Jun 11, 2004

The Terms of the Debate

Josh Marshall wrote astutely,

We’re like contestants on Wheel of Fortune with a long phrase spelled out in front of us with maybe one or two letters missing. We know what the letters spell. It’s obvious. We just don’t have the heart to say it out loud.

To phrase it differently, there is no debate left about whose direct fault this is.  The only question that remains, as with so much surrounding the GOP, is what part malice and what part incompetence the failures consisted of.  For example, take this AP story:

Early Abu Ghraib reports went unheeded

 

At least five soldiers objected last fall to abuses they saw at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. One demanded to be reassigned, saying the behavior he witnessed there “made me sick to my stomach.”

 

Up the chain of command, the noncommissioned officers who heard such complaints did little to stop the mistreatment, according to Army records obtained by The Associated Press.

[...]

 

The military’s full-blown investigation into beatings and humiliations at Abu Ghraib began in January after one soldier wrote an anonymous letter to superior officers about troubling photographs…

 

A diminutive platoon leader, Sgt. 1st Class Shannon Snider, once barked so loudly at soldiers stomping on prisoners’ toes that one witness later told investigators, “I never thought that that voice could come out of somebody so little.” Then Snider left the room and the abuse continued, the records say.

[...]

 

Wisdom complained to at least three sergeants in his chain of command, who agreed to remove him from the cellblock.

 

“It made me sick to my stomach, sir, disgusted,” Wisdom told a judge last month during a hearing to take the guilty plea of Spec. Jeremy Sivits.

[...]

 

Another soldier who complained was Sgt. Stephen C. Hubbard, who happened to see some of the abuse pictures on another soldier’s computer. Hubbard complained to Staff Sgt. Robert J. Elliott, who demanded proof, according to statements to Army investigators.

 

“I threatened to go to (the) commander with info,” Hubbard told investigators, saying he was upset that former Pennsylvania prison guard Spc. Charles Graner Jr. had been returned to the cellblock despite complaints about him.

As Kevin says, “There were bad apples all right—its just they they were inhabiting the White House and the Pentagon.”


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