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Who's Sorry Now?
May 11, 2004
By Kevin Dawson

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When a few soldiers discovered Saddam Hussein holed up in a, uh, hole, it wasn't spoken of as "the action of a few soldiers." Nope, their Commander in Chief was right there accepting kudos; his fellow conservatives continue to fill the "liberal media" with self-praise about how "we" captured Saddam.

When a few soldiers rough up Iraqi POWs, however, it's nothing more than the action of a few soldiers. Rush Limbaugh even dismissed it as "a fraternity prank." After all, it was only a minor indiscretion; no big-league criminal offense like having consensual sex with an intern. But actual fraternities have lost their charters for less.

Donald Rumsfeld, whose apologetic testimony has resulted in his virtually being apologized to for having had to be put through all this, has warned that worse images will turn up. Really? If this was only a few isolated incidents perpetrated by a handful of mischievous boys who probably just had too much sugar for breakfast that morning?

At least Rummy has the perfect damage control: all he has to do to prove he's not a capricious Iraqi-torturer is whip out that 1983 photo of him shaking hands with his pal Saddam Hussein. (If it were Madeline Albright - not that it ever would have been - she'd be so fired now.)

Chances are that our great leader, who only a year ago stood on the bow of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, did his little victory dance, and declared the "major combat" in Iraq "over," won't be upstaging the troops to take bows for Abu Ghraib, the blame for which is still, pardon the pun, up for ghraibs. (Can they find a way to pin this one on Bill Clinton somehow? Tune in tomorrow.)

Time alone will tell whether his unprecedented apology amounts to anything more than "I said I was sorry, okay?" or the corporate, "We regret your inconvenience," - which, you'll notice, assumes no responsibility for whatever blunder on their part is causing your inconvenience. On the campaign trail, will Bush express genuine sorrow and regret? O will he say, "Yeah, but look what the war's done for the economy!"

The public has registered its shame and disgust at the images, even those who previously had accused the media of "comforting the enemy" by publishing photos of American coffins (presumably the same way that Memorial Day, which is coming up, comforts the enemy), and "liberal spin" by reporting the daily death count of American soldiers, as if it were a lie or an exaggeration.

Well, then, by that same logic, the photo of the naked POW on the floor tethered to a dog leash should be a little morale booster, shouldn't it? Look what's gonna happen to you if you tangle with us Amurricuns! We go' whoop yo' butt good, son! After all, it's evidence that "we" are winning the war, isn't it?

Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden, who by all accounts is most directly responsible for 9/11, far from quaking in his sandals at so much evidence of American Might, is offering gold rewards for the furtherance of his agenda.

Interestingly, accounts of horrors and abuse suffered by American prisoners in American prisons is typically met by the public with "Oh, boo hoo! They're in jail to be punished, not to have a good time." Actually, simply being there is the punishment.

Conservatives want us to believe that the American justice system is so clean-cut - virtue vs. evil, us (good guys) vs. them (bad guys) - so why is there no public satisfaction over the atrocities of Abu Ghraib? After all, it's different when we do it. (Conservatives are the experts at this kind of moral duplicity: Democrats "lie," Republicans "misspeak"; Democrats "commit crimes," Republicans "make mistakes.")

How much you want to bet that Mel Gibson's father doesn't believe that the Abu Ghraib atrocities even happened?

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