Thursday, March 23, 2006

Iraq II: Protecting the Higher Ups. Again

With the conviction this week of an Army dog handler, the military has now tried and found guilty yet another low-ranking soldier in connection with abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, while the higher-ups with whom ultimate responsibility laid again were spared.

Military experts try to explain this away by saying that the Army doesn't have anything comparable to a civilian district attorney's office with prosecutors who have the clout to go after the big guys.

See, it's a structural problem, not a cultural one.

I'm not buying.

Neither is the New York Times, which notes in an editorial today that:

The contrast could not have been more stark, nor the message more clear. On the day that a court-martial imposed justice on a 24-year-old Army sergeant for tormenting detainees at Abu Ghraib with his dog, President Bush said once again that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whose benighted policies and managerial incompetence led to the prisoner abuse scandal, was doing a "fine job" and should stay at his post.

We've seen this sorry pattern for nearly two years now, since the Abu Ghraib horrors first shocked the world: President Bush has clung to the fiction that the abuse of prisoners was just the work of a few rotten apples, despite report after report after report demonstrating that it was organized and systematic, and flowed from policies written by top officials in his administration.


One of the flash points in the U.S. over the war has been the dearth of good news from it in the news media. The reasons for this depend upon one's perspective about the war.

Proponents believe that it's all a big liberal mainstream media (MSM) conspiracy.

Opponents believe that it's because good news is hard to find.
You didn't ask, but I more or less come down on the side of the opponents, of which I am one. That also is because I covered a war or three myself. It is unlikely that most critics of the MSM got within 5,000 miles of one, but that's another story.

Anyhow, veteran New York Times war correspondent John Burns and other journos address the issue in a USA Today story. For his part, Burns isn't particularly convincing, but then he's part of the big liberal mainstream media conspiracy, right?

Oh, by the way, the rescue of three Western aid workers in Iraq today by a multinational military force after four months of captivity led all newspapers and newscasts. If that isn't good news, what is?


That's syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg's argument in a new column that takes to new heights the conservative mantra that Saddam Hussein really, really did have WMDs, but they all disappeared prior to the invasion.

Goldberg also gets in a few shots at veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas (see my post yesterday on Iraq II: A Regrettable Slip of the Tong), whom he calls "that thespian carbuncle of bile."

Helen, who undoubtedly has been called worse to her face, would take that as a compliment.


lenni said...

You are right on the money of course. I wish some investigative journalist with clout, would take on these "convictions" of those directed to "interogate" those "prisoners."

I too am a writer of some note, but not enough. It would take a NYT reporter of name and guts to do it. AND, a publisher willing to print it. Otherwise the public will not see nor interpret that the "brass" are getting out of the way and letting the ones they put there take the heat.

This sargeant with the dog -- where did he get the dog, for example. He didn't just walk into Abu Ghraib one day and chase everyone out of the way so he could go about "his" own plan of interogation. Nobody saw him coming? He walked right through the gate(s)?

Everytime a soldier or Marine goes from one barracks to another, one site to another, to carry out a mission, he carries a set of orders with him. No exception -- I too served in the military. US Marines, 3rd Marine Division, 9th MAB.

This is horrible that these who are serving so faithfully, and accepting some cruel orders they would not normally accept (they do because they are loyal to the president) are finding themselves left out in the cold -- so the president and his "henchmen" if you will, can stay on course with whatever plan leads them to do these things, knowing loyal soldiers will take the fall for them.

They're in a very tough spot. Be loyal to the prez and leave his wife and kids, or become a whisleblower and go to Leavenworth anyway.

I notice the righty blogs never mention the sacrifice of these soldiers and Marines.

Thanks for hearing me out.


Shaun Mullen said...

Lenni, you are spot on in every respect.

And than you for being able to distinguish between not supporting the war and supporting our men and women in uniform. Even a lot of well meaning people lose sight of that, a regretable mistake in the Vietnam era and just as regretable now. It also hurts because I'm a veteran myself and had to deal with the pain too many friends felt when they came home from the Big Muddy not to parades, but derision.