Limbaugh back to labeling Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse “hazing” and “a fraternity prank”

Citing statements by U.S. Army investigators during a preliminary military court hearing of Pfc. Lynndie England that England was “having some fun” when she abused Iraqi detainees, radio host Rush Limbaugh, on August 4, returned to the same script of his controversial remarks about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. On the August 4 edition of the nationally syndicated Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh said that England and the other accused soldiers were engaging in acts that were “sort of like hazing, a fraternity prank. Sort of like that kind of fun.”

Limbaugh once again compared the Abu Ghraib scandal to “hazing” to support his claim that orders for the abuse “couldn't have gone all the way to the top [of the Bush administration].” Nevertheless, Limbaugh claimed, if Senator John Kerry (D-MA) loses the presidential election in November, “the first thing they're [Democrats] going to do [is] try to impeach [President George W.] Bush over this Abu Ghraib thing.”

Earlier in the program, Limbaugh further downplayed the severity of England's actions; Limbaugh described how, when he “got pulled over” by the police in New York on August 1, he “was halfway hoping that one of the cops would be Lynndie England, but no such luck.”

On August 4, The Washington Post paraphrased Army investigators' testimony, reporting that the Army special agents claimed that the soldiers abused Iraqi prisoners “to blow off steam, not at the behest of their superiors.” Such a characterization echoed Limbaugh's initial remarks on the prisoner abuse in early May.

As Media Matters for America has noted, Limbaugh has made a series of statements that downplayed, dismissed, and even endorsed the Iraqi prisoner abuse. In May, MMFA created an online petition to remove Limbaugh from taxpayer-funded American Forces Radio to American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) that has nearly 40,000 signatures. On June 14, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for fairness and balance on AFRTS. Currently, Limbaugh is the only politically partisan host featured on the service's talk channel.