Is asking about command responsibility on the same moral level as committing torture? A senior DoD PR official seems to think so.

Lawrence di Rita, the same senior Pentagon flack who denied the Hersh story, also wrote one of the most bizarre letters-to-the-editor I’ve ever seen.

Di Rita was responding to the Washington Post, which had (after three-plus years of rather solid support for Bush and his war) raised some questions about command responsibility at Abu Ghraib:

The Post’s continued editorializing on narrow definitions of international laws and whether our soldiers understand them puts The Post in the same company as those involved in this despicable behavior in terms of apparent disregard for basic human dignity.

How’s that again? I think the pressure must be getting to these folks.

The Post responds.

Matt Yglesias and Atrios comment. Atrios says “unhinged,” which seems about right.

And Matt wonders whether the Administration really wants to pick a fight with what has been a reliably friendly paper. It’s the old adage in action: “Never start an argument with a man who buys printer’s ink by the barrel.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: