Yes, this is an examination of the “a few bad apples” philosophy spouted by Rumsfeld, Bush, and Cheney. A recent study by the Office of the Surgeon General of the US Army Medical Command suggests that the mistreatment of innocent Iraqis is something that a majority of the rank-and-file will not report. Moreover, it suggests that a minority of American troops believe that “Iraqi noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.”
Some of the press accounts of the surgeon general’s study, “Mental Health Advisory Team (MHAT) IV; Operation Iraqi Freedom 05-07,” also reported the more detailed findings from its chapter on “Battlefield Ethics.” The information became more disconcerting; the problems were clearly more serious and pervasive than the executive summary indicated:
“Only 47 percent of soldiers and only 38 percent of Marines agreed that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.”
“Well over a third of soldiers and Marines reported torture should be allowed, whether to save the life of a fellow soldier or Marine … or to obtain important information about insurgents….”
28 percent of soldiers and 30 percent of Marines reported they had cursed and/or insulted Iraqi noncombatants in their presence.
9 percent and 12 percent, respectively, reported damaging or destroying Iraqi property “when it was not necessary.”
4 percent and 7 percent, respectively, reported hitting or kicking a noncombatant “when it was not necessary.
The study also reports that only 55 percent of soldiers and just 40 percent of Marines would report a unit member injuring or killing “an innocent noncombatant,” and just 43 percent and 30 percent, respectively, would report a unit member destroying or damaging private property.
Immorality breeds immorality. This is the true Bush legacy.