Friday, May 07, 2004

The rats are a jumpin'

The Washington Monthly
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?

Lovely round-up! Guess who gets the Donkey's tail? Rumsfeld. Not that he doesn't deserve it.

None of this would have happened absent photos and videos, and the photos wouldn't have become so widely distributed absent digital cameras. Digital images are easy to replicate and distribute; it was the wide distribution of the visuals that made exposure inevitable. Rumsfeld, Myers et al knew roughly what was happening across the system, though Al Ghraib sounds like it was extreme even by their standards. They figured they could keep it quiet -- until the photos appeared. Look for solders to be forbidden to carry digital cameras.

Shades of Rodney King. Humans are so irrational - most of us respond to images in a completely different way than we respond to words and concepts.

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