Rumsfeld On Stopping Torture

Rumsfeld On Stopping Torture


I grabbed this today out of a story about the use of the word insurgents. It provides a fairly dismaying view of Rumsfeld views on stopping torture by Iraqi forces we’ve trained.

From the Washington Post:

This time, it’s the Joint Chiefs chairman [Gen. Peter Pace], still new to the job, who isn’t marching to Rumsfeld’s orders.

When UPI’s Pam Hess asked about torture by Iraqi authorities, Rumsfeld replied that “obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility” other than to voice disapproval.

But Pace had a different view. “It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it,” the general said.

Rumsfeld interjected: “I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.”

But Pace meant what he said. “If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it,” he said, firmly.

Of course it’s our job to stop it. Jeezus H!

Now I have no illusions that Rumsfeld has a very skewed view on the world and war. His decisions pre and post war have been proven as being massively short-sighted. And this one is just as bad.

Time to give Rummy his gold watch and let him drift off into the sunset. Please Mr. President, do it now before he hurts our military’s credibility even more.

  • John

    Where is the Buck stops here mentallity for this administration? Is Rummy speaking for the President or not. As secretary of Defense he is the face man for the President on these issues. What he says is what the President says, therefore, the President believes that if millitary officials witness torture by Iraqi, they are not obligated to stop it at the point the torture takes place. Now when… if this gets back to Bush he will deny it. No accountablility of Rummy, means that America and the world gets a mixed message. Why doesn’t the administration, which can congeal on defensive positions to their policy, not agree on this. Do they want the ambiguity on the subject that is out there to continue? If so then why? The answer is that they want to option to torture, but not if the public will look down on the administration. The problem is that Americans don’t want torture, and the Administration wants the option, so Muddy the waters and deny then accept and deny and accept.

  • Jim

    Praise God for our professional military and I mean that. If they were just unshackled from an inept and misguided civilian side things would be much better in Iraq.

  • American Crusader

    Apparently Secretary Rumsfeld had a brain fart…not his first, nor will it be his last. But the article in general was trying to separate the war on terror and the war in Iraq. This is a common theme among the liberal press and most Democrats. I find it amazing that so many people fail to realize that these are inseparable. You can rewrite history, you can say that Bush lied or misled or whatever, but if we are to be successful we need to win in Iraq.

  • Joshua

    But Pace had a different view. “It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it,� the general said.

    Stop it? How? By assaulting fellow soldiers and officers? Insubordination? Mutiny? Any or all of those things may in fact be required to stop torture in progress, and all of these things are all but certain to leave the intervening soldier having to defend himself at court-martial at the very least. And what if a soldier intervenes in what at first glance appears to be an instance of torture, only to have it turn out to be a misunderstanding? He will have thrown away his career, his freedom and his good name (and possibly harmed his comrades) for nothing. Did Gen. Pace ever consider any of this? To the extent that soldiers are actually willing to physically intervene to stop torture, this strikes me as a recipe for trouble and lowered morale.

  • ford4x4

    In my time in the military, I don’t remember ever being told it was my responsibility to stop a representative of a foreign government from torturing anyone. I suppose, if I felt it was my moral obligation to do so, I may jump in; but, as Joshua says, would I be willing to risk my career (or life) for it? Doubtful.

  • john


    It isn’t just the “liberal” press that is having a hard time seeing how this war had anything to do with the war on terror. The polls are showing that the american people are too. You’re right they are indistinguishable… NOW! We made Iraq a haven for terrorists by starting this elective war. Prior to that Iraq had little to do with terrorist activity, that’s why you have to say “that Bush lied or misled or whatever, but if we are to be successful we need to win in Iraq”. That’s like saying because I ran over our dog on the way to the party, you still have to smile because your at a party. It’s the “oops I did, Oh well, you have to fix it” ideology that is annoying america.

  • Larry Bernard

    Actually many a folk in Uniform ( past and present) and a few jag officers (past and present) passed this wisdom to me

    Its called an Illegal order.

    Your superior officer orders you to do something you believe is illegal ( Like torture which is clearly and unambigously legal) if you do -not- refuse the order you have committed a court martialble( yeah thats a word) offense.

    The standard is not “Is it torture” the standard is do you reasonably believe it is torture as defined by the UCMJ

    so thats a bs line of argument, which is why much of the torture stuff ( accusations against the military) is inflated

  • Callimachus

    Yes, thank god for the warriors who keep their honor. My heart’s with Pace on this one, but my head’s with Rumsfeld. National sovereignty was returned to the Iraqis many months ago. There are channels to go through to deal with such a scenario, but U.S. military rushing in and arresting the Iraqi guards or Iraqi soil probably isn’t one of them.

    I remember a similar case last June, when an Oregon National Guard battalion stumbled on pretty clear evidence of torture on dozens of prisoners held by Iraqi jailers in Baghdad. The guardsmen intervened, but later they were ordered to return the prisoners to their abusers and leave.

    It’s a damned-if-you-do-or-don’t situation for the U.S. military. Either way, they’re going to piss off the politicians. If they follow protocol and don’t intervene at once, it will be played up in the European press as “America condones torture” (which is how the ONG story came out over there). If they do intervene, it will be played up in the domestic press as proof that Iraqi sovereignty is a sham and a fraud and the U.S. still is lording it over its new colony.

  • Justin Gardner

    It’s a damned-if-you-do-or-don’t situation for the U.S. military.

    I hear you on this one, but for the US isn’t it more of a damned if you don’t scenario at this point?

    To that point, and as Pace says, as an American soldier you should do the right thing first and let everything get sorted out later.

  • debsay


    If we make it a habit to ‘physically intervene’ in how Iraqi Soldiers conduct their interrogations then have we really turned over sovereignty?

    I can understand reporting the ‘abuses’ through the Iraqi and our chain of command and to have them sort out what the process should be. If we are ‘making the laws’ over there then we aren’t observing Iraqi sovereignty.

    I think that this was Rumsfeld’s point…. One that Pace may or may not have taken into account. I would certainly be for our soldiers voicing concerns with the Iraqi doing the actions and their supervisor, but not to physically step into something that we don’t have the ‘authority’ to do.

  • Justin Gardner

    If we make it a habit to ‘physically intervene’ in how Iraqi Soldiers conduct their interrogations then have we really turned over sovereignty?

    Just a note, it seems sad indeed that we’re talking about Iraq’s potential sovereignty in regards to torture.

    And yes, I say we do make it a habit when we’re present. If the troops are there, they should do something, and report on it if they can’t.