Good Article From NRO

  1. There are so many threads regarding Iraq that my heads spins sometimes and I wonder if I'm responding to the right thread. Well, this afternoon I read an absolutely great article that I want to post. I don't want to play dueling articles . .this just sums up alot of my feelings and does it alot better than I ever could.


    NR Editor at large

    Left Eye's View
    Seeing through the Abu Ghraib coverage.

    In World War II, a passer-by, lost in London's main official thoroughfare of Whitehall, stopped a military officer and asked him which side the Defense Department was on. The officer thought for a moment and then said: "Well, it's hard to be sure, but our side, I hope."

    In the last week the coverage of Iraq by the U.S. media has exhibited at least four separate failings:

    1. Selective Agonizing. Ever since the Abu Ghraib photographs emerged, the media has shown them on every possible occasion, accompanied by reports and editorials on America's shame and the world's revulsion. That is fine by me. The photographs are shocking evidence of shocking behavior-Jerry Springer meets Saddam Hussein-and we should be ashamed they occurred under American auspices But they are not the only story in the world.

    Objectively considered, the U.N.'s "Oil-for-Food" scandal is a far bigger story, implicating not one international statesman but about two dozen, and involving not the abuse of suspected terrorists but the starvation of children. Interestingly, the media has been happy to forget it entirely in all their excitement over Abu Ghraib.

    Then again, worse rape and brutality than those displayed in Abu Ghraib are known to occur daily in America's prisons without arousing any media interest at all. Indeed, the newspapers sometimes join D.A.'s in calling for crooked CEO's to be sentenced to ten year's hard sodomy. Maybe these jocular remarks about homosexual rape were among the influences that led the Abu Ghraib guards to abuse their victims. Big mistake. This gloating sadism is only a joke when suspected Republicans are the likely victims.

    And the photographs of prisoner abuse are not remotely as shocking as the pictures of Nicholas Berg being beheaded by Islamist terrorists. You might imagine that the beheading of an innocent American would be replayed endlessly on the networks and the front pages. But the media suddenly discovered taste. The Berg murder was briskly reported and then confined to the memory hole. And the media hunt for Rumsfeld-that Berg's beheading had briefly interrupted-resumed in full cry.

    As a Spanish writer commented this week: "Tears are shed only from the left eye."

    2. Taking Dictation from Terror. Before we leave Berg, we should note that a vast number of news outlets reported as a fact that he was murdered "in retaliation for" the Abu Ghraib abuses. That was the terrorists' own justification, of course: They shrewdly judged that the American and Western media would eagerly publish the headlines they had dictated. And they were right. For the "retaliation" explanation transfers the blame for Berg's death from the actual murderers onto George W. Bush and the U.S. As the sharp-eyed Australian blogger, Tim Blair, pointed out, however, the terrorists abducted Berg about two weeks before the Abu Ghraib scandal surfaced. Was that abduction in retaliation for something else? Or were they simply gifted with astonishing foresight? Incidentally, the media's behavior in this case-in addition to being bone-headedly biased-is a rare genuine example of "blaming the victim." But not a single editor seems to have been restrained by the fact.

    3. Willing Gullibility. Two newspapers-the Daily Mirror in Britain and the Boston Globe in the U.S.-have published fake photographs of British and American soldiers abusing prisoners. In the British case the fakes were quickly detected once they had been published, and in the American case, they had been detected before the Globe published them. Neither the media's vaunted "skepticism" nor simple fact-checking on the internet were employed in either case by the papers. The fakes were, in the old Fleet Street joke, "too good to check." There was a rush to misjudgment. As Mark Steyn argued in the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday, the journalists wanted to believe that they were real because they hunger to discredit the Anglo-American intervention in Iraq.

    Indeed, they still want to believe that the fakes were real-the disgraced Mirror editor claimed to have told the truth on the day the fraud was conclusively established. And since he was fired, he has become a heroic figure in British journalistic circles hostile to Blair and the war. He may be a liar, they feel, but he's our liar. Or as they would probably put it, the "truth about Iraq" is more important than the facts. You know, at a deeper level.

    4. Galloping Inferentialism. The media's main interest in the Abu Ghraib scandal over the last week-what postmodernists call its principal "narrative"-has been its pursuit of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as an accessory to torture before the fact. Some reports have been, in effect, prosecution briefs for the theory that he either knew about or (better still) actually authorized the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American guards. And since the evidence for this theory is scanty, to say the least, reporters employ the highly dubious technique of building inference upon inference to make the case.

    Take, as an example, the widely republished Washington Post report asking "Was Abuse Ordered?" This begins with the case of a Syrian jihadist who was subjected to intense pressures to instill fear into him so that he would give up intelligence data for the fight against the Iraqi insurgents. It then speculates that because a military intelligence officer was involved in this interrogation, this "suggests a wider circle of involvement in aggressive and potentially abusive" techniques by senior officers. It goes on to argue that the Abu Ghraib "abuses could have been an outgrowth of harsh treatment" techniques authorized by the Pentagon. And it finally postulates that "although no direct links have been found between the documented abuses and orders from Washington, Pentagon officials...say that the hunt for [intelligence] data...was coordinated during this period by Undersecretary of Defense Stephen Cambone...long one of the closest aides to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The coincidence in timing...."

    Let us review the evidence in this trial by inference. It "suggests" that "potentially" abusive techniques were used that "could have been an outgrowth" of methods that cannot be "directly linked" to Rumsfeld unless the "coincidence" that his aide was in charge of collecting intelligence at the time is the smoking gun.

    In opposition to this towering inferno of inferences, there is an actual fact: the statement of one of the abuser guards that the higher-ups would have stopped the abuses if they had known of them. And as the old maxim goes, an ounce of fact is worth a ton of inferences.

    5. Hunting the Snark (or Criminalizing Antiterrorism.) What makes this journalistic pursuit of Rumsfeld all the more suspect is that even if all these inferences were borne out by later evidence, they would not convict the Defense secretary of any known crime or misdemeanor. He would have authorized harsh techniques, not in themselves abusive but only potentially so, that others wrongly took to be permission to humiliate and abuse prisoners under their control. There is no crime in that-nor even any major error. Senior Pentagon officials knew that the harsh interrogation techniques they did authorize-for instance, hooding prisoners, interrupting their sleep over several days, and exposing them to cold temperatures-were open to abuse. That is why they stipulated very precisely what the techniques should be-not allowing any physical brutality or sexual humiliation. Why they limited the use of such techniques to those few cases where crucial intelligence was likely to be gained. And why they insisted on the prior permission of the senior U.S. general in Iraq for their use.

    Of course, most editors and reporters probably take the view that inflicting even this limited and supervised stress to frighten suspects is impermissible. A Washington Post editorial, for instance, argued that no intelligence gain could possibly compensate for the national embarrassment of having a U.S. secretary of State publicly defend such techniques before the international community.

    That is certainly arguable. And in general governments should not carry out acts they are unprepared to defend in public. But is it wholly and always persuasive? Suppose, for instance, that inflicting psychological stress and instilling fear into a terrorist suspect seemed likely to help prevent the beheading of another innocent American like Nick Berg? Or to avert another catastrophe such as September 11? Or even to halt a nuclear attack on an American city? Would we not feel that in such cases the end of saving lives justified the means of inflicting psychological stress?

    These are serious moral questions-and serious practical questions when the U.S. is waging a war on terror. They cannot be wished away by pious references to the Geneva Convention. And the media's attempt to transform serious consideration of these painful dilemmas into a gung-ho criminal prosecution of Rumsfeld is both a partisan disgrace and a shameful evasion of difficult realities.

    Let us finally examine the tally sheet. Selective agonizing, taking dictation from terror, willing gullibility, galloping inferentialism, and criminalizing anti-terrorism-not a short list of media failings for a single week. And when all the mistakes are on the side of opposing the liberation of Iraq, and none of the mistakes favor the U.S. or Britain or Bush or Blair, it tells you something. Namely, which side they're on. Or "tears are shed only from the left eye."
    Last edit by Spidey's mom on May 19, '04 : Reason: Didn't mean to exclude anyone.
  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   kmchugh
    A very good article, Steph. Of course, you realize, you have opened it and yourself to attack, because it came from the National Review, right? There is no need to examine what it says.

  4. by   fab4fan
    If you want to post to select individuals and do not want anyone to respond with a dissenting opinion, then perhaps you should send PM's. Otherwise, you'll just have to scroll past the dueling articles (heaven knows at least one person on your list has elevated this to a near art form).
  5. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from fab4fan
    If you want to post to select individuals and do not want anyone to respond with a dissenting opinion, then perhaps you should send PM's. Otherwise, you'll just have to scroll past the dueling articles (heaven knows at least one person on your list has elevated this to a near art form).
    Fab4Fan . . . .I put etc.

    Also, I mentioned "and really anyone who wishes".

    Just for you I'll go see if I can change the thread name.

    Hey Kevin . . . . you are probably right but at least it wasn't that old demon Rush Limbaugh. You know if you don't have a sense of humor in life, it will wear you down.

    Ok, off to see if I can fix that thread title.


  6. by   fab4fan
    Don't change it on my account...remember, my opinion doesn't matter on this issue.
  7. by   Spidey's mom
    Sorry, I couldn't change the thread title.

    If a mod can do it, please change it to "Good Article From NRO".

    Otherwise, sorry for the misunderstanding.

  8. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from fab4fan
    Don't change it on my account...remember, my opinion doesn't matter on this issue.
    Of course your opinion counts.

    Thanks to the mod who fixed it for me.

  9. by   Ted
    Quote from stevielynn
    Of course your opinion counts.

    Thanks to the mod who fixed it for me.

    Cheers, Steph!
  10. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from efiebke
    Cheers, Steph!
    Ah, you are such a sweetie . . . thanks.

    Miss your input and your patient with its heart a beating . . ..

    Cheers indeed . . . cooking fresh tomatoes, onions, basil, garlic and pasta and I'm on my second glass of wine.

  11. by   donmurray
    See, the thing is, it's not just Abu Ghraib, and prisoners are not just embarrassed, they are dying!

    Thu 20 May 2004

    US general admits abuse of prisoners widespread


    THE United States military has investigated 75 cases of abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan since late 2002, suggesting that mistreatment has been more widespread than previously acknowledged, the head of the US Central Command said yesterday.

    General John Abizaid, who is responsible for military operations in both countries, told the Senate armed services committee that there had been systemic problems at Abu Ghraib prison, near Baghdad, where US personnel took photographs of detainees being abused and sexually humiliated.

    The pictures have shocked and angered Americans and fuelled anti-US feeling overseas.

    Gen Abizaid told the committee: "The total number of detainee abuse cases that have been investigated since the beginning of the conflict in Afghanistan is around 75."

    He said the army was still investigating several homicides in Afghanistan that went as far back as December 2002 and which needed to be resolved quickly.

    "Abuse has happened in Afghanistan and in Iraq; it's happened at various places," the general admitted.

    "I think the question before us is: Is there a systemic abuse problem with regard to interrogation that exists in the Central Command area of operations?"

    He promised to follow the trail of evidence wherever it led and to hold accountable those who were found to be responsible.

    Senator John Warner, the committee chairman, told the hearing the US defence department was in possession of another disk of images related to abuses of Iraqi detainees.

    Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of ground forces in Iraq, and Major-General Geoffrey Miller, the deputy commander for detainee operations in Iraq, also testified before the committee. Lt-Gen Sanchez said that his order putting an intelligence officer in tactical control of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, previously used as a torture centre under Saddam Hussein, was for security purposes. It did not place military police at the jail under the control of intelligence officials.

    He also said that he had issued several directives in 2003 and 2004 making it clear that prisoners were to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and requiring that "all interrogations be conducted in a lawful and humane manner, with command oversight".

    Some of the military police have charged that they were ordered to help "soften up" prisoners for interrogation.

    Senator Warner said it was time for top US military leaders to face American and world public opinion.

    Senator Carl Levin asked about Red Cross warnings of prisoner abuse in Iraq that surfaced as early as May 2003, several months before the US military launched its first investigation there.

    Gen Abizaid said he was aware of the report and had sent it for comments to a lower-ranking officer, but had never received a written reply.

    He acknowledged that this suggested there had been a problem in the way the US military had handled Red Cross complaints.

    Yesterday's hearing came as the Pentagon was disputing a report that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners grew out of a secret plan, approved by Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, to toughen interrogation methods to fight a growing insurgency.

    But some Republicans have begun complaining that Congress is paying too much attention to the abuse of prisoners and distracting attention from the main mission in Iraq.

    Duncan Hunter, the chairman of the House armed services committee, said he disagreed with Senator Warner's plans to hold more hearings.

    "I would hope that we can refocus now that we have spent this enormous amount of publicity on this prison thing. We have to refocus on this war," he said.

    This article:
  12. by   gwenith
    I saw an interview about this the other day and what stuck in my mind was this:-

    "The biggest mistake the Americans made was offering money rewards for turning people in. This caused a lot of innocent people to be incarcreated and caused a lot of ill feeling"

    Sorry don't have a link.