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Mr. Rumsfeld's Responsibility (Important WaPo Editorial)

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Merlin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 03:06 PM
Original message
Mr. Rumsfeld's Responsibility (Important WaPo Editorial)
This excellent editorial makes a clear connection between Rumsfeld's policies and the Iraqi torture scandals.

Mr. Rumsfeld's Responsibility

Thursday, May 6, 2004

THE HORRIFIC abuses by American interrogators and guards at the Abu Ghraib prison and at other facilities maintained by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan can be traced, in part, to policy decisions and public statements of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. Beginning more than two years ago, Mr. Rumsfeld decided to overturn decades of previous practice by the U.S. military in its handling of detainees in foreign countries. His Pentagon ruled that the United States would no longer be bound by the Geneva Conventions; that Army regulations on the interrogation of prisoners would not be observed; and that many detainees would be held incommunicado and without any independent mechanism of review. Abuses will take place in any prison system. But Mr. Rumsfeld's decisions helped create a lawless regime in which prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been humiliated, beaten, tortured and murdered -- and in which, until recently, no one has been held accountable.

The lawlessness began in January 2002 when Mr. Rumsfeld publicly declared that hundreds of people detained by U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan "do not have any rights" under the Geneva Conventions.
...
On Monday Mr. Rumsfeld's spokesman said that the secretary had not read Mr. Taguba's report, which was completed in early March. Yesterday Mr. Rumsfeld told a television interviewer that he still hadn't finished reading it, and he repeated his view that the Geneva Conventions "did not precisely apply" but were only "basic rules" for handling prisoners. His message remains the same: that the United States need not be bound by international law and that the crimes Mr. Taguba reported are not, for him, a priority. That attitude has undermined the American military's observance of basic human rights and damaged this country's ability to prevail in the war on terrorism.
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nadinbrzezinski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 03:12 PM
Response to Original message
1. And thanks ot Harkin
it is part of the record now
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pacifictiger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 03:49 PM
Response to Original message
2. One little word that was in the Taguba report
that nobody is talking about, right next to the word abuse, was the word escape.
According to Juan Cole, it was common knowledge on the iraq street that this abuse was going on - most likely the escapees told stories don't you suppose?
If that is the case, then the blame for the uptick in violence since October last year, and the solders and civilians killed in the fallout since then, seems to rest squarely on the deafening silence over these many months by those in positions of responsibility. We're not just talking about a Arab street public relations disaster for the future, we're talking perhaps of why so many american boys have been recently killed.
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MsMagnificent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 07:36 PM
Response to Original message
3. Because we're the biggest!
We're the strongest!
We're the bully!

Might makes Right -- doesn't it??

So why SHOULD we bother to follow any international laws?! THOSE are for WIMPY nations -- not US!

...it's hubris like this that will cause the downfall of our once-great nation.

But we MUST take it back and make it great again
with REAL compassion and REAL brotherhood and becoming a *FRIENDLY* WORLD NEIGHBOR who is RESPONSIBLE TO ITS CITIZENS AND TO THE WORLD!

THAT is TRUE Patriotism!
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librechik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 08:49 PM
Response to Original message
4. linki winki?
purdy peez?
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Jack Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 09:19 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Your link, ma'am
Please click here.
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Jack Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 09:23 PM
Response to Original message
6. This should be noted
Everything that Rumsfeld is accused of doing by the Post were only possible because these acts had the approval of the man who appointed him Secretary of Defense. That man could have put an end to this scandal at any time.

We must assume that Mr. Bush, no less than Mr. Rumsfeld, believes that those taken prisoner in this so-called war on terror have no rights.

If Rumsfeld is responsible, then so is Bush. If Rumsfeld must go, than so must Bush.
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donhakman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-04 07:17 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. I concur
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Merlin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-04 06:22 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Agreed. But that's not the point. The point is the DIRECT connection.
Edited on Fri May-07-04 06:23 PM by Merlin
It's what all the questioners failed to note except Hillary, who did so without particular emphasis.

The point is that most people think these abuses are the result of just a few bad apples, or maybe a bad CO or two. They absolve Rummy and hence Bush because they see no policy connection between the Bushies and the abuses.

But this editorial spells those connections out precisely. At the outset of combat two years ago, Rumsfeld announced:

1. that detainees in Afghanistan "do not have any rights" under the Geneva Conventions, which are "outdated",

2. that there will be no formal hearings to determine whether detainees are prisoners of war or unlawful combatants (as GCs require),

3. that Army regulations on the interrogation of prisoners no longer apply,

4. that detainees may be held incommunicado,

5. that detainees may be deprived of legal representation, even if they are US citizens,

6. that--even after all of the previous standards of conduct had been waived--no new procedures were put in place to ensure against violations of conduct.


Of course, Bush is equally--if not more--responsible, since Rumsfeld is his man. But the point is there is a direct connection between the policies of this misadministration and the abuses that occurred. That point needs to be made clear to the American people.
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Jack Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-04 09:49 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. No, you got my point, Merlin
Edited on Fri May-07-04 09:49 PM by Jack Rabbit

Bush is equally--if not more--responsible, since Rumsfeld is his man. But the point is there is a direct connection between the policies of this misadministration and the abuses that occurred. That point needs to be made clear to the American people.

Bush is more responsible for this than Rumsfeld. That is exactly the point.
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Martin Eden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-04 11:26 PM
Response to Original message
10. Rumsfeld won't last two weeks
Edited on Fri May-07-04 11:27 PM by Martin Eden
At least, that's what my cousin suggested in an email response after I sent him the above editorial. Here's my response to that suggestion:


The only way Rumsfeld will resign or be fired is if he becomes a huge liability for Bush's election campaign. It is a strictly political consideration, and what must be remembered is that this group in the White House and Pentagon have never admitted they've been wrong.

They stated with absolute certainty that Iraq possessed huge stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and launched a war on that premise. They blew the cover of CIA operative Valerie Plame to punish her husband (former ambassador Joseph Wilson) when he revealed the truth about the Niger uranium lie in the president's State of the Union Address. They ignored the warnings and advice of Middle East experts regarding the difficulties of postwar Iraq, resulting in the ensuing chaos and loss of life.

Yet when Bush was asked at a recent press conference what his biggest mistake was, he searched his brain and couldn't think of one. This group will do everything they can to maintain this faade of infallibility because it has worked well so far -- Bush has a damn good chance to win in November.

Rumsfeld's dismissal would set a precedent of admitting culpability. It is obvious that Rumsfeld, and ultimately Bush, are responsible for the debacle of Abu Ghraib, because they rejected the Geneva Conventions and removed the safeguards which may have prevented most of the abuse.

A responsible nation (and not just a few Democratic politicians) would not only demand Rumsfeld's resignation, but would overwhelmingly reject another term for the Bush administration. What will happen instead is that a big show will be made of prosecuting the prison guards and some low-level officers, and any further calls for Rumsfeld's resignation will be characterized as political opportunism by the Democrats at the expense of the mission in Iraq, and the public will be distracted from the real damage that has been done. The price will be paid with the lives of American troops and innocent civilians; Abu Ghraib is a major battle that was lost in the "war on terror."

But the Bush administration will resist paying any political price, and will certainly not accept responsibility for what's happened. Saying you accept responsibility is not the same as taking responsibility. Taking responsibility means doing the right thing in the first place, then accepting the consequences when you fail in the first place.

To date, the Bush administration has paid no consequences.

The president should have fired those who told him there was "no doubt" Iraq had WMD; he should have exposed and indicted the "senior White House officials" who destroyed Valerie Plame's CIA career, and he should fire Rumsfeld now.

No one has been held accountable in this administration; punishment is reserved for whistle-blowers, truth-tellers, and career public servants who dare to cross them.

The real shame, besides what happened in Abu Gharib, would be if the American people fail to hold Bush accountable for the many crimes and blunders committed by his administration. If America endorses Bush with another four years, then WE deserve the consequences.
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teryang Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-04 11:35 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Nice post
Well stated.
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teryang Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-07-04 11:32 PM
Response to Original message
11. Can they survive this?
Edited on Fri May-07-04 11:33 PM by teryang
I and others here at DU and elsewhere have been making these observations about Rumsfeld and this flagrant disregard for international law and due process for over two years.

Now it appears on page A34 of the Washington Post. Maybe they can. The Supreme Court could play a big role in vindicating or dumping this administration with the "enemy combatant" cases.

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gristy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-08-04 10:49 AM
Response to Original message
13. Here's a very interesting article from the LA Times Jan 27, 2002
Powell in Rift Over Status of Detainees
Rights: While not asking that the 460 men in U.S. custody be classified as POWs, the State Dept. wants Bush to afford them the same treatment as under Geneva accords.

By BOB DROGIN and JANET HOOK, Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON - Calling for a change in White House policy, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has asked President Bush to ensure that international rules of war govern the treatment of 460 suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters who have been captured in Afghanistan and are in U.S. custody, administration officials said Saturday.

The State Department urged the president to give the 158 detainees at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and 302 others under guard in Afghanistan the protections and treatment guaranteed under the Geneva Conventions, though not necessarily grant them the legal status of prisoners of war, officials said.

The administration has insisted that the men in custody are "unlawful combatants" who do not qualify for the legal rights and privileges required under the Geneva accords.

MORE: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-01270...
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Merlin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-09-04 02:49 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. Thanks for posting. Points out a clear, unambiguous violation of GC
at the highest levels. The decision not to adjudicate on an individual basis whether these people deserve POW status is a clear violation. Who in the hell decides??? What are the guidelines???

The second problem is, once we reclassify them and say they're "unlawful combatants" what are the rules? Are there any?

The media needs to do a lot more digging on this.
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pacifictiger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-09-04 03:47 AM
Response to Original message
15. there is one good thing about this
with the 'moral authority' shattered, it'll hogtie the chickenhawks from starting another war for a bit.

Perhaps harder questions are not being asked right now because some people realize the corruption is so deep and widespread (pnac doctrine/military industrial complex) there would be an immediate crisis for this country more catastrophic than we could possibly imagine.
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Disturbed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-09-04 07:10 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. Mark Eden do you mind if...l
I copy and paste your statement giving you full credit to another BB? You have stated what I was going to write but even better. ;)
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