Sunday, April 17, 2011
Abu Ghraib squared
Ed Gendreau recently included the following paragraph in an email:
Just read a couple of bits about US soldiers in Afghanistan who formed “kill teams” – killing civilians sympathetic to the Taliban. The photo I saw showed a smiling US soldier kneeling next to a dead Afghan man, holding the man’s head up by the hair. This occurred under Obama’s watch – fighting ‘the right war’, as he defined it, and the press has been silent. Contrast this to the Abu Ghraib scandal, where nobody was killed. That story was covered thousands of times, Rumsfeld went down over it, and Bush had to answer to it in multiple interviews.
It's true. The way Abu Ghraib was covered, you'd have thought that W himself had been down in the bowels of that dungeon personally overseeing the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners.
But even though the recent murders by the Army Afghan kill teams have been far worse than anything that happened at Abu Ghraib, the publicity about them has been much more muted. And Obama has been left...strangely...untouched.
There will always be a few sociopaths in the armed services who will use the cover of war to commit atrocities. And a sitting US President cannot be held personally responsible for everything that happens on the battlefront while he is Commander in Chief.
I don't blame Obama for the Afghan kill teams. Neither did I blame Bush or Rumsfeld for Abu Ghraib. But I certainly believe that whether or not you feel sitting Presidents bear some responsibility for wartime atrocities, you should at least judge them by the same standard.
I'm almost getting to the point where I think our media might be just a teeny tiny bit biased.