Aren't We Done With Abu Ghraib?

Today's Wall Street Journal has an editorial about the latest developments in the Abu Ghraib investigations. It's more of a condemnation of those who continue to spread Abu Ghraib conspiracy theories since the JFK assassination is moving out of the national consciousness.

We'd have thought every American would be relieved to learn that 10 major inquiries, sworn statements from 37 high-level officials, and information gleaned from dozens of courts martial and criminal investigations have cleared most senior civilian and military leaders of wrongdoing in the Abu Ghraib scandal and other Iraq prisoner abuses.

I'm glad that millions of dollars have been spent tracking all of this down. If there really was a problem at high levels I wanted it rooted out and all the participants to be jailed. Now, however, it seems it was just a few idiots with poor judgment.

The media and Congressional Democrats flogged the Abu Ghraib story for months throughout the 2004 election year, with a goal of stripping the Iraq War of moral authority and turning President Bush into another LBJ. But now that their worst chain-of-command conspiracy hypotheses haven't panned out, they refuse to admit it.

Yes, what was done last year was clearly overblown from the beginning because the cries of “cover-up” and “whitewash” didn't mesh with the facts that were clearly available on the net for folks the find.

The abuse reports went up the chain of command on January 13 last year; within a day an Army criminal probe had started. Two days after that, Central Command issued a press release notifying the world of that investigation; on March 20 it was announced in Baghdad that criminal charges had been brought against six of the soldiers involved. A month earlier, meanwhile, Major General Antonio Taguba had completed an internal investigation of what had happened. This is all before the infamous photos were leaked to the press one year ago this week.

What made it sensational was the release of photographs. It just reminds us all that taking pictures of (criminal) stupidity is a bad idea.

Senator Ted Kennedy all but blew a gasket yesterday, essentially accusing both the U.S. military and Bush Administration of moral perfidy. “Our nation will continue to be harmed by the reports of abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, the failure by top officials to take action, and the abandonment of our basic rules and traditions on human rights,” he said. He even stooped to the moral-equivalence canard that some in the U.S. chose “to stoop to the level of the terrorists” and “deserve to be held fully accountable.”

Apparently it's okay to be stupid in the Senate.

No evidence has been produced to support allegations that the abuses were “systematic” or that they were inspired or condoned by superiors up the chain of command. As Mr. Schlesinger also noted, by any statistical measure—such as the rate of reported abuse incidents per detainee—treatment of detainees in the overall war on terror has been exemplary. In short, the so-called “torture narrative” that was so hyped by the media last year was entirely false.

I wonder how much more of a landslide the election would have been if all of this garbage hadn't been spread around in hopes of undermining the War on Terror? Unlike the Swift Boat Vets, who had evidence and who are still waiting for John Kerry to sign the 180 to release his records, there has been no truth to the rumors that the CIA has been torturing Iraqis in Abu Ghraib. I wonder how long before other conspiracy theories about torturing terrorists fall by the wayside in the next few years?

Update: I'm adding this one to the Beltway Traffic Jam.

Josh Poulson

Posted Wednesday, Apr 27 2005 08:00 AM

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