Jewish World Review May 11, 2004 / 20 Iyar, 5764

Raoul Lowery Contreras

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Picture precedents | In 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt personally ordered that photographs of dead American soldiers floating off New Guinea beaches not be published by Life Magazine. In 1944 a group of American soldiers executed German prisoners of war in Sicily. Also in 1944, an all-Black Army division ran away from a battle in Italy.

Republican congressmen did not call for President Roosevelt's impeachment, or for the impeachment of his Secretary of War for these criminal acts.

In 1949, Secretary of State Dean Acheson announced that Korea was outside the defensive perimeter of the United States. Six months later, North Korean Communists invaded South Korea and killed over 35,000 Americans in less than three years.

In 1950, American soldiers massacred scores, perhaps hundreds, of Korean civilians in one single episode. Shortly thereafter, a Black infantry division (the Army was still not integrated totally) ran away from a battle and a Puerto Rican National Guard unit refused to fight, even after glowing praises from Theater Commander General Douglas McArthur.

Republican congressmen did not call for Commander-in-Chief President Harry Truman's impeachment, nor did they call for Secretary of State Dean Acheson's impeachment.

In May of 1968, American soldiers massacred Vietnamese civilians at a village named My Lai; they massacred men, women and children. The Commander in Chief that day, President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Republican congressmen did not call for President Johnson's impeachment. They did not demand the impeachment of long-time Secretary of Defense Robert McNamera, who, in later years admitted that he was totally ignorant of Vietnam and never learned what he needed to know about the enemy so he could direct the fight against it. 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam.

In 1993, a helpful mission to alleviate hunger and suffering in Somalia was bungled into a mini-war by the New Democrat President William Jefferson Clinton, Vietnam War draft dodger and evader. His Secretary of Defense was a former McNamera Whiz Kid during the Vietnam War and Democratic congressman from Wisconsin, an "expert" on Defense.

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When Army brass in Somalia requested armored vehicles for our troops there, Secretary of Defense Aspin personally turned down the request. The result was the infamous Blackhawk Down episode that cost the lives of gigantically brave soldiers, 18 of them. Who can forget the visual of American soldier bodies dragged through the streets by Somalian two-legged animals?

Aspin resigned; Clinton continued being Commander-in-chief and Congress did not impeach him for the unnecessary deaths of the brave 18 soldiers.

So, now comes Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel of New York City who wants to impeach Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield. His "High crime and misdemeanor" — - not telling Congress that some West Virginia plain old mountain folks humiliated some Iraqi prisoners in Sadaam Hussein's favorite old prison.

The Army announced January 15 that there was a problem and that an investigation had been ordered. Despite the fact that several soldiers have been charged with various crimes and will be court-martialed and the fact that higher rank heads will obviously roll shortly, Rangel wants to impeach the Secretary of Defense— before all the facts are out.

Rangel is an idiot. Joining him is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who is demanding that Secretary Rumsfield resign his post. She did not demand the resignation of Secretary of Defense Les Aspin in 1994 when he was personally responsible for the deaths of 18 soldiers.

Close behind is the media's favorite Republican Senator, maverick John McCain. His questions to Secretary Rumsfield at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing where totally out of order. Those questions will be answered when the current investigations are concluded and charges are filed or not filed against numerous soldiers, including at least one Brigadier General. The most ludicrous questions came from Democrats, however. Senator Ted Kennedy, for example, made gratuitous assertions as did his colleagues all with a mind to embarrass the President.

The President, the Secretary of Defense and myriad generals have apologized for the antics of the few soldiers who obviously were deficient in their work. The Marine Corps will court-martial two Marines for the death of an Iraqi prisoner this month.

Seems the critical Senators don't know about the courts-martial, that they don't know that the Army made an announcement of this trouble in January and that, in fact, the Secretary informed the President of the problem weeks ago. What he didn't do is show the President the pictures that CBS broadcast two weeks ago.

Keeping all that in mind, let's be clear about several things: The pictures did not display torture; the media is crazed but pretty stupid when it labels the soldier's behavior as "torture; the pictures and early testimony display humiliation of Iraqis.

These pictures hardly compare to those that CBS and the other networks refused to broadcast of dismembered American bodies that were burned then hung from a bridge in Fallujah by Iraqis.

If CBS and other broadcast outlets displayed the pictures of the murdered Americans who were cut apart and burned (in the grand English tradition of Drawing and Quartering), one would hope that loud-mouthed Congress people would shut up.

One thing is certain in the mind of this observer, if those pictures of the murdered Americans were shown over and over on television like the Iraqi prison pictures, the American people would be enraged and demand that Fallujah, Iraq, be leveled to the ground, with all Iraqi "insurgents" included.

Then and only then would these prison pictures be seen in the proper context; i.e., that they don't really matter much in the big picture.

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JWR contributor Raoul Lowery Contreras is a columnist, radio talk-show host, and author, most recent, of Jalapenos, Mexican Americans and Other Hot Stuff: A Peoples' Cultural Identity", available at under the author's name. Comment by clicking here.

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03/28/03: I'm a 'smirking Nazi'
03/24/03: Excelling at friction
03/17/03: Bush-the-warmonger
03/07/03: War is the only option left to the civilized world
02/18/03: Protestors, twits and The New World Order
02/12/03: Hey, Gary Hart: Living on knees is wrong
02/05/03: Advise and consent by smear
01/14/03: "Stabbed in the Back by Friends"
01/07/03: Minorities will be the first to die in Bush's "oil wars"?

© 2003, Raoul Lowery Contreras