Last week, I endorsed the Torture News Strike, an action being carried out by people upset that most American newspapers have utterly failed to cover the confession by George W. Bush that he not only knew of torture being carried out by U.S. Government forces, that he not only asked his senior cabinet officials to meet dozens of times to work out the details of torture procedures, but that he approved the result, a White House policy that trickled right from the top down to military, intelligence and justice units where the torture occurred. “I Approved,” said George W. Bush out loud, and America’s newspapers looked the other way.
I’m happy to report that on Sunday, the New York Times finally broke its eight days of silence on the news and published this lead editorial (read the complete text here):
Ever since Americans learned that American soldiers and intelligence agents were torturing prisoners, there has been a disturbing question: How high up did the decision go to ignore United States law, international treaties, the Geneva Conventions and basic morality?…
We have long known that the Justice Department tortured the law to give its Orwellian blessing to torturing people, and that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved a list of ways to abuse prisoners. But recent accounts by ABC News and The Associated Press said that all of the president’s top national security advisers at the time participated in creating the interrogation policy: Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Rumsfeld; Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser; Colin Powell, the secretary of state; John Ashcroft, the attorney general; and George Tenet, the director of central intelligence.
These officials did not have the time or the foresight to plan for the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq or the tenacity to complete the hunt for Osama bin Laden. But they managed to squeeze in dozens of meetings in the White House Situation Room to organize and give legal cover to prisoner abuse, including brutal methods that civilized nations consider to be torture.
Mr. Bush told ABC News this month that he knew of these meetings and approved of the result.…
The amount of time and energy devoted to this furtive exercise at the very highest levels of the government reminded us how little Americans know, in fact, about the ways Mr. Bush and his team undermined, subverted and broke the law in the name of saving the American way of life….
Mr. Bush has sidestepped or quashed every attempt to uncover the breadth and depth of his sordid actions. Congress is likely to endorse a cover-up of the extent of the illegal wiretapping he authorized after 9/11, and we are still waiting, with diminishing hopes, for a long-promised report on what the Bush team really knew before the Iraq invasion about those absent weapons of mass destruction — as opposed to what it proclaimed.
At this point it seems that getting answers will have to wait, at least, for a new Congress and a new president. Ideally, there would be both truth and accountability. At the very minimum the public needs the full truth.
Some will call this a backward-looking distraction, but only by fully understanding what Mr. Bush has done over eight years to distort the rule of law and violate civil liberties and human rights can Americans ever hope to repair the damage and ensure it does not happen again.
This is a criminal conspiracy in clear violation of federal anti-torture law we’re talking about. Our previous president was impeached for a blow job. Ten years later, can we not find in ourselves some nugget of moral outrage that our president has violated federal law to turn the United States of America into a torture state?
On Friday, I canceled my subscription to the New York Times in protest of their lack of coverage of this important piece of news. This morning, my subscription was renewed. Thank you, New York Times, for finally covering this vitally important story and bringing it to citizens’ attention.