Lott: Attack dog only wrong if it "ate" prisoner

By Geraldine Sealey

Published May 27, 2004 7:07PM (EDT)

This is how Republican Sen. Trent Lott explains the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to the people of his home state of Mississippi. When asked about the photo of a menacing dog ready to pounce on a terrified Iraqi prisoner, Lott said, and you really couldn't make this stuff up: "Nothing wrong with holding a dog up there unless it ate him." Lott also justified the torture, outlawed by the U.S. military's code of justice as well as international law, by hinting it was necessary to save American troops' lives. "Frankly, to save some American troops' lives or a unit that could be in danger, I think you should get really rough with them," Lott said.

But even this defense conflicts with the facts. The New York Times this morning reported that "most of the prisoners held in the special cellblock that became the setting for the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib apparently were not linked to the insurgency." This story came out after Lott made his bizarre remarks in Jackson. But the Red Cross' report on the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib, which estimated that 70 to 90 percent of the prisoners there were arrested by mistake, has been available for a while now.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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