The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, May 05, 2004  

Together With Miscellany: May 5, 2004

Prisoner Abuse in Iraq
Iraqi Recounts Hours of Abuse by U.S. Troops,” by Ian Fisher, the New York Times. Pull quote: “Hayder Sabbar Abd spoke with no particular anger at the American occupation, though he has seen it closer than most Iraqis. In six months in prisons run by American soldiers, in fact, he said most of them had treated him well and with respect. ‘Most of the time, they wouldn't even say, “Shut up,”’ he said. That changed in November -- he does not know the exact date -- when punishment for a prisoner fight at Abu Ghraib degenerated into torture. That night, he said, he and six other inmates were beaten, stripped naked (a particularly deep humiliation in the Arab world), forced to pile on top of one another, to straddle one another’s backs naked, to simulate oral sex. American guards wrote words like ‘rapist’ on their skin with Magic Marker, he said.”

Prisoner-Abuse Probe Widens,” by Peter Grier, Faye Bowers, and Linda Feldmann, in The Christian Science Monitor. Pull quote: “U.S. military officials described the investigations into the affairs as broadening. They acknowledged that one soldier has already been court-martialed for the death of a prisoner, and that they’re considering charges against a CIA interrogator in another. Another 20 deaths and assaults are under investigation, officials said. Ultimately, the cumulative effect of the scandal could do more damage to U.S. purposes in Iraq than the planned actions of an army of anti-American insurgents. Overseas, the abuses make it easier for opponents of U.S. actions to portray the White House as the moral equal of the Saddam Hussein regime. In the US, they may feed the impression among some that the Iraqi action is spiraling out of control. As the investigation into U.S. treatment of detainees widens, any new revelation will be seen in the context created by the horrifying pictures already beamed around the world. Things that might have escaped notice on their own may be judged part of a systemic failure. ‘There is no reason why a lot of heads shouldn’t roll here,’ says Pat Lang, former head of Middle East intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency.”

Counting the Dead
The toll of Americans killed in Iraq since the start of the Bush administration’s insanity-driven invasion now totals 747. The New York Times has the names of the latest 13 deaths: Michael C. Anderson, 36; Ervin Caradine Jr. , 33; Trace W. Dossett, 37; Jeremy L. Drexler, 23; Robert B. Jenkins, 35; Ronald A. Ginther, 37; Joshua S. Ladd, 20; Scott R. McHugh, 33; Todd E. Nunes, 29; Ramon C. Ojeda, 22; Kendall Thomas, 36; John E. Tipton, 32; and Oscar D. Vargas-Medina, 32.

At age 40, I am older than every one of these men. I’m old enough to be the father of at least two of them. What a mess. What a waste.

Snubbing the Nuts at Little Green Snotballs
Robert Scheer on American troops abusing Iraqi prisoners.

Recovering at Ground Zero
Construction on New Trade Center Tower to Begin on July 4,” by Maria Newman, the New York Times. “Construction of Freedom Tower, the office high rise at the site of the World Trade Center that its developers say will be the world’s tallest building, will break ground on July 4, Gov. George E. Pataki [(R-N.Y.)] said today.”

Degenerating Editorialists
The New York Times has the resources and the audience to produce the best op-ed page in journalism. For some reason, the paper chooses not to do so. Today the page offers its all-too-common second-rate commentary from regulars Nicholas Kristof, “Those Friendly Iranians”; and William Safire, the best friend and mouthpiece war criminal Ariel Sharon ever had: “The Comeback Likudnik.”

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