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Foreign Policy: Want another Abu Ghraib? Keep ignoring ethics training for soldiers


Larry

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Doing some more reading for that Ethics class. Came across this article:

By Maj. Douglas Pryer, U.S. Army

Best Defense guest military ethics columnist

Politics aside, it is painfully clear today that the use by Americans of those interrogation techniques misleadingly referred to as "enhanced" was extremely unwise. The "Abu Ghraib" and "Gitmo" scandals enraged even moderate Muslims and were a recruitment boon for anti-U.S. Islamic terrorists and fighters. These and other torture scandals also demoralized and polarized Americans, which in turn threatened to lead to our premature exit from Iraq.

How did the U.S. and its military get interrogation so wrong? The answer is simple: poor ethical leadership. Despite millions of man hours of military and law enforcement experience which should have convinced them otherwise, many leaders bought into the idea that brutish interrogation techniques are more effective at producing reliable intelligence than the cunning application of traditional, rapport-based approaches.

Major Doug Pryer is a counterintelligence officer who deployed to Iraq from May 2003 to July 2004. His book, "The Fight for the High Ground: the U.S. Army and Interrogation during Operation Iraqi Freedom I" is the first to be published by the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College University Press. To order, call the CGSC Foundation, 913-651-0624. All proceeds go to the Foundation, which supports the education of officers at CGSC.
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Do you think the population of D.C. there are no people that do awful things? That training will make them all better people?

500,000 people taught to kill as their foundation, its tough to control every aspect of their inner demons.

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Do you think the population of D.C. there are no people that do awful things? That training will make them all better people?

500,000 people taught to kill as their foundation, its tough to control every aspect of their inner demons.

I don't think he's suggesting that Gunny Ermy should be teaching Private Pyle about Aristotle during basic. I think he's suggesting ethics training for officers.

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There was a line I recall from one of our class readings on this subject. At one time, some of our interrogators wanted US military prison guards to keep designated prisoners awake for 24-48 hours before the interrogator showed up.

Their commanding officer (general?) refused the order.

His reasoning was that his men hadn't been trained in how to keep a prisoner awake for 24 hours. He was quoted as saying "You give an order like that to a 19 year old, he's going to get creative."

I think the quote was part of a larger piece, in which the author was arguing that if you want to use the "ticking time bomb scenario", then you have to have a cadre of trained, professional torturers, trained and ready to act, in anticipation of the need. The author was asserting that training such professional torturers would require dehumanizing them to the point where they would willingly commit crimes of compliance. (They would willingly follow immoral orders if told to do so.) And that history is well stocked with examples in which authority figures have then abused this power.. (The author also argues that this dehumanizing of the professional torturer harms the torturer, even if his skills are never used.)

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As a former Army intel vet, I can tell you that we were subject ethics training. We were taught how to deal with/treat/interrogate EPOWs. None of that training involved Abu Ghraib techniques. The issue comes from, and I don't mean this to sound arrogant, calling up Natl Guard and Reservists who are not trained to deal with EPOWs. Most of the people that were charged with maintaining the prison were not formally trained. The military responded by activating Intel brigade to handle this type fo detainment and since then it has been quiet. I honestly think that piss poor training led to piss poor results.

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As a former Army intel vet, I can tell you that we were subject ethics training. We were taught how to deal with/treat/interrogate EPOWs. None of that training involved Abu Ghraib techniques. The issue comes from, and I don't mean this to sound arrogant, calling up Natl Guard and Reservists who are not trained to deal with EPOWs. Most of the people that were charged with maintaining the prison were not formally trained. The military responded by activating Intel brigade to handle this type fo detainment and since then it has been quiet. I honestly think that piss poor training led to piss poor results.
THIS times 1000. I was about to type up the very words you wrote before I noticed your post. I'm currently in Army ROTC at the Virginia Military Institute for those who don't recall offhand.

Abu Gharib was a failure in that National Guardsmen were placed unsupervised in charge of prisoners of war. These guys were mostly uneducated (they kept pictures of the crimes on government HDDs for God's sake) and weren't really properly trained for that sort of thing. Trust me, there is no insidious training program in the US Army teaching cadets, enlisted, or officers alike to disregard and violate the Laws of War. Just the opposite in fact. I had to teach a class to about 30-40 Army personnel about this very topic, i.e. the Laws of War, the ethics of armed conflict, international law and rules of engagement. You cannot treat outliers as the rule as many did and continue to do with Abu Gharib.

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I have someone very, very close to me who worked at Abu Ghraib. Who was there. I've subsequently met others who were there. Higher ups (outside the military chain of command) didn't entirely specify what to do but the soldiers were definitely instructed to do something. So it wasn't just some rouge Army reservists acting like *******s. They weren't the only ones doing things as well. There is a lot that never came out. Graner, the main guy, wasn't well liked but a lot of them are bitter that he was essentially used as a fall guy. (Edit: Ditto the female general who was run out of the service. Especially her. She was far removed from all of it and thus got a horribly raw deal)

And that's all I'm saying. I know I'm just some dumb**** annonymous message board poster, so take it it for what its worth. I think I've been pretty open and honest about many things on this board though.

And as a former soldier myself, I definitely went to ethics classes/training.

Edit: I should add that Graner and Co aren't victims. One of the first things you learn is that you can disobey illegal orders. And taking pictures was absolutely retarded.

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I have someone very, very close to me who worked at Abu Ghraib. Who was there. I've subsequently met others who were there. Higher ups (outside the military chain of command) didn't entirely specify what to do but the soldiers were definitely instructed to do something. So it wasn't just some rouge Army reservists acting like *******s. They weren't the only ones doing things as well. There is a lot that never came out. Graner, the main guy, wasn't well liked but a lot of them are bitter that he was essentially used as a fall guy.

And that's all I'm saying. I know I'm just some dumb**** annonymous message board poster, so take it it for what its worth. I think I've been pretty open and honest about many things on this board though.

And as a former soldier myself, I definitely went to ethics classes/training.

I agree, to an extent. Parts of it were just rouge reservists acting like asshats. It's pretty strange how the day shift of the guards were asked to do the same thing and were able to do these things without breaking any laws. All of the incidents happend on the night shift, there were complaints from inmates made to the day shift and those complaints were forwarded up the chain of command. No action was taken. Were they used as fall guys yes, and rightfully so, but it is ashame that higher NCO's and Officer's were not held accountable. Gen Karpinski, was very much a scapegoat and knew nothing of the blatent illegal extracurricular activities that some soldiers were doing.

Edit: Throughout my military service we had yearly classes on ethics. With the diverse population in the service not everyone is honorable and then you just have followers who get caught up in it all.

Also the training for the job at Abu was nill, about 2 days.

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I thought the pictures of the female dominatrix emasculating terrorists by having them walk around like a dog was hot. :rolleyes:

Yeah lack of ethics training must be the reason the enemy is ok with beheading, gutting or delivering the acid bath to their prisoners and those reality videos still available on the net.

Properly trained troops who are professional in their duties are completely ignored by the few that committed by comparison extreme hazing.

Eventually all of this wussiness is going to make the option of just taking the terrorists out instead of capturing them for information better.

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Frost,

The big thing that I was told aboit, that I hadn't heard reported anywhere else, was the role of civilians in the whole thing. They were essentially the overseers of the place and operations within. I think that's why complaints through the chain of command didn't result in anything.

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Frost,

The big thing that I was told aboit, that I hadn't heard reported anywhere else, was the role of civilians in the whole thing. They were essentially the overseers of the place and operations within. I think that's why complaints through the chain of command didn't result in anything.

The civilians(OGA's) only role to my knowledge were with the "ghost" prisoner's, they didn't seem to care about the rest. Also, there were only a handfull of prisoner's that were being held as combatants. The rest of the prison was your regular Iraqi criminals, oh and the insane since there was nowhere else to put them.

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I thought the pictures of the female dominatrix emasculating terrorists by having them walk around like a dog was hot. :rolleyes:

Yeah lack of ethics training must be the reason the enemy is ok with beheading, gutting or delivering the acid bath to their prisoners and those reality videos still available on the net.

Properly trained troops who are professional in their duties are completely ignored by the few that committed by comparison extreme hazing.

Eventually all of this wussiness is going to make the option of just taking the terrorists out instead of capturing them for information better.

I'm not going to feed the troll too much here, but boy am I glad that your opinion is the exception and not the rule...

It's *******s like you who made the terrorist problem in the first place.

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I'm not going to feed the troll too much here, but boy am I glad that your opinion is the exception and not the rule...

It's *******s like you who made the terrorist problem in the first place.

LOL...and I guess message board tough guys from VMI are going to solve it. Guess what...you're not.

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Thing ism a war like the one in Iraq can only ethically be justified as a form of proactive self-defense. A case for aggression on another can ONLY be ethically defended if that aggression is taken in defense of your own life, liberty or property and even then the aggression is itself somewhat ethically ambiguous.

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I'm all for ethics training but at the end of the day you're going to have people that have immoral inclinations. They like the idea of employing violence and humiliation tactics on other people. It's not that they don't know better. Anyone with a conscience knows better.

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LOL...and I guess message board tough guys from VMI are going to solve it. Guess what...you're not.
Not sure what you're getting at here... I'm not posturing as an "ITG," I'm simply stating the obvious. People who think torture is ok (or not a big deal) are fundamentally the same people responsible for all the awful foreign policy mistakes of the 20th century that are frequently cited by terrorists, and the CIA btw, as a primary motivation for terrorism. NavyDave may not be personally responsible, but his mindset is similar to that of those who are responsible. And whether you like it or not, me and my peers understand this, and we are ultimately the ones who are the future leaders of the military.

edit: and If you think the terrorists are motivated because "they hate our freedom and are jealous" then I question your judgment.

Thing is a war like the one in Iraq can only ethically be justified as a form of proactive self-defense. A case for aggression on another can ONLY be ethically defended if that aggression is taken in defense of your own life, liberty or property and even then the aggression is itself somewhat ethically ambiguous.
agreed, and well said
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LOL another "attack the messenger and run away" post.

His post wasn't for everybody. I have a feeling that anyone that has spent a few years in the military gets it. And those that haven't probably wouldn't no matter how much Slateman wrote.

---------- Post added March-3rd-2011 at 06:42 AM ----------

Not sure what you're getting at here... I'm not posturing as an "ITG," I'm simply stating the obvious. People who think torture is ok (or not a big deal) are fundamentally the same people responsible for all the awful foreign policy mistakes of the 20th century that are frequently cited by terrorists, and the CIA btw, as a primary motivation for terrorism. NavyDave may not be personally responsible, but his mindset is similar to that of those who are responsible. And whether you like it or not, me and my peers understand this, and we are ultimately the ones who are the future leaders of the military.

edit: and If you think the terrorists are motivated because "they hate our freedom and are jealous" then I question your judgment.

agreed, and well said

Did you discuss this in your senior year military ethics course or something? If you think actions like those at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo is the driving force behind terrorism than I question your judgment

---------- Post added March-3rd-2011 at 06:49 AM ----------

Ethics training was a big part of my pre-commissioning education and a major part of all of my professional military education to include officer basic course, Captain career course, and combined arms service and staff school(Basically the formal education that all officers take prior to assumption of command). I do not know how much it is emphasized in the NCO PME courses but I can't imagine that it is ignored. The author points out how there were only issues at one location out of multiple in Iraq and uses this as evidence of a systemic problem with training and education?

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BTW, I'd like to thank the folks with actual military experience telling me that the military actually does include ethical training.

One thing I really like about discussing these things on ES is that I can actually get actual facts. (Sometimes.)

Y'all have once again renewed my high opinion of the US military.

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Ethics training was a big part of my pre-commissioning education and a major part of all of my professional military education to include officer basic course, Captain career course, and combined arms service and staff school(Basically the formal education that all officers take prior to assumption of command). I do not know how much it is emphasized in the NCO PME courses but I can't imagine that it is ignored. The author points out how there were only issues at one location out of multiple in Iraq and uses this as evidence of a systemic problem with training and education?
I don't remember it Being covered at PLDC, but that is a generic leadership course that is not MOS specific. BNCOC is MOS specific, and intel MOS receive EPOW training. I am not sure if the combat arms MOS receive this training, as they are only expected to take prisoners and then turn them over at the detention center. I am sure MPs take specific detention training, and all the detention centers I experienced while deployed were run by MPs with intel on staff for interrogation.
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Did you discuss this in your senior year military ethics course or something? If you think actions like those at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo is the driving force behind terrorism than I question your judgment

No, and I wasn't referring to Gitmo either. Terrorist are primarily driven by two things. Specifically, many are furious that we station personnel in Saudi Arabia. In a broader fashion, many are pissed at U.S. interventionism over the last 60 years or so (or perceived interventionism if that's your cup of tea). Navy Dave's overall attitude is indicative of the kind of people that believe a) that the world is America's personal playground in a form of neo-American exceptionalism, and B) that terrorism is fueled primarily by ideology rather than tangible and real goals. They don't "hate our freedom," they just hate us. And its mostly because of the things our government has done over the years.
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