Sunday, June 19, 2005

Am I wrong to think it's awfully convenient that just as we're having a serious discussion of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo, the front page of The New York Times has a story telling us that U.S. troops have found a torture chamber run by Iraqi insurgents -- and that the troops also discovered a surviving victim of the torture (who, alas, won't allow himself to be photographed, or even allow his wounds to be photographed)?

OK, obviously we're not fighting nice guys -- they behead people, they blow up civilians, and on and on. But once again we're going to hear the same old argument: We can't be criticized for anything cruel we've done if the enemy is crueler.

I question the timing of this story, with details that oh-so-perfectly line up as a right-wing rebuke to the critics of Gitmo. And if you don't think the timing in this case is suspicious, here's another one: On June 10 The Washington Post ran a long story about the haplessness of an Iraqi Army unit, one that had been specifically recommended to the Post's reporters by the U.S. military. Five days after that embarrassment, lo and behold, an Australian hostage was freed in Iraq and all the credit was given to Iraqi soldiers (rather than to an "advisory team" of U.S. troops that "works with" the Iraqis).

Am I crazy to think that our overtaxed forces are being taxed further by being ordered to stage-manage events like this, just because their Commander-in-Chief wants to be able to say with a sneer, "Take that, liberals"?

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