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Hey Americans, the Pundits Blame You for Bush and Cheney's Torture Policies

In their mad dash to ensure that no one in the Bush administration is held accountable for torture, the media are putting the blame on all Americans.

What is it about torture that is so seductive to our mainstream media?

First, our leading (and often "liberal") commentators and analysts, writing in supposedly respectable publications such as Newsweek and The Atlantic , tried to appear as tough-minded believers in realpolitik by siding with such REALLY tough-minded believers as Dick Cheney when he led our country over to " the dark side."

Then multiple Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Friedman -- ever consistent and persistent in his excuse making for the powerful -- hailed, in a recent column, Barack (" Split the baby") Obama's "torturous compromise" to expose, but not prosecute, those responsible for violating our Constitution and international law by torturing in our names. This despite the fact that, as Friedman accurately noted, "more than 100 detainees died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, with up to 27 of those declared homicides by the military. They were allegedly kicked to death, shot, suffocated or drowned. Look, our people killed detainees, and only a handful of those deaths have resulted in any punishment of U.S. officials."

Then Jacob Weisberg, chairman and editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, agreed with Friedman's contention that there should be no torture prosecutions because we had all "acquiesced" in the Bush-Cheney Torture Agenda; we were all "the President's accomplices," and thus "pursuing criminal charges would be too hard legally and politically and too easy morally.' According to Weisberg's twisted morality and logic, "Prosecuting Bush and his men won't absolve the rest of us for what we let them do."

His explanation for this astounding conclusion is simply that "everyone knew" about the torture -- so no one should be prosecuted for it:

"Congress was informed about what was happening and raised no objection. The public knew, too. By 2003, if you didn't understand that the United States was inflicting torture on those deemed enemy combatants, you weren't paying much attention. This is part of what makes applying a criminal justice model to those most directly responsible such a bad idea. The issue we need to come to terms with is not just who in the Bush administration did what but how we were collectively complicit in their decisions."

Unfortunately, seeing and hearing leading and allegedly liberal media figures such as Weisberg and Friedman blame the rest of us for the Bush-Cheney moral failings -- and then claim that prosecuting senior officials who break the law will "rip our country apart" -- has now become as common as seeing and hearing the likes of Newsweek Senior Editor and NBC News correspondent Jonathan Alter, or The Atlantic's National Correspondent Mark Bowden, say things like "In this autumn of anger, even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to torture," which can "be morally sound," as Bowden wrote. "It may be clear that coercion is sometimes the right choice."

"Couldn't we at least subject them to psychological torture, like tapes of dying rabbits or high-decibel rap?" Alter demanded. "How about truth serum, administered with a mandatory IV? Or deportation to Saudi Arabia, land of beheadings?"

As Bowden explained in the formerly august pages of The Atlantic , "The Bush Administration has adopted exactly the right posture on the matterTorture is a crime against humanity, but coercion is an issue that is rightly handled with a wink, or even a touch of hypocrisy; it should be banned but also quietly practiced."

That makes US accomplices? I think not - remember, the same media figures told us, falsely, that "Some torture clearly works," that "we need to keep an open mind" about it, and that "we'll have to think about transferring some suspects to our less squeamish allies, even if that's hypocritical." After all, my fellow "accomplices," as Alter wrote in his Newsweek column shortly after 9/11: "Nobody said this was going to be pretty."

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