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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Abu Ghraib: Tragedy to Farce

Any event, no matter how devastating, can be presented in a comical way. And that appears to be what US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is attempting to do with the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal in the course of this interview analyzed by The New York Times.

The New York Times quotes Rumsfeld as saying,
"I have not seen anything thus far that says that the people abused were abused in the process of interrogating them or for interrogation purposes."

According to the same article,
In his first comments on the two major investigative reports issued this week at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Thursday mischaracterized one of their central findings about the American military's treatment of Iraqi prisoners by saying there was no evidence that prisoners had been abused during interrogations.

The reports, one by a panel Mr. Rumsfeld had appointed and one by three Army generals, made clear that some abuses occurred during interrogations, that others were intended to soften up prisoners who were to be questioned, and that many intelligence personnel involved in the interrogations were implicated in the abuses. The reports were issued Tuesday and Wednesday.
This looks like a classical attempt to have it both ways,- which, I would say, is not a viable possibility in this case. If what Mr Rumsfeld is saying is correct then the investigation reports mentioned above ought to be officially declared null and void. Also, the soldiers accused of abuses at Abu Ghraib must then also be charged with perjury as their testimony unequivocally states that abuses were ordered by interrogators in order to pressure the detainees into being cooperative.

Personally, I had a good laugh thinking of this. After all, it is not very convenient to torture somebody right in the room where you are questioning them. You've got your equipment there,- your computer, for instance, maybe a stereo, maybe a couple of framed photographs of family members on your desk, you've got your papers there, the office may be small,- in short, this might not be the best place to have someone spill their vomit or even blood. So the fact that most of the time the "dirty" part of the process took place outside of interrogators' offices does not surprise me in the least.

What surprises me is that Mr Rumsfeld expects the public,- and I presume that primarily he has the American public in mind,- to be naive enough not to draw the same conclusions I've just drawn. What worries me is that to a large extent his expectations may pan out.

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