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June 05, 2006 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-06-05

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The Iraq War in history

The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 5, 2006 - 5
The politics of torture

As a his-
major, I
have often won-
dered how the
history books
will tell the story
of the Sept. 1t
terrorist attacks,
the war in Iraq
and the lies that held the two together.
While flipping through my U.S. his-
tory book this week, I got a glimpse
of just that. Immediately to the right
of an article called "The Terrorist
Attack on America," I saw a full-page
color photo of American troops tear-
ing down a statue of Saddam Hussein.
The caption next to the photo reads,
"U.S. troops move into the center of
Baghdad. A statue of deposed dictator
Saddam Hussein is seen in the back-
ground. The statue was later toppled
by troops and dragged through thee
streets by the Iraqi citizenry."
When I finished reading this cap-
tion, I was perplexed. "The Terror-
ist Attack on America" occurred on
Sept. 11, 2001 (duh). America didn't
send troops to Iraq until 2003. The
book, although republished in 2006,
only discussed events through 2002.
So why on earth would a history
textbook (written by History Ph.D.s)
allow this photo to be placed next to
an article about Sept. 11? The book
doesn't even mention the Iraq war.
We have known since Oct. 2003
that there was no link between Al
Qaeda and Iraq. Studying this book
today, it is easy to point out this obvi-
ous flaw with the chapter's design.
But what would a historian of the
future consulting this book think?
Would he assume Saddam Hussein
was responsible for ordering the ter-
rorist attacks on Sept. It? It's impos-
sible to answer any of these questions
just from looking at the book. But,
the fact is that this photo is found on
a page in a history book next to an
unrelated article, with no explana-
tion for the reader. Whether it was
intentionally or ignorantly placed
there is debatable, but it stands out as
a staunch reminder of the misinfor-
mation campaign spearheaded by the
Bush Administration and its allies in

the media in the months leading up
to the war in Iraq.
In Oct. 2004, 52 percent of Ameri-
cans believed Iraq was either directly
involved in the Sept. 11 attacks or
substantially supported Al Qaeda.
Even though Congress's own Sept.
11 commission reported that there
was "no compelling case" for a link
between Saddam and Al Qaeda, as
of March 2006, that number only fell
to 49 percent.
How are we still misinformed
and why? Why were conservatives
and liberals alike ready to dismiss
Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11"
as propaganda, but still trust the
Bush administration after its hypoth-
esis connecting Iraq to Al Qaeda
proved to be based, at best, on weak
evidence ? It's sad that this particular
history book - which should be a
source of clarity - is perpetuating
the confusion surrounding our recent
history in the Middle East.
But even if we can't agree on the
causes of the Iraq War, the effects are
indisputable. Since the start of the war
in March 2003, America has spent
and approved to spend $435 billion
of taxpayers' money. It has lost 2,452
troops, more than half of whom were
younger than 25 years old, and 18,088
have been wounded. The number of
daily insurgent attacks has risen from
14 in Feb. 2004 to 75 in May 2006. The
United States has not trained a single
Iraqi troop to fight without significant
American support. Two-thirds of
Iraqis feel less secure because of the
American occupation. Seventy-one
percent rarely have clean drinking
water. The average home in Baghdad
has only four hours of electricity per
day, which is less than 25 percent of
the pre-invasion level.
While the nation appears to
be slowly waking up - Bush's
approval rating now hovers around
30 percent - we still have not
seen the full consequences of this
administration's mismanagement of
the nation. Let's hope future history
books will get it right.

Since the War
on Terror
began four
rr years ago, Ameri-
cans find themselves
embroiled in a new
debate regarding the
merits of torture. Late
last year, Sen. John
McCain (R-Arizona)
added an amendment to a defense appropri-
ations bill to strictly define the interrogation
techniques the U.S. military can use on cap-
tured terrorists. McCain's amendment gath-
ered enormous bipartisan support because
McCain is widely considered the de facto
expert on military-interrogation techniques.
I feel compelled to state the obvious:
we are in a war against terrorism and to
win wars you sometimes have to get your
hands dirty. Of course, we would love to
take the moral high ground on controver-
sial war tactics, but this moral high ground
rarely works to an advantage in war.
Former President Harry Truman made
the morally questionable decision to drop the
only two atomic bombs everused in combat.
The resulttwas American victory in Japan at
the cost of countless Japanese lives.
May I also remind you the lengths to
which terrorists will go to defeat America?
They behead contractors rebuilding infra-
structure, abduct those who believe Presi-
dent Bush is more to blame for terrorism
and murder innocent civilians at weddings.
These terrorists do not care who they capture
or kill. That is the measure of their resolve.
With all of the media coverage surround-
ing prisoner abuse at Abu-Ghraib and the
story about secret prisons intEastern Europe

run by the Central Intelligence Agency,
questions arose over the proper treatment
of captured terrorists. Obviously, McCain's
amendment was an attempt to find a way to
ensure proper treatment of terrorists while
giving the U.S. military enough latitude to
gather intelligence. I have enormous respect
for McCain, but his amendment compro-
mises our intelligence-gathering capabili-
ties for the moral high ground.
The media was all too happy to highlight
the fact the McCain amendment forbids the
use of interrogation techniques by the mili-
tary outside those approved of in the new
edition of the Army Field Manual. McCain
intends for the new field manuals to remain
classified information. But classified for
how long? It will only be a matter of time
before the classified manual hits the Internet
because some human rights watchdog uses
the Freedom oftInformation Act or some ren-
egade aide leaks it to the New York Times.
Human-rights advocates who argue
that the Geneva Convention shields ter-
rorists against coercive interrogation by
the United States are wrong. Part I Article
IV of the Geneva Convention awards Pris-
oner of War status only to those soldiers
that march in formation, wear a uniform
designating military rank and carry their
arms openly. The terrorists we are fighting
abroad do not meet those requirements.
McCain's amendment is also murky per-
taining to the ticking-time-bomb scenario.
What is America to do if another Sept. 11-
scale attack is imminent and we possess a
high-profile terrorist in military custody?
McCain's profound explanation as reported
by Newsweek, "You do what you have to
do, but you take responsibility for it."

bomb scenario is an admission that the most
legitimate argument against coercion - the
subject will give out bad information for the
sake of giving out information - could be
wrong. You do what you have to do. McCain
knows coercive tactics work,because hehbroke
in the Hanoi Hilton under intense coercion
tactics. Reading between the lines, McCain
acknowledges coercive interrogation works,
that it is only acceptable in dire circumstances
and that we should not prosecute the interm-
gator if he saves the world.
What about using coercion to save an
American platoon in Iraq, or a mall full of
people in suburban Chicago? Well,the prop-
er conduct for military personnel on those
occasions is not clear other than that the
presidentholdsthe finaldiscretion - thanks
to President Bush's signing statement.
I want to win the War on Terror.I under-
stand the questions of morality at play dur-
ing warfare but, in the end, victory for
America is the ultimate goal.
If subjecting a terrorist to water board-
ing - making him think he is going to
drown - saves the life of an American or
prevents a suicide bomb, mission accom-
plished. If gathering intelligence from ter-
rorists requires coercive tactics, then do it.
I will not lose a wink of sleep. Will you?
Stiglich can be reached at

Give it up; Hoffa's gone

Davidson is the current Editor in
Chief He can be reached at


student at
Novi High
School, our school's
biggest in-conference
rival was Milford. My
emotions toward the
7,000-person village
bordered on disdain, to
say the least (apologies
to any Mavericks-turned-Wolverines).
Since May 17, the nation has had a much
different view of the tiny cow town. For 13
magicaltdays,thetown Ilovedto hate inhigh
schoolwas the possible finalresting place of
Michigan's mostlegendary mob victim, for-
mer Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. During
that time, a spectrum of specialists razed a
barn, dug a 50-by-40-by-four-foot hole and
spent $250,000 searching for his remains
after an aging convict told the FBIhe'd seen
Hoffa's body lowered into a hole near that
horse farm three decades ago.
That all ended last Tuesday when Judy
Chilen, the supervisor of the FBI's Detroit
office, announced the assemblage of foren-
sic scientists had found nothing more than a
beer can and water pipes. No different-col-
ored dirt, nobody, no Hoffa.
Surely, this is an embarrassment for the
domestic intelligence agency. All week
long, CNN displayed chopper shots of giant
cranes ripping into Hidden Dreams Farm's
red barn only to report later the rather
expensive disappointment.
Many ordinary folks I've talked to say the
FBI should take this failure as a hint and give
up the search. It's been 30 years; investigators

aren't going to find him now. They say it's a
waste ofmoney-the $4,000 the agency paid
to purchase andthensplinterthebarn certainly
couldhavebeenputtobetteruse,especially in
a time of war and hurting economy. Besides,
he's probably not buried on a farm. It would
take a pretty dumb mobster to kill a famous
enemy, wrap him in a carpet andbury him in
a four-foot-deep hole on property with known
gangster connections. (Anybody else find
it weird that investigators only dug four feet
deep instead ofthe six of normal graves?)
The agency, obviously, sees it differently,
and it has used the most recent search as a
platform to issue thinly veiled threats to any
potential mob members: We won't give up
the fight against organizedcrimenot matter
how much time passes, it seems to say.
In an ideal world, such commitment to
justice would be admirable, desirable even.
But we live in a reality of tight budgets and
various necessary expenses. Money spent
following the numerous Hoffa leads over the
years is money that could have (and maybe
should have) been spent elsewhere, like, say,
on streamlining counter-terrorism intelli-
gence efforts, or keeping the government's
intelligence technology adequately updated.
Some commentatorshave pointed out that
the agency was backed into a corner, forced
to start the dig because of lawsuit threats
from a former lawyer of Donovan Wells, the
elderly tipster who told his story to try and
get out of jail before his life expires. They
say the FBI would love to drop the Hoffa
case, but it has been forced into action by
the fear that some tabloid will pick up the
ignored tip, send out a couple guys with

shovels and make the backyard find of the
century. Hence the 13-day digging frenzy.
If this truly is the case, then the FBI needs
to grow a backbone. This is hardly even a
plausible fear. On the incredibly off chance
that a tabloid or a credible news source does
come up with something tangible that seems
to be Hoffa-related, the agency could do what
bureaucracies do best - shoe out the normal
government poppycock abouthow it didn'tii-
tiallythink the tip was credible and, after care-
ful consideration, decided not to follow the tip.
Speaking of tip credibility, it seems as
though Wells's information was not scru-
tinized closely enough. Though repeatedly
called "credible" by FBI spokespeople, his
story should havebeen treated with extreme
skepticism from thebeginning. Unlike some
previous Hoffa "tipsters," Wells was not
trying to assuage a long-developed guilty
conscience - he was trying to maneuver
his way out of jail. And according to The
Detroit News, he might have succeeded.
An article published Thursday said authori-
ties may reduce his sentence even though
his lead didn't pan out. So, in other words,
he could have made up a grandiose lie and
successfully outwitted the justice system.
Looks like his ex-lawyer deserves abonus.
The Associated Press reported Wednes-
day thatthe agency will stillpursue all leads
in the Hoffa case. I applaud its commitment
to justice, but hope it will keep reality in
perspective. I just hope no more barns get
unnecessarily razed.
Hildreth can be reached at

,! CJ .s<
_ - 1

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