11 May 2004

US Senator Patrick Leahy on Abu Ghraib

The mistreatment of prisoners by the U.S. military in Iraq was not limited to the crimes that have come to light at the Abu Ghraib prison. Rather, there was, in the words of the U.S. Army�s own inquiry, a �systemic and illegal abuse of detainees.� It is revealing, and particularly disturbing, that the U.S. personnel involved conducted themselves so openly, even posing with the victims of their sadistic acts. They obviously felt they had no reason to believe that their superiors would be upset with their conduct. The brazenness of these acts, the reported role of U.S. intelligence officers in encouraging such treatment to �soften up� detainees for interrogations, combined with earlier reports of similar abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan, suggests a much larger failure.

And let�s be clear. We are not talking only about the individuals who engaged in these abusive acts. We are talking about a failure of leadership by an Administration that, well before this latest scandal, had already severely damaged this Nation�s reputation and effectiveness in a war against terrorism that is increasingly perceived by Muslims around the world as a war against Islam itself. The growing anger and hostility toward our troops has been exploited by Saddam loyalists and extremists who answer to Iran�s ayatollahs. They have committed despicable acts of violence against Americans, including the desecration of corpses.

I am working on a longish post on Rumsfeld's appearace before the two congressional committees, but frankly I'm overwhelmed by the sheer wrongness of what's reported each day.

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