In the U.S. we have this game we play. Some major violation of our fundamental values occurs and instead of blaming the system or society at large, we blame the Bad Apple.
In the case of Abu Ghraib, we blamed a few bad apples — even though it was obvious then and even more obvious now that bad apples were simply following orders. But God forbid that we ever point any blame at the system. Even President Obama now has made it his policy that any information that may reveal extreme government abuse be kept secret lest it damage our national image.
Take the most recent and obvious example: Bernard Madoff. This one Bad Apple gets a 150 year prison sentence and we are expected to believe and accept that he acted alone in a vacuum, regardless of the fact that he ran a sizable operation. He even maintained office space in the building where I work in Madrid. Earlier this year, 60 Minutes ran “The Man Who Figured Out Madoff’s Scheme” about how Harry Markopolos discovered Madoff’s fraud within five minutes of looking at the numbers. Between 2000 and 2008, Markopolos on five separate occasions sent detailed materials to the SEC revealing Madoff’s fraud. Of course, the SEC did absolutely nothing. Nevertheless, the moral of the story is that Madoff gets his punishment — 150 years for being the Bad Apple.
Sigh relief. Once again, the rest of society is off the hook.