Rumsfeld’s “guilty plea” and apology totally insincere and uncontrite as he seems more concerned about it becoming a public relations disaster than a human tragedy and outrage
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The “guilty plea” and apology by the United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for the torture and misuse of Iraqi prisoners by US personnel are totally insincere and uncontrite as he seems more concerned about it becoming a public relations disaster than a human tragedy.
Rumsfeld’s acknowledgement that he “failed to understand” the importance of alerting President Bush and the public to the brutal acts at the Al Ghraib pirson and the US Congress’ outrage by Rumsfeld’s lack of candour in not informing it earlier of the Iraqi prison scandal have missed the point of the worldwide revulsion at the pictures showing the abuse of naked and hooded Iraqi prisoners under the control of American forces, with Iraqi prisoners forced into sexually humiliating poses.
One US Senator summed it up succinctly when he said: “In the Middle East and too often today, the symbol of America is not the Statute of Liberty; it’s the prisoner standing on a box wearing a dark cape and a dark hood on his head, wires attached to his body, afraid that he’s going to be electrocuted.”
In fact, the moral authority and international credibility of the United States has suffered so humiliating a blow by the Al Ghraib scandal that the United States Department of State could not release this year’s international human rights report this week for fear of being scoffed at by the rest of the world.
Rumsfeld’s “guilty plea” and apology appeared to be cynical move to pre-empt an escalating crescendo of both national and international condemnation of the United States because the photos that have come to light so far are only the tip of the iceberg. Rumsfeld the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday that there were “numerous photos and videos of actual detainee abuse taken by detention facility personnel” – in his words, “Beyond abuse of prisoners, there are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence towards prisoners, acts that can be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman”!
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Ministerial Committee on the Middle East meeting in Malaysia next week must be the world’s conscience to demand proper international accounting and responsibility for the Abu Ghraib scandal as the International Red Cross has declared that it was not an isolated case, but a “a pattern and a system” with the abuses going beyond the detainees held at Abu Ghraib prison in the Baghdad area.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor