Jewish World Review May 4, 2004 / 13 Iyar, 5764
What the president should say about Abu Ghraib
The big story: American guards tortured Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison – the same place where Saddam used to decorate the walls with captives’ blood and flesh. The story, first broken on “60 Minutes II” and laid out by Seymour Hersch in the latest issue of the New Yorker, is pretty hair-raising. Here’s another account of the investigation into the mess.
• We know about the tortures and humiliation because a fellow American serviceman turned in the offending guards.
The president should not apologize. That’s an empty gesture. Action, on the other hand, would show the proper combination of good will and determination. Victor Davis Hansen lays out his view on the matter here.
An artist named Micah Ian Wright made a splash last year by drafting a bunch of anti-war art based on World War II posters. The Washington Post last year ran a glowing profile of Wright, who was parading around claiming to have been an Army Ranger in Panama. His street credibility depended almost exclusively on his credentials, since his biography provided a perfect hook: “Commando turns on Commander-in-Chief!”
Well, it turns out the guy – like many of John Kerry’s comrades in Vietnam Veterans Against the War – was a total fraud. The word first leaked out on the blogosphere, which again gets credit for arriving first on the scene of a big story.
While we’re talking about poseurs, what about 1st Lt. Paul Rieckhoff? Rieckhoff delivered last weekend’s Democratic response to the president’s radio address – an address quickly posted on the John Kerry website. If Rieckhoff doesn’t have Kerryesque political ambitions, I’ll be stunned. Upon returning home from a ten-month stint in Iraq, he quickly contacted his alma mater, Amherst College (where he was the 1998 student body president and where he delivered a speech last month), CBS (which featured him on "60 Minutes"), and the Kerry campaign (which helped sign him up for the radio address.) I have no doubt the lieutenant has expressed frustrations of soldiers, who don’t like getting shorted on basic supplies. The problem with this radio address, which Rieckhoff says he wrote himself, is that it copies almost verbatim from the Kerry and Democratic-party scripts.
He complains about the president’s May 1, 2003 speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, claiming falsely that the president had declared, “Mission Accomplished!” While the president seemed naively confident about the future, he also noted, “We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We’re bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous…. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done.” (Here’s the entire speech.) More to the point, he never used the words, “Mission Accomplished.” That banner was hung on the Lincoln in tribute to the fact that its mission – which included having to stay several extra months in the Gulf region – had been accomplished.
The lieutenant also repeats Kerry’s kvetch about the lack of bulletproof vests (due not to presidential negligence, but to the fact that manufacturers just can’t produce them quickly enough). At any rate, Rieckhoff is right about one thing: The mission isn’t accomplished yet. Let’s hope he supports its ultimate accomplishment.
Finally, some news stories that deserve more prominence than they have received.
Check out this Washington Post/ABC News poll. It indicates that people like George Bush considerably more than they like John Kerry, although they do find the president a bit more distant and cold than the Democratic nominee-presumptive. But then again, they also find Kerry more boring.
Also on the bad-news front for John Kerry: The economy continues to improve. Jerry Bowyer offers a typically concise analysis on National Review Online, while the Washington Times summarizes some overlooked testimony last week from Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who for once spoke a language faintly resembling English. Then there’s this economic good news from the Joint Economic Committee of the House of Representatives and related good news from the Senate JEC: here, here, and here. The boomlet of good news explains why John Kerry has begun singing a new tune.
And finally, Saddam Hussein is writing a novel. The hero, Salim, is “a pure, virtuous Arab, tall and handsome with a straight nose and full moustache.” The bad guys are — you guessed it —George W. Bush and Tony Blair. You may know that Saddam’s previous novels, like his previous plays, were huge hits in pre-April 9, 2003 Iraq.
I think I’ve hit you with enough today. More tomorrow…