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Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016

Photos of prisoner abuse impact U.S.

Thursday, May 6, 2004

All I know about the prisoner abuse scandal unfolding in Iraq is that it could not have come at a worst time. This sad tale will disrupt Washington in a drastic manner over the next few days and weeks. And someone, quite possibly the Secretary of Defense, will take the fall for a series of stupid acts by a handful of equally stupid men and women in uniform.

A picture of Presidential candidate Gary Hart with a blonde bimbo on his lap doomed his run for the nation's highest office. A picture of Michael Dukakis in a helmet astride a tank portrayed him as a buffoon and ended his presidential hopes. Can you imagine that the image of a 21-year-old female soldier with a cigarette dangling from her mouth in a roomful of naked Iraqi prisoners might well doom our current president? But all things are possible.

This is the type of story that turns hawks into doves. It is so bizarre that it makes you sickened and ashamed. Granted, it pales by a wide margin in comparison to the abuses heaped on American prisoners. But that's not important. Our culture - or at least I want to believe - is better than this. To portray this abuse as a prank gone bad is a weak excuse at best.

None of us are experts on exactly what is unfolding in Iraq. We know only that which we read and hear. We cannot put ourselves in the situation and circumstances of those brave men and women who wear the uniform of this nation. But we can understand how wrong these images are.

I'm not at all sure that what transpired in the prison in Iraq falls into the category of abuse rather these imagines portray raw stupidity, rank immaturity and callous disregard for the values on which our nation was founded. Did these military personnel not fully realize the results of their actions? How could they not imagine the reaction that these pictures would bring.

Here we are in the middle of an election that is critical beyond the imagination and into the debate comes an act of stupidity that could well change the course of history. I don't mean to hype these events nor to give them more importance than they deserve. But the storm that is brewing over a series of photographs may be replayed in history someday as a turning point in our national debate.

Who would have thought our future could be guided by the stupidity of a handful of nameless young men and women? I'm at a loss for words. And obviously, I'm not alone.

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