Tuesday, May 04, 2004

The Prisoner Abuse Issue -- Some Republicans are Reacting Strongly

I've found some evidence that the Republicans in Congress, not to mention folks like John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Tom Daschle, are highly worked up about the abuse problems in Al Graib.

Here's John Warner:
Chairman John Warner, R-Va., said the allegations, "if proven, represent an appalling and totally unacceptable breach of military conduct that could undermine much of the courageous work and sacrifice by our forces in the war on terror."Of course, Warner's stress appears to be to praise the current troops, but he is right nonetheless. The actions here will harm how we view our loyal and capable troops.

Here's Tom Daschle:
As the committee met, Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said on the Senate floor that he wants Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to come to the legislative body "no later than the end of this week ... and explain to us what they know."

Among other things, Daschle said he wanted to know why President Bush was not earlier informed of a report that American soldiers had subjected detainees to blatant and sadistic abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison and why Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers have not yet read the two-month old report.

"Why, in other words, has there been this extraordinary disconnect, this unbelievable failure of communication, of oversight," Daschle said. "We cannot let this action go without doing all that we can to ensure that we understand all of the circumstances ... and be provided with ... specific and detailed response involving discipline."
These incidents may be the tip of the iceberg, as Ted Kennedy is claiming, but that doesn't matter. There are many things that have happened here that appear to take forever to get to the Secretary's or President's desks. Why? Management style. The notion that one can delegate tasks and let them be done does not mean all responsibility for getting the tasks done properly and ethically is handed off at the same time. Responsibility is lacking here something fierce, both with the defendants who are claiming CIA involvement and orders, or the same from independent contractors, but also from the higher up sin the Bush team.

A couple more reactions. From a few other Republicans:
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she fears that photos depicting Iraqi prisoners in U.S. custody apparently being sexually humiliated and physically abused, which have been widely broadcast on TV, could incite more violence against American troops in Iraq.

Sens. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Jeff Bingaman, N.M., said the concern goes beyond the actions of a few soldiers.

"There is a bigger issue here," Hagel said Tuesday on NBC's "Today.""Was there an environment, a culture that not only condoned this, but encouraged this kind of behavior? We need to look well beyond just the soldier. Who was in charge? Was there a breakdown in command here? ... We need to understand all the dynamics of this."
That these Republicans are reacting this strongly shows me this issue is not going away and is as heinous as those of us on the left think. Remember, your friendly neighborhood PR guy says to get out in front of bad news and condemn it, especially when it makes your position look bad, such as the Republican pro-war, pro-military position. By this logic, look for this to get far worse.