Americans who voted to reelect Bush are the real torture culprits

The trouble with this desire for retribution isn’t that it goes too far. The trouble is that it doesn’t go far enough. There is another group — a large one — that stood by doing nothing while Americans grabbed people off the streets of foreign countries, took them to other foreign countries (because we don’t allow this sort of thing in the United States!) and tortured them until they said whatever our government wanted to hear. If you’re going to punish people for condoning torture, you’d better include the American citizenry itself…

Let’s take what has become the most notorious practice of American torturers: waterboarding. The first reference to “a technique known as water boarding” in the Factiva news media database is an Associated Press report that the CIA didn’t have enough trained torturers and had to use outside consultants familiar with such techniques. That ran on May 12, 2004, and referred to an article that already had appeared on the New York Times Web site. Between April and November of that year, there were dozens of articles about torture in general and waterboarding in particular in major print media outlets, on the Web and on TV, many describing it in detail and some straightforwardly labeling it as torture. Millions of people saw these reports, knew that torture was going on and voted for Bush anyway. There is no way of knowing how many of those who voted against him were affected by the torture question. A good guess would be “not many.” (Not me, for one, I’m sorry to say.) Bush’s opponent, John Kerry, never mentioned waterboarding.