At Rummy's Bizarro Pentagon, Torture is Rewarded While Sex is a Firing Offense

Here’s all the proof you need that the lunatics have taken over the Pentagon and DoD asylums (that is, if the lunacy of their Iraq policies hadn’t already convinced you):

Four-star General Kevin Byrnes, the third most senior of the Army’s 11 four-star generals, was sacked over allegations that he had an extramarital affair. Meanwhile, Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, the senior commander in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib torture and abuse scandal, is being considered for promotion to, yep, four-star general.

Talk about your utterly perverted priorities.

Now, it long ago became clear that the Bushies inhabit a bizarro, topsy-turvy universe -- a place where being utterly wrong about slam-dunk WMD earns you a Medal of Freedom, dismissing a “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S.” memo earns you a promotion to Secretary of State, signing off on torture makes you AG material, another 123 American soldiers being blown up is the mark of an enemy in its “last throes”, and outing an undercover CIA agent (and then lying about it) merits a vote of confidence instead of a pink slip.

Nevertheless, the Byrnes firing is still stunning. Consider: in modern times, no four-star general has ever been relieved of duty for disciplinary reasons; prior to this incident Byrne had a spotless military record; he has been separated from his wife since May 2004; the allegations do not involve anyone under his command or connected to the DoD; and he was already set to retire in November.

Something doesn’t add up. Would the Army really can a four-star General with 36 years of service, three months shy of his retirement, because he screwed someone other than his wife... in the middle of a war? We are at war, right? No wonder speculation is mounting that there has to be more -- much more -- to this story than is being told.

Was the affair with a man? Was the man underage? Did he not only ask, but also tell? Was, say, one of the Bush twins involved? Did the illicit liaison entail incredibly kinky behavior... something involving a dog leash, women’s panties, fake blood, a Koran, and a Lynndie England mask?

Or was Gen. Byrnes busted for engaging in straight, vanilla, missionary, once-a-week-with-the-lights-off boffing with the slightly overweight neighbor lady down the street?

Is this what it takes for Rummy and company to continue seeing themselves as paragons of virtue who will do whatever is necessary to hold people accountable for their private conduct...while turning a blind eye to the wanton assault on decency and morality that has marked our handling of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and Bagram?

In other words, it’s the s-e-x, stupid! The GOP base will eat it up. A little unnerved that Roberts gave a freebie to the gays? Don’t sweat it. The Bush administration demonstrates it will not stand for a leader who breaks his vows (other than vows to fire anyone involved in the Plame leak, that is).

My only question is: was Rummy given photos of Gen. Byrnes in flagrante delicto? Must have been. If you’ll recall, Rumsfeld told Congress that it took him months to look into the reports of abuse at Abu Ghraib because, even though he’d been alerted that U.S. soldiers were humiliating and torturing naked Iraqi prisoners, “It is the photographs that give one the vivid realization of what actually took place. Words don’t do it.”

Of course, once Rummy and the White House did see the photos from Abu Ghraib, they didn’t leap into action, they leapt into damage control -- treating the worst American military scandal since My Lai not as an international land mine that could flatten our country’s moral high ground but as a PR problem that could be spun, manipulated, stonewalled and, ultimately, swept under the rug.

And they were right. At least as far as the American electorate was concerned. The feelings of the Arab world are a whole other matter.

Here is the vile and pathetic scorecard from the Abu Ghraib/Guantanamo outrages: Only one high ranking officer involved has been demoted (Gen. Janis Karpinski, the former head officer at the prison). One! Indeed, many of the others involved have been promoted, including two senior officers who oversaw or advised on detention and interrogations operations in Iraq -- former deputy commander Maj. Gen. Walter Wodjakowski and Col. Marc Warren, formerly the U.S.’s top military lawyer in Baghdad. And the former top intelligence officer in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, was also given a promotion. Meanwhile Maj. General Geoffrey Miller, who had a hand in both Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and who new evidence strongly suggests instigated some of the worst interrogation tactics, has yet to be held accountable... The same, of course, goes for Rumsfeld.

The message is clear: overseeing a system that led to prisoners being buggered with chemical lights and having electrodes attached to their genitals will get you a leg up in Bush’s military; giving the high, hard one to someone other than your wife will get you booted out the door.

Gee, it looks like David Brooks is right -- we really have become a more virtuous country.