Pictures Put U.S. in Tought PR Spot

Here's my take on the prisoner abuse scandal...

It's bad enough our people did this to prisoners, but let's not hyperventilate. These are people who are suspected of knowing who is building bombs that blow up Americans on Iraqi roads, so you can expect they won't be treated like school kids on a picnic.

But what this kind of torture does is affect people who haven't been subjected to the torture and humiliation. All of a sudden, Saddam Hussein's (search) worst dungeon masters are sympathetic characters because Arabs and Muslims everywhere see themselves getting the same treatment at the hands of Christian crusaders.

We must say this is bad. It is not our policy and that we will punish the guilty... the president has said it. Donald Rumsfeld (search) has to say it, and it would be nice to see Dick Cheney (search) say it.

We have to push back on the world media which is saying and will continue to say that these pictures are what the real America looks like.

This is no more the real America than the average episode of "Cops" is the real America. This is the same aberrational criminal behavior for which we lock people up every day in this country.

The world — especially the Arab world — has to hear that loud and clear or else they will feel free to use these images to continue to boil in hate for America and everything it says it stands for.

That hate is already there. These pictures will make it worse unless we all say very loudly: practices of degradation and humilation are not the American way.

That's My Word.

What do you think? We'd like to hear from you, so send us your comments at Some of your e-mails will be featured on the air or on our site.

• Looking for previous My Word columns?
  Click here!