Abu Ghraib


The shocking and intolerable treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib is being handled full speed ahead by the Department of Defense, despite having both houses of Congress weigh in prematurely with another set of hearings and thereby possibly/probably compromising the legal actions that will be taken. The hearings, most if not all of them being televised, also give the solons an opportunity to preen before their constituents back home, an especially important circumstance in an election year - campaigning at no cost.

Watching the likes of Senators Byrd and Kennedy lecture Rumsfeld and his crew was enough to make one gag, especially since the context of the matter is more about morality than anything else. One watched a pompous Kennedy deliver his poison and quickly thought back to Chappaquiddick in 1969, when the senator drove his car off a bridge, escaped the sinking vehicle, made it to his hotel and went to bed, leaving a young woman (not his wife) in the car to drown. For many hours, he didn't even report the accident.

Senator Byrd's attempt to maintain the moral high ground was laughable, as well as pathetic. By his own account, he was or had been a Kleagle (some sort of head honcho connected with the KKK) and was a member of the Ku Klux Klan during, of all times, World War II, when African-American military personnel were shedding their blood along with their white brothers all over the globe. Disgusting, utterly disgusting!

In a later hearing before another committee, Senator Biden chose to tell Wolfowitz and Armitage of the defense and state departments, respectively, what to do about Abu Ghraib. His claim to fame (or infamy) was the blatant plagiarizing in 1987 in a run for the presidency of the speech of a Brit running for office in England. He had also committed a colossal plagiarizing blunder while in law school and had stolen quotations from other politicians, not to mention exaggerating his academic record. These three solons, Byrd, Kennedy, and Biden, have been at the public trough in Congress for 51, 42, and 32 years, respectively, and might have had the sensitivity to just be quiet. Granted, the "events" happened years ago, but they happened, and the three brought no credit to the Senate in their posturing before the public.

No one is perfect, not these guys or anyone else, and that's all the more reason for looking at Abu Ghraib with the proper perspective. No reasonable person believes Rumsfeld sent orders that sex orgies be used as interrogation procedures. Yet, congressional types are calling for his resignation or for Bush to fire him, never mind that the Senate confirmed him and therefore became a joint location for the "stopping of the buck at its collective desk." Others in the hallowed halls are screaming "impeachment" for the president, never mind that they voted him authorization to conduct the war and should have had sense enough, if they have a sense of history at all, to understand that bad things sometimes happen in war. Compare Abu Ghraib with the "Bataan Death March" in 1942, for instance, or "My Lai" during the Vietnam action or the German slaughter of defenseless American POWs at Bastogne in 1944 or the slaughter of 241 Americans by a suicide-bomber in Lebanon in 1983. Or, what about the holocaust? Obviously, there is no comparison of Abu Ghraib with real atrocities, and the time has come to let it go.

This doesn't mitigate the wrong of the events at Abu Ghraib, but Biden's suggestion that a multitude of prisoners just be released and the prison bulldozed (perhaps for symbolic reasons?) is silly at best. Would he desire the bulldozing of Auschwitz, the emblem of evil carried to the nth degree? Of course not. Abu Ghraib is Saddam's Auschwitz, and it should stand long after the coalition forces leave that benighted country so the Iraqis can see the butcher for what he was and realize their good fortune in having been delivered from the terror he and his thugs fomented. The congressional types should let up on the election-year grandstanding and preserve their energies for real work.