To Deborah Orin at the New York Post. Go read it all.
But part of the issue is simply that Saddam's tortures, like al Qaedas tactics, are so awful that they're unbearable to watch.
If I couldn't watch them myself, I'm hardly arguing that others should have to. Yet it raises a very complex problem in the War on Terror. It's worse than creating moral equivalence between Saddam's tortures and prisoner abuse by U.S. troops. It's that we do far more to highlight our own wrongdoings precisely because they are less appalling.
In this era, a photo is everything. 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. And that sets the stage for remarks like Sen. Ted Kennedy's claim that Saddam's torture chambers have reopened under "U.S. management."
Terrorism is sometimes called asymmetric warfare — America had to adjust to new tactics to deal with small bands of terrorists who were able to turn our airplanes into weapons against us. Now it turns out that we also face asymmetric propaganda — where the terrorists gain a p.r. advantage precisely because what they do is so horrific that our media aren't able to deal with it.
The U.S. military hasn't figured out a strategic way to deal with this problem.
But neither has the press.