Bush Promises the Appearance of Chaos Ahead

24 May 2004, Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive

There was a moment in Bush's speech to the nation on May 24 when he appeared lost, and his eyes bugged out, and he paused. He simply did not know how to pronounce the name of the Iraqi prison first made notorious by Saddam's brutality and now made further notorious by the torture some U.S. soldiers committed there.

It's remarkable that the President didn't know how to pronounce Abu Ghraib (he tried three different pronunciations in three different sentences, including "Abu Grump"). This has only been the single biggest scandal of his Administration.

He appeared like an unprepared high school actor who forgot his lines in the class play. Even after countless rehearsals he couldn't get it right.

On the substance of the scandal, all he said was that it amounted to "disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values."

But these "few American troops" weren't the only ones.

Bush did not mention White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, who sent out a memo after September 11 that said the war on terrorism "renders obsolete" the "strict limitation on questioning of prisoners" that the Geneva Conventions require. In that memo, Gonzales referred to some of the Geneva protections as "quaint."

Bush did not mention Donald Rumsfeld, who insisted that the Taliban in Afghanistan did not merit the protection of the Geneva Conventions. According to Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker, Rumsfeld gave these interrogators a free hand in Afghanistan and then sent them to Iraq to pry out information from the detainees there.

Bush did not mention his own culpability for unleashing the CIA. "The President has given the agency the green light to do whatever is necessary," one senior official told Bob Woodward in a Washington Post article on October 21, 2001. "The gloves are off."

This scandal is not about a few sadistic soldiers.


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