Monday, May 10, 2004

Pull out of Pennsylvania
The New York Times > National > Prisoners: Mistreatment of Prisoners Is Called Routine in U.S. (via InstaPundit): "Physical and sexual abuse of prisoners, similar to what has been uncovered in Iraq, takes place in American prisons with little public knowledge or concern, according to corrections officials, inmates and human rights advocates.
In Pennsylvania and some other states, inmates are routinely stripped in front of other inmates before being moved to a new prison or a new unit within their prison. In Arizona, male inmates at the Maricopa County jail in Phoenix are made to wear women's pink underwear as a form of humiliation."

I must also credit Professor Reynolds for pointing out that we might want to pull out of Pennsylvania next. But, honestly, he's right: either the prison abuse in Iraq is being overhyped, or the abuse here is undernoticed.

The benefit of all my posting on DailyKos, is I'm starting to get my brain wrapped around the way the radical left forms its arguments. So, they'll say one of two things in response to this idea: "The abuse in prisons here is bad, but it's nothing compared to what went on in Abu Ghraib," or, "The abuse here is Bush's fault too, because we're living under his fascist leadership." The latter is easy to dispense with, because it takes a raving lunatic to believe that W can really have any effect on what goes on in state-run prisons around the country, or even federal ones for that matter. As far as the former, it's true. A little nakedness and women's underwear is nothing compared to sodomy and rape by the guards. But I find it hard to believe that W can be held accountable for that either. Sure, he should be more aware of the situation in Iraq, because the whole of Iraq is more on his mind. But the thing is, POTUS cannot micromanage like the left is calling for him to do, and neither can the SecDef.

The fact of the matter is, the Taguba Report, which the press is furious about, is a sign that the system was correcting itself. Sure, it was too slow, but the report said "abuses went on, we are taking steps to punish the offenders and correct the situation." Why hadn't Rummy read it? Because his job isn't to check up on individual jails in Iraq, his job is to make sure that someone else is in the position to do it while he worries about grand strategy. It's the same reason he isn't determining policy in Fallujah: the commanders on the ground are. To hold Bush accountable is to fire the CEO, or Rummy, the CFO, for the mailroom clerk's thieving ways.

UPDATE [5/10/2004 - 2:40]: I posted the following on DailyKos, and thought it bears repeating here, in connection with this post:

Sure, I think mistakes are being made, as government bureacracy (which the Pentagon most certainy is) is liable to do (part of the reason I'm in favor of small government). And I regret and loathe that fact. It makes me sad that we, as human beings, cannot love one another even as enemies and avoid this sort of thing, especially in a time of war and already strained emotions. I am extremely bothered by those actions.

I'm not bothered by the occupation because I really don't believe that we are there for oil, or territory, or to set up a puppet government. We are there to set up a friendly government, if we can, but primarily one chosen by the people of Iraq, instead of the Shiites of Iraq, or the Sunnis of Iraq, or any other minority. And despite these attrocities, I think this can still be accomplished. I think it will still be accomplished, and I pray for it all day and all night. I have that faith. That's why I'm not bothered by the fact that we went in, or that we're still there, or that we will be there until the mission truly is accomplished.

UPDATE [5/10/2004 - 3:09]: If you want a slightly different take on this article, check out seditious libel.

STILL MORE [5/10/2004 - 4:54]: Another interesting piece comes from The Weekly Standard: "No one was left in the dark about the ongoing investigation at Abu Ghraib. It had been public knowledge since January for anyone who cared to know. There was no 'coverup'--a word that was on the lips of every other hyperventilating Democratic congressman last week. Gen. Mark Kimmitt publicly announced in Baghdad on March 20 that criminal charges had been filed against six soldiers and that 17 had already been 'suspended from their duties until the outcome of the investigations.' He described the collapse of good discipline in the unit as a 'kind of cancer that you've got to cut out quickly.' Nowhere in the record of events made public so far is there a hint that allegations of wrongdoing, once leveled, were ever brushed aside or not taken with utmost seriousness by the military chain of command."

That, in short, is why I don't think Rummy should resign. Also, read the above post linking to the column by Bill Safire.

I could go nuts trying to keep up with all of the wonderful posts that people are writing on this subject. You should also read Andrew Sullivan's commentary. Though I disagree that this has destroyed the justification for the war in the first place, what he says is still important to consider.


Anonymous said...

I don't think most of 'The Left' is calling for micromanagement, but they're rather calling into question just how systemic the problems are. Complaints about the US prison system from the progressive side of the house are hardly new, and it's not solely been wibbly anti-prison rhetoric -- I've heard concern for years over the privatization of the prison system, with fewer and fewer guards with less and less training watching over more and more prisoners in order to maximize profit potential. The question of whether abuses that happen under such a system are the president's fault would be absurd, but the question of whether such a system creates an environment which greatly magnifies the potential for abuses to happen -- that's not quite so absurd, is it?

And that's really what's at the heart of calls for Rumsfeld's resignation over Abu Ghraib. It's not that the abuse is his fault, but it's legitimate to ask whether the military prison system that is in place in Iraq (and some would include the military prisons that we've established in other places since 9/11 in that system) is, by even unintentional design, conducive to such abuse. The questions get louder when groups like the Red Cross come forward and say that they've been trying to raise this issue for a year, and it seems the administration was brushing off human rights watchdog groups until the pictures came out and it suddenly couldn't be dismissed as 'The Left' making wild accusations anymore.

I appreciate the CFO/clerk analogy, but if the "clerk's thieving ways" led the company into an international scandal, the procedures the CFO signed off on are going to come under scrutiny.


Sandals said...

LAME. I spent 40 minutes typing an indepth response with cites to your post, but it wont use my breaks or even let me use BR or BLOCKQUOTE. *kicks Blogger*

RFTR said...

I don't know why they won't allow blockquotes. As for breaks, it's easier than in typical HTML -- just hit enter. If you type a line break, it will give you a break.