[ Senator Inhofe is an embarrasment to Oklahoma. His recent, Limbaugh-esque defense of the abusers at Abu Ghraib (see below) reveals either culpable ignorance or an outright evil character: “[T]hese prisoners, they’re murderers, they’re terrorists, they’re insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands and here we’re so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.” One imagines a Jesus, whom Inhofe and his ilk claim to follow, shocked at the callous disregard for so many innocent non-Americans. For a glimpse into these minds and their high tolerance for violence in the Middle East, see this piece from Salon.com on the evangelical shaping of U.S. foreign policy. –BL ]
by Deborah Zabarenko
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As others condemned the reported abuse of Iraqi prisoners, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe expressed outrage at the outcry over the scandal and took aim at “humanitarian do-gooders” investigating American troops.
But Sen. John McCain, himself a former prisoner of war, said such humanitarian involvement distinguished the United States from its enemies.
“I’m probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment,” Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican and an outspoken conservative, told a U.S. Senate hearing probing the case.
In heated remarks at odds with others on the Senate Armed Services Committee who criticized the U.S. military’s handling of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, Inhofe said American sympathies should lie with U.S. troops.
“I am also outraged that we have so many humanitarian do-gooders right now crawling all over these prisons looking for human rights violations, while our troops, our heroes are fighting and dying,” he said.
“These prisoners, you know they’re not there for traffic violations,” said Inhofe, whose senatorial Web site describes him as an advocate of “Oklahoma values.”
“If they’re in cellblock 1-A or 1-B, these prisoners, they’re murderers, they’re terrorists, they’re insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands and here we’re so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.”
Cindy Shea, 41, who works in advertising in Edmond, Oklahoma, said of Inhofe’s comments: “I wouldn’t say those are Oklahoma values. … I don’t think Oklahomans believe in injustice to anybody. I don’t think the treatment there is reflective of the values held by the majority of Americans. I think what happened there is horrendous. It’s the biggest mess ever.”
Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, referred ironically to “humanitarian do-gooders” as he asked a panel of military officials whether the United States should have signed the Geneva Convention governing war prisoners.
When the officials answered yes, McCain continued in a facetious vein: “Why do you think we should? Because … this keeps us from getting information that may save American lives. This is a restraint by humanitarian do-gooders. Why don’t we just throw them in the trash can and do whatever’s necessary?”
McCain said he feared future U.S. prisoners of war could face “very serious consequences” if U.S. forces “somehow convey the impression that we’ve got to do whatever is necessary and humanitarian do-gooders have no place in this arena.”
Tuesday’s marathon hearing followed similar long sessions on Friday with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Rumsfeld apologized and said the conduct at Abu Ghraib did not represent U.S. military personnel in Iraq.
On Tuesday, Rumsfeld defended the U.S. military’s role in Iraq and suggested that Iraq’s expected reconstruction was no more deadly that the building of the United States after the Revolutionary War.
“The building of a free state in Iraq has proceeded probably with fewer lives lost and certainly no more mayhem that we endured here in the United States 228 years ago when we were going through it, or than occurred in Japan or Germany after World War II,” Rumsfeld said at the Pentagon.