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Oh no we didn't; Oh Yes you did.
August 2, 2014 6:59 AM   Subscribe

It's about the lying.
When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques – techniques that I believe, and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture – we crossed a line” .
If the president really believes that, will he take legally required actions to respond to it?
As Juan Cole points out; America is Torture Central: From Prisons to ''Black Sites''
The Bush Administration promoted torture. They expanded its use, but they did not invent it, or introduce it into US foreign policy.
posted by adamvasco (66 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
The amount of harm done to the United States by its own intelligence community is worse than what our supposed enemies have done. If they are not getting paid directly by Al Qaeda, they are missing a good opportunity.

We killed 100,000 people and wasted 2 Trillion dollars because there were no WMD.

We tortured people.

We obliterated the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth amendments.

We destroyed our moral authority in every area.

My Senator, Dianne Feinstein chairs the Intel Committee in the Senate. The CIA hacked her computer and obstructed justice, and that made her very sad.

Not sad enough to file a criminal complaint.
posted by Repack Rider at 7:22 AM on August 2 [81 favorites]


It wasn't a lie, it was an enhanced public speaking technique.
posted by compartment at 7:42 AM on August 2 [33 favorites]


The treaty requires us to treat it as we would other serious crimes. Obama, of course, has broad discretion to prosecute or to decline to do so.
posted by jpe at 7:46 AM on August 2


The torturers had a tough job; let's not be sanctimonious.
hamburger level: these are Obama quotes
posted by grobstein at 7:54 AM on August 2 [5 favorites]


When it comes to use of force, there's this idea that the government should always "win". The cops should always prevail and get the bad guy, the national security apparatus should neutralize every threat, and so on.. No matter what the cost or how extreme the measure, it's always justified by the state and its apologists both with the idea that the state must always "win". I just don't understand why it's not good enough to try, to give a best effort--without spending all of the money, compromising all of the values, and hurting everyone who is "in the way". It seems like it would be better to try and fail, while maintaining some kind of standard of conduct, decency, and respect for human life than to burn all of that chasing the "win".
posted by yonega at 7:54 AM on August 2 [15 favorites]


Torture? Just another workday for the CIA, just like every week this past four or five decades. Hell, it's a viable career path in that organization!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:57 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]


Right, I mean, the cynical answer is that having this power -- the power to go to any lengths in the "public interest" -- is an end in itself. We are ruled by people in love with ruling.

But why does that tactic work so well? It's like there's a bug in the system, where we can be persuaded to assent to everything if there is a violent conflict, no matter how stupid and unnecessary.
posted by grobstein at 7:58 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]


So apparently the official story is that Brennan didn't know about the spying, so he didn't lie about it. This story is not just implausible, it's nonsensical -- Brennan was giving Feinstein shit on the basis of the spying back in January, well before his denials that the CIA would do anything like spying.

Some folks on my Facebook were debating whether Brennan should be held responsible even though he (supposedly) didn't know, and I involuntarily wrote some long comments:
I think it's obvious that Brennan in fact knew about this. Earlier this year, Brennan accused the SSCI of having stolen documents from the CIA that they weren't supposed to have -- he went so far as to refer the matter to DOJ for criminal investigation.

How did Brennan know about this "theft"? Exactly the spying that we are now all pretending he was unaware of.
'bout 15 turn o' yer hourglass ago · Like

But we also know that the CIA uses internal deniability to firewall higher-ups from responsibility. Operations that are judged to be politically risky are organized in such a way that, if they are exposed, they can be explained away as underlings actin...Spy More
'bout 15 turn o' yer hourglass ago · Like

Finally: it's one thing to say that the Director can't be expected to know about everything going on at the CIA. Of course not.

But spying on the Senate oversight committee is *not like* organizing the office NCAA pool. It's deadly serious. It represents a deliberate attempt to undermine the only (fragile, inadequate) democratic oversight there is of the intelligence agencies, to undo the entire Church Committee compromise, and undermine the constitutional role of Congress.

This is not the sort of thing a low-level CIA employee should be able to initiate by himself. The suggestion beggars belief. But if it did happen that way, it shows that the whole culture is rotten. If a CIA employee is ordered to spy on their Congressional overseers, that *should* make them uneasy, they should kick it up the chain and make sure everyone is on board with it -- similar to the notion of illegal orders. They shouldn't just do it and go out for lunch. If they just do it -- if they rightly expect that the whole command hierarchy would not have a problem with it -- then the whole command hierarchy is *fucked.*

I think the orders for this came from the top. But if they didn't, the problem is just as serious.
posted by grobstein at 8:10 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]


It's not even about the lying. It's about the impunity of the lying.

What does it mean for democracy if the persons involved can walk free because nobody wants to start proceedings against them?
posted by anemone of the state at 8:13 AM on August 2 [14 favorites]


Also, Dianne Feinstein of all people is probably the least sympathetic surveillance victim, ever.
posted by anemone of the state at 8:14 AM on August 2 [9 favorites]


"So if you’re the president, you fire everyone who lies. Starting with John Brennan."

Amen to that.
posted by valkane at 8:22 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]


Firing is just permission to return to a cushy job in the private sector. We need felony convictions, multi-year sentences, dishonorable discharges, loss of pensions, and ineligibility of any future employer to receive government work. Then you might see people thinking twice before doing this.
posted by spacewrench at 8:35 AM on August 2 [53 favorites]


We need felony convictions, multi-year sentences, dishonorable discharges, loss of pensions, and ineligibility of any future employer to receive government work.

And I want a personal jet pack and a flying car and a talking horse and a bunch of other stuff that's never going to happen.
posted by ryoshu at 8:41 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


If the president really believes that, will he take legally required actions to respond to it?

Part of Obama's defense to the NSA and other assorted revelations of intelligence malfeasance, when he has even acknowledged them, has been that he didn't know, he just learned it from CNN, etc. Whether or not that's accurate, for the President to take any action he has to both (a) know about the activities and (b) actually be in control of the intelligence apparatus to effect changes. Neither one of those has been established, we don't know what exactly Obama is aware of going on outside of the public view and/or whether he in fact approves of it, and we don't know whether he is really in charge of the NSA / CIA, or the other way around.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:45 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


Ain't clear if just firing em' would fix the problems, although it's a nice step. Ideally, any CIA agents who participated in obstructing the Senate investigation need to be imprisoned, or preferably executed, for conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity and treason, including Brennan. Also, John Kiriakou should be placed in charge of the CIA.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:50 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I bottle urine and market it as enhanced water. Should I feel bad? Apparently not.
posted by Pudhoho at 8:58 AM on August 2


One of the linked Guardian articles makes brief mention of a story that McClatchy recently reported. The CIA is alleged to have obtained a confidential, legally protected email about whistleblower retaliation. Here is what happened: Bringing this full circle: The person snitching on Whistleblower Protection Guy is the Inspector General who determined that the CIA improperly spied on Senate staffers.
posted by compartment at 9:02 AM on August 2 [15 favorites]


From outside the US, yes, the torture is reprehensible. But the CIA spying on the government CIA oversight committee? That really should result in the disbandment of the CIA. Rebuild them from the ground up if they are still needed.
posted by 256 at 9:04 AM on August 2 [16 favorites]


It's sad that if this had happened even five years ago this would have been a thread full of outrage with hundreds of comments. Now almost everyone shrugs and says, "What do you expect?"

Both political parties are clearly on board with this. And if you ever suggest, even for a second, that supporting a third political party might be a strategy, even if you are not in a swing state where mathematically the only hope you have for your vote to have any effect is to vote third party, you are screamed into oblivion.

It's hard not to conclude that this is in fact what an overwhelming majority of Americans really want - or at least, that they don't care enough to make an issue of it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:10 AM on August 2 [18 favorites]


Here's the talking points document the White House inadvertently sent the AP regarding the CIA interrogation report. http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/documents/points.pdf

Not sure if these were linked already :
Guardian : CIA director John Brennan lied to you and to the Senate. Fire him
NYT : Inquiry by C.I.A. Affirms It Spied on Senate Panel

posted by jeffburdges at 9:30 AM on August 2 [5 favorites]


but if the secretary of veterans affairs doesn't know that the time to appointment stats are getting juiced he's out before you can say 24hr news cycle...
posted by ennui.bz at 9:54 AM on August 2 [8 favorites]


It is important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job those folks had,” he said. “A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.”
"Those folks" = the people who ordered and carried out enhanced interrogations.

WTF, Obama?

Or is that too sanctimonious?
posted by notyou at 10:02 AM on August 2 [9 favorites]


The Obama Doctrine: Look forwards, not backwards.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:04 AM on August 2


I am still trying to comprehend this: how do you admit to a war crime and then not immediately take steps to hold accountable those who sanctioned said crime?

Has anyone figured out exactly when our president became a robot? Was it before or after he assumed office? Should we assume our intelligence agencies have the ability to replace our elected leaders with cyborgs?
posted by brina at 10:16 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


Yeah, when firing is essentially a promotion into an even better private position, how is that a deterrent exactly, even if it ever happened?
posted by gottabefunky at 10:17 AM on August 2


The word "folks" is never so jarring as when it's used in the same sentence as "tortured."
posted by gottabefunky at 10:18 AM on August 2 [18 favorites]


I think he should invite the interrogaters and the victims to the Rose Garden for a beer, or tea perhaps. #WeTorturedSomeFolks
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:22 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I came down here specifically to complain about the phrase "we tortured some folks." That has about the worst ring to it of anything I've ever heard Obama say. I've been sympathetic to those who say his other disappointments have been largely due to the constraints of office, but the failures of his once soaring rhetoric over these last 6 years have been a disappointment without excuse, and this has got to be the nadir.
posted by chortly at 10:25 AM on August 2 [11 favorites]


Obama is the greatest disappointment of my political life.
posted by wrapper at 10:35 AM on August 2 [15 favorites]


The fact that the President of the United States officially declared that the US government deliberately committed acts of "torture" is not an insignificant act in itself. Personally I don't care and don't really believe it would change anything if the low-level flunkies who actually carried out the orders to commit torture get punished and you had to be smoking some pretty powerful weed if you ever thought that the people who issued the orders (Bush, Cheney et al.) were going to face jail time or any kind of criminal prosecution for their acts--richly as they deserve it. That was off the table long before November '08. But an explicit admission that the government engaged in acts of torture is important--it actually does make it harder, in future, for subsequent administrations to play the "it's not torture, it's enhanced interrogation" game.
posted by yoink at 10:45 AM on August 2 [7 favorites]


It's like he's channeling his predecessor in that sentence. I can totally hear W saying that. (Recently listened to a Bugle podcast that played some stuff from 2007 or so, and it was amazing how agitated just a short snippet of Bush speaking made me.)

Nobody involved in ransacking Wall Street went to prison, the odds are exceedingly low that actual torturers in our employ will go there, either. In an ideal world, the Bush administration would all be on trial for war crimes, but that's also the mirror universe where every house has a third tap that dispenses delicious banana pudding on demand.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:49 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]


Obama is the greatest disappointment of my political life.

You must be very young.
posted by JackFlash at 10:53 AM on August 2 [7 favorites]


"You must be very young."

59 yrs young.
posted by wrapper at 11:11 AM on August 2 [10 favorites]


"I can totally hear W saying that."

Why yes. Yes you can. Both presidents are referring to the same "folks".
posted by klarck at 11:11 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]


I could go for the "look forward" doctrine, except for the part where the same guys are still on the bus, doing the same thing. By looking forward we are blessed with the notion that these disgusting acts and policies are happening for the first time, and that the people who continue to do them are sort of trying to figure out how it works, and they sometimes make honest mistakes in the prosecution of their duty.

I tried to understand that doctrine (Look Forward) during the Big Bailout, when Obama came into office. I didn't realize that all he did was to push me out a little further on the slippery slope that keeps us accelerating the swirl as we circle the drain. I don't mind scrambling my metaphors. It keeps me busy as I ride the road to ruin in somebody else's hand-basket.

My service in the Army taught me the validity of political physics: shit rolls downhill. That means that the private becomes the focus of every notion of culpability that the general can pass down to the colonel, the major, the captain, the Lieutenant, the sergeants. The mark of a good commander at any level is his willingness to stand up for what his unit does, as long as they are acting according to their training, and lawful orders. I have experienced examples of both kinds of commanders, in circumstances that were trivial as well as grave. The State Department and NSA follow the same rules as the rest of us.

The notion that crimes can be committed without the oversight of a commander indicates a high level of bullshit: either the commander is criminally negligent or complicit. The notion that torture, for example, is useful, is limited to those who don't really understand how it works, and the ripples it causes, mostly to our detriment. Please tell me that I don't have to explain this statement. People who admire us for our good points will reject us for being one of the bad guys. Even if you don't subscribe to the moral high ground theory, you ought to at least see the benefit of keeping allies.

Now, for the part about how all those congresspersons knew that Bush and Cheney, Rowe and the rest were lying about Iraq....jeez. And the clusterfuck over Wall Street predation, WTF? The bad news just keeps on coming, and the same guys just keep on dishing it out. Culpability seems to be limited to those low-life civilians who can be counted upon to butter the bread of our privatized prison-system contractors. Um, prisoners as commodities, is what I mean by that.

At the federal level, the money trail is swept into black boxes, and those who are allowed to peek aren't allowed to talk about it once they leave the room. What does it say if the upper echelons of our government are all complicit in criminal activity? And what, if anything can we do about it? I'm pretty sure the notion of voting the lame bastards out of office isn't a workable strategy, and I'm too old to try to figure out how another way to deal with it. I write patient, brief letters to both my senators and my representative. They pat me on the head.

I thought about motherfucking them in spades a few times, but I figger they get enough of that already, and they don't really care.
posted by mule98J at 11:15 AM on August 2 [14 favorites]


It's like he's channeling his predecessor in that sentence. I can totally hear W saying that.

W broke new ground in indefinite detention and mass surveillance. Obama has normalized it.
posted by anemone of the state at 11:21 AM on August 2 [7 favorites]


The statement actually didn't really bother me; It seems to be headed in the right direction - torture and other CIA bullshit is un-American and will not be tolerated. The failure of the Gaza ceasefire made me cry, though. I bet Obama could use another hug.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:26 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I think this story begins on the subject of torture and war crimes and extends further into the question of whether there is a long-term future for the present system of government.

I keep coming back to the question of who is actually in charge in D.C. We have this story about the CIA spying on a Senate committee and its implications are absolutely staggering. What other parts of the legislature are under surveillance? What about the executive and judiciary? At this point, it seems like the idea that someone in the intelligence system has a massive treasure trove of blackmail material is almost a foregone conclusion. It would honestly surprise me more if such a thing didn't exist, given the obvious and fantastical power its owners would wield. It worked for the FBI, after all.

What could possibly be done to assure us that this will never happen again after all of this?
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:28 AM on August 2 [8 favorites]


Having read Legacy of Ashes, I could well believe that Brennan didn't authorize or know about the Feinstein hacking. Heck, the same thing is true of any large corporation: a CEO can be praising a division while a VP somewhere is figuring out how to dismantle it.

The thing is, something needs to be done. I suspect Obama doesn't like the idea of firing Brennan just for political theatre. On the other hand, letting him stay sends an even worse message. I surprised how quiet the Senate Republicans are about this. Would they be making more noise if it had happened to one of them instead of a Democrat?

More than one president has wanted to eliminate the current CIA and replace it, yet it has survived. I think it would take the combined force of both executive and legislative branches to actually accomplish something, and the will to do is simply isn't there.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:04 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


What could possibly be done to assure us that this will never happen again after all of this?

The dismantling of the CIA, NSA, and the Pentagon, and the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (preferably one including subpoena power and the ability to prosecute), would be the way to start. But that would require the admission that the US has been committing crimes against humanity and its own citizens.
posted by graymouser at 12:05 PM on August 2 [7 favorites]


At least with J Edgar Hoover there was one major blackmailer. Now I fear there are institutions filled with nothing but his ilk.
posted by benzenedream at 12:07 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


This, plus the plutocratic control of the electoral process, is so very, very sad for America; and for those who love the ideals espoused by America. It is so very, very sad.
posted by swlabr at 12:36 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


Yeah, J Edgar....I liked his dress, but not much else. Nowadays we are really in for hard times on account of how nobody seems to be able to steer the ship of state except wingnuts and tea baggers. No lifeboats, either.

I'm old, so I won't be around to apologize to my descendants for all this, but I guess I can leave a note.
posted by mule98J at 12:48 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


@Yonega: You've got that right! a member of my family was caught growing mushrooms. Even though he made a full confession upon the arrival of the police, they "piled on" falsely accusing his wife of complicity and engineering the press to trumpet that she, a school teacher, was dealing drugs when they knew very well she wasn't, tampering with the evidence in ways that strongly indicate that the initial "discovery" was an illegal entry, facilitated by blackmailing a local stoner into breaking into the grow house then entering a 911 call, inflating by a factor of 50 the "estimated" street value of the seized product, seizing without due process his family's entire life savings, and on and on. I'm worried that these same cops Toledo, Ohio Police) are receiving massive infusions of high power military weaponry with which to subjugate the populace.
posted by andylyke at 1:33 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


Look, mistakes were made, OK?
posted by carping demon at 1:45 PM on August 2


The Obama Doctrine: Look forwards, not backwards.

And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!
posted by entropicamericana at 2:20 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


The 9/11 attacks presented a threat to the security of the American people that was unprecedented in our history.

Except for, you know, threats 15 to 20 times that every year on our highways. Of course, those are all "part of the plan," to coin a phrase.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:27 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


Obama is the greatest disappointment of my political life.

You must be very young.


I think it's going to be a generation-defining thing for anyone in their 20s now and/or who falls under the "millennial" label. Just as much as 9/11.

I turned 18 just in time to vote for Obama the first time around, and for a lot of my friends it was the first presidential election we could vote in.

It's almost as if, if someone is manipulating the system, that the whole thing was carefully designed to create total disenfranchisement and apathy among the generation just coming of age and voting. Because it certainly did a good job of that.
posted by emptythought at 2:52 PM on August 2 [12 favorites]


So apparently the official story is that Brennan didn't know about the spying, so he didn't lie about it. This story is not just implausible, it's nonsensical

Look at the job Brennan had before this: he was the guy who lined up the waterboarding and black sites. This isn't a January thing, it's a last-13-years thing, and he was in the middle of all of it. That's how bad a guy he is. At the very least he should be apologizing not to Feinstein, but to the American people, live, during the World Series. After that he goes to ADX Florence.

Obama attempted to ply a "remember how afraid people were" excuse. No, I was not afraid and I had nothing to be afraid about except repercussions from the actions of my government. If the government was/is using my tax dollars to pay bedwetters, those people need to be fired for being unsuitable for the job before them. It was their job to be able to keep a cool head, honor their oaths to the Constitution, and not violate the law. Then prosecute Brennan on down to the front-line monsters who likely only hold value as people likely to be in prison for violent crimes save that they follow orders well. As we all know, that's only usable as an affirmative defense.
posted by rhizome at 3:28 PM on August 2 [13 favorites]


Obviously the President has been listening to Weird Al:

We only torture the folks we don't like
You're probably gonna be OK (You're gonna be OK!)
Yeah it's a party in the CIA!

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:06 PM on August 2


Does John Brennan Know Too Much for Obama to Fire Him?
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:38 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


Hope. And. Change.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:32 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


the mirror universe where every house has a third tap that dispenses delicious banana pudding on demand.

Is this tap in the kitchen or the shower?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:07 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


I actually don't have too much stock in the "the shadow government prevents Obama from doing anything." In certain cases- Guantanamo, specifically, he has to contend with congressional straitjacketing. But with the torture thing and institutional rot within the CIA, I think Obama's response is part of his serious belief that the US political system is full of well meaning people who can get along if they just talk things out and compromise as long as he extends good faith olive branches.

"Some people made some honest mistakes along the way, but the country will be better off if we don't divide ourselves over this issue," seems to be his reaction to torture, which is pretty consistent with how he approaches the failure of bush era tax and budget policy.
posted by deanc at 8:07 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


"Some people made some honest mistakes along the way, but the country will be better off if we don't divide ourselves over this issue," seems to be his reaction to torture, which is pretty consistent with how he approaches the failure of bush era tax and budget policy.

For a new administration to use its police powers to criminalize the acts of the previous administration is a devastating blow to any kind of normal democratic functioning. If you're going to take that step you had better be damned sure that A) you'll secure convictions and B) that the country will be ready to accept this as a principled action and not as politics by other means. Neither A nor B was remotely the case for Obama.

I know if you're posting on Metafilter the chances are you don't personally know (or care about) anyone who doesn't want to see Cheney behind bars. But try to actually, dispassionately imagine what the wider political and social reaction would have been to Obama sending the FBI after Cheney. Obama made the right call. This was simply not actionable in the real world, and any attempt to do it would have left his Presidency a smoking ruin.
posted by yoink at 8:53 PM on August 2 [6 favorites]


That's true, yoink. Like a wise man once said, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over... Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy." Oh wait a minute, none of those things are true. Except for a higher power. (SPOILER: It's Robert Downey Jr.)
posted by entropicamericana at 11:01 PM on August 2


The United States honestly seems like a political and cultural powder keg right now. It's been a long time since it's felt this divided along socioeconomic and left-right lines.

I think it's safe to say that a Democratic president prosecuting members of a previous Republican administration would have lit the fuse.

America: so thoroughly fucked up.
posted by dry white toast at 11:10 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


At the end of the day, only long-term demographic shifts will give us a chance of building the support for the reforms we want. A broad coalition of people who are comfortable enough and well-read enough to know and care. So universal health care, well-funded public universities, massive investment in basic research, libraries, media literacy initiatives, a good sense of humor ... and all the other tools we'll need to defeat the Ouroboros of neglect. But you knew this already.
posted by IShouldBeStudyingRightNow at 3:23 AM on August 3


Liz Cheney Calls Obama A 'Disgrace' For Discussing Post-9/11 Torture
posted by indubitable at 12:03 PM on August 3


This was simply not actionable in the real world, and any attempt to do it would have left his Presidency a smoking ruin.

Huh? Well, I wondered what might happen if Obama elected to call out these various criminals, and attempt to punish them for a) unnecessarily killing a few hundred thousand people in order to b) award no-bid contracts to sycophants and c) reward domestic criminals who reaped a billion or so dollars at the expense of Americans. I did consider that it might even cause a serious insurrection here in the US, where our federal troops might have been called to restore order.

He would have had to buck the "shit rolls downhill" policy, of course. But there is a precedent for this sort of executive action. Formerly it was used against the WWI veterans, encamped on the Mall in DC, demonstrating to get the pensions they'd been promised a couple of decades earlier. It was also used against the government of Alabama, in order to enforce our National Will regarding racial discrimination. We don't like to have one administration criticize another, that's true. Civility sometimes imposes constraints that require a bit of tongue-biting and moving on. Civility is important.

I don't consider our congress to be overflowing with civility, however. Considering the nature of the criminal activity, I applaud Obama's efforts to clean up the acts of those who work under him. For example the guys in the CIA. I recognize that civil servants have careers that span administrations, but sometimes that's not a good thing. I don't expect him to have a dog and pony show for the benefit of the media at every turn. I do expect him to make principled decisions, even in the face of political suicide.

I'm less interested in whether Obama's presidency ends in smoking ruins than I am in a principled stance against institutionalized criminal behavior in those whom we hire to run our country. He may be agonizing over his decisions a lot more than I am--he's under the gun--but he's failed to uphold the ideals that many people suppose separate us from those folks we claim to be worth killing in the name of humanity. He rewards our domestic criminals on the grounds that it's too much trouble to deal with it. He may be right about the difficulty, but I claim that he's bound by his oath to at least try. If you make a diagram of how this works, it goes like this: a soldier is bound by oath to do things that may require him to die. He can run away from his duty, but then his comrades suffer, and we ostracize him for his dereliction, and rightly so. What difference, in theory, applies to the soldier and not the president? He was suppose to have my back, and he turned away.

Doesn't compute. Obama turned out to be just another pig wearing lipstick after all. I'm disappointed.
posted by mule98J at 12:55 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


Anyone who actually expected Obama to bring charges against the previous administration is as delusional as the people in the recent I/P thread who think that america should go in and like, bring freedom, maaaan.

People were already painting "NOBAMA" "Keep that N***** out the whitehouse!" on the sides of their barns(i saw this in person in oregon, this isn't some random internet musing), and doing the whole birther thing, and so much other offensive stuff like depicting him as hitler when he hadn't even done anything yet. The pump was primed to hate him.

He not only would have never been re-elected, he would have been cockblocked as hard as they could muster in any action ala the Guantanamo closure, and every "failure" would have been painted as solely his fault.

I can imagine a possible successful attempt to impeach him based on some trumped up bullshit too.

I'm struggling to come up with an analogy that isn't some silly RTS/gaming related thing, but you're essentially attacking people who still have considerable clout and power, their support structure, and in a sense the government itself by doing that. The deck is completely stacked against you.

It's a hilariously unrealistic and bad idea, and you would get pretty well annihilated for trying. It wouldn't be hard at all to take many of the points suggested above, and many more and paint it as some arbitrary partisan bullshit and petty revenge or whatever.

He started from a position of basically all the republicans, and especially the really racist right wing people hating him for even existing. Hating everything about him, and trying to fuck him up at every turn. This would have basically been loading their guns for them, and hitting them where they were the most ready to defend.
posted by emptythought at 4:17 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


He not only would have never been re-elected, he would have been cockblocked as hard as they could muster in any action ala the Guantanamo closure, and every "failure" would have been painted as solely his fault.
...
He started from a position of basically all the republicans, and especially the really racist right wing people hating him for even existing. Hating everything about him, and trying to fuck him up at every turn. This would have basically been loading their guns for them, and hitting them where they were the most ready to defend.


Would have? Isnt that exactly what has happened anyway?
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:05 PM on August 3


For a new administration to use its police powers to criminalize the acts of the previous administration is a devastating blow to any kind of normal democratic functioning.

More devastating to any kind of normal democratic functioning than honoring the laws and treaties that were signed by previous administrations? The most serious crimes that violate long-standing and bright lines seem to be the ones most given to deference in prosecutorial discretion, completely negating the "government of laws, not of men." But hey, I guess that's a perennial problem, just not at this level.
posted by rhizome at 8:46 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


In an interview with Der Spiegel former CIA lawyer John Rizzo says the US' waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation methods" for terror suspects had "deep trouble" written all over them.
But he doesn't regret his decision to approve the measures.
I was certainly an architect of the interrogation program, even if I didn't originally come up with it. I was the legal architect of the proposed list of techniques and played the lead role in obtaining legal approval for their use..
posted by adamvasco at 9:14 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


I'll post this hear since it's about the fraud used to buy all the airport scanners :
Researchers Easily Slipped Weapons Past TSA’s X-Ray Body Scanners

posted by jeffburdges at 5:37 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


Chilling, great interview, adamvasco. "The CIA is a very resilient organization." Indeed.
posted by grobstein at 2:32 PM on August 21


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