June 15, 2004

Prepare for the worst of Abu Ghraib

Columnist Christopher Hitchens seems to straddle the ideological fence at times. Sometimes, he's clearly on the liberal side, at others, he's squarely on the conservative side. It's almost as if he can't decide where he truly is. Then again, in the minds of many, he's close enough to the center to provide a clear enough picture of reality.

In his newest piece for Slate, Hitchens takes a look at that dead horse that is Abu Ghraib, and points out that though it may be dead now, look for it to zombify and bite us all in the collective keyster real soon.

It is going to get much worse. The graphic videos and photographs that have so far been shown only to Congress are, I have been persuaded by someone who has seen them, not likely to remain secret for very long. And, if you wonder why formerly gung-ho rightist congressmen like James Inhofe ("I'm outraged more by the outrage") have gone so quiet, it is because they have seen the stuff and you have not. There will probably be a slight difficulty about showing these scenes in prime time, but they will emerge, never fear. We may have to start using blunt words like murder and rape to describe what we see. And one linguistic reform is in any case already much overdue. The silly word "abuse" will have to be dropped. No law or treaty forbids "abuse," but many conventions and statutes, including our own and the ones we have urged other nations to sign, do punish torture—which is what we are talking about here at a bare minimum.

So far, the press has focused on the questions "who knew" and "how far up did it go?" I'm equally interested in the question of how far down it has gone and how widespread it is.

I don't like looking at Abu Ghraib; I still think the people who have perpetrated the crimes there are the exception rather than the rule within the US military. Not only that, but the mainstream media in the country has gone out of their collective way to keep the story above the fold of the nation's papers, even when other, more pressing news has presented itself.

But that spectre is still there. And with the continued witch-hunt fostered by the initial pictures and stories, and fanned further by the uproar over Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 (whether his "documentary" is true or not), I have a fear that Hitchens is right -- that this will come back and bite us in the ass. Hard. When we least expect it or need it.

(Courtesy VodkaPundit)

Posted by mhking at June 15, 2004 11:48 AM
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