Ignoring Torture

We know how the right-wing blogosphere did their best to turn away from, deny, ignore or minimize the introduction of torture as an interrogation technique by president Bush. We also know that John Kerry focus-grouped the issue and decided not to challenge the president on it once during the campaign. But Eric Umansky shows how the press played its part too. His full report is here. One of the more gripping nuggets is the New York Times breaking the story of the premeditated military torture-murder of an Afghan detainee, by hanging him from a cell ceiling and beating his legs until, according to a military medical examiner, they had "basically been pulpified." The NYT had the Carlotta Gall story first. Foreign editor Roger Cohen lobbied frantically for it to be on Page One, but it ended up buried in the paper. This was long before Abu Ghraib and showed that the torture policy long predated that scandal - and caused it. Money quote:

Carlotta's piece was 'the real deal,' he told me. 'It referred to a homicide. Detainees had been killed in custody. I mean, you can’t get much clearer than that. I pitched it, I don't know, four times at page-one meetings, with increasing urgency and frustration. I laid awake at night over this story. And I don't fully understand to this day what happened. It was a really scarring thing. My single greatest frustration as foreign editor was my inability to get that story on page one.'

Fear and denial. It is indeed hard to believe that a president could have set in train a policy that would end in U.S. troops believing they could treat any captives like animals. But those were the limits they were operating under. And the man responsible is still president, his torture-implementer, Don Rumsfeld, is still secretary of defense, and the man who helped provide the legal cover is now attorney-general.