I got a good laugh driving back from Nevada this afternoon and listening to Hardball on satellite radio as Chris Mathews described Don Rumsfeld’s and General Dick Myers’ photo-op trip to Iraq as a replay of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in The Road to Baghdad.
No dummy that Rummy. He spent a grand total of seven hours in-country… and then high-tailed it out of Dodge. Who can blame him? Baghdad, as Rummy pointed out some time ago, is almost as dangerous as Washington D.C. Not a good place to be after dark.
About the only “news” coming out of this diversionary measure was an announcement by Abu Ghraib prison commander Major General Geoffrey Miller that inmates will soon be transferred to an outdoor tent facility to be known as "Camp Redemption."
What little pencil-pusher came up with that harrowing name? Redemption for whom?
Reminds me of the Father Bush invasion of Panama that was equally ludicrously dubbed as “Operation Just Cause.” I was on the first press charter into liberated Panama (which by the way also went through a spasm of looting). By the time we hit ground one wag had renamed the whole shebang as “Operation Just Because.”
Back to Rumsfeld. I’d say that his snap inspection of Abu Ghraib was a bit late, no? USA Today has an excellent piece cataloguing the myriad lost opportunities that Rumsfeld and the Pentagon had over the last half-year or more to stop the abuses.
The story line in the next few days will be the fight to get the new batch of abuse pictures released to the public. Rumsfeld’s position is that doing so might violate the rights of the Iraqis under the terms of the Geneva Convention.
Why, of course. This would be a much more serious violation than, say, “water boarding” – that new X-treme sport indulged in by the CIA. Reuters has this report. This morning The New York Times described it this way:
“In the case of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a high-level detainee who is believed to have helped plan the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, C.I.A. interrogators used graduated levels of force, including a technique known as "water boarding," in which a prisoner is strapped down, forcibly pushed under water and made to believe he might drown.
These techniques were authorized by a set of secret rules for the interrogation of high-level Qaeda prisoners, none known to be housed in Iraq, that were endorsed by the Justice Department and the C.I.A… Defenders of the operation said the methods stopped short of torture, did not violate American anti-torture statutes, and were necessary to fight a war against a nebulous enemy whose strength and intentions could only be gleaned by extracting information from often uncooperative detainees…”
Pushing people underwater until they can’t breathe stops “short of torture?” This would come as big news to the former Brazilian and Chilean secret police who were convinced that this technique was one of their dandiest tools of torture. Fools.