Me, two days ago:
Does the Iraqi government have a home video showing mercenaries from the Blackwater firm firing wild into a crowd of Iraqi civilians? If so it could be very, very bad news. Words can inform but pictures, especially moving pictures, carry emotional impact in a way that written accounts almost never do. Fairly specific stories about what we did at abu Ghraib circulated from reporters like Seymour Hersh for quite some time before one CD of pictures blew the story wide open.
“This is a nightmare,” said a senior U.S. military official. “We had guys who saw the aftermath, and it was very bad. This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib…”
Of the many lurid angles to this story, I keep coming back to Donald Rumsfeld’s abu Ghraib defense, which was to claim (falsely) that he knew nothink! and that he acted properly once it came to his attention. If the Blackwater scandal grows into another abu Ghraib-scale fuckup for America, I don’t think that Rice can even pretend to make that sort of defense. Rice plainly knows what happened and she knows that it keeps happening, yet (1) she steadfastly refuses to allow the faintest hint of oversight, (2) she openly refuses to allow consequences for the shooters, and (3) she goes on using Blackwater as if nothing has happened. When and if this story goes to hell Rice will be operating without Rumsfeld’s fig leaf of deniability.
Whether that even matters, though, is another story. An administration that kept Alberto Gonzales for months after most Republicans wrote him off can probably hang on to a disgraced Secretary of State for a surprisingly long time.