As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

This is policy

The thing that makes neocons and administration flacks shudder in the night is the sneaking suspicion that this Abu Ghraib scandal represents a strictly delineated policy of using torture methods to extract information from, or simply humiliate, prisoners of war. They have to believe this was 7 rogue privates, which in my view is as nutty as saying there was one lone gunman. The truth is that the more we learn, the more we see this pattern repeated over and over, not just in Abu Ghraib, but at the Baghdad Airport, in Bagram, Afghanistan, in Guantanamo Bay. It's also instructive to note that this is a Secretary of Defense whose entire reign in the position has been characterized by tight control of the planning, administering, and aftermath of American military force. He ignored State Department pleas for coalition-building. He willfully dismissed expert planning about how to secure the country after the war. He scoffed at experienced general's notions of how many troops would be needed to secure Iraq. He was determined to streamline the Army and fight more with less. He refused to put postwar Iraq under anyone's control but the Pentagon. In short, every single thing having to do with Iraq was under his thumb. And that included interrogation. From Newsweek:

Donald Rumsfeld likes to be in total control. He wants to know all the details, including the precise interrogation techniques used on enemy prisoners. Since 9/11 he has insisted on personally signing off on the harsher methods used to squeeze suspected terrorists held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The conservative hard-liners at the Department of Justice have given the secretary of Defense a lot of leeway. It does not violate the spirit of the Geneva Conventions, the lawyers have told Rumsfeld, to put prisoners in ever-more-painful "stress positions" or keep them standing for hours on end, to deprive them of sleep or strip them naked.

This is policy. Your government has decided for you that it's OK to torture people. And they'd still be doing it if it wasn't for a shutter-happy soldier with a digital camera. Hell, they probably are still doing it, in places that are more locked-down. But the point is, to pin this on a bunch of drunk-on-power privates offends the intelligence.