The Media’s Pro-Torture Cheerleaders

The Fifth Column

Timothy A. Clark/AFP/Getty

The Daily Beast

The American people didn’t demand that we torture detainees and embark on permanent war after 9/11. Our politicians and pundits did.

“The American people were demanding that the government do anything necessary to keep the country safe.”  That has become a talking point exonerating American torture after 9/11, which a Congressional investigation has recently recently detailed.  It is a convenient story: the government was faithfully obeying the people, and the people were shocked by events, freshly aware that the world is a dangerous place.  Understandably, mistakes were made.

This story is almost criminally wrong.  The 9/11 attacks were shocking and frightening, of course.  They did just what terrorism aims to do: shattered the unthinking, complacent security of a peaceful country, and revealed the fragility of things.

It was also a hugely open, uncertain moment.  People were scared but, just as much, confused.  We…

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