U.S. military intelligence officials broadly and systematically authorized or tolerated abuse against Iraqi detainees. That much is made clear by the International Committee of the Red Cross — and corroborated by detainees and scapegoated soldiers and contractors who were involved in the abuse. Media reports indicate that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has known of the abuse for at least eight months, that he has done little or nothing to stop it, and that — like Ronald Reagan in the Iran-contra affair — President Bush made no effort to monitor or second-guess the work of the most important White House officials.
Against all the evidence, Exodus ex-gay network spokesman Randy Thomas used his personal blog late last week to defend the Bush Administration’s flight from responsibility.
Detainees — many of whom are reported to be incarcerated in error — were not only threatened, but bitten, by attack dogs; and forced to perform acts of excretory and sexual humiliation, in some instances sodomizing one another or simulating sodomy. Some detainees were allegedly murdered. According to relatives of the soldiers, photos were taken for the official purpose of showing them to other detainees and to the friends and neighbors of the detainees, perhaps to provoke fear and cooperation.
On May 6 and May 7, in his personal blog, Exodus spokesman Randy Thomas signed on to Bush Administration efforts to scapegoat the soldiers and absolve senior military officials of involvement. Citing Rush Limbaugh as a credible information source, Thomas expressed relief that the soldiers acted alone, without orders, for “personal entertainment” and not as a matter of policy. (It is strange that Thomas considers sexual humiliation a form of “entertainment.” When the same sexual violence occurs in schools and prisons, is that entertainment as well?)
He also described the scandal as “very sad,” said the soldiers’ behavior was “was out of line,” and praised the inattentive Bush for “his willingness to do what is right even when it is humbling.”
Thomas did not describe the acts as immoral, nor as an outrage, nor as irresponsible, nor as a blatant indictment of homophobic violence in the military intelligence establishment.
According to Thomas, the apparent war crimes were simply “out of line” and hopefully nothing more.
Clearly the Exodus spokesman did not wish to grasp some basic moral principles last week. Perhaps as the news worsens this week, he will have a change of heart.
Libertarian Arthur Silber comments extensively on the scandal. Here’s one comment in particular, arguing that the scandal was unavoidable, given the condition of U.S. prisons and the individuals selected by the White House to run the overseas detention system.
The Associated Press reports that U.S. human rights violations in Iraq have drawn condemnation from the Vatican, the U.S. Roman Catholic military archdiocese, the Methodist Council of Bishops, the National Council of Churches, and Reform Judaism.
Christianity Today summarizes Christian responses to Abu Ghraib. Most of the responses are harshly critical of the reported abuse, but Gary Bauer is quoted blaming the victims and the world media, and defending Rumsfeld.
Predictably, other religious-right activists also disagree with mainstream Christianity and Judaism.
FRC says Abu Ghraib is the fault of the liberal media and pornography.
With a tone of hysteria and desperation worthy of WorldNetDaily, Bob Knight of Concerned Women for America blames liberals and homosexuals. (Thanks to Sharon B. for the tip.)
Focus/Family remains silent.