Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 12, 2005
WAR: Abu Ghraib In Focus

Rich Lowry and Christopher Hitchens (link via Roger Simon) offer up some perspective on the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse story. Lowry notes that the details of this New York Times story pretty well undermine the desperate efforts of Bush Administration critics to paint the abuses by the Abu Ghraib night shift as being done on orders from above; among other things, Graner and England admitted that they had been taking lewd pictures of themselves with others even before they got to the prison. Graner was an obvious bad apple, a guy whose first wife had three orders of protection out on him, and as I've noted before, only an arbitrator's interference prevented Graner from being fired from his stateside job as a prison guard due to a serious history of disciplinary problems. Meanwhile, I hadn't realized that England was a clerk who didn't even work in that part of the prison and had been ordered not to go there. At this point, the only basis for concluding that what went on at Abu Ghraib was ordered from above is that some people want to believe it.

Hitchens, meanwhile, notes the bitter irony of Abu Ghraib being known solely as a house of American horrors:

To the Iraqis, it was a name to be mentioned in whispers, if at all, as "the house of the end." It was a Dachau. Numberless people were consigned there and were never heard of again. Its execution shed worked overtime, as did its torturers, and we are still trying to discover how many Iraqis and Kurds died in its precincts.

If a handful of Americans had sexually and otherwise humiliated some Nazi prisoners at Auschwitz in 1946, would the name "Auschwitz" today be known solely as a place where Americans did bad things? In some circles, probably.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:26 AM | War 2005 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

historical perspective is always a help, but it isn't conclusive on whether our military has itself done bad stuff. seems to me we can still draw ourselves up and take responsibility for what we've done. otherwise aren't we immersing ourselves in moral relativism of the kind we hammer our lefty friends about? "we're not culpable cawse these other guys are worse." i dunno, man. doesn't have much jury appeal to me.

in a side note, Reason Magazine's Hit and Run page linked an article on this England chick's past. ye gods what a titan. "tawdry" doesn't begin to capture this lady's background

Posted by: Flem Snopes at May 12, 2005 9:06 AM

O! the humanity!

Posted by: Flem Snopes at May 12, 2005 9:10 AM

Agreed that we can't and shouldn't excue what went on by comparison to Saddam, which is setting a low bar indeed. But a little perspective does go a long way.

In my view, they should throw the book at Graner and England and then some; it's a travesty if they can't give Graner in particular a life sentence, since the damage done to America's image will last for centuries after Graner is dead and gone. The WSJ carried an otherwise op-ed yesterday that said that England wasn't culpable because her statement that she did it for fun showed she didn't know it was wrong. Um, no. First, the fact that they did this solely for fun is an aggravating factor, if anything, and second, she's not claiming insanity, and nobody's that stupid.

Posted by: The Crank at May 12, 2005 10:02 AM

with that NYT link as my predicate evidence, i'm gearing up to conclude that the venerable Pfc. England is one certifiable dolt.

we need to send all such persons away from here, open us up a colony for banished dunderheads. guam, perhaps. i hear there's a bunch of islands in the st. lawrence river that might work. any remote archipelago would do, just get em out of here

Posted by: Flem Snopes at May 12, 2005 12:37 PM
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