England's Burning


Pfc. Lynndie England, the best-known of the "six morons who cost us the war," is saying that she was following orders when she posed for pictures with naked prisoners at Abu Ghraib. From the AP:

"I was instructed by persons in higher rank to `stand there, hold this leash, look at the camera,' and they took picture for PsyOps (psychological operations)," she told the station.

This comes on the heels of Senate testimony by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib accusations for the military. While scathing in his indictment of the military chain of command, Taguba did not find evidence of the abuse being ordered. According to the WashPost:

"We did not find any evidence of a policy or a direct order given to these soldiers to conduct what they did. I believe that they did it on their own volition," said Taguba, who was deputy commander for military support operations in the Persian Gulf region when he led the investigation.

Which isn't to say that England is necessarily lying–it could well be that she was ordered "by persons of higher rank" among the group charged with the abuse. That also doesn't necessarily excuse her or, as Taguba made clear in his testimony, the higher reaches of military brass.

Iraqi-born Miami University political scientist Adeed Dawisha–an acute observer of the Iraq situation (and a supporter of the aims of the war/occupation)–has told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the Abu Ghraib situation is "disastrous" for the U.S. position in the Arab world. However, he contends that

Dawisha, who is studying the historical roots of democracy in pre-Saddam Iraq, said there is a way to mitigate the damage.

"Complete transparency," Dawisha said. "We must deal with this in a transparent way, for all to see."

"We can't talk to the Arab world about democracy and do it in abstract terms," the political science professor said. "We must show them."

The decision to try Spc. Jeremy Sivits for his alleged role in the prisoner abuse in a court martial that will be open to media coverage is a good step, Dawisha said.