Alexander's Column

The Abu Ghraib Feeding Frenzy

Mark Alexander · May 7, 2004

Evidence of the systematic abuse and humiliation of some Jihadi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison (and other U.S. custody installations) was the subject of a “60 Minutes” exposé last Sunday. One could hardly have missed it, given that the story has been pounded by every other network and zestfully splashed across every headline around the world in the days since. The abuse at Abu Ghraib – intended to “soften” designated Saddamites in an effort to extract actionable intelligence – has evoked two sensational claims: first, that such actions render U.S. forces and Saddam’s agents of terror indistinguishable; and second, that any abuse of Iraqi detainees will lead to the abuse of American captives in retaliation.

On the first count, were it true, the images broadcast around the world would have been of men, women and children subjected to acid defoliation, genital mutilation and other unpleasantries prior to their dismemberment, disembowelment or other ghastly method of execution. On the second count, we challenge our readers to name the last time an American in Jihadi hands was treated in compliance with the Geneva Accords. (For a closer look at the sort of treatment American civilians can expect from Jihadis, please link to –

To be sure, the abuse and humiliation of captives – those suspected of possessing vital information about their comrades’ methods and plans to kill American military personnel and civilian contractors – is an ugly thing. Such behavior is beneath us as Americans, and those responsible will be dealt with according to the UCMJ. Having said that, however, we would also do well to remember that, warfare, in general, is a very ugly thing.

As for the Leftmedia’s enthusiastic efforts to give this story legs – with no regard for its impact on Coalition efforts to advance Iraqi freedom – it is typically unconscionable. Given our fourth estate’s endemic loathing for all things related, however remotely, to this administration, its demand for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s head on a platter comes as no surprise.

Indeed, anything that impedes the orderly transfer of power from Coalition Forces to the Iraqi people on June 30 undermines the public perception of this administration’s performance, and the Leftmedia has never shown any compunction about placing its political interests ahead of our national interests.

Not to be outdone by their American counterparts, the media in Egypt, Iran and Syria have resorted to ridiculous hyperbole. Those who never whispered a complaint about Saddam’s systematic murder of hundreds of thousands of his own citizens are comparing the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners to genocide. All of the Middle Eastern media organizations, taking their cue from the American press, are asking President Bush for an apology – though not one of them has ever offered a word of apology, much less condolence, for the Islamist attack on our nation 11 September, 2001. (In fact, few American Islamic leaders have publicly condemned the 9/11 attack.)

Despite this, President Bush is standing by his highly capable DefSec, telling Al Hurra Arab television network, “I’ve got confidence in the secretary of defense. Secretary Rumsfeld has been the secretary during two wars and he is an important part of my cabinet, and he will stay in my cabinet.” Let us hope so. To offer up Secretary Rumsfeld as a political sacrifice would be a significant blow to our national security. Lest anyone forget, Rumsfeld’s strategic military leadership has been instrumental in preventing another catastrophic attack against our nation.

Which leads us to wonder, with all the blood in the water, can John Kerry be far behind?

“The President of the United States needs to offer the world an explanation and needs to take appropriate responsibility,” said Kerry, emerging for his first press conference in three weeks. “The horrifying abuse of Iraqi prisoners, which the world has now seen is absolutely unacceptable and inexcusable. I want to know, as I think Americans do, is this isolated? Does it go up the chain of command? Who knew what when?” (Ever the patriot, Kerry stopped short of calling for the President’s resignation.)

Perhaps this is because the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison pale in comparison to the atrocities “war hero” John Kerry claims he and many others committed in Vietnam. In 1971, Kerry told the press: “There are all kinds of atrocities and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50-caliber machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search-and-destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare. All of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions….”

Regarding Kerry’s efforts to undermine U.S. national resolve, Bui Tin, a communist contemporary of Giap and Ho Chi Minh, who was serving as an NVA colonel assigned to the general staff at the time Saigon fell, had this to say about the anti-war puppets: “[They were] essential to our strategy. Support of the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable. Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement.”

It’s clear that not much has changed since 1971.

Kerry’s political folly notwithstanding, what the Islamic world will soon see in great detail, as a result of the politicization of the Abu Ghraib incident, is something totally alien to their culture and their resident governments – JUSTICE. In the end, this incident may in fact be a major stepping-stone on Iraq’s pathway to freedom.

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