Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
The myth of the "liberal media" has become such an article of faith these days that attempting to refute it is futile. But if evidence against liberal bias were being collected, on top of the pile would go the scant coverage the liberal media are giving two stories about the approval of torture and prisoner abuse by the conservatives currently holding the offices of president and vice president of the United States.
Earlier this month, a bipartisan U.S. Senate committee put the blame for the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison squarely at the top of the chain of command. Here's Andrew Sullivan:
The person who authorized all the abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib, the man who gave the green light to the abuses in that prison, is the president of the United States, George W. Bush.
Again: there is no longer any reasonable factual debate about this (hence to near total silence of the Republican right), and the Senate report finally holds the president responsible in bipartisan fashion.
On Monday, Dick Cheney admitted to ABC News that he approved torturing suspects in custody --- albeit with a quibble over the semantics of the word "torture" --- but his confession has received little notice on other channels. The story ran on page A14 in the Los Angeles Times today, with the White House-approved euphemism in the headline, "Cheney Was Key in Clearing CIA Interrogation Tactics."
In fact, of course, what he "cleared" was much more than "interrogation tactics," it was, as the text of article makes clear, torture:
"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared," Cheney said in an interview with ABC News.
Asked whether he still believes it was appropriate to use the waterboarding method on terrorism suspects, Cheney said: "I do."
His comments come on the heels of disclosures by a Senate committee showing that high-level officials in the Bush administration were intimately involved in reviewing and approving interrogation methods that have since been explicitly outlawed and that have been condemned internationally as torture.
Soon after the Sept. 11 attacks, Cheney said, the CIA "in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it."
Waterboarding involves strapping a prisoner to a tilted surface, covering his face with a towel and dousing it to simulate the sensation of drowning.
CIA Director Michael V. Hayden has said that the agency used the technique on three Al Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003. But the practice was discontinued when lawyers from the Department of Justice and other agencies began backing away from their opinions endorsing its legality.
Cheney has long defended the technique. But he has not previously disclosed his role in pushing to give the CIA such authority.
This news has not received a fraction of the coverage given to the scandal involving the alleged attempts by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich --- a Democrat --- to sell Pres.-Elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat. Statehouse corruption is certainly newsworthy, but as criminal enterprises go, it is far less consequential than the conspiracy by Bush, Cheney, and other top officials to create an illegal torture and prisoner-abuse regime inside the U.S. government.
Allowing Bush, Cheney, and company to escape justice now risks repercussions in the future. It radically increases the likelihood that U.S. citizens will be tortured when they are captured. It also sends the signal to future corrupt politicians like Bush and Cheney that they can get away with crimes such as these.
Equally as troubling is the media's collective disinterest in these developments, and the eery similarity with their collective silence and lack of curiosity about Bush's bogus rationale for invading Iraq --- a dereliction of duty that has cost the United States a steep price in both blood and treasure.