How much of the "outrage" over treatment of Iraqis in the Abu Ghraib prison is based on genuine disgust and anger over the actions of a handful of American soldiers, and how much is a combination of disappointment in American troops behaving in such a manner mixed with raw, partisan politics?
It didn't take long for several Senate Democrats to start calling for the resignation or firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld because, they said, he ultimately was responsible for the prisons.
If Rumsfeld knew about the prison situation for some time and had allowed it to continue unchecked, then he is, indeed, a legitimate target for criticism. On the other hand, if he didn't know about the questionable treatment of prisoners, it is difficult to see how he can be held responsible and why he should be removed as defense secretary.
Unfortunately, politics can be a dirty business, and it is a good bet much of the "outrage" in Washington is coming from Bush critics trying to use this situation to damage the president and his administration.
At the same time, how do some of these critics think a war is supposed to be fought? When U.S. troops are being killed and maimed, when bodies of Americans are burned, dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge, and when the enemy hides and fights from mosques and uses children and women as shields, it is understandable there would be a strong temptation to use rough tactics when trying to get information out of captured Iraqi troops.
Rumsfeld has a highly successful record in past government positions. There are few members of the president's Cabinet who have Rumsfeld's training, skill, experience and knowledge; yet, partisan opponents smell red meat and are on the attack. Justified, fair or not, these Bush critics are using the prison mess and any other excuse to try to damage and weaken Bush. They think Rumsfeld provides a crack in the door to inflict damage.
It will take time for all of the facts of the prison story to be known, but that doesn't stop those crying for Rumsfeld to be fired.
He is all business, he doesn't try to be warm and fuzzy, and he often is curt. He doesn't tolerate foolishness, dumb questions or those trying to play politics in the deadly game of national defense, terrorism and loss of American lives.
Many in the national media are opposed to Bush, and they want to see him defeated in the upcoming presidential election. They, too, see the Iraq prison situation as a vehicle to try to stain the Bush presidency.
For the good of the country, it is hoped Rumsfeld will continue in the critically important position of secretary of defense.