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February 19, 2005

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Criminals? (Abu Ghraib Edition)

Michael Froomkin reads things that depress me too much for me to read them:

Discourse.net: YATA (Coverup Dept.): "Pictures of mock executions destroyed, report says. Via AP:

Pictures of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan posing with hooded and bound detainees during mock executions were destroyed after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq to avoid another public outrage, Army documents released Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union show.

The results of an Army probe of the photographs were among hundreds of pages of documents released after the ACLU obtained a federal court order in Manhattan to let it see documents about U.S. treatment of detainees around the world.

Of course, this is small potatoes compared to the White House/Rumsfeld decision to put the General who ordered the abuse in charge of so-called investigation into it....

Posted by DeLong at February 19, 2005 12:45 PM

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I'm 62 years old, and even through an adulthood *mostly* served by Republican presidents, have always trusted that those running the country were better educated, smarter, and more qualified than I, and in addition were fundamentally honorable men (not too many women in that grouping). Guess I've been pretty naive.

Posted by: MaryLou at February 19, 2005 01:25 PM


It should only be expected that damaging documents like these pictures would be destroyed; Rumsfeld practically gave the order in his testimony before the Senate and House Armed Services committees last year:

"“If these are released to the public,obviously it’s going to make matters worse. That’s just a fact. I mean, I looked at them last night and they’re hard to believe.... And if they’re sent to some news organization, and taken out of the criminal prosecution channels that they’re in, that’s where we’ll be. And it’s not a pretty picture.”

Posted by: BSetzer at February 19, 2005 01:50 PM


Remember when Bush described Abu Ghraib as a "few bad apples." It seems more like the norm than the exception. Perhaps he meant the few bad apples were Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney...

Posted by: Unstable Isotope at February 19, 2005 02:30 PM


I'm blanking, someone want to save me the googling and tell me which "General who ordered the abuse [is] in charge of so-called investigation into it"? Is that Gen. Miller? Or??? Thanks!

Torture memos should have been the centerpiece of the Democratic opposition by June. Unfortunately John Kerry decided to back away from his Winter Soldier days rather than attack Bush. That Joe Lieberman and five other Democrats voted to confirm Alberto Gonzales makes me SICK.

Zell Miller should have been kicked out of the Democratic Party before he made a fool of himself at the RNC. The same should happen to Judas Lieberman. He's kissed Bush one time too many -- more often between the cheeks than on them.

Posted by: publius at February 19, 2005 09:28 PM


Damned ACLU, they're sooo unpatriotic. :-] I sooo regret I just renewed my membership...

http://www.aclu.org/

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns at February 19, 2005 09:44 PM


Actually, I think the title question is actually the important one. Why are we ruled by these criminals? Because we have apparently reached a level of partisanship where a substantial portion of voters prefer to be ruled by criminals (and incompetent criminals at that) than by people of the other party. The consequences for the quality of governance are likely to be unfortunate.

Posted by: matt wilbert at February 20, 2005 06:03 AM


There's a reason HAL went insane...

Posted by: Stuart at February 20, 2005 07:41 AM


"Because we have apparently reached a level of partisanship where a substantial portion of voters prefer to be ruled by criminals..."

I am not convinced that people are demonstrating an informed preference. Bush, like any good dictator, not only has a good propaganda machine running 24/7 but exerts considerable influence over the "liberal media". Perhaps it is more fair to accuse people of complacency in discovering who their elected officials really are. Here is a good example of a news item, apropos of this thread, that is not much in the public awareness as far as I can tell:

"White House Turns Tables on Former American POWs

Gulf War pilots tortured by Iraqis fight the Bush administration in trying to collect compensation.


By David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer


WASHINGTON — The latest chapter in the legal history of torture is being written by American pilots who were beaten and abused by Iraqis during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. And it has taken a strange twist.

The Bush administration is fighting the former prisoners of war in court, trying to prevent them from collecting nearly $1 billion from Iraq that a federal judge awarded them as compensation for their torture at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime.

The rationale: Today's Iraqis are good guys, and they need the money.

The case abounds with ironies. It pits the U.S. government squarely against its own war heroes and the Geneva Convention.

Many of the pilots were tortured in the same Iraqi prison, Abu Ghraib, where American soldiers abused Iraqis 15 months ago. Those Iraqi victims, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said, deserve compensation from the United States.

But the American victims of Iraqi torturers are not entitled to similar payments from Iraq, the U.S. government says."

Posted by: Dubblblind at February 20, 2005 07:48 AM


Mandrake the Magician

Earlier this week, Fed Chairman Greenspan serenaded
US with his now patented balm of Gilead, "the American
economy is expanding, and inflation is well anchored."

Of course, by the end of the week, the actuals reports
showed wholesale prices had their largest increase in
years, which means, not only is inflation *not* in check,
but those balmy economic stats are ca-ca, when you
adjust for core inflation and the increased US war effort.

Sure, WalMart sees 2% increase in February, YOY, but
with inflation responsible for much of that, and legions
of Chinese wage slaves being whipped to work faster,
longer, it's hard to see an improvement in the general
US economy as a whole. Read Fishman's "China, Inc."

In a classic homily, we priced out an electric sub-bid on
Monday, and by the time we went in on Thursday to buy
next week's materials, the guy at the counter said, "I've
got to add two cents to the copper wire, we just had a
wholesaler increase." I nodded, "Yeah, commodities."
2c on 37c in a month is what, 64% per year inflation!?
He looked me straight in the eye, "Wait until energy
prices kick in next month." We both shook our heads.
Materials prices are getting hammered. There's more.

President Bush just decided that Pacific NW has been
getting "a free ride" off Federal Bonneville Power hydro.
He's proposed back-to-back 20% energy increases over
the next three years, for a total of 74% by this time 2008!
Our satellite TV just kicked their prices up 10%. Our local
government just kicked water and sewer utilities up by
15% for "habitat restoration activities", whatever that is.

None of these sharp increases shows in Greenspan's
rubric, just as none of George Bush's massive budget
deficit planning for Medicare, Social Security, Defense
and Homeland Security shows in his proposed budget.

Hey, buddy, can you spare an extra $82 B?

The line item that really got me? An egregious $685 M
for our new embassy in Iraq, the largest embassy in
the world, by all accounts, and the largest intelligence
network ever created, right in the heart of the beast.
Which explains reposting of John Negroponte as DNI.

But that's nothing. Under Bush's embassy expansion
plan, we're going to shell out $1.5 BILLION every year!
Enough capital funding to rebuild a World Trade Center
every single year! Where's that show in Bush's budget?

Www.gao.gov/new.items/d0532.pdf

Read it, then tell me there's not some evil homunculus
in the Fed machine, standing on Greenspan's shoulder,
winking at Condi from the White House Press Corps,
and whispering to them all, "Lie your f--ing asses off!"

Naive realism has never been so richly re-interpreted.

Posted by: tante aime at February 20, 2005 08:39 AM


publius wrote, "Torture memos should have been the centerpiece of the Democratic opposition by June."

What makes you think the public, in general, is strongly against torture?

The most convincing explanation I've put forward for Bush's election win is that he won on national security issues. I think a lot of people out there will have the attitude, "Well, torture isn't nice, but if it's needed to protect me and my family, so be it."

"Zell Miller should have been kicked out of the Democratic Party before he made a fool of himself at the RNC."

I agree, but it's not clear to me that there's actual protocols for this kind of thing.

Posted by: liberal at February 20, 2005 08:52 AM


MaryLou wrote, "I'm 62 years old, and even through an adulthood *mostly* served by Republican presidents, have always trusted that those running the country were better educated, smarter, and more qualified than I, and in addition were fundamentally honorable men..."

??

Nixon: Nope.
Ford: Maybe.
Ronald "arms for hostages" Reagan: Nope.
Bush I: Maybe.
George "Anti-Christ" Bush II: Nope.

Posted by: liberal at February 20, 2005 08:56 AM


What I don't understand is why the McCains and Snowes of the GOP haven't gone out and, say, refounded the Whig Party. The ideology is about right, and there's a long and respectable history, including (IIRC) two of the "seven most influential Senators in history" as named by a Senate resolution a few years back.

Posted by: Auros at February 20, 2005 02:35 PM


Googling this story, I note that it is buried in the 16th paragraph of an AP story and the 13th paragraph of a Reuters story, right after a long story about how the military is invstigating the alleged killing of two civilians earlier this month.

Posted by: Read Greg at February 20, 2005 03:46 PM


"What I don't understand is why the McCains and Snowes of the GOP haven't gone out and, say, refounded the Whig Party. The ideology is about right, and there's a long and respectable history, including (IIRC) two of the "seven most influential Senators in history" as named by a Senate resolution a few years back."

Posted by: Auros

Power, or rather, a few scraps of pork. In the end, they can go along, get *some* rewards, and not be persecuted. Or they can resist, be cut off 100%, and persecuted relentlessly.

Posted by: Barry at February 20, 2005 04:54 PM


The point made earlier by publius is most relevant - why are the Democrats so weak on this?

And since when was Joe Lieberman appointed Apologist-In-Chief for the Democratic Party?

He says (I saw it in an interview on CNN) that we should stop “scapegoating” George W. Bush and implies that the majority of Americans agree with Bush’s policies, although there might have been a few mistakes in Iraq. Since I think only about half the people voted and only about half of them voted for Bush, that’s a bit of a reach.

Lieberman’s the kind of punching-bag Democrat that Sean Hannity loves to schmooze. Disgusting. If Democrats have any balls at all they’ll throw this has-been jerk and his ilk out.

Posted by: Steve at February 20, 2005 07:41 PM


Auros wrote:

"What I don't understand is why the McCains and Snowes of the GOP haven't gone out and, say, refounded the Whig Party."

Because then they lose the money men who bankroll their campaigns.

Posted by: Jon K at February 21, 2005 09:48 AM


publius,

Thanks for saying what I have been wanting to say for a long time.

Liberal,

If the public truly don't care about the torture, then they DESERVE every bit of GW. At least nobody can pretend that they were not informed.

Posted by: pat at February 21, 2005 09:59 AM


Regarding John McCain, in August 2004, he was on a number of talk shows, one of them, The Daily Show, spouting off about what an incompetent Bush is and was and the enormous lack of respect he had for Rummy and lack of confidence. He's been fairly consistent about Rummy but within a month of making those comments about Bush, there he was in Arizona campaiging with him and for him, giving him hugs and whispers in Georgie Boys ear, out on the stump, Meet the Press, etc. Saying what a great thing it was that Bush had ordered our troops into Iraq for FRREEEEDOM and Liberty(heck with the WMD, apparently). Was he promised something like maybe Sec of State or Sec of Defense? Days after election he was back to making relatively contentious remarks about Bush. I think that most of the Dems are totally unaware that no matter what a kiss a.. they play on TV, the Reps will stab them and us in the back no matter. as long as it furthers the neocon/Rove way..this...almost has nothing to do with Bush, except they needed someone sort of subhuman and unsuccessful in everything he attempted so that Rove could mold him into an almost robotic/politico "What me worry boy?" Why can he NOT be impeached for lying to the Congress and the public, was it because he was not under oath?

Posted by: Riley at February 21, 2005 03:34 PM


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Posted by: at February 21, 2005 06:21 PM


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