'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, October 15, 2004

Remember Abu Ghraib? 

The Washington Post asks a question that both Robert Fisk and this blog have recently asked -- What happened to Abu Ghraib? From here:

The record of prisoner abuse stands as a principal count in any indictment of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq and the war on terrorism. Yet Mr. Kerry, who has devoted much of his campaign in the past month to criticizing how Mr. Bush has handled the war, has barely mentioned Abu Ghraib. A couple of months ago the Democrat said he felt "revulsion" over the prisoner abuses (Mr. Bush has said the same) and called for Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation. What he hasn't said is whether he accepts or rejects the policy decisions that led to it -- most importantly, Mr. Bush's contention that some detainees captured abroad should not be treated according to the standards of the Geneva Conventions but instead can and should be subjected to harsh treatments long rejected by the U.S. military. Whether that policy is to be perpetuated in spite of the harm it has caused ought to be something about which both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush speak clearly; their answers ought to help inform voters' decisions.

Kerry should have come out in favor of reinstating US recognition of the Geneva Conventions a long time ago -- he could even have intertwined his defense of the international standards for the treatment of prisoners of war with the whole Vietnam War narrative that his advisers are so enamored with. Just bringing up the subject would have provided loads of ammo to throw at Bush; afterall, many high-level Bush administration officials are on record disparaging the Geneva Conventions back when doing so played well with jingoistic Americans because 9/11 was fresh in their minds and Abu Ghraib was years and another war away. Comments made during the period of bloodthirsty war fever that preceded the invasion of Afghanistan would probably sound pretty embarassing right now. One wonders why this didn't happen...

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