Senator Imhofe sums it up

Those who are angrier about criticism of the President over Abu Ghraib than they are about the horrors at Abu Ghraib should explain why.

I’m probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment.

Right. He’s more outraged about criticism of the President than he is of forced sex and setting attack dogs on naked people. That seems to me a good description of much of the reaction from the President’s defenders, both on the Hill and in the blogosphere.

Of course, Inhofe goes on to more or less defend the torture on the grounds that the victims more or less deserved it: these prisoners, they’re murderers, they’re terrorists, they’re insurgents, and many of them probably have American blood probably on their hands and here we’re so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.

That makes his position, which I take to be identical with Limbaugh’s, coherent, even if it’s coherently disgusting.

What’s not coherent is to say that the torture was wrong and the torturers should be punished and then be more outraged over the outrage than over the outrages, and the mix of indifference and command failure that allowed the outrages to occur.

One idea that keeps popping up on the right is “This was predictable; what are you so excited about?” Answer: The more predictable it was, the less excuse there is for not having systems in place to prevent it. Hoping that there will be a Specialist Darby to drop a dime is not such a system.

I’m sorry to say that my earlier comments about the moral health demonstrated by reactions to the Abu Ghraib photos aren’t holding up as well as I might have hoped. Tim Noah has a roundup of right-wing self-embarrassment.

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: