Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Let's get this straight.

Let's make sure that we understand the timeline here. Abu Ghraib is not a breaking story.

July 2003 -- Amnesty International reports that human rights abuses are going on in Abu Ghraib prison. Their entreaties are ignored by the Bush Administration.

January 2004 -- The Bush Administration is alerted to sadistic torture and human rights abuses in Abu Ghraib prison by internal reports. Bush and Rumsfeld admit to being aware of these reports in January, though Rumsfeld cryptically says that he "went through" the report without reading it. That makes sense, because there's nothing in these allegations that would cause one to slow down and read the details. A quick skim should suffice.

Early March 2004 -- The Bush Administration receives a formal, lengthy report calling the conditions in Abu Ghraib prison "sadistic," and detailing events such as pouring caustic chemicals on prisoners, prisoner-on-prisoner rape, guard-on-prisoner rape with a chemical lightstick and/or a broomstick, guards murdering inmates, and female guards forcing naked inmates to mime homosexual sex with each other with mocking English words written on their flesh.

Later in March 2004 -- The Bush Administration asks 60 Minutes II to delay its report on Abu Ghraib, citing the security of US troops. 60 Minutes II agrees to delay until Sy Hersh's New Yorker article comes out. Ed Murrow begins spinning in his grave.

April 2004 -- CBS and The New Yorker break the story that the American prison is no better than when Saddam was running it -- the "torture rooms," the "rape rooms" and so on. The Bush administration, which has known about these abuses for four months, feigns shock and denounces these actions as "un-American."

May 2004 -- Bush announces that he will be going on Arab television to explain that things like that don't happen in a democracy, and that the Arab world should trust him to ensure that justice will be done. But as the Washington Post has so accurately explained, pictures speak louder than words, and the Arab world is staring at these photos until their eyes pop out of their heads. What will Bush tell the Arab world? "I knew about these brutal events for four months but did not lift a finger until the American press forced me to say something?" How do you translate that into Arabic? I mean, the man's last address to the Arab world was "Bring it on."

 8:14 AM

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