Is it just me, or does most of the "outrage" over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners look almost completely feigned? From every side of the political spectrum, from reporters to politicians to bloggers, everyone acts shocked and appalled. Am I alone in thinking that, although the abuse shouldn't have happened, it's just not that big of a deal?

I mean, some pictures were taken of unclothed prisoners, and some prisoners were threatened with mild forms of torture. They weren't actually tortured, were they? Maybe I just haven't been following the story closely enough. I've heard some reports that some prisoners were murdered, but are those incidents related to the photos currently circulating, or are they completely different?

Look, prisons aren't nice places to be. Even prisons here in America are far more brutal than they should be, in all the wrong ways. Prison shouldn't be pleasant, but prisoners shouldn't be subject to rape and torture by as a matter of course, either. As I've written before, other forms of punishment would probably be cheaper, more humane, and more effective than prison. The whole prison paradigm needs to be re-examined, in my opinion. If you think the abuse in Iraq is unusual or outstanding, you need to get more familiar with prisons in general, in America and elsewhere. The only interesting feature here is that these idiots took pictures of their crimes.

I'm going to save my outrage for more important matters. This is small potatoes, not a matter for the President or his cabinet to worry about. Let the system work, or even better, revamp the system. In my opinion, this just isn't news; it's a high-profile example of a widespread, low-level problem.

Some commenters think I'm out of line here, but c'mon -- the Pentagon issued a report about these incidents in January. The only reason this is news now is because the media is hyping it. We need to get these guys and punish them, but the public humilation and self-flagellation by the President and Rumsfeld et al is just playing into the hands of the anti-Americans. It should have been enough for some colonel to say "we're aware of the situation, it's terrible, and we're dealing with it in the standard fashion."



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