President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair last night acknowledged a series of errors in managing the occupation of Iraq that have made the conflict more difficult and more damaging to the U.S. image abroad, even as they insisted that enough progress has been made that other nations should support the nascent Iraqi government.Nice try, but actions speak louder than words, and neither of these guys seems to have really learned anything yet.
They made such a terrible mess of Iraq that it’s doubtful anyone could fix it right now, but even a small gesture would be a start. For example, the President could apologize to Captain James Yee. The West Point graduate and Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo was a true patriot who came from a military family -- his father served in WWII, a younger brother also graduated from West point and another younger brother was an Army doctor. All that was forgotten when some of his superiors began to worry he would blow the whistle on what was happening to prisoners. Here’s how he described what happened to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now recently. (Read transcript, download audio, or watch video here.)
I was arrested in secret, held incommunicado. I never showed up at the airport in Seattle like I was supposed to have, where my wife and daughter were waiting. They didn't know what happened to me. My parents in New Jersey had no idea what had happened. I essentially disappeared from society, from the face of the earth. But my family would learn of what happened to me ten days later, when government leaks to the media were then reported, first by the Washington Times, that I was now arrested and charged with these heinous crimes of spying, espionage, aiding the enemy, and mutiny and sedition, which is like trying to overthrow the government. All of these capital crimes, and, yes, I was threatened with the death penalty days after my arrest by a military prosecutor.After the government dropped those charges, they vindictively added insult to injury by smearing his character and trying to destroy his marriage. Eventually he received an honorable discharge and a commendation. But no apology.
How about it, Mr. Bush? It wouldn’t fix Iraq, or even solve the Guantanamo problem. But it would be a start.