Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 7, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

BROKEN PROCESS OR OFFICIAL POLICY?....Apparently everyone's been trying to warn Bush and Rumsfeld about possible abuse of prisoners in Iraq for months now. And not just the usual bleeding hearts:

  • David Kay: "I was there and I kept saying the interrogation process is broken. The prison process is broken. And no one wanted to deal with it. It was too, too distasteful. This is a known problem, and the military refuses to deal with it."

  • Paul Bremer: "Bremer repeatedly raised the issue of prison conditions as early as last fall both in one-on-one meetings with Rumsfeld and other administration leaders, and in group meetings with the president's inner circle on national security. Officials described Bremer as 'kicking and screaming' about the need to release thousands of uncharged prisoners and improve conditions for those who remained."

  • Colin Powell: "According to eye witnesses to debate at the highest levels of the Administration...whenever Powell or [Richard] Armitage sought to question prisoner treatment issues, they were forced to endure what our source characterizes as 'around the table, coarse, vulgar, frat-boy bully remarks about what these tough guys would do if THEY ever got their hands on prisoners....'"

Well, maybe these folks really did try to get everyone to pay attention to this issue or maybe they're just covering their own asses after the fact. Who knows?

But I think it misses the point anyway. Everyone is desperately trying to dismiss Abu Ghraib as an "aberration," nothing more than a "broken process" and a few rogue soldiers who are now being taken care of by the military justice system. But it just ain't so.

This kind of thing doesn't just happen. It happens because people order it to happen. So who gave the orders?

CIA or military intelligence, apparently. And probably someone pretty high up the chain of command. Is anyone trying to find out who?

Josh Marshall has a guess here. But shouldn't we knock off the charade of court martialing a few noncoms and reprimanding a couple of colonels and thinking this is over? This wasn't just a few bad apples, it was official policy. Who knew about it?

Kevin Drum 12:39 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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