This is a fascinating exchange – a rare glimpse of a direct, public confrontation between Sec Def Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs chairman General Pace on the question of moral responsibility to stop torture in wartime:

Q: And General Pace, what guidance do you have for your military commanders over there as to what to do if — like when General Horst found this Interior Ministry jail [where evidenceof toeture was widespread]?

GEN. PACE: It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it. As an example of how to do it if you don’t see it happening but you’re told about it is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago. There’s a report from an Iraqi to a U.S. commander that there was possibility of inhumane treatment in a particular facility. That U.S. commander got together with his Iraqi counterparts. They went together to the facility, found what they found, reported it to the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi government has taken ownership of that problem and is investigating it. So they did exactly what they should have done.

SEC. RUMSFELD: But I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.

GEN. PACE: If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.

Rumsfeld sees looting under American authority and says “stuff happens.” He sees appalling torture, and merely believes it should be reported, not stopped. The fish rots from the head down. Thank God for decent soldiers like General Pace and Ian Fishback. I have to say I do not recognize the Don Rumsfeld I once knew in the callous, reckless, immoral stances he has taken these past three years. It is a matter of urgency that he be replaced, if this war is to regain its moral standing and military effectiveness.


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