Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sully Accuses Rumsfeld

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan reported a shocking accusation against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The accusation concerns Captain Ian Fishback, who has described cases of abuse and torture of Iraqi detainees by the 82nd Airborne Division. The New York Times quotes Fishback's complaints that Army investigators have been uninterested in the substance of his accusations. The investigators, Fishback says, have been more interested in learning the identities of other Army personnel who have made accusations of prisoner abuse to Human Rights Watch, implying that the investigators are trying to intimidate accusors rather than investigate abuses. Sullivan goes beyond this accusation, and says that his sources tell him that investigators are telling Fishback that "his career in the Army is over. Meanwhile the peer pressure on him is enormous. I'm reliably told that he has been subjected to an unending stream of threats and acts of intimidation from fellow officers. "

Behind the scenes, according to Sullivan, Rumsfeld is pulling the strings.
Another source informs that the word is around that Rumsfeld has taken a strong interest in this. He is quoted by some as saying "Either break him or destroy him, and do it quickly." And no doubt about it, that may be just what they are doing. Expect some trumped up charges against Fishback soon, similar to what they did to Muslim Chaplain Captain James Yee, whom they accused of treason with no solid evidence and then, when those charges evaporated, went on to accuse him of adultery. The bottom line, as the NYT reports today, is that the military and the Bush administration are determined to stop any real investigation about how torture
and abuse came to be so widespread in the U.S. military. The scapegoating of retarded underlings like Lynndie England is an attempt to deflect real
responsibility for the new pro-torture policies that go all the way to the White House. It's a disgusting cover-up and it rests on breaking the will and resolve of decent servicemen and women brave enough to expose wrong-doing.
Citizen Cain endorses Sullivan's view that responsibility for pro-torture policies goes to the White House. But just how solid is the information that Rumsfeld has ordered that Fishback be "broken" or "destroyed?" Sullivan's writing is normally pellucid, but his exposition here is murky. He refers to a singular source who informs him that "the word is around that Rumsfeld has taken a strong interest in this." Sounds like maybe this source hasn't heard directly from Rumsfeld, but has heard from others of Rumsfeld's interest.

Sullivan continues, "He (Rumsfeld) is quoted by some as saying "Either break him or destroy him, and do it quickly." Does Sullivan have multiple sources who quote Rumsfeld saying this, or is this the same one source telling Sullivan that "some" others have told him of hearing this? It sounds like the latter. Sullivan gives no clue as to the placement of his source, or whether the source has heard about Rumsfeld's interest second, third, or fourth hand.

Given the seriousness of the charge, Sullivan should clarify how good his source's information is. Is he just reporting rumors, or is he in a position to know what Rumsfeld has said about Fishback?

If there's substance to this story, there should be a special prosecutor. Citizen Cain isn't a lawyer, but surely it cannot be legal for the Defense Secretary to tell underlings to "break" or "destroy" a military whistleblower. Perhaps the lawyers out there can leave comments about what statutes might be at issue in this instance. Would it make a difference if Rumsfeld said not "destroy him," but rather, "who will rid me of this meddlesome captain?"
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