Maybe I have been to hard on the New York Times all this time...they say all things good and evil serve God's will; maybe the Times, in their effort to defeat America, are actually strengthing it by weakening our enemy's resolve. These thoughts come from UnCorrelated - first, he revists the Times/torture issue:
What the Times and other media outlets have done so successfully is completely muddied the waters on what and what is not torture. That is also at the root of why the torture issue has been gotten far less traction in the Arab world than here--they know what torture is--Americans don't have a clue.
What occured in Abu Ghriab was a program of humiliation...
Now, he posits a double-psych-cross:
One of the well-known impeti to Islamfascist terrorism was the perception that "American is weak", which in the Arab mind means that we are too nice, averse to the hurly-burly of war and more concerned with human rights than with victory. Every bin Laden infomercial hammers home the point that al Qaeda is destined to win because of its iron will (and of course, we will lose because we are sissies...)
Was Abu Ghriab a not-so-subtle signal to the terrorists and Iraqi insurgency that we aren't as nice as widely-believed? Was it calibrated to not actually be torture but allude to the possibility that Americans were doing the "real torture" elsewhere?
Were the eastern European "secret prisons" more of the same? Nobody can seem to find them, but in the genetically conspiratorial Arab mind, the failure of the investigation to turn them up is just more evidence that they do indeed exist.
Creating the impression that the Americans are doing things, bad things, scary things, somewhere in a dark corner has to prey on the minds of anyone the coalition forces capture. If you are familiar with the material on interrogation techniques, the insecurity of not knowing what is going to happen to you is one of the most effective inducements to cooperate with the interrogators. On the other hand, the conviction that the nice Americans won't actually hurt you really makes the whole interrogation process rather pointless.
The real genius of Abu Ghriab is that is allows certain elements in our society to infer torture (like the Times and other anti-administration media), but provides no actual evidence that torture actually occured.
Is it all a big psy-ops game? Seems unlikely; especially if Bush is as stupid as the liberal mythology would have you believe. But, if Bush is as sinister and evil as the liberal mythology would have you believe...well, then somewhere, Cheney and Rove must be laughing...