The firestorm that has erupted over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad has caught Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld squarely in the flames.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., a strong critic of Bushs Iraq policy, expressed the outrage that is felt by many congressmen over the conduct of some members of the American military in Saddams former domain.
Speaking on the House floor in Washington, Rangel said: I think that this rises to the point that its a high crime and misdemeanor if he disappointed the president, kept information from the Congress and kept this information from the American people.
Rangel then introduced eight articles of impeachment aimed at the defense secretary. Two of Rangels charges are that Rumsfeld contributed to an atmosphere of lawlessness, which allowed these abuses to happen, and abdicated his role in permitting such a breakdown in discipline.
Rangel also alleged that Rumsfeld urged and oversaw removal of Saddam Hussein under a false premise, to wit: that the United States was under threat of imminent attack from weapons of mass destruction and a claim that Saddam was linked to al-Qaeda in the attacks of 9/11. Both arguments have been proven totally false, but are still believed by many Americans.
Loyal Bush Republicans bristled under Rangels attack. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, who is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, snapped: I think to bring up impeachment under these circumstances is ludicrous and absurd. Chabot is among the Republican chorus lauding Rumsfeld for his overall handling of the war in Iraq. I think hes done an exemplary job, Chabot said.
Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., a key player in defense matters and a military reservist, termed calls for Rumsfelds impeachment a reach and an over-reaction. He noted Congress is still waiting for results of an investigation into prison abuses.
Buyer also pointed to the dismissal of several ranking members of the military chain of command as evidence the Army and Marines are working on the problems Rangel cited. One of those dismissed was the brigade commander responsible for Abu Ghraib prison, who is a one-star general. Thats no small matter, Buyer said.
But Rangel is not the only one after Rumsfelds hide. Rep. John Murtha, an influential and conservative Democrat close to the Pentagon, told fellow Democrats in private that the war in Iraq is in the trash and, in a press conference, unleashed a blistering attack on the Bush administration and its miscalculations on Iraq.
We either have to mobilize or we have to get out, Murtha said in an emotional presentation in which he disclosed a series of written warnings to Bush and other officials following the first of his many visits to Iraq since last September.
Murtha revealed something of the unmitigated disaster that is the Iraq war.
Today our forces in Iraq are undermanned, under-resourced, inadequately trained and poorly supervised. Theres a lack of leadership, stemming from the very top, he said, adding that this most recent scandal should result in resignations right up the chain of command.
One of the major problems in Iraq is supplying our troops at more than 100 camps along a stretched-out line through increasingly hostile territory. Already ammunition is rationed, and principal overseas stores of munitions are depleted.
Many, including a number of congressmen, believe the Bush administration has completely lost its way in Iraq. That is pointed up by the presidents unanticipated request for another $25 billion for reconstruction. That brings total spending on Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 to $191 billion, and it may go higher yet. Many critics say the $25 billion request is about half of what is really needed for next year. Say goodbye to funding for many much-needed domestic programs
Recent reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times that Bush had privately reprimanded Rumsfeld for not telling him about the prison pictures before they hit television, only underscore the obvious fact that the administration doesnt know what to do next.
Even though Bush declared that Rumsfeld would remain in his job, the fact that White House officials informed reporters about the dressing down was without precedent.
Both Rumsfeld and the White House are claiming they had not seen the photos before they were aired. Military brass, such as Gen. Meyers, have also claimed the abuses were the handiwork of a small number of soldiers and not a general practice.
But then top investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who broke the prison story in New Yorker magazine, got hold of that highly embarrassing 53-page internal report prepared by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba.
Taguba launched his investigation in January, when Rumsfeld first learned of the abuses, and concluded in early March. It revealed that the abuses were widespread, occurring at detention facilities in Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantanamo in Cuba. Further, the report revealed that these practices were ordered by higher ups to break down prisoners for questioning and make them more willing to talk.
Hersh told Fox News that what we have seen is only the tip of the iceberg, that there is much more out there, including video tapes so disgusting they could not be broadcast on television.
Not to worry, though. Rush Limbaugh says the troops were just having fun and blowing off steam. Rush charged the whole prison abuse issue was manufactured by the media. As night-time talk show host Jay Leno quipped: What is this guy…on drugs?
Democrats are not the only ones angry with Rumsfeld. Republicans, in private, have told reporters they are fed up with his arrogance and rigidity, especially on the matter that most angers Murthafailure to furnish enough troops to secure Iraq and their own safety, both before and after the invasion.
Several leading Republican lawmakers are especially incensed that they were not told about any of this until it became public. That should not surprise them because, as we have said before, secrecy is the hallmark of this administration and every other totalitarian government on the planet. Yes, this one is totalitarian.
When there is corruption at the top levels of leadership, it filters down and infects the lower levels. That is the real trickle down theory. The web of lies this administration has constructed is beginning to choke them. No matter how much they twist and turn, their words and deeds are on the record and they cannot refute them. That is what will hang them. Outsourcing this shame will fail.
The Washington Post, normally a pro-establishment and government-friendly organ, opened fire on the White House with a highly pointed barrage. The Post said Rumsfelds remarks since the abuses were revealed suggest his message remains the same, that the United States need not be bound by international law and that the crimes Mr. Taguba reported are not, for him, a priority. That attitude has undermined the American militarys observance of basic human rights and damaged this countrys ability to prevail in the war on terrorism.
As never before in the history of this nation, anti-Americanism now runs rampant around the world because of this amazing scandal. Overseas, we are being viewed as the new Nazis. Decades will pass before we will ever recover from this stain, if ever.
Furthermore, this scandal amplifies and reinforces those who believe we lied about the Weapons of Mass Destruction and executed an unprovoked attack on another sovereign nation in violation of centuries of international law. Saddam Husseins invasion of Kuwait was unprovoked, and the world rallied behind the U.S. in the first Gulf War. Now, the people of those exact nations see us as no better, if not worse, than Saddam Hussein.
Unfortunately, no FBI or CIA official resigned or was dismissed over the massive failure surrounding the 9/11 tragedy. Their defense centers around their lack of related knowledge on different pieces of the puzzle.
and Bush had all the pieces of the prisoner abuse scandal puzzle and failed to inform the public or the Congress.
Rumsfeld claims he told Bush privately about the abuses last January, shortly after he learned about them. If that is true, compounded by the WMDs deception, then George W. Bush should be impeached right along with brother Rumsfeld.
How many people have been killed, violated and tortured under the flag of the United States of America? How shaming. What a betrayal of our Constitution and the good names of the good people of this country! Bush and his lackeys impersonal and unaccountable corporate mentality must go. This is America, and this administrations mindset and actions are outrageous!
Sources: Inter Press Service, Prison Planet TV, U.S. Newswire, commondreams.org. Editor & Publisher Frank Schier contributed to this editorial.