Thursday, March 23, 2006

NYT: When everyone below him is derelict in their duty, the Bully Boy is as well

Eric Schmitt has an article entitled "Iraq Abuse Trial Is Again Limited to Lower Ranks" in this morning's New York Times (with Kate Zernike receiving end credit -- Zernike's covered many of the military trials) and it's probably the closest to strong reporting that the Times, in its current state, can offer.

Schmitt's addressing the conviction of Michael Smith which could have netted eight years and six months of prison term but instead has been sentenced to a little less than six months. Schmitt (and Zernike) attempt to address the fact that it's the low serving that face even a little time. (The low hanging fruit on the tree of "a few bad apples" that's actually rotten to the roots.)

But we're going to harp on what we did yesterday which isn't addressed this morning, from the BBC May 12, 2005:

A top US commander at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq - where detainees were abused by American guards -- has been reprimanded and fined $8,000 (£4,274). The US army found Col Thomas Pappas guilty of two counts of dereliction of duty, including that of allowing dogs to be present during interrogations.

From Schmitt's article today:

The toughest official criticism Mr. Rumsfeld has faced was a relatively mild admonishment in August 2004 from a panel led by former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger, which faulted Mr. Rumsfeld for not exercising sufficient oversight.

Schlesinger wasn't conducting a "trial" by any means, but put that into standard English and Rumsfeld was derelict in his duties.

When you have a string of people not able to live up to their positions, it goes to the top. The path goes straight to the Bully Boy. If Smith's not performing up to the requirements and if Papas isn't performing up to the requirements and if Rumsfeld isn't performing up to the requirements -- exactly where does the criticism land? Bully Boy.

Torture was policy. It was imported from Guantanamo. Jane Mayer's "The Experiment" (The New Yorker) went behind the development of that program. (Summarized here.) Though the military oversight (in whatever form it exists) and the Congress want to act like revelations haven't come out, they have.

But in terms of what little has been done (very little, as Schmitt notes), groundwork has been laid. It doesn't seem like it, and it's not nearly enough, but groundwork has been laid if anyone had the desire to pursue it. The message from each trial and review is that obligations weren't lived up to. When that goes up to the chain of command (as it has, ending with Rumsfeld) that reflects (and indicts) the Bully Boy who's prone to play "commander-in-chief" of the nation when, in fact, he's only commander-in-chief of the military.

Bully Boy likes to play dress up, likes to play "war time president." But he's played it very badly.

I understand what Schmitt (and Zernike) are getting at (and agree with it): the excuse of "a few bad apples" has led to only the low ones in the chain facing trial and slaps on the wrists for them.
I agree with that point.

Torture was a policy. It wasn't an abberation and Lynddie England didn't go to Iraq carrying a dog leash anymore than Smith went there with his own pet (Marco's the dog's name in some reports). They were provided with instruction, encouragement and props for the torture they participated in. The "gloves are off" goes up to Rumsfeld in writing (according to Janis Kaprinski -- interviewed by Amy Goodman in link) and they go to the Bully Boy who suddenly decided that the Constitution, various laws and treaties were out the window because they might 'constrain' him.

Torture was policy (still is) and the only place that's addressed is investigative reporting. I'm not attempting to stamp a smiley face on the events. I am saying that (think in terms of impeachment charges) when, from the lowest to Rumsfeld, the verdicts and reviews speak of derliction of duty that goes directly to the Bully Boy. The secretary of defense serves under the Bully Boy (and at the pleasure of the Bully Boy). The failure from bottom to top and the fact that Rumsfeld remains (because he was carrying out the policies of the Bully Boy like a good little puppet) goes to the Bully Boy.

Commander-in-chief (of the military only, since Diane Sawyer and others get so confused on this point, we need to repeat it) requires more than dress up. And while it's true that everyone wants to turn a blind eye (everyone involved in a verdict or a review) and pretend that torture is not policy, it's also true that the portrait that emerges from the verdicts and the reviews is a pattern of incompetence and failure to meet obligations that is traced up to Rumsfeld. The one responsible for reviewing all of that is the Bully Boy.

Dereliction of duty falls under high crimes and misdemeanors. That's not saying that torture isn't a policy or that we don't need to address it. We do need to address it and it is policy. The point is that the groundwork is there (with or without honesty about our torture policy) for a charge against the Bully Boy of dereliction of duty and I'm nost sure how closely that's being noticed.

Don't forget to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! today and Rod passes on upcoming Amy Goodman appearances on the Un-embed the Media tour:

* Amy Goodman in Charlottesville, VA:
Fri, Mar 24
7 PM
Virginia Festival of the Book
McLeod Hall Auditorium
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
Free and open to the public.
For more information:
For more information, visit

* Amy Goodman in Atlanta, GA:
Fri, Mar 31
8 PM
Fundraiser for Damu Smith
Hillside Chapel and Truth Center
2450 Cascade Road, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303
Reception from 6-8 PM.
Guest speakers include:
Rev. Joseph Lowery, Rev. C.T. Vivian, and Rev. Timothy McDonald.

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