RANGER AGAINST WAR: Jail House Rock -- The Sequel <

Friday, June 27, 2008

Jail House Rock -- The Sequel

No performer should attempt to bite off red-hot
iron unless he has a good set of teeth

--Harry Houdini

Ill send an s.o.s. to the world
I hope that someone gets my

Message in a bottle

--Message in a Bottle
, The Police

Thank you for getting me out

--The Great Escape


Ranger will look at the recent Afghanistan prison break at the Sarposa Prison through the lens of the second most popular book of the current federal government (after the Bible) -- FM 3-24, Petraeus and Amos's COIN Field Manual, as the last time we checked into the net the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) was being billed as a counter-insurgency.

The manual was good enough to earn Petraeus his 4th star, but it failed to discuss the use of cell phones. Rule #1 for maintaining prison populations: don't give your prisoners no cell phones.

"Human Rights Vetting" [D-8] says Congress will limit funding for foreign security forces if Department of State (DoS) provides credible information that they have "committed a gross violation of human rights." The conditions in the Sarposa Prison violated those human rights. It would seem that the Rules of Land Warfare would require such action, but the rules are different in the PWOT. It seems inhumane facilities are the rule versus the exception.

After six years in Afghanistan it is reasonable to expect that imprisoned persons be treated with minimum legal and humanistic protections. From an extract of the "Detainee Treatment Act of 2005" published in FM 3-24 [D5]:

"Prohibition on Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of Persons Under Custody or Control of the U.S. Government" [Table D-1]

(a) No individual in the custody of . . . the U.S. Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

(d) . . . "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" means [that] prohibited by the 5th, 8th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the U.S., as defined in the U.S. Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984)."

These standards apply to host nation (HN) as well as U.S.-run facilities. But why is the U.S. running prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq anyway? This should be exclusively a HN function as it is their country and they are trying to establish new societies. Order is not ideally externally imposed upon a developing nation, not six years in.

If being used in violation of standards of human rights, Congress has the moral and legal responsibility to cut off funds. If the military Department of Defense and the civilian DoS fail to report such violations, it is incumbent upon Congress to monitor reliable new sources which indicate inhumane prisoner treatment by our erstwhile client states.

Training and Equipping Foreign Forces [D-32]
says Congress should authorize expenditures to train and equip foreign forces, provided DoS verifies the HN "is not in violation of human rights." Establishing the Rule of Law [D-38] states this is a "goal" and "end state" of COIN characterized by:
  • A government [which] derives its power from the governed . . .
  • Sustainable security institutions . . . [Penal institutions] should be perceived by the local populace as fair, just and transparent.
  • Fundamental human rights . . . Respect for the full panoply of human rights should be the goal of the HN.
Perceptions trump reality, even in the FM. And who determines when the full panoply will devolve to the indigenous population? Maybe they'll only get a half-panoply. What if they do not want the panoply? (What kind of a word is panoply anyway for an Army FM?)

For sure, the panoply is not trickling down to the poor suckers in the detention facilities (which is another word for "shit-hole.")

If the right of government derives from the people per the COIN manual, one presumes that "people" does not include the foreign invading and occupying army. The imperious nature of U.S. policies and actions are clear. COIN is a fairy tale written to appease Congress into funding wars of aggression with gee-whiz "emergency funding." But words, however pretty, cannot ameliorate U.S. illegitimacy in the region.

"In periods of extreme unrest and emergency, HN legal structures . . . may cease to exist . . . Under these conditions, counterinsurgents may need to undertake a significant role in the reconstruction of the HN judicial system in order to establish legal procedures and systems to deal with captured insurgents and common criminals. . . . This support continues as long as insurgents continue to disrupt activities that support the legitimate rule of law."

The term captured insurgents in D-39 is confusing. Are they POW's, since one captures POW's, and arrests criminals? FM 3-24 is rife with such obfuscation of terms, which leads to obfuscation of purpose, which may in fact be the purpose.

What is "legitimate rule of law"? Is this law externally-imposed and mandated, as interpreted by NATO and the U.S.? Or does it mean as seen and interpreted by the indigenous populations?

What is "extreme unrest," and why is extreme unrest in a foreign nation my taxpaid dollar's concern? One must question the legitimacy of the initial U.S. control of the HN. Does NATO/U.S. have the right to impose standards on a non-member state?

The actuality of the PWOT clashes with the phantasy PWOT (P2WOT). The actuality is that prisoners are kept in crude, uncivilized substandard conditions. This jailbreak was mandated by illegitimate government treatment of prisoners and overall government corruption.

Charging prisoners $100/month to keep cell phones is corrupt and self-defeating. The fighting and instability in Iraq and Afghanistan will never reach a sustainable endpoint because legitimacy is lacking. Legitimacy is a fancy word in a fancy COIN manual which is absent from current U.S. policies and actions. Legitimacy does not flow from preemptive and aggressive invasions.

Like the manual says, a government derives its power from the consent of the governed.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You and Michael Yon, who has actually been there, seem to have significant differences. I'll go with Yon as no patriot would spill ther bilge you do.

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 2:25:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

What the hell does Michael Yon have to do with Afghan felons using the corrupt Afghan prison system to get the cell phones needed for their jailbreak?

If Mister Yon doesn't see that the Afghan prison system is corrupt, Michael Yon can't see further than the brim of his fucking k-pot. Word, mister anonymous - Third World nations are famously corrupt, Afghanistan has been corrupt since the time of Al the Great, and Third World and Afghan prisons are REALLY corrupt. If Michael Yon (who seems to think that all patriotism consists of killing people that our political masters tell him are bad) can't figure this out (and he can't seem to), then Mr. Yon has the geopolitical sense of a gerbil.

Unlike Mister Yon, who seems to spent his time in the tules looking for ways to justify the clusterfuck he and our GIs are ivolved in, Ranger has been using his hed for something other than hanging his Oakleys off of. In this post, he's pinpointed the absurdity of trying to make Afghanistan into Fort Devins. Ain't gona happen. The Afghans may make something of it, and it may be something we an live with, but only if we live in the real world and not the fantasy world of Michael Yon, where all enemy muj are Evil and Bad, all friendly wogs are noble and well-intentioned and all Americans are freedom fighters beloved by the natives they come to "liberate".

But you don't get all this, do you, dipstick? Bcause no "patriot would spill their bilge", right? All true patriots salute and move out smartly, right? Our country, right - or wrong. Right?

Jesus wept.

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 3:11:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Ranger: as usual, we see in our "allies" what we want to see. We saw the RVN as a noble Western bastion against the evil Commies instead of a gang of corrupt Francophile Catholic oligarchs who just wanted the loot. We saw the Shah as an enlightened Western ruler instead of a corrupt (albeit Westernizing) autocrat. This is no different. We're trying to shoehorn the anarchic, fratricidal, corrupt Central Asian reality into the nice little fantasy words of our field manual, instead of acceptng the truth that all the President's airpower and all the President's men won't turn a Waziri into a Westerner.

There's still work to be done in the 'Stan; work done the old, patient way, by Central Asia hands willing to spend a lifetime learning the place, the languages the peoples, working secretly and slowly, cajoling, bribing, killing when they have to. Calling in a column when it's warranted (or the modern equivalent, an airstrike). But the sort of work that fools like Dubya and Michael Yon and our man anonymous want - the work that looks good over at Blackfive because of all the cool ordnance going downrange and hooah GIs sprinting downrange - has failed since the days of Elphinstone and McNaughten.

But as a dog returns to its vomit, so doth a fool to his folly.

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 3:19:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thank you for the force of your passion. Unfortunately, most of the SOCNET ilk do not get the true meaning of democracy.

They do not understand that two men can both have worn the uniform, and hold two different opinions of a thing military. The Bobbsey twins view of soldiering.

Sadly for them, their vision is telescopic, and it is "my way or the highway." This does not make for a robust democracy, and they do not even see how unpatriotic they are.

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 7:03:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Anon, its always nice to hear from the Homeland -your letter indicates that all is well in na-na land.i am confused that you are calling my article bilge when in fact it's largely quotes from the bible fm3/24.
If you didn't like this entry come on back on 4 jul for the full jolt.i'm actually on a 3/24 ass kicking outing.My 4 jul entry will point out that COIN is anti american in outlook.
yes i guess Yon and i disagree- if you say so. i don't read his prize winning stuff.But assuredly there is a difference. I DON'T MAKE A PENNY DOING RAW.I'm not trying to sell anything to anybody. if you don't like my writing then ask for a fucking refund.!Get yours quik before the dollar totally tanks.But i guess thats not important to a real patriot - freedom in Afghanistan seems to be your priority.i hope you live long and prosper in your time BUT DONT EXPECT THE AFGHANS OR IRAQIS TO CARE THAT WE ARE IN A TAILSPIN.Just continue to buy the bullshit and hope your children and grandchildren still have a viable future.
as for your clearly held view that i'm obviously not a patriot-i'll try to remember that the next time my va disability and crsc checks arrive. have a nice day. jim

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 10:00:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

FDChief, i always noticed the large number of catholics in the 60's sf units. i often wondered if this was one of the reasons i was selected for sf entry.yes most of the vn officers were catholics as were diem and kennedy. there were real religeous undertones to the vn war. nothing changes except the faces.
thanks for your cmt's. jim

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 10:05:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger BadTux said...

If being used in violation of standards of human rights, Congress has the moral and legal responsibility to cut off funds.


Next you'll be tell me that there's more than five Congressmen with the spine to actually do so. They're all too terrified of being thought "soft on terror" (or "soft on crime", if you're talking about domestic hell-holes like California prisons that force women to have all their teeth yanked, just like some torture chamber in one of those Commie countries that we supposedly "won" the Cold War against). Spineless wonders, all the way. Might as well expect jellyfish to stand up on two feet, grab a banjo, and start playin' "Dixie".

And the majority of Americans vote for them every two years, either explicitly, or implicitly by staying home (staying home is a vote for the "winner", in the end). We get the government we deserve, indeed...

Too bad about the "collateral damage" dead babies, though. But I guess that's what you get when you have a lazy, apathetic, intellectually incurious people that continually elects criminals to Congress then if managed to be roused from their slumber, indignantly proclaims themselves to be patriots and accuse you of being a traitor to the nation. Well, I suppose being courageous, intellectually curious and thinking independently *is* being a traitor to a nation of apathetic ignorant sheep who merely follow whatever alpha male great ape who claims to have "the answer" to protecting them from that mean, evil, bad world out there. So it goes.

- Badtux the Cynical Penguin

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 11:27:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

one of the most telling conversations i had in vietnam happened with one of my favorite young junior officers. he was remarking on the similarities of defense and social organization in our little "secure hamlet" to those of our founders in the revolution. in many ways, he was exactly right, their concept of a militia was every body who came running when the alarm was sounded (the alarm was a big piece of sheet metal salvaged from a downed helicopter). he did, however, leave out one very salient point. one i drove home by remarking:

yeah elltee, it is so much like it in many ways. except this time we're the fucking hessians.

were i an afghan of any stripe, faced with seven years of occupation by foreign troops. any foriegn troops, but especially foreign troops who were trying to ram a system and government down my throat without my consent; just like the brits, the indians, the brits, the russians and now the americans have been doing since the 19th goddamned century have been doing. their prison, with or without the reports of cruel and barbaric treatment, would be one of my main targets. it would be like a bastille statement. nevermind that there really weren't many prisoners in the bastille when it fell. if you want to see the power of that statement, go to france any july 14th.

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 12:26:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

sorry for the tortured syntax of that last comment i was being interrupted by my mother, my niece, and the phone while trying to get it formulated...ah, i do love the perils of domesticity though.

p.s. aside to lisa. email your shipping particulars and i'll send you a bag of those legendary truffle trimmings. they can make a bowl of oatmeal in the morning something wonderful.

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 12:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Publius said...

"If you didn't like this entry come on back on 4 jul for the full jolt.i'm actually on a 3/24 ass kicking outing.My 4 jul entry will point out that COIN is anti american in outlook."

I look forward to it. And I will have a lot to say about it. Taking a cue from MB, I just have to say that no American soldier should ever want to be accused of being a Hessian.

COIN the American way is indeed anti-American. And one thing that's becoming more and more evident: there clearly is no place for those who actually reflect upon what they're doing and who ponder upon what their nation is supposed to be all about.

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 1:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

meet us here on the fourth. we're calling this baby -FM 17-76.looking forward to your cmts and your first post. jim

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 6:38:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

MB, both of us would target prisons and stockades b/c it aids recruitment , is a morale builder for your forces and demoralizes the govt forces.it's also a great way to capture equipment and for gathering intel.also it would be fun as a training tool.There would probably be a few dollars laying around also.

Castro followed that formula in his campaign to overthrow Batista.

We would pick this due to our training and background, the anti-coalition forces know these lessons also.

your bastille cmt shows that it's a great strategic propaganda tool that ties the insurgency into a coherent monolith. jim

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 6:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


"sorry for the tortured syntax"

before i ask you any questions i must advise you of your rights under ucmj-torturing syntax is a violation of the GC.this especially applies to college educated Seals. jim

Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 6:58:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

badtux, as for congress- you can't nail cranberry sauce to the wall-and congress persons are cranberry sauce.maybe freezing them would add some substance.
The 7 jul time mag has a good take on patriotism- it should aid in the discussion since it has a lot of colores pictures.
thanks for your consistently pertinent cmts. jim

Monday, June 30, 2008 at 10:48:00 AM GMT-5  

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