More from Abu Ghraib

BAGHDAD — Well, it was bound to happen. Australian papers and news shows are publishing 60 new photos from Abu Ghraib. They snapshots were attained by the American Civil Liberties Union after a federal judge ordered their release. That was delayed however because the U.S. government appealed the ruling.
And yet the photos were leaked.
That the government sat on these photos for almost two years is stupid and pointless. _Of course_ they would get out. Did they really think they wouldn’t? They should have released all of them immediately and taken their blows. (A little fit of humility or even — gasp — an apology would have been nice, too.) Even better: NOT TORTURING OR ABUSING PEOPLE TO BEGIN WITH.
These photos are already being spun as “isolated incidents” that are no longer occurring, and that may be true. The Americans may be “scared straight” by the reaction around the Muslim world to the photos.
Alas, the same can’t be said for their allies in the Iraqi government whose Shi’ite-dominated security forces are torturing Sunni men to death and dumping their bodies at sewage plants in southeast Baghdad. Yeah, at least the U.S. never did that.
God, how did the bar get set so low?
These photos come at a bad time, obviously. The Danish cartoon furor is still going on and the British have been caught on video beating the snot out of teenagers in Basra. This will do little to calm things down. And I don’t even want to think how this may complicate things with Jill Carroll, the American journalist currently being held in Iraq. (I’m not sure what to make of this report, though, in which Iraqi officials say the United States actually “delayed the release of several women”: prisoners — the key demand of Carroll’s kidnappers — so as not to appear to be negotiating with terrorists. _Disclaimer: Jill is a friend of mine and I know her pretty well._)
But this is just par for the course for this administration. When faced with choosing between secrecy and openness, stubbornness and a willingness to get things done, the Bush people will always choose the secret, stubborn path — even if the easy thing to do is also the right thing to do. If they can’t turn back the clock and undo the torture at Abu Ghraib, then by all means come clean and get it out of the way. When faced with the kidnapping of an American civilian, they could get her out by either speeding up prisoner releases or at least not impeding it. They were going to happen anyway! In both cases, doing the right thing is, well, the right thing to do and it’s good politics.
But that’s too complicated for these guys.