Regarding Abu Ghraib, I said in comments to this post that I blamed Bush for creating a climate which encouraged the kind of behavior we've now seen by American soldiers at that prison. Anthony Lewis agrees with me:
Again and again, over these last years, President Bush has made clear his view that law must bend to what he regards as necessity. National security as he defines it trumps our commitments to international law. The Constitution must yield to novel infringements on American freedom.
In all these matters, there is a pervasive attitude: that to follow the law is to be weak in the face of terrorism. But commitment to law is not a weakness. It has been the great strength of the United States from the beginning. Our leaders depart from that commitment at their peril, and ours, for a reason that Justice Louis D. Brandeis memorably expressed 75 years ago.
"Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher," he wrote. "For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself."
Despite its best efforts, the government has never been able to demonstrate any strong link between Iraq and Al Qaeda before the invasion. But since then, Iraqi prisoners have been treated like suspected terrorists. The abuses in Abu Ghraib and throughout the military detention system stain this country's reputation and play into Osama bin Laden's portrait of an evil America. The Bush administration has given a gift to Al Qaeda's worldwide recruitment efforts.
At some point your advisers no longer deserve the credit for this on their own; you signed off on it. Nicely done, Mr. President.Posted by Linkmeister at May 7, 2004 12:01 AM