Rotten to the core

By Geraldine Sealey

Published May 18, 2004 10:47PM (EDT)

The Bush administration's argument that prisoner abuse in Iraq can be attributed to a "few bad apples" just gets more and more absurd. The revelations in Newsweek that White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales warned U.S. officials two years ago they could be prosecuted for war crimes for breaching the Geneva Conventions  and in the New Yorker, which reported Donald Rumsfeld approved a secret plan for interrogation procedures in Iraq that encouraged intimidation and sexual humiliation of prisoners -- expose the "few bad apples" defense for what it is.

To pile on, though, ABCNEWS is now reporting that a key witness in the Abu Ghraib scandal claims there's a cover-up: "Dozens of soldiers  other than the seven military police reservists who have been charged  were involved in the abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, and there is an effort under way in the Army to hide it, a key witness in the investigation told ABCNEWS."

And if "bad apples" are responsible for abusing prisoners, they seem to be falling from trees all over Iraq. Among the reports of abuse that didn't take place at Abu Ghraib: Reuters journalists say they were subjected to sexual humiliation and abuse in a Fallujah military camp last January. And the Red Cross already reported on 50 allegations of abuse at Camp Cropper, including one case in which a prisoner was deprived of sleep, kicked until injured, and had a baseball tied into his mouth. Bad apples also seem to grow in Afghanistan.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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