Saturday, October 08, 2005

No more "rotten apples"

I agree. It's well past the time to move on:

One might hope that the Abu Ghraib scandal is now coming to a close. The last of the photographed soldiers to be put on trial, the hapless Pvt. Lynndie England, was convicted last week and sentenced to three years in prison. NBC's Dateline had an exclusive interview with England before her sentencing; she blamed her superior officers and made a few weak excuses for her own conduct. Now she’ll go off to prison. Bush administration officials, for their part, will probably be glad to trumpet England’s conviction and then move on.

And that is something we can agree on. We should move on. It’s time to move beyond Lynndie England and start thinking about the mounting evidence that detainee abuse was a systematic and chronic problem throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, not just a problem with a few "rotten apples." It is becoming increasingly clear that what took place at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 is but one instance of a much larger problem of detainee abuse, a problem rooted in policies promulgated by the top ranks of the administration. It is also becoming clear that the current focus on low-level soldiers as scapegoats is part of an effort to bury the problem. The photographed abuses at Abu Ghraib, while originally a lightening bolt on detainee abuse issues, were a distraction from these larger concerns.