Above the law

Sully on the Bush administration’s legal maneuverings to keep the Abu Ghraib photos we haven’t seen yet out of the public eye.

A few weeks ago, I predicted on the Chris Matthews Show that more photographs of the Abu Ghraib abuses and torture would be released by the end of last month. After all, a judge had ruled in favor of the ACLU’s request for the materials. The government obeys the law of the land, doesn’t it? Not in this administration, which has, by presidential memo, declared the president above the law in fighting the war on terror. Now they have deployed one last, desperate tactic to keep the real truth about Abu Ghraib from reaching the public.

The Bush administration first argued that dissemination of the photos would violate the Geneva Conventions. Ahem. When that failed, they argued in a sealed brief to the court that the photos “could result in harm to individuals.” Like the soldiers and commanders responsible for abusing prisoners? Or the political masters who made such abuse legal? Look: I know we are at war and these photographs could inflame passions further. But they could also give the lie to the administration’s claim that the prison was only the site for a handful of rogue soldiers making up rules on the night shift. They could give the lie to the notion that what happened at Abu Ghraib was merely “frat-house rough-housing.” They could show rape and murder and torture – with legal cover sanctioned by White House memos. They could finally force someone to take responsibility for what happened, and for the policies that are still in place allowing for abusive treatment of prisoners.

We can fight a war and remain a humane, law-abiding culture as well. We’ll soon see if we still live in a country in which the president is subject to the law.

Sad news, Sully, but we probably don’t. It’s like the Freikorps in post-WWI Germany. They can do what they want. One thing’s for sure – these pictures scare the Bushies to death, as they should. If you’ve been reading Sy Hersh, you know once these photos are out the “few bad apples” meme is out the window.

The Discussion: 5 Comments

Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, “extraordinary rendition,” all of these things have undermined American moral authority to the point where it’s almost impossible for us to complain about anyone else’s abysmal behavior. Sure, other countries are still much, much worse than the US – but if you are holding yourself up to be the moral beacon for the world, you sure as hell had better act in a moral way.

July 23, 2005 @ 6:53 pm | Comment

” Do as I say, Not as I do”

July 23, 2005 @ 8:07 pm | Comment

Torture is no government policy! See the case of Maher Arar:

July 24, 2005 @ 6:45 am | Comment

Of course it’s “a few bad apples”, Richard.

The few bad apples are named George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Doug Feith, John Bolton, and close associates.

July 24, 2005 @ 9:15 pm | Comment

Good one, Tom. Of course, don’t let Conrad hear you say that.

July 24, 2005 @ 9:17 pm | Comment

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