Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Feeling like a cover-up

I'm deeply suspicious of conspiracy theories, but the prosecution of the soldiers abusing prisoners in Iraq does not feel like a normal prosecution. In a normal investigation of a criminal network, someone less culpable and less important in the network is convinced to plead guilty and implicate higher-ups in return for leniency. Then those people a step higher up, facing the testimony against them, are forced to accept a less-lenient deal that includes testifying against their superiors, and the process continues until you have the evidence to convict the most important members.

Specialist Sivits, who should be the start of this process, is pleading guilty and implicating his direct superiors, but then says the problem stops there:

Sivits told investigators that the abuse would not have happened had higher-ranking members been present. "Our command would have slammed us," he said. "They believe in doing the right thing. If they saw what was going on, there would be hell to pay."

(Thanks to Talk Left for the tip to the article.)

In other words, it feels like the Bush administration is trying to create a show trial, and declare to everyone that it's only a few bad apples by cutting a deal with one of the abusers in order to get him to say the right things. I'm pretty sure I don't believe this actually - it would require pretty extensive cooperation by military prosecutors - but it feels like that to me. I bet the Arab world, which will not take a generous view of anything the US does, will feel the same way, and likely believe it.

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