The Abu Ghraib scandal has faded from Washington’s radar screen–to the Administration’s presumed relief. Seven low-level GIs have been prosecuted in military court, but the people in charge, starting with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, have avoided legal scrutiny. In an attempt to remedy this breakdown of justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights recently filed a criminal complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office against Rumsfeld and other senior US officials, including officers stationed in Germany, accusing them of war crimes connected with Abu Ghraib. CCR is acting under a 2002 German law that permits human rights and war crimes prosecutions even though the criminal acts took place outside Germany. “We file these cases here because there is simply no other place to go,” said CCR vice president Peter Weiss. “It is clear that the US government is not willing to open an investigation into these allegations against these officials” (to support CCR’s effort go to www.ccr-ny.org or Act Now at www.thenation.com).


Matthew Reiss writes: White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, expected to be the next Attorney General, is best known for the prisoner “torture memo.” But Gonzales’s real White House legacy may well be an enormous expansion of government secrecy. Gonzales blocked the 9/11 Commission’s efforts to compel Condoleezza Rice’s testimony until she was needed to rebut what antiterrorism adviser Richard Clarke told the panel. He stopped the commission from reviewing presidential daily intelligence briefings, permitting selected members to view portions of them. He recommended halting Congressional oversight of data leading to presidential pardons. He requested successive extensions of deadlines for turning over the papers of past Presidents and purportedly pressured the national archivist to resign to stall access to records of President George H.W. Bush. He argued that records of Vice President Cheney’s energy policy task force should be spared Congressional or public scrutiny. After Bush captured the White House in 2000, he requested deadline extensions for the review of 68,000 papers of Ronald Reagan, thus blocking their release. Subsequently, Bush signed an executive order giving the White House indefinite time to review presidential records and veto power over their ever becoming public. Henry Waxman of California said in a recent report that government documents kept secret included those about the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib, communications between the DoD and Cheney’s office regarding Halliburton contracts in Iraq, and memorandums revealing what the White House knew about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.


John Nichols writes: The United Church of Christ has produced a TV ad featuring muscle-bound bouncers determining who may or may not attend church. After people of color, a disabled man and a pair of men who might be gay are turned away, the image dissolves to a statement: “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.” Viewers of CBS and NBC won’t see the commercial, however: It’s controversial! “Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations,” CBS announced, “and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks.” “It seems incredible to me that CBS admits it is refusing to air the commercial because of something the executive branch, the Bush Administration, is doing,” says Dave Moyer, minister for the Wisconsin Conference of the UCC. “Since when is it unacceptable to offer a different perspective?” Especially in this moral-values moment.