Random Liberals

We are random liberals (who knew?). Collectively, we make up the greatest blog in the history of ourselves. We will blog about anything that suits us; mostly politics, with a little bit of religion and randomness to make the blog exciting.


Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Bush appears to be unhappy

In a somewhat surprising development, President Bush is expressing "annoyance" with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Bush is upset with how Rumsfeld, and the Department of Defense in general, has handled the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. According to the linked article, Bush has said that he knew of general accusations of abuse of prisoners as far back as January, but did not know the extent of the abuse until 60 Minutes II released photographs depicting the humiliation of prisoners last Wednesday. According to one source, "some senior administration officials thought Rumsfeld would lose his job over the matter..." (A direct quote from the article, not the source.) There have been a smattering of voices from the legislature calling for Rumsfeld's resignation, but not near enough to make a ripple.

It appears to me that President Bush is now beginning to express an annoyance with everyone and everything. Last week, he jumped on Attorney General John Ashcroft for declassifying several documents for the sole purpose of embarrassing 9/11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick. Now, it's Rumsfeld. Next week, it could be a general, or another cabinet member. The only person that will never feel the president's wrath is Bush himself. He can never admit that he is to blame for anything. He is perfect in his own eyes. This fleshes out not only in his lashing out at cabinet members, but also in his refusal to apologize for anything. Today, he was interviewed on two Arabic-language networks, al-Arabiya and U.S.-operated al-Hurra (but not al-Jazeera, which Bush thinks is too anti-American); he would not even offer an apology while speaking directly to Arabs. This man has far too much self-pride to be president.

Rumsfeld is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate (update: the Armed Services Committee, not the entire Senate) on Friday about the handling of the allegations. I'm not sure if the hearing will be broadcast on anything other than C-SPAN, but if you have a chance, watch or listen to the hearing. It could prove very interesting.

UPDATE: Also, according to the article and tonight's Nightline, It is not only the congressional Democrats, but also the Republicans that are very upset with the Pentagon's attempts to keep the allegations of abuse quiet. Apparently, most of the members of Congress knew about as much as Bush knew before Wednesday, which is to say not much at all. Bill Frist made a speech calling for Rumsfeld to meet with the entire Senate in private in addition to his testimony on Friday, which will just be in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, not the entire Senate as I implied above.

Nightline also had a segment on a pair of psychological studies conducted in the 1960s and '70s. One, held 30+ years ago, was a study conducted by Stanford psychologists in which a group of average, good people were randomly divided into prisoners and guards. After a couple of days, the guards began to humiliate the prisoners in various ways, culminating in forcing the prisoners to simulate sodomy. The study was ended after only six days. The second study, conducted 40+ years ago, looked at how far people were willing to go when given orders. A random group of people was asked to administer electric shock to an anonymous prisoner. The prisoner was not actually shocked, but the person giving the shock was led to believe he was. 60% of the group went all the way, administering 450 volts of electricity while the prisoner was supposedly unable to even respond to questions.

The studies show that the people who tortured prisoners in Abu Ghraib are not evil people, as the administration would have us believe. Rather, chances are that they are nromal people. This in no way excuses them for their actions. Instead, it shows that this is almost definitely not an isolated event. It shows without a doubt that power corrupts. Other people in other prisons that we don't know about are being tortured. When will the White House and the Pentagon acknowledge that? Will they ever acknowledge it, or will we just have to wait for the next round of photographs? Further, is there anything that can be done to stop the torture before more lives are ruined?



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