Lt. Col. Steven Jordan was exonerated yesterday of charges pertaining to the abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Jordan was the only officer to face a court-martial over that abuse. The jury concluded that he did not engage in the abuse and did not authorize it. I didn’t follow the trial and thus cannot opine on the verdict, but nothing in the accounts I’ve read suggests that the jury failed to reach the proper result.
This story in the Washington Post also provides no reason to doubt that justice was done. However, the Post sniffs that “the verdict means no officer will serve prison time in connection with the mistreatement of detainees at Abu Ghraib, leaving the harshest punishment for low-ranking soldiers who were shown in the infamous photographs that emerged in early 2004.” This theme also appears in the subtitle of the story in the print edition. The Post thus seems unable to conceal its disappointment that the harshest punishment went to the people who actually engaged in the abuse, as opposed to bigger-shots who were never shown to be culpable.
It’s easy to understand the Post’s apparent disappointment. The Post was in the vanguard of those who peddled the Abu Ghraib story day after day. If the serious misconduct was confined to a discrete group of low-ranking soldiers, then the Post vastly over-hyped the story and thereby cast the U.S. military in an unfair light. If the serious misconduct extended up the chain, then the Post’s breathless non-stop coverage was less disproportionate to the actual story. Three and a half years later, it seems pretty clear that this is a case of the former, not the latter.
The sexual abuse of detainees looks like a one-off proposition. The Scott Thomas Beauchamp affair reminds us that MSM’s eagerness unfairly to cast the U.S. military in a bad light continues to this day.
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