Category Archives: torture

We Retort, You Decide

Look, it’s a major news anchor with a soul!

Sadly, the state of our public discourse on torture is so morally bankrupt, that I had to watch this twice to make sure Smith’s outburst was one of disgust for all the moral equivalence at his table, and not because he was in deep denial about the revelations. Nicely done, Shep!

Could this be a “Nixon goes to China” moment, when all the gasbags take stock of themselves and quit parroting the Cheney defense with a straight face?  Or is this the beginning of the end for Shep? All we know for sure is that the torture investigation ball is rolling down hill now and picking up steam. 

Josh Marshall makes the observation that the GOP has become a “Junta Party” in the aftermath of a democratic revolution, whose sole purpose is to defend the previous regime’s barbarous activities. Their latest tactic – to argue that the intelligence obtained from torture was good – is a stunning admission of guilt, and worlds away from Bush’s gutless assertion that “we don’t torture”.

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It’s hard not be disgusted by Peggy Noonan’s wistfull desire to “just keep walking”.  When I see/hear vapid commentary like that, here is how I feel:

To get back to Cheney’s recent claim that there are super-secret unreleased memos that vindicate their actions, this is obfuscation at its finest.  Here’s a great rebuttal from a former FBI interrogator in yesterday’s NYTimes. (I would quote it, but the whole thing deserves to be read. Bottom line – Cheney lies.)

Seems to me the torture apologists are trying to turn this into a debate along the lines of the bombing of Hiroshima – “horrible thing, that – but just had to be done you know…”  Given how atrocious nuclear bombs are in comparison to the torture of a few brown-skin foreigners, and how little collective regret we have as a society over dropping not one, but TWO on Japanese civilian populations, I fear it is an argument that some silver-tongued scum can make.  For now, we all have to be more like Lawrence O’Donnell and call out these Richie Cunningham maggots every chance we get:

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P.S. Where have all my fellow Hypocrites gone? Did we break the Publish button? The news has been rife with hypocrisy lately, I almost can’t even begin to tackle it!

John King strokes his Dick

Hey, look who’s out of his wheelchair!

I’m sorry we don’t have Dick’s response in that clip. I believe he said, “when it comes to brazenly deceiving the American public, Barack Obama is a fucking amateur!”

Where the hell is my pitchfork and torch?? Here is Seymour Hersh last week discussing Dick Cheney’s “executive assassination ring” (via Scott Horton):

After 9/11, I haven’t written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven’t been called on it yet. That does happen. Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command — JSOC it’s called. It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of defense. They reported directly to him. …

Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on. Just today in the Times there was a story that its leaders, a three star admiral named [William H.] McRaven, ordered a stop to it because there were so many collateral deaths. Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us. It’s complicated because the guys doing it are not murderers, and yet they are committing what we would normally call murder. It’s a very complicated issue. Because they are young men that went into the Special Forces. The Delta Forces you’ve heard about. Navy Seal teams. Highly specialized. In many cases, they were the best and the brightest. Really, no exaggerations. Really fine guys that went in to do the kind of necessary jobs that they think you need to do to protect America. And then they find themselves torturing people.

I’ve had people say to me — five years ago, I had one say: ‘What do you call it when you interrogate somebody and you leave them bleeding and they don’t get any medical committee and two days later he dies. Is that murder? What happens if I get before a committee?’ But they’re not gonna get before a committee.

A firing squad would be too good for Cheney.  Is it too much to ask that he be barred from engaging in public discourse?  He wouldn’t talk to the press when he was in office, who gives a fuck what he thinks now?

John King is officially on notice.

The Tears of a Father Disgraced

Even though he still goes on FOX news and schills for his oil buddies, George H.W. Bush has his own feelings about the war that was started in Iraq for no reason other than a childish neocon fantasy dream, the fabrications about WMD and mushroom clouds, followed by the slaughter of civilians, the bombing of cities, the rounding up of civilians and the random tortures, including bizarre naked butt piles, the decapitation of the former leader, the aftermath of spent uranium bombs, the failure to find any WMDs, the cover-ups being exposed time after time…

But the way he would put it is more like. “back in my day we didn’t need to torture prisoners…or take over countries…in fact we were relatively sane…at the very least, we treated our prisoners with dignity, and we didn’t act out in aggression without a real working coalition….sob…sob…sob.”

Gotta feel a bit sorry, for all of us I suppose, when you see his disgraceful little chimp son still defending himself…I guess he has no choice, or maybe he will be the one behind bars…


Newsweek goes hypo-tastic

Folks, as you may have heard on Maddow, the Newsweek cover story this week is the latest in the long deafening drumbeat of the great hypocralyse that we’ve witnessed recently as we are told we did not see what we thought we saw. What would Dick “Doo” crappy article link here.

To suggest that Obama’s got a lot to learn from Mr. Cheney ’cause he’s been soooo successful, as everyone who’s anyone in the house of W knows, the youngster Obama will soon realize that our wise dark overlord Cheney knows what’s best for keepin us from harm. As with all great propaganda, it is written from the perspective of a zealot who could not comprehend that an alternative point of view exists, God forbid actually consider it.

I have already cut the cord with the NYT for lesser transgressions. Why does this mindless rag soil my magazine rack every week? If it cost more than a penny a day I probably would have shut it down long ago…

Answer the Question!

Hypocrisy is like the weather.  Everybody talks about it, but nobody ever does anything about it. Now’s your chance:

CHANGE.GOV – Open for Questions, Round Two

Basically, they give you the opportunity to pose questions to Obama (or more accurately, his handlers). You cast votes on the questions that have been posed (good or bad?), then the questions that have the most net positive votes get responses.  At the moment, the top-rated question (just barely) is this:

“Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor – ideally Patrick Fitzgerald – to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?”

Supposedly this question was #6 when they did the original “Open for Questions” a few weeks ago (only the top 5 were addressed).  Here’s the official response to the first round of questions.  (Note that the reefer question got short shrift.)

The cynical part of me thinks this is mainly a sop to the internet blogger community who like nothing so much as to feel their voice is being heard. (“I have opinions!  Read my opinions!  Now you smart like me!”) On the other hand, prosecuting George Bush and cronies is controversial.  If there is ever a chance of this happening, they need to know the people are behind it.  So go vote!

[Note: there seem to be several instances of the same question kicking around the site.  To make sure you vote up the top question, click on the last category, “Additional Issues”.  When I did this last night it was filed under National Security, but some fucker has since tried to bury it…]

P.S.  Here’s a stunning example of the Bush Administration’s hypocrisy when it comes to torture:

the Bush administration has righteously decided that torture is such a grotesque and intolerable crime that political leaders who order it simply must be punished in American courts to the fullest extent of the law . . . . if they’re from Liberia:

MIAMI (AP) — U.S. prosecutors want a Miami judge to sentence the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor to 147 years in prison for torturing people when he was chief of a brutal paramilitary unit during his father’s reign. Charles McArthur Emmanuel, also known as Charles “Chuckie” Taylor Jr. is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9 by U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. His conviction was the first use of a 1994 law allowing prosecution in the U.S. for acts of torture committed overseas.

Even in the U.S., it’s hard to believe that federal prosecutors who work for the Bush DOJ were able to convey the following words with a straight face:

A recent Justice Department court filing describes torture – which the U.S. has been accused of in the war on terror – as a “flagrant and pernicious abuse of power and authority” that warrants severe punishment of Taylor. “It undermines respect for and trust in authority, government and a rule of law,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline Heck Miller in last week’s filing. “The gravity of the offense of torture is beyond dispute.”

Perp walks please

This is a follow up on previous posts about the torture issue. People who care about this country’s values will be anxiously awaiting the actions of Mr. Holder. The quote from Holder in this article makes me really hopeful that he will bring us our ‘day of reckoning’. It also has some great quotes from several generals who’ve come out against the torture hypocrisy. I’ll post this one from Admiral Hutson because it’s too perfect:

Fundamentally, those kinds of techniques are ineffective. If the goal is to gain actionable intelligence, and it is, and if that’s important, and it is, then we have to use the techniques that are most effective. Torture is the technique of choice of the lazy, stupid and pseudo-tough.

I also can’t wait to see the creatures that inhabit Office of Legal Counsel dragged out of their lair and shoved into a black and white…

No one Everyone Expects the Spanish Inquisition

We haven’t kicked around the torture question on this website yet. Not whether we oppose it (I presume we all do), but whether or not we need to see some upcoming prosecutions, truth commissions, all of the above, none of the above. The US presidency has a pretty shameful history of absolving the previous administration’s criminal actions (see Watergate, Iran-Contra, et al.), so I am not particularly hopeful about prosecutions. As for the 9/11 style truth commissions… if everyone already has immunity and prosecutions are off the table, who exactly in the intelligence community is going to come forth and sully their reputation? The best we can hope for is probably a few declassified memos and a newfound condemnation of torture practices.

To me, the speculation on whether or not Bush will preemptively pardon those responsible for the torture regime is a joke. The power players would never allow the new administration to make that kind of trouble. (Indeed, the apologists love to claim that big name Democratic congressmen were always in the know). So why would he acknowledge the criminality of his people’s behavior with a pardon? Honestly, I would love to see those pardons, because it would not only be an effective admission of guilt, but would also signify a real fear that “change is gonna come”.

All of this is a somewhat long way of highlighting this op-ed article from today’s Washington Post by a US interrogator in Iraq who was opposed to the use of torture techniques.

I know the counter-argument well — that we need the rough stuff for the truly hard cases, such as battle-hardened core leaders of al-Qaeda, not just run-of-the-mill Iraqi insurgents. But that’s not always true: We turned several hard cases, including some foreign fighters, by using our new techniques. A few of them never abandoned the jihadist cause but still gave up critical information. One actually told me, “I thought you would torture me, and when you didn’t, I decided that everything I was told about Americans was wrong. That’s why I decided to cooperate.”

Torture and abuse are against my moral fabric. The cliche still bears repeating: Such outrages are inconsistent with American principles. And then there’s the pragmatic side: Torture and abuse cost American lives.

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.

This dude has evidently written a book about his experiences and the “false choice between torture and terror”. Sadly, he still feels the need to write under a false name for fear of reprisals. This truth stuff is serious business.