The proclamation that President George W. Bush issued on June 26, 2003, to mark the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture seemed innocuous, one of dozens of high-minded statements published and duly ignored each year.You can easily see where this article is going--how dare we accuse others of real torture when we just finished pouring water over the cellophaned faces of hardened jihadists whom we thought might know something about upcoming WMD attacks. It's practically the same as finger-chopping! Anyway, the more interesting thing here might be the timeline--June 26, 2003, apparently marking some kind of red letter day at Langley.
The United States is “committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example,” Mr. Bush declared, vowing to prosecute torture and to prevent “other cruel and unusual punishment.”
But inside the Central Intelligence Agency, the statement set off alarms.
What was occurring around that date? Well, we were busy not finding WMDs in Iraq; the Times' Judy Miller had just returned from her embed with a special forces unit looking for stockpiles only to come up empty and embarrassed. That was embarrassment on top of embarrassment for the Gray Lady, having just weathered the Jayson Blair fiasco.
Meanwhile, Ms. Miller had met with Scooter Libby only three days prior, on June 23, to discuss the coming pushback of Joe Wilson's then secret allegations about the Africa claim being written up by Times journalist Nic Kristoff. The 'Bush lied, people died' meme was about to be born.
So perhaps it wasn't so much the speech that rankled Langley as much as the realization of a fast-moving political wind shift--one which they were seemingly helping to create.