The Austin Chronicle asks “Who is Lane McCotter, and what exactly was he doing in Iraq?

Which brings us to Lane McCotter. Do a Web search on McCotter and you’ll come across an article in the March 4 newsletter The Utah Sheriff featuring a photo taken last year of Lane McCotter giving a tour of the Abu Ghraib prison to none other than Donald Rumsfeld’s right-hand man Paul Wolfowitz. So: Who’s McCotter, and what was he doing in Iraq?

While he and his company were under investigation by the Justice Department, the department’s chief, Attorney General John Ashcroft, hand-picked McCotter to “rebuild [Iraq’s] criminal justice system.” (NY Times) Inhale that: Ashcroft selected a man his own department was investigating, a man who had to leave the top corrections post in Utah or face scrutiny for what can only be called torture. And that’s what inner-circle Republicans are so frightened of: If the prison abuse investigation gets to Ashcroft, it gets to the White House.

The LA Times, May 11: “Most Arrested by ‘Mistake’ - Coalition Intelligence Put Numbers at 70% to 90% of Iraqi prisoners.” The Red Cross, which “made 29 visits to Coalition-run prisons and camps between late March and November of last year, said it repeatedly presented its reports of mistreatment to prison commanders, U.S. military officials in Iraq and members of the Bush administration in Washington.” (Why hasn’t the Red Cross been called to testify?) In a separate story the same day: “US Army officials have acknowledged detaining women in hopes of persuading male relatives to provide information. … Interrogators sometimes threatened to kill [the innocent women] detainees.”

Kidnapping and threatening people’s wives. Blackmail. Indiscriminate arrests. Torture. But when Rumsfeld and his generals are asked who, exactly, was in real command of Abu Ghraib, they claim not to know even that, while their so-called commander in chief claims complete ignorance of every issue in this affair.

If that’s the truth, they’re incompetent. If it’s not, they’re war criminals.

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