Diana West

Why have the media continued to report, obsess and revel in the same old humiliation photos from U.S.-controlled Abu Ghraib even as they ignore never-before-aired videotape that documents the hacking, maiming and bloody torture that took place at Abu Ghraib under Saddam Hussein?

When the New York Post's Deborah Orin posed this excellent question to terror expert Michael Ledeen, he responded that "most journalists want Bush to lose."   Former Defense Department official Richard Perle also blames "faint hearts in the administration" who believe it's "politically incorrect" to showcase the savage reality of Saddam Hussein's regime. Orin offers another explanation: "We highlight U.S. prisoner abuse because the photos aren't too offensive to show. We downplay Saddam's abuse precisely because it's far worse -- so we can't use the photos."

Or don't want to. That might burst the bubble. The beautiful, shining sanctimony that lines the stormy denunciations of abuse at Abu Ghraib (and by extension at prisons for suspected Islamic terrorists the world over) would lose some of its feel-good luster. This goes a long way to explain why, as Orin noted, "the world sees photos of U.S. interrogators using dogs to scare prisoners at Abu Ghraib. But not the footage of Saddam's prisoners getting fed -- alive -- to Doberman pinschers."

More than anything else, the emanations of Abu Ghraib have enveloped opponents of the Iraqi war policy in a vacuum-packed morality, a cocoon of virtuousness from which they judge the world as it should be, not the world as it is. In their never-never land, there is never, never cause for mistreatment of any kind. This condition may feel good, particularly as it eliminates the need to weigh the well-being of suspected terrorists against the well-being of unsuspecting victims, and act accordingly. Indeed, there is no need to act, period -- except, that is, on the urge to "feel good about yourself." In pursuit of this essentially selfish experience, terrorism and defeat become interchangeable with security and victory.

Seeing the world as it should be (something resembling a croquet lawn) rather than the world as it is (consumed in a global struggle against Islamic jihad to reclaim national and international security) is not unique to Abu Ghraibists basking in a rosy glow.

The Bush administration, for example, pledges to Arab-American leaders to eliminate security checks for men entering the country from mainly Muslim countries. Is such a pledge appropriate at this precarious stage in the war?

I'd rather see the Bush administration pledge to Arab-American leaders to eliminate security risks entering the country from mainly Muslim countries.

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).