* rumsfeld.jpg     an open letter to: Donald Rumsfeld

According to a news story on May 23, 2004 by news.com.au, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ordered that cell phones fitted with digital cameras are now banned in US military installations in Iraq. This action is in response to the Pentagon's belief that damning photos of U.S. soldiers abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison were taken with such devices. And this ban doesn't end when you reach the "Leaving Iraq - come back soon" roadside sign, as a total ban throughout the US military is in the works.

This news reeks of aggressively treating a symptom rather than the underlying malady. With that in mind, I offer the following for consideration:

Dear Secretary Rumsfeld,

I read an article posted on the Internet at news.com.au announcing your decision to ban camera phones from the Iraqi theater and ultimately throughout the US military. Apparently you're either unaware or unconcerned with how such a directive will make you and the present administration look. Given the track record of how your department has handled the Abu Ghraib matter thus far indicates to me, at least, that this new camera ban is yet another act of long established deception.

Here's a wake up call, dear omnipotent Secretary of Defense: camera phones were not the cause of the recent flap over abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. United States military and contractor personnel were the cause. The camera phones "merely" digitally documented some of the abuse.

I, for one of what I suspect are many Americans, am glad that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were so documented. Were these abuses not so documented, I highly suspect that the entire matter would have been swept under some already lumpy carpet somewhere within the Pentagon.

Banning these devices will only prevent digital imagery from documenting such things. Remember this: you may ban cameras, audio and video recorders, and cell phones, but you cannot ban the memory and recall of the human spirit. Should abuses by U.S. military and contractor personnel continue in Iraq and elsewhere, service men and women of conscience will record and document such events.

Basic training cannot 100% de-program enlistees - thank God. Common decency will prevail, camara phones or not.


Jeff Bauer

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