With the invasion rationales of WMD and terrorism collapsing under the wright of authoritative postwar inquiries, the Bush administration began to lean more on the third leg of the rationale -- liberation. [Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz especially stepped up to this, in part because he always believed it. But just as that became an emphasis, the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison broke into public view, damaging that argument. . . .
Over the next year, additional information about abuses would continue to surface. There were many more Pentagon reviews, but no independent ones, and because most of the internal reviews seemed to blame privates while excusing the generals, a lingering air of unfairness hangs over the entire affair. . . .
An unfortunate side effect of that continued suspicion was that it shadowed the courage shown by thousands of other U.S. soldiers. "We now spend ninety percent of our time talking about the Abu Ghraib stuff, and one percent talking about the valor of the troops," said Bing West, the chronicler of the Marines in Iraq.
© 2006, Thomas E. Ricks. All rights reserved.