Morning Report 5/2/05
The Face That Launched a Thousand Fits

Abu Ghraib's pet scapegoat faces another incomprehensible sentence

Strike a pose: England does the Lynndie

(above). Below is her testimony: " … we positioned him so that he was sitting down directly in front of the other guy masterbating. … "

In a different universe, Lynndie England might still have wound up on TV. Uneducated, no prospects, trapped in a trailer park in West Virginia, working in a chicken-processing plant … someone could have dialed 1-800-96JERRY for her.

But instead, the soldier wound up as the Abu Ghraib poster child. She's scheduled to plead guilty today to various charges, with the understanding that she'll be imprisoned for no more than 11 years.

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A term that long is outrageous, considering that her bosses have practically all been absolved. Just remember that it was Alberto Gonzales who advised George W. Bush in January 2002 (as my colleague Nat Hentoff and thousands of others have pointed out) that the "war on terror … renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."

And now Gonzales is our attorney general? Why are we being punished?

Thanks to the British press—not the American papers or TV—we're learning more every day about how the unjustified invasion of Iraq was cooked up. Once we got there, Gonzales and the Pentagon hawks like Don Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz put our soldiers in position to fail—even overruling JAG lawyers' protests against dispensing with the Geneva Conventions. (Read Seymour Hersh's "The Gray Zone," in the May 24, 2004 New Yorker for details.) Lower the standards for behavior, and human nature takes care of the rest. We're imperfect. That's why we have laws and standards, right?

Thanks to Rolling Stone reporter Osha Gray Davidson and the Center for Public Integrity, you can read Abu Ghraib documents at the CPI site until your eyeballs lock up. In the Army CID investigation reports from January 2004, you can even look at England's story in her own words, starting on page 81 of a particular 128-page bundle of reports, how she posed next to "masterbating" prisoners and all that.

Yeah, Lynndie England was an idiot and should be punished. But not like a scapegoat. Now let's look at some more of those cool, bizarre, disgusting, shameful pictures.

Start with the invaluable Wikipedia page on England for more fun photos and facts.

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