Thursday, September 09, 2004


Loss of accountability

The New York Times reports that the Army has disclosed more scandalous facts about the CIA's treatment of detainees in Iraq. The CIA held dozens, perhaps up to 100, detainees in undisclosed locations without any paper trail in order to prevent the Red Cross from inspecting their treatment.
Under the Geneva Conventions, the temporary failure to disclose the identities of prisoners to the Red Cross is permitted under an exemption for military necessity. But the Army generals said they were certain that the practice used by the C.I.A. in Iraq went far beyond that.

The disclosure added to questions about the C.I.A.'s practices in Iraq, including why the agency took custody of certain Iraqi prisoners, what interrogation techniques it used and what became of the ghost detainees, including whether they were ever returned to military custody. To date, two cases have been made public in which prisoners in C.I.A. custody were removed from Iraq for a period of several months and held in detention centers outside the country.

... Military officials have said the C.I.A.'s practice of using Army-run prisons in Iraq to hide prisoners held for questioning violated military regulations and international law, and led to "a loss of accountability at the prison."
If I'm reading this right, the Army is now publicly admitting that the CIA went "far beyond" the Geneva Conventions, that it operated outside the bounds of international law. As voters, we cannot hold the CIA chief accountable for these crimes, because George Tenet resigned before the worst of this scandal broke. And President Bush has yet to hold any senior officials in his administration accountable for these errors by firing them, despite the growing evidence that the causes for these grave and illegal violations go all the way to the Pentagon. If the President is the decisive man he wants us to believe he is, if he wants us to compare him and his occupation with Harry Truman and his occupation, why does he not say that the buck stops on his desk?

Because he is not the man he wants us to believe he is. That's why if anyone is going to be held accountable for this, it has to be President Bush. And the only ones who can hold him accountable are voters like you and me. We, the voters, are the only ones who can show the world that our country does not look lightly on flagrant attempts to hide the truth, that we do not accept our leaders circumventing respected humanitarian organizations and international laws.

This scandal does not just amount to a "loss of accountability" at a prison in Iraq. It amounts to a "loss of accountability" in our government. But we can hold President Bush accountable, and we must. We cannot be put off by promises that these things are under investigation; they have been investigated, and the investigators have spoken. Now our voice needs to be heard.
[Harold Brown], who served [as Secretary of Defense] under President Jimmy Carter, also pointed a finger of blame beyond Mr. Rumsfeld to the "very top" of the Bush administration for what he called "the responsibility for failing to plan for what actually happened after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein."

And while not calling for resignations, Mr. Brown, in his testimony before the House committee, said judgments about the administration's conduct in Iraq, on Abu Ghraib and other matters, were now up to voters to make. "When it comes to overall performance, there's another way of dealing with it, and that's called an election," Mr. Brown said.
UPDATE: Ditto to this Times editorial.

Collective Improvisation:

Post a Comment

Back to Main Page

Site Meter