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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!