Representing America

Mark Danner writes in the New York Review of Books:

What is clear is that the Abu Ghraib photographs and the terrible story they tell have done great damage to what was left of America’s moral power in the world, and thus its power to inspire hope rather than hatred among Muslims. The photographs “do not represent America,” or so the President asserts, and we nod our heads and agree. But what exactly does this mean?
I agree that the photographs do not represent America but what has become abundantly clear is that the photographs do represent the bush administration (article is from the Wall Street Journal ($)):
Bush administration lawyers contended last year that the president wasn’t bound by laws prohibiting torture and that government agents who might torture prisoners at his direction couldn’t be prosecuted by the Justice Department.
For more details see Bilmon, Phillip Carter, and Kevin Drum who states the issue clearly:
The United States has fought many wars over the past half century, and in each of them our causes were just as important as today’s, information from prisoners would have been just as helpful, and we were every bit as determined to win as we are now. But we still didn’t authorize torture of prisoners. FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, LBJ, Reagan � all of them knew it wasn’t right, and the rest of us knew it as well.
So what’s different this time? Only one thing: the name of the man in the White House. Under this administration, we seem to have lost the simple level of moral clarity that allowed our predecessors to tell right from wrong.
Do we really have to wait for an election to toss these people out of office?
That congress has not initiated action to do so suggests that a majority of these folks have also lost their moral compass and should be booted out as well.