"American Credibility Flushed Down the Toilet," by Nicholas von Hoffman, from the New York Observer, won't teach you anything new. Nevertheless, I think it's an excellent, biting piece that's worth reading and circulating.
There are people aplenty on the outside of government backing up the White House and the Pentagon; they disbelieve the nasty stuff. David Brooks, as loyal an administration fugleman as you will find, asks, "Would it be illegal for more people on the left to actually be happy that a story slurring Americans may turn out to be unproven? Could there be a few more liberals willing to admit that prisoners routinely lie about their treatment? . . . We're in the middle of an ideological war against people who want to destroy us. . . ."Hoffman's not obsessing on the Koran-in-toilet story. In fact, he writes, "Were it not that I am against book burning, book flushing and book shredding, I would urge that everybody's holy books, starting with the New Testament, be dropped down the very self-same hole". (Ha! Love that bit.)
Sometimes prisoners lie and sometimes their jailers do, but Dr. Brooks and his fellow warriors for the Lord haven't had much success in discerning which is which. Back when this endless conflict was starting, it was Saddam - not yet pictured in his undies - who had it right about the W.M.D. and David Brooks' people who were the tellers of tall tales. Though exposed countless times, they've continued to deceive through what is becoming the weary years of this winless war. Their most recent sojourn into the land of lies concerns the accidental death by friendly gunfire of Cpl. Pat Tillman, the patriotic football player who enlisted in the war Mr. Brooks urges others to fight. For recruiting purposes, the Army concocted a story about Tillman's heroic death at the hands of the enemy and awarded him a posthumous medal for an action that never took place. . . .
Noting that books, however holy, don't feel pain - "Koranic waste management is the least of it" - Hoffman moves on to the real stuff. The sadism, the torture, the brutality - against people, who do. Feel pain, that is. After summarizing what we know about US-perpetrated and -condoned torture, Hoffman writes:
Mr. Rumsfeld's people fall back on the rotten-apple-in-the-barrel defense. It's a plausible argument when sadistic acts are sometime events, but when they are brought to light week after week in bunches, the rotten-fruit theory does not hold up.I don't think the Observer keeps stories up indefinitely, and they don't seem to have archives, so please go read it now.
At some point, somebody must ask: How come so many rotten apples? Who is in charge of choosing the apples? Who picks them? Who puts the apples in the barrel, and whose job is it to see the rotten ones don't spoil the good ones?