Talk of the nation

There’s nothing else in the news, only Abu Ghraib. From today’s NYT:

…the man who directed the reopening of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year and trained the guards there resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled to a restraining chair for 16 hours. The inmate, who suffered from schizophrenia, was kept naked the whole time.

The Utah official, Lane McCotter, later became an executive of a private prison company, one of whose jails was under investigation by the Justice Department when he was sent to Iraq as part of a team of prison officials, judges, prosecutors and police chiefs picked by Attorney General John Ashcroft to rebuild the country’s criminal justice system.

Yikes. There seems to be a miles-high mountain of evidence that we screwed up big time, in every way. I wonder if the public will be over-saturated with the horror stories. It’s easy to become numb.

And it’s just starting. Yesterday Rumsfeld tried to soften the coming blows by constantly warning of new photos, videos and horror stories soon to be made public (not by the government, but the media; I suspect he knows that some reporter has the material and will be releasing it at any moment). We need to brace ourselves for a fresh wave of anti-Americanism unknown in our history. Matt Drudge has already hinted that the mysterious video shows US soldiers raping female and male prisoners, and beating prisoners right to the brink of death. [Update: Details here. Unbelievable.]

This entire circus comes to us thanks to our leaders, who could have squelched this entire thing — or at least considerably softened it — by taking action months ago when they first learned a scandal was brewing. In January, they put out a blandly worded press release saying the government was investigating alleged abuses of Iraqi prisoners, and that was that. Rumsfled is trying to point to that as evidence that “We told the whole world,” but it’s obvious the release was merely a cover-your-ass device in case the full extent of the abuse ever surfaced. That Rumsfeld is trying to hide behind the short, detail-free release as proof of his openness is pathetically unconvincing.

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