Today U.S. forces were searching for three people, either three U.S. troops or two U.S. troops and an Iraqi interpreter, who were captured in an attack on a patrol consisting of seven Americans and the interpreter. The rest of the patrol was killed in the ambush.
I think that all Americans are hopeful at this point that the search will be successful and the missing personnel will be recovered.
If that does not happen, past episodes of this sort of thing do not point to a promising outcome.
Early in the war, six Americans including Jessica Lynch were taken prisoner. Lynch was seperated from the others and according to author Rick Bragg, who studied the pattern of her injuries, was sexually assaulted while under sedation in the hospital. Lynch was subsequently rescued by American soldiers. The other five (four men and a woman) were beaten bloody and forced to make anti-American statements on Iraqi television. Later they were joined by two more POW's, whose Apache helicopter was shot down over central Iraq.
And those eight, as horribly as they were treated, were still treated in a way that looks good compared to subsequent American prisoners in Iraq-- likely because as prisoners of Saddam Hussein's army their captors had at least some semblance of the rule of law in how they treated prisoners.
In April 2004, the first capture by insurgents occured. They captured Sgt. Keith Maupin, of Batavia, Ohio and another soldier (the other soldier was apparently shot to death shortly after capture-- either he resisted or the insurgents decided they'd have an easier time escaping with one prisoner than with two.) Maupin's execution was purported to be shown on Al Jazeera, but the U.S. army has called into question the authenticity of the video and still lists Maupin as missing.
On October 23, 2006 US Army soldier Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie was kidnapped by insurgents. It is no secret that muslim extremists hold a special level of hatred for muslims who fit into western society, and it seems certain that as a member of the U.S. army, Taayie was specifically targetted. His fate is unknown, but it is likely quite gruesome.
On June 16, 2006 in Yusufiyah, Iraq, three U.S. soldiers were ambushed. One of the three, David Babineau was killed in the ambush (though apparently shot at close range, possibly after he was unable to defend himself.) Babineau was the lucky one, however, as the bodies of PFC Kristian Menchaca and PFC Thomas Tucker were found three days later; According to the Iraqi defense Ministry they had been 'killed in a barbaric way,' and 'slaughtered' by being tortured to death. Their bodies had been so mutilated by the torture that DNA analysis was needed to confirm their identities.
And that is just the U.S. soldiers who have been captured in Iraq, not the scores of contractors, civilian workers or Iraqis working with the U.S. who have met similar fates.
Again, let's all pray that the latest prisoner hunt by the army is successful and that they are rescued before anything like this happens.
Let's also remember three other things:
1. The muslim extremists in Iraq have no compunction about doing anything to anybody. In other words, Saddam Hussein may be gone, but there is nothing he did that isn't still being done in Iraq.
2. Conservatives will argue that this justifies our use of torture against prisoners. That is false. First, those prisoners by and large have not been convicted of anything and some of them may well be innocent. And second, even if they are guilty, it is hard to see the logic in arguing that because we are fighting a viscious enemy we must do the same as they do. Certainly the highest levels of the U.S. government knew very well what was happening in German occupied Europe in WWII, but they never suggested that we put captured Nazi soldiers in gas chambers.
3. We've been fighting in Iraq for years, and things are not getting better. The sooner we leave, the sooner we won't have to read stories like this.