The Way of the Commandos

Author: James Cavallaro

Publish Date: May 15, 2005

Publication Title: The New York Times

Format: Op-Ed or Opinion Piece, Pages 16

Citation: James L. Cavallaro. The Way of the Commandos, The New York Times, May 15, 2005, p. 16.

Full Opinion Piece

[via The New York Times] The abuses practiced by the Special Police Commandos -- with at least the tacit approval of their American advisers -- are stunning, indeed shocking. The question that confounded me was why Peter Maass was allowed to follow the commandos. Why let a writer for The Times Magazine watch their midnight incursions, observe them raiding homes, battering civilians and mock-executing witnesses?

The answer, I fear, is in the United States' response to the Abu Ghraib scandal. Recently, the apparent final chapter in the saga was written when a high-level Army inquiry absolved four of the five high-level military officials involved in overseeing the centers responsible for last year's gruesome images. Only one commanding officer -- Gen. Janis Karpinski, who has claimed that she is the scapegoat -- faced even a minimal sanction. Other than the handful of soldiers tied to the photos themselves, the government or military has failed to hold others accountable in any meaningful way.

In light of this, it should not be surprising that U.S. decision-makers in Iraq believe that an up-close journalistic view of the brutal killers they train would not create a public-relations disaster but might instead enhance their image. After Sept. 11, officially sponsored, illegal violence need no longer be hidden from the public eye or covered up as it once was in places like El Salvador. It has become, it appears, a source of national pride. Shame on us.