Daily Archives: May 12, 2004

Programmatic Evil

Now that Sy–our resident National Treasure–has opened the floodgates, the rest of the media is jumping into the afterwash. The NY Times digs out an old report from Afghanistan that shows we were following exactly the same policies and using exactly the same techniques there but the media wasn’t interested in reporting it–including the NYT.

KABUL, Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 12 — A former Afghan police colonel gave a graphic account in an interview this week of being subjected to beating, kicking, sleep deprivation, taunts and sexual abuse during about 40 days he spent in American custody in Afghanistan last summer. He also said he had been repeatedly photographed, often while naked.

His account could not be independently verified, but members of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission accompanied a reporter during the interview and said his story matched the one given to them last fall, shortly after his release and long before the abuse at the Abu Ghraib near Baghdad came to light.The commission, which was set up by the transitional government of President Hamid Karzai in 2002 and receives money from the United States Congress and other foreign donors, has in recent months received 44 complaints against various actions by American forces.

Those include several on the abuse of detainees who have alleged rough and degrading treatment, including being stripped naked and doused with cold water, even before the pictures of prisoner abuse emerged in Iraq. Afghan military and police officials say they have heard similar stories from detainees and their families.

Anybody still think this was ‘a few bad apples’?

A Prez Who Doesn’t Read

The AJC’s Cynthia Tucker nails it.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the pictures is the smiling visages of American soldiers as they force naked Iraqi men into degrading sexual poses. They remind me of photographs of lynchings from the bitter days of Jim Crow, when white Southerners brought their families out to watch the torture and execution of black Southerners, as if they were going to the circus. In those photos, too, the torturers are all smiles.The White House acknowledges that Rumsfeld alerted the president several weeks ago — if not months ago — to a sweeping investigation of complaints of abuse and torture of prisoners by U.S. soldiers, not just in Iraq but also in Afghanistan. But Bush never bothered to read the full report. For that matter, neither did Rumsfeld. He complained in a TV interview that the documents comprise “a mountain of paper.”

So neither man had any deep and abiding concern over the fact that U.S. soldiers were emulating some of the torment employed by Saddam Hussein when he held prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Before the release of the photos, neither seemed to care that abusing Iraqi prisoners — forcing them into just the sort of humiliating poses that are most offensive in the Islamic world — would only set back the cause of establishing a pro-Western democracy in Iraq.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Clueless, The Sequel.

See, the President doesn’t read, and Rumsfeld, who does, couldn’t be bothered. Too much work and, anyway, Junior had his bass-fishing expedition to think of. But then they saw the pictures. Words? Pish-tosh. Not visual enough. But pictures? ‘Oh, is that what those words mean?’

What, are we drealing with 2nd graders here?

Of course, there is another explanation: they didn’t have to read it because they already knew what was in it because they ordered it.

Would Rumsfeld "sing"?

Linda Milazzo suggests that one reason Bush is so eager to defend Rumsfeld is that, if sacrificed, Rumsfeld might “sing”. To lift two sentences:

The fact is, Rumsfeld’s giant ego won’t let him take the heat for Bush’s failed policies. And Bush knows it.

I don’t buy it. I think that Bush and Rumsfeld are firmly on the same side of this fight. Furthermore, I think that Rumsfeld has been so intimately involved in creating this mess that he can’t bad mouth the administration without bad mouthing himself. Nonetheless, It’s an interesting thought.