Photo: a prisoner in US custody smeared with his own excrement at Abu Ghraib, under the command of president George W. Bush. [emp added]
Of course, Sullivan leaves out a little history. He neglects to mention that: A soldier, under the command of President George W. Bush, discovered the abuse and reported it to the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army. The Judge Advocate General, under the command of President George W. Bush, launched and investigation, arrested those involved. Under the command of President George W. Bush, the Judge Advocate General informed the media that the abuses had occurred. Trials were conducted for dozens of individuals, under the command of President George W. Bush. At the end, in addition to the imprisonment of the main perpetrators, 29 officers up the rank of colonel were cashiered, under the command of President George W. Bush.
Andrew Sullivan joins the ranks of those who handed Cambodia over to Pol Pot by mutating every abuse, crime or even mistake by anyone in the military into a dark conspiracy on the part of the military itself and the civilian leadership.
[update (2008-12-15-4:10): Just to clarify. I am not saying Sullivan is a Pol Pot sympathizer. I am saying he has now joined the ranks of those whose lies and exaggerations drove us to a policy that caused us to abandon the people of Cambodia to their horrific fate. Like those of the previous generation, Sullivan has gone way, way over the top merely to satisfy his own self-interest with a studied indifference to the consequences his polemics have on others. ]
[update (2008-12-15-6:20): I read the executive summary of the report that Sullivan refers to. He claims:
What if, in Reynolds’ terms, the torture at Abu Ghraib was indeed “top-down policy”? This is now factually indisputable, according to the bipartisan Senate report issued last week.
The report actually says:
Conclusion 19: The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at GTMO. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s December 2, 2002 authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody. What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.
So, in sum, the report says nothing new but merely repeats the claims made when the military first revealed Abu Ghraib, i.e., that Bush’s authorization of enhanced interrogation created a moral climate that lead to Abu Ghraib. It does not say Abu Ghraib was the intentional, top-down policy as Sullivan claims.
Sullivan lied. ]