Bill O’Reilly Wants to Suppress Abu Ghraib Evidence

The Abu Ghraib torture scandal is a stain on the American Republic! [1] The senior policy makers responsible for it, among the U.S. military, the Bush-Cheney Gang, the private contracting sector, and possibly, operatives of our foreign allies, should all be brought to the bar of justice. As of this date, only a few no-name grunts from the military have taken the fall for the abuses.[2] All the information regarding that disgusting episode – documents, photos and videotapes – deserves to be made public. To that end, the ACLU has gone to federal court, in New York City, demanding, under the FOIA, the release of all the relevant material. It has met with some success, but it is also facing stiff opposition from the Pentagon.[3]

Now, Bill O’Reilly, a right-wing ranter and notorious Chickenhawk, is defending the need to suppress the truth in this matter. He insists that the release of 87 photos and 4 videos tapes from Abu Ghraib, “will endanger the troops in Iraq.”[4] What a hypocrite this character is! This is the same warmonger, who has shamelessly pimped for the Iraqi War – the war that has placed our troops in harm’s way – for a policy that was based on a pack of lies.[5] Now, he pretends to be concerned about the troops’ “safety,” while impugning the patriotism of Anti-War protesters, the ACLU, and others who want all the facts about this torture scandal to come out in the open.

I give O’Reilly credit for one thing: He knew how to suppress the truth when it came to that raunchy X-rated side of his personal life. It wasn’t that long ago, when he quickly settled, without a public trial, allegations that he had repeatedly harassed a female co-producer on his show by, among other things, making obscenity-filled, sex related phone calls to her. At first, the brazen O’Reilly denied the charges. He even launched a counter claim against his accuser. The plaintiff, however, refused to the be intimidated by the Fox News’ windbag. He backed off and settled the lawsuit for big bucks.[6] Whether O’Reilly’s smear tactics will prevail here is another question.

What is really driving O’Reilly up the proverbial wall is that CBS, NBC, the New York Times, and other major media outlets, have filed a “friend of the court” brief supporting the legal position of the ACLU in the case. O’Reilly railed at them: “I am simply ashamed that some of my colleagues have sided with the ACLU and would risk further endangering Americans fighting this brutal war on terror. An action of this type would have been unthinkable during World War II. But, today, the media operates outside patriotic constraints or even public-safety considerations,” he whined.

O’Reilly wasn’t finished with his hatchet attack on those who had dared to side with the ACLU on an important issue of public disclosure that really is about the right of the people to know about what crimes have been committed in their name in Iraq. Also, it’s vital to hold these parties, particularly those at the highest policy making level, fully answerable. The ACLU said, “The real shame here is that our leaders left our troops out on a limb and now they are hiding behind a veil of rank and government office to avoid accountability." It has called for an independent counsel with subpoena power to investigate the torture scandal, including the role of senior policy makers. It has also filed a separate lawsuit to hold the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and other high-ranking military officers accountable.[3]

Still speaking of the media, O’Reilly continued his tirade, “They love the Abu Ghraib story, the chaos in Iraq, the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the ‘abuses’ at Guantanamo Bay. They run with those stories all day long…The truth is the ACLU and its ‘friends’ don’t care if they help the jihadists and don’t know how to defeat the enemy. Those who are demanding more pictures aren’t supporting the troops or not looking out for everyday Americans. They are putting our fighting people and U.S. citizens in even more danger. And there is no excuse for doing that,” he babbled.

O’Reilly’s broadside is full of gross factual distortions! If he were back at Marist College, in Poughkeepsie, NY, and presented such a paper as an essay assignment, one of the good Brothers there would have surely boxed his ears for turning in such rubbish. First, O’Reilly and his ilk are the ones who have actually helped “the Jihadists," by shamelessly promoting the immoral Iraqi War. Iraq is now a prime recruiting center for the Muslim insurgents from around the Middle East. This was not so before O’Reilly’s heroes, George W. Bush, Jr., Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, decided to invade that country on March 20, 2003. Secondly, the “chaos in Iraq,” the “resurgence of the Taliban,” and the “abuses at Guantanamo Bay,” would have all never happened but for those same demented schemers, and others. They all mostly subscribe to a twisted worldview embraced by that repulsive Neocon – Richard Perle! [7]

O’Brien relies on the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, to buttress his nasty spiel. The General told the trial judge, “The release [of the photos, videos, documents] would aid the recruitment efforts and other activities of insurgent elements, weaken the new democratic governments of Iraq, and Afghanistan…and increase the likelihood of violence against the U.S. interests, personnel and citizens worldwide.”

The ACLU, however, is fighting this case tooth and nail. It has presented in opposition to Gen. Myers, its own expert witness, retired U.S. Army Colonel, Michael E. Pheneger. He said in his written statement to the court, presented under oath, that he is a professional soldier, who loves the troops and would never “unnecessarily put them at risk.” Pheneger pointed out that the violence in Iraq (and Afghanistan, too) comes from the insurgents in order for them to obtain specific objectives, “regardless of any provocations,” (like photos/films of Abu Ghraib). He doubted the Pentagon’s claim that the release of the latest evidence of abuse would “reasonably be expected” to lead to a violent reaction. He underscored how the evils of Abu Ghraib are a “self-inflicted wound,” which have “damaged our image and credibility… in the informational war for men’s minds.”

Pheneger concluded, “I believe we need a thorough public examination of the implications and effects of the Administration’s decision to abandon long-standing practices and principles that were adopted to safeguard our own military, ensure compliance to treaties and International Law, and ensure our behavior adheres to the principles that made us [a] great and honorable nation. This cannot occur unless the public is fully informed…The first step to abandoning practices that are repugnant to our laws and national ideas is to the bring them into the sunshine and assign accountability.”[8]

My surmise is that O’Reilly is a fat-cat spinmeister who has sold his soul for a buck. He’s without a fixed moral compass. Meanwhile, the ACLU has been in the forefront of the noble struggles to protect the Constitutional rights of all Americans. In this battle not only for full disclosure of what really happened at Abu Ghraib, but also for finding out the identity of the policy makers, who should be answerable for the abuses, it is doing a tremendous public service. It is also fighting a dangerous enemy of our Constitution – Fox News’ premier Chickenhawk – Bill O’Reilly!





[4]. “Endangering the Troop,” by Bill O’Reilly, 08/26/05.