Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Hitchens Is Back

The often contrarian, and occasionally caustic, pundit and author Christopher Hitchens appears to have rediscovered his bearings. Until now aimlessly adrift in the fog of war in Iraq, it seemed that Hitchens had lost his objectivity and had become an unrepentant apologist for the invasion, all of its questionable planning, dubious expectations and ugly ramifications (even going as far as to defend Ahmad Chalabi from the "smear" campaign launched by the CIA and State Department). But for Hitchens, the buck stopped at Abu Ghraib.

In an article appearing on Slate.com, Hitchens recalls how "an American officer referred to the Abu Ghraib scandal as a 'moral Chernobyl.'" Pretty harsh words, but according to Hitchens, this is an "understatement." According to Hitchens, the torture debacle "is going to get much worse," because, "the graphic videos and photographs that have so far been shown only to Congress are, I have been persuaded by someone who has seen them, not likely to remain secret for very long."

In addressing how bad these still undisclosed images are, Hitchens notes that they are so graphic and damaging, that even ultra-conservative members of Congress like James Inhofe "('I'm outraged more by the outrage')" have suddenly become mute on the subject. I guess his outrage caught up with the pack.

Hitchens continues, "We may have to start using blunt words like murder and rape to describe what we see. And one linguistic reform is in any case already much overdue. The silly word "abuse" will have to be dropped. No law or treaty forbids "abuse," but many conventions and statutes, including our own and the ones we have urged other nations to sign, do punish torture—which is what we are talking about here at a bare minimum." [emphasis added]

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