Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The administration's "morally dubious culture"

There's a good op-ed in today's New York Times. There's nothing spectacularly new or surprising there, but it puts together nicely some of the disgusting pieces of the Abu Gharib atrocities.
Since the Abu Ghraib scandal broke into public view, the administration has contended that a few sadistic guards acted on their own to commit the crimes we've all seen in pictures and videos. At times, the White House has denied that any senior official was aware of the situation, as it did with Red Cross reports documenting a pattern of prisoner abuse in Iraq. In response to a rising pile of documents proving otherwise, the administration has mounted a "Wizard of Oz" defense, urging Americans not to pay attention to inconvenient evidence. This week, The Wall Street Journal broke the story of a classified legal brief prepared for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in March 2003 after Guantánamo Bay interrogators complained that they were not getting enough information from terror suspects. The brief cynically suggested that because the president is protecting national security, any ban on torture, even an American law, could not be applied to "interrogation undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority." Neil A. Lewis and Eric Schmitt reported yesterday in The Times that the document had grown out of a January 2002 Justice Department memo explaining why the Geneva Conventions and American laws against torture did not apply to suspected terrorists. In the wake of that memo, the White House general counsel advised Mr. Bush that Al Qaeda and the Taliban should be considered outside the Geneva Conventions.

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