Friday, May 07, 2004

Rumsfeld Backed into a Corner: Takes Responsibilty For Abu Ghraib Torture Controversy

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee today (live on CNN), U.S. Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld faced several tough questions from the bi-partisan Senators. After being asked if he thought that any new evidence of torture would surface, he admitted that there would probably be more incidences of torture reported. He explained this by saying that since there were six different investigations going on, they would undoubtedly uncover more allegations of torture. He even went as far as admitting that he had heard of some videotapes which documented the "abuse" (he refused to call it torture but it sounded a lot like a matter of semantics).

Waving his hands like magical talismans to ward off the difficult questions, he conjured up images of a man who is fearing for his own political survival. It will take more than just words to exonerate him from the repercussions of this scandal. Democrats and Republicans alike are calling for his resignation, or in the very least, an explanation as to why these horrible events were not reported to the Senate and to the American people as soon as they were discovered.

There are even signs that General Richard Myers attempted to censor the pictures before they aired on CBS. Although this fact was already reported in the news media before Sec. Rumsfeld testified, General Myers denied that he had attempted to surpress the photos. He said that he had only requested that CBS delay the release of the photos until a later date, in order to protect the lives of American troops.

When Senator Mark Pryor - (D-AR) pressed the issue, Secretary Rumsfeld interjected and explained that it was common in American history for the military to limit the release of certain information for a certain period of time in order to protect certain objectives in times of war.

Although Rumsfeld accepted full responsibility for the "mistreatment" of the Iraqis imprisoned at Abu Ghraib Prison but he also said that the actions were "unamerican" and against the values of the United States. He also denied any allegations that he might resign.

In the very least, Donald Rumsfeld may have taken a political bullet for incumbent U.S. President George W. Bush. Rumsfeld pointed out that he had not briefed President Bush with the proper information that would have enabled him to realize the severity and ramifications of the torture that went on at Abu Ghraib. This makes Bush seem like an innocent while Rumsfeld becomes the fall-guy, the one who didn't warn the boss when the smoke began to rise.

It will be very difficult to remove Secretary Rumsfeld from office but there were protesters who demanded the very same near the beginning of Rumsfeld's statement. They were escorted out soon after by security.

What really struck me is how Republican Senator John McCain ignored the potential political fallout and asked that Abu Ghraib prison be evacuated and demolished, as a symbol of how torture would never occur in Iraq again. He was echoed by some of the other Senators in demanding that this structure be torn down. It showed courage and I wouldn't expect any less from Mr. McCain. Although I don't agree with all of his domestic policies, he still has a backbone and he answers to the American people, not to the whims of his own Party.

This minute, the House of Representatives is beginning their questioning of Donald Rumsfeld. A Californian Republican Representative just indicated that all the attention being focused on the Abu Ghraib torture scandal is exactly "what the enemy wants" and compared it to Vietnam. Finally, the Republicans are drawing parallels with that last quagmire that the American government trampled into.

Economist Cover- May 6th

Courtesy of moderate conservative pundit and renowned blogger Andrew Sullivan, the Economist is asking for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation, flat out. He committed the cardinal sin of falling asleep during his watch and now he will have to atone for his transgressions, Old Testament Style. My prediction? Within a year, he'll be sitting behind a desk at Halliburton fantasizing about his political days.

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