May 06, 2004
After three-plus years of never having to say it was sorry, never having to acknowledge having made a mistake, never having to listen to "focus groups" when formulating policy, one would have thought that the Bush Administration would finally, now, exhibit some modicum of contrition -- if only for political purposes.
Instead, what has been the Administration's reaction to the Abu Ghraib scandal?
Insisting that the abuses were localised events, the work of a few bad apples, which does not represent the "99%" of the military which has comported itself with the utmost honor and dignity. This despite the now-infamous (and now widely available) report from on of the military's own generals decrying the systemic and widespread nature of the abuses. And this despite the many testimonials from former detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo evidencing the widespread nature of the Americans' "interrogation" techniques.
Lecturing "people in Iraq" that they "need to understand" that "what took place in that prison does not represent America that I know," while self-righteously proclaiming that U.S. military "justice" hasn't sunk to the level of Saddam's depravities (there's setting yourself a lofty standard!) -- even while Iraqis themselves attest that, "Saddam Hussein may have oppressed us but he was better than the Americans. They are garbage," and that, "We now look back at Saddam's era with nostalgia. He was a good leader. There was security. We hope he comes back," and that, "I hated Saddam so much that when the Americans came, I viewed them as liberators. I was happy and supported them. But soon it became clear that they are no liberators but occupiers."
Refusing even to apologise for the indignities. Here's Scottie McClellan explaining, to an unusually hostile White House Press Corps, why not:
Q Scott, getting back to the apology issue that Mark raised, did you mean to say that the President didn't apologize because -- he didn't address that issue because no one brought it up in either interview?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've already said that we are deeply sorry for what occurred. The White House has already said that, on behalf of the President.
Q There seems to be a sense, among some Arab scholars and Arab diplomats today that from, at the very least, a cultural standpoint, that it would have gone a long way had the President himself apologized. It's, with all due respect, a little bit different than you or Condoleezza Rice or someone else. If the Arab world had heard him -- heard the President personally apologize, it would have gone a long way. Why did he choose not to use those words?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I just told you, the President is deeply sorry for what occurred, and the pain that it has caused.
Q Why didn't he say so himself?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President is deeply sorry for it. And he was pleased to sit down and do these interviews and address the questions that were asked of him.
Q Why didn't he say so himself?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm saying it for him right now, Peter. And Condi Rice said it yesterday. We've already made -- the President --
Q -- wasn't what was --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, but go back to the interview. The President made it very clear that what occurred was wrong, and that it does not represent what America stands for. So he made it very clear in those interviews that it was wrong, that we do not stand for that, and that when we -- when that kind of activity comes to our attention, we take action to address it, and make sure that it doesn't happen again.
Q There's a distinction, Scott.
Q Shouldn't an apology be at the President's forethought, not you saying it?
Trying to downplay the magnitude of the crimes. In the words of Donald H. Rumsfeld: "I think that -- I'm not a lawyer. My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture."
Apparently determined to prove McClellan's profundity, from the same Press Conference noted above, that, "There are people in this world who are killers," launching its "first major assault against Shiite insurgents" in the hoping "we can put enough pressure on them to break their will to stay in Karbala," while killing 40 people.
Playing election-year politics even while the world reels in the wake of the torture revelations.
Refusing to acknowledge the deep wellspring of resentment of the American adventure in Iraq. Let's return to McClellan one last time.
And I would remind you that what we are accomplishing in those countries is providing people with hope and opportunity, and it's going to the root causes of terrorism, which thrives on despair and poverty. And we're working on those fronts to bring about more stability in that region and bring about hope for people in those regions, so that we can win the war on terrorism.
The general impression of the Administration's crisis "management" is that it was too little too late. More like rubbing salt in the wounds, wouldn't you say?
Posted by Eddie Tews at May 6, 2004 02:22 PM