Saturday, May 22, 2004

Missing the point

Nicholas Kristof just doesn't get it. His column today defends Donald Rumsfeld. Kristof's argument is that because it hasn't been proven that Rumsfeld was directly responsible for the torture of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, Rumsfeld shouldn't resign:

... fairness must govern our handling of American defense secretaries as well as Iraqi prisoners. The central point is that we have no proof that Mr. Rumsfeld bears direct responsibility for the torture.
Kristof misses the point. Actually, he misses two points. The first is that Rusmfeld found out about the goings-on in Abu Ghraib months ago, yet took no vigorous steps to stop it or even to inform Congress or the president. So because he knew about the torture and allowed it to continue, he is directly responsible.

The second point is that even ignoring my first point, Rumsfeld's actions after news of the torture broke is enough to merit his stepping down. Again, he's taken no real vigorous steps to make sure U.S. military personnel never again abuse prisoners of war. He's kept Abu Ghraib open, and he has kept the separate chains of command which enable intelligence agents to operate independently and encourage abuses. The American people deserve more from a secretary of defense.

So even though there's no "smoking gun," there are plenty of reasons for Rummy to resign.

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