Friday, May 07, 2004

Do you think it possible that these two things are somehow related?

Exhibit A
In January 2003 Knight-Ridder conducted a public opinion survey in which the following question was asked of Americans: "As far as you know, how many of the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackers were Iraqi citizens?" Fifty percent of respondents said there was at least one Iraqi on board; only 17% of Americans got the right answer -- zero. If we factor out the 33% of respondents who answered "don't know" or refused to answer, a stunning 75% of Americans who thought they knew thought Iraqis participated in 9/11.

In April 2003 the Los Angeles Times conducted a national poll during which it asked "Do you think Saddam Hussein bears any responsibility for the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, or does he bear no responsibility?" Fifty-nine percent of respondents answered that Saddam bore "all", "most" or "some" responsibility. Twenty-two percent said "none". If one factors out the 16% who responded "don't know," a stunning 70% of Americans who thought they knew thought Saddam Hussein was at least partly responsible for 9/11.
Exhibit B
The sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison was not an invention of maverick guards, but part of a system of ill-treatment and degradation used by special forces soldiers that is now being disseminated among ordinary troops and contractors who do not know what they are doing, according to British military sources.

The techniques devised in the system, called R2I -- resistance to interrogation -- match the crude exploitation and abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad.

One former British special forces officer who returned last week from Iraq, said: "It was clear from discussions with US private contractors in Iraq that the prison guards were using R2I techniques, but they didn't know what they were doing." . . .

The British former officer said the dissemination of R2I techniques inside Iraq was all the more dangerous because of the general mood among American troops.

"The feeling among US soldiers I've spoken to in the last week is also that 'the gloves are off'. Many of them still think they are dealing with people responsible for 9/11".

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