I wonder just how long it will take until the images of US torture of Iraqi prisoners disappear from the television screens of American viewers, compared to the months and months of seeing a dirty, bearded, disheveled and disoriented Saddam Hussein undergoing his degrading dental exam. They are still showing video clips of this exercise in humiliation every time a television commentator wants to relate a story about Saddam Hussein. Unless there is a lot of public pressure, the corporate media will eliminate this torture story very rapidly. It is not conducive to building public support for these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The corporate media are a bunch of propagandists, although they will arrogantly claim they are objective, fair and balanced.
This torture of Iraqi prisoners of war will probably be portrayed mainly as the isolated acts of a few deranged, sadistic American soldiers. This is definitely not the case. Torture is an integral part of a strategy of counterinsurgency warfare, which the United States has been following for decades. Guerrilla warfare depends on popular support for its success, since the guerrilla fighters can't compete with the superior weaponry and technology of the occupying power or the government against whom they are revolting. The objective of torture and other methods of low-intensity warfare is to be so savage and shocking that people will be intimidated enough that they will no longer support the resistance.
A prime example of this counterinsurgency strategy was the Phoenix Program in Vietnam. This program involved torture, assassinations, mutilation of corpses, pushing prisoners out of helicopters, etc. In Guatemala the severed heads of guerrilla fighters were placed on pikes to intimidate anyone who might have thought about supporting or joining the guerrillas. In Argentina leftists were pushed out of airplanes over the Atlantic ocean. Presently, right-wing death squads in Colombia are using chain saws to slowly dismember peasants that they suspect of being guerrillas or guerrilla supporters. These are not just ideas that popped into the heads of these torturers. The CIA and the Office of Public Safety have been training the police and militaries in Latin America and supplying them with the torture equipment for a very long time. An OPS officer Dan Mitrione captured beggars off the street in Montevideo, Uruguay to use as subjects for torture techniques to be applied to the Tupamaros guerrilla fighters. All these beggars died as a result of these demonstrations of torture techniques to the Uruguayan police. Political analyst Michael Parenti has a chapter in his book The Sword and the Dollar giving all the gruesome details of the various types of torture employed in Latin America and the US role in their perpetration.
I knew when the war in Iraq started that various types of low-intensity warfare like targeted assassinations and torture were definitely going to be employed. What was surprising to me was that someone had the courage to reveal this information, while the war was still occurring without a successful resolution for the United States. Often, embarrassing events like this only come to light years later and are revealed on page 25 or so of your local newspaper and in one paragraph in small print at the bottom of the page. The undeniable desire by the corporate media is that few people will notice or become outraged. As an example of their biased coverage, I would venture to say that the vast majority of Americans have never heard of anything called the Phoenix Program in Vietnam.