The New York Time wrote an editorial about the Distinguished Service Medal that was awarded to the general who brought torture practices from Guantanamo Bay to Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush awards lots of medals to people who get things wrong and who hurt our country, and I wonder if my generation will ever have heroes in government like other generations always have. What do you think? Who is in government now or running for office that we will be able to call heroes.
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Published: August 3, 2006
What happens to a general who turns a military detention camp into a center for the torment of prisoners, and then keeps exporting those vile practices to other U.S. prisons until their exposure sickens the world? If the general wor
ks under President Bush, he is whitewashed of any blame, protected from even the mildest reprimand, and, finally, retires honorably with the military’s highest noncombat medal pinned to his chest.
By now, we shouldn’t be all that surprised at the treatment of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, the Guantánamo Bay commandant who helped organize interrogation centers in Afghanistan and at Abu Ghraib.
After all, Mr. Bush has promoted the civilians who formulated the policies behind illegal detention and prisoner abuse. And he awarded the highest civilian honor to George Tenet, who either bungled the intelligence on Iraq or helped the White House hype it, and Paul Bremer, whose post-invasion mismanagement helped foment the bloody chaos in Iraq.
But there was something especially appalling about the ceremony on Monday in which General Miller got the Distinguished Service Medal in — of all places — the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes. The medal is for “exceptionally meritorious service to the government” beyond the performance of duty.
We hope the Pentagon had something in mind beyond putting prisoners into painful positions for hours or threatening them with German shepherds. Surely they were not thinking of naked men in pyramids or posed with electric wires on their genitals.
This sorry tale dishono
rs the real heroes. If the Pentagon wanted to honor them, it could have chosen the military lawyers who tried to stop the Bush administration from scrapping the Geneva Conventions and trying to put places like Guantánamo Bay beyond the rule of law. Or it could just look to the front line in Iraq, where heroes put their lives on the line every day — and all too often lose them.