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Screw the rights of the accused, let’s just hang ‘em and anyone who looks like ‘em

For the last few days I’ve been watching the whole brouhaha over the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners. Yeah, it was stupid and wrong, but now we have people calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation over the whole mess.

The old story about “repeating a lie often enough and it will be believed” is such a cliché because it’s true. Let’s look at a few of the “established facts” that are getting tossed around:

1) The government knew about these abuses, and was covering them up.

FALSE. On January 16, 2004, CENTCOM (Central Command) issued a press release that there was an ongoing investigation into abuses of prisoners and detainees.

2) The government was more interested in covering up these abuses than punishing those who committed them.

FALSE. In late December ‘03/January ’04, several soldiers were punished for abuses – punishments involved loss of pay, demotions, and discharges from service. Several more are awaiting trial, and more are expected to be charged.

3) The government is attempting to blame “a small group of Reservists and enlisted personnel” and is trying to protect the brass.

FALSE. At least one general has been suspended from her command over this scandal, and several other officers are being investigated.

What is amazing me is that the liberal side, the “protect the rights of the accused” side, is the one screaming for blood and heads before trial, let alone conviction. What is this “rush to judgment” that has them calling for massive punishments? From what I’ve seen so far, the military’s system of justice is working. The abuses were discovered, they were reported, investigations followed, some disciplinary actions were taken, and more are pending.

I know the cliché is that “military justice” is considered an oxymoron, but it seems to be working here. Why can’t we just wait and see if the military can clean it’s own house before we rush in and start punishing everyone? Wouldn’t what Congress is doing be considered, if this was any other circumstance, be considered obstruction of justice?

Those morons in Abu Ghraib prison didn’t just rough up some prisoners. They didn’t just give a huge black eye to the entire U.S. military. They gave a big club to those people opposed to the war and the administration, and those people are swinging that club as hard as they can. And if in the process they take a few chunks out of the justice system and the idea of “fair trial first, THEN punishment,” so be it.


(note: many, many thanks to the Mudville Gazette and their excellent timeline for much of the information behind the above)

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