Tidbits for Political Junkies with Short Attention Spans & Hearty Appetites


Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Private England Speaks

In what was no doubt intended as an effort at damage control, Private Lynndie England went public this morning in an interview with CBS news. A four-minute video clip can be found here, along with summary version of the story.

Go watch it, and tell me if you don’t get the feeling that Pvt. England thinks the whole thing is somehow funny. Watch her odd little half-smiles when she puts the blame on others. Watch her reaction when she's asked, “did you want to be in that picture?” She grimaces, looks all over the room, and then answers obliquely ("I didn't want to be in any pictures"). Then she grins a bit too much, catches herself, and recovers. It's not what I would call the picture of candor.

Almost none of what she says is surprising.

Of course she blames “persons in higher rank.” She's trying to cover her ass. And of course she doesn't name anyone yet -- she's saving that for the plea deal. After what she's seen, I'd imagine she's especially eager to stay out of prison.

What I found remarkable, however, is that she expects us to believe that her actions were not merely condoned, or encouraged, or even directly ordered. She wants us to believe that they were choreographed down to last detail: “I was told to stand there and hold this leash and look at the camera;” “I was told to stand there, give the thumbs up and smile.”

Right. I halfway expected her to claim she "was instructed" to pretend she was having fun.

What's even more remarkable, however, is that the CBS reporters simply listen to this nonsense, without ever pointing out its obvious problems.

Remember folks? This stuff is so discredited that it has a name: it's called the Nuremberg Defense. Harold Hongju Koh of Yale Law School had this to say, in a separate interview regarding another of the accused:

You can't simply point fingers and get away with it. Before Nuremberg, people who committed the crimes, actually physically did the acts, would say "I was just following orders," and people who ordered them would say "we didn't know what was going on." What Nuremberg made clear was everybody is responsible -- the people who did it and the people who ordered it. And so you can't simply point the finger at someone else and escape liability.

You hear that, private?

Asked if she thought if there was anything wrong with what she and the others were doing, she just repeats her claim: "We think everything was justified, because we were instructed to do this and to do that."

For all her protests, there's never a shred of remorse, nor any indication that she was the least bit reluctant to do what she claims was her job.

It's just a hunch, really. But I'd be willing to bet that her only real regret is that she has to face charges.


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