The United States Bush Knows Is Not The Point [Is The President To Blame For Iraq Abuse Scandal]
The Christian-Science Monitor
There are a lot of angry people in this town this week. Congress is angry that the Bush administration didn't tell them about the pictures of Iraqi prisoner abuse before they aired on television. The president is angry with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. And Mr. Rumsfeld is angry at the "Information Age." Behind all the hot tempers about the Iraqi prisoner photos is more than a little absurdity. Rumsfeld's Friday testimony was a mountain range of preposterousness. But it might have come in Rumsfeld's railing against photographic technology.
Yes, that was the problem. Not the abuse, but the fact that the images of it had been burned onto a disk for quick dissemination. The real issue according to Rumsfeld, was that he and Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Myers had not seen the pictures. If only they had been able to see the now infamous shots, they would have understood, he said. But that argument strains credulity almost beyond belief. General Myers said that he had been told in January of "reports of pictures" and even what "the pictures might show." That wasn't enough to tip him off to the problems lying ahead? So now this town is gabbing away about Rumsfeld's future.
In the past few days the conversation has swung back and forth between a question (Should Rumsfeld go?) to a statement (Rumsfeld should go). But that chatter misses the point. The issue goes beyond him or Myers, further up the chain of command. Because President Bush acknowledges he had known about the abuse investigation since January, Rumsfeld's and Myers's testimony raises a serious question: When did the president learn about the pictures?