Friday, September 10, 2004

We Take Great Pride in Leaving the Heads On 

From the New York Times op-ed page:
After months of Senate hearings and eight Pentagon investigations, it is obvious that the administration does not intend to hold any high-ranking official accountable for the nightmare at Abu Ghraib. It was pretty clear yesterday that Senator John Warner's well-intentioned hearings of the Armed Services Committee are not going to do it either.

James Schlesinger, who was picked by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to head a civilian investigation of Abu Ghraib and seems determined to repay the favor, gave unhelpful testimony that included an incredible statement that there was no policy "that encourages abuse." He told that to the same senators who had heard earlier from a panel of generals that the Central Intelligence Agency was still refusing to account for its practice of hiding dozens of prisoners from the Red Cross. Mr. Rumsfeld personally approved that violation of the Geneva Conventions and other international treaties on at least one occasion.
The AP this morning caught up with Smilin' Don, who was putting those finely-tuned moral antennae of his to good use:
American abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib were terrible, but they are not crimes on par with beheadings and other acts carried out by terrorists, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday.

Rumsfeld, speaking at the National Press Club, said the military is correcting [not "has corrected"? -- S.] the problems raised by the prison events.

"Has it been harmful to our country? Yes. Is it something that has to be corrected? Yes," he said. "Does it rank up there with chopping off someone's head off on television? It doesn't. It doesn't. Was it done as a matter of policy? No."

Pentagon investigations in recent months have said there have been some 300 allegations of prisoners [including women and children -- S.] killed, raped, beaten and subjected to other mistreatment at military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay since the start of the war on terror.
In a characteristic display of modesty and self-effacement, the Secretary managed to refrain from boasting that, on his watch, not a single Iraqi detainee had been made into a lampshade.

To recap: beheadings, no; lampshades, no; killings, yes; rapes, yes; beatings, yes; miscellaneous torture, yes. No one could deny that, out of those six options, we picked the four best.

But we have to ask: were those the only choices on the menu?

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