Sunday, May 23, 2004

More Thoughts on Abu Ghraib

A report in yesterday's New York Times indicates that several aggressive methods used by interrogators at the prison. It also reports that these methods were approved by officers that lacked the authority to do so, as that authority rests with General Ricardo Sanchez. The last disturbing fact appears to be that some of the deaths of Iraqis in U.S. custody prisoners/detainees may be homicides.

I draw the following things from the article.

  • That we have a problem with some of the military intelligence people in Iraq. Obviously, killing people in our custody (even by accident) is not acceptable conduct. The individuals responsible must be found and appropriately punished.

  • There is no evidence as yet that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were condoned by the senior commanders. If this continues to be true, the calls for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's resignation are misplaced. It is completely unreasonable to expect the head of the Department of Defense to control the actions of low-level people in the field. That's what their commanders are for. If Rumsfeld approved a policy of torture and abuse or willingly turned a blind eye to it, then he should be canned as incompetent and possibly tried as a criminal.

  • The source of this information is the US military, not the press. The military has discovered and is in the process of investigating the abuses and punishing the offenders. The press' contribution to this process has been just about zero. So why are we being bombarded with this story on a daily basis? What, in the eyes of the media, more should the government be doing about the problem? So far, the only things mention by our media 'watchdogs' is to fire Rumsfeld.

Another question - why has the media downplayed the discovery of sarin in Iraq and the beheading of Nick Berg? It would seem the discovery of a chemical weapon belies the claim that Iraq had destroyed its WMDs. As far as the Berg story, why is it the misconduct by prison guards gets a hundred times more attention than deliberate barbarity committed as matter of policy by our enemies? The Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote an editorial on why they thought Berg's beheading was not important that basically was self-serving bilge plus a cheap attack on Republicans, 'neoconservatives' and the Bush administration. More about that later.

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