How Torture Happens

The New York Times is, for some reason, unafraid to use the word "torture" to describe the acts committed by Chicago cop, Jon Burge. I guess Dick Cheney didn't call. But the eventual conviction of this criminal gives some small shred of hope that justice might eventually be done in the cases of Bush, Cheney, Addington, Yoo et al. There was no public outcry - as so often, the public is only too happy to pull a Noonan when screams in cells can be kept off our radar screens. The press did this, notably John Conroy of the Chicago Reader, a true journalistic hero in this corrupted age. Now that Burge has been convicted, Conroy offered this statement:

"I think Burge is a guy who was failed by his supervisors. I think that if the first time Burge as a detective pulled somebody in and roughed him up in some way, if his lieutenant said to him, 'Burge, you do that one more time and I'll have you guarding the parking lot at 11th and State,' I don't think it would've happened again. He was a good enough cop without it. He could've gone just as far without the torture. It just required some supervision, somebody to say, 'We don't do that here,' and there's no Jon BurgeJon Burge is not notorious, he's a well-regarded cop and serves his career and retires to Florida and all's well with the world.

I think everybody wants Burge to be a monster, and he's not. He's a creature of our own devising, in a way. He's a product of the Chicago police system at the timeand now, toowhich does its best to protect errant cops unless they're caught red-handed."

But what happens when your commander-in-chief doesn't just turn a blind eye to torture, but endorses it? Well, we know all too well.