How much outrage might effect change?
How much outrage might effect change?
Sunday, May 16, 2004
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In a period sickened by outrage from every side of the globe's mutilated political map, an online beheading trumped even the most hideous images from Abu Ghraib prison for Atrocity of the Week.
The U.S. Senate, to which history will assign culpability for allowing the Bush Gang to flout almost every conceivable convention of war, peace, international law, environment, etc., got a three-hour window on Wednesday to view previously unreleased photos and video clips from the notorious American-run prison west of Baghdad.
For a group not easily outraged, it was only tragically unfortunate the envelope got pushed to this.
Americans sodomizing Iraqi prisoners with broom handles, posing them naked in pornographic positions, breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid onto them.
Yeah, your liberators are here, along with some sadists.
"Living conditions now are better [for some Iraqis] in prison than at home," Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, in charge of military prisons in Iraq, told the St. Petersburg Times in December. "At one point we were concerned that they wouldn't want to leave."
And in so doing, Karpinski firmly established her credentials within the Pentagon bureaucracy. She was willing to lie. I'm guessing the detainees have a very limited memory of that period when they weren't sure they wanted to leave.
I'm also hoping that Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma did not pass up his chance to view the unreleased images, because the pictures already in circulation, pictures that repulsed the civilized world, including one of a snarling German shepherd terrifying a naked Iraqi prisoner, apparently had little impact on him.
"I'm more outraged at the outrage," he said, than at the treatment of the prisoners.
This is a U.S. senator.
"These prisoners, you know, they're not there for traffic violations," he said.
And that's right. About 60 percent of them, according to the report prepared by for the Army
by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, hadn't even gotten a traffic ticket. They were "not a threat." Between 70 and 90 percent of them, according to the Red Cross report released this week by the Wall Street Journal but given to the Bush administration last year, had been arrested by mistake.
"Many of them probably have American blood on their hands," Inhofe said, "and here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals. I'm also outraged that we have so many humanitarian do-gooders right now crawling all over these prisons looking for human rights violations, while our troops, our heroes, are fighting and dying."
So what, he seemed to say, if some of our heroes are shoving broomsticks into rectums.
Some senators urged the immediate release of the additional abuse photos, but Vice President Dick Cheney urged against that on grounds so comically transparent I had to read them twice just to admire his brass.
"I'd say there are a lot of equities here besides just satisfying the desires of the press that want to have more pictures to print," Cheney said on GOP-TV, sometimes called Fox News. "There are serious questions about people's rights, as well as our ability to be able to prosecute. We wouldn't want, as a result of the release of pictures and the mistreatment of that kind of information, to allow guilty parties off the hook, so they couldn't be prosecuted."
So here's a guy who's done nothing but direct and approve the trampling of people's rights for the past 2 1*2 years suddenly sensitized to Constitutional guarantees. The key phrase is "ability to prosecute" which means that the administration is lock-focused on making six or seven hapless numbskulls take the fall for egregious systematic failure that goes too near the top for Cheney's tastes.
He doesn't want to allow guilty parties off the hook. Very noble. What he really doesn't want is for an additional 1,000 brutalizing images leading people to the conclusion that higher authorities, stretching perhaps to the Secretary of Defense and beyond, knew of these abuses and did nothing to stop it.
Half an hour before the senators were let into a secure screening room to view the unreleased images, the Secretary of Defense, who would have resigned a week ago had he an ounce of humility, was sitting in front of a Senate Appropriations defending interrogation techniques in Iraq and rejecting complaints that they violate international rules and could endanger Americans taken prisoner.
Let no one question this administration's belief in what it's doing. It's doing tragically stupid, dehumanizing things, but it believes in them.