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Mailbag: Court Martial In Iraq

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Court Martial In Iraq
April 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
Your coverage of the abuse of Iraqi captives was difficult for me to watch, but I am glad you had the guts to do it. Gen. Kimmitt stated that this is a small minority that did those things, but I have to say that the minority is not small enough. There must be no room in the military for this sort of thing.
--Pat Byrne

Thank you for your recent report on prisoners and the possible abuse being investigated in Iraq. I guess a picture does say a thousand words. There is really no way to refute some of the photos that were aired on your program. Furthermore, it really calls into question how we endeavor to win the hearts and minds of these people we assume to be such a threat to our safety as a nation. Thanks again for your compelling report. You've demonstrated, to me at least, that the U.S. media still have an insightful and independent voice.
--Peter Wilton

I am a retired Special Forces soldier. I would like to personally express my deepest gratitude and thanks for 60 Minutes II, for airing a crucial depiction of crimes committed by our American soldiers. Please air this special footage as much as you can, to inform the American public of these atrocities. The inhumane mistreatment, sexual assaults and Geneva Convention war crimes should be dealt with immediately.

Again, I sincerely thank you and the CBS organization for your fairness, sympathy and deep concern of others who experience these types of war crimes.
--Master Sgt. Robert Childs, Jr.

Why in God's name would you choose to air such a story at this time? This is something our country didn't need to know now. Everyone in this country is hanging on for dear life to support the troops, and you have taken all our faith in goodness away. How many more reports can we watch like this before support fades?

We are losing our fight with other countries to support us, and now you have just sealed it. ... We've just lost the goal of helping anyone over there because of this show, and God help us. You are no better then those who did these horrible acts. Your reports are bringing down this country.
--Betsy Berra

As a U.S. Marine who served our nation for more than 24 years, including multiple tours in Vietnam, I am appalled, ashamed and angry about U.S. servicemen and women torturing Iraqi prisoners. I totally reject any claim that those accused failed to receive adequate training in the handling of POWs or the requirements of the Geneva Convention. Such training would have only reinforced the rules of common decency that should govern the behavior, one human being toward another.

These soldiers, including their commanding officer, a brigadier general, are disgrace to this nation. They, too, should stand before the bar of justice at a war crimes tribunal. They are no better than the evil regime which honorable Americans have fought and died to oust.
--Master Gunnery Sgt. Donald M. O'Neal

As the sister of a brother who just returned from a year long tour in Iraq, and the wife of a warrant officer currently serving in Iraq, I am disgusted with the soldiers' treatment of Iraqi prisoners. I'm not sure why, but I was especially shocked by the female soldier's behavior. These soldiers bring dishonor to our country. I would be disappointed and ashamed of my husband and brother if I ever discovered that they treated another human being in that manner.

... At some point, these soldiers need to accept responsibility for their actions. It is not the Army's fault. Being prior military, I know I was taught to bring honor and respect to my country. These soldiers should be sent to prison and dishonorably discharged from the military.
--T. Schurr

I find it very wrong that our soldiers mistreated confined Iraqis. What I find even more destructive is that you do not find the time to report what has been accomplished with what the good soldiers have done. You have your own agenda and report as you feel fit.
--John Threadgill

The reason we invaded Iraq no longer has to do with weapons of mass destruction or veiled suggestions from the White House that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. No, we are now told that we invaded because Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who tortured and killed political prisoners without trials. And what were our soldiers doing behind his prison walls? Gen. Kimmitt took a hard and seemingly heartfelt stand against the horrifying actions taken by a small number of soldiers. But will it help in any way to mend our ever-more tattered reputation on the world stage? What has happened to the United States of America?
--Elizabeth Freed

If these charges prove to be true, then the actions on which the charges are based constitute war crimes committed on Iraqi soil. Following their court martial, the guilty parties should be turned over to Iraqi authorities. That would be justice.
--M. B. Leahy

At a time when the integrity of the news media in the United States is being intensely questioned, I commend 60 Minutes II for their story about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of U.S. soldiers. I appreciate 60 Minutes II's decision to inform the taxpaying public about crimes that are being committed by fellow Americans -- and for respecting Americans enough to not shelter them under an umbrella of safety through biased media coverage.

Although it disgusts me that uniformed and ununiformed citizens of America would commit such heinous crimes against humanity under an artificial veil of freedom or liberation, I cannot say that I am surprised, because when you value the life of an American more than that of any other person, it is only inevitable that abuses of power will be bred and encouraged.
--Abrar Hammoud

Was I supposed to be horrified by the report of Iraqi prisoners being positioned in "pornographic" positions and humiliated by American soldiers? I was not. During your report, all I could think of was the murder, torture, maiming, burning and beheading of innocent civilians, women and children included, carried out by terrorists and supporters of Saddam Hussein. At least these men were men of war.

They had to pose for pornographic pictures? So what. We cannot imagine sitting at home on our couches the horrors our soldiers must face every day. Why not focus your attention on the unfair practices of our enemy?
--Sally Ainsley

Although I was very disgusted and appalled by the actions of our soldiers at the Baghdad prison in Iraq, I wasn't at all surprised. For even in this country, in this day and age, the value of a human life is still expendable when that life in not representative of the majority. America has a long dark history of merciless behavior towards the lives of its own, and the actions of these soldiers documented in this broadcast only illustrates the old adage that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
--Nikki A.

Are you guys nuts? Do you think showing this is going to help the Americans in captivity and our other allies? I fully understand the need for an open and free press, but you have to balance that with the lives of our own people. You are just going to infuriate an already bad situation. How would you feel if your son's life was on the edge of a knife somewhere in a Baghdad hole?
--Ari Kettunen

Perhaps the most horrific and false statement is the fact that these individuals were "part-time" soldiers. I have been in the military for 18 years, and 14 of those years have been as a "part-time" soldier. The thing that makes me the most angry is the fact that whether or not these "part-time" soldiers are only in the guard, we all have been through the same basic training. Don't tell me that part-time soldiers are not trained in Geneva Convention rules. That is one of the main classes in basic training.

Kudos go to the MPs who exposed this horror. Although in the Air National Guard, after 9/11, I worked with some very fine Army National Guard MPs, and the military police are the most dedicated trained people. I blame the command for the actions that led to this revolting behavior.
--TSGT Wendi J. Newton

There is no excuse for this action. I don't care about the Geneva Convention. We should treat any prisoners as we would want to have been treated. It is called being humane. I don't want to hear any excuses about "no guidelines." Anyone involved in this, including the female commander, should be brought before a tribunal, dishonorably discharged and stripped of all benefits. What a blot to our country. I am so ashamed of us.
--Smagnuson

I can only compare the images that you showed of the Abu Ghraib prison with images I have seen from concentration camps -- the humiliation and dehumanization of the prisoners is absolute in both cases. Have we, as Americans, demonized the Iraqis so much that we do not see them as human? ... These images give the lie to the "democracy" and "freedom" we keep preaching over and over. The truth is that Iraqis are treated with the most obscene racism since Jim Crow.

What the images further suggest is that not only is the Army not in control of Iraq, as recent reports of insurgency indicate, but moreover, they are not in control of the troops. I am further dismayed that you knew about this story two weeks ago and repressed it because of a Defense Department request, and seemed to have published it because others would have before you did. You owe it to the American people to tell us what is going on. The press is the watchdog of democracy, but those days are obviously not with us, just as the days when we could expect our army to conduct itself according to the Geneva Convention.
--Joselyn Almeida Beveridge

I resent your story on the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners held by the American soldiers in Iraq. Certainly the evidence of mistreatment of those prisoners by a small minority of soldiers is unacceptable. How dare you make an attempt to poison this country against the very military personnel who are risking their lives to protect this country -- whether or not you may agree with the politics. What you did not see were American soldiers dragging an Iraqi along the streets in Iraq being flogged by Iraqi citizens. Perhaps you should interview Iraqis guilty of such greater travesties and see how their countrymen feel. Do you really think they care?
--Mike Schuchman

The reservist charged with the atrocities at the Iraqi prison, who works as a civilian prison guard, needs to be investigated for his treatment of American prisons here at home. It's obvious that he has no standards of decency and doesn't know the appropriate ways to treat prisoners. After he serves his court martial sentence, he should face the same charges that Saddam will face for crimes against humanity.

Saying that he didn't have the Geneva Rules of Convention is no excuse for the atrocities that he participated in. People have basic human rights even if they are prisoners. Even though his family may suffer, he knew the difference between right and wrong.
--Craig Whitehead

I can't believe that my uncle almost gave his life in Vietnam for freedom, and now, we as a union are doing worse to those people of Iraq. He tried to do his country right and now we, as people of the free world, are harming people. Now we are doing it to another country. I am alarmed and totally against this type of treatment. ... Why are we treating our prisoners as if they lived with Hitler during the Holocaust. I am totally aghast. We owe these people more respect and admiration for their religion. ... We owe more to our fellow mankind and our own statesmen. We are a country made of more than the pilgrims.
--KW

At one time I would have condemned the way they were treated, but after recently seeing them burning Americans there, I say they should give those troops medals. An eye for an eye.
--J Guzzi

I just wanted to echo what Gen. Kimmitt emphasized on your show. We are a value-based organization and those who participated in this sick turn of events should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They are a small minority that do not represent what positive things that we do in Iraq. They did not think of the consequences of what could happen to their fellow soldiers if captured themselves. They blame this on the lack of leadership and training. What about human morals? We are American soldiers and believe in standards higher that what they displayed.
--SFC Manuel J. Shaw

What an atrocity! Should these pictures have been shown? We were appalled when we saw people hanging from the bridges after being attacked and burned. It makes us sick to see the women and children of war and the devastation they live in; the people lying in hospitals with no medical attention or medicine. Then you show something like this.

Is it going to help our soldiers who are there? I doubt it. Those people who are fighting us with every ounce of their strength are only going to use this as fuel for their fires. No doubt it will be broadcast in Iraq and all other countries around, and the photos all over the front pages of their papers ... within a couple of days. Yes, I think the people involved in this should be severely punished. I don't much think that will satisfy the people in Iraq who see this.
--Jeanie

I believe that if proven guilty, the soldiers involved in this story were wrong. However, with the unstable environment in Iraq right now, and for the safety of our soldiers there, this story should not have been aired on national television.

I know that news reporters feel that the public needs to know everything that is going on. I feel that your first responsibility is to our soldiers putting their lives on the line. Do you really think this is going to help this situation? Don't you think the government can correct this situation without you publicizing it? Of course they can.
--Pam Anderson

I'm shocked that the tone of this story seems to be trying to help this particular staff sergeant make excuses for his personal conduct. Bottom line is that there is no excuse for an individual to pose for the kind of pictures that that Staff Sgt. Frederick coordinated and participated in. He needs to be held accountable for his personal actions.

In my entire military career, I never ran into any soldier that would have any doubt as to just how inappropriate and unlawful something like this is -- and the excuse that he wasn't properly trained just doesn't cut it. Please don't help this individual try to blame others for misconduct of this nature. The soldiers involved need to be held accountable for their actions.
--Ret. Lt. Col. Mike Dorohovich

While tens of thousands of U.S. men and women serve their country in the Battle of Iraq, 60 Minutes II has the audacity to violate their character by showing the disgusting actions of "several" of their comrades to foreign prisoners.

Not only do you "report" the incident, you distastefully show the pictures that only serve to brand all our loved ones in uniform. You leave little doubt, both past and present, of your liberal agenda and desire to taint this military action.
--Raymond E. O'Neill

This story disturbed me a lot. One of the main reasons is that I served under Brig. Gen. Karpinsky in the Army Reserves for three years. She was an outstanding officer. For troops to say they did not know how to treat prisoners is unbelievable. When soldiers go to summer training camps, they are often required to be prisoners and anyone that has been in an Enemy Prisoner of War/Civilian Internees (EPW/CI) unit knows the role play and how they are supposed to treat EPWs -- certainly not like the pictures that were shown on the program.

To say they never had a Geneva Convention book is no excuse for what these soldiers did. Lack of humanity is what these soldiers had. No one deserves to be stripped and made fun of for someone's cruel pleasure. There is always a rotten apple somewhere in the barrel. I am sure the court martials will pass out the punishment they deserve.
--Marsha C. Whittaker

Our country has 150,000 military personal in a desperate fight to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Do you think, by airing the reprehensible acts of a small percentage of these soldiers, you have helped in this cause? What, other than ratings and increased revenue, did you expect to achieve with this program which verges on treason in a time of war?
--Sondra Cutcliffe

I was appalled by the actions of American soldiers to the prisoners, and to justify it by saying they were not properly trained is an embarrassment to the American people. Trained or not, we know right from wrong. With actions like these, it's no wonder the people or Iraq are fighting us.
--Teddie Locke

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