Dec 10, 2013
Posted on Jun 2, 2009
McChrystal was also known for running the worst torture chambers in Iraq at his “Camp Nama,” (“Nasty Ass Military Area”), and forbidding the Red Cross access to them in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The Times fills in the details of the general’s résumé: “An elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein’s former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government’s torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. ... According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. `The reality is, there were no rules there,’ another Pentagon official said. ... The C.I.A. was concerned enough to bar its personnel from Camp Nama that August. ... Since 2003, 34 task force members have been disciplined in some form for mistreating prisoners. ... ” In May of 2006, Esquire interviewed a former Camp Nama interrogator named Jeff: “By his reckoning, at least half of the prisoners were innocent, just random Iraqis who got picked up for one reason or another. Sometimes the evidence against them was so slight, Jeff would go into the interrogation without even knowing their names.”
If McChrystal had little evidence against those he was imprisoning and torturing, it stands to reason he had no more solid grounds to judge those he was assassinating. And it was his teams that were responsible for on-the-ground targeting of the drones that have killed so many civilians. Kilcullen has estimated based on press reports that “over the last three years drone strikes have killed about 14 terrorist leaders. But, according to Pakistani sources, they have also killed some 700 civilians.” McChrystal bears much of the responsibility for this.
However, there has been no outside oversight whatsoever of Gen. McChrystal’s activities in Iraq. He killed, assassinated and tortured countless Iraqis for five years with total impunity. Were international law applied to his activities, he might well be investigated for war crimes rather than rewarded for them. Placing him in charge of 58,000 U.S. troops will ensure that such practices will not only continue but be greatly increased.
Over the longer term, the nightmare scenarios that could ensue include: the Pakistan government falling and one or more of its 60 to100 nuclear weapons landing in extremists’ hands; rogue elements within the Pakistani military or foreign infiltrators getting control of said weapons; instability leading to limited or greater fighting between Pakistan and India, another nuclear power; civil war within Pakistan leading to tens of millions of refugees and casualties, of which the Swat Valley fiasco would be only a foretaste.
Unfortunately, the U.S. is unable to gain control of the weapons, for the inconvenient reason that “the United States does not know where all of Pakistan’s nuclear sites are located. ... American officials have never been permitted to see how much of the [American] money [for nuclear safeguards] was spent, the facilities where the weapons are kept or even a tally of how many Pakistan has produced.”
In the event of the imminent collapse of the Pakistani government and nuclear weapons falling into extremist hands, what would the U.S. do? Invade and occupy Pakistan with hundreds of thousands of troops? That would probably require a reinstatement of the draft and possibly ignite an even wider war. Would we threaten an extremist government with our own nukes?
Preventing such nightmare scenarios should be America’s top priority, and reining in Gens. Petraeus and McChrystal is clearly necessary to doing so. Petraeus should be replaced and McChrystal’s nomination defeated if America is to have any serious hope of avoiding disaster in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater.
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