The Right And Abu Ghraib II

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 15 2008 @ 1:22pm


Another trip down memory lane. From Jonah Goldberg in April 2004:

Even if all of these pictures were staged this would be an outrage. The fact that they are real makes this staggeringly awful. The awfulness is twofold. First, there’s the illegal, morally corrupt — and corrupting — evil of torturing people for the pleasure of it (and taking pictures of it!). Second, there’s the counter-productive stupidity of it. Even if these guys were the worst henchmen of Saddam’s torture chambers, the damage this does to the image of America is huge. How do we look when we denounce Saddam’s torture chambers now? How many more American soldiers will be shot because of the ill will and outrage this generates? How do we claim to be champions of the rule of law?

Well, there is one way. This needs to be investigated and prosecuted. If there’s more to the story — whatever that could conceivably be — let’s find out. But if the story is as it appears, there has to be accountability, punishment and disclosure. Indeed, even if this turned out to be a prank, too much damage has already been done and someone needs to be punished.

Under Saddam torturers were rewarded and promoted. In America they must be held to account.

I couldn’t agree more with every word of this. That it was torture; that it was evil; that it was stupid and counter-productive; that it was a total violation of the rule of law; that the people responsible need to be punished. But like Reynolds, once it emerged that president Bush was actually responsible for it, Goldberg changed his mind. Why?