The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by J.C. Nossiter
The Morning Mendacity
Thursday, August 26th, 2004
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?  editor@nossiter.net
The Pentagon and its friends have investigated the Abu Ghraib torture chambers and found what we should have known all along:  a $417b defense budget is not nearly big enough.  That’s the essence of the reports by Generals Fay and Jones, and of the just-issued findings of the “Independent” Panel to Review DoD Detention Operations – a panel that included two former Secretaries of Defense  (the text of all three reports can be found at www.npr.org).

Oh sure, there was a lack of supervision, and faulty chains of command, and the presence of a few “morally corrupt” soldiers.  But the common theme of all three reports is the “under-resourcing” of the military operations in Iraq.  There wasn’t enough manpower, training, equipment or infrastructure to do the job properly, and therefore the job was done improperly.  There is only one cure for “under-resourcing”, and that is more resources -- let’s just call it money.  Don’t like the “egregious abuses” that occurred at Abu Ghraib?  That’s what comes of trying to fight a war on the cheap.

While there is an implicit criticism of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s doctrine of a smaller, leaner, faster fighting force, the message to voters and legislators is clear.  If we want to avoid nation-shaking scandals of this sort in the future, we’d better not stint on “resources” for the military.  And by the way, don’t call what happened at Abu Ghraib torture.  That sort of linguistic clarity doesn’t belong in a report ( the Fay-Jones) that contained, by my unscientific tally, 170 acronyms, and is best left to namby-pamby organizations like the Red Cross. The Pentagon prefers the term “abuse.”

To get at the true reasons for Abu Ghraib, read Anthony Lewis in the indispensable New York Review of Books (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17230). 
Making Torture Legal, in the 7/15 issue, traces a series of White House, Justice, and Defense Department memos that provide legal justification for the torture of detainees.  The paper trail leads straight to the Oval Office, and includes a 2002 Presidential Finding that “unlawful combatants”  are not subject to the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of military prisoners.  “Unlawful combatants” are anyone the President so designates.

The newspapers and television news will continue to fill their pages and broadcasts with the names and pictures of the low-level thugs who ran Abu Ghraib prison, but, as Mr. Lewis makes abundantly clear, true responsibility for the outrages there and throughout the administration’s gulags resides with their
capo di tutti capi, the thug-in-chief.
©J.C. Nossiter 2004
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