How absent-minded! How forgetful!

Esta (in a rare post on Tuesday—congrats on finishing the first year, chica) says she wants to see accountability in the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. Meanwhile, conservative politicians and their apologists are running every possible way to point the fingers anywhere but to the administration and the people in charge.

Timothy Noah in Slate rounds up a who’s who of finger pointing, in which various conservatives rush to blame “moral relativism…gays…pornography…feminists…Quentin Tarantino…the Farrelly Brothers…women in the military…the academic left…the liberal media/entertainment complex…journalists…[and] our sick society.” (All attributed, with links). And Josh Marshall calls Senator James Inhofe on his thuggish statement that we should be more concerned about the Red Cross blowing the whistle on our mistreatment of prisoners than about the abuse itself. It’s a good thing no fluffy bunnies were near the prisons; I have a feeling they’d get some of the blame too.

What astonishes me is that anyone gets away with it. I don’t believe you can make a few individual soldiers and contractors a scapegoat for the torture (let’s call a spade a spade) of these prisoners. As Mark Kleinman points out, the principle flaws in the argument can be expressed almost completely in words of one syllable:

Our … troops … work … for … us.
Their … acts … are … our … acts.
We … are … res – pon – si – ble … for … what … they … do.
We … get … to … vote … on … their … boss.

Except, of course, we don’t get to vote on Rumsfeld.

Where’s William Bennett’s sanctimonious moral clarity when we need it? Oh, never mind: that was a joke.

So, in the spirit of Mark Kleinman, here’s my brief version of the argument: Isn’t accountability part of responsibility? Isn’t responsibility part of holding office? Isn’t upholding the law (and the Geneva Convention) part of being the President? As I’ve said before: How absent-minded! How forgetful!