The Missing Soldier

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The dropped charges for a non-crime in Cambridge beat out news of an American soldier held captive by the Taliban last week. I must say I have been surprised by the lack of coverage of the loss of Bowe Bergdahl, especially in the right-wing media, where the loudest noise has been on Fox News where he has been accused by Ralph Peters of being a deserter. You’d think there would be outrage at the potential treatment he may be enduring at the hands of the Taliban. I’m not sure why. My three best guesses are that a) the media may have been asked to tone down the coverage to help the military find him; b) he’s from a pretty liberal town and so is not a “real American” and so his capture is more akin to a foreign soldier being caught; or c) no one wants to talk about the torture of American soldiers by the Taliban since the US effectively withdrew from the Geneva Conventions in 2002 and so has no standing to complain. I’m open to other suggestions. But I was stunned to hear this statement from the Pentagon:

“I’m glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video. They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law.”

Since when does the US respect international law in the treatment of prisoners in wartime? Even the current administration refuses to investigate or hold accountable anyone in the seven years of torture and abuse that ended last January.

“It’s Against International Law”

by Chris Bodenner

This clip of a US military spokesman condemning the release of a video of a captured American, 23-year-old Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl of Ketchum, ID, is worth watching. Juan Cole does so and reiterates of an uncomfortable truth:

As I was reminded by a former ambassador, the Bush-Cheney-Yoo-Armitage gutting of US conformance with the Geneva Conventions really makes it difficult for Washington credibly to complain about the treatment of any of our captured soldiers. The Taliban could hold the soldier hostage forever if they follow the principle put forward by Sen. Lindsey Graham. They could (God forbid) put him in stress positions naked and threaten to release the pictures to his family, and they would have done nothing that Rumsfeld’s Pentagon had not done routinely and on a vast scale.

The US refusal to so much as investigate American officials implicated in torture and breaking international law also does not help us gain credibility on seeing to it that those who mistreat our troops are tried on those charges. We even have Dick Cheney defending waterboarding, for which Japanese generals were tried and executed after WW II. It is disgusting.

You obey the Geneva Conventions and the rest of international law on the treatment of captives because it gives you the moral high ground with regard to the treatment of our troops. Not doing so endangers every single one of our men and women in uniform.