On CNN's website today, there's an interesting conjunction of two news stories. In West Virginia, a prosecutor has decided not to bring criminal charges against some chicken-processing workers who were "caught on tape allegedly kicking, stomping and slamming chickens against a wall." If convicted of felony animal cruelty, they could have been punished by three years' imprisonment.
Meanwhile, at Fort Hood, Texas, the jolly fellow that we saw in so many of those charming Abu Ghraib photos is being court-martialed. Charles Graner, the father of Lynndie England's love child (now there's the campus couple for you!), is answering to charges of "detainee abuse." From CNN's story:
A Syrian insurgent held at Abu Ghraib prison testified by video Tuesday that Army Spc. Charles Graner merrily whistled, sang and laughed while brutalizing him and forced him to eat pork and drink alcohol in violation of his Muslim faith.
An Iraqi detainee later told the court that he was among a group of prisoners stripped by Graner and other Abu Ghraib guards, stacked up naked in a human pyramid while female soldiers watched, and later told to masturbate.
"I couldn't imagine it in the beginning," Hussein Mutar, the Iraqi, said when asked how he felt during the alleged mistreatment. "I could kill myself because no one over there was stopping it from happening."
In other words, the chicken-plant treatment, more or less.
Now, of course we mustn't pre-judge Sgt. Graner. Maybe he's innocent. Maybe those wily "Baathist dead-enders," those artful concealers of WMDs, simply Photoshopped all those beauty shots and implanted them secretly as screen savers in half the Army's PCs. Maybe Michael Moore and Natalie Maines got together with Susan Sarandon and cooked the whole thing up. But let's suppose for a minute that it's true, and that Sgt. Graner's as guilty as sin. If he's convicted of everything, the CNN story tells us, he could possibly be imprisoned for 17.5 years.
Which means that -- calculated on the Imperial scale of justice -- an "insurgent" is worth (17.5 / 3) or about 5.8 slaughterhouse chickens.
Graner is said to be employing the Nuremburg defense: "I vass chust followink orders." And that, I suspect, is completely true. Not that it justifies his vile actions; it doesn't, and he should go down hard. But he should have company. Others should go down with him ... instead of being President or holding Cabinet seats.
A little more irony from the CNN story:
Defense attorney Guy Womack said al-Sheikh's testimony was good for his client. "It was the face of the enemy," Womack said. "It's very clear that he hates America."
Now, why would he hate America? Oh, sorry, I forgot ... I know my catechism. He hates America because we're so good. He hates America because we're so free. Eurasia is the enemy; Eurasia has always been the enemy.