Dear Editor,
The Democrats and Republicans and the US media have coalesced around an explanation of the treatment of Iraqi prisoners that just doesn't wash with me or much of the rest of the world.  The argument's main points are the following.  1) That this is an isolated incident carried out by a few soldiers because the system failed.  2) That this was abuse rather than torture.  3) That modest punishment of these few wayward individuals will rectify the situation.
Why do we assume the incidents are isolated?  It seems likely to me that only a fraction of what went on was photographed.  Do we assume that only events with photographic evidence are real?  Further, why do we so easily dismiss the possibility that this was planned and ordered by high up in the command.  The US now detains without any legal process both foreigners and citizens.  "Soft torture" (loud music, hooding, stepping on people's necks, sleep deprivation) have been thoroughly integrated into US policy toward terrorism.
To put icing on the cake, John Negroponte is the new ambassador to Iraq.  I remember him.  He was ambassador to Honduras when the US was aiding and abetting torture, murder, terrorism and genocide in Central America in the 1980s.
Doug Brugge
59 Blanchard Road
Cambridge, MA 02138