Abu Ghraib: Worse than Watergate?

There are a lot of must-read articles and posts out there at the moment on Abu Ghraib, but this one by Fred Kaplan gets my vote for must-read article of the week. If anyone thinks this scandal is going to go away, with blame falling on “a few bad apples,” I suggest you check it out now.

The White House is about to get hit by the biggest tsunami since the Iran-Contra affair, maybe since Watergate. President George W. Bush is trapped inside the compound, immobilized by his own stay-the-course campaign strategy. Can he escape the massive tidal waves? Maybe. But at this point, it’s not clear how.

This is the grimmest piece I’ve seen yet on just how serious a mess Abu Ghraib is. “Read the whole thing,” as bloggers like to say. As much as Fox News wants you to think it’s all about 7 bad soldiers indulging in a little horseplay, there’s no way around the fact that this is going to dominate the news right up to election day. And as Kaplan notes more than once, there is nothing Bush can do; the wheels are in motion, and there’s no place to hide.

Update: Don’t miss Josh Marshall’s take on the Kaplan article. This was certainly the talk of the blogosphere today. Snippet:

The whole progression of the story has an odd doubled-up quality. On the one hand we have repeated claims from top officials insisting that the abuses were the isolated work of a few miscreants. Then, simultaneously, we have numerous stories showing specific policy decisions (often confirmed on the record by slightly lower-level officials) which sanctioned pretty close to all the stuff we’re seeing in those photos, even if not quite practiced with the same relish and glee.

The Discussion: 3 Comments

That is, if nothing new happens until the elections. maybe they’ll find Ben Laden (though I don’t believe that much in the “Bush already has him and is waiting for the election” stories), there might be a new terrorist attack in the US (I doubt it), and we’re waiting for the power transfer in Iraq …

I’m sure there’s still a lot of sound and fury to be served untill the election.

May 18, 2004 @ 10:51 am | Comment

Emile, Of course there is a lot of sound and fury to come — it will be a mean and bloody fight to the finish. But this can’t go away — the investigations have begun, and officials have spoken on the record, affirming the key points made by newsweek, Hersh and now Time. Just today in the NYT there’s an article on how the MPs were given orders to strip and humiliate the prisoners. The bad apple excuse is a canard.

Sure, there’s always the possibility of an election-time surprise, but there may be too much disgrace hanging over Bush’s head by then. Between the sheer cost of the Iraqi mission, in terms of money and blood and reputation, will be too much; Osama’s capture will be seen as another stunt that means very little. The old man in a cave on a dialysis machine is now just an icon, a figurehead.

May 18, 2004 @ 10:57 am | Comment

“If in defeating them we become like them, what is the point in resisting them in the first place?”

-Conrad the Gweilo, 3/11/03

May 19, 2004 @ 2:21 am | Comment

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