Here is a link to an article about how Iraqi prisoners are being abused in Iraq:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/27/60II/main614063.shtml

I searched and found three photos of the many that are referred to. I have photos of the Iraqi on the box with the hood and hooked up with electrical wire. I have a picture of the female solier and the naked line up of Iraqis. I have a picture of the Iraqis stacked in a pyramid with what appear to be two US soliders smiling and laughing. So this stuff is for real.
Is it torture? Are people actually being electrocuted, beaten, raped, or killed? The article and others I have read seem to indicate that much worse is going on that just the humiliation exposed in these photos.
One point I find particularly apalling is that Fredericks, the soldier who is interviwed by 60 miutes II argues that the prisons have no guidelines or regulations relating to the treatment of the prisoners. My thought is – so what? Do adult Americans need orders and regulations to tell them what is or is not an acceptable way to treat people? Doesn’t every human being on this entire planet grow up hearing some version of the Golden Rule or the negative Golden Rule: “Do not do unto others, as would not have them do unto you.”
But of course it is also a worldwide experience to “Do unto others before they do unto you” and “Those with the guns make the rules.”
I believe it when the army says that these are the actions of a small minority, but I also DO NOT ACCEPT that as an excuse. The army is ACCOUNTABLE for all its members and can not REFUSE RESPONSIBILITY. I was in the military as an officer and the one thing I learned is that you are responsible for what your unit does. But what I see now are the higher-ups all the way to the president refusing accountability and saying that this was not the action of the US Army but the misguided actions of some individuals – and some were civilians. Well, guess what? Those servicepeople (men and women) and/or civilians were working for you guys and you (the government and the military commanders) were responsible for their actions.
But even leaving aside the culpability of the military and the government – what does this say about the average American. I don’t believe that it was just a few sick individuals. I think, and the article would seem to indicate, that a certain culture of intimidation, fear, and contempt for others was deliberately being fostered. In that kind of situation – with authoritarianism, peer pressure, and the temptation to have a godlike power over others – it would take a strong, mature, and compassionate person to stand up against the culture of abuse and say “NO!” Fredericks himself was apparently a corrections officer here in the States and supposedly “one of the best” who should have known better one would think. Apparently not. And I think this whole situation thus reflects on how criminals are treated here at home too – as subhumans with no hope of redemption who know exist for the pleasure of the gaurds and the exploitation of certain economic interests.
What I see here is that the culture of the United States has become exceedingly rutheless, cut-throat, and inhumane. Might makes right. That is the morality of the US at present – despite the exceedingly thin veneer of fundamentalist Christian “family-values” the Bushes and their ilk try to put on things.
According to Nichiren Shonin’s Rissho Ankoku Ron a country whose values have turned away from the values of the Lotus Sutra – as embodied by Bodhisattva Never Despise – is karmically doomed to civil war within and invasion from without. Just look at Iraq. That is exactly what happened to them under the values of the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein. Their evil led to decades of war and civil war and now a humiliating occupation. Our country has aways to go before we reach the nadir that Middle Eastern countries have long since reached – but I do not want to see us go down that path at all.
I want to see a day when American servicemen and women do not need to ask for regulations or orders in order to realize that people are not playthings and that all beings, even our enemies, have Buddha-nature. That is what will save this country.
Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,
Ryuei