Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Pentagon Justice?

Without Reservation
A biweekly column by Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col. USAF (ret.)

posted 15 March 05
Pentagon Justice?

Of court cases concerning the Pentagon, two are particularly instructive.
The Larry Franklin-Israeli spy case has yet to completely unfold. Last fall, someone hired Plato Cacheris, the expensive lawyer who defended Monica Lewisky, to try and help Larry Franklin. The parallels are appropriate. Low ranking yet idealistic people providing succor to powerful politicos in their time of need deserve outrageously expensive attorneys, if only to ensure that they continue to serve government interests. To further that aim, the Franklin case has been buried by the Bush-Cheney administration.
But the Franklin spy case reminds us of what we already know – government tends to defend itself first, foremost and as fiercely as any cornered rat.
The numbers and extent to which soldiers and Marines are refusing to return to Iraq, amidst a rumble of desertion and a growing roar of conscientious objection, has yet to be fully admitted by the Pentagon, although multiple courts-martials are pending. This reality is complemented by reports that the Pentagon has been grossly understating the overall casualties of American soldiers and Marines due to Iraq deployment.
Again, nothing instructive here. Governments grown too large and too unaccountable will lie, deny, and obfuscate beyond anything tolerable in an average citizen.
But “Pentagon justice” exists. It has been gloriously illustrated in two recent cases, one well known and one deeply buried.
The Abu Ghraib prison abuse trials showed that only the lowest ranking military members would be held responsible. No officer or CIA employee of any rank was charged, or God forbid, punished, in a court of law. No courts-martials, no assessment of leadership responsibility, no public examination of what it means to be an officer. No charges for the junior officers, the mid-grade officers, the flag officers and the top Pentagon brass who created and designed Abu Ghraib as one sad outpost in an American gulag stretching from Uzbekistan to Iraq to Guantanamo Bay....