How the Bush brigade "supports" the troops

When it comes to American POWs brutalized by U.S. enemies, the Bush White House -- with some help from the Supreme Court today -- is glad to settle for nothing.

Published April 25, 2005 7:19PM (EDT)

The Bush administration long ago turned its back on a group of American POWs tortured by Saddam Hussein's regime during the Gulf War, and now the U.S. Supreme Court has, too. Its refusal to hear their case today kills the vets' last hopes for reparation.

In campaigning to have the case thrown out, it's not surprising that the Bush administration isn't interested in taking a stand against state-sponsored torture. The degree of hypocrisy on its part isn't terribly surprising either, but it's still perfectly appalling: During last year's Abu Ghraib prison scandal Defense Secretary Rumsfeld declared that Iraqi prisoners tortured at the hands of U.S. soldiers deserved compensation. "It is the right thing to do," Rumsfeld intoned then before his congressional interrogators.

The American POWs seeking monetary damages reportedly were beaten and had their bones broken by their Iraqi captors; several of the men nearly starved to death while held in cold, filthy cells for several weeks -- including at Abu Ghraib prison.

No word yet whether the Iraqis brutalized there a decade later under U.S. control have been compensated by the Bush administration. But the Supreme Court's refusal to hear the POWs' case spares the White House from having to go before the court to argue against its own nation's war heroes -- who apparently don't deserve any such consideration.

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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