With our senses bombarded daily by depictions of sadistic and pornographic practices perpetrated by American soldiers in Iraq, many of us are asking ourselves why does a 21-year-old "all-American" woman morph into what Britain's Sun newspaper calls a "witch"?
Lynndie England's family and friends could hardly believe their eyes when they saw her gleefully pointing at a disrobed Iraqi prisoner and hauling another around like a dog.
Another soldier embroiled in the burgeoning scandal, Chip Frederick, pictured sitting on top of a detainee, has been charged with committing an indecent act and with assault.
Recently, his incredulous wife appeared on an American network saying that she had always believed Iraqis participated in 9/11, and only recently found out there was no connection. This may give us an inkling of what went on in the minds of the 9/11 terrorists. If Frederick's wife believed Iraqis murdered some 3,000 Americans, then it is likely so did he.
Al Qaida 'connection'
Earlier, polls showed that some 80 per cent of all Americans believed Saddam Hussain was connected to Al Qaida, even though none of the 19 hijackers were Iraqi and Bin Laden hated the secular Saddam. Hammered home by none other than President Bush, this false linkage was repeated on eight occasions in just one week during the run up to war at the end of 2002.
"This [Saddam] is a man who cannot stand America," he said on November 4, 2002. "He hates our friends, he can't stand what we believe in. He's had contacts with Al Qaida."
Since many more informed Americans have now belatedly fathomed the truth, it appears others are looking for other reasons to excuse the ghoulish behaviour of some of the nation's "finest".
According to a May 8, Reuters' report, many residents of Cumberland - home of the military company at the heart of the shameful scandal - believe "the US soldiers are the real victims and the Iraqis had it coming".
Indeed, retired Vietnam War veteran Robert Zalewski is quoted as saying: "Excuse me, if I see somebody dragging my people through the streets and hung up on a bridge... I mean, the Bible even says an eye-for-an-eye...".
There are several flaws to this "eye-for-an-eye" reasoning. First, the Abu Gharib photographs were taken several months prior to the killing of four American mercenaries in Fallujah; and second, the US troops are occupying a formerly sovereign nation on the false pretext that it possessed weapons of mass destruction.
If Iraqis had gone to Los Angeles or Boston to murder Americans and desecrate their corpses, those residents of Cumberland would have a far worthier argument with which to defend the disgusting acts perpetrated by a few in their military.
In a column penned by Neil Cavuto of Fox News indicating Bush doesn't need to apologise, he writes: "Funny, but I don't remember hearing anyone say the deviants who strung up those four American contractors in Fallujah should apologise."
Poor Cavuto is obviously hard of hearing. Why else did US troops kill more than 600 Fallujah residents, including women and children? Cavuto next brings the Palestinians into the Iraq story and 9/11 by writing: "Or to all those Palestinians I remember dancing in the streets on September 11, after 3,000 innocents were senselessly slaughtered here. No apologies asked for. No apologies given."
It's shocking that there are those with celebrity in the US mainstream media repeating the fib that Palestinians celebrated 9/11 when it was proven that an unscrupulous cameraman set them up. Worse, Cavuto expects the Palestinians, whose suffering is ignored by his pro-Zionist network, to apologise. In any case, what do they have to do with the situation in Iraq?
Nothing... and he knows it. He is simply using Bush's trick of merging images.
This time of Iraqi insurgents, Al Qaida and Palestinians who posed for pictures in return for Arabic sweets. It's the perfect racist cocktail.
On his programme Your World with Cavuto, he defended Lynndie and her perverted crew by attempting to colour their actions a benign hue when compared to those incarcerated by Saddam and was unimpressed by the argument of one of his guests who said "two wrongs don't make a right" adding "the land of the free and the brave" must hold itself to a higher standard of accountability than Saddam.
He's right about one thing, though. Apologies are useless in the circumstances. Now is the time for action not hollow words. Abu Gharib should be torn down, along with Guantanamo's Camp Delta; human rights agencies should be allowed free access to all coalition detention centres, coalition soldiers should be well versed in the Geneva Conventions, and the US should sign up to the International Criminal Court, ICC.
Perhaps, the Bush administration's reluctance to place itself under the ICC's jurisdiction was with the foresight that Abu Gharib-type atrocities were likely to occur. Responsibility must be accepted right at the top, with the first head to roll being Rumsfeld's. With support for the invasion falling, along with Bush's approval ratings, the next, I think, may be the President's own.
"The Buck Stops Here" read a sign on the desk of former President Truman and, as Bush showed his eagerness to take credit for the war on the deck of an aircraft carrier draped with "mission accomplished", so he must prepare to take the fall for its abject failure.
Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East
affairs. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org