The Bush administration needed to do something -- and quick -- to prove that Abu Ghraib was an "aberration" committed by a "small handful" of weird people, so just minutes ago John Ashcroft was live on CNN announcing the first criminal indictment of a civilian CIA contractor -- a North Carolina boy, incidentally -- for the death of an Afghan prisoner. (Coverage in the News & Observer here.) No doubt David Passaro is one bad dude, but Ashcroft's repetition of the administration's line that these are the acts of isolated and self-motivated individuals and has nothing whatsoever to do with the "chain of command," let alone torture treatises penned in his very own Department of Justice -- is that kettle of fish not going to start stinking up the joint?
"The term show trial is most commonly used to describe a type of public trial in which the guilt of an accused has already been decided, and the only goal of the trial is to present the accusation and the verdict to the public .... The most flagrant cases were the Moscow Trials of the Great Purge time period of the Soviet Union. Not only the guilt of the defendants was predefined, the whole processes were frame-ups, the opinion of the public was formed by massive campaigns in newspapers and at numerous meetings. The trials themselves were carefully staged. If a defendant refused to 'cooperate', i.e., to admit a guilt, mostly fabricated, he was not put on trial, but excuted nevertheless." Definition of 'show trial' in "Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia."