To the editor:
On Friday, April 11, President Bush admitted to ABC News that he personally had approved the meetings at which top officials authorized interrogation techniques of suspected terrorists, specifically including intermittent drowning (the administration's preferred euphemism is "waterboarding") and other techniques.
Bush's admission received zero news coverage in the Lawrence Journal-World or any other mainstream newspaper. (The New York Times and a few other papers did carry editorials.) This silence is truly amazing. While American soldiers, like soldiers in most armies, have committed many isolated acts of torture over the years, it was the policy of American government ever since George Washington to oppose torture. Indeed, it was a hallmark of our democracy.
Pursuant to Bush's directive, the CIA tortured secretly kidnapped prisoners, recorded it on videotape, then destroyed the evidence and tried to cover it up. Few now deny these acts were felonies. They may also be war crimes, though some administration apologists disagree.
Legality aside, torture also advanced a criminally incompetent national security policy. Even more than the unjustifiable invasion of Iraq, American torture caused a majority of citizens in nearly every other country to turn against our otherwise legitimate struggle against al-Qaida.
Your April 19 Saturday Column was, therefore, jaw-droppingly stunning. The column tries to defend Bush against "raw and mean-spirited" attacks by simple whining and by disparaging the motives and character of Bush's critics, while ignoring their substantive criticisms. Most ironically, the columnist never mentions the torture admissions that his own newspaper had kept its readers from knowing about.