What is torture anyway?

Can you help me understand why no one - i.e., no major media outlet reporter with access to question any Bush administration official, but most especially Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld - seems to take the death of at least one Iraqi prisoner in Abu Ghraib very seriously?

I watched a Q&A session that Rumsfeld did last week with reporters and they listened to a five-minute diatribe from the SecDef on how using words like torture to describe what happened at the prison Saddam built to torture people was tantamount to giving aid and comfort to the enemy and the height of irresponsibility. After this lecture, why did not one single reporter ask what is a better word than torture to describe the death of a prisoner at the hands of his captors?

Not only do we have photos of the man killed by US troops while in their custody, we have scenes of those same troops grinning and leering over the body. This is what Rumsfeld describes as abuse? I wonder how the dead man's mother describes it? In an era in which Paul Johnson, Jr. is now a household name, why do we still not know the name of this man killed by his custodians? With the several hundred prisoners released in the days after the photos were made public, is there still any pretense that he was some sort of terrorism suspect? Reporters should be demanding his name and his family should be given equal airtime, if only so we can hear what word they would use to describe having their son taken from home in the middle of the night; their father taken from home in the middle of the night; their brother taken from home in the middle of the night and then beaten to death for sport by foreigners.

30 men in the custody of US soldiers have died over the course of this "war on terror" that the Bush administration has been conducting for the last three years. That is about 10 a year or little less than one a month; Republicans have developed a habit of comparing the "troubles" in Iraq to what you might find in a troubled inner city. Even they might look askance upon one police shooting a month for three years - no matter the city.

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