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Veterans: Iraqi Abuse Photos Pale In Comparison To Abuse In Past Wars

Posted May 22, 2004

— As the Iraqi prison abuse controversy lingers on, officials claim more photos of abuse are coming. Some veterans do not condone the actions depicted in the photos, but they said prisoner abuse is a common atrocity of war.

Pictures help Ray Beebe remember. The retired lieutenant flew C-47s in World War II. His photo album contains countless stories, but not all of them. Beebe remembers a fellow soldier telling him about German prisoners in an American camp.

"He said they captured 30 and they only turned in two names, so the other 28 were done away with somewhere," Beebe said.

Beebe was not there, but he said he knows in war, rules can change.

"It probably wasn't right. You get beat around by somebody, and you get a chance to get even with somebody, you're going to," Beebe said.

Beebe said he does not excuse what happened in Iraq, but he said the controversy is big only because it was captured on film.

"We get hammered on something like this with those prisoners and yet look what they're doing to our guys and have done, and will will do if they get the chance," he said.

Military expert Capt. Craig Marks said the reality of war is uglier than most imagine.

"It's not 'Hogan's Heroes,'" Marks said. "We like in America to look at this clean, antiseptic, we'll drop some bombs, and they'll give up. Then, we'll build them a Gap store and a McDonald's. It's not the way warfare is."

The photo scandal has embarassed the military. Marks fears that because of it, American leaders will clamp down on interrogation, causing intelligence agencies to miss information that could save American lives.

Marks, who served in the special forces, said some of the tactics are tough, but necessary evils. Marks also called what he saw in the photos, "amateur hour." He said the young soldiers pictured probably watched professional interrogators and then tried to emulate them.

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