(the date on that article is august 1, 2004—is the Herald website screwed up, or are you quoting an old article?)
it\‘s given that there\’s going to be people that don\‘t like what the military does, and it\’s given that some journalists, public figures, etc are going to be unsympathetic to how the military does things. that said—why does it always take the military by surprise?
the military has to know by now that media and human rights groups often have a propensity for hostility towards it. structurally, both sides are poised to oppose one another. partially, it\‘s because of the military\’s need to maintain operational security, which of course is at odds with the basic intent of what journalists and human rights activists want to do. who the military\‘s got in the slammer, however, doesn\’t need to be a secret, particuarly in general population facilities. when this kind of thing comes up, why can\‘t (or didn\’t) the military respond immediately, loudly, and publicly with an open invitation for media and human rights groups to observe how it does business in it\‘s jails? that didn\’t or won\‘t happen, though—at best, the military will (or did) respond that "we conducted an internal investigation", or offer some other similiar blandishment, which in turn makes it look like the military\’s got something to hide.
the far more disturbing issue is that when confronted with these sorts of allegations, the best the pentagon could offer was something to the effect of:
> Officially, the Pentagon says it is holding “around 60
> juvenile detainees primarily aged 16 and 17”, although
> when it was pointed out that the Red Cross estimate is
> substantially higher, a source admitted “numbers may have
> gone up, we might have detained more kids”.
as of a year ago, at least, we really didn\‘t know who we had locked up. that\’s not a good thing. even if the article is in fact from 2004, we\’d been in iraq for more than long enough to know we needed to establish SOPs on how to handle and track prisoners. taking a large number of prisoners during long-term counterinsurgency operations should not have been a surprise to planners.
all the military needed to do was establish a database on at the onset for who we incarcerated, ensure that detainees at major facilities had their data logged in, and then direct manuever units (who may maintain temporary facilities) to submit prisoners who they hold for more than, say, ten days. digital cameras are everywhere in theater, and the problems of arabic language are not insurmountable. (arabic uses an alphabet, much like english, so some kind of romanization
should be relatively easy—in fact, easier than it is for chinese or japanese. and when i misspell a name in google, google\‘s servers can figure out what i was trying to type, essentially the same problem as the issue of conflicting romanizations—does google have access to technology the army doesn\’t?) in 2003, the military was using biometric scanners to create a database of iraqi and afghani prisoners at a relatively small scale—the cost of outfitting every manuever unit with them couldn\’t have been that much more than covering the Green Zone with cement, tire-poppers, or the PVAB.
a larger issue is that what i describe is exactly the sort of technology needed to help units streamline intelligence gathering and community management. amazon.com, ebay.com, and hotornot.com all maintain larger and more complicated databases than what\‘s needed for keeping track of prisoners. (and american soldiers at the lowest ranks have already exhibited an ability, if not a propensity to use all those systems.) similar systems would also be invaluable for keeping track of community leaders and "safe" personnel, and yet as of a year ago, all units had at the battalion level to track the locals, in jails or not, were whatever they could come up with themselves—more often than not flat databases in the form of powerpoint slideshows. in terms of handling and shaping information, even a website like omninerd leaves the tools our soldiers have in the dust. intelligence gathering suffered and still suffers, to say nothing of the moral issues that come with false imprisonment and mishandling iraqi people that are just trying to go about their daily lives. it\’s a sad reality of war, especially a counterinsurgency, that innocent people will get swept up—but shouldn\’t we at least make an effort towards mitigating that sweeping?
my point here is not that even with all the money that\‘s been spent on information technology within the military, it\’s still misused—my point is that even with something as obviously important as imprisonment or any of the other "local national nformation problems" obviously inherent to a counterinsurgency, the military from the start showed no interest in developing comprehensive systems for dealing with it past what had been available in 1967.
and so, when a bunch of lefty kids a year out of college write an article that american soldiers are raping their pre-teen iraqi brothers and sisters in the Big House, the best their leadership could offer was a shrug and some sideways glances.
surprisingly long-winded nick
I don’t suppose you have a picture of a PVAB installed, do you? Is it really portable?
The government uses a system developed in Egypt for the transliteration of Arabic into Latin characters. The Egyptians came up with it so they could use British teletype machines early last century. It is called SATTS. I don’t remember what that stands for exactly, but I’m sure Google does. Probably something like Standard Arabic Teletype Transliteration System. Anyways, it is a letter per letter mapping system that completely sidesteps any pronounciation-related issues-Arabic has lotsa dialects that have their own way of pronouncing different letters (For example, there is no ‘G’ sound as in ‘got’ in standard Arabic. However, in Egyptian dialect the standard ‘J’ sound as in ‘jumbalaya’ (Mmm) is pronounced as a ‘G’ and in Iraqi the standard ‘Q’ sound which is sorta like the ‘C’ in ‘candy’ (Mmm), except spoken from the back of the throat, is pronounced as a ‘G’).
Having served in the military, I seriously doubt that any children are being abused or raped by American soldiers. I have no doubt that there are lots of people over there who would believe that they are just because of how they treat each other. Sadly, it would also make some people happy if the allegations are true because it would further their agendas. Even sadder, that includes some people in America. But for their purposes, it doesn’t matter if it is true or not, just as long as the allegations are there.
Welcome! OmniNerd's content is generated by nerds like you. Learn more.