Sunday, November 26, 2006

Piling on Rumsfeld

In truth, I'm a little surprised that it took this long for the piling-on of Donald Rumsfeld to begin.
Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the prison's former U.S. commander said in an interview on Saturday.

Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation.

Karpinski, who ran the prison until early 2004, said she saw a memorandum signed by Rumsfeld detailing the use of harsh interrogation methods.

"The handwritten signature was above his printed name and in the same handwriting in the margin was written: "Make sure this is accomplished,"" she told Saturday's El Pais.

No question that Rummy will join the ranks of former US administration members who won't be setting foot outside the country anytime soon. And rightly so.

But the back-story--the actors and the timing--make me wonder if there might be more going on here.

On its face, this could be nothing more than simple payback, of the sort Washingtonians see every day: Karpinski made no secret that she considered herself the designated scapegoat at Abu Ghraib, forced to take the fall to protect military superiors and Rumsfeld himself. (Her demotion from Brigadier General, following the Abu Ghraib scandal, resulted from charges that had nothing to do with that, at least on the surface: dereliction of duty, making a material misrepresentation to investigators, failure to obey a lawful order and shoplifting [?].) Although Karpinski told much the same story in her 2005 book--that Rumsfeld had authorized, in writing, the use of torture at Abu Ghraib by contract Defense employees--Rummy's current vulnerability may well make him an irresistible target of opportunity. Perhaps the colonel was just unable to pass up the opportunity to take a second shot.

And yet--is it just me?--it seems improbable that this revelation is the work of one disgruntled colonel. Not when there are bigger names struggling to save themselves as the centerpiece of Bush Administration foreign policy, such as it is, comes crashing down around their ears.

I can't shake the feeling I've seen this one before . . . [cue transition music; dissolve to:]
[Dick Cheney, in Romulan military attire, stands on the bridge of a Romulan warbird. The warbird has taken damage in battle.]

It is time – all debris into disposal tubes! (to Decius) The body of the centurion, as well. (aside) Forgive me, my old friend. But I must use all my experience now to get home.
Too bad about Rummy. Perhaps, in a different reality, Cheney could have called him friend.

[Image source: Memory Alpha.]

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