Editorial: Torture is no surprise, but the public deserves details

One of the most disgusting allegations to come out of George W. Bush’s presidency was whether military officers under Bush ordered the torture of prisoners of war at various military prisons.

When confronted by the media regarding the subject, government officials seemed skittish, dodging questions by asking their own questions, or avoiding the subject altogether, leading the public to believe the government had indeed tortured detainees, violating precedents set forth by the Geneva Convention.

For years, we’ve known about the questionable interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, and for years, it’s been

one of the many stains on the Bush administration.

But when President Obama released memos used by the Bush administration to justify the use of torture as a means of interrogation, the controversy resurfaced, demanding the attention of the media once again.

Immediately, conservative pundits cried foul, claiming Obama had no right to release the documents as doing so, they said, was a matter of national security and would jeopardize the safety of the American people.

On the other hand, liberals acted like it was the first time they’d ever heard of the misdeeds of the Bush administration, even though the news had been broken years earlier.

Granted, the American people have a right to know how the military treats its detainees.

After all, it’s a government of, by and for the people.

But to act indignantly as if this were the first time the news had broken is ridiculous.

The people have known about torture for years, but they choose to chastise the former president just over the specifics of how interrogations were carried out.

What about conservatives?

How could telling the people, “We screwed up and we’re sorry,” possibly endanger the safety of the public?

Both sides need to realize that yes, detainees were tortured. Yes, it was wrong, and yes, the government needs to provide an answer for it.

But this isn’t breaking news. This isn’t a chance for the people to lament the government’s mistakes and cast lots. It’s a time to confront the issue and solve it. We accept torture is wrong, and we deserve to know about it, but at the same time, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

If the problem is to be solved, it shouldn’t be used to polarize political factions who use it to take cheap shots at each other; rather, it should be confronted up front and eliminated.

The editorial is the majority opinion of The DEN editorial board. Reach the opinions editor at: [email protected].