Must be part of that pile-on thing. Not the “naked prisoner pile-on”, more like the “Boy, do we look like shit” pile-on.
The American offenders should surely be judged by our standards, not by others’. By our standards, these were egregious violations of human rights and human dignity. They must be punished seriously. They do not, however, reflect the ethos of the U.S. military, which has performed with remarkable grace and courage in Iraq, or of U.S. society.
The photographs suggest otherwise. Which is why the abuse at Abu Ghraib is so inflammatory and, for us and our cause, so damaging. It reenacted the most deeply psychologically charged — and most deeply buried — aspect of the entire war on terrorism, exactly as Osama bin Laden would have scripted it.
“My impression,” Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon this week, “is that what has been charged so far is abuse, which is different from torture. Just a minute, I don’t know if the, it is correct to say what you just said, that torture has taken place, or that there’s been a conviction for torture. And therefore, I’m not going to address the ‘torture’ word.”
So we have come to this: The secretary of defense cannot address the “t” word because it all depends on what the meaning of “torture” is.
This is far from a case of a fine cabinet official undone by the actions of a few obscure bad apples in the military police. Donald Rumsfeld has morphed, over the last two years, from a man of supreme confidence to arrogance, then to almost willful blindness. With the approval of the president, he sent American troops into a place whose nature and dangers he had apparently never bothered to examine.
We now know that no one with any power in the Defense Department had a clue about what the administration was getting the coalition forces into. Mr. Rumsfeld’s blithe confidence that he could run his war on the cheap has also seriously harmed the Army and the National Guard.
This page has argued that the United States, having toppled Saddam Hussein, has an obligation to do everything it can to usher in a stable Iraqi government. But the country is not obliged to continue struggling through this quagmire with the secretary of defense who took us into the swamp. Mr. Rumsfeld’s second in command, Paul Wolfowitz, is certainly not an acceptable replacement because he was one of the prime architects of the invasion strategy. It is long past time for a new team and new thinking at the Department of Defense.
“Our military is â€¦ performing brilliantly. See, the transition from torture chambers and rape rooms and mass graves and fear of authority is a tough transition. And they’re doing the good work of keeping this country stabilized as a political process unfolds.”â€”Bush, remarks on “Tax Relief and the Economy,” Iowa, April 15, 2004
“We’re facing supporters of the outlaw cleric, remnants of Saddam’s regime that are still bitter that they don’t have the position to run the torture chambers and rape rooms. â€¦ They will fail because they do not speak for the vast majority of Iraqis who do not want to replace one tyrant with another. They will fail because the will of our coalition is strong. They will fail because America leads a coalition full of the finest military men and women in the world.”â€”Bush, remarks on the USA Patriot Act, Pennsylvania, April 19, 2004
“We acted, and there are no longer mass graves and torture rooms and rape rooms in Iraq.”â€”Bush, remarks at Victory 2004 Reception, Florida, April 23, 2004
“The pictures show Americans, men and women, in military uniforms, posing with naked Iraqi prisoners. There are shots of the prisoners stacked in a pyramid, one with a slur written on his skin in English. In some, the male prisoners are positioned to simulate sex with each other. And in most of the pictures, the Americans are laughing, posing, pointing, or giving the camera a thumbs-up.”â€”Dan Rather, 60 Minutes II, April 28, 2004
“A year ago, I did give the speech from the carrier, saying that we had achieved an important objective, that we’d accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein. And as a result, there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq.”â€”Bush, remarks in the Rose Garden, April 30, 2004
Out of the loop, a liar, or dumber than a box of hammers?
You make the call.