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Keith Olbermann viciuosly, but eloquently, destroys Bush's waterboarding position.
November 7, 2007 9:45 PM   Subscribe

Yes. One-link you tube, but screw it, you have to hear this incredible rant. I didn't think the media had it in it anymore.
posted by elfollador (109 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
FIRST!!1!
posted by dhammond at 9:49 PM on November 7, 2007


...but seriously, unless Olbermann gets this down to a soundbite, or he vastly improves his Edward R. Murrow impersonation, this is sadly just another video clip disappearing down the Crooks and Liars memory hole.
posted by dhammond at 9:50 PM on November 7, 2007 [7 favorites]


a) Nothing like a game of Lame Duck Hunt. Very brave.

b) Your flowery "how dare you, sirs" are old, Olbermann. Where were you seven years ago?
posted by SassHat at 9:55 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


dhammon, agreed. I saw this yesterday-ish, and about halfway I was just bored. with a bit of jaded disillusionment thrown in, yes, but still: bored.
posted by misterbrandt at 9:59 PM on November 7, 2007


Sometime years hence some or all of the Bush team will be on vacation in a non-USian country that is a signatory to the ICC treaty. These vacationers will be apprehended one quiet night from a hotel room and arrested on war crimes charges because of ambitious prosecutor. They may not actually be charged, or serve time. It may well end up as a Pinochet redux. But it'll make great theatre, and probably spoil their holiday.
posted by meehawl at 9:59 PM on November 7, 2007 [6 favorites]


^+d
posted by misterbrandt at 10:00 PM on November 7, 2007


So Bush's approval rating just dropped another .004%. What else has changed?
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 10:00 PM on November 7, 2007


outrage fatigue.
posted by ninjew at 10:10 PM on November 7, 2007


i'm more interested in reading the story that he's going off about.
posted by heeeraldo at 10:14 PM on November 7, 2007


Comes off as the average rant on Daily Kos, I guess, until about 7:00 minutes in; his emotion and flowery (sputtering?) outrage overpowered his thesis.

I missed the recent hearings, but did somebody with a brain ask the AG-to-be if the US would object if our own servicemen were subjected to this treatment? "I don't know" isn't an acceptable answer when the question is pointed that way.

Lemme say here I'm very proud of my votes against Feinstein in 2000 and 2006.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:21 PM on November 7, 2007


i'm with you, ninjew.
posted by CitizenD at 10:22 PM on November 7, 2007


*opens window and sticks head out*

"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this any more!"
posted by Poolio at 10:25 PM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Keith Olbermann is one of the few main-stream media personalities who is willing to really speak truth to power (sorry, I know that's a cliche, but it's apt in this case). I admire Keith for his vehemence and for his unerring ability to tell it like it is. I just wish more Americans (the majority of whom agree with Keith, but don't speak about it publicly) would do something about forcing the Bush regime to pay for its crimes.
posted by amyms at 10:38 PM on November 7, 2007 [7 favorites]


I like Keith, a lot in fact, but he needs to dial down the spittle factor and make his rants sharper. One of the things that's attractive about him is that he isn't a pompous twat... until, that is, he gets going on one of his special comments.

What saves them is that he's generally right, and you aren't hearing it anywhere else on cable news, but 7 minutes is a long time to sustain a burst of outrage and the flowery style makes you think he's going to pull out a lace glove and challenge someone to a fish-slapping dance.

I dig his outrage. MSNBC is doing a lot of things right at the moment. Morning Joe is kicking CNN's ass. Dan Abrams needs to be fired out of a cannon but they are all too scared of him.
posted by unSane at 10:38 PM on November 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


I can't see any reason to stop railing about waterboarding, particularly now that everybody and their sister is bending over backward to make it look like great fun.
posted by maryh at 10:40 PM on November 7, 2007


Where were you seven years ago?

Fox Sports, dude.

KO knows this is over the top but apparently they spike viewership (as long as he doesn't do them too often).

Rolling Stone

I think part of the problem is that this is really old news to most of us. He may be reaching people who don't have a CAT5 blog plugin in their brains, though.

or he vastly improves his Edward R. Murrow impersonation

He has won one of the Edward R. Murrow awards, though. (Unbelievably, there are five.)
posted by dhartung at 10:40 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fatigued outrage.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:53 PM on November 7, 2007


Meh. Can we get a Barbara Jordan plzkthx?
posted by tarheelcoxn at 10:53 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


the flowery style makes you think he's going to pull out a lace glove and challenge someone to a fish-slapping dance.

No fish slapping reference should let the canonical clip go unlinked.
posted by meehawl at 10:57 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


No fish slapping reference should let the canonical clip go unlinked.

Now I know where these cats got their act.
posted by knave at 11:04 PM on November 7, 2007


Man, I just can't listen to this style of stuff anymore. It's just too SNL/"Jane, you're an ignorant slut" for me. He probably has some good points re: whatever he's going on about, but sheesh. Life's too short. Say something that makes sense, already. And say it in a way that doesn't make you seem reactionary and insane.
posted by trip and a half at 11:08 PM on November 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like Olbermann, but he can get to be a bit too much at times. What's missing from his show is an good confrontational interview, in addition to (instead of?) his rants. Olbermann always brings on the same left-ish journalists from Newsweek or the NYT or wherever, and they'll hash out the story du jour together from the same side. Like unSane said, he "gets away" with this kind of editorializing because he's always (or almost always) right on everything, and has intelligence, eloquence, and wit noticeably missing from just about anyone else on TV.

So it makes it even more disappointing that he doesn't bring on guests who might disagree with him. The last thing we all need is another Bill O'Reilly, but Olbermann can take some cues from Bill Maher and Jon Stewart on how to engage the "enemy" and still come out as the smart, witty guy. I'd love to see him eviscerate, say, Bill Krystol for 20 minutes on the war.
posted by zardoz at 11:11 PM on November 7, 2007


Shockingly, I find myself in agreement with you guys. His rants are overwrought, and even though I agree with him, I have never been able to watch an entire one. It sounds fake, somehow. He needs to find a better way to communicate.
posted by knave at 11:19 PM on November 7, 2007


I also hate it when people talk fancy. TAKE IT DOWN TO MY 4TH GRADE LEVEL, KEITH!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:30 PM on November 7, 2007 [14 favorites]


most of these comments seem unfair...on the one hand he's being critized for not boiling it down to a sound-bite (which, if i recall correctly, is often seen as one of the biggest PROBLEMS with current media coverage) and on the other for being too blustery...he's trying to speed it up for you it seems...sorry your attention span isn't longer...

if ed murrow were doing it, it'd probably have the same content, but be spoken clearly and slowly so it'd have a chance to sink in...it'd also take a full 1/2 hour and how likely is that these days, huh? give the guy a break.

gotta say my favorite part was the mention of the POTUS in jail....mmmm...jailPOTUS!
posted by sexyrobot at 11:31 PM on November 7, 2007 [7 favorites]


You want good politics? You want good outrage? Here ya go. I've watched this once a day for a week and I get chills every time. The first couple minutes are just a warmup—he really gets into it at 2:10 or so. [/singlelinkBRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCEfilter]
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:55 PM on November 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


I think what KO is doing with his comments and his whole show is fantastic.

Yes, his comments could be simpler and shorter, but Christ, does everything have to be spoon-fed these days? I agree this one on waterboarding did lose its way. I think his point was so easily made that he didn't need seven minutes to make it, and he padded.

But so what? There's so much recycled garbage in TV news that I'm certainly not going to fault KO for not being perfect. He's DOING something with his platform. He's standing up in a way that almost nobody else is willing to do. And don't think that right isn't going to pounce on him like fresh meat if he screws up. If he says something they can spin on him, he'll be the Dixie Chicks plus Imus times two. So kudos to him.

The one thing I do wish he'd do differently, as zardoz said, is opposing interviews. I'd love to see him interview any carrier of the right wing talking points, especially any regular stars of his Worst Persons segment.

And, ok, I could also do without the number one story most nights. If I want to watch a VH1 comedy show or E! or whatever, I'll just do that. We don't need five minutes of Michael Musto in place of... well, anyone. If you're going to bring on a comic, bring on George Carlin or Lewis Black, or someone to talk about issues instead of more celebrity bullshit. I usually tivo out when his final guest shows up.

But otherwise, brilliant.
posted by JWright at 12:00 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Olbermann's spittle-flecked, wounded, angry self-righteousness can be very irritating -- but that's part of the point. When all of the rest of the media is the smarmy, delusional self-satisfaction of Chris Matthews and Tim Russert and the often cynically amusing but strangely detached meta-echo-chamber satire of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, Olbermann can lend a breath of "What the hell is going here" to the proceedings.

I will say, though, that someone has persuaded him to spend entirely too much time simultaneously kvetching about and salivating over Britney Spears. Olbermann, you're not TMZ and never will be -- give it up.

I also agree with what someone said up above about the differences between Olbermann and (for example) Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart actually brought Chris Matthews on and made him look like a buffoon without even trying. Olbermann just smirks and mocks his targets from a somewhat smug distance.
posted by blucevalo at 12:06 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Keith Olbermann was the kid who'd stick his straw all the way through his chocolate milk astro-pack and then play with it until it burst all over the lunchroom.
posted by breezeway at 12:08 AM on November 8, 2007


The only thing I really "dislike" about Olbermann's rants is that he's fully ganked the "Good night and good luck" catchphrase as his own.

If he had done it one time, at the end of a partilcularly steely piece of oratory, I wouldve thought it was the raddest thing ever.

As it stands tho, it just reminds you that he's no Edward R Murrow.

I really like Olbermann and Im in his camp 100%, but he needs to stop ending with that phrase.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:10 AM on November 8, 2007


Gee, if he'd just listen to all this good advice, KO might get a national TV show.
posted by Cranberry at 12:19 AM on November 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'm coining the word "Olbermantra" as an outrage-fueled rant that's about six years late.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:32 AM on November 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


People think he's trying to pawn it off as if he made "Good night and good luck" up himself? Really? I figured everyone would think that he's got a man-crush on Murrow and be done with it.

And the Britney Spears watch is annoying but at least he brings on people like Joel McHale and Paul F. Tompkins.
posted by Drowsy Baker at 1:21 AM on November 8, 2007


meehawl: I'm working on it. Turns out Interpol can't do everything we'd like them to be able to do.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:22 AM on November 8, 2007


I agree with Olbermann but the problem is I don't really like him.
posted by rhymer at 1:23 AM on November 8, 2007


Yes, soundbite punditry is most of what's wrong with political discourse in this country. But ignoring the problem doesn't make it go away. Like it or not, a memorable catchphrase with no words over three syllables seems to be more impactful than a literate, logical, ten-minute monologue. So while we in this thread may recognize the truth in KO's words, people outside the choir are probably not going to sit still long enough for them to have any real influence.

We need to find a way to balance it out, and get the best of both worlds. We need to minimize the sloganeering, but include just enough of it to keep people's attentions. We need to boil down our more complex theses, but maintain a clear, rational, and unassailable argument.

That, or we can do what Aaron Sorkin does, and just give our demagogues a dramatic orchestral accompaniment when they start to get windy.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:33 AM on November 8, 2007


Every 6-8 months there is an Olbermann video posted on here along with the "I didn't think the media had it in them any more."
posted by fire&wings at 2:54 AM on November 8, 2007


Wow, so it's an interrogation method that even though the gentleman knew he wouldn't die, and knew he wouldn't be harmed, he still had a stark sense of terror? The kind that might compel you to share your most dearly held secrets? Without ever harming someone? Without them dying? It sounds good to me. People who oppose water-boarding ought to do themselves a favour and read "The Interrogators" by Chris Mackey which is a memoir from an Army interrogator in Afghanistan. Hearing how pitiful our methods were, and how little information was taken from the people who actually knew anything, information that could have saved the lives of our soldiers, our troops, it's a shock that anyone would be against water-boarding. But... it's the talking points and being informed about the situation might damage the ferocity with which a guy like Olbermann defends them, so I have little hope for any kind of revelation for him, or others like him.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 3:00 AM on November 8, 2007


Yeah, let's all pile on Olbermann. After all, all the other national media figures who regularly call the Bush administration on its crimes do it so much more effectively. Let's see, there's . . . uh . . .
posted by Zonker at 3:14 AM on November 8, 2007 [13 favorites]


BackwardsHatClub, I read your comment and didn't die. And I knew I wouldn't die. Well, actually, I did a little bit.
posted by ~ at 3:43 AM on November 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


Needs less 72 word sentences...
"All of it is now, after one revelation last week, transparently clear for what it is: the pathetic and desperate manipulation of the government, the refocusing of our entire nation, toward keeping this mock president and this unstable vice president and this departed wildly self-overrating attorney general, and the others, from potential prosecution for having approved or ordered the illegal torture of prisoners being held in the name of this country."
...otherwise I like what they're letting him do, though attacking an outgoing administration seems a waste of time. He should be cutting into new ground.
posted by greenskpr at 3:52 AM on November 8, 2007


Viciuous. Hit me with a flour.
posted by Wolof at 4:01 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


ohmygod, Keith has the absolute best ties. Really love his green ones.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:06 AM on November 8, 2007


BackwardsHatClub I read your comment and masturbated into my own hat.

So, thanks. Otherwise, you might want to re-think your position. As has been noted, in the Olberman rant and countless other discussions (of late, found here on MeFi and elsewhere) torture is about less than 'getting information that'll save our troops, that'll keep the war over there from coming over here' and more about conveying the idea that if we catch you we will fuck you up.

Not that if you do something to harm us, but if we catch you.
Not that if you do something to harm us, but if we catch you.

And that shit? That's for fucking pussies.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:17 AM on November 8, 2007


Snark, snark, snark away my friends. This is one of those issues where I can say "I am morally opposed to this" or "I am not morally opposed to this" and really there is very little middle ground. If you say 'we are water boarding the wrong people', well that's another issue entirely and one that should be addressed, but as for me, I have no moral qualms with it. YMMV.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 4:25 AM on November 8, 2007


Don't apologize for your post in the space where you're supposed to be convincing me to click on it.
posted by hermitosis at 4:41 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


BackwardsHatClub, have you read this?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 4:41 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Erh, this has nothing to do with snark, and nothing to do with morals. There's no debate on the subject, "enhanced interrogation techniques" have repeatedly been proven useless at obtaining actionable intelligence. When we discuss the necessity of torture in securing the homeland, we consistently fail to discuss any actual examples of success. I agree with Justice Scalia in the vaguest, abstract sense; when you're watching Jack Bauer torture people on 24, it's justifiable. But that is FICTION! In reality, Jack Bauer would probably get told one believable lie after another, wasting precious time and resources pursuing dead ends in the field, and the "enhanced interrogation" would eventually kill the detainee while he was in custody.

By 2000, the army had abandoned torture for "rapport-building" interrogation techniques because the latter worked and the former didn't. It was the Bush administration which reintroduced them as a part of the "War on Terror." The Army’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence Lt. General Jeff Kimmons noted this in 2006.

GEN. KIMMONS: Let me answer the first question. That’s a good question. I think—I am absolutely convinced the answer to your first question is no. No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that.

And moreover, any piece of intelligence which is obtained under duress, under—through the use of abusive techniques would be of questionable credibility. And additionally, it would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used. And we can’t afford to go there.


If you are for effective interrogation, then you must reject "enhanced" interrogation. "But it works great on TV" is not a valid argument.
posted by mek at 4:43 AM on November 8, 2007 [14 favorites]


Waterboarding does not work. It (and torture in general) is a method for extracting confessions, not valid intelligence. Therefore if you waterboard anyone, you are automatically waterboarding "the wrong person".

On preview, what mek said.
posted by Hutch at 4:46 AM on November 8, 2007


It's not snark.

Promoting torture is promoting a course of action that does more harm than good. Period.

Thus, you are working against my interests, and the interests of America.

Has nothing to do with mileage. Has to do with working in the interests of your country or against them.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:53 AM on November 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


For fuck's sake. Our country is losing the basic decency it had in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s by engaging in tortures we used to dismiss as something only Nazis and Commies would do. If Olbermann has to use a frickin' complex sentence or quote Edward R. Murrow to make this point, I say Big fuckin' deal! Keep your perspective, people!

Stop yer hipster bitchin' and bullshit. If you're not trying to grab a public soapbox that reaches millions of people and denouncing our current Torturer-in-Chief, then you need to shut the fuck up.
posted by jonp72 at 4:58 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, BackwardsHatClub. Torture doesn't work. Torture endangers the troops in three ways: It forces enemy troops to fight to the death rather than surrender. It encourages retaliation for our own captured troops. It fosters hostility toward U.S. troops in general. This is supported by many military intelligence officials. It seems to be supported only by the neoconservative crowd, most of whom haven't served in the military. Your reasons for supporting torture can only be described as immoral.

This is one of those issues where you can say, "I am not morally opposed to this?" You can say that about any issue.

Also, we are waterboarding the wrong people.
posted by jiiota at 5:03 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


This whole waterboarding disaster keeps me in mind of Goebbels. Tell the big lie, go so far past the normal, sane baseline of society and act normal and somehow, by some strange reverse frog-boiling quirk of human nature, everyone will just sputter impotently and whine pitifully about it.

Because if you rant and rage about torture being seriously discussed you're just "outraged" and "sputtering." Gah. I can't even, I don't know where to start. I mean outraged is the lowest possible emotion I could use to label my feelings on this, but apparently that's no damn good.
posted by Skorgu at 5:15 AM on November 8, 2007


That bit at the end, about how "the united states is better because we are the most righteous and the bestest", is exactly the ideology that landed it in this kind of trouble in the first place. Best not to resurrect that line of baloney.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:29 AM on November 8, 2007


About the only argument that I've heard in favor of waterboarding that I don't have a good response to is "we do it to our own troops during interrogation resistance training".

But I don't think that's really the point. The more compelling argument is that:
1. It doesn't work.
2. There is NEVER a ticking time bomb scenario in real life (even if there were, you'd never have enough information to be able to identify it as one).
3. You are much more effective in getting reliable information from interrogation subjects by establishing rapport with them.

That said, the fact that it's reported not be fatal or cause long term harm is utter crap. First, if it's happening to you, from all accounts, it FEELS like it's going to be fatal. Are you really going to trust that your tormentors know what they're doing? The effect On occasion, it has been fatal (accidents, heart attacks, etc.) and often, it's accompanied by some other form of "enhanced interrogation", like beatings, sleep deprivation (which causes acute long term damage) and some other goodies as well.
posted by psmealey at 5:35 AM on November 8, 2007 [5 favorites]


I must say, I'm a little frustrated by the I'm-bored-with-Keith-Olbermann-and-his-righteous-indignation comments up above. "Lame Duck hunt"? WHAT THE FUCK. This administration and its aggressive flouting of the Constitution gets a pass because... why? They beat the clock? What they hell kind of thinking is that?

Sure, you can find Olbermann's delivery a bit practiced, and maybe "Stay classy San Diego" would amuse you more than his homage to Murrow, but are we so brain dead that we're bored of the issue?

Metafilter: Eats its young. /rant
posted by psmealey at 5:44 AM on November 8, 2007 [8 favorites]


Without them dying? It sounds good to me

Well, d'uh. If there's one worse source of information than a tortured person, it's a dead person.
posted by Sparx at 5:49 AM on November 8, 2007


Smarten it down, Keith. I want my news from someone I can have a beer with, dagnabbit!

"...the time between tonight and the next presidential election, likely to be the longest year of our lives..."

Olbermann's a MeFite?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:05 AM on November 8, 2007


psmealy: About the only argument that I've heard in favor of waterboarding that I don't have a good response to is "we do it to our own troops during interrogation resistance training".

That one drives me up the wall.

Waterboarding done by Americans to Americans, known by all at the time to be training to equip them to face the torture that our unscrupulous enemies might inflict on them, is light years away, in intent and effect, from torture inflicted by Americans on prisoners.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:10 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Gosh, I just hate that rabble-rousing Thomas Jefferson and his warmongering friends.

It's not that they don't have some good points; their outrage and delivery just leave me cold.





The style over substance argument sucks, people.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:11 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


The whole torture as a means to get information to save American lives is a fucking red herring anyway. It's about revenge and sadism, pure and simple.
posted by psmealey at 6:15 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


History of an Interrogation Technique: Water Boarding: American soldiers have been court-martialed for waterboarding since the Spanish-American War.

Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime: After World War II Japanese prison-camp officers and guards were prosecuted for and convicted of war crimes, including waterboarding.

Now Michael Mukasey, a nominee for attorney general, the "nation's top cop" responsible for enforcement of the law, says he doesn't know if it's illegal. I'm disgusted and ashamed.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:16 AM on November 8, 2007 [13 favorites]


BackwardsHatClub: ... The kind that might compel you to share your most dearly held secrets? Without ever harming someone? Without them dying? It sounds good to me.

One teensy problem with your calculus:

When people are in stark terror, they tend to tell you not just the secrets they actually know, but the ones they think you want to know.

In other words, torture -- well, it's kind of really fantastically and amazingly bad as a means of getting reliable information.

Now, really genuinely hard-nosed outfits like the Mossad have known that for years. Americanoid Secret Intelligence Technocrats seem to have a hard time grasping it, though. They're too caught up in 24 fever, I suppose.
posted by lodurr at 6:19 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Now Michael Mukasey, a nominee for attorney general, the "nation's top cop" responsible for enforcement of the law, says he doesn't know if it's illegal. I'm disgusted and ashamed.

For all the encomiums from both sides of the aisle about Mukasey's decency, fairness and integrity in the run-up to his confirmation hearings, his sputtering on this issue just reeked of cynicism. I count myself among the disgusted as well, but Mukasey is the one who should be ashamed.
posted by psmealey at 6:25 AM on November 8, 2007


I think some of you have the idea that those who criticize Keith's special comments want them to be simpler, and that that is indicative of wanting to dumb them down.

But I think you're wrong. The way Keith speaks in these isn't "to complex" it's to frilly and overwrought. When Edward R Murrow did it, it was the way people spoke on television. These days, it's different and therefore distracting. The rhetorical flushes actually detract from what he's saying by making the form stick out like a sore thumb.

Using a modern speaking style wouldn't hamper his message, on the contrary it would make his powerful statements even more effecting (and much less annoying for me personally)
posted by delmoi at 6:36 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


About the only argument that I've heard in favor of waterboarding that I don't have a good response to is "we do it to our own troops during interrogation resistance training".


It's heavily controlled during training and merely to show soldiers what could happen to them.

Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.
posted by drezdn at 6:57 AM on November 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


I absolutely loathe everyone who claims to be fatigued from outrage at times like these. It is the world's most convenient excuse for cowardice to claim that the president has abused you so much that you're not even bothered by the abuse as much as you're tired of being bothered by it. cute little apathetic declarations aren't funny anymore, and they're contributing to the problem to boot. Spend your energy thinking of ways to turn olbermann's outrage, and the outrage of people like him, into something constructive, rather than trying to disparage him as if there's something wrong with finally calling the president out now when he didn't 7 years ago. Stop demanding some pandering acquiescence to the same purile ADD sound bite culture that has muddied the discourse of our media to the point where the truth about Bush's administration has difficulty filtering through in the first place. You don't have to get up and start protesting, but for god's sake don't be the god damn crab pulling the rest of us down with you.
posted by shmegegge at 7:04 AM on November 8, 2007 [9 favorites]


delmoi writes "Using a modern speaking style wouldn't hamper his message, on the contrary it would make his powerful statements even more effecting (and much less annoying for me personally)"

I think the only thing Olbermann needs to do is to get out of the way of his story. He needs to understand that his outrage isn't the heart of the matter. If he did that, his speaking style would change, too. Frankly, it would be a relief, because I agree and empathize with the guy, but I think his message would be more effective if he just stopped concentrating on his own feelings so much, and instead let those feelings drive him to find the truth and put that at the center.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:42 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


psmealey writes "The whole torture as a means to get information to save American lives is a fucking red herring anyway. It's about revenge and sadism, pure and simple."

No, it's about fear and power. The individual interrogators may get some personal satisfaction from it, but as a strategy, it's about dominating the enemy with fear. Note that this is in no way an excuse, and as a strategy it's not very effective anymore, if it ever was. It was never about getting information.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:48 AM on November 8, 2007


Is Waterboarding Torture?
posted by Xurando at 7:51 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


BackwardsHatClub: Hearing how pitiful our methods were, and how little information was taken from the people who actually knew anything, information that could have saved the lives of our soldiers, our troops, it's a shock that anyone would be against water-boarding.

Specifically which troops would it have saved- do you happen to have laundry list of their names? If I'm a terrorist willing to give my life to the cause, why would I give my torturers the "correct" answer instead of anything they want to hear? In the ticking bomb scenario, why wouldn't I tell my captors the wrong-colored wire to cut?
posted by Challahtronix at 8:06 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm with shmegegge. At what point was there just enough outrage over your rights being trampled upon that you were compelled to act, yet not enough trampling for you to find it not worth acting upon? Because I think we skipped over that bit, the part where we actually did something to correct this.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:09 AM on November 8, 2007


I think it can be about both, krinklyfig. You cannot tell me that there wasn't some evidence of retribution/revenge for 9/11 in the way Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was treated, in exchange for utterly bogus information no less. Your point is excellent however, and we both agree that it was never about getting information.
posted by psmealey at 8:18 AM on November 8, 2007


This from 'My Hitch in Hell,' by Lester Tenney. At the time he witnessed this, he had already survived the Bataan Death March:

Once outside, I saw they had another American spread-eagled on a large board. His head was about ten inches lower than his feet, and his arms and feet were outstretched and tied to the board. A Japanese soldier was holding the American’s nose closed while another soldier poured what I later found out was salt water from a tea kettle into the prisoner’s mouth. In a minute or two, the American started coughing and throwing up water. The Japanese were simulating a drowning situation while the victim was on land. Every few seconds an officer would lean over and ask the prisoner a question. If he did not receive an immediate answer he would order that more water be forced into the prisoner’s mouth.
I could not believe my eyes. Torture of this nature was something I had read about in history books. It was used during the medieval times, certainly not in the twentieth century. My God, I wondered, what is in store for me? My entire body became clammy, and I felt a sort of internal shaking, where my insides seemed to be moving all around. My face grew hot and my eyes opened wide as I said to myself, “What now?”
posted by dragonsi55 at 8:36 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


posted by jonp72 Our country is losing the basic decency it had in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s

To what "basic decency" are you referring? Would this be the legalized bigotry and segregation, or would it be the rampant censorship and corruption? You have to laugh at people who refer to these decades as "the good old days", as though America was some sort of social utopia.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:58 AM on November 8, 2007


My only problem with KO's rants is that they're so hackneyed and cliched. He needs to partner with a really good writer to sharpen them up.
posted by empath at 9:02 AM on November 8, 2007


psmealey writes "I think it can be about both, krinklyfig. You cannot tell me that there wasn't some evidence of retribution/revenge for 9/11 in the way Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was treated, in exchange for utterly bogus information no less."

In that specific case, maybe so. But in a general strategic sense, I don't think so. I do think that's what motivates some of the interrogators, but not the process itself.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:12 AM on November 8, 2007


Best of the Web? Really?

Now I am reconsidering my decision not to make a FPP on some cool things I heard Jim Rome say during a 6 minute youtube rant last week.
posted by Slap Factory at 9:25 AM on November 8, 2007


Can we please dispense with posting a link EVERYTIME Olbermann "rants" about something, or else create a keith.metafilter.com just for those? The man is well spoken but, seriously, I think we get it.
posted by casconed at 9:36 AM on November 8, 2007


That's a question better asked on MetaTalk.
posted by breezeway at 9:44 AM on November 8, 2007


it's a shock that anyone would be against water-boarding

And so behold the face of the banality of evil. Shoving something sharp under someone's fingernails doesn't kill anyone either, BackwardsHatClub, and the harm it does is nominal. Electroshock to the genitals or teeth, carefully applied, is not going to kill or "harm" anyone (psychological harm, and the fact that any policy that permits torture will inevitably involve the mistaken torture of innocent people apparently don't factor into your beliefs). We get it, you think torture is morally acceptable because you believe it might be expedient. Stop pretending you've deemed it acceptable only because you've endorsed some supposedly sanitary method of instilling terror through the exploitation of biology.

It is exactly people like you who have promoted the ascension to power of every Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot (another huge fan of waterboarding) in this world.
posted by nanojath at 9:47 AM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe if I could add Keith O. as a contact, so I'd get a thing in my sidebar every time he posts a comment...
posted by sparkletone at 9:52 AM on November 8, 2007


What apologists like AsswardHat upthread fail to realize is that at the heart of the issue is not the efficacy of any technique in the gathering of intelligence, but rather our temporary suspension of our status as signatories of the Geneva Conventions whenever militarily or politically convenient. The Geneva conventions are the only shield that our soldiers have against this and worse treatment at the hands of our current - and more imporant, future - enemies.

The decision to pursue treatments prohibited by common Article 3 guarantees that future American POWs will be treated in kind.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 10:19 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


MeTa.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:35 AM on November 8, 2007


I agreed with every one of his points, but I think he could have distilled this down to something much shorter.

And for the record, I asked the question central to his rant almost two years ago.
posted by quin at 10:39 AM on November 8, 2007


I_am_a_Jedi, I don't disagree with you -- for myself, I choose to respond to posts like that in terms of efficacy because it seems clear to me that the posters are not going to be able to hear a moral argument against torture. They accept certain rarely challenged premises -- one of those is "torture is effective." Another is "we are faced with ticking time bombs a la 24."

Your point is another good one that needs to keep getting brought up: We have agreed that this is wrong when people do it to us and ours. We may lose legal standing to make that challenge.

These are all pragmatic arguments, and so they're less satisfying than just saying that it's wrong. But I think we still need to keep making them -- they're all still true, after all, and they might actually work.
posted by lodurr at 10:41 AM on November 8, 2007


Tune In.

Turn On.

Drop Out.






Peace.
posted by daq at 11:02 AM on November 8, 2007


A former interrogation instructor for the Navy said the words Thursday that congressional Democrats wanted to hear from Attorney General-designate Michael Mukasey: "Waterboarding is torture, period."

"Waterboarding is torture and should be banned," Malcolm Wrightson Nance, a former Navy instructor of prisoner of war and terrorist hostage survival programs, told a House constitutional subcommittee. "I believe that we must reject the use of the waterboard for prisoners and captives and cleanse this stain from our national honor."

****

Training sessions are where waterboarding belongs, not as part of efforts to gain intelligence information from foreign agents, said a second witness.

Such "coercive" interrogation techniques aren't as effective as those that elicit cooperation, because false information is often elicited under harsher methods, said Col. Steven Kleinman, a senior intelligence officer and military interrogator for the U.S. Air Force Reserves.


From here.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:14 AM on November 8, 2007


shmegegge: "I absolutely loathe everyone who claims to be fatigued from outrage at times like these. It is the world's most convenient excuse for cowardice to claim that the president has abused you so much that you're not even bothered by the abuse as much as you're tired of being bothered by it. cute little apathetic declarations aren't funny anymore, and they're contributing to the problem to boot. Spend your energy thinking of ways to turn olbermann's outrage, and the outrage of people like him, into something constructive, rather than trying to disparage him as if there's something wrong with finally calling the president out now when he didn't 7 years ago. Stop demanding some pandering acquiescence to the same purile ADD sound bite culture that has muddied the discourse of our media to the point where the truth about Bush's administration has difficulty filtering through in the first place. You don't have to get up and start protesting, but for god's sake don't be the god damn crab pulling the rest of us down with you."

You know what I loathe? This snooty, smarmy, 'I'm-the-center-of-the-world-because-I'm-politically-active" bullshit. Here's a hint: political action - the just kind - happens as a result of careful, cool, thoughtful confidence and resolution, if not wisdom. Not through outrage. Political action through outrage is the mentality of the mob, and it gets everybody nowhere fast. If anyone makes this country a better place - I guarantee you it won't be a guy on TV every night who makes plenty of money off of other people's outrage and his own acting ability - it will be people who think carefully, keep their head, and do what's right, and who aren't afraid to talk about it. Grow up, learn to drop the passion play, and maybe then you'll be ready for political thought. Okay?
posted by koeselitz at 11:20 AM on November 8, 2007


The best Olbermann comment was about smoking and cancer. It happened following the death of Peter Jennings, and before he had "special comments" as a feature on his show. MSNBC was pissed, as was Rita Cosby, whose new show was debuting right after the commentary that may have turned off potential viewers. Warning: frank depiction of spitting blood.
posted by ALongDecember at 11:28 AM on November 8, 2007


koeselitz, my first reaction is "wow, that's some outrage, there."

OTOH, you do seem to be right. Think about everyone who ever made a sustained difference (in the way that they intended, versus jokers who thrash around and claim "I meant to do that!" after the fact), and you realize it took them a long time of doing (usually hard) stuff consistently and according to a plan: MLK, Malcom X, Ghandi, Mao (it goes for negative differences, too), and so on.

OTOH.2, sometimes you need the outraged to man your barracades.
posted by lodurr at 11:37 AM on November 8, 2007


“To what "basic decency" are you referring? Would this be the legalized bigotry and segregation, or would it be the rampant censorship and corruption? You have to laugh at people who refer to these decades as "the good old days", as though America was some sort of social utopia.” - posted by fandango_matt


I’ll cede the last sentence of that argument (I’d agree it’s well traveled). But throughout history there have been decent people fighing for good causes. Your counter is just as hackneyed. People harken back to our agrarian past and those values and people shout “Slavery,” but to that I say: Abolitionists. The censorship, corruption, segregation - is gone. The good old days? Hell yeah, you want to know why? Because our forefathers won those battles. State supported slavery is gone in the U.S. Say what you will about that era - McCarthy lost. There were good men fighting to rescue Europe from Hitler and stop genocide. Granted there were thousands of other things going on at the time, not all of them above board, but again - they won.
Our generation faces a far more insidious foe who has adapted and our heroes are not as visible. That ambiguity makes it hard to visibly fight the good fight we’ve seen fought in history. Orwell warned us about the erasure of history and what that would do to humanity. And indeed, it’s happening to us now.
The good old days were good in part, yes, because those battles were won, but also because they’re over. The world is a better place in many ways because of them. But those problems were someone else’s responsibility.
But what’s going on now is maybe more in shadow, maybe harder to fight, but whatever else it is, it’s all on us now.
That alone makes the past look brighter.

Meh, at least dolts like BackwardsHatClub are more visible and more visibly doltish.
I mean really, as blurred as things have gotten for our spirit brothers and sisters because of the media today, at the villians still stand out.
And really, Bush isn’t Hitler, but then again, how often is villiany so obvious?
Dude’s a gift. We should be grateful for the clarity we have. Someone stands up and says “Hey guys! Waterboarding is great!”? I mean come on, man. It’s not like we have to track down some secret society covertly disguised as Quaker ministers of peace secretly torturing people. Hell, people like that are self-proclaiming.
To be fair, you did have people back then saying “Hey guys! I hate niggers!” but y’know. Again, they already lost. This round is ours. And some of us have no moral qualms with killing torturers.
(Yeah, yeah, I know, same tautology, there are no ‘right’ people to torture, there are no ‘right’ people to kill, I got it. I’ve stopped. Still, tell me if you’re not a black guy in the 1950s with a rope around you’re neck you wouldn’t want to see someone like me sitting on a nearby hill with an M1E6 and an M84 scope calibrated for the mirage boil coming off the white hoods)

Sorry daq, no justice...
posted by Smedleyman at 11:47 AM on November 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


Keith Olbermann is a weinermobile careening hilariously down your street, knocking off rear-views and soaking his own interior with salty hot dog juice.
posted by breezeway at 11:48 AM on November 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


I don't mind Olbermann at all.

I think he's saying what needs to be said, sorry if the style bugs some.

But then again, if it was up to me, this is what would be on broadcast television nightly.
posted by Relay at 12:23 PM on November 8, 2007


Our generation faces a far more insidious foe who has adapted and our heroes are not as visible.

They're not as visible because our generation faces foes who are weak and ineffectual compared to the foes of the past. The existence of the country was at stake during the Civil War. In World War II Germany and Japan were industrialized countries with modern armies and the entire resources of their countries behind them. During the Cold War the Soviet Union had a massive army and thousands of ICBMs pointed the the United States. Now we've turned into a nation of pants-pissing chickenshits over terrorists whose best-case, wet dream, pie-in-the-sky scenario is sneaking maybe one nuclear weapon into one American city.

That would be horrible, and we should do anything sensible to prevent it, like maybe securing cargo containers or airplane baggage. Or not rampaging around the world like a drunk looking for a fight. Torturing is not protecting us, it's jeopardizing us.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:42 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Keith Olbermann is a weinermobile careening hilariously down your street, knocking off rear-views and soaking his own interior with salty hot dog juice.

At night, the ice weasels come.

posted by kirkaracha at 1:43 PM on November 8, 2007


...he still had a stark sense of terror? The kind that might compel you to share your most dearly held secrets?

Do you believe that in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries many women were actually witches in league with Satan, and possessed of the power to fly, kill cattle, and blight crops?
posted by reynir at 3:13 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, so it's an interrogation method that even though the gentleman knew he wouldn't die,I am a completely and knew he wouldn't be harmed, he still had a stark sense of terror? The kind that might compel you to share your most dearly held secrets? Without ever harming someone? Without them dying? self-centered jackass It sounds good to me. People who oppose water-boarding ought to do themselves a favour and read "The Interrogators" by Chris Mackey who does not care about anyone which is a memoir from an Army interrogator in Afghanistan. Hearing how pitiful our methods were, and how little information was taken from the people who actually knew anything, or anything other than information that could have saved the lives of our soldiers, our troops, it's a shock that anyone would be against water-boarding. myself and the little protective bubble But... it's the talking points and being informed about the situation might damage the ferocity with which a guy like Olbermann defends them, I choose to live in. so I have little hope for any kind of revelation for him, or others like him.

There. Fixed that for you.
posted by flarbuse at 3:15 PM on November 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


I agree with Olbermann but the problem is I don't really like him.

I would suggest that part of the overall, larger problem is that you should think that you need to.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:45 PM on November 8, 2007


CIA Rendition: The Smoking Gun Cable
Under torture after his rendition to Egypt, al Libi had provided a confession of how Saddam Hussein had been training al Qaeda in chemical weapons. This evidence was used by Colin Powell at the United Nations a year earlier (February 2003) to justify the war in Iraq. ("I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to al Qaeda," Powell said. "Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story.")

But now, hearing how the information was obtained, the CIA was soon to retract all this intelligence. A Feb. 5 cable records that al Libi was told by a "foreign government service" (Egypt) that: "the next topic was al-Qa'ida's connections with Iraq...This was a subject about which he said he knew nothing and had difficulty even coming up with a story."

Al Libi indicated that his interrogators did not like his responses and then "placed him in a small box approximately 50cm X 50cm [20 inches x 20 inches]." He claimed he was held in the box for approximately 17 hours. When he was let out of the box, al Libi claims that he was given a last opportunity to "tell the truth." When al Libi did not satisfy the interrogator, al Libi claimed that "he was knocked over with an arm thrust across his chest and he fell on his back." Al Libi told CIA debriefers that he then "was punched for 15 minutes." (Sourced to CIA cable, Feb. 5, 2004).

Here was a cable then that informed Washington that one of the key pieces of evidence for the Iraq war -- the al Qaeda/Iraq link -- was not only false but extracted by effectively burying a prisoner alive.
Anyone who still believes that torture works is an idiot.
posted by homunculus at 5:30 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


“They're not as visible because our generation faces foes who are weak and ineffectual compared to the foes of the past.”

I disagree. Our heroes are not as visible because our foes are more internal and control the media. If you don’t think the existance of the country is at stake now - perhaps more than during the civil war - you’re sorely mistaken. Those nukes pointed at us during the cold war are - still - pointed at us and in the hands of a fractured empire and a dozen unstable states who can’t keep track of them on their own.
Added to that we have our own politicians placing party over country and willing to betray the very people doing the job of stopping nuclear proliferation, that would never have happened during the cold war. I’m not just talking about Plame here, I’m talking about prioritization of the resources within the intelligence community. (I don’t want to digress, so I beg your sufferance there)
And I don’t know that it’s unprescedented, but heretofore it’s certainly been completely unacceptable and visibly unAmerican. Terrorism, in the face of that, is a minor detail.
And indeed, torture is jeopardizing us (I suspect you’re under the mistaken impression, I don’t know how given the multitude of comments I’ve made on the issue, that I support it), but it is not merely that we create more enemies everywhere and every time we do it, it is not merely that we lose allies, or waste time and resources on a useless set of interrogation tools, it is that we are eroding our national character by promoting it as an acceptable option and creating - more and more - men willing to accept that there are “right” people to torture and, more insidiously, the primacy of the state or the leader to determine who suffers it.
No, we’ve had to overcome in the past with a great many horrible things, but it’s never been so much as it is now, our own hand at our throat.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:19 PM on November 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


To those asking where Olbermann was a number of years ago, you people just weren't listening because Olbermann is no Johnny-come-lately when it comes to holding this administrations's feet to the fire. He has been a strong critic of this administration since he returned to msnbc in late 2002 or early 2003, and one of the few media who had the temerity to be critical in the run-up to war. Note his "it's the xxxth day since mission accomplished" nightly tagline which started right while everyone else was hypnotized by flyboy's crotch-enhanced photo op. Olbermann has been a consistent administration critic - even when it was risky to be a critic.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:27 PM on November 8, 2007


YMMV

I'm beginning to detest that one, too.
posted by jaronson at 8:37 PM on November 9, 2007


.
posted by arnold at 6:34 AM on November 10, 2007


Nance, Kleinman, and Waterboarding: The Remix
posted by homunculus at 11:41 AM on November 10, 2007


In general, it's a bad idea to cash checks with your ass, anyway. There's always a little bit of a mess, and the handwriting on the endorsement never looks right.
posted by psmealey at 11:55 AM on November 10, 2007


fuck. wrong thread.
posted by psmealey at 11:56 AM on November 10, 2007


Maybe, but strangely enough, it made sense to me when I read it just now.
posted by lodurr at 1:01 PM on November 10, 2007


You know what I loathe? This snooty, smarmy, 'I'm-the-center-of-the-world-because-I'm-politically-active" bullshit. Here's a hint: political action - the just kind - happens as a result of careful, cool, thoughtful confidence and resolution, if not wisdom.

Wow, what a complete distortion of what I said. You can go ahead and recognize the difference between disliking apathy and championing rash angry activism. Then, once you've done that, you can re-read what I wrote and respond. It's really easy to say "I stand for wisdom!" or something else intangibly virtuous as if you made a cogent point. It's entirely something else to actually attempt to understand someone's viewpoint and respond with logic. For the record, I'm only politically active in that I vote and sometimes read the news and/or watch the daily show. What I don't do is act like no one's allowed to get outraged just because I'm tired of all the bad news. dick.
posted by shmegegge at 2:00 PM on November 10, 2007


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