wink ;): May 2004 Archives

One of the things that I think Rumsfeld did perfectly was handle the question of a possible resignation. In particular, one senator asked him, in essence, if he would step down if his presence was a hindrance regarding Iraq. And he simply answered "Yes".

That spoke volumes about him valuing getting the job done more than valuing being right.

And I hope he means it because it may come to it (though I sincerely hope not).

At first glance, the call for resignation is absurd. Rumsfeld almost certainly knew nothing about what was happening at Abu Ghraib, and, as he rightly points out, he should not be expected to know the details of all 3,000 odd current court martial investigations. He has plausable denaibility in spades. Some would call on the principle of "The buck stops here", here being in this case Rumsfeld. That would be true if the we lost the Iraq war, or if the entire Iraq reconstruction effort fails. But not for the administration of a prison, or even for the administration of all the prisons. That buck stops somewhere lower on the chain of command. (Where? I have no idea--any ideas?)

So why might a resignation be necessary? Because he is responsible for the entire Iraq reconstruction, and if it fails horribly, the buck stops with him. He must therefore do whatever it takes to ensure that the Iraq reconstruction goes well, regardless of his actual complicity in the abuses at Abu Ghraib. So he might be forced to step down if the people if Iraq end up identifying him (no matter how falsely) with the abuses at Abu Ghraib.

I agree with Jeremy that "It's becoming increasingly clear that there had been some sort of investigation already going on, and they just didn't want anything public until they'd completed that investigation."

My question now to CBS is if they knew that these photos were part of an ongoing investigation. And here is a further question about journalistic ethics in general: If you happen to discover (through legitimate means) an atrocity, are you ethically bound in any way to not report on it if it turns out that there is an ongoing investigation into that investigation? Part of me wants to say yes to help preserve due process. But a biger part of me wants to say no, or else there could be precious little reporting done. No accidents could be reported on in the news unless no one cares to investige them or until the matter has been fully resolved. (So much for getting traffic reports--by the time any accident that causes traffic is investigated, the traffic is long over. And forget about warning a community that a serial killer is on the loose--the first murders are still being investigated.) And a truly corrupt executive branch could essentially repeal freedom of press by opening investigations into everything and then not pursue any of them.

So. Not sure what to make of the ethics of the release of the pictures...

However, the fact that there was an ongoing investigation explains a lot of what was confusing me before. Without knowing that, it seemed like various people knew that there were abuses going on, but that noone was doing anything about it--it looked like it was being covered up. The ongoing investigation explains that something was indeed being done.

I was going to have my initial post at Parablemania be a nice little levelheaded piece about "seeking a healthy balance". But then I read the news for the first time in about a week (I've had finals and the stomach flu), heard about Abu Ghraib, and my blood got boiling. I have something to say and it needs to be said now, so so much for my nice levelheaded first post. (I guess that tells you something about me as a blogger, for what it's worth.)

tacitus via Matthew Yglesias.

Tacitus suggests, among other things, that the US Army disband the 372nd Military Police Company, as punishment for the atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib. Matthew Yglesias thinks that the suggestion is a good one.

I think that it is a good start, but doesn't go far enough.



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