Monday, March 22, 2010

As Usual, the Coverup is Worse than the Crime

As an active veteran I tend to get on mailing lists from a bunch of off-the-wall people and groups. Many of them are of the wingnuttery variety, and I guess that they assume I will agree with them just because I am a veteran.

They are of course wrong, but I don't tell them that since I'd rather read what kind of bullshit that gets served up as gospel from the right wing.

Which brings us to one Matthew McCabe, a 24-year-old Navy SEAL who is facing court-martial charges for prisoner abuse. And not only for prisoner abuse which took place hours after the man's capture, but also for the ensuing coverup engaged in by McCabe and his buddies.

As you can imagine, the right wing media is all over this story, demanding that charges be dropped, hailing McCabe as a hero, etc etc. It's been joined in the fray by the nattering nabobs of Republican family values in the congress who can see a lot of political mileage to be gained by championing McCabe.

Okay, I'll stipulate up front that the Rethugs are the masters of the failed coverup, and it's no wonder they see McCabe as one of their own.

However, as usual, facts are slippery little things, but you ignore them at your peril. Here's an excerpt from a Navy Times article on the case:

The Army general who leveled charges at three Navy SEALs related to an alleged assault on a suspected al-Qaida terrorist in their custody defended his actions in a letter to lawmakers who questioned the need for prosecution.
Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland, commander of Special Operations Command, Central Command, wrote the justification in a Dec. 15 response to Indiana Republican Rep. Dan Burton’s call on behalf a group of 40 lawmakers who want all charges against the SEALs dropped.
“Regrettably, it appears that your perception of the incident is based on incomplete and factually inaccurate press coverage,” Cleveland wrote. “Despite what has been reported, these allegations are not founded solely on the word of the detainee, but rather, were initially raised by other U.S. service members.”
Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew McCabe is accused of punching alleged terrorist Ahmed Hashim Abed, who allegedly masterminded the 2004 ambush in Fallujah, Iraq, in which four Blackwater security contractors were burned and mutilated.
McCabe is also accused of trying to cover up the alleged assault.
In addition, SO1 (SEAL) Julio Huertas and SO2 (SEAL) Jonathan Keefe also are accused of making false officials statements in the alleged coverup, and all three are accused of dereliction of duty for allowing the attack to happen.
The trio refused to accept non-judicial punishment from Cleveland. As a result, courts-martial are scheduled to begin for Huertas and McCabe in January, while Keefe’s trial has been continued until April.
[. . .]
Cleveland said that media accounts of Abed’s injuries occurring during the capture are inaccurate.
“A medical examination conducted at the time the detainee was turned over to U.S. forces determined that his alleged injuries were inflicted several hours after the operation had ended, and while in the custody and care of the U.S. at Camp Schweidler’s detainee holding facility,” Cleveland wrote.
But he made it clear it’s not the assault he’s really worried about, stating that “while the assault and resulting injury to the detainee were relatively minor, the more disconcerting allegations are those related to the sailors’ attempts to cover up the incident, particularly in what appears to be an effort to influence the testimony of a witness,” he said.
The Clusterfox News fuckers along with Slanthead Hannity and Rusty Limpdick are naturally trying everything they can do to minimize the injuries to Ahmed Hashim Abed, who allegedly masterminded the 2004 ambush in Fallujah, Iraq, in which four Blackwater security contractors were burned and mutilated.

"He just got a fat lip, no big deal." That is the defense. Maybe so, but I suspect that his injuries are far more serious than just a fat lip. Remember it was Limpy Limpdick who described the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib as a "fraternity initiation prank.

But anyway, all that aside, we have it right from the general's mouth that it was the coverup that is more at issue here. In other words, it is a military discipline problem, regardless of who thinks that they might have been justified in beating up on the guy.

What prompted this was an email I received, entitled "The Abuse of Political Correctness", that pulled out all the emotion-grabbing stops, showing McCabe being hugged by the tear-drenched mother of one of the Blackwater victims, and shots of rallies with signs that said, in essence, normal rules of the military don't apply in war [underlines in the originals]:
  • Command what were you thinking? Drop the charges (BTW, stick it Keith Olbermann)
  • They fought for us ... stand up and fight for them
  • Political correctness has absolutely NO place in the US military -- end this insanity!
  • I support new rules of military engagement: Whatever it takes!
Plus more, along with the admonition to send it "around the world to every true American"...

Ironically, and apparently without any recognition of that irony or any reflection of what the phrase actually means, this letter closes with the following aphorism:

"Character is doing the right thing when no one is looking..."(!)


Anonymous said...

Gotta tell you, guys, I have a hard time with this Navy Seal thing. He did not kill the prisoner. In fact, he didn't even really do him any damage. I vote to let him slide.

I have a much harder time with the military brass, Pentagon, anybody over the rank of Master Sgt opening their damned mouths about integrity, doing the right thing, character, or any other positive attribute. They are full of virtue when it is a low ranking enlisted man and full of hot air and vomit up mind boggling lies otherwise. Think Jessica Lynch fighting off the Iraqis, think Pat Tillman, think Abu Graib (spelling?, think about that silly young woman at Abu Graib (Lindy something) who is doing time but none of her supervising officers were penalized, think the FEMALE security guard at Ft. Hood being the hero before they even knew what happened... just keep on thinking.

Give the Seal a break. He showed much more character than the highest echelons of the military or the entire government.

Just one opinion, even though it almost kills me to nod in agreement with the Republican mafia.

Jay in N.C.

Farnsworth68 said...

I agree with you mostly. This guy is one of those underlings who get caught up in this shit.
But, that said, I agree with the general (god, I never thought I'd say something like that, agreeing with an officer...) that it was the attempted coverup that caused the real problems.
--The F Man
PS, that was Linndie England, the "Tiny Terror of Baghdad" that you're thinking about. And she was, I agree, victimized herself by the military brass. But on the bright side, she is now finally out of prison after serving 521 days.

Anonymous said...

Well, yes and no. No-one was punished for lying about Jessica Lynch or trying to cover up their several lies. No-one was brought up on charges for originally and repeatedly lying about Pat Tillman and then covering up the lies.

I understand that two wrongs do not make a right but it is now a guaranteed conclusion that enlisted personnel are held to a higher standard than top echelon officers and absolutely guaranteed that enlisted personnel will be punished regardless of the transgression.

Can you tell it makes me angry? :)

Jay n N.C.

Farnsworth68 said...

Yeah, like I say, I tend to agree with you in large part.
It still pisses me off, though, when the wingnuttery comes out in support of this while at the same time they excoriate individuals such as Ehren Watada and Dan Choi...
If it weren't for that, I might have a slightly more balanced view of it.
But hey, this blog is called, after all, One Pissed Off Veteran...