Cutting through the bullshit
Good for the New York Times:
The administration and its Republican allies appear to have settled on a way to deflect attention from the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib: accuse Democrats and the news media of overreacting, then pile all of the remaining responsibility onto officers in the battlefield, far away from President Bush and his political team. That cynical approach was on display yesterday morning in the second Abu Ghraib hearing in the Senate, a body that finally seemed to be assuming its responsibility for overseeing the executive branch after a year of silently watching the bungled Iraq occupation.
The senators called one witness for the morning session, the courageous and forthright Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who ran the Army’s major investigation into Abu Ghraib. But the Defense Department also sent Stephen Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence, to upstage him. Mr. Cambone read an opening statement that said Donald Rumsfeld was deeply committed to the Geneva Conventions protecting the rights of prisoners, that everyone knew it and that any deviation had to come from “the command level.” A few Republican senators loyally followed the script, like Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who offered the astounding comment that he was “more outraged by the outrage” than by the treatment of prisoners. After all, he said, they were probably guilty of something.
These silly arguments not only obscure the despicable treatment of the prisoners, most of whom are not guilty of anything, but also ignore the evidence so far. While some of the particularly sick examples of sexual degradation may turn out to be isolated events, General Taguba’s testimony, and a Red Cross report from Iraq, made it plain that the abuse of prisoners by the American military and intelligence agencies was systemic. The Red Cross said prisoners of military intelligence were routinely stripped, with their hands bound behind their backs, and posed with women’s underwear over their heads. It said they were “sometimes photographed in this position.”
The Red Cross report, published by The Wall Street Journal, said that Iraqi prisoners â€” 70 to 90 percent of whom apparently did nothing wrong â€” were routinely abused when they were arrested, and their wives and mothers threatened. The Iraqi police, who operate under American control and are eventually supposed to help replace the occupation forces, are even worse â€” sending those who won’t pay bribes to prison camps, and beating and burning prisoners, according to the report.
The Red Cross said most prisoners were treated better once they got into the general population at the larger camps, except those who were held by military intelligence. “In certain cases, such as in Abu Ghraib military intelligence section, methods of physical and psychological coercion used by the interrogators appeared to be part of the standard operating procedures by military intelligence personnel,” the report said.
Oh. And here’s some of Inhofe’s greatest hits.