Tortured logic

It is bad enough that America has decided to abuse and torture people as a means of dealing with suspected foreign terrorists and Iraqi resisters. It is bad enough we are holding thousands of prisoners without any sort of due process. It certainly doesn’t make us a prouder nation or enhance our image abroad when our soldiers are caught beating, humiliating and otherwise violating those prisoners.

But do we have to condone it being done to our own troops as well?

That’s what the Bush administration is doing in regard to a group of American military pilots who were captured by Iraqis during the 1991 Gulf War. Those POWs, some of whom were kept in the now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison, reported being beaten, starved and urinated upon by their captors. Upon their return, they filed suit against Iraq under a 1996 congressional act that lifted sovereign immunity for nations that support terrorism.

The pilots won their case and were awarded a nearly $1 billion judgment from the former Iraqi government. But the Bush administration has sought to block that judgment, arguing that Saddam’s debts expired when his regime fell. A White House spokesman offered another justification for denying the POWs justice, saying the money was needed to reconstruct Iraq. The Supreme Court is expected to take up the case this year.

Adding insult to injury, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said Iraqi prisoners that were abused by American soldiers are eligible for financial compensation for their suffering. So, while the administration wants to pay Iraqis for their ill treatment at the hands of our soldiers, it refuses to allow compensation to American prisoners abused at the hands of a vanquished enemy. That is both ridiculous and wrong.