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Friday, Sep 24, 2004

have you seen my hoodie?

"What we know as "the Abu Ghraib scandal" has in fact become an increasingly complex story about how Americans in Afghanistan and Cuba and Iraq came to commit acts, with the apparent approval of the highest officials, that clearly constitute torture. The images themselves, however, having helped force open the door to broader questions of how the Bush administration has treated prisoners in the War on Terror, are now helping as well to block that door; for the images, by virtue of their inherent grotesque power, strongly encourage the view that "acts of brutality and purposeless sadism," which clearly did occur, lay at the heart of Abu Ghraib. Even public officials charged with investigating the scandal—these are the fourth and fifth full reports on the matter, with at least four more to come—at the same time seek to contain it by promoting the view that Abu Ghraib in its essence was about individual misbehavior and sadism: "Animal House on the night shift," as former secretary of defense James Schlesinger characterized it, even as his own report showed in detail that it was a great deal more."