Accountability gap redux

The shocking treatment of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison was not a few-bad-apples anomaly, a report by US military investigators makes clear. In fact the techniques eventually used at Abu Ghraib were approved by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for interrogating a stubborn detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

According to The Washington Post:

The report’s findings are the strongest indication yet that the abusive practices seen in photographs at Abu Ghraib were not the invention of a small group of thrill-seeking military police officers. The report shows that they were used on [Mohamed] Qahtani several months before the United States invaded Iraq.

The investigation also supports the idea that soldiers believed that placing hoods on detainees, forcing them to appear nude in front of women and sexually humiliating them were approved interrogation techniques for use on detainees.

Senator John McCain– who experienced abuse and torture as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam– said, “I hold no brief for the prisoners. I do hold a brief for the reputation of the United States of America as to adhering to certain standards of treatment of people no matter how evil or terrible they might be.”

The Bush administration’s indefensible accountability gap continues. Quite simply, people are more likely to lose their positions for telling the truth than for screwing up. After the Abu Ghraib revelations last year– which provided a propaganda bonanza for America’s enemies– Bush should have demanded Rumsfeld’s resignation for his inexcusable failure to set firm guidelines on treatment of detainees. Now that we know Rumsfeld’s responsibility for the Abu Ghraib abuse was even more specific, the case for resignation is even stronger.

Unfortunately the chances of that happening are about as good as the chances of Bush demanding (as he said he would) the immediate resignation of a close aide who blew the cover of a CIA agent to reporters. That is, not good at all.