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Cohen: Who Should Have Known?

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Southpaw Bookworm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 08:03 AM
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Cohen: Who Should Have Known?
I don't always agree with Richard Cohen, but this time I think he got it right.

This week the United States Army did the oddest thing in this Age of Bush: It reprimanded six soldiers in connection with the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal -- not for what they did but for not knowing what others were doing. An Army spokesman put it this way: "They should have known. . . ." If that's the standard, then half the Bush administration will soon be gone.

Maybe first to get the accountability ax will be Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He certainly should have known that a scandal was brewing in Iraqi prisons, and he should have bothered to read the Pentagon report detailing what went wrong. Instead, the Pentagon tried to delay CBS's "60 Minutes II" from showing pictures of prisoner abuse and then, in an amazing public relations offensive, sent the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Richard B. Myers, on three Sunday talk shows to announce -- a little bugle call here -- that he had not read the report either. It had been available since March.

As is almost always the case, the Pentagon did not tell the State Department that a wee spot of trouble was coming its way because, as we know, the Pentagon doesn't tell the State Department anything. Who cares if a billion or so people in the Islamic world have a snit? The Bushies hardly do diplomacy anyway. It's for sissies. At a certain level -- a very high one -- the Bush administration is as dysfunctional as it is cocky.

But if accountability is going to be the new order of the day, there's no telling where things will wind up. What will happen to CIA chief George Tenet, who assured the president that Iraq was a virtual storehouse of weapons of mass destruction? It was "a slam dunk," the spy chief said. He should have known otherwise, but he did not. No matter. Instead of a reprimand, Bush always expresses confidence in him and probably has given him a nickname, Slam Dunk George.

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