Editor’s Page

Editor’s Page

What hurts more? Torture in Abu Ghraib prison by Saddam Hussein’s thugs or torture in Abu Ghraib by American brutes? Torture to sustain a vicious dictatorship or torture in the name of democracy? A torture victim might be excused for finding these queries absurd.

Americans ought to be unsettled by them. n Americans ought also to be disturbed by the responses of some of our shrillest right-wing voices. Tom DeLay, Republican House leader, opposed congressional inquiry into Abu Ghraib because it would be “like saying we need an investigation every time there’s police brutality on the street.” (New Republic, May 24, 2004.) Didn’t DeLay once insist urgently on congressional inquiry into a presidential fib about an affair? National “values” were at stake.

I sometimes wonder if a Defense Department committee wasn’t established to envisage all blunders that might be made in Iraq, and then proceeded to make them policy. If a corporation-say, Halliburton-carried out a “mission” as the Defense Department did in Iraq, would its executives keep their jobs? Would they be able to wave a logo and outsource accountability? In the meantime, Mr. Bush’s policy seems governed by his electoral calendar, not Iraqi needs.

During a charged moment in the Vietnam era, socialist Norman Thomas reacted against extremists within the left who alienated many Americans by vulgar, demonstrative acts. The flag shoul...

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