Originally created 05/11/04

Release the ugly pics

When Sunday's news TV interview shows weren't talking about whether Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should stay or resign over the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, discussions touched on how to deal with abuse pictures that haven't been released yet.

There was little agreement on what Rumsfeld's fate should be, but there was general consensus that the Defense secretary should order the Pentagon to release to the public all the sordid pictures it has showing Iraqi prisoners being sexually abused or humiliated.

There's no doubt such pictures exist. Rumsfeld told Congress Friday that more "sadistic" photos and video images were still out there. The question is how many of them there are, and if they're all from the Abu Ghraib prison or from other prisons as well.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Pentagon investigators will give lawmakers the photos to view in private.

That's good as far as it goes, but if the pictures are not made available to the public, then they will be leaked - one, two, three a day, every day for weeks or months to come.

Drip, drip, drip; like Chinese water torture, the damage would go on indefinitely - a scandal without end. This would keep our enemies enflamed, our allies uncertain, and make bringing peace, stability and reconstruction to Iraq a virtual impossibility - not to mention the extra peril it puts our troops in.

This is why U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who also serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was adamant on Meet the Press to make the ugly, sadistic pictures available to the public so there'll be no shocking surprises to come - any future disclosures will be old news.

"If there's more to come, let's get it out," implored Graham. "For God's sake, let's talk about it because (U.S. military) men and women's lives are at stake given how we handle this."

We agree. Pentagon brass must put aside any reluctance they have about releasing to the public pictures, tapes or anything else they might have regarding this awful scandal.

Also to be determined is whether U.S. soldiers, including those facing courts-martial for abuses committed at the Abu Ghraib prison, were encouraged or ordered by their commanders to use "aggressive" interrogation practices or whether they did it on their own.

Regardless, relatives of the soldiers involved are coming off extremely whiny. Family members for several of those implicated have insisted to the press that their little darlings would never do such things without being ordered to. So that makes them blameless?

Put a sock in it, folks. Those who participated in this scandal in any way should be held responsible - because they are. No soldier can be compelled to follow an illegal command.

As for the photos, let's get this over with. The government must not compound the prisoner abuse scandal with anything that even hints of a cover-up.

The best disinfectant is sunlight.


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