But why? The American public has been aware of our use of torture for some time now. The Obama administration has made it all too clear that they have strong reservations about prosecuting the architects of the Bush administration's torture policy, and that any meaningful actions along those lines are highly unlikely to be taken.
It is because Cheney knew, when he began his media assault, that the worst of the horrors inflicted upon detainees at his specific command are not yet widely known. If the real stuff comes into full public light, he feared the general outrage will be so furious and all-encompassing that the Obama administration will have no choice but to reverse itself and seek prosecutions of those Bush-era officials who specifically demanded those barbaric acts be inflicted upon prisoners.
This is not about waterboarding, as gruesome as that practice is. It is not about putting prisoners in confined spaces, or about pushing them, or slapping them, or putting bugs on them or demeaning them and their religious faith.
It is about this, from July of 2004:After Donald Rumsfeld testified on the Hill about Abu Ghraib in May, there was talk of more photos and video in the Pentagon's custody more horrific than anything made public so far. "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse," Rumsfeld said. Since then, The Washington Post has disclosed some new details and images of abuse at the prison. But if Seymour Hersh is right, it all gets much worse. Hersh gave a speech last week to the ACLU making the charge that children were sodomized in front of women in the prison, and the Pentagon has tape of it.
Hersh: "Debating about it, ummm ... Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib ... The women were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out."
Dick Cheney wanted everyone talking about waterboarding, close confinement, and all the rest of the torture techniques outlined in the recently-released "Torture Memos." Talking about waterboarding is still safe territory for him and everyone else who served his cruel intentions in the Bush administration. They're taking some heat, sure, but the story has been out there for a while and he's not wearing prison stripes yet.
I know why this caged bird sang. He was terrified of the very real cage that could be waiting to swing open and swallow him up if the true nature of his torture directives became widely known. If the entire country comprehends the awful fact that women and boys were forcibly raped upon his specific orders, Dick Cheney's bets would all be off.
That was then, however, and this is now. Dick Cheney is breathing a little easier today, and why shouldn't he? President Obama appears to have pretty much let Cheney, along with all the other enables of torture, off the hook.
"President Obama is seeking to block the release of photographs depicting American military personnel abusing captives in Iraq and Afghanistan, an administration official said Wednesday," reports The New York Times. "The president's decision marks a sharp reversal from a decision made last month by the Pentagon, which reached a deal with the American Civil Liberties Union to release photographs showing incidents at Abu Ghraib and a half-dozen other prisons. 'Last week, the president met with his legal team and told them that he did not feel comfortable with the release of the D.O.D. photos because he believes their release would endanger our troops,' said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. 'And because he believes that the national security implications of such a release have not been fully presented to the court.'"
To me, this means two things.
The pictures are really, really, really bad, just as Sy Hersh said they would be.
There will be no punishment, no justice, for acts of barbarous torture undertaken at the specific behest of men like Dick Cheney. The Obama administration has chosen the easier path, chosen to ignore the manifest harm done to this nation and the world by refusing to seek that necessary justice.
The caged bird sang to stay out of a cage. Now he's free as a bird, and ours is a badly damaged and disgraced country because of it.
If Sy Hersh and William Rivers Pitt are right then this country cannot go forward unless the Obama administration reverses course and holds the Bush/Cheney administration accountable for their barbarous decisions, actions and lies.