgers with, well, burgers. And then, like a heel, I didn’t eat them.

There’s a lesson here. Namely, pickles are good.

LINEAGE SUED TO DEATH

From Terra Nova, looks like the Koreans are partying like it’s 1999.

Another problem that users pointed out was the cash trading of game items offline. Within the game, there are many different “items” such as weapons, clothing or potions, that have different levels of power. Acquiring more powerful items can take hours of playing time. The ability to acquire more powerful items also depends on the level of skill of the player. Therefore, for players unable or unwilling to devote the necessary time, buying and selling items for cash has become a widespread trend.
“Offline or online trading of items has nothing to do with the company,” a company official said. “If it is illegal, then the government should make a law forbidding cash trade of online items,” the official added.
Many users, however, disagree. “The basic structure of online games is that if one has good items and equipment, then he or she can win,” one game player said.

UPGRADES ARE FUN

So…comments were broken for, um, 2 weeks? They’re back now, REALLY.

Blame Blogger, they updated their entire system and it’s complicated. (sniffle)

HEY BEBBE, NICE POLYS

Anyuzer describes the most important part of any E3 – the booth babes!

The reality is this. Booth babes are exceptionally annoying and I wish they weren\’e2\’80\’99t at E3. Half of the media attention is centered around them and not the games. While on one hand that\’e2\’80\’99s fine, on the other hand these women are hired to stand there in skimpy outfits and have greasy hands pawing them all day. Most of them know nothing about video games, and they are basically there to exploit nerds.

A dirty little secret: A good portion of booth babes are actually strippers in their day jobs. (Hey, LA modeling agencies, they don’t ask questions, y’know?) So, sadly, they’re not that unfamiliar with the oversexed undersocialized pawing and mewling thing. This year had a bonus – thanks to the HIV shutdown, the common rumor was that there were quite a few out of work porn starlets working the E3 floor. Sadly, all the tales of “Jesus, I saw you in Spewing Sputum 2: Electronic Boogaloo!” are all apocryphal, since very few people I hang out with actually would to admit to obsessively knowing porn starlets on immediate glance.

However, I’ll trump Anyuzer. Booth babes aren’t annoying. They’re insulting. They imply that I am an oversexed male who cannot control his hormones, and am easily attracted by a bounce here and a giggle there and will thus pay more attention to a display with a spooling demo reel and a hot ANSI ch1ck13 than, say, one with an actual game on display being demoed by a distinctly not very hot developer.

I avoid boothbabes. For the same reason I avoid strippers. I’m not in the market for aggressively depersonalized meat, thanks. I just wanna look at the games. And if I DO want aggressively depersonalized meat, there’s much better venues than the sensory overload that is E3. But the implication that I am a rampaging stripped wire of hormones who can be easily turned by a comely glance is just insulting. And I do not appreciate being insulted.

Yes, I have no sense of humor about these things. And I’m sure there will always be out of work strippers and aspiring soap opera starlets willing to ignore your lack of hygiene and wandering paw when getting your picture taken to show off for your incredibly impressed friends back home. K THX BYE~~.

DEPTH PERCEPTION

The big news today is about Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker article revealing a black ops operation, “Copper Green”, which supposedly was set up to pretend to sodomize Arabs in the name of intelligence gathering. (Sadly, I’m making none of this up.) Whether or not this fantastic allegation is actually true? Who knows. I’ve been snookered personally by people who leak fantastic, believeable and totally untrue stories when writing for Lum the Mad. Just because someone tells you something is true doesn’t mean it is.

However. This particular thunderbolt overshadows something a bit more troubling, and to me a bit more believable. If you read Hersh’s entire story, you see gems like the following:

\’e2\’80\’9cThey weren\’e2\’80\’99t getting anything substantive from the detainees in Iraq,\’e2\’80\’9d the former intelligence official told me. \’e2\’80\’9cNo names. Nothing that they could hang their hat on. Cambone says, I\’e2\’80\’99ve got to crack this thing and I\’e2\’80\’99m tired of working through the normal chain of command. I\’e2\’80\’99ve got this apparatus set up\’e2\’80\rdblquote the black special-access program\’e2\’80\rdblquote and I\’e2\’80\’99m going in hot. So he pulls the switch, and the electricity begins flowing last summer. And it\’e2\’80\’99s working. We\’e2\’80\’99re getting a picture of the insurgency in Iraq and the intelligence is flowing into the white world. We\’e2\’80\’99re getting good stuff. But we\’e2\’80\’99ve got more targets\’e2\’80\’9d\’e2\’80\rdblquote prisoners in Iraqi jails\’e2\’80\rdblquote\’e2\’80\’9cthan people who can handle them.\’e2\’80\’9d

Cambone then made another crucial decision, the former intelligence official told me: not only would he bring the sap\’e2\’80\’99s rules into the prisons; he would bring some of the Army military-intelligence officers working inside the Iraqi prisons under the sap\’e2\’80\’99s auspices. \’e2\’80\’9cSo here are fundamentally good soldiers\’e2\’80\rdblquote military-intelligence guys\’e2\’80\rdblquote being told that no rules apply,\’e2\’80\’9d the former official, who has extensive knowledge of the special-access programs, added. \’e2\’80\’9cAnd, as far as they\’e2\’80\’99re concerned, this is a covert operation, and it\’e2\’80\’99s to be kept within Defense Department channels.\’e2\’80\’9d

The military-police prison guards, the former official said, included \’e2\’80\’9crecycled hillbillies from Cumberland, Maryland.\’e2\’80\’9d He was referring to members of the 372nd Military Police Company. Seven members of the company are now facing charges for their role in the abuse at Abu Ghraib. \’e2\’80\’9cHow are these guys from Cumberland going to know anything? The Army Reserve doesn\’e2\’80\’99t know what it\’e2\’80\’99s doing.\’e2\’80\’9d

Which seems to me a pretty cogent analysis of how Abu Ghreib happened. And, just in case you thought the voice of reason is dead in the DoD,

The study concluded, \’e2\’80\’9cPolitically, the U.S. has failed to date. Insurgencies can be fixed or ameliorated by dealing with what caused them in the first place. The disaster that is the reconstruction of Iraq has been the key cause of the insurgency. There is no legitimate government, and it behooves the Coalition Provisional Authority to absorb the sad but unvarnished fact that most Iraqis do not see the Governing Council\’e2\’80\’9d\’e2\’80\rdblquote the Iraqi body appointed by the C.P.A.\’e2\’80\rdblquote\’e2\’80\’9cas the legitimate authority. Indeed, they know that the true power is the CPA.\’e2\’80\’9d

Exactly. And the CPA as listed in innumerable other places is too busy enmeshed in bureaucratic CYA to actually do anything, leaving most Army divisions to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq out of petty cash. Sadly, not making that up either.

Hopefully in the next six weeks someone can figure out gracefully how to give the Iraqis their country back. Because we’re certainly not taking very good care of it at the moment. If someone’s going to bust it into shreds it may as well be the original owners!