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May 10, 2004

Re: Army Times story (NYT)

(NYT - Unpublished; a version of this sent to Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Gordon Smith, Rep. David Wu)

The Army Times got it right -- accountability for the failure of the chain of command at Abu Ghraib abuse goes to the top. But it goes all the way to President Bush. The reason this administration didn't think it was important enough to to report is that they've been abusing prisoners for years at Guantanamo. To this administration, it is standard operating procedure because they created a technical loophole in the law so that there would be no oversight possible at Guantanamo. This is why the authors of our country's constitution tried to make it impossible for those in power to do things in secret without oversight .. abuse of that kind of power always happens. No doubt they seemed like good, exceptional, reasons to start, but now it has become institutionalized.

Who put military intelligence in charge of the prisons? Who failed to ensure adequate oversight? Who refused to respond to Red Cross reports of illegal violations of human rights? Who put poorly trained MPs in charge?

These are symptoms of the failure of leadership. Leadership isn't just being decisive, it is exercising good judgment. This administration has prized decisiveness but exercised very bad judgment and then institutionalized that bad judgment.

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