Christopher Hitchens - Speak for yourself, white man!
Christopher Hitchens. What to make of him - former leftie journalist for The Nation (who else knew and chatted with Che Guevara?), who transformed himself into a pro-Bush hawk (seeing Bush as dumb as a post but the man we need now, given the circumstances) - immensely well-informed (ask him about any minor Kurdish splinter group or who's who the secondary struggles for control of select and obscure areas of Cypress) - and amazingly articulate in his hard-drinking British way. Hyper-intelligent. Watch him on the cable news discussion shows make a blithering fool of Ann Coulter (smiling slyly) - then turn around a rail about our need to destroy the evil forces of odd Muslim thought in this world with a new Crusade. Well, his positions are far more nuanced than Ann's - as she has famously said she just wants us to convert all the leaders of the Arab world into Christians or kill them, one or the other, and she said Terry Nichols should have blown up the New York Times offices instead of that federal office building Okalahoma City. Hitchens adds other options and more subtle detail.
But he is getting a little worried about the Abu Ghraib scandal. Torture is on his mind.
See A Moral Chernobyl
Prepare for the worst of Abu Ghraib.
Christopher Hitchens - SLATE.COM - Posted Monday, June 14, 2004, at 1:46 PM PT
Chernobyl? Yep. Here's his set-up:
Yes, for the last week or more the word has been floating around the news sites on the web, and on the opinion sites, that there are stills and video of US soldiers raping Iraq women prisoners, a tape of the homosexual rape of an Iraqi pre-teen fellow by a enthusiastic male contractor, one of the interrogators we hired from a San Diego company, and various stills and videos of US soldiers beating Iraq prisoners to death.
As for the silent Senator Inhofe from Okalahoma, if you read Just Above Sunset - May 16, 2004 - Responsibility - Military Style... and legal issues - you see Inhofe said, at the initial hearings on all this, "I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment ... These prisoners, you know they're not there for traffic violations. If they're in cellblock 1-A or 1-B, these prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands and here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.."
But the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Taguba report both point out sixty to ninety percent of those imprisoned were just picked up at random. Senator Inhofe seems to be claiming our Army and the ICRC are just flat-out wrong, or perhaps that it doesn't matter. If you are arrested, you must be guilty. That, to him, is common sense. These are bad people who would kill all Americans if they got the chance. How does he know that? Well, otherwise they wouldn't have been arrested - and that's the proof. And thus, QED, they do not deserve kid glove treatment.
Now he's saying nothing.
And for what Trent Lott had to say, see May 30, 2004: A whole Lott of love here... Conservative Thought.
Trent too has gone silent.
What up with that?
Hitchens points out that, so far, the press has focused on the questions "who knew" and "how far up did it go?" But he is equally interested in the question of how far down it has gone and how widespread it is, even though: " ... the original imperative for harsh measures came from a Defense Department, and by extension a White House, that was under intense pressure to get results in the battle against al-Qaida and felt itself hampered by nervous lawyers."
Yep. Just so.
But Hitchens is arguing that almost the whole of public opinion is complicit in this, "... as is shown by the fury over the administration's failure to pre-empt the Sept. 11 assault: a pre-emption that would almost certainly have involved some corner-cutting in the interrogation room."
We wanted this?
Speak for yourself, white man!
But here's his argument:
Speak for yourself, white man!
Anyway, everyone knows, as does Hitchens, none of what happened "produced any 'intelligence' worth the name or switched off any 'ticking bomb.' How could it? It was trashily recreational. But this doesn't relieve the security forces of democratic countries from their sworn responsibility to protect us -- yes us, the very people who demand results but don't especially want to know the full price of our protection."