Questions the Press Isn't Asking,

Regarding the Iraqi Prisoner Abuse Scandal

Copyright 2004 Bob Persons
May 13, 2004

Questions that blazed through my mind, regarding the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. Questions that demand answers not fully received yet.

If the Red Cross has been reporting these problems for over a year, why is the public just now finding out about them? Who in the administration's chain of command decided to not make a big deal of it to the public?

Why were appeals from other human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First, ignored by L. Paul Bremer and Condoleeza Rice? Did these groups complain to the wrong people in the administration? Do these members of the administration realize they were wrong? If so, why don't they say so? If not, why don't they say why they were justifying in turning deaf ears?

Why did the Secretary of Defense first hear of it in January? Why did he not make a big deal of it to the public? Why did he not read the entire report? Or did he know earlier? If so, why did he not make a big deal of it to the public? If not, why not, and was that a mistake? And why did he not read the entire report?

Why did the President first hear of it in February? Why did he not then make a big deal of it to the public? Or did he know earlier? If so, why did he not make a big deal of it to the public? If not, why not, and was that a mistake?

Why did the Secretary of Defense first see the photos a couple weeks ago? Or did he see them earlier? Did he immediately see them as a big deal to the American public? If so, why didn't he say so then? If not, why not, and was that a mistake?

Why did the President first hear of the photos after they were publicized on TV? Or did he know of them earlier? Did he immediately see them as a big deal to the American public? If so, why didn't he say so then, unambiguously? If not, why not, and was that a mistake?

If investigations into the abuses began in January, why has nothing happened that would be worthy of note to the American people? On the other hand, why did it take a mere a week or so after publication of the photos to produce the first court martial? Is it any surprise to anyone that this court martial is of a low man on the totem pole? Was the speed at which this was accomplished, compared to the five-month produced-nothing investigation, a coincidence? magic? a result of officials falling over themselves to convince the American people they are on top of it?

Did the soldiers commit these abuses on their own? If so, where were the commanders who should have been overseeing the operations? If not, who ordered or encouraged them to do these acts, and will those commanders be held responsible?

Were the soldiers trained in the rules of prisoner treatment? If so, how did they get away with such abuses? If not, why not, and was that a mistake? And how did they get away with such abuses?

Were the commanders given enough resources to adequately oversee the operations they were in charge of? If so, how could they miss what was going on? Or did they approve of what was going on? Or did they turn a blind eye to what was going on? If not, why not, and was that a mistake?

Who was responsible for ensuring that the commanders were adequately supervising prison guards? Did they know what was going on? If so, why did they not stop it? If not, why not?

Were the rules ignored in the hot pursuit of intelligence that might point to the elusive weapons of mass destruction and links to al Qaida and 9/11 in Iraq? If so, is this justification acceptable to the American people? If not, just why were the rules ignored, and was that a mistake?

Why, after over a year of occupation, are we finally getting around to laying down "the foundations of how you detain people in a humane manner," as General Miller explained today? Was this of no importance until now? Was it the release of photos embarrassing to the administration that caused this change of plan? Might there be other atrocious activities going on at this minute, which will continue to go on because no damning photos have been released for Americans to see?

If the Secretary of Defense cannot possibly oversee every detail of what goes on beneath him, was that responsibility delegated somewhere down the chain of command, with reporting coming back up to the Secretary of Defense? If so, what went wrong with this system? and will the Secretary of Defense take responsibility for what went wrong with his chain of command? If not, why not?

If the President charges the Secretary of Defense with overseeing the chain of command that assigns responsibility at every level for the links below, and these abuses occurred rampantly anyway, will the President accept responsibility for the failure, since a single broken link will destroy the entire chain and he is responsible for keeping the chain intact?

If responsibility in the chain of command lies at every link for the links below, will the prison guards share punishment with commanders all the way up the chain instead of becoming scapegoats? Will the President actually let the buck rise to reach his own desk for a change? Will he then proclaim that it assuredly stops there, even if it is pointing directly at him?

Is the press afraid to ask these questions (and a host of others) in a time of war? Is the press afraid to ask these questions because they might alienate their readers? alienate their corporate sponsors? don't have enough newsprint on hand? Is it more concerned with publishing the pictures and reactions to them, than probing the immense system failure that allowed this to happen?

I pass these questions on to Dr KnowItAll. Maybe he knows the answers. ... Or maybe he doesn't.


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