Wednesday, May 05, 2004

MSNBC has published the full U.S. Army report on Iraqi prisoner abuse authored by Major General Antonio Taguba. As Andrew Sullivan says, "We can make necessary distinctions between this abuse and the horrifying torture of Saddam's rule, but they cannot obliterate the sickening feeling in the pit of the stomach. Those of us who believe in the moral necessity of this war should be, perhaps, the most offended. These goons have defiled something important and noble; they have wrought awful damage on Western prestige; they have tarnished the vast majority of servicemembers who do an amazing job; and they have done something incontrovertibly disgusting and wrong."

He calls for the President to go to Abu Ghraib prison, "to witness the place where these abuses occurred and swear that the culprits will be punished and that it will not happen again." I'm not holding my breath. I used to believe that the President had a moral compass that was not necessarily connected to his own political advantage, which does not mean that I always (or even often) agreed with his moral positions. The way that this administration, however, has botched the occupation of Iraq, and the way that it has obstructed time and again the work of the 9/11 commission, is leading me more and more to doubt that the President and his chief officials have any higher moral standard than trying to cover up their mistakes and seek their own political advantage.

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