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More Absurdity from the New York Times
by Edward L. Daley
7 May 2004

In accusing Defense Secretary Rumsfeld of a cover up of Iraqi prisoner abuse, his critics conveniently overlook the fact that perhaps an investigation was taking place to verify that the abuse did in fact take place, and that prematurely releasing sensitive information about those investigations might have unnecessarily inflamed the already unstable situation in Iraq.


A New York Times editorial published on May 5th and entitled 'The Torture Photos' begins with the following words. "It seems gloomily possible that in years to come, when people in the Middle East recall the invasion of Iraq, they will speak not of lost American lives or the toppling of a brutal dictator. The most enduring image of the occupation may be those pictures of grinning American soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners."

Now, I don't know who the author of this piece is, because the Times on-line edition doesn't include the name of the author... maybe the print edition does, but I don't actually pay to read this sort of tripe, so I wouldn't know. Be that as it may, while the author could be one of several people on the editorial staff, the individual responsible for its publication is the editorial page editor, Gail Collins, so I will treat her as if she actually wrote it.

Ms. Collins asserts that the people of the Middle East may have stronger remembrances of images of American soldiers "torturing" Iraqi prisoners than lost American lives. In the first place, let me just point out that it's highly unlikely American sacrifices will ever be their primary concern, no matter what happens in Iraq. Oh, they may well remember the deaths of our soldiers, but I doubt those memories will be accompanied by a sense of regret or sadness on the part of most Middle Easterners.

Secondly, anyone who looks back on this time in history and gives these few isolated incidents of abuse by Americans a superordinate place in their memory, above the multitude of other events surrounding the invasion and rebuilding of Iraq, is not someone who's opinion I very much value. While the incidents in question are not something I condone, when one compares them to the countless atrocities perpetrated by our enemies against both coalition troops and innocent civilians alike, I find it difficult to feel lasting sympathy for the enemy prisoners who were mistreated.

Sure, it shouldn't have happened, and the people responsible should be punished, but let's not forget who we're talking about here. The victims of this abuse were un-uniformed enemy combatants, who were caught fighting on the side of Saddamite guerillas and terrorists! Do I need to remind this woman what these people are all about or the sort of acts they are capable of committing?

The article continues with the assertion that such potential abuses by our soldiers were things that "the Bush administration should have worried about long ago, and taken far more care to avert." Excuse me, but I think this administration has had a few more pressing concerns than the welfare of our enemies up to this point. Clearly it is not the policy of the United States to abuse prisoners of war, but the fact remains that it happens. It has happened in every military conflict in world history and it will continue to happen in the future. Heck, even John Kerry admitted to committing war atrocities during his short tour in Vietnam. The dynamics involved aren't too hard to wrap your brain around. You see, soldiers HATE THEIR ENEMIES! Sometimes that hatred overwhelms people in high stress situations, and they act out in unprofessional and even contemptible ways.

President Bush is not responsible for the wrongful acts of these individuals. They knew damned well that what they were doing was wrong, and even the claim by some that they were ordered to commit these acts does not excuse them from responsibility. No soldier is compelled to carry out an illegal order. Everyone of them knows that, and frankly, the soldiers in the photographs which started this whole controversy don't look like they were acting under duress. In fact, they look downright pleased with themselves. Should the president have drafted an order to every man and woman in the military reiterating the rules of prisoner treatment, even though they are all aware of those rules?

At some point you have to leave soldiers alone to do the jobs they have been trained for. When one of them screws up, you punish them and move on. What you don't do is run around pointing the finger at everyone else for the misdeeds of that individual. Unless it is clear that someone of a higher rank ordered them to commit a crime, they alone are responsible for what they do. Of course, the concept of personal responsibility doesn't sit well with the liberal media. People like Gail Collins seem to think that the president should be held accountable for what a small percentage of soldiers do. That's sort of like blaming Bill Gates when your local computer store salesman overcharges you for the latest version of Windows.

Ms. Collins also remarks in her article that Bush has characterized the incidents in question as "the aberrant work of a handful of men and women", although as many as 20 investigations into abuse claims are currently underway in Iraq and Afghanistan. Considering the fact that we're talking about a fighting force of around 150,000 soldiers, I'd say that the president's portrayal of these events is pretty accurate. A larger percentage of college students commit serious crimes every year than our soldiers in the field do, if these numbers are any measure.

I also noticed that Ms. Collins questioned the veracity of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld when he stated that accusations of a cover-up were unfounded. While she admits the military announced to the public in January that it was investigating prisoner of war abuse claims, Collins seems to be under the impression that because she and her Bush-hating cronies at the New York Times were not given specifics about these cases, Rummy has been trying to pull a fast one. Perhaps it never occurred to her that allegations of abuse, primarily by terrorists and their sympathizers, does not mean that such acts actually took place in most of those cases, and that prematurely releasing sensitive information about these investigations might unnecessarily inflame the already unstable situation in Iraq.

In the final paragraph of her editorial, Gail Collins goes so far as to say that the Bush administration has been "cheerfully denying" that it has made miscalculations concerning it's execution of the war. This sort of rhetoric is just plain idiotic. Suggesting that the president or any person in his administration has behaved in some way other than seriously when it comes to addressing the countless life and death issues surrounding the war in Iraq is childish at best. It's just another cheap shot taken at the president for political reasons by a person with no viable point of view and no sense of decency.



Edward L. Daley is the owner of The Daley Times-Post
.

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