Disclosure: I worked for the Lamont campaign doing web design and production and some writing for the official blog (from 9/5/06 to 11/07/06).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


The Shame of a Nation

Salon has published 279 more photographs and 19 videos from the Army's investigation into detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib. I have not viewed them. I don't think I will.

Joe Lieberman, however, did have the chance to view them two years ago.

Just a few days before this opportunity, in a Senate hearing with Sec. Rumsfeld, he expressed his opinion on the moral relativity of American soldiers torturing and killing Iraqi prisoners, which amounted to "hey, the terrorists are worse than we are":

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Secretary, the behavior by Americans at the prison in Iraq is, as we all acknowledge, immoral, intolerable and un-American. It deserves the apology that you have given today and that have been given by others in high positions in our government and our military.

I cannot help but say, however, that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq working to liberate Iraq and protect our security have never apologized.

And those who murdered and burned and humiliated four Americans in Fallujah a while ago never received an apology from anybody.

So it's part of -- wrongs occurred here, by the people in those pictures and perhaps by people up the chain of command.

But Americans are different. That's why we're outraged by this. That's why the apologies were due.

As Josh Marshall commented at the time,

Ugly, pandering, a display of the cheapest tendencies of the man.

Our moral superiority to mass murderers and people who desecrate people's bodies in town squares is, while thankfully true, simply not relevant to this issue.

This is the sort of subject-changing our parents try to wean us from when we're in grade school. (Okay, I did that. But look what Tommy did!) And of course there's the side-issue that Lieberman is playing to the notion that there's some sort of 'they did this to us and now we did this to them' issue here. And (how many times does it have to be said?) these folks in Abu Ghraib weren't the 9/11 planners.

Nothing Lieberman said is untrue precisely. It does set us apart from fascists and mass-murderers that Americans are outraged by this and that there will be investigations and accountability. But talk about defining deviance down!

In cases like this, emphasis is everything. And his was all wrong.

For Mr. Responsibility and Morality, what a disappointment.

He can take a lesson not only from John McCain but from Lindsey Graham too.

The shame of a nation.
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