CIA Torture Report Released
December 9, 2014 9:43 AM   Subscribe

The Senate intelligence committee's report on CIA torture has been released.

To be precise, only the executive summary of the report has been released; the full report runs upwards of 6000 pages. Links to the key documents here.

Key findings of the report (from Feinstein's press release):

1. The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were not effective.
2. The CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the operation of the program and its effectiveness to policymakers and the public.
3. The CIA’s management of the program was inadequate and deeply flawed.
4. The CIA program was far more brutal than the CIA represented to policymakers and the American public.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles (854 comments total) 117 users marked this as a favorite
 
We are too prone to ignore these reports as things we have always suspected but have never known for certain. The line of reasoning goes that if it's nothing new then there is nothing to be done. Torture, however, is not the new development.

What's new is the arrival of information. We can no longer claim ignorance or that the facts aren't in yet. Our suspicion has become awareness, and that awareness carries with it a duty to act.

Whether it's the CIA or the NYPD, it is time to revise the conditions under which we grant our government a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.
posted by The White Hat at 9:44 AM on December 9, 2014 [66 favorites]




Dies this have anything to do with the report on "harsh interrogation tactics" I've been hearing about on the news?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:48 AM on December 9, 2014 [18 favorites]


What's new is the arrival of information. We can no longer claim ignorance or that the facts aren't in yet. Our suspicion has become awareness, and that awareness carries with it a duty to act.

I was fucking "acting" as far back as October 2001 and it didn't do shit except for get people telling me I was "unAmerican" or a "libtard".

YOU act. I've given up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:49 AM on December 9, 2014 [93 favorites]


It is worth saying that this report, unlike the Benghazi report in the House that cleared the administration of blame, was not bipartisan. It was written solely by Democratic staffers. Doesn't mean it's wrong, obviously, but there's probably some bias.
posted by shivohum at 9:50 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


shivoum: I could be wrong, but I imagine that the republicans never wanted an investigation about torture, making it impossible for this to be bipartisan. (correct me anyone, if I'm wrong).
posted by el io at 9:52 AM on December 9, 2014 [23 favorites]


Forcefully feeding people through their rectums to the point of them suffering an anal prolapse surely is liberal bias.
posted by RedShrek at 9:53 AM on December 9, 2014 [82 favorites]


A government source now admits that laws and treaties were broken, when are those responsible going to face prosecution, or has the government stopped even pretending to be legitimate?
posted by just another scurvy brother at 9:54 AM on December 9, 2014 [21 favorites]


Good on the Guardian for actually calling it torture and specifically stating that EIT is the agency's "preferred euphemism" for torture.

Contrast this with NPR's coverage which almost never uses the T word.
posted by odinsdream at 9:56 AM on December 9, 2014 [20 favorites]


The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond
One of the enduring questions surrounding the torture and black-sites program run by the CIA between early 2002 and the early fall of 2006 relates to the role played by psychologists and the bizarre conduct of their professional association, the American Psychological Association (APA). Drawing on a cache of secret email communications between key players in the torture program and senior officers of the APA, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter James Risen suggests in Pay Any Price, his new book, that the APA rushed to change its ethics rules to allow its members to participate in the torture program.
[...]

I believe the APA’s collaboration with the CIA regarding the Bush-era interrogation program will eventually be recognized as one of the greatest scandals in the history of American medical ethics.
The APA should be dissolved.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:56 AM on December 9, 2014 [60 favorites]


I'm disgusted on all kinds of levels. It's not a new disgust, but it's been rising for 14 years and it seems to be at a peak now.
posted by naju at 9:57 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


@shivohum

Do you have any evidence to back up your insinuation of bias in what is being reported today about the actions of the CIA?
posted by RedShrek at 9:57 AM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


ACLU chief Anthony Romero: Pardon the whole Bush Cabal
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:57 AM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]




Marcy Wheeler: Some Torture Facts
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:59 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Does anyone else here wonder why Feinstein uses tortured language (sorry) like "The CIA provided incomplete and inaccurate information", "The CIA’s internal Panetta Review also identified numerous inaccuracies
in the CIA’s effectiveness representations—including representations to the President", "The CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the operation of the program and its effectiveness to policymakers and the public." etc, etc..

But never uses the word 'lied', or "perjury"? It states, in twisted language that the CIA lied to Congress, the President, and to the public. I mean, it's not that twisted of language, but for fucks sake, they LIED, they are LIARS, they committed PERJURY...

Or is lying to congress only against the law when a hopped up baseball player does it?
posted by el io at 10:01 AM on December 9, 2014 [28 favorites]


@Vibrissae,

Don't worry, that's the narrative that's already being pushed by Conservatives and Republicans. Jump on twitter and you will see the simplistic arguments that somehow justify torture by comparing us to violent Jihadis who behead and murder people. Yes, we are now on the same spectrum of abhorrence with ISIS. Truly sad when a group of people are willing to sell the soul of a nation for a convenient but short meal of warm porridge.
posted by RedShrek at 10:01 AM on December 9, 2014


Something someone to be pardoned; something someone truth exposed; someone someone someone huge book contracts.
posted by uraniumwilly at 10:01 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


A government source now admits that laws and treaties were broken, when are those responsible going to face prosecution, or has the government stopped even pretending to be legitimate?

Nope.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 10:02 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was saddened to read the Romero op-ed, too, but I understand his logic. I am flabbergasted, however, that there's a statue of limitations on torture (not to mention all the other heinous shit that went on surrounding the torture program).
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:02 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]




Is "rectal feeding" about to enter the national lexicon, like "waterboarding" did before? If you weren't disgusted by anything else, maybe scatological torture that didn't even appear in Salo will do the trick. Feel free to volunteer to rectally infuse your body with hummus, pasta and nuts, commentators.
posted by naju at 10:02 AM on December 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


I've never been a huge Feinstein fan, she's far too conservative and corporatist, but she did a good thing here and by all reports she did it against the active opposition of Obama and his staff. That takes some serious guts, and I hope she doesn't pay too high a political price for that.

And no, for those of us in the reality based community the report contains nothing really new except that finally the US government is (very reluctantly) admitting that those things happened. But most Americans never got more than a CIA flack on the news agreeing with the talking head from the cocktail circuit that the "enhanced interrogations" were nothing really severe and utterly necessary to save us from the evil terrorists.

Now, perhaps, a few of the less politically involved people will become aware of the truth.

Hoping that this will result in Obama changing course and actually prosecuting the evil people who committed crimes against humanity basically because they felt like it is pure foolishness. Obama told us early on that he would never even investigate, much less prosecute, the criminals of the Bush II administration, and therefore he all but guaranteed that when the next Republican president is in office they'll torture more, and they'll use more horrible techniques, and they'll expand the program as much as they can.

But perhaps, now that there's also the assurance that at least a tiny bit of light will be shed on the torturers then they may hold back a bit.

And it is unutterably depressing that at the moment the highest hope I have for my nation is that, perhaps, maybe, possibly, this heavily redacted report might shame a few of the torturers from not being quite so bad. But realistically that's all I can hope for. Assuming she wins, President Clinton is likely to be even more pro-torture than Obama is, and any Republican will be vastly worse.

I'd say I weep for my country, but I already have and I'm all out of tears.
posted by sotonohito at 10:03 AM on December 9, 2014 [32 favorites]


Do you have any evidence to back up your insinuation of bias in what is being reported today about the actions of the CIA?

Sure. There's all of social psychology, which consistently shows that confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, groupthink, tribalism, and many other truth-distorting mental phenomena creep in when you have people with strong ideological affiliations investigating something.

There's also all of common sense, which says that political staffers actually care about politics and might want to make things look as bad as they possibly can for the opposition, and conceal any countervailing points or nuances as much as possible -- and doubly so a year before a presidential election.
posted by shivohum at 10:04 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


So what you're saying is you don't have any, you know, actual evidence.
posted by odinsdream at 10:06 AM on December 9, 2014 [86 favorites]


@shivohum

So then you don't have actual evidence to backup your insinuations.
posted by RedShrek at 10:07 AM on December 9, 2014 [18 favorites]


I remember having a very heated and loud argument in a restaurant with my brother when the Abu Ghraib photos were leaked. I thought it was torture, he thought it wasn't. I stopped talking to him about the war after that, as I knew he didn't want to see what was happening. Part of me wants to ask him if he's read the report in a week, the other part knows he won't have, since he still doesn't want to know what happened.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:08 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona who was once tortured as a prisoner of war, praised the release of the Senate’s report on the C.I.A.’s interrogation program on Tuesday and condemned the agency’s use of brutal interrogation techniques.

Arguing that torture “damaged our security interests as well as our reputation as a force for good in the world,” Mr. McCain said that the American people had a right to know what was being done in their name.

“The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow,” Mr. McCain said. “The American people are entitled to it nonetheless. They must be able to make judgments about whether these policies and the personnel who supported them were justified in compromising our values.”

Mr. McCain’s position puts him in a rare area of agreement with President Obama, who he ran against for president in 2008."
posted by uraniumwilly at 10:08 AM on December 9, 2014 [45 favorites]


Has there ever been a more effective terror cell than that of the CIA torturers? Just taking into account effects against Americans, they produced faulty intelligence that helped get America into the war with Iraq. (Approximately 4500 American soldiers killed versus under 3000 for the 9/11 attacks). Their actions helped recruit new terrorists. Their actions helped justify torture against American captives.
And that's not mentioning the worldwide loss of life or the effects on the economy.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:08 AM on December 9, 2014 [34 favorites]


While Bush engaged in torture, Obama is and was a torture apologist (while he may have said 'torture was bad', he also said 'look forward, not backwards - an apologist) and conspired to prevent the truth from coming forward.

Obama is morally responsible for the acts of torture that Bush committed.

At least when Bush did it he thought he preventing further acts of terrorism. When Obama refused to prosecute the crimes he was doing so entirely for political convenience. In this way Obama's (in)actions are more disgusting to me.
posted by el io at 10:09 AM on December 9, 2014 [18 favorites]


"evidence (noun): the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid."
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:10 AM on December 9, 2014 [13 favorites]


dances with sneetches: This is actually part of the justification for those arguing that we must never admit the crimes we committed; "If the world knew what we did, they'd rise up against us" (not an actual quote).
posted by el io at 10:10 AM on December 9, 2014


Are we the baddies?
posted by b1tr0t at 10:10 AM on December 9, 2014 [15 favorites]


There's all of social psychology

DID SOMEONE SAY "SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY"?

----
The torture of prisoners at times was so extreme that some C.I.A. personnel tried to put a halt to the techniques, but were told by senior agency officials to continue the interrogation sessions.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:11 AM on December 9, 2014 [26 favorites]


It is worth saying that this report, unlike the Benghazi report in the House that cleared the administration of blame, was not bipartisan. It was written solely by Democratic staffers. Doesn't mean it's wrong, obviously, but there's probably some bias.

I had wondered how people were going to be able to bury their heads in the sand about this. Thanks for clearing that up! +10 points for working Benghazi into it.
posted by dialetheia at 10:11 AM on December 9, 2014 [62 favorites]


Mission Accomplished:
Incontrovertible evidence of war crimes is dismissed as mere political bias.
Even the obvious coverup won't result in prosecution.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:11 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've never been a huge Feinstein fan, she's far too conservative and corporatist, but she did a good thing here and by all reports she did it against the active opposition of Obama and his staff.

Yeah, when I heard it was Feinstein's office that released it, I was like "Really? Feinstein?" I guess you don't eavesdrop on DiFi and get away with it.
posted by jonp72 at 10:11 AM on December 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


At least when Bush did it he thought he preventing further acts of terrorism. When Obama refused to prosecute the crimes he was doing so entirely for political convenience. In this way Obama's (in)actions are more disgusting to me.

Not entirely, he's also covering his own ass. Obama has authorized the drone program, killing civilians, a war crime, likely relying on the same September 17, 2001 memo as Bush did. If Obama admits to Bush's illegal conduct, he opens his own administration up to the same liability for his own, separate and distinct, war crimes.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:12 AM on December 9, 2014 [22 favorites]


I've got no problems with throwing Obama under the bus if it means getting convictions for the Bush regime. Sauce for the goose, etc.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:15 AM on December 9, 2014 [65 favorites]


.
posted by lalochezia at 10:16 AM on December 9, 2014


Ok class, so to wrap up this ethics lesson, does the ends justify the means? I mean, everything is perfect now, so by doing this we actually were able to construct and maintain our capitalist utopia, right?
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:20 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Christ, the ACLU? This is bullshit. You want to establish that torture is illegal? How about having trials, verdicts, and sentences!? You don't establish SHIT by pardons. The statute of limitations ran out? Have a trial anyway! If our government is going to break the law, can we at least break the law to hold accountable those responsible for actual heinous evil shit, instead of only breaking it to perpetuate it?
posted by rustcrumb at 10:20 AM on December 9, 2014 [23 favorites]


“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” ― Flannery O'Connor
posted by mynameisluka at 10:21 AM on December 9, 2014 [21 favorites]


What needs to happen (and what won't happen, because this country has fundamentally failed) is simple. House Democrats need to demand that Obama fully investigate and punish.

If he refuses to do so, they then need to bring articles of impeachment.
posted by eriko at 10:23 AM on December 9, 2014 [18 favorites]


there's probably some bias

It's kind of like jazz; you have to read the paragraphs that aren't there. The genius of the report is in the missing paragraphs about all the detainees who didn't die of hypothermia after we chained them to the floor.
posted by compartment at 10:23 AM on December 9, 2014 [31 favorites]


At least when Bush did it he thought he preventing further acts of terrorism.

In the immortal words of Col. Potter, "Horse Hockey." If he really wanted to prevent further acts of terrorism, he'd have focused on the part of the world where the terrorist who'd most recently attacked us actually was supposed to live, rather than focusing on the part of the world which would satisfy his love-me-please-daddy complex.

Also, the notion that this was done to "prevent terrorism" means that he's saying he did this in my name, and FUCK THAT SHIT.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:24 AM on December 9, 2014 [36 favorites]


Rectal feeding leading to prolapse, huh? At a certain point when a human being in military custody is refusing to cooperate with you and you are unwilling to release them, a firing squad becomes the most humane option. If you are doing things that lead you to shooting someone in your custody being the humane alternative, you have probably fucked up. Really, really, fucked up. I'm looking for harsher language to describe how fucked up this is, but I can't find it right now. ALL THE FUCKED UP!

ACLU chief Anthony Romero: Pardon the whole Bush Cabal

I don't like the precedent it would set. It's essentially trying to backdoor a guilty verdict for history and I don't want that to be a power Presidents who refuse to prosecute in a fair trial when they had the chance should have.

President Obama should admit he made a mistake when he made the political decision not to fully investigate and then prosecute if necessary those responsible for the torture regime. That's about the best he can do, I think.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:24 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Mind you, this report was compiled by staffers who were refused access to over 9,400 documents related to EIT by the White House.
posted by RedShrek at 10:25 AM on December 9, 2014 [21 favorites]


A blatant crime against our constitution, international law, and morality. I will never understand how some people lose their humanity to the point they are able to stomach behaving this way. At the very least, every lawyer and medical professional involved in perpetrating this should permanently lose his or her license; every military member involved should be dishonorably discharged.
posted by sallybrown at 10:26 AM on December 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


"The statute of limitations ran out? Have a trial anyway!"

Yeah, the law doesn't work that way. We can try them in 'the court of public opinion'. We can shame every institution that tries to bring a war criminal to their university to teach, to give an address. We can print up 'war criminal' playing cards (hey, kickstarter anyone!?!) so that the american public recognizes their faces and spits on them when they cross the street.

But giving up the rule of law is what Bush did, what Obama did, and it isn't the solution to the problem, it is the problem.
posted by el io at 10:27 AM on December 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


SSCI Torture Report Key: They Knew It was Torture, Knew It Was Illegal
Here, from page 33 of the Report, is the language establishing the above:
...drafted a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking the Department of Justice for "a formal declination of prosecution, in advance, for any employees of the United States, as well as any other personnel acting on behalf of the United States, who may employ methods in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah that otherwise might subject those individuals to prosecution. The letter further indicated that "the interrogation team had concluded "that "the use of more aggressive methods is required to persuade Abu Zubaydah to provide the critical information we need to safeguard the lives of innumerable innocent men, women and children within the United States and abroad." The letter added that these "aggressive methods" would otherwise be prohibited by the torture statute, "apart from potential reliance upon the doctrines of necessity or of self-defense."
They knew. And our government tortured anyway. Because they were crapping in their pants and afraid instead of protecting and defending the ethos of our country and its Founders.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:28 AM on December 9, 2014 [23 favorites]


In the immortal words of Col. Potter, "Horse Hockey." If he really wanted to prevent further acts of terrorism, he'd have focused on the part of the world where the terrorist who'd most recently attacked us actually was supposed to live, rather than focusing on the part of the world which would satisfy his love-me-please-daddy complex.

Bush isn't exactly the smartest Crayon in the box. We still have Cheney to point to if want an example of PURE EVIL.
posted by el io at 10:29 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I really hate that people are using "Enhanced Interrogation" to refer to this in news reports, interviews and statements. It's torture, and using the phrase coined to cover that up is disgusting and craven.
posted by mynameisluka at 10:31 AM on December 9, 2014 [24 favorites]


> Now, Bush administration officials maintain that shedding light on the CIA’s practices could “ignite the kind of violence that killed four Americans at a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.”

That's just perfect.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:32 AM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


Sadly I don't have any outrage left. The time to do something about this was ten years ago. It was plainly evident then, even without this report. The only people this surprises are the beltway media.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:33 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


@JFXM: "Some of the details emerging from the CIA interrogation report are pretty sickening."
The committee's report concluded that of the 119 detainees, "at least 26 were wrongfully held."

"These included an 'intellectually challenged' man whose C.I.A. detention was used solely as leverage to get a family member to provide information,"
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:33 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


"These included an 'intellectually challenged' man whose C.I.A. detention was used solely as leverage to get a family member to provide information,"

What's worse than torture?

Torturing the mentally retarded while torturing them.

Whats worse than that?

Threatening the family of the mentally retarded.

Whats worse than that?

Covering up adn lying about your actions under the guise of 'national security'.

Whats worse than that?

Oh fuck this country.
posted by el io at 10:37 AM on December 9, 2014 [18 favorites]


There's still time for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on this. We're only seeing 480 pages out of a 6000 page report.

But nobody wants to actually do something for fear of alienating the important people in Washington, so the people who justified torture get to walk around unpunished. Some of them even get to go on TV and be angry about stuff.

Obligatory Smirnoffism: In America, war criminal lectures you how to behave! What a country!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:38 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


@EjmAlrai: "Rectal exams were conducted with excessive force" means what exactly? #TortureReport #CIA
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:40 AM on December 9, 2014


Let's not forget, the only CIA officer to have faced prision time for the torture program was John Kiriakou, the whistleblower who revealed it.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:40 AM on December 9, 2014 [71 favorites]


Ethics aside, from what I can tell the idea that torture/EIT leads critical bad guys to reveal their plans in the nick of time, thus saving thousands of innocents, is mostly a made-up TV and movie trope.
posted by freecellwizard at 10:42 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


"These included an 'intellectually challenged' man whose C.I.A. detention was used solely as leverage to get a family member to provide information,"

The depths of depravity here are so stunning. I need a trigger warning on this entire country.
posted by naju at 10:43 AM on December 9, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'm watching MSNBC right now, and I'm… annoyed with the tone of the commentators. Every one of them seems to hammer home the "both sides" nature of the narrative around this report. It's perplexing. I'm also very unhappy to see them continuing to put forward the lie that releasing this report is more dangerous than actually torturing people in the first place. Did they think that the people in the countries the victims came from didn't already know?

As for Bush the Younger's statement yesterday that the perpetrators are patriots, I don't doubt it. That's not a defense. He and the rest of the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight really should spend time in prison over these crimes, even if it's just a year and a day. Furthermore, if I hear one more person say the CIA was asked to do this, or that the "superior orders" defense should be allowed in these cases, I'm going to be sick.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:44 AM on December 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


I so hope the original report now gets released so that they can publish all the stuff the CIA wanted removed.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:44 AM on December 9, 2014


To me, the real takeaway from all this is that the overwhelming majority of us in the country are ok with torturing real and/or perceived enemies.
posted by RedShrek at 10:46 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


2. The CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the operation of the program and its effectiveness to policymakers and the public.

Feh. I'm beginning to get the idea the CIA's job is to do policymakers' dirty work, then take the blame for it later when something goes awry (missed collapse of USSR, missed 9/11, wrong about Iraqi WMD, misled Bush & Co about torture).
posted by notyou at 10:47 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


@EjmAlrai: "Rectal exams were conducted with excessive force" means what exactly? #TortureReport #CIA

We tortured some folks.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:47 AM on December 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


To me, the real takeaway from all this is that the overwhelming majority of us in the country are ok with torturing real and/or perceived enemies.

"Hey, I mean, if Jack Bauer needs to torture to get the terrorists, how can it be wrong?" -- American proverb
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:49 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


ACLU chief Anthony Romero: Pardon the whole Bush Cabal

I don't like the precedent it would set. It's essentially trying to backdoor a guilty verdict for history and I don't want that to be a power Presidents who refuse to prosecute in a fair trial when they had the chance should have.

President Obama should admit he made a mistake when he made the political decision not to fully investigate and then prosecute if necessary those responsible for the torture regime. That's about the best he can do, I think.


With additional thought though, pardoning Bush for torture would result in wondrous brain explosions in the "Impeach Obama!" crowd.

Okay, do it.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:49 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


the "superior orders" defense

Hmm, that sounds vaguely familiar for some reason...
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:50 AM on December 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


"Patriots"?

Kirikiau's actions qualify him as a patriot.

Those other folks are "apparatchiks".
posted by notyou at 10:51 AM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's 2014, and I'm still trying to get over the fact that evil on this scale has to be argued about at all.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:51 AM on December 9, 2014 [28 favorites]


yeah, i kinda like what the ACLU guy is saying. it's an interesting tact. it's not ideal, but it's something and right now we've got nothing and will get nothing in the way of prosecutions.

a cop literally killed a guy on video and a jury of his peers didn't indict him.

there's no way in fucking hell any of the congress people are going to seriously be able to bring charges against anyone involved in this at a senior level. maybe they'll charge Cheney on his deathbed and he'll end up in prison for his last few years.

that's the most realistic thing that would happen. oh wait, the most realistic is that nothing will happen.
posted by sio42 at 10:53 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


In a perfect world, Cheney's strident defense of CIA torture puts him in a presidential-level or managerial role of responsibility, which would otherwise make him liable for its misconduct. In the real world, we're not going to get Bush and Cheney behind bars, but if we have a Truth and Reconciliation commission, maybe we can at least make it very difficult for President Obama and future Presidents to conduct torture, drone and other similar CIA programs, going forwards, without public assent.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:53 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


— Ali Watkins (@AliWatkins)
December 9, 2014
SSCI: Gul Rahamn, who died in CIA custody, not only died due to use of techniques, but should've never been held in the first place.

— emptywheel (@emptywheel)
December 9, 2014
Footnote 32 says hat Gul Rahman was a case of mistaken identity. And we killed him. Froze him to death. Devastating

posted by Drinky Die at 10:55 AM on December 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


missed collapse of USSR

The CIA really should have seen that coming.

In hindsight, there were a lot of red flags.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:55 AM on December 9, 2014 [76 favorites]


Ok class, so to wrap up this ethics lesson, does the ends justify the means? I mean, everything is perfect now, so by doing this we actually were able to construct and maintain our capitalist utopia, right?

Gas is below $2 a gallon so mission accomplished?
posted by Talez at 10:55 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Marco Rubio @marcorubio · 1h 1 hour ago
Those who served us in aftermath of 9/11 deserve our thanks not one sided partisan Senate report that now places American lives in danger.

posted by Drinky Die at 10:55 AM on December 9, 2014


There is a culture of no personal accountability in the Defense Department, and the private contractors of every kind serving their interests, by catering profitably to this culture. The Torture Culture is a subset of this.

The knowledge our Intelligence Agencies function this unintelligently is horrific, since for one thing, we are buying these "services." The Torture Culture is like a private club for sadistic types, who more than anything keep our side in line with fearful tactics, and prove to fearful wealthy investors and idealogues, we will stop at nothing, they are safe. You can say it is ineffective, and it is for the stated purposes. The real purpose is the venting and rage against the stupidity and danger of the blood sport to low level players, that eventually becomea a mode of fetish release of fear, and grief over loss. For some it is totally engrossing, a sham pose of power, a living monument to generational loss of humanity in the business of war.

What really gets me is with available chemistry, people can be interrogated with no knowledge of having been. People are taken sexual advantage of all over this country, without their knowledge, by amateur use of anaesthesia drugs. Obviously torture is a fetish activity.

In the same vein, (no pun intended) junkies kill themselves, ecstatically, effectively all the time, yet professional state executioners can't make it happen.

If the NSA has all voiceprints, collects everything and all the rest of the alphabet soup is on the job, why do we even have to ask a single question?
posted by Oyéah at 10:56 AM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Cut to the chase, what are the criminal charges and who is being charged?
posted by mikelieman at 10:56 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just took a look at the #TortureReport hashtag on Twitter. Holy shit, that was a mistake.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:56 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Every one of them seems to hammer home the "both sides" nature of the narrative around this report.

On the one side, we have a Representative for the ACLU, John Dorring, thanks for being with us.

On the other side, we have Cthulhu, thank you he-whose-name-must-not-be-spoken for taking some time out of your busy schedule.

Now, lets start with the questions....
posted by el io at 10:57 AM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Feh. I'm beginning to get the idea the CIA's job is to do policymakers' dirty work, then take the blame for it later when something goes awry...

"Plausible deniability"

Another ingenious concept gifted to us by the CIA, that we can put up there with "blowback." It's amazing these idiots have been given so much power. It sometimes seems like the "intelligence agencies" in the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and elsewhere are the number one thing fucking up the world.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:57 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


.
posted by suelac at 10:58 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Savage men feel burdened by the injunctions of polite society not to openly brutalize others. In secret, however, their unshakeable conviction that morality is merely a speed-bump on the path to power and victory can find full expression, if they are not already in open, total war. Even when their sadism and violence has no obvious use, no empirical outcome aside from the visible suffering of their victims, they persist, because they have given themselves over to the idea of bare power completely. In their minds, there is no problem that cannot be solved by hurting someone else, and if the problem is not yet solved, it is because someone has not suffered enough yet.

This mentality is, not coincidentally, central to the American social order. America is founded upon not only a practice of everyday violence, but a normalization of the willingness to commit and tolerate that violence. Indeed, America would be unimaginable without it.

Before there is violence, there is often a process of steeling oneself, or consciously working to build solidarity with other would-be killers in the course of turning off the natural empathic reaction that people have to others who are suffering. But when violence is inscribed in the practices and institutions of civil life to such a degree as exists in America, with its ethnic conception of personhood, a generalized deadening of empathy begins to have bizarre and toxic consequences.
posted by clockzero at 10:58 AM on December 9, 2014 [36 favorites]


As for Bush the Younger's statement yesterday that the perpetrators are patriots, I don't doubt it.

I do. Don't do things you know are wrong. If someone orders you do do things that are wrong, refuse. If they insist, quit. If you have to suffer for your principles, do it. If you don't have the guts, that's OK, but you have to live with it. "Just following orders" is a bullshit excuse.
posted by freecellwizard at 10:58 AM on December 9, 2014 [13 favorites]


And with the CIA as the fall-guy, since it's the CIA's fault, it's NO-ONE's actual fault. It's an organizational thing. Like concentration camps.
posted by mikelieman at 10:59 AM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


One interesting wrinkle in all of this is that Sen. Mark Udall had previously threatened to begin reading the report on the floor of the Senate, adding:
"I'm not going to accept the release of any version of the executive summary that doesn't get out the truth of this program," Udall told the Post. "Not only do we have to shed light on this dark chapter of our nation's history, but we've got to make sure future administrations don't repeat the grave mistakes."
Today, it sounds like he's declaring victory, even though the full report hasn't been released:
"The release of the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's study of the CIA's detention and interrogation program is an historic victory for our nation, the Constitution, and our system of checks and balances," he said in a statement.
So, either enough detail was added to the executive summary that Udall feels the important stuff is in there, or he's subtly moving the goalposts so that he's not on the hook to begin reading the full report on the floor. Hopefully someone asks him directly why he won't push harder for the release of all 6,000 pages.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:00 AM on December 9, 2014 [14 favorites]


Cut to the chase, what are the criminal charges and who is being charged?

Blabla looking forward blablabla nation time of healing blablabla.
posted by odinsdream at 11:00 AM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


The CIA has, since its inception, continuously done despicable things under the justification of securing the United States and then done everything in its power to conceal it from the American people. Decades of disregard for human rights abroad and the truth at home shows that the CIA as an institution is rotten to the core. It should be removed root and branch and replaced with a competent spy agency with an ethical foundation in American values that are most cherished - you know, that whole freedom is good thing and that all people are created equal.
posted by boubelium at 11:00 AM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


The Intercept is running a live blog on the torture report
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 11:01 AM on December 9, 2014


Forced 'rectal rehydration' is essentially rape, and I think that it should be prosecuted as such.
posted by empath at 11:01 AM on December 9, 2014 [33 favorites]


Hopefully someone asks him directly why he won't push harder for the release of all 6,000 pages.

Udall is a lame duck: he has no leverage at this point to push for anything. Which I do think means he should start reading the damned thing on the Senate floor.
posted by suelac at 11:02 AM on December 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


Guys, guys, didn't you know that the Democrats "cherry picked" the plum stuff here to make the CIA look bad? Wait until you hear the other story from the people they didn't interview!

...

Yes, because hanging someone from the ceiling in a diaper, forcing them to defecate on themselves, is justifiable. Because stripping someone practically naked and chaining them to a stone wall in winter and they die from hypothermia is justifiable. Because locking people up in kennels for months without even talking to them in foreign secret countries is justifiable. Because rectally feeding and hydrating people against their will is...well, you get the point.

The fact that conservatives are making this a partisan issue is a prime example of the virulent political disease that's infected American politics since the mid to late 90s. The GOP, the party of "patriots" leap over themselves to defend acts that are unilaterally unAmerican (are they still?) and to thrust into the shadows the attempt to reveal these acts, because a free society should not be given the freedom to know what their government is up to.

Can we create a memorial on the Mall in DC for these acts? List the names of the victims and the names of perpetrators, and allow future Americans and global visitors see it and ask themselves, "Is this here to remind us not to do it again or is it here to gloat?"

The only glimmer of light in the report is the fact that CIA officers on the ground, some, at least, saw what they had been ordered to do and done and recognized the evil that had been performed by their hands and asked to be allowed to stop. Conversely, those who did not have blood on their hands, the ones in offices not too far from their homes, refused this request and ordered them to continue. It's the inhumanity of bureaucracy.

Kudos, I suppose, to Colin Powell, who apparently would have flipped out if he had known. Almost makes up for lying to us and the UN Security Council about Iraq.
posted by Atreides at 11:04 AM on December 9, 2014 [15 favorites]


suelac: Yeah, I meant push, using his leverage of being able to read the thing on the floor without fear of prosecution (though not without fear of some other types of reprisal.)
posted by tonycpsu at 11:04 AM on December 9, 2014


I just took a look at the #TortureReport hashtag on Twitter. Holy shit, that was a mistake.

A warning to anyone else tempted: some people are posting pictures of atrocities purportedly committed by "Muzlim terr'ists" as a sort of "oh yeah, take that" tactic.

Personally, I'm reporting each and every one to twitter using the "this post contains a sensitive image" tag. One's already gone (although I'm almost definitely not the only one who reported it).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:05 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ball's in your court, Mark Udall! Give this country a Christmas present on your way out.
In July, Udall called for CIA head John Brennan to resign after the agency was forced to admit it spied on Senate Intelligence Committee staff computers while the CIA torture report was being pulled together. Brennan was forced to apologize.

Supporters hope Udall will read the [full 6,000-page] torture report [i.e., not just what's been released so far] into the record if the White House continues to delay. Certainly, said Drake, it would be his last great stand as the independent senator.

“There’s been way too much cover-up and collusion and too much year after year of keeping critical matters of state from public view,” he said. “He is in a unique position to do this.”
Edit: should have previewed.
posted by resurrexit at 11:05 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


It sometimes seems like the "intelligence agencies" in the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and elsewhere are the number one thing fucking up the world.

There's a lot of truth in this comment. These organizations are pretty close to the root of it in my estimation, particularly since there's so much evidence one of their tactics has been deliberately manipulating the development of American culture to provide themselves political cover (spying on and messing with prominent intellectuals, artists, and celebrities, encouraging the cultural dominance of abstract expressionism in the 50s as part of their efforts to push back against communism by discouraging art in more traditional social realist modes, faking international incidents, etc.)
posted by saulgoodman at 11:06 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Marcy Wheeler pointing out the holes in Romero's op-ed: Obama Would Not — Cannot — Deem Any Activities Authorized by Gloves Come Off Finding Illegal
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 11:08 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, fuck Marco Rubio.
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:11 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


!
posted by Brian Puccio at 11:13 AM on December 9, 2014


Via homunculus' link above:

Now, Bush administration officials maintain that shedding light on the CIA’s practices could “ignite the kind of violence that killed four Americans at a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.” But as Mark Fallon, a career interrogator, notes in Politico, that’s not an argument “against the kind of transparency and Congressional oversight inherent to a well-functioning democracy; it’s an argument against torture. Indeed, by employing such an argument, people are implicitly acknowledging that torture saps the country’s credibility and threatens its national security.”
posted by fairmettle at 11:14 AM on December 9, 2014 [15 favorites]


"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt the Younger, November 18, 1783 speech to the House of Commons
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 11:15 AM on December 9, 2014 [32 favorites]


It sometimes seems like the "intelligence agencies" in the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and elsewhere are the number one thing fucking up the world.

Yeah, seems like it. The thing is, what IS an intelligence agency? If it's just spying, fine. Keep and eye on other countries to protect your interests, maybe using some tactics that are on ethical and legal borderlines, fine.

But these agencies are not doing that, they are engaged in interventionist foreign policy. It's not intelligence gathering to stage a coup or prop up a revolution or support a side in a civil war. It's not intelligence gathering to smuggle drugs. It's not intelligence gathering to harbor the most wanted terrorist in the world. It's not intelligence gathering to torture innocent people to death.

This is foriegn policy executed with little regard for the voters or leaders in Democratic nations and often even by rogue agencies with little regard for the leaders in otherwise autocratic nations. They need to be held to some sort of account, if the USA can't do it...we're doomed if we expect Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Russia to do it.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:18 AM on December 9, 2014 [9 favorites]


There's also all of common sense, which says that political staffers actually care about politics and might want to make things look as bad as they possibly can for the opposition, and conceal any countervailing points or nuances as much as possible -- and doubly so a year before a presidential election.

What possible 'nuance' or 'countervailing points' are there when we are discussing torture?

You want to establish that torture is illegal? How about having trials, verdicts, and sentences!? You don't establish SHIT by pardons.

As I understand it, the act of issuing a pardon would de facto establish that something needed to be pardoned in the first place, thus defining the pardoned-for acts as illegal.

The statute of limitations ran out? Have a trial anyway! If our government is going to break the law, can we at least break the law to hold accountable those responsible for actual heinous evil shit, instead of only breaking it to perpetuate it?

Breaking the law to uphold the rule of law against those who broke the law is kind of turtles all the way down. At some point you have to go "Okay, we cannot do anything about that, but we are going to make sure something can be done in the future."

That said, I may be mistaken but the clock has run out on US statute. These are war crimes, for which AFAIK there is no limitation. Everyone involved from Bush down needs to be in the Hague. It'll never happen.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:18 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Never forget John Bradshaw's "alcoholic no talk, rule." The rules of pain and silence run the US Military, and intelligence services.

The powers that be just want to be safe in their infamy. They created this system to secure themselves, so they can play polite society, at the races, at the club, at the dinner table, at the resort, in the board room, at the United Nations, in the halls of Congress.

This erosion of basic human values puts our nation at risk of retribution, as it mocks our stated aspirations as a nation.
posted by Oyéah at 11:19 AM on December 9, 2014


I am honestly overwhelmed with horror right now. I want to crawl under my desk and not come out.

Not just because we tortured people by shoving food into their rectums (a very doubtful and medically unsound way to feed anyone - last time I checked the large intestine is basically a water reclamation system and 90% of nutrient absorption happens in the small intestine) but also because people are trying to justify it as okay.
posted by winna at 11:19 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah, the law doesn't work that way.

The list of ways in which the law doesn't work is getting dismayingly larger every day.
posted by Flexagon at 11:20 AM on December 9, 2014 [24 favorites]


There are really good reasons for not breaking the law to punish people who broke the law. Doing that exact thing is why this report needed to be written in the first place.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:23 AM on December 9, 2014


The most depressing thing about the backlash on Twitter (and other sites) against this report -- posting photos of the WTC burning, of atrocities purportedly committed by "them Muzlims" as though they are some sort of justification for US-sponsored torture -- is that it demonstrates that many people do not care at all about whether or not torture is ineffective, illegal, unethical, or immoral. The fact that various government agencies and officials lied, that "enhanced interrogation techniques" never produced any significant intelligence or prevented further attacks -- none of that matters. Even if one could demonstrate unequivocally that torture actually harms US interests, a huge number of people would not care one whit because for them this is about revenge. It's about payback, about hurting "them" (even if the people who are being tortured aren't the droids we're looking for) more than they hurt "us," about showing that we've got the biggest balls, the baddest asses, the most dangerous, bloodthirsty, cruel motherfuckers around. It taps into the worst aspects of human nature, the violent, animalistic tribalism that has no concern for questions of right or wrong. That it is so widespread in this country (and, no doubt, many others), that it can so easily engulf even ostensibly "liberal" people, that it can be given a veneer of respectability and rationality by the media and our government and pursued as fucking state policy makes me weep for the future of human "civilization."
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:23 AM on December 9, 2014 [69 favorites]


Video of John McCain's speech on the Senate floor
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 11:25 AM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt the Younger, November 18, 1783 speech to the House of Commons
posted by Harvey Jerkwater


"So spake the fiend, and with necessity,
The tyrant's plea, excused his devilish deeds."
John Milton, Paradise Lost IV.393-4
(After a speech by Satan)
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:27 AM on December 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


If you are at all familiar with the history of the CIA in Central and South America then you would know that torture is one of the things the CIA does...

once again the dirty fucking hippies are proved right. google "School of the Americas"
posted by ennui.bz at 11:28 AM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


Even if one could demonstrate unequivocally that torture actually harms US interests, a huge number of people would not care one whit because for them this is about revenge. It's about payback, about hurting "them" (even if the people who are being tortured aren't the droids we're looking for) more than they hurt "us," about showing that we've got the biggest balls, the baddest asses, the most dangerous, bloodthirsty, cruel motherfuckers around.

I think it's also important to point out that this is a post-hoc rationalization, too. The people cheering torture on had no say in its implementation. In fact, it's possible that their belligerence is augmented by the signals given from the highest levels of government that brutality is the rule of the day. That is to say, the actions of government have a distinct and negative effect on culture itself.
posted by clockzero at 11:29 AM on December 9, 2014 [13 favorites]


I was saddened to read the Romero op-ed, too, but I understand his logic.

How so? Because pardoning Nixon eliminated all of his behaviors from politics?

I am flabbergasted, however, that there's a statue of limitations on torture

Not for murder, though. And besides, AIUI statutes of limitations have an allowance for "ongoing crimes," and I'm pretty sure there has been torture in the past 8 years. Paging Ironmouth.
posted by rhizome at 11:30 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Call me jaded, but this will barely make the news outside of a few blog posts and nothing is going to happen, in terms of accountability.

Would that Bush had to retire in Paraguay...but we all know that isn't going to happen. The majority of Americans just don't give a shit about torture.
posted by Chuffy at 11:31 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think it's also important to point out that this is a post-hoc rationalization, too. The people cheering torture on had no say in its implementation.

And lemme tell ya, a lot of them don't react well if you say "hey, I was a survivor of 9/11 too and that's exactly why I didn't want us to become just like Bin Laden".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:32 AM on December 9, 2014 [23 favorites]


The News doesn't make the news, people do. Source: recent history.
posted by rhizome at 11:32 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


the fact that torture and murder are just some of the tools that the US government has traditionally employed to achieve it's objectives makes the outrage at Obama particularly naive.

Becoming president means signing on to a whole host of horrors, upon which the wealth and power of the US is based. It's why Obama will leave office as a tired old man.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:34 AM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Shed light on Shrub and company, just as they get ready to roll out Chub's run for the presidency. We knew this was going on. Normal people can't really project the horrific malfeasance of such twisted actions. Even now some will find this discussion disloyal. I bet the military wires are fill of self-protection, rationalization. The sacrifices of rank and file military people are dirtied by this, as we all are.

Please just go away you rationalizers of this. We as a nation are supposed to be a guiding hope for a free world not the horrific final realization our world is run by the lowest common denominator one can find in any location, on any nightmare day.
posted by Oyéah at 11:35 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Chuffy, I think you're very unfortunately wrong. The majority of Americans **DO** care about torture, and they approve of it very strongly.

I think both clockzero and Saxon Kane have the right of it. For a large number of Americans, quite likely a firm majority, torture is desirable. They want it. They want vengeance wreaked in their name, they don't even particularly care if the people being tortured for their vengeance are guilty of anything, simple membership in the wrong tribe is enough for many of our fellow citizens to feel that the victim deserves it.

The sad truth is that the reason Obama got away with ignoring the torturers is that a large number of Americans wanted very much for the torture to have happened and the torturers to escape punishment.
posted by sotonohito at 11:36 AM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


I think it's also important to point out that this is a post-hoc rationalization, too.

Exactly. The "brilliance" of the Bush-Cheney regime, as with many regimes before it, was to tap into the worst elements of the population, inflame them, and then use that to power their agenda. It was about capturing human brutality and directing it in a way that would push forward the neocon agenda. Incidents like Abu Ghraib are a natural consequence of this sort of hate-mongering, and really, the bosses in charge don't need to worry all that much about the eventual truth getting out because enough of the viewers at home get a vicarious thrill by seeing their own power fantasies getting played out.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:37 AM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


I don't feel particularly partisan about this news and I don't hate people that try to defend or explain these measures. It's almost beyond politics. It's also hard to process the years-later transparency on situations like this. I just don't know how to feel about it. I feel that I am complicit, and actually have been for quite some time. I mean, none of this is even a surprise. The formal acknowledgment, I suppose, is.

google "School of the Americas"

Actually, you want to start in Vietnam.
posted by phaedon at 11:38 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Surely this...

Seriously? 120+ comments in and no one dropped this timeless classic?
posted by Thorzdad at 11:38 AM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


I need to just summarize my feelings across all these multiple 'bad-faith' issues.

Fuck everyone and everything.

Thank you for your patience.
posted by mikelieman at 11:39 AM on December 9, 2014 [13 favorites]


Actually you can go at least back to the Philippine-American War.
posted by winna at 11:40 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]



The sad truth is that the reason Obama got away with ignoring the torturers is that a large number of Americans wanted very much for the torture to have happened and the torturers to escape punishment.

Americans don't particularly care about torture, but they do like wealth and the feeling of power. It's how "mob" wives learn to look away: you like the house and the clothes and you learn to not dwell on how you got it. Someone shoves it in your face, you get mad, you defend your husband: he's just a businessman, business is hard, sometimes you do what you have to do, until they shut-up and you can go back to appreciating all the nice things.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:41 AM on December 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


Chuffy, I think you're very unfortunately wrong. The majority of Americans **DO** care about torture, and they approve of it very strongly.

I wouldn't call it super strong, they seem to support it under the ticking time bomb narrative but if you highlight that they tortured innocent people or hunger strikers via the butt the support is likely going to evaporate.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:43 AM on December 9, 2014


The CIA has spent the past 13 years being history's most efficient terrorist factory. In fact, in their response to this report, the CIA admits that they have no way of evaluating the effectiveness of their covert actions.
posted by rhizome at 11:43 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Some data regarding the whole Americans do/not care about torture claims:

Amnesty International global attitudes to torture report (2014)

Reed College: U.S. Public Opinion on Torture, 2001–2009
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 11:45 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Anyone remember in 1988 when Michael Dukakis was asked if he would favor the death penalty against someone who raped and murdered his wife? He said no, he wouldn't, because he'd always been against the death penalty and gave a reasoned, measured reflection on the experience of being a victim of violent crime and the way society should pursue justice. Yeah, that probably cost him the election against Bush I, because people thought he wasn't passionate enough, didn't demonstrate enough righteous anger against scumbag criminals. Not a guy you could have a beer with, obviously. Not the kind of guy who would have your back if you needed to go out and get some "old-fashioned justice."
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:47 AM on December 9, 2014 [26 favorites]


Out of curiosity, what's the current connotation of "the ends justifies the means"? I always thought that line of argument/thinking had a bad connotation, but the way various torture apologists have been trotting out arguments along these lines makes me wonder. On the other hand, torture apologists are also trotting out stuff that basically amounts to "just following orders" (or sometimes "our lawyers said it was cool").
posted by mhum at 11:48 AM on December 9, 2014


but if you highlight that they tortured innocent people the support is likely going to evaporate.

No, because by avoiding the issue you've now implicitly accepted that it might be OK to torture people who aren't innocent. It's the same thing as with guns, we won't stop gun violence in this country until we all agree that it's wrong to shoot even bad people.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:48 AM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


This report is where we see clearly the torture. Otherwise it is a secret fetish activity among practitioners. They don't give the tortured stationary so they can write mom about it.

Just becaue it goes on elsewhere, or it is an accepted standard of actions in the theater of conflict, does not mean it is acceptable, effective, desirable, or in keeping with the values of our nation. These activities are at odds with the laws of our nation, and of the world. Close Guantanamo, give it back to Cuba, close the holding facilities, cease our agreements with foreign prisons, accept responsibility for our acts in total.
posted by Oyéah at 11:50 AM on December 9, 2014


ennui.bz, I must disagree. The people of America actively and deliberately love torture, it happens for the same reason why the police are actively racist in their enforcement of the law, why America keeps building and filling prisons, and why the wealthy are largely free from taxation and the poor forced to pay for all of the above: most Americans want it that way.

Our nation is not a shining city on a hill, and it never was.

Your argument might make sense if there was some reluctance, or if America was actually getting mob wife benefits. But neither is the case. Bush's wars cost the average American a lot and they gained nothing from them. And from the very first there have been people, a majority in fact, who strongly supported genocide, rape, and torture as punishment for the tribes associated with those who carried out 9/11.

Here's data backing this up.

Americans like and support torture. This is simply a fact of life now. Our nation has a majority (upwards of 54%) who think torture is just fine.
posted by sotonohito at 11:51 AM on December 9, 2014 [14 favorites]


but if you highlight that they tortured innocent people the support is likely going to evaporate.

Nah, that hasn't worked - at most it's made the first person you talk to hush for a moment until some other yutz comes in and says "oh boo hoo we tortured 39 terrorists to save other innocent lives" and the first person goes back to ignoring your proof that we tortured innocent people and feels better.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:51 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


The majority of Americans **DO** care about torture, and they approve of it very strongly.

I think you may be blinkered. I think a lot of people, especially those who were outraged by the James Foley beheading, would also be concerned that Gul Rahman, who was murdered by being frozen to death in the Salt Pit, was a case of mistaken identity. He was completely innocent, snatched a doctor's appointment, tortured in a desert shack chained to a wall, then frozen to death. I'm pretty sure religion is the only way someone could tolerate that being done in their name.
posted by rhizome at 11:51 AM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


There's also all of common sense, which says that political staffers actually care about politics and might want to make things look as bad as they possibly can for the opposition, and conceal any countervailing points or nuances as much as possible -- and doubly so a year before a presidential election.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck

Look, regardless of your political beliefs, the US government tortured people. Why are you concerned about the bias and the phrasing? I don't understand what magical powers of edition you can have to make this look less shitty. We tortured people. WE TORTURED PEOPLE.

What on earth is a non-judgmental, unbiased way of talking about torture when the very definition of torture is "horribly unfair and brutal pain caused purposely to a human being with ulterior motives"?
posted by Tarumba at 11:54 AM on December 9, 2014 [15 favorites]


Besides, people want to believe that the "good guys" were justified. Otherwise people wouldn't have been trying so hard to prove Mike Brown was attacking Darren Wilson when he was shot, or to prove that Mike Brown had robbed a convenience store first. It made Darren Wilson's actions "justified".

This is the same thing - telling them the people who were tortured were innocent is just gonna make people want to find something they did wrong so they're not "innocent" after all, to make the torture okay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:54 AM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


James Steele: America's mystery man in Iraq

Revealed: Pentagon's link to Iraqi torture centres
The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the "dirty wars" in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country's descent into full-scale civil war.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:55 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


In summary, Dick Cheney didn't betray american values, he exemplified them.
posted by el io at 11:56 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


but if you highlight that they tortured innocent people the support is likely going to evaporate.

No, because by avoiding the issue you've now implicitly accepted that it might be OK to torture people who aren't innocent. It's the same thing as with guns, we won't stop gun violence in this country until we all agree that it's wrong to shoot even bad people.


It's not about what you or I accept, it's about what people who are willing to support torture accept.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:56 AM on December 9, 2014


Your argument might make sense if there was some reluctance, or if America was actually getting mob wife benefits.

$2/gal. gas, thanks to Saud family which owns the local fill'er up station and makes sure no body tries to rip us off at the pump, in return... for a little protection.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:56 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Since 2005, torture has steadily gained more popularity among U.S. poll respondents. More than two-thirds said torture was justified in some circumstances earlier this year. Torture, in other words, was more popular than President Obama and Congress combined." (source)
posted by naju at 11:57 AM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


i'm skimming through the exec summary and it's suprisingly readable (not the content, but the wording). i wasn't sure what i was expecting but this is pretty straightforward language.
posted by sio42 at 11:57 AM on December 9, 2014


It's a silly and petty reaction, but one among the many I'm having - one of my relatives is moving towards being straight-up Tea Party, and I'm REALLY uneasy about how the conversation is going to go during Christmas dinner now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:58 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Since 2005, torture has steadily gained more popularity among U.S. poll respondents. More than two-thirds said torture was justified in some circumstances earlier this year. Torture, in other words, was more popular than President Obama and Congress combined."

In certain circumstances....which this report reveals were not the circumstances.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:59 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, yeah, we don't have data on what people think about this just-released report.
posted by naju at 11:59 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


With all that dark money flowing from American taxpayers' pockets to interrogation facilities all over the world, I hope the producers of 24 got their share for their indispensable propaganda services.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:00 PM on December 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


I don't hold out much hope that those responsible, especially but not limited to Dick Cheney, will face prosecution, but I wonder if this report doesn't cross some kind of Rubicon. If memory serves me correctly, the Convention Against Torture specifies that torture is a crime for which there are no mitigating circumstances. Previously the government used weasel words like "harsh interrogation program," but now there's an official finding that it was torture and recognized as such at the time (and also, to no one's surprise, ineffective).

I wonder if all the squawk among many of the culpable parties doesn't result from a recognition that at least they're at more of a risk for prosecution now than they were yesterday, even if the chances aren't yet good enough?
posted by Gelatin at 12:01 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]




but if you highlight that they tortured innocent people the support is likely going to evaporate

It doesn't work with the death penalty, which actually kills innocent Americans outright. I'm not sure why anyone would think this approach would work when it's 'just' torture. To say nothing of racism/xenophobia/anti-Islamism.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:03 PM on December 9, 2014


And that's PRIOR to all this torture stuff...
posted by mikelieman at 12:04 PM on December 9, 2014


I always figure that a lot of people think torture sounds fun - to perpetrate, not to endure. I think a lot of the people who commit torture enjoy it. I think that's why, at root, it's so difficult to stop people - because the kind of moral thinking that you need to do in order not to get a kick out of hurting others is relatively rare and substantially discouraged. I've been around enough cops as they beat people to be pretty confident that they thought it was fun as long as it wasn't too much work; I see no reason that torturers would be any different. The key part is that everyone involved can pretend they aren't having fun - that there's some higher force compelling them, that they are just following orders.

I'm not sure if it's some bastard strain of Christianity or what, but the biggest driver of policy in this country seems to be "I like to hurt people and make them suffer but I need to conceal this from myself, so I'll come up with a law which "forces" me to hurt them".
posted by Frowner at 12:04 PM on December 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


Even the obvious coverup won't result in prosecution.

Or the fact that CIA hackers attacked the Senate Intelligence Committee while it was preparing this report.

The rule of law is just for little people in the United States - there really is nothing more to say about it.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:04 PM on December 9, 2014 [17 favorites]


@Gelatin

Nothing will come of this. Like many of us have already pointed out, the behavior outlined in the report is totally fine with a majority of Americans and you can bet no one is going to risk their political career pushing for any sort of accountability. Shoot, just listen to the words people in Washington are using to describe this: "This WAS a stain on our national values" They have already moved on from this and so will the rest of the country.
posted by RedShrek at 12:05 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think you may be blinkered. I think a lot of people, especially those who were outraged by the James Foley beheading, would also be concerned that Gul Rahman, who was murdered by being frozen to death in the Salt Pit, was a case of mistaken identity. He was completely innocent, snatched a doctor's appointment, tortured in a desert shack chained to a wall, then frozen to death. I'm pretty sure religion is the only way someone could tolerate that being done in their name.
rhizome

Nope. I know several conservative acquaintances who have told me that they don't really care about mistakes like that, it's about keeping America safe and fighting back against the Muslims. They take a "gotta break some eggs to make an omelette" view and they're foreigners so who cares. Looking around at the reactions to this report, it's clear these people are not some freakish outlier.

Most Americans either just don't care, or approve of torture and anything else the government does in the name of national security.


I always figure that a lot of people think torture sounds fun - to perpetrate, not to endure.

Even to endure. I remember when the Abu Ghraib photos came out and people were dismissing them as little more than frat hazing.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:08 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


"...The leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and of both parties in Congress were briefed on the program more than 40 times between 2002 and 2009. But Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tried to deny that she was told in 2002 that detainees had been waterboarded....

...Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), then the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, appeared on CNN’s “Late Edition” on March 2, 2003. Rockefeller, who had been extensively briefed about the CIA’s efforts, told Wolf Blitzer that “happily, we don’t know where [KSM] is,” adding: “He’s in safekeeping, under American protection. He’ll be grilled by us. I’m sure we’ll be proper with him, but I’m sure we’ll be very, very tough with him.”

...When Blitzer asked about how KSM would be interrogated, Rockefeller assured him that “there are presidential memorandums that prescribe and allow certain measures to be taken, but we have to be careful.” Then he added: “On the other hand, he does have the information. Getting that information will save American lives. We have no business not getting that information.”

...Blitzer asked if the United States should turn over KSM to a friendly country with no restrictions against torture. Rockefeller, laughing, said he wouldn’t rule it out: “I wouldn’t take anything off the table ...”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/todays-cia-critics-once-urged-the-agency-to-do-anything-to-fight-al-qaeda/2014/12/05/ac418da2-7bda-11e4-84d4-7c896b90abdc_story.html
posted by republican at 12:08 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Actually dissolving the APA would help, real consequences for their collaboration with torture.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:09 PM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure if it's some bastard strain of Christianity or what, but the biggest driver of policy in this country seems to be "I like to hurt people and make them suffer but I need to conceal this from myself, so I'll come up with a law which "forces" me to hurt them".

I think the driver is, "If and when you take your gloves off, we will take our gloves off."

This trumps everything. This really is the soul and justification of Pax Americana. And given today's socioeconomic inequalities, we're basically back to Foreign Policy 101 - the Melian dialogue.
posted by phaedon at 12:09 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


It doesn't work with the death penalty, which actually kills innocent Americans outright. I'm not sure why anyone would think this approach would work when it's 'just' torture. To say nothing of racism/xenophobia/anti-Islamism.

A painless death after due process (the death penalty ideal) can reasonably be viewed as different from cruel and unusual punishment of the forced anal prolapse variety or freezing someone to death because you got their name wrong variety. They are just very different issues.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:10 PM on December 9, 2014


American exceptionalism can never fail, it can only be failed. A few bad apples, mistakes were made.

It's like when we had that problem with the environment, and then somebody wrote a paper, and the environment was fixed. Now watch this drive.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:10 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sangermaine: Most Americans either just don't care, or approve of torture and anything else the government does in the name of national security.

What is beyond me is how those people can't see that they can't complain if the other side feels that way, too.
posted by Tarumba at 12:10 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


A painless death after due process (the death penalty ideal) can reasonably be viewed as different from cruel and unusual punishment of the forced anal prolapse variety or freezing someone to death because you got their name wrong variety. They are just very different issues.

Yeah, my point is that even after showing death penalty advocates exactly how many innocents are killed and the vast miscarriages of justice that get them there, nothing about their support changes when innocent Americans are murdered by the state.

It seems unlikely that pro-torture people, in general, are going to respond to torturing an innocent person when a) they keep living, b) not American, c) torture can't be that bad after all they do it on the TV, d) brown.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:13 PM on December 9, 2014


The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were not effective.
The CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the operation of the program and its effectiveness to policymakers and the public.
The CIA’s management of the program was inadequate and deeply flawed.
The CIA program was far more brutal than the CIA represented to policymakers and the American public.

Yes, we will pay a price for this bit of honesty. But without consequences, how will the US learn anything? Bush Cheney are not just war criminals, they're ineffective war criminals. And I really wonder if we'll learn.
posted by theora55 at 12:14 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


FFFM, I disagree but you do make a reasonable case. I think we should leave it there because this thread is moving fast and furious on a super difficult topic and getting into the weeds on the American death penalty would be an unnecessary derail.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:14 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's so crazy to me that the right-wing anti-government paranoia machine just issues a collective "meh" to reports like this one, that actually detail serious abuses of power and scary government activities, while literally packing the streets with gun-packing mobs when the subject of giving people in a tough spot a leg-up is concerned.

How am I supposed to take any of these anti-government nuts' convictions seriously when they look as thin as tissue paper when issues like this one and the one in Ferguson come up?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:16 PM on December 9, 2014 [29 favorites]


How am I supposed to take any of these anti-government nuts' convictions seriously when they look as thin as tissue paper when issues like this one and the one in Ferguson come up?

That's largely astroturfing, not an articulation of a rational, coherent political position. To the dogs they're whistling to, though, that isn't a problem.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:19 PM on December 9, 2014


(Pointing guns at Bureau of Land Management employees isn't quite astroturfing.)

Also it is interesting that a lot of these anti-government types were very much "My country, love it or leave it" for the previous administration. Some interesting mental gymnastics there.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:23 PM on December 9, 2014




it's actually pretty simple: who wants to cut the US Department of "Defense" budget by 75%?

I mean, sure, sounds like an obvious idea, but do you think we'll be safe?
posted by ennui.bz at 12:29 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I know several conservative acquaintances who have told me that they don't really care about mistakes like that, it's about keeping America safe and fighting back against the Muslims. They take a "gotta break some eggs to make an omelette" view and they're foreigners so who cares.

Yeah, that's the religion part.
posted by rhizome at 12:31 PM on December 9, 2014


"But even Dole failed to calculate the capacity for knowing-not-knowing. Even he, the most able inside player in the US Congress, underestimated George Bush's Washington art. Even while Dole danced his spectacular tarantella on the White House, the Congress, his fellow candidates ..... he made one fatal error of judgment: he thought George Bush must be something like him. If Bob Dole had sat in the VP's chair every day as the little man with the briefcase retailed the covert news of the world, or as the NSC staff in the Oval Office outlined the 'initiative to Iran' ..... there was no way Bob Dole would not commit an overt act of knowing. There would be not one day when Dole could maintain he was Out of the Loop. As he said, in mid-dance, to one group of reporters: 'Agh, m'not one to sit on the sidelines.' " -- Richard Ben Cramer, What It Takes
posted by blucevalo at 12:31 PM on December 9, 2014


The CIA should be dismantled. Fire everyone, revoke their security clearances, raze the buildings and salt the earth.

That's not an overreaction. If anything, leaving the other Department of Defense organizations intact is criminally irresponsible. But the CIA is not the kind of organization that exists in a democratic society. When the spies start lying to the government, they are no longer an intelligence service, they are a liability.
posted by graymouser at 12:37 PM on December 9, 2014 [36 favorites]


republican: Yup, democrats are guilty as well. Does that make the report wrong, or torture okay?
posted by el io at 12:39 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Hey, I mean, if Jack Bauer needs to torture to get the terrorists, how can it be wrong?" -- American proverb Antonin Scalia.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:43 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


"...The American Civil Liberties Union alleges that extraordinary rendition was developed during the Clinton administration. CIA officials in the mid-1990s were trying to track down and dismantle militant Islamic organizations in the Middle East, particularly Al Qaeda.

...The first time [Richard Clarke] proposed a snatch, in 1993, the White House Counsel, Lloyd Cutler, demanded a meeting with the President to explain how it violated international law.

Clinton had seemed to be siding with Cutler until Al Gore belatedly joined the meeting, having just flown overnight from South Africa. Clinton recapped the arguments on both sides for Gore: "Lloyd says this. Dick says that. Gore laughed and said, 'That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.'..."


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_rendition
posted by republican at 12:47 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


The CIA should be dismantled. Fire everyone, revoke their security clearances, raze the buildings and salt the earth.

Can we keep whatever division puts together the World Factbook? It's fairly useful and I imagine they can keep working on it with hardly any war crimes at all.
posted by theodolite at 12:48 PM on December 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


odinsdream: Contrast this with NPR's coverage which almost never uses the T word.
NPR called it a "report on the CIA's use of torture" on the morning radio today.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:48 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


While the moral costs of the "enhanced interrogation" program are, in every sense, incalculable and no high-level official has yet been held accountable, the Senate report does try to provide some basic accounting: expenditures were "well over $300 million in non-personnel costs" in a black budget rife with sweetheart private contractor deals and cash payments.

Over $1 million in cash was simply handed out from cash boxes of $100 bills, with no record keeping at all. As one bag man explained, "We never counted it. I’m not about to count that kind of money for a receipt."
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:49 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Video of Feinstein's Senate speech... starts at 1:28:00.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 12:49 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Funny we should mention Jack Bauer. Even the Commandant of West Point went to the show's producers to show to try to get them to stop selling torture to the American people and to the military.

Naturally, they ignored him. The last thing television producers want is expert opinions.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:49 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


what is your point, republican?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:52 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Rockefeller, laughing, said he wouldn’t rule it out: “I wouldn’t take anything off the table ...”

This behavior does not actually legalize torture.
posted by compartment at 12:54 PM on December 9, 2014


Yup, democrats are guilty as well. Does that make the report wrong, or torture okay?

All that matters is smearing Democrats. Can't you understand that?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:55 PM on December 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


Clinton had seemed to be siding with Cutler until Al Gore belatedly joined the meeting, having just flown overnight from South Africa. Clinton recapped the arguments on both sides for Gore: "Lloyd says this. Dick says that. Gore laughed and said, 'That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.'..."

And torture is still wrong. Also, there is no mention in that excerpt of kidnapping-followed-by-torture, which is what the problem was under the Bush administration.

So what is the point you are trying to make here?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:56 PM on December 9, 2014


Huh, I guess I was too naive to think that covert actions were thus because they might be violations of local law where they occur.
posted by rhizome at 12:57 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


"what is your point, republican?"

The point is to correct a lot of misinformation.
posted by republican at 12:58 PM on December 9, 2014


"Lead this people into war, and they'll forget there was ever such a thing as tolerance. To fight, you must be brutal and ruthless, and the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fibre of national life, infecting the Congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the street."

Woodrow Wilson, 1916
posted by MrVisible at 12:59 PM on December 9, 2014 [16 favorites]


What misinformation?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:59 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


What misinformation are you correcting?

That Democrats were on board with a lot of the Bush era excesses is not exactly news.

That the CIA has engaged in illegal kidnappings under D and R administrations is, likewise, not news. I don't see anything in your quote about torture, which is what we are discussing here.

But, please, do explain what misinformation we have here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:00 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


This behavior does not actually legalize torture.

The things that the criminals at Nuremburg were hung for were not against the laws of the Third Reich. Passing a law allowing torture does not somehow make it not a war crime.
posted by graymouser at 1:00 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think it's basically a 'tu quoque'.
posted by rhizome at 1:01 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


fffm: I could be wrong, but I think you'll probably find that the CIA under Clinton had people kidnapped to 'black sites' and tortured. He just wasn't as open about it as Bush was.

Bush turned to covert into the overt. But Presidents on both side of the aisle have been responsible for illegal awful things.

I'm not exactly sure what 'republican' is trying to here either though... I think you'll find most of this thread is railing against the CIA, and then both Bush for his actions and Obama for his attempts to squash the truth (as well in other threads for his death-by-air programs).

Turning this into a partisan argument is a way to avoid culpability as a nation, to prevent further occurrences of awful illegal shit and make this a political debate, instead of a discussion of criminal activity.
posted by el io at 1:01 PM on December 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


Noisy Pink Bubbles: Hey, I mean, if Jack Bauer needs to torture to get the terrorists, how can it be wrong?" -- American proverb
Thank you.

I never watched the show - caveat - but everything I've ever heard about it sounds like a massive PR job for the government to win emotional approval from the US electorate to break the laws and constitution at will.

Unless I'm completely mistaken, and Jack Bauer was tried for war crimes or revealed as a sociopathic killer at the end, fuck everyone who was involved in that show. They were part of the problem, creating fiction that apologized in advance for traitorously ignoring the rule of law.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:03 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


"...I don't see anything in your quote about torture, which is what we are discussing here."

With rendition you can pretty much assume that they are being tortured too.
posted by republican at 1:04 PM on December 9, 2014


Turning this into a partisan argument is a way to avoid culpability as a nation, to prevent further occurrences of awful illegal shit and make this a political debate, instead of a discussion of criminal activity.

Re-quoting this because it's an important point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:05 PM on December 9, 2014 [27 favorites]


Yes we know that democrats are responsible for torture too. This is not really news.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:06 PM on December 9, 2014


fffm: I could be wrong, but I think you'll probably find that the CIA under Clinton had people kidnapped to 'black sites' and tortured. He just wasn't as open about it as Bush was.

Perhaps, but republican's quote said nothing of the sort. It talked only of kidnapping, so as a gotcha it's kind of a total fail.

With rendition you can pretty much assume that they are being tortured too.

Under the definition of rendition as popularized by the Bush administration, sure. The quote talked about kidnapping, not kidnapping and sending to a prison in a country with lax legal protections so they could have their fingernails torn out.

None of which matters: torture is wrong in any case.

Please, what is this misinformation you are correcting?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:06 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


The point is to correct a lot of misinformation.
posted by republican

What misinformation?
posted by MisantropicPainforest

But, please, do explain what misinformation we have here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering

Please, what is this misinformation you are correcting?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering


Objection: badgering the witless.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:09 PM on December 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


Objection: badgering the witless.

Overruled. The witness will answer or be held in contempt.
posted by Silvertree at 1:11 PM on December 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


Don't forget the US military and intelligence services bought programs that make one online respondent speak in twenty voices. It is likely the torturers want it to look like we accept it, and have the software means to do so.

With sufficient warning this report was coming out in total, it would not surprise me if they also set up the ISIS beheadings and even some of the recent stife, as a smokescreen. I really don't put anything past them.

They love this activity, they are remorseless, despicable, and posessed of nearly infinite resources to play the game. By now four generations of players have profited and enjoyed this game of absolute power, and the chaos it creates. Everyone of them is delirously lost in the chaos of shadow chain of command, vs the ultimate price. It is a dizzying mess brougt to us by those of mediocre intelligence, backed by giga wads of money. The deliberate obfuscation of one hand from the other leaves some military volunteer, chaining naked people to freeze for a living, for the promise of a free college education.

Now the soldiers are home for Christmas if they are lucky. There is a huge silence created by the visible strain to the tattered fabric of their spirits told in tortured looks. There will be no questions, only gratitude they are home. They did what they were told to do in many cases,"And then some."

Go after the system, the big players. The fact that many of those special ops fighters are now private contractors working for root cause industries, means this lawlessness is now business, overseas and completely out of oversight. It just gets worse and worse. In the beginning some of those ISIS guys were speaking North American English, they won't make that mistake again.

Don't forget if the powers that be don't like our responses or criticism, there is always terrorism on our soil to prove the dangers that exist. We have failed to realize the real danger in all of this fear and horror.
posted by Oyéah at 1:14 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


MKULTRA. Bay of Pigs. Iran-Contra. Extraordinary rendition. Waterboarding. Torture. And that's only like highlight reel of fucked, incompetent, brutal gangster terrorist shit that the brightest boys and girls of America did.
posted by beefetish at 1:15 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


If this is a partisan issue, why would President Obama's Secretary of State John Kerry voice opposition to this report being made public? It makes no logical sense calling an issue partisan, where both sides use unambiguous language to express their agreement on the same subject.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:15 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


The Church Committee seems so far away now.
posted by doctornemo at 1:17 PM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


I wish I was teaching writing this term, so I could point to this excellent use of weaselly passive voice in Brennan's memo: "Certain detainees were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques"
posted by doctornemo at 1:20 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Why are you concerned about the bias and the phrasing?

Because they may have every incentive to make this seem like a deliberate act of evil, and ineffective evil at that, as opposed to -- as I'm sure the story on the other side is -- people in positions of black uncertainty doing their best to choose among impossible choices, all of which lead to unknown quantities of death and horror.
posted by shivohum at 1:22 PM on December 9, 2014


> MKULTRA. Bay of Pigs. Iran-Contra. Extraordinary rendition. Waterboarding. Torture.
Operation Ajax. Operation Cyclone.
If you need an air charter, here are the scum to avoid:
scum 1 & scum 2
Many articles mention that Khaled el-Masri sued the CIA and "three private companies", but few mention who they are. The NYT suggests one is Aero. [suit thrown out due to privilege of state secrets]
posted by morganw at 1:24 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Let's not forget, the only CIA officer to have faced prision time for the torture program was John Kiriakou, the whistleblower who revealed it.

A pardon would go a long way toward redeeming this President. The other thing would have been not prosecuting him in the first place.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:25 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


With sufficient warning this report was coming out in total, it would not surprise me if they alao set up the ISIS beheadings and even some of the recent stife, as a smokescreen.

This seems unlikely.

Because they may have every incentive to make this seem like a deliberate act of evil, and ineffective evil at that, as opposed to -- as I'm sure the story on the other side is -- people in positions of black uncertainty doing their best to choose among impossible choices, all of which lead to unknown quantities of death and horror.

Choosing to torture is a deliberate act of evil. No matter how 'impossible' your choices, you always have the choice not to torture people.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:25 PM on December 9, 2014 [17 favorites]


I always figure that a lot of people think torture sounds fun - to perpetrate, not to endure. I think a lot of the people who commit torture enjoy it. I think that's why, at root, it's so difficult to stop people - because the kind of moral thinking that you need to do in order not to get a kick out of hurting others is relatively rare and substantially discouraged.

I've been thinking abaout this a lot recently; I just started reading Hobsbawm's Age of Extremes, and a point he makes several times in the first bit of the book is an assertion that the moral quality of civilization declined precipitously over the course of the 20th century. He sees evidence this mainly in the way wars were conducted in the 20th vs 19th century, and at first I was ready to dismiss it as an artifact of his being a 19th century historian, but the more I think about it I think there really is something to it -- that amoral individuality is encouraged in our society in a way that seems specifically designed to undermine Enlightenment ideals about the role of civil society and government, and an individual's responsibilities to the welfare of others.
posted by junco at 1:27 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


maybe we all owe Lynndie England an apology now
posted by Legomancer at 1:28 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


If corporations are people then, can we execute them for war crimes? Do we try the corporation as a whole body and then just execute mmanagement? It is all so theoretical this new personhood for corporations. We recently tried some contractors for murder in Iraq, or did we just indict them? Since they were working for a corporation at the time of the murder, will the whole corporation get the death penalty?

I honestly don't know how we will re-civilize those who have and continue to work the private side of torture and war. Scary we have a lot of private prisons that could vanish people all over the US. You can bet those privateer killers and torturers and torturer Psychologists won't become what, organic farmers? It will take a lot of retraining, but no they come home and work oil field security, or infrastructure security, or work private prisons.

Maybe they become.cops on the beat. There is always the troops to teachers program.

Tip of the iceberg people.
posted by Oyéah at 1:31 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Because they may have every incentive to make this seem like a deliberate act of evil, and ineffective evil at that

The cruelest evil is not malice, it's indifference. In their response, the CIA themselves say -- and you have to account for this -- that they have no idea whether their techniques are effective. There is no way to know this and undertake these tasks without indifference to consequences.
posted by rhizome at 1:32 PM on December 9, 2014


A long time ago, on this very website, I defended Obama for not prosecuting the Bush appointees responsible for torture. I very much regret having done that.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:33 PM on December 9, 2014 [18 favorites]


Can we please stop indulging the troll in their partisanship derailment? It is completely irrelevant to the fact that the USA has now been proven to have been engaging in torture. We don't need a Limbaugh and/or Coulter-esque clown trying to distract everyone from that fact.
posted by sotonohito at 1:34 PM on December 9, 2014 [14 favorites]


maybe we all owe Lynndie England an apology now

for what?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:34 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


@shivohum

When you decide to rectally hydrate a person or chose to subject that person to sensory deprivation knowing full well it will induce hallucinations or threaten to kill and/or rape that person's mother, that's what we call deliberate acts. And dare I say evil acts. I'm loving your mental gymnastics though. Keep twirling.
posted by RedShrek at 1:35 PM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


fffm: for letting her be the nation's scapegoat and allowing the cocktail party circuit to pat themselves on the back following her conviction and tell everyone that it totally solved all the problems and there wouldn't be any more pesky trouble with torture now that **she** was out of the way.
posted by sotonohito at 1:36 PM on December 9, 2014


Can we keep whatever division puts together the World Factbook? It's fairly useful and I imagine they can keep working on it with hardly any war crimes at all.


"Well, we didn't need to, but we totally beat the hell out of a couple of Tajiks we caught just outside of Kunduz. Didn't have anything to do with the factbook, but everyone else was doing it, so we figured what the heck."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:36 PM on December 9, 2014


maybe we all owe Lynndie England an apology now

for what?


For making her out to be one of the few "bad apples" solely responsible for abuse and torture when it's now clear that her actions were sanctioned. She's probably a terrible person, but we trotted her out as the core of the problem. Only following orders isn't a legitimate excuse, but she was sacrificed to clear the way for the rest of this filth.
posted by Legomancer at 1:37 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


I am flabbergasted, however, that there's a statue of limitations on torture

There is. Eight years. Unless death or a foreseeable risk of death or serious bodily harm, in which case no statute of limitations for torture.
posted by semacd at 1:37 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


"We rectally fed some folks."
-Chris Hayes on Twitter
posted by doctornemo at 1:38 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Eh, I lose no sleep over England being hung out to dry for what she did. What I do lose sleep over is that nobody in power was--but I don't see how that turns into an apology to her, you know?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:38 PM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


I guess the cops can't shoot people in countries they don't work for so they had to come up with something.

Reading Metafilter over the past ten years has felt like an insider's view of how things must have evolved among regular citizenry in Dresden or Berlin a hundred odd years or less ago.
posted by infini at 1:44 PM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


I am flabbergasted, however, that there's a statue of limitations on torture

There is. Eight years. Unless death or a foreseeable risk of death or serious bodily harm, in which case no statute of limitations for torture.


Would the death of Gul Rahamn count?
posted by fremen at 1:44 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


fffm: for letting her be the nation's scapegoat and allowing the cocktail party circuit to pat themselves on the back following her conviction and tell everyone that it totally solved all the problems and there wouldn't be any more pesky trouble with torture now that **she** was out of the way.

I prefer to look at her as the first of many. There's just been a delay in indictments while the evidence was being gathered.
posted by rhizome at 1:46 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


With all that dark money flowing from American taxpayers' pockets to interrogation facilities all over the world, I hope the producers of 24 got their share for their indispensable propaganda services.

Operation Mockingbird.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:50 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


When you decide to rectally hydrate a person or chose to subject that person to sensory deprivation knowing full well it will induce hallucinations or threaten to kill and/or rape that person's mother, that's what we call deliberate acts

Yes but what if the alternative was WORSE -- do you not comprehend how that works? Perhaps the people making the decisions had good reason to believe, based on the information they had at the time, that the immorality of torture was outweighed by the immorality of the death that would occur if they didn't.

And if it had been shown to save lives, by the way, America would be having a very different reaction right now. But it didn't. C'est pire qu'un crime, c'est une faute. Very easy to play armchair defender of the nation, though, that's for sure.
posted by shivohum at 1:50 PM on December 9, 2014


Yes but what if the alternative was WORSE -- do you not comprehend how that works?

Do you not comprehend how morality works? It means saying "This far, and no farther." Choosing to torture is always an immoral act. Some prices are just too high to pay, and torture is on that list.

And if it had been shown to save lives, by the way, America would be having a very different reaction right now. But it didn't.

Speaking for myself only, nope. Torture is wrong. There are no circumstances which justify it. At some point these shitbags involved in perpetrating this horror should have had the courage to say "No. We stop here. We cannot become monsters just to battle monsters."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:55 PM on December 9, 2014 [49 favorites]


The point is to correct a lot of misinformation.

Since I haven't read any actual examples of bias or misinformation here, I took it upon myself to read some of the Republican response to the report, and to evaluate some of the claims it made. For example, on page 13, they allege that Abu Zubaydah provided "actionable intelligence" after being tortured, and they state that this was responsible for disrupting a plot against Americans in Karachi. Let's look at exactly what they claim happened:
This information caused Pakistani [redacted] authorities to intensify their efforts and helped lead them to arrest [certain terrorists].
Do you hear that? The Pakistani authorities intensified their efforts! Oh my! The Republican report cites as its source a CIA document from 2002.

However, footnote 1369 on page 242 of the SSCI ("Democrat") Report disputes this claim. The SSCI report cites as its source a June 2013 response to the Senate investigation, and summarizes it thusly:
The CIA does not dispute that ... information from the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program played no role in the arrests.
The CIA also conceded in their response (and this is a literal quote) that they "mischaracterized the impact of the reporting [the CIA] acquired from detainees on the Karachi plots." Presumably some of that mischaracterization was done in the 2002 document cited in the Republican response.

Do Republicans really want to defend the utility of torture? If so, they should push for the entire report and its sources to be declassified. In so doing, we could better understand what happened and why.

If this partisan bickering were anything more than a distraction from the actual issues — people were tortured, and it was horrible, and it gained us nothing — participants in this thread would bring forward actual examples of misinformation and bias in the report itself.
posted by compartment at 1:57 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


But what if mass anal rape was beneficial to the nation?

/sarcasm
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 1:57 PM on December 9, 2014 [25 favorites]


America is awesome! We are awesome! I mean did you read this thing? We fed people by shoving food up their asses! We put food in where crap is supposed to come out! What other country would even think of that?

America is an awesome country!
posted by Naberius at 1:57 PM on December 9, 2014 [19 favorites]


Something funny about popular support for torture: paradoxically, part of the appeal for many torture supporters is the idea that torture must never be sanctioned, and yet it must always remain a de facto option "just in case". Torture exists outside of the conventional justice system. It is something brought out for outlaws, in the original sense of the term: criminals so vile that they exist outside of the law, under inhumanly extreme circumstances. We do not choose to torture: they force us to use it as a "last resort".

People dumped on Alan Dershowitz for bringing up torture warrants, but they didn't quite realize the brilliance of this suggestion. Once you frame torture as a thing that people choose to do, then you make them realize what they are choosing to be.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:59 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would like to point out that force feedings and possibly other torture techniques have been continued under the Obama administration, and he has participated in the coverup of these crimes, making his administration complicit.
posted by empath at 2:01 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yes but what if the alternative was WORSE

Yes, the comic-book scenario invented to justify the unjustifiable to the not-very-bright: "oh, but he knew the location of an atomic bomb planted in a major city and we only had minutes to get it out of him!"

Yeah, so if that little masturbatory fantasy ever happens in real life, and the officer on the scene is so sure it's true that he's willing to commit torture, then he's welcome to take that moral burden on himself and beat the information out of the guy, and if he's so sure he's right he can be confident he'll recieve a Presidential pardon for it. But doesn't mean we make it legal up front, for anybody on the public or contractor payroll who feels like jamming things up a brown person's butt to just go right ahead.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:03 PM on December 9, 2014 [18 favorites]


@shivohum

So the rest of us are talking about acts that ACTUALLY occurred and your response is a "what if"? How would you advise me to comprehend a "what if" when we are evaluating something that did happen? I find it funny that the common scenario for torture apologists is "it's ok to totally torture that guy as long as it saves a life". Do you lot have an actual example? Was the person being saved ok with that choice? Why do you apologist still decide to label torture in such a scenario as moral?

In my younger years, I lived in a country that was ruled by a series or ruthless military dictators. I have witnessed bloody military coups, people being shot and burned alive for all sorts of reasons. One thing I have come to learn about people who commit and permit all sorts of immoral acts is how willing they are to believe in the nobility of their cause. How willing they are to invoke a bogeyman to justify the terrible things they do. What and your torture apologist buddies are saying is nothing new.
posted by RedShrek at 2:04 PM on December 9, 2014 [38 favorites]


Andrew Sullivan is on fire, live blogging this today, btw.

Say what you will about him, he has been on top of torture earlier than almost anyone, and more consistently.
posted by empath at 2:11 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


I appreciate how much fun you guys are having roasting shivohum but you're not responding to him in good faith. You're making me want to play the contrarian.

Do you not comprehend how morality works? It means saying "This far, and no farther." Choosing to torture is always an immoral act. Some prices are just too high to pay, and torture is on that list.

Is war on that list?

So the rest of us are talking about acts that ACTUALLY occurred and your response is a "what if"?

Yeah.
posted by phaedon at 2:15 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


White House: Proper security precautions taken in advance of Senate torture report

the irony of imagining that a report released would inform brown people of something they already knew
posted by infini at 2:16 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yes but what if the alternative was WORSE -- do you not comprehend how that works? Perhaps the people making the decisions had good reason to believe, based on the information they had at the time, that the immorality of torture was outweighed by the immorality of the death that would occur if they didn't.

Perhaps they should consider that maybe torturing people will radicalize more people to launch terrorist plots against them?
posted by Drinky Die at 2:16 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Perhaps the people making the decisions had good reason to believe, based on the information they had at the time, that the immorality of torture was outweighed by the immorality of the death that would occur if they didn't.

The agency that made these decisions admitted that they had no good reason to believe this and that they did not have the information you speculate existed at the time.
posted by rhizome at 2:17 PM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


How would you advise me to comprehend a "what if" when we are evaluating something that did happen?

Because the original point was about bias, about the story that was being told.

Torture is terrible, but it's certainly on a continuum with killing and maiming civilians in war, and few people suggest that all wars are unjust because, for example, innocent children are going to be killed in them.

And of course most terrorists are very far from innocent children.

If you don't believe that knowingly hurting people in order to protect other people is sometimes an unavoidable part of a government's duty, then that makes you an absolute pacifist. And hey, that's a respectable position, but it's also very much a minority position, and there are no developed countries that agree.

I think this "torture is something special, something so different, something so much worse, than other things that societies do all the time to protect themselves" is largely rationalization and self-delusion, a protection against seeing all the monstrous things that countries do all the time to survive.
posted by shivohum at 2:17 PM on December 9, 2014


Yes but what if the alternative was WORSE -- do you not comprehend how that works? Perhaps the people making the decisions had good reason to believe, based on the information they had at the time, that the immorality of torture was outweighed by the immorality of the death that would occur if they didn't.


According to international law, you don't get to torture people just because you think its important. There are no exceptions for emergencies, for threat of war, for actual war, for following orders, for anything.

It's a crime, and those that ordered it and those that carried it out, and those that covered it up should stand trial. Everyone from the janitors to the doctors to the president and the secretary of defense.
posted by empath at 2:18 PM on December 9, 2014 [29 favorites]


phaedon, I am absolutely responding in good faith. Yes, I do believe that war is immoral. It is, occasionally, justifiable, but that doesn't make it less immoral. Torture is neither moral nor justifiable, and if you want to say there's a logical inconsistency there, go ahead; I am completely comfortable with that inconsistency.

a protection against seeing all the monstrous things that countries do all the time to survive.

No. It's seeing a monstrous thing and calling it out for what it is: a monstrous thing that has nothing at all to do with survival.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:20 PM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


We put food in where crap is supposed to come out! What other country would even think of that?

Oh, look, we're still the fucking Romans. That ended well, didn't it?
posted by maryr at 2:21 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes but what if the alternative was WORSE

Was the torture and death of Gul Rhaman (an innocent) justified because of the potential to save innocent lives? And, if you think it was justified, would you be willing to be put in the same position out of the potential to save innocent lives?
posted by just another scurvy brother at 2:21 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


hurting people in order to protect other people is sometimes an unavoidable part of a government's duty

This isn't what they were doing. There is absolutely no evidence, though there are biased accounts, that this is what they were doing. It was revenge, pure and simple, and like you say, it was against Muslims, not just Al Qaeda.
posted by rhizome at 2:22 PM on December 9, 2014


Officer, just bear with me, here, but what if I had to run that red light? Perhaps getting through that intersection as quickly as possible, regardless of the legality of the thing, was crucial to the defense of my family. You can't really know, can you? This ticket you're writing was produced without my input, so I don't think it's unfair of me to suggest it might be biased.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:24 PM on December 9, 2014 [29 favorites]


You're really supposed to spike the football after a comment that good so I'm taking one point off. 9/10
posted by Drinky Die at 2:28 PM on December 9, 2014


No one sent out the memo the US is at war with Muslims.

They did send out the memo torture is an innefective means of gathering intel.
posted by Oyéah at 2:28 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


would you be willing to be put in the same position out of the potential to save innocent lives?

There it is! That's the question people always forget to ask when they're pretending to weigh the ethical considerations involved in matters like this. Without this step, the ethical calculus is all nonsense.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:29 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


From empath's Andrew Sullivan link:

The “cold bath” technique – the same as that used against al-Qahtani in Guantanamo – was, according to professor Darius Rejali of Reed College, “pioneered by a member of the French Gestapo by the pseudonym Masuy about 1943. The Belgian resistance referred to it as the Paris method, and the Gestapo authorized its extension from France to at least two places late in the war, Norway and Czechoslovakia. That is where people report experiencing it.”

In Norway, we actually have a 1948 court case that weighs whether “enhanced interrogation” using the methods approved by president Bush amounted to torture. The proceedings are fascinating, with specific reference to the hypothermia used in Gitmo, and throughout interrogation centers across the field of conflict. The Nazi defense of the techniques is almost verbatim that of the Bush administration…

posted by infini at 2:31 PM on December 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


Ok, well, look, I'm not trying to be dense, but from a purely philosophical, non-partisan standpoint, you can justify the torturing of innocent people if it saves lives. You cannot dismiss this argument with the comment, "Do you not comprehend how morality works?" Argue with it, yes. But this is a kind of morality, and quite frankly remains the foundation of foreign policy, "international law" be damned.

I'm not entirely sure what I'm trying to do here other than to cause trouble. I think this is a very emotional topic for a lot of people, so I'm probably going to back out. But I also think that the "what if" argument is the central motivation driving the "war on terrorism" and as such, we need to find a suitable response to it, not just dismiss it as ridiculous. Because as a country, we are definitely not there yet.

We were not able to respond to 9/11 without a protracted, violent and character-changing response. You, me, the president that was going to make everything better, nobody. So I don't quite get the soapbox anyone is standing on.
posted by phaedon at 2:31 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Bullshit. That's just what we did. We did not have to.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:36 PM on December 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


but from a purely philosophical, non-partisan standpoint, you can justify the torturing of innocent people if it saves lives.

Name one life that was saved by the torture of an innocent person.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:38 PM on December 9, 2014 [14 favorites]


from a purely philosophical, non-partisan standpoint, you can justify the torturing of innocent people if it saves lives...I also think that the "what if" argument is the central motivation driving the "war on terrorism" and as such, we need to find a suitable response to it, not just dismiss it as ridiculous.

There are at least two correct responses to, "What if it saves lives?" The first response is an ethical one: "I don't care. Nothing justifies that." Some people choose that response, and I respect them for it.

The second, and I believe even stronger, response is: "Does it save lives?" The answer to this, even according to the CIA itself, appears to be, "At worst no, at best, we have no idea." If you have no proof whatsoever (and shivohum has none) that what you are doing is helping at all, and it appears to be disgusting and unethical or immoral to many if not most people and is probably illegal, the correct action to take is to stop doing it. At best it's a waste of money and time, speaking purely pragmatically. At worst it is both that and also counterproductive, because there is no way this stuff is not making us enemies.

If a factless fantasy is the "central motivation driving the 'war on terrorism'," then that entire war is a mistake of incredible proportions.

Which indeed I take it to be.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:39 PM on December 9, 2014 [32 favorites]


but from a purely philosophical, non-partisan standpoint, you can justify the torturing of innocent people if it saves lives

I can't, no. Perhaps others can, but opposition to torture isn't--or shouldn't be--a partisan issue. I do not accept any argument that attempts to justify torture in the same way I do not accept any argument that attempts to justify the rape of children; they are prima facie wrong.

"what if" argument is the central motivation driving the "war on terrorism" and as such, we need to find a suitable response to it, not just dismiss it as ridiculous.

Dismissing it as ridiculous is the suitable response.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:40 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


a purely philosophical, non-partisan standpoint, you can justify the torturing of innocent people if it saves lives.

Not if you believe in the Constitution, Due process of law and Equal protection of the laws. How do you get to "Torture" without passing Habeas Corpus, from a "purely philosophical, non-partisan standpoint".

This is about whether or not you believe in American Values, and if you support torture, you simply do not.
posted by mikelieman at 2:40 PM on December 9, 2014 [19 favorites]


would you be willing to be put in the same position out of the potential to save innocent lives?

Defenders of torture might ask similarly pointed questions about the potential victims of terrorist attacks torture might prevent. Nobody wants themselves or their family to be hurt. It's better to focus on the fact that torture simply doesn't work. We don't need to sacrifice any innocents to it because it doesn't work.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:41 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


you can justify the torturing of innocent people if it saves lives

What does this even mean, are you on drugs? Just throwing shit out there? It sounds just as coherent as, "you could drive an envelope until a cigarette is stapled, three galvanized nasal spray bottles."
posted by rhizome at 2:41 PM on December 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


the soapbox doesn't just have to be from within the country. sadly, this website is kinda global.
posted by infini at 2:42 PM on December 9, 2014


Defenders of torture might ask similarly pointed questions about the potential victims of terrorist attacks torture might prevent.

They might ask such questions, but they'd be meaningless, because there is no evidence that torture prevents anything.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:42 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Defenders of torture might ask similarly pointed questions about the potential victims of terrorist attacks torture might prevent.

They might, and they do, and in fact it has been the primary public rationale of US detainee policy for the past 13 years.
posted by rhizome at 2:44 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is about whether or not you believe in American Values, and if you support torture, you simply do not.

I am a sucker for low-hanging fruit, but "American Values" do not apply to foreign nationals or enemies of the state. And yes, I am troubled by the assassination of American citizens abroad. And troubled by many things our country is doing in general. But that's why I'm trying to acknowledge the monster in the dark.
posted by phaedon at 2:44 PM on December 9, 2014


I'm still curious to know how torturing an INNOCENT can help save lives?? No wonder your education system is fucked up.
posted by infini at 2:45 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


They might ask such questions, but they'd be meaningless, because there is no evidence that torture prevents anything.

I agree with you, but they will be entirely meaningful to them until we get them to agree that torture doesn't accomplish anything. Personalization like that is not a good path to persuasion in my experience because it's a charged emotional appeal when there is a perfectly rational alternative line of argument.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:46 PM on December 9, 2014


If you think that torturing innocent people is justifiable, prove it by describing the circumstances in which you would welcome or at least approve your own torture or that of your children to bring pressure on you. Assume you've done nothing wrong.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:46 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


I am a sucker for low-hanging fruit, but "American Values" do not apply to foreign nationals or enemies of the state.

We know this. All 6.7 billion of us out there, outside Fortress Muricah. Kindly remain cowering in your corner till given permission to raise your head.
posted by infini at 2:46 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Perhaps the people making the decisions had good reason to believe, based on the information they had at the time, that the immorality of torture was outweighed by the immorality of the death that would occur if they didn't.

Is your chief objection the illegality of this Very Serious Moral Calculus? Or is it that people, upon learning certain results of Very Serious Moral Calculus, are judging it harshly? Which is worse?
posted by compartment at 2:46 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


the monster in the dark

What exactly do you mean by this?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:47 PM on December 9, 2014


In Norway, we actually have a 1948 court case that weighs whether “enhanced interrogation” using the methods approved by president Bush amounted to torture.

"Homeland security" and "enhanced interrogation" are both verbatim Nazi-Deutsche.
posted by ryanshepard at 2:47 PM on December 9, 2014 [14 favorites]


I love the way we're fighting nonsense and all cranked up and angry and forgotten to debate the actual things of importance in this thread. Thanks Pysops
posted by infini at 2:47 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


you can justify the torturing of innocent people if it saves lives

You could, in theory, but the actual report in front of us suggests that torture of innocent people did not do a very good job at saving lives.

In fact, Feinstein's report specifically calls out the CIA for misrepresenting the efficacy of its torture program to elected officials.

Whether or not this detail is included in the report to absolve culpability on the part of Bush and Cheney — we can table that question for a moment — this indicates that torture did not, in fact, have the intended effect of bolstering national security.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:47 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am a sucker for low-hanging fruit, but "American Values" do not apply to foreign nationals or enemies of the state.  

Sorry, phaedon, but that fruit does not hang low naturally. Its weighed down by the fact that you think morals and behavior and treatment is dependent on whether or not your fellow man was born in the same country.
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:49 PM on December 9, 2014 [15 favorites]


What exactly do you mean by this?

The CIA and covert operations.

I'm still curious to know how torturing an INNOCENT can help save lives?

It's called a "hard case." You don't need to crucify me for it. The question comes up in legal philosophy. Let's say the capture of a major criminal has a deterrent effect on other would-be criminals, or prevents society from collapsing into chaos. Let's take that to be the case.

Now let's say such a criminal exists but you can't find him. Or better yet, you are only able to capture his friends? Do you torture them if you think they know where he is? Have I just explained Gitmo for you?
posted by phaedon at 2:50 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


there is a perfectly rational alternative line of argument

Don't leave us hanging here, what is it?
posted by rhizome at 2:51 PM on December 9, 2014


The question comes up in legal philosophy

Does the actual report in front of us answer this hypothetical question you are posing?
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:52 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Don't leave us hanging here, what is it?

Sorry if it wasn't clear, but it was: Torture doesn't save innocents because it doesn't work so there is no use risking torturing an innocent by mistake.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:52 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


I am a sucker for low-hanging fruit, but "American Values" do not apply to foreign nationals or enemies of the state

They apply to the actions of the Americans interacting with those people, don't they?

Do you torture them if you think they know where he is?

No. We've answered that question. The answer to every question that starts "Do you torture them if..." is always no.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:53 PM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


@ phaedon,

Let's not go down the road of assuming knowledge of anyone's intent behind the responses being provided. I have not leveled any accusations of bad faith against anyone in this thread no matter the response and I don't appreciate it being leveled my way. I was asking questions and providing responses in good faith.

@ shivohum

Your original post suggested possible bias but you were not able to present anything in the way of credible evidence to support that position. You were called out on that by me and a number of other posters so unless you have something new, my criticism stands. Besides, the Washington Post and other news outlets have done a pretty decent job explaining the genesis of this summary report.

No one in this thread has, at least to my knowledge, written anything remotely coming close to saying all violence is immoral or that all war is bad. What we are talking about here is one thing and one thing alone and that is the sanctioning and use of torture by us. Let's not shift the goal post. Do you have any examples where any of the acts described in the summary report today saved lives?
We agree that we are in a fight against individuals and groups with no moral hangups about murder and destruction. There are many ways to fight terrorism and protect a country and its inhabitants. I just don't believe that rectal feeding or threatening rape and murder of someone's mother or knowingly detaining and torturing up to 26 innocent people or having people die through hypothermia is one of those ways. YMMV.
posted by RedShrek at 2:54 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Drinky: ah, i misunderstood your comment.
posted by rhizome at 2:55 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Have I just explained Gitmo for you?

Did you get hazard pay for your tour of duty then?
posted by infini at 2:56 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


And of all the other torture apologists out there, if the use of torture was all legitimate in this case, why all the lies by the people in power who sanctioned the use of torture? I just find all the lies odd.
posted by RedShrek at 2:56 PM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yes, and if it had ever saved even one life we would have heard about it far and wide.
posted by rhizome at 2:59 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


On a less juvenile note, Andrew Sullivan's live blog also implies the whole torture cartel was set up and run by two contractors with existing problems regarding love of violence and abuse. they made 80 million.

oh and you can't win me over by telling me that its alright for white people to torture brown foreign people. just continue writing this drivel on the internets for the planet to read.
posted by infini at 2:59 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


[T]here is one CIA acknowledgment that should be as disturbing as anything that is contained within the SSCI study itself. Page 24 of the CIA memo addresses the SSCI’s conclusion that the “CIA never conducted its own comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.” The CIA’s response:

“We agree with Conclusion 10 in full. It underpins the most important lesson that we have drawn from The Study: CIA needs to develop the structure, expertise, and methodologies required to more objectively and systematically evaluate the effectiveness of our covert actions. We draw this lesson going forward fully aware of how difficult it can be to measure the impact of a particular action or set of actions on an outcome in a real-world setting.”

Therefore, the CIA admitted that—as late as June 2013—it was simply incapable of evaluating the effectiveness of its covert activity.

- http://blogs.cfr.org/zenko/2014/12/09/torture-report-response/

So I guess shivohum is privy to some information that the CIA isn't about the effectiveness of EIT.
posted by RedShrek at 2:59 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: you could drive an envelope until a cigarette is stapled, three galvanized nasal spray bottles.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 3:00 PM on December 9, 2014 [14 favorites]


Let's say the capture of a major criminal has a deterrent effect on other would-be criminals, or prevents society from collapsing into chaos. Let's take that to be the case.

Now let's say such a criminal exists but you can't find him. Or better yet, you are only able to capture his friends? Do you torture them if you think they know where he is? Have I just explained Gitmo for you?


No, you have completely handwaved away an absolutely crucial detail, which is whether or not torture works, when the evidence says, "probably not, no." Without that totally unstated assumption, your scenario is meaningless.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:01 PM on December 9, 2014 [17 favorites]


For fun, let's replace "torture" in your example with "subject to a polygraph exam".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:02 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


RedShrek: Yep I linked to that above and it's been the basis of my restatements that the CIA could not have been executing on any plan at all, because they admit they don't know how to turn a goal into a plan.
posted by rhizome at 3:03 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would go so far as to say the use of torture risks lives even beyond the victims themselves. Because word that America are torturing people inevitably gets out, and then that radicalizes people in opposition to the US, and it puts American prisoners and hostages at risk.

Even if torture were an effective means of getting information, and even if it were not profoundly immoral, it would still be bad foreign policy because it damages our good relationships and sabotages any chances for diplomatic or at least non-military strategies for addressing unrest in other parts of the world.
posted by suelac at 3:04 PM on December 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


I'm still curious to know how torturing an INNOCENT can help save lives?? No wonder your education system is fucked up.

I love the way we're fighting nonsense and all cranked up and angry and forgotten to debate the actual things of importance in this thread. Thanks Pysops

infini, I know you're all cranked up and angry, and I know that I'm being defensive because I love my country and I am ashamed of my country and I am frightened of my country and I am frightened for my country, but of the many many things of importance to discuss here, the tragedy of the failures of our educational system aren't really relevant.

I am an American and I don't approve of torture, but I am awfully comfortable in my nice dry house with my stable fossil fuel supplies and my safe commute to work and my cheap plentiful food, so I know that I am responsible for this as well. I have to accept that. That's all I can work on for today. I'm sorry, I just want to focus on one of the ways we are failing the future for today. For today, one is enough.

Edit: For this thread, one is enough, I should say. I don't mean that we should ignore all the rest. I don't think this report should make Ferguson coverage go away and I hope it doesn't.
posted by maryr at 3:04 PM on December 9, 2014


phaedon - No. What American Values do you think say it is OK to torture people?
posted by maryr at 3:05 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


rhizome: Sorry I missed it.
posted by RedShrek at 3:05 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


@maryr - It's the Jack Bauer values. You know the one where there's always an annoying timer counting down the 24 hours before a super serious terrorist act is about to be committed.
posted by RedShrek at 3:07 PM on December 9, 2014


I'm not entirely sure what I'm trying to do here other than to cause trouble. I think this is a very emotional topic for a lot of people, so I'm probably going to back out.

um
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:07 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


if it saves lives

Torture does not save lives.

The FBI investigator, the guy who went after Bin Laden, says "torture led us away from Bin Laden".

Led us AWAY. Torture is counterproductive. They weren't doing it to "save lives", they were doing it to get their damn rocks off.
posted by Fnarf at 3:08 PM on December 9, 2014 [22 favorites]


the tragedy of the failures of our educational system aren't really relevant.

maryr , i'm sure in the way you read that sentence, I would agree with you too. this run on side note typed on education, i just realized, came from teh frustration of the lack of critical thinking skills as well as basic knowledge on geography and culture that helps perpetuate so much of this thinking. it was not meant as a derail into the larger topic that I know you are addressing here.
posted by infini at 3:10 PM on December 9, 2014


phaedon - No. What American Values do you think say it is OK to torture people?

It's an antithesis to American values. The right against forced self incrimination is foundational in America. I know the constitution doesn't necessarily apply to some guy we picked up in Afghanistan, but the reasons for which the founders guaranteed themselves that right are the same reasons he deserves it. We can say we live up to the letter of the law when we strip that right, but not the spirit.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:10 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]




Even if torturing a person saved 100 lives, and even if we ignore the fact that there may be ethical issues with torture (ahem), what happens when torturing a person inspires 1000 new terrorists? What happens when the children of the people we torture decide to dedicate their lives to killing americans?

In fact torture may be consistent with American Values. And that is the truly sickening thing.

You know how Obama is fond of saying "We are better than that." What if we aren't better than that? Is there evidence to suggest that we are?
posted by el io at 3:13 PM on December 9, 2014 [13 favorites]


I can very much appreciate the anger at the violation of America's much vaunted "values" that the torture represents, but I think it's a mistake to make it the focus of the argument. It is an emotional argument rather than an evidentiary one, and that is why the torture defenders in this thread have focused on responding to it, because they know they can run around and around it and never get anywhere. You either think torture abrogates America's (fictional, in my opinion, but that doesn't matter here) moral superiority or you think it is justified to "catch the bad guys," but neither is a matter of fact.

The evidentiary argument is: there is no evidence that torture actually works to uncover information. The lengths to which desperate people might be driven in some completely contrived and fictional "ticking bomb" scenario are absolutely no basis for considered policy. There is no doubt that any resources of time and money that we devote to torture are resources we could have devoted to more effective means of assuring security and very little doubt that it increases the number and ferocity of our enemies. These arguments have gone without response, and I don't think it's difficult to see why.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:16 PM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I think making any argument premised on "American Values" just begs the question of what those values are... constitutional rights? Anti-immigrant sentiment? White supremacy? Equality under the law?
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:16 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


The answer to the torture question is stupidly simple: no. Don't do it.

It might help to rephrase the question:

If a little bit of rape every now and then kept society more stable, would you approve of the occasional rape?

or

If a little bit of slavery kept society more stable, would slavery be such a bad thing?

In all three cases, the answer is no. We don't want a society built on torture. We don't want a society built on rape. We don't want a society built on slavery. Even if those things give us some benefit, we don't want to become dependent on the torture/rape/slavery that produces such purported benefits.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:20 PM on December 9, 2014 [29 favorites]


infini: You are right that America's education on the world is not completely divorced from this. It's just, yeah, a derail at the moment.

RedShrek: I'd like to believe that's fiction. Maybe I'm just being naive or weirdly optimistic. But I'd like to believe that in our hearts, we're Captain America, even when it doesn't show in our actions. I am in no way denying our actions and they are often reprehensible. (I also think that's a *human* thing, not a solely American thing, but I realize this is very much not the thread for that.)

(Also I realize Captain America fucks it all up too. So.)

el io: We want to be better than that. It's pretty depressing that we have to be reminded of that.

In short, I agree that American Values is a pretty lousy term to be using here, and I'm sorry to step in to defend it when I can't even define. I'm going to step away to be disgusted in what the US has done my own way.
posted by maryr at 3:20 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


phaedon - No. What American Values do you think say it is OK to torture people?

I am so confused by the timing of your question. I'm just trying to figure out how a legal argument was made 15 years ago to open Guantanamo and that it remains open 15 years later and you're somehow shocked that I'm an asshole. If I'm so stupid, maybe you can cc: Obama on your next response. I think I'm pissed off by how in-your-face most of this has been.

I can't seriously believe you people think habeas corpus applies to foreign nationals. If you think torture is bad, you should seriously be toppling the government by now. I'm just trying to say it's that fucking bad.
posted by phaedon at 3:20 PM on December 9, 2014


CIA torture coercive interrogation manual from 1963.
posted by ennui.bz at 3:22 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


And the ignoring of the question of what torture actually accomplishes continues.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:23 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Your original post suggested possible bias but you were not able to present anything in the way of credible evidence to support that position. You were called out on that by me and a number of other posters so unless you have something new, my criticism stands.

And I responded to that criticism, and unless you have something new to add, I guess you concede the point. See how irritating that sounds?

Partisan politics plays a role -- for all sorts of quite legitimate, quite real, and quite evidence-based psychological, sociological, and self-interested reasons -- in the narration of the moral story behind why people did what they did. Is it really far-fetched to think that Democrats would automatically tend to assemble information into a story that paints a worse picture of the Bush administration than Republicans would? You don't need a nefarious conspiracy to think this happens. It is second nature for people to think badly of their opponents.

Can the defense and the prosecution in a trial take the same facts and tell completely different stories? Yes.

A witness reporting that they are getting a deal in return for their testimony, is, without anything else, considered evidence that the jury can consider in evaluating the credibility of that witness.

The ideological affiliation of a thinktank is considered completely valid to mention when evaluating, on its face, the objectivity of a report it issues.

That's what bias is, and it is something well worth keeping in mind when trying to figure out something as murky and subjective as internal decision-making processes of intelligence officials from the outside. It doesn't mean that this report is wrong -- I said that in my first comment -- but it does mean that we should take it with a good amount of salt.
posted by shivohum at 3:24 PM on December 9, 2014


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."

That may be why people think Americans should act as though rights belong to everyone.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:24 PM on December 9, 2014 [16 favorites]


I find it interesting that whenever these "what-if" scenarios crop up in internet torture discussions, they're almost always USA-centric, Jack Bauer-type scenarios. Not so often are the "what-if" scenarios like: What if, on August 10, 1943 -- one day after the US drops an atomic bomb on Nagasaki and three days after Hiroshima -- Japan manages to capture some Allied troops (maybe some downed airmen, maybe a naval intelligence officer, or how about an OSS operative through some extraordinary rendition). How much torture should they be allowed (required?) to inflict on them in order to gain intelligence that could save Japanese lives? How many more A-bombs does the US have and where will they drop next?
posted by mhum at 3:24 PM on December 9, 2014 [22 favorites]


phaedon: from a purely philosophical, non-partisan standpoint, you can justify the torturing of innocent people if it saves lives

There is no "pure" philosophical standpoint. For some (Kantians, for example), some acts are always morally forbidden, no matter how much good might flow from doing them. If you think that inherent respect for the humanity of others forbids torturing them, then it doesn't matter how many lives might be saved by resorting to the pliers and hot irons.

If you're a consequentialist, of course, you can convince yourself you're in the right as long as torture is the lesser evil--that is, as long as it produces that mythical "best outcome". But notoriously, consequentialism speaks in the devil's tongue, seducing you into thinking that you know who has the crucial piece of information and just how you need to squeeze them to make them talk. "What if...?" is the whisper that erases all doubt. And once you start down that road, the outcomes of that act themselves have to be concealed, again on consequentialist grounds. Isn't that what's behind the bleating of the Republicans who insist that the report will only encourage further attacks?

Hideous deeds done under a cloak of necessary secrecy: that's the logic of the consequentialist torture apologist. If this is where "pure philosophy" leads us, we should exile it from our minds forever.
posted by informavore at 3:25 PM on December 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


phaedon - I'm sorry, I was emotional, I wish I could edit the "fuck you" out of my earlier comment. I do not think that you are an asshole nor stupid.
posted by maryr at 3:26 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Even if torturing a person saved 100 lives, and even if we ignore the fact that there may be ethical issues with torture (ahem), what happens when torturing a person inspires 1000 new terrorists? What happens when the children of the people we torture decide to dedicate their lives to killing americans?

Yes, one thousand times this. Anyone trying to do some utilitarian risk/benefit analysis of this is completely and utterly full of shit if this doesn't appear as a line-item in their table, and doubly so if their "benefit" is some nebulous bullshit about saving lives when there is not one shred of evidence that lives can be saved with torture.

Can the defense and the prosecution in a trial take the same facts and tell completely different stories? Yes.

Please, go ahead and give me a single version of these events in which your "story" comes out to be anything less than morally abhorrent. I'll wait.
posted by dialetheia at 3:26 PM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


And the ignoring of the question of what torture actually accomplishes continues.

If that question is directed at me, I really don't care for it. What does war accomplish? I'm not good with flowery prose. Maybe you can help me out. Torture is probably the child of fear and incompetence. The contradiction lies in the fact that you already knew we tortured people and we live in the most heavily militarized state in probably all of history.
posted by phaedon at 3:27 PM on December 9, 2014


@shivohum

One last time, do you have any evidence to show that this unclassified summary of a classified report was put together with bias from either Liberals or Democrats?
posted by RedShrek at 3:27 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's what bias is, and it is something well worth keeping in mind when trying to figure out something as murky and subjective as internal decision-making processes of intelligence officials from the outside.

What we are trying to tell you, and what we are reacting against, is that there is nothing 'murky' or 'subjective' about ordering torture. It is wrong. End of story. Everything you are saying sounds like what you are really saying is "well it's not THAT bad" or "but it's okay sometimes."

It's not. It's just not.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:27 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


What does war accomplish?

Well, it destroyed Nazi Germany and the Confederate South.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:28 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


@phaedon

War does accomplish specific goals. Now, what goals have torturous acts such as water boarding or rectal feeding or torturing an innocent man to death accomplished?
posted by RedShrek at 3:29 PM on December 9, 2014


I can't seriously believe you people think habeas corpus applies to foreign nationals.

I'm really loving the nuance and tone of these sentences. Far more informative a gold mine on the US mindset wrt the Rest of the World than any billions spend watching your phone or email.
posted by infini at 3:33 PM on December 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


What does war accomplish?

You mentioned legal philosophy earlier, when positing your hypothetical. Legally, war and torture are subjects distinct enough that the Geneva Conventions were written to codify the difference and proscribe the latter (in absolute terms: regardless of whether or not a party is at war). Legally, the two subjects are treated differently.

It seems like we can safely return to the initial question you asked, while ignoring interesting but unrelated questions about war:

What does the CIA report in front of us suggest that torture accomplishes?
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:36 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Far more informative a gold mine on the US mindset wrt the Rest of the World than any billions spend watching your phone or email.

I feel like you think I'm just some guy Americano venting, when in actuality I'm explaining one of the legal underpinnings of the NSA, the Patriot Act, and Guantanamo for you with extreme brevity. You're welcome. Hope you get some favorites.
posted by phaedon at 3:38 PM on December 9, 2014


A lot of conservative patriots don't seem to understand or believe it, but enlightenment era rights were believed to be universal rights; even the founders acknowledged in their own writings that America's core values were inconsistent with the institution of slavery and on many occasions, wrote at length about the problem. Rights were originally conceived as basic human rights, not just rights of American citizens. That was the whole point of the natural rights arguments.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:39 PM on December 9, 2014 [9 favorites]


remember the movie where the young farmer leads a rebel movement against their masters who have ruthlessly exploited the people, he finally wins and leads his people to a new era of peace and prosperity?

...then the CIA organizes a conspiracy to launch a coup and kidnap Lumumba after which paid agents of the CIA and Belgian agents
On the day of his death, Lumumba, already beaten so badly he was described by one witness as a human wreck, died in an orgy of frenzied brutality with as many of his tormentors as possible—including Tshombe, the Belgian-sponsored president of Katanga—wanting personally to get in on the act and splattering themselves with blood in the process.
torture and then "assassinate" him?
posted by ennui.bz at 3:40 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


I can't seriously believe you people think habeas corpus applies to foreign nationals.

Well, I'm no constitutional lawyer, but here's one that says it does:
But more important, the standard rhetorical formulation being used – ”extending rights to foreign Terrorists which the Constitution reserves for U.S. citizens” — suggests that Constitutional rights are for American citizens only. That is blatantly false, and anyone making that claim — as Susan Collins and so many others have — is either extremely ignorant or extremely dishonest.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:43 PM on December 9, 2014 [20 favorites]


The Torture Apologia Chart
posted by T.D. Strange at 3:45 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


^ This is about whether or not you believe in American Values.
And that is the problem. American Values as redefined by your leaders is that torture is just dandy. This was not helped by your present supreme leader admitting to torturing some folks like no one specific or important just some random dudes.
posted by adamvasco at 3:47 PM on December 9, 2014


If that question is directed at me, I really don't care for it.

Do you care for the question of what torture accomplished in these cases? Just so we can remain anchored to the fact of the report's existence and not have to resort to flowery prose.
posted by rhizome at 3:49 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


It seems we've found yet another issue where we jump directly from "Now it not the time to be second guessing!" to "Why you gotta bring up old shit?"
posted by brundlefly at 3:52 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


I can't seriously believe you people think habeas corpus applies to foreign nationals.

The constitution applies to foreign nationals. I don't blame you for thinking otherwise, but holy hell we need to teach civics better in this country.
posted by el io at 3:53 PM on December 9, 2014 [20 favorites]


shivohum: "Is it really far-fetched to think that Democrats would automatically tend to assemble information into a story that paints a worse picture of the Bush administration than Republicans would?"

Why do we think that whatever bias might exist only cuts in this direction and along this particular axis? As long as we're doing these thought experiments, why shouldn't we think that a report written primarily by Americans and for Americans be biased in favor of Americans? That this report could actually be soft-pedalling the events surrounding the torture perpetrated by CIA?

shivohum: "That's what bias is, and it is something well worth keeping in mind when trying to figure out something as murky and subjective as internal decision-making processes of intelligence officials from the outside. It doesn't mean that this report is wrong -- I said that in my first comment -- but it does mean that we should take it with a good amount of salt."

The report actually notes that some CIA personnel raised objections to the torture program only to be overruled by higher-ups. Should we take this part with a grain of salt because the pro-American bias of the authors might lead them to overcompensate and be overly generous here? Maybe whatever objections that were raised amounted to no more than water cooler griping?
posted by mhum at 3:57 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Looking at some of the writings of some people who are involved in the intelligence world and it's not looking good at all. Essentially, this is being viewed as the Democrats waging war against the entire IC and that the disclosures today will have repercussions for our ability to gather and share intelligence since we are now seen as not being able to keep secrets.
posted by RedShrek at 3:58 PM on December 9, 2014


Well, I'm no constitutional lawyer, but here's one that says it does:

That was an interesting link, thanks. I wasn't familiar with Boumediene and while I'm sure there's more to the story, it seems I'm echoing dated legal precedents. Anyone care to tell me why Guantanamo is still open? Or how we waxed Anwar al-Awlaki without so much as a trial?
posted by phaedon at 3:59 PM on December 9, 2014


Anyone care to tell me...

Just to short-circuit yet another remedial derail, all of that information is available at Wikipedia.
posted by rhizome at 4:01 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Essentially, this is being viewed as the Democrats waging war against the entire IC...

Boo hoo for them. Maybe they should reconsider doing cartoonishly evil things then.
posted by brundlefly at 4:01 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Anyone care to tell me why Guantanamo is still open?

Because Congress wouldn't let Obama close it. They wouldn't let him implement literally the first or second (not sure which order he signed them in, offhand) Executive Order he made, about five minutes after being sworn in.

Or how we waxed Anwar al-Awlaki without so much as a trial?

Illegally.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:02 PM on December 9, 2014 [18 favorites]


Because we just did, phaedon. Why do you think us "lefties" have been bitching about the rule of law meaning nothing in the US these last few years? Did you think we were just trying to score points in a game?
posted by saulgoodman at 4:03 PM on December 9, 2014 [27 favorites]


Anyone care to tell me why Guantanamo is still open? Or how we waxed Anwar al-Awlaki without so much as a trial?

Because no one gives a shit about holding criminals accountable for their choices. Like gymnastics to absolve US CITIZENS who torture from their crimes. Note that it's not the victim the law applies to, but the officer or agent of the US Government.

Just because a US Officer isn't on CONUS soil doesn't mean their oaths evaporate, does it?
posted by mikelieman at 4:04 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


@brundlefly

I really feel for the folks in the IC. For the most part, these are people who are doing a thankless job that is vital to our national security. I count friends among those people. I just wish things had been done differently at the start.
posted by RedShrek at 4:05 PM on December 9, 2014


What does war accomplish?

This is an important question. However, the problem of our time is not to ask what war accomplishes, but to ask when it ends, where it ends? The brutal logic of war as a way of life is deeply embedded in civilian life at this point, and I don't just mean class-based or racially-oriented conflicts, though it appears there too. The struggle to dominate, and the many subtle and outright assertions of the right that some people believe they have to dominate others, is what distinguishes war from normal life. Eventually, America has to go back to normal. Eventually, war has to end, not only as military actions themselves, but as a way of living. This is why the peace movement was and is so radical: opposing war not just as an external military phenomenon but as an organizing logic of social life itself means undoing lots of oppressive structures which are, more or less, war by other means.
posted by clockzero at 4:05 PM on December 9, 2014 [9 favorites]


Jimmy Joe tortures a detainee. Jimmy Joe broke the law regardless of where Jimmy Joe is, right? Because JIMMY JOE is under US Jurisdiction ALL THE TIME.
posted by mikelieman at 4:05 PM on December 9, 2014


Because we just did, phaedon. Why do you think us "lefties" have been bitching about the rule of law meaning nothing in the US these last few years? Did you think we were just trying to score points in a game?

No, not really. I'm just sick of "lefties" pretending they're part of the conversation when the real world's doubling down on going to shit. Glad to see you guys are back in the game. I feel like I just enjoyed a very small break in the clouds.
posted by phaedon at 4:07 PM on December 9, 2014


For the most part, these are people who are doing a thankless job that is vital to our national security.

Assuming facts not in evidence. It's just as valid to say they are doing a thankless job that threatens our national security.
posted by rhizome at 4:09 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


And that's not even questioning the "thankless" part, since those who tortured were paid 4x what those who didn't were.
posted by rhizome at 4:10 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I get it and that's why I said for the most part.
posted by RedShrek at 4:10 PM on December 9, 2014


RedShrek, those hypothetical "good guys" would serve our nation better by pointing fingers at the people in their organizations who are doing bad things instead of pretending they are being persecuted by Democrats who are trying to do their jobs.
posted by brundlefly at 4:11 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's just as valid to say they are doing a thankless job that threatens our national security.

Consider how, when the chinese started exploiting long-standing vulnerabilities baked in by the IC, they get disclosed and fixed. The IC sabotaging our IT infrastructure for surveillance, and other people exploiting their assets is a clear and present danger.
posted by mikelieman at 4:11 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


For the most part, these are people who are doing a thankless job that is vital to our national security.

Not to mention they seemed to get thanked quite a bit these days... for instance after the Bin Laden murder.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 4:11 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


If we're not part of the conversation, then the US is not a democratic republic, but an authoritarian nation. If that squares with your understanding of what America's values are, I'm just clueless how you got to that point.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:12 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


I mean, why would people assume Democrats are "waging war" on them? What would be the motivation? Just to be dicks?
posted by brundlefly at 4:13 PM on December 9, 2014


The U.S. Stopped Torturing Terror Suspects—and Started Droning Them
Zenko's own tally, based on reporting from non-governmental research organizations, puts the rough death toll at around 3,500 people. These include an unknown number of civilian casualties believed by independent researchers to number at least in the hundreds; the Obama administration reportedly counts "all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants," which produces lower estimates of civilian casualties. Tuesday's report from the Senate Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, lists 119 terror suspects known to have been detained by the CIA, of whom "at least 39 were subject to the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques." Twenty-six of the total number of detainees, the report continues, should not have been detained in the first place.

But despite the vast disparity in the numbers of people abused through the CIA's detention program versus killed by drones, there has been no official accounting of the latter program on par with the torture report released this week. "[T]hose normally interested in upholding human rights ideals and promoting transparency (generally Democrats) simply will not investigate their own," Zenko explained. "And as I've pointed out in every public opinion poll ... Americans are more comfortable killing suspected terrorists than torturing them."
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:14 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Do they think John McCain is waging war on them? Just out of curiosity.
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:15 PM on December 9, 2014


phaedon, its not your vent but the actual content you are sharing. The passing into law of these actions, over time, each increasingly shifting towards the epitome of your nation's constitution, its espousal of the holy values of freedom and democracy, that which is it's mission to spread among those us less privileged. Your honest and genuine belief that allows any behaviour to be conducted with impunity, as long as its not one us. All these demonstrate teh dehumanization that we have already been seeing in other thread topic, such as the one on grand juries.

I rarely join political threads on this site and am certaintly not commenting to garner favourites. I'm sorry you feel that way.

The topic is one which I have had various personal close encounters with and not one I'd care to wave for something I keep switched off.
posted by infini at 4:16 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Juan Cole: Why the Founding Fathers thought banning Torture Foundational to the US Constitution.
The framers of the Geneva Convention (to which the US is signatory) were, moreover, determined that all prisoners fall under some provision of international law. René Värk argues:

“the commentary to Article 45 (3) asserts that ‘a person of enemy nationality who is not entitled to prisoner-of-war status is, in principle, a civilian protected by the Fourth Convention, so that there are no gaps in protection’.*32 But, at the same time, it also observes that things are not always so straightforward in armed conflicts; for example, adversaries can have the same nationality, which renders the application of the Fourth Convention impossible, and there can arise numerous difficulties regarding the application of that convention. Thus, as the Fourth Convention is a safety net to persons who do not qualify for protection under the other three Geneva Conventions, Article 45 (3) serves yet again as a safety net for those who do not benefit from more favourable treatment in accordance with the Fourth Convention.”

We know what the Founding Fathers believed. They believed in universal rights. And they believed in basic principles of human dignity. Above all, they did not think the government had the prerogative of behaving as it pleased. It doesn’t have the prerogative to torture.
posted by adamvasco at 4:16 PM on December 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


One of my bestest friends in the whole world worked for the CIA.
posted by infini at 4:21 PM on December 9, 2014


LOL. The founding fathers (the vast majority of them) absolutely believed in raping and torturing their slaves. They did it every day. They didn't believe in universal rights, they believed in white, male, land owner rights.
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:24 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Phaedon, I am asking a question in good faith: What does the CIA report in front of us suggest that torture accomplishes?
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:26 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


But they took the time to write about how they weren't living up to their ideals, and even discussed long term plans for resolving the conflict in their writings. They aspired to extend the rights universally from the beginning, and definitely, the philosophical arguments they made explicitly argued for their universality. The fact that they didn't live up to their own values doesn't change what those values were supposed to be. You don't "perfect a union" that's already perfect.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:30 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


[phaedon and others, can you guys take a step back and cool it with the back and forth direct attacks on one another?]
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:31 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


LOL. The founding fathers (the vast majority of them) absolutely believed in raping and torturing their slaves. They did it every day. They didn't believe in universal rights, they believed in white, male, land owner rights.

They viewed some people as inferior subhumans. Black people, women, natives, the list goes on.

We now reject that and should treat all people as humans. The founders had some good ideas about how to view the rights of people. We should not be afraid to embrace those rights vigorously now that the definition of people has been clarified that it covers...err...people.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:31 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


And you don't use the fact it isn't perfect already as an excuse not to try.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:32 PM on December 9, 2014


aww damn, number one, we were just funnin' ... meh
posted by infini at 4:33 PM on December 9, 2014


Its interesting to see these observations on the original rights as enshrined in the constitution. and i recognize the irony inherent in that the last time I had this very same discussion it was with my bestest friend mentioned earlier.

Those values, the rights of man, are golden. The US was the first nation to be created under such a charter, not simply emerging like much of the Old World, through histories wars and dowries. (and maybe the subsequent disillusionment is what makes my words more hurting) It really was the golden land and felt like opportunity was boundless for anyone willing to do the work. Those original ideals feel betrayed.
posted by infini at 4:39 PM on December 9, 2014


.

We lost the War on Terror.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:40 PM on December 9, 2014 [13 favorites]


Terror is kicking our ass!

opportunity was boundless for anyone willing to do the work.

LOL. Willing to do the work!
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:45 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, a 'truth and reconciliation' solution was offered to the question 'what do we do now'.

Does anyone else in this thread have anything to add to what we should do as a nation with these revelations? With the NSA it was somewhat simple (we haven't done it yet) - 'stop doing that', but does anyone have any thoughts on what to do in this case?

I mean punishing the low-level folks implementing this shit seems inappropriate, at least without also punishing the former president/VP. They were following orders. Yeah, it's not an excuse, but if you just punish the low level folks, that's kind of bullshit.

Arresting Bush Jr or Cheney will never never happen - no US president will be charged with war crimes they commit.

So now what? What do we do? Where do we go from here?
posted by el io at 4:46 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wasn't trying to make excuses for the reprehensible things we read about today. I wanted to make distinctions as I know a few individuals who are in the IC and who are, as far as I know, ethical and moral people. I think we can make distinctions here, can't we.
posted by RedShrek at 4:49 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Our problem is that ever since Nixon's pardon, and the public's successfully having been hoodwinked by Iran/Contra, politicians and other civilian and military leaders know they can get away with anything. The same logic of moral hazard that applies to banks and investors applies to the illegitimate exercise of power. If you don't punish it, or at least stop positively reinforcing it, people will just keep going further and further, feeling more and more confident about their rightness all along.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:55 PM on December 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yikes - way too much to read so quickly, so I don't know if this has been brought up or not:

Isn't it amazing how this can of worms was opened up right at the time when we need to get attention redirected from Ferguson and police brutality to something else - anything else? It has to be something BIG, though, because the protests are getting pretty BIG themselves. Yes, this should do it...

Also, was there an actual time when President Obama could have had Bush and Co. charged and prosecuted for war crimes - without the support of Congress? Could he really do that all by himself?

I think that when Obama took office the first time this country was reeling from economic collapse and war-induced shock and his platform and his goals were to get the country back on its feet and moving forward as soon as he possibly could. He was determined to be as bipartisan as possible (which turned out to be a big mistake), he knew that a huge percentage of Americans were dead-set against anything he wanted to do because he was BLACK, for God's sake! So he walked into office with so many strikes against him, so many disasters still unfolding - if he had actually tried to charge and prosecute the Dimestore Cowboy Dubya and Evil Dick The Heart Patient, and Mr. Military Rumsfeld and WOMAN of His Own Black Race Condi, the country would have exploded - or imploded. He would have been able to accomplish absolutely nothing in the rest of his presidency because that whole procedure would have taken ALL the time and energy and money and resources available - and, significantly, he knew it would never ever have resulted in even one of those bad clowns spending a weekend in jail. Not a chance.

So, he very wisely passed on the whole deal, determined to put his work and resources into play in a way that would benefit the country the most, knowing that karma would keep the Bush Bunch busy on its own. Also, there was pretty good evidence that Dubya himself was in the early stages of dementia and Cheney was on his last legs with one heart failure after another, which would have been the core of each defense - again, going nowhere.

Equating Obama's position in this with that of Bush/Cheney/Rummy/Ashcroft/Rice is preposterous, but there will be many, now that the CIA report has been released, who will squawk that the whole country is behind torture and "Americans" are a piece of work and yadda yadda ... Anytime "Americans" are slammed as one unit I just chalk the writer up as someone who's stupid in the first place and just really wants to fight. This is a BIG country and there are so many different kinds of Americans I couldn't box and label them if I tried - neither can anyone else. The media does a pretty good job, though.

I still think that what we want to watch out for is the distraction this CIA report provides to the still-very-critical issue of police brutality - which seems to truly affect ALL the land called America.
posted by aryma at 4:57 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Just got home from work and instead of going to the gym, I'm settling in with a glass of wine and some biscuits to read the summary report. Don't worry, I have some eye bleach just in case.
posted by RedShrek at 4:58 PM on December 9, 2014


Aryma, yes, authoritarianism implicates all of its practitioners. Othering that leads to brutality against those seen as "lesser" is a pervasive problem, and the heretofore lack of prosecutions across the board is not an accident. There is nothing to "watch out for," because what you see as a distraction are in fact sibling issues.
posted by rhizome at 5:03 PM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Does anyone else in this thread have anything to add to what we should do as a nation with these revelations?

The US is legally required to bring the torturers and their chain of command to justice.
International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the US Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes.

As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes.
posted by rhizome at 5:07 PM on December 9, 2014 [14 favorites]


So now what? What do we do? Where do we go from here?

Call and write your congressperson and demand that something be done. Let them sort out what.

I know that seems like small beer. But the problem is, because it seems like such small beer, so very many people don't do that. And by doing so, we abdicate control of our congress to the very few people who have the money sufficient to bribe congress to THEIR interests.

Imagine what would happen, though, if we suddenly all started angrily calling our congressional representatives and - daily, if necessary - asking them what they were going to do to rectify this. Letting them know just how disappointed we are in the government, and reminding them that we'll be carrying that disappointment to the voting booth in the next election.

It's a long slow slog of a thing, and it won't work unless nearly everyone else in the country follows suit. But it's also the very reason we have a participatory government - so we can speak out about things like this TO the people in charge. Our problems don't stem from the congressmen wholly - they also stem from the fact that the vast majority of us simply don't use the power we do have as often as we should. I'm gonna be having a tense conversation with PaterCallipygos over the holidays - he recently said that he'd probably vote for Jeb Bush during the next election solely because he doesn't like Hilary Clinton, and I'mma ask him "dude, why not vote in the fucking primary so she doesn't get to be the candidate in the first place?" Because I bet you that he wasn't planning on voting in the primary, just like a fuck-ton of other people won't be, and that's how the candidates you don't like get in.

And us not speaking out is how a lot of the groundwork for a government as fucked-up as the one we have now got laid.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:12 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Not just because we tortured people by shoving food into their rectums (a very doubtful and medically unsound way to feed anyone "

I swear they got that idea from South Park, I mean that doesn't actually work does it?
posted by MikeMc at 5:12 PM on December 9, 2014


The idea that "American Values" only apply to Americans is completely and wholly antithetical to the America that I value.
posted by yesster at 5:18 PM on December 9, 2014 [9 favorites]


I swear they got that idea from South Park, I mean that doesn't actually work does it?
An article that I read suggests that it works to a limited extent, but not well. The rectum is able to absorb various types of nutrients - I think salt, sugars, and some vitamins and minerals - but not everything that you actually need to live.

Of course, you and I are using a different definition of "works" than the torturers were.
posted by Flunkie at 5:20 PM on December 9, 2014


Obama administration still operates under Bush torture memos
Obama makes a point in today’s statement to say he formally ended “one element of our nation’s response to 9/11 — the CIA’s detention and interrogation program,” but by making sure to specify, he is specifically leaving the door open on other actions permitted under findings generated by the Bush OLC. It is well and good that Obama “will continue to use [his] authority as President to make sure we never resort to those [torture] methods again,” but being a little bit moral is about as plausible as being a little bit pregnant. Until the current president repudiates the legal directives of the Bush administration in an open and adjudicated fashion, this report and the crimes it details, are just as much his baby as anyone’s.
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:21 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Anyone care to tell me why Guantanamo is still open? Or how we waxed Anwar al-Awlaki without so much as a trial?

Do you really believe that just because laws exist they are magically flawlessly enforced?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 5:23 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Of course, you and I are using a different definition of "works" than the torturers were.

True, I suppose any medical efficacy was a secondary, or even tertiary, benefit.
posted by MikeMc at 5:37 PM on December 9, 2014


In some cases not even. The report explicitly says that at least in one case it was done without medical need.
posted by Flunkie at 5:39 PM on December 9, 2014


Regarding whether or not rectal feeding works, per rectum is a common and useful method of medication administration, as it provides more rapid onset and higher bioavailability than the oral route.

Rectal hydration, also know as a Murphy drip, was commonly used in the early 1900s, before intravenous hydration was developed. It works, but given the ready availability of safe IV fluids now, there's little reason to use it except for end-of-life comfort care when IV access is unavailable and oral intake is impossible. Obviously comfort was not a concern in CIA torture facilities.

Nutrient enemas were likewise common previously for supportive feeding but are no longer used due to the development of more effective and less invasive methods of nutritional support.

Putting actual food in someone's rectum feeds nothing but the megalomania and cruelty of the person administering it.
posted by jesourie at 5:46 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


"must have evolved among regular citizenry in Dresden or Berlin a hundred odd years or less ago."
Posted by infini

Most likely these people were thinking "get me out of this trench!"

Remember what the placard says:

"The truth shall set you free."
posted by clavdivs at 5:47 PM on December 9, 2014


I swear they got that idea from South Park, I mean that doesn't actually work does it?

previously

President James Garfield died in part because, as noted above, it doesn't fully work.
posted by XMLicious at 5:48 PM on December 9, 2014


The derails about Obama in this thread make me sick. We might as well pin all that on Ralph Nader or Flordia's hanging chads. This report brings a number of terrible facts to light and it will take time for the public to absorb and understand in this report. Instead of contributing to a cacophony of nilhilism, partisan bickering and bullshit; I propose people take time to consider what has been revealed. After reflecting consider how we can the knowledge of these facts to make things better.
posted by humanfont at 5:53 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Do you really believe that just because laws exist they are magically flawlessly enforced?

Thanks, the moronic nature of your question really made me do some soul-searching. Moving on, I wanted to respond to Noisy Pink Bubbles' link about Boumediene with some other links:

Due Process and Detention at Guantanamo: Closing the Constitutional Loopholes

"Less than one year later, however, the D.C. Circuit stated in Kiyemba v. Obama that “the due process clause does not apply to aliens without property or presence in the sovereign territory of the United States.”

The Post-Boumediene Paradox: Habeas Corpus or Due Process?

"It also strictly enforced the categorical dichotomy prescribed by the Military Commissions Act (MCA), which restored federal habeas jurisdiction but stripped jurisdiction over “any other action . . . relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of confinement” of detainees."

I'm not arguing "for" anything here, just finding it interesting how much of a slugfest it is to get Gitmo detainees simple "American Values" things like the right to counsel. The long and the short of it, is that in 2014, Gitmo detainees are still not afforded full due process protections.
posted by phaedon at 5:53 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I still think that what we want to watch out for is the distraction this CIA report provides to the still-very-critical issue of police brutality - which seems to truly affect ALL the land called America.

Yes, the not-very-critical issue of torturing and murdering foreigners obviously pales in comparison with important things that affect ALL the land called America. Good grief.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 5:56 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Do they think John McCain is waging war on them? Just out of curiosity."

Probably. Of course McCain is just a poorly disguised RINO libtard. I mean are we supposed to believe that just because he was repeatedly tortured until he "broke", attempted suicide and was left with lifelong debilitating injuries that he's some kind of expert on torture?
posted by MikeMc at 6:10 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


The report will do little to incite violence in regions of the world already stricken by insurgent warfare, McCain said, particularly in places where the United States’ use of torture is already widely known. Islamic extremists hardly are looking for a further excuse to attack Americans, he said.

“The question isn’t about our enemies,” McCain said of the report. “It’s about us.”


Is he planning to run again?
posted by infini at 6:14 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


No.
But would this conversation might have taken place sooner had he been president.
posted by clavdivs at 6:19 PM on December 9, 2014


Is he planning to run again?

McCain has been solid on torture from the very beginning, one of those moments in which humanity shines through the lizard mask of political compromise and greed that he usually wears. Not that it helps mitigate his general warmongering.
posted by dis_integration at 6:19 PM on December 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


I still think that what we want to watch out for is the distraction this CIA report provides to the still-very-critical issue of police brutality - which seems to truly affect ALL the land called America.

A certain proportion of the population are meatheads, or, if not meatheads, either adherent to various ideologies that glorify or enable meatheadedness or people who enjoy power and find the exploitation of meatheadedness to be a useful expedient. Our society seems overly prone to elevating all of these types of people to positions where their meathead-nature has fairly free rein to manifest itself. Torture abroad, and police brutality at home (also large amounts of straight-up torture at home), are both direct results of a culture that nurtures, rather than dampens, human tendencies toward inappropriate violence, and abuse of power, and these problems should be discussed in tandem, as symptoms of a common rot.

I'm also disgusted that the Executive Director of the ACLU -- an organization with whose work and stances I am usually impressed -- has taken such a weakass "pragmatic" position.
posted by busted_crayons at 6:44 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


The vastly-redacted Senate report has raised another issue. Crudely, these are crimes. In anyone's version of law, international and foreign, the treatment of prisoners - nowhere denied - is beyond the pale. Simply to remind the world that terrorists don't care about due process won't do. Torture was allowed, endorsed, "indicated", indulged and accepted. Nothing in American or English law, civil or military, allows that.

Arrests then? But who are we kidding? One of the dullest jokes in the free western world rests on the fact that Mr Bush, Tony Blair and all the rest will never face interrogation, far less a risk to liberty, for debauching democracy. The worms are a sight bigger than the can. Being "held to a higher standard" has come to mean not being held to any standard. Among struggling countries, this is noticed.

The fact remains: we - or our friends and allies - did not hesitate for an instant over the use of torture. The essence of the argument is surely that we offer something better than the nihilism of terrorism and suicide belts. We don't behead people. We don't threaten their children. We don't tell them how they must think and feel. We don't bully. We believe in rights.

When legal action is brought in the US and UK against the agents of torture, I might manage another noble paragraph. The great corruption embraced by Mr Bush and his kind was exactly this. This was what they seemed always to want. Finding an enemy with a face, hurting that enemy, eradicating that enemy, seemed to matter more than the obvious: "How come we would up with so many enemies?"

The US did not not earn its woes. Little Britain's empire is long gone. But if we engage in or indulge torture we are not entitled - legally or morally - to set any of the rules. That's a problem. For America, it's a bigger deal than America yet seems to grasp.
HeraldScotland Opinion
posted by infini at 6:46 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Charles Pierce: The Torture Report, Part One: What It Says

Part Two: What It Means

Part Three: What Will Happen Now
posted by homunculus at 6:51 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


I imagine the "ha ha arrests yeah right" is going to undergird a lot of the defense of the monsters who perpetrated these crimes. Scotland is implicated themselves, by the way.
posted by rhizome at 6:52 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Isn't it amazing how this can of worms was opened up right at the time when we need to get attention redirected from Ferguson and police brutality to something else - anything else?

The accusation that the powers that be timed the release of this report to distract from Ferguson is about as convincing as the Fox News accusation that they're timing it to distract from Jonathan Gruber's testimony today.

The derails about Obama in this thread make me sick.

Whether you like it or not, Obama is part and parcel of the torture problem in the United States. It's not a derail to bring this up. To mention only one example, Obama's White House attempted to water down the report that was released today. Okay, one more item: his DOJ granted immunity to torturers.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:01 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I really just cannot stomach the spineless coverage of this. I had to turn off the radio on the way home when NPR again framed this without using the word torture, and hammered home the point that the CIA disagrees with this, etc., etc., interviewing some dumbshit politely.

I would truly like some links to aggressive, fucking angry journalists on this topic. Please tell me there are some out there. For fuck's sake, the depravity.
posted by odinsdream at 7:06 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Isn't it amazing how this can of worms was opened up right at the time when we need to get attention redirected from Ferguson and police brutality to something else - anything else?

Seems much of a piece to me. We're living in a racist, lying police state.
posted by chortly at 7:22 PM on December 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


@jfreewright: ExCIA agent Bob Baer on CNN saying CIA had misgivings but Dick Cheney pressed for torture, "politically driven from the top." #TortureReport"

Yet now these idiots decide it is the Democratic Party that is "at war with them."
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:24 PM on December 9, 2014


Everyone rails against 24, but if you're unable to successfully refute a cartoonish, male soap opera, then there are bigger problems afoot. Yes propaganda is insidious, but the arguments for torture it presented were so facile that it obviously found incredibly fertile ground that needed very little tilling in the minds of many Americans. So little tilling in fact that the show is a complete red herring.

Now Sullivan on the other hand, for example, was an Iraq war water carrier who "apologized" for getting something so obvious wrong, but seemed to never lose any credibility. That's a problem. You can get a war wrong, a real war, not a serialized soap opera, and still have a career as a political commentator.
posted by milarepa at 7:25 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


GE, Can you elaborate on the Baer qoute and your comment. Is it that the cia is blaming Cheney or Baer is defending the company?
posted by clavdivs at 7:30 PM on December 9, 2014


Isn't it amazing how this can of worms was opened up right at the time when we need to get attention redirected from Ferguson and police brutality to something else - anything else?

Maybe the timing on this was deliberately devised to distract from the all-too-necessary Civil Rights 2.0 movement going on right now, but that seems a bit Alex Jones to me.

It is, however, instructive to see the state sanctioned murders of Brown and Garner side by side with the state sanctioned torture and murder of countless innocents in the War on Being Scared. The United States is racist, imperialist, and it kills and steals with impunity abroad just as much as it does right here. The two are definitely connected, and not just in the sense that the American police are given cheap and easy access to military weaponry. They're connected in spirit. At home or abroad our shock troops are indifferent to the humanity of their 'enemies' and their hearts are cold to their suffering.

Coldness. We're a cold people armored against the suffering of others and it really breaks my heart.
posted by dis_integration at 7:35 PM on December 9, 2014 [9 favorites]


Yes propaganda is insidious, but the arguments for torture it presented were so facile that it obviously found incredibly fertile ground that needed very little tilling in the minds of many Americans.

Propaganda IS insidious because 24 is more than an "argument" for torture. Like police dramas, it gives a rich inner life to people who commit acts of brutality with a clear conscience. So it's not just Middle America being rubes, it's cosmopolitan liberals like Nick Kristof feeling the urge to point out CIA officers were in tears (and inevitably someone argues that this sense of regret is what separates us from the people we torture)

Of course individuals committing state violence are human. Darren Wilson openly admitted he would do it again, and was lavishly rewarded for it - what are we to make of that, and how do these TV shows affect the terms of the conversation?
posted by gorbweaver at 7:36 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


So why is it that people call Republicans the "Daddy Party"? They seem to be the ones who, like a toy poodle, roll on their backs, whimper and wet themselves whenever they hear a loud noise.
posted by JackFlash at 7:38 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


GE, Can you elaborate on the Baer qoute and your comment. Is it that the cia is blaming Cheney or Baer is defending the company?

I didn't see the CNN piece, just the tweet. I don't know if I can clarify any better than what is already there. It appears Baer said that at least some people in the CIA pushed back against the "enhanced interrogation" plan, but it was being pushed from 'the top.' I'm not sure if Baer actually insinuated that the top meant Cheney or if @jfreewright made that leap on his own.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:40 PM on December 9, 2014


Torture is the sick endgame of war, it is the personal war that kills slowly the humanity of the torturer and the body of the tortured. It is a disease asociated with war where war and intimacy meet. It is the pretense of urgent security needs creating a niche market for our darkest acts as humans. We can look through past civilizations, this is an illness for and of warring.

It is admitted no real intel was gathered.

We did not go to Saudi Arabia to punish them for 9/11. We went to another country, causing the deaths of nearly a million people. This torture comes on top of failure to catch 9/11. The torture just ups the ante for the next big thing. The blood sport is on, the profits, bigger than a daily Super Bowl.

Torture is a sadstic sexual activity that is a perk of warring for expert, paid sadists, and a nightmare for regular humans who get the assignment.

The Iraqi oil war no excuse or acceptable rationalization, the torture no excuse, it just seals the deal for more rage and reaction, serving war profiteering.

Americans play a short game, others will not forget. This will come back to haunt us.

The intelligence hologram is built for the world, every resource, every contact, every point of conflict, torture represents the height of incompetence, a complete lack of intelligence on the part of everyone involved, it is some kind of sick party favor. This starts in our drunken schools of diplomacy where core human values are pre-shredded.
posted by Oyéah at 7:41 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, and Guantanamo...in a daring bit of zealous maintenance without a bill or permissions from congress, Guantanamo could suffer a massive sudden remodel, and then redesign, by Maya Lin. I am sure there could be plenty of private money for the never more memorial. Who would write the poem for the large forlorn stones?
posted by Oyéah at 7:52 PM on December 9, 2014


We're a cold people armored against the suffering of others and it really breaks my heart.

One of the most encouraging moments I had today was when I read this passage:
In a CIA report of that meeting, Bush was described as “uncomfortable” with the description of a detainee chained to the ceiling and left to defecate on himself.
That discomfort is a little glimmer of hope. I think that most people, even if they are not deeply saddened by what happened, they are at least discomforted. It's easy to say, "It's okay if it saves lives." It's more difficult to say, "It's okay to chain a man to the ceiling, and leave him to defecate on himself, if it saves lives."

And that is why videotape recordings of torture sessions were destroyed. That is why there is this long-winded, utterly pointless, head-fake argument of "actually, it's about ethics in Senate Intelligence Committee investigations."

No, it's about what was done in the name of our security. If you want to argue that "it's okay if it saves lives," we need to talk about the truth value of that proposition. There are two halves to that: Did "it" actually save lives? And what realities are hiding in that two-letter pronoun?
posted by compartment at 7:54 PM on December 9, 2014 [8 favorites]




That was my take GE-Thanks.
I can almost assure that Baer was commenting on Cheney which Gives credence to what Feinstein said about Bush "not knowing everything"

Which I find laughable but theDick was calling the shots, so to say, when it came to the ex. Rendition policy post 9-11.
Baers is a good man and it is wise to read his stuff.

And flash man could you please not make this a partisan issue.
posted by clavdivs at 7:58 PM on December 9, 2014


I need to hug a QTip.
posted by infini at 7:59 PM on December 9, 2014


Hugs are 1500$...(runs)
posted by clavdivs at 8:01 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Who would write the poem for the large forlorn stones?

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

posted by infini at 8:02 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Of course they are, flights are expensive.
posted by infini at 8:03 PM on December 9, 2014


Two psychologists earned $81 million from CIA torture program

Discord at C.I.A. Over Interrogation Program
On the other side were James E. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two former military psychologists who had advised the agency to use waterboarding and other coercive methods. With the support of C.I.A. headquarters, they insisted that Mr. Nashiri and other prisoners were still withholding crucial information, and that the application of sufficient pain and disorientation would eventually force them to disclose it. They thought the other faction was “running a ‘sissified’ interrogation program,” the report says.
Yeah, these are the first guys I would put on trial if possible.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:03 PM on December 9, 2014 [22 favorites]


"Torture profiteers"! Ha, twentieth century, you thought you were so smart inventing terms like "concentration camp" and "Department of Defense" and "genocide" but here in the twenty-first century we're only just getting started!
posted by XMLicious at 8:20 PM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Not sure if it is mentioned upthread but in early 2009 the Obama administration leaked the ICRCs interviews with Guantanamo high level detainees. Needless to say the ICRC was not pleased at that violation of detainee privacy.

posted by tarvuz at 8:25 PM on December 9, 2014


They weren't paid $81 Million for the enhanced interrogation services -- $81 Million is the going rate for a pair of souls (plus overhead).
posted by notyou at 8:35 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Psychologists, anthropologists, human behavioural specialists, ethnographers, human centered designers...

on one hand, I can understand that there really is only one major source of funding left. On the other, these two are the real depravities (from one of the links above)

The torturers were at the center of a huge conflict of interest: The same people who were paid enormous amounts to put prisoners through torture were also the people who judged the torture’s effectiveness and the prisoner’s psychological stability and resistance. These same people making hundreds of thousands of dollars from torture also recommended the continuous use of torture.

A January 2003 cable from C.I.A. headquarters made clear that “the individual at the interrogation site who administers the [torture] techniques is not the same person who issues the psychological assessment of record.”

They did it anyway, leading at least one C.I.A. doctor to say “any data collected by them from detainees with whom they previously interacted as interrogators will always be suspect.”


posted by infini at 8:40 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, hold on here, is this the CIAs position?

* We didn't do that
* It worked
* We were ordered to do that
* How dare you call us liars

For professional liars they are laughably incompetent.
posted by el io at 8:45 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


It is called implausible accountability.
posted by clavdivs at 8:49 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


People were tortured. Subjected to horrible inhumane treatment. But yes, let's make this into some bullshit RvD's partisan crap. Or some rules lawyering scumshow about the rights of Americans versus the rest of us.

I mean, there's American Exceptionalism, and then there's whatever the hell this hot mess is.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:57 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


So apparently the company doing the torture had their CIA pay package include a million dollar insurance policy. That's insurance against being sued for torturing people.

NYTimes:
The program allowed the psychologists to assess their own work — they gave it excellent grades — and to charge a daily rate of $1,800 each, four times the pay of other interrogators, to waterboard detainees. Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen later started a company that took over the C.I.A. program from 2005 until it was closed in 2009. The C.I.A. paid it $81 million, plus $1 million to protect the company from legal liability.
Think about that.
posted by el io at 9:07 PM on December 9, 2014 [9 favorites]


@Ali_Gharib: "I've got an idea: let's give the criminal sadists at the CIA remote control airplanes with fucking bombs."
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:08 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


>> Isn't it amazing how this can of worms was opened up right at the time when we need to get attention redirected from Ferguson and police brutality to something else - anything else?

> Maybe the timing on this was deliberately devised to distract from the all-too-necessary Civil Rights 2.0 movement going on right now, but that seems a bit Alex Jones to me.


I've been assuming the report was released now because if they waited much longer the Republicans would be in control of the Senate and the Committee chairmanship and it wouldn't get released at all, or at least not in this form and not saying what it says.

There's support for this assumption in the fact that they released it with certain names still blacked out; names they wanted to release but which the Administration was fighting. They had to give up in order to release the report and engage with the problem of what to do next while still in their positions.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:10 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Former CIA director Michael Hayden claims of the report that "the CIA workforce will feel as if it has been tried and convicted in absentia since the Senate Democrats and their staff didn't talk to anyone actively involved in the program." (despite their being able to do so) (emphasis added)

"At the end of the summer I recommended to President Bush that we reduce the program, that we reduce the number of techniques, but that the program had been so valuable that we couldn't stop it altogether," he said. "Even though now we had so much more intelligence on al-Qaeda from the detainees and other sources, even then the program had proven its worth...in conscience, I couldn't take it off the table."

Jose Rodriguez, a 31-year veteran of CIA, comments as well: "The report’s leaked conclusion, which has been reported on widely, that the interrogation program brought no intelligence value is an egregious falsehood; it’s a dishonest attempt to rewrite history. I’m bemused that the Senate could devote so many resources to studying the interrogation program and yet never once speak to any of the key people involved in it, including the guy who ran it (that would be me)."

Hrmm... bias anyone?
posted by shivohum at 9:15 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


@George_Spiggott

So what was released today is the 500+ page summary of a larger 6,000+ page report which remains classified. The summary had been submitted to the WH, DOJ, and ODNI for review and comments as well as declassification by the President. There has been a lot of haggling and back and forth as well as revisions to the summary (I encourage everyone to read at least the first 35 pages of the summary). This ought to have been released a long time ago but it was held up especially by the WH.
posted by RedShrek at 9:15 PM on December 9, 2014


Hrmm... bias anyone?

I know when I'm looking for unbiased opinions about the activities of people implicated in a report, I go right to the people implicated in the report.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:19 PM on December 9, 2014 [24 favorites]


Shivohum, you seem to be very keen to call out bias, but surprisingly unable to consider that the former head of the organisation being investigated and the guy running the programme under investigation, might be a teensy weensy bit fucking biased themselves?
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:19 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


On preview, what tonycpsu said without the swearing.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:20 PM on December 9, 2014


On the contrary, shiv is getting warm.
posted by clavdivs at 9:21 PM on December 9, 2014


might be a teensy weensy bit fucking biased themselves?

Suspects in trials are biased too, but that doesn't mean they're convicted in their absence. And these guys weren't even interviewed by the senate staffers! If true, that's absolutely ludicrous.
posted by shivohum at 9:21 PM on December 9, 2014


It wasn't a trial (sadly), it was a report. The rules of criminal law don't apply to Senate committee reports.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:25 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


The rules of criminal law don't apply to Senate committee reports.

And no one said the rules of criminal law applied, but nice try at evasion. There's a little something called bias which this failure makes incredibly glaringly obvious.

The failure to interview anyone actively involved in the program makes the report quite clearly just a piece of political propaganda.
posted by shivohum at 9:27 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of things that are ludicrous about all this, but that wouldn't be the one I'm most concerned about.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:28 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


And no one said the rules of criminal law applied, but nice try at evasion.

Evasion? Are you for real? You, like Hayden, want to apply the trial in absentia metaphor to something other than a trial. It doesn't apply. This is not difficult to understand.

The failure to interview anyone actively involved in the program makes the report quite clearly just a piece of political propaganda.

Whatever helps you sleep at night.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:30 PM on December 9, 2014


Shivohum, you've very quickly gone from 'if this is true' to 'this is the case.'
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:31 PM on December 9, 2014


“Hayes: Are really we a nation of laws?”All In with Chris Hayes, 09 December 2014

“CIA ignores own lessons in developing torture program under Bush”The Rachel Maddow Show, 09 December 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 9:32 PM on December 9, 2014


@ shivohum: Read the bloody summary:

From page 5 of the forward: "The breadth of documentary material on which the Study relied and which the Committee Study cites is unprecedented. While the Committee did not interview CIA officials in the context of the Committee Study, it had access to and drew from the interviews of numerous CIA officials conducted by the CIA's Inspector General and the CIA Oral History program on subjects that lie at the heart of the Committee Study, as well as past testimony to the Committee." In addition to this, these findings were presented to the respective clients for vetting and comments.

It's interesting that you want to use the words of men who have found to be very expeditious with the truth. One who destroyed tapes showing the use of torture and another who testified before the Select Committee about a report from the ICRC which claimed that detainees were being physically abused, "CIA Director Hayden testified to the Committee that "numerous false allegations of physical and threatened abuse and faulty legal assumptions and analysis in the [ICRC] report undermine its overall credibility.'"-Page 22 Well we now know that his testimony wasn't true.
posted by RedShrek at 9:34 PM on December 9, 2014 [9 favorites]


The failure to interview anyone actively involved in the program makes the report quite clearly just a piece of political propaganda.

Why would you simply parrot Fox News and the Washington times? Talk about an apologist for torture ...
posted by JackFlash at 9:35 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ahead Of Senate Report, CIA And GOP Circle Wagons To Defend Bush-Era Torture

Doubling down on torture. Seems like an interesting strategy by the GOP.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:37 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


And yes, let's get overly concerned with the niceties of due process now. Won't someone think of the people responsible for egregious violations of human rights.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:37 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


You, like Hayden, want to apply the trial in absentia metaphor to something other than a trial. It doesn't apply. This is not difficult to understand.

My point was -- pretty damn obviously -- not about trials, but about a desire to interview the obviously relevant parties before making a decision about the truth. That principle is embodied in the way trials are conducted, but it's hardly exclusive to them.

Journalists, for example, are under the same obligation. Suppose an accusation is made against a company. Would it be ethical for the journalists to make a giant report on how the accusations are true without interviewing anyone at the company? Wouldn't any such report be rightly regarded as garbage, or even a motivated hit job?
--
While the Committee did not interview CIA officials in the context of the Committee Study

Why not? You may say these men are liars but why not interview them, and then disprove their statements if necessary? Maybe because it would bring up inconvenient information.
--
Why would you simply parrot Fox News and the Washington times?

I'm not parroting them; I haven't even read them on this issue. It's just that I detest the mobs that are forming which seem very uninterested in the truth.
posted by shivohum at 9:40 PM on December 9, 2014


The failure to interview anyone actively involved in the program makes the report quite clearly just a piece of political propaganda.

The Convention Against Torture, which you assiduously refuse to address, assigns culpability to the entire chain of command and requires their prosecution. Those who squirted pureed trail mix up the detainees' butts "with excessive force" will have their day in court.
posted by rhizome at 9:43 PM on December 9, 2014


And another thing that puzzles me about you torture apologists calling this a politically motivated attack, do you people really think we're that stupid? Even though many of us are jaded and cynical, do you lot think we don't actually pay attention? This report has been fought against tooth and nail by the White House and DoJ currently occupied by a Democrat. The outgoing Chair of the Select Committee practically carried the IC's water. Feinstein was a fierce advocate for the IC like no other. Yet, I'm supposed to believe that she all of a sudden wanted to score political points? I bet you lot forgot about how the laptop of her staffers were hacked or how the investigators working on this report were harassed up to the point of having a formal referral opened against them with the DoJ accusing the of stealing classified material. Do you really log onto Metafilter and think the rest of us are so fucking stupid? I mean are you people really that caught up in your own bullshit?
posted by RedShrek at 9:43 PM on December 9, 2014 [21 favorites]


I mean you do know that the CIA's own OIG already collected a trove of information, right? What new piece of information were these reviewers supposed to get that the CIA's own OIG did not? I mean are we in the twilight zone or am I being gas lighted here?
posted by RedShrek at 9:45 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


The facts speak for themselves, there's no need for "you people."
posted by rhizome at 9:45 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh yes the truth. Is that the one that we can't handle? Or the equally fictional needs of the Jack Bauer types to defuse that bomb just.in.time.?
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:46 PM on December 9, 2014


@rhizome

It may come across as harsh but there is a "you people" in the context of what we are talking about in this thread and I feel it appropriate for the conversation. There is a group of people who feel the need to defend this stuff by employing weasel words and half truths to obscure and deny what we now know. I'm in no mood to abide this rubbish.
posted by RedShrek at 9:49 PM on December 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


I mean are you people really that caught up in your own bullshit?

I always wondered where the phrase anal retentive came from.

Anyhoo, I just read this interesting tidbit...

But, according to Feinstein on Tuesday afternoon, cold-eyed David Addington was kept entirely in the dark by the wicked CIA, which was wildly exceeding its mandate, which presumes there ever was a mandate given to it by these people, which is ludicrous. The way you know it's ludicrous is that George W. Bush, and Richard Cheney, and a whole host of others whose participation in the torture program is completely damning, are now acting out of spectacular ingratitude and excoriating the report that allowed them largely to walk away from their crimes in office. But it's not simply because they are sociopathic liars, many of them, that they are doing this. It is also because they know, by defending the CIA and the criminals within its ranks, they are defending themselves as well, not against the Congress, or against a possible invitation to the Hague, but against the CIA itself.

I have to imagine that there are a whole host of field agents out there that are pretty cheesed off about having been hung out to dry this way. I have to imagine that there are a whole host of field agents out there, the ones like that person who was cited in the report, who were destroyed by what they were ordered to do, who are wondering why the demons come out at night for them while the likes of David Addington are sleeping soundly in their beds. And this is one thing of which I am sure, as this awful day comes to a close. Some day, some way, unless it is fundamentally transformed, the CIA will have its revenge on the people who strung it up as a scapegoat today. It is often wrong, but it is never forgetful.

posted by infini at 9:53 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


They might as well rename themselves the Committee of Public Safety and call it a day.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:57 PM on December 9, 2014


Some day, some way, unless it is fundamentally transformed, the CIA will have its revenge on the people who strung it up as a scapegoat today.

They're allowed to resign their jobs, just like any of us do when we realize our boss is an incorrigible dick.
posted by rhizome at 9:58 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


They also did not interview tortured people. Therefore I conclude this report is horribly biased in favor of the CIA.
posted by compartment at 10:00 PM on December 9, 2014 [24 favorites]


shivohum, I'm curious to know:

- how this could have been a bipartisan effort when Republicans were against the report even happning
- who should have been interviewed that hadn't already been interviewed by the CIA OIG
- what actual evidence you have of biased reporting
- why you are more concerned about alleged bias than you are about the inescapable fact that your government has engaged in a program of torture, up to and including the horrific death of at least one innocent
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:08 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


The failure to interview anyone actively involved in the program makes the report quite clearly just a piece of political propaganda.

Propaganda for whose benefit? The Obama administration fought to keep the report from being released. They were in agreement with Cheney and Bush about keeping it out of public view. The Democrats no more wanted their dirty laundry aired than the Republicans.

If this is political propaganda, who benefits? I really do not understand the logic, here. Please help me understand which third party benefits.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:12 PM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


@shivohum

I feel like I owe you an explanation of why I see no problem with relying on the work done by the CIA's OIG. For my day job, I work in audit and compliance and in a past life, I have dealt with OIG types. Typically, when you're going in to do an assessment of something and you find that management has already done an assessment of that thing you are independently assessing, the natural place to start is with management's work and then building from there. If you find that management's work is not sufficient or poorly done to meet your needs then you increase the scope of your independent assessment. If you find that management has done a thorough job in their assessment and you are able to gain comfort with the level of knowledge and expertise of the assessors conducting the management's review, then you can place reliance on their work. In this case, the CIA's OIG had already done a couple of reviews of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation program and the study did not do anything professionally improper by relying on the evidence collected by the CIA's OIG during their review. Hope that helps clarify this a little bit.
posted by RedShrek at 10:17 PM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


From Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish: (direct link to image)
DETENTION SITE GREEN cables describe Abu Zubaydah as "compliant," informing CIA Headquarters that when the interrogator "raised his eyebrow, without instructions," Abu Zubaydah "slowly walked on his own to the water table and sat down." When the interrogator "snapped his fingers twice," Abu Zubaydah would lie flat on the waterboard.
They kept torturing him, of course. Torturers never feel they can trust their victims, even when they have reduced them to the level of performing animals:
At times Abu Zubaydah was described as "hysterical" and "distressed to the level that he was unable to effectively communicate." Waterboarding sessions "resulted in immediate fluid intake and involuntary leg, chest and arm spasms" and "hysterical pleas."
I don't think I need to draw analogies here. This is truly the heart of darkness.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:24 PM on December 9, 2014 [13 favorites]


They might as well rename themselves the Committee of Public Safety and call it a day.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan

Comparing the deaths of 40,000 people to state sponsored non-lethal torture is not helping.
posted by clavdivs at 10:24 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Re: infini's quote. I don't think the CIA is cheesed off about this all being blamed on them. That's part of the job description.

Throughout this, nobody is proposing any reform of the CIA as a result of these documented failures, lies, and atrocities -- much less prosecutions. In a few weeks we'll all keep on keeping on.
posted by notyou at 10:24 PM on December 9, 2014


They're allowed to resign their jobs,

Imma gonna share something personal, carefully crafted for sensitivity, empathy, love and for the 31 fucking years since we graduated from school. with permission.

We'll call him FishLips, because its all so very top secret and all and I'm from a foreign country that, at least back in the early years, wasn't as cosy as it is now. I guess I'd always known. Because its not just that we went to school together but that we sent birthday cards, valentines cards, thanksgiving cards, christmas and new year cards (er, there wasn't any interwebs, my children) and regular letters. If you ever stop to think that about the college major and that time when the snail mail address was in McLean VA etc etc you can colour in the dots yourselves without numbers.

Otoh I do recall one fine July 4th afternoon, hanging outside by the grill, asking if indeed he were employed by the firm. And got the usual disclaimer of 'welp if i was, would I tell you' heh right whatever. Its not something you think about. Except for the times in hospital.

Fastforward to 2009.

He had resigned he told me. From his foreign service job. Retired on disability. 'twas some time before the CV could be declassified and he didn't know what to do with the rest of his life. These words I once read somewhere, come to me now, to describe that time.

"There's a hole in my soul and all the beauty is leaking out"

That's when we started having long talks, about the Constitution, the nation, the fact that I'd chosen to leave rather than take the passport that I was eligible for - always having discussed these with him - and finding our careful, sensitive way to some kind of an understanding that being on opposite sides of an ideological manifestation did not mean we, each of us, were bad and terrible people or enemies, just because. Like, wtf, you know? We, the people, the human beings, had known each other way before ideology and career paths and diplomacy and passport countries had silenced each of us, with the other.

That conversation after the resignation from the CIA field operative job.

Imma gonna leave the man his soul. I'll share with you lyrics that come to my mind right now that capture better the cost to one's soul, to realize that the "job" you gave your life to for 20 years, for a vision, a mission, a shining ideal, might actually have become essentially meaningless by the politics and mudslinging and the bullcrap of recent years. To realize you're not the good guy, huh? What do say when the littlest one grows up and asks what did Daddy do before he started playing with Lego all the time, Mommy?

This is the song, for the good boys that I hung out with after school, the one somewhere in Mil Int, that skeleton in the cyber closet, others who wish to stay in the shadows.


Close every door to me
Hide all the world from me
Bar all the windows
And shut out the light

Do what you want with me
Hate me and laugh at me
Darken my daytime
And torture my night

If my life were important I would ask "Will I live or die?"
But I know the answers lie
Far from this world

Close every door to me
Keep those I love from me
Children of Israel
Are never alone

For I know I shall find
My own peace of mind
For I have been promised
A land of my own

CHILDREN'S CHOIR:
Close every door to me
Hide all the world from me
Bar all the windows
And shut out the light

JOSEPH:
Just give me a number
Instead of my name
Forget all about me
And let me decay

I do not matter
I'm only one person
Destroy me completely
Then throw me away

If my life were important I would ask "Will I live or die?"
But I know the answers lie
Far from this world

JOSEPH, ENSEMBLE & CHILDREN:
Close every door to me
Keep those I love from me
Children of Israel
Are never alone

For we know we shall find
Our own peace of mind
For we have been promised
A land of our own!
posted by infini at 10:27 PM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


^^^
That was a great post infini
posted by RedShrek at 10:28 PM on December 9, 2014


They also did not interview tortured people. Therefore I conclude this report is horribly biased in favor of the CIA.

Well, thanks to that link, I've now read the CIA's response to the report. I don't think "torture apologists" is the right phrase. They're flat-out saying the torture worked. And that there's no proof beyond rhetoric that it wasn't the most prudent course of action.
posted by phaedon at 10:31 PM on December 9, 2014


“It’s important for us to not feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. A lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots, but having said all that, we did some things that were wrong.”

This qoute from president Obama was pulled from wsws.Org

RedShrek. Would you consider the president a torture apologist?
posted by clavdivs at 10:36 PM on December 9, 2014


@phaedon,

Yeah, I found the official response to be very interesting. Haven't finished reading it yet.
posted by RedShrek at 10:38 PM on December 9, 2014


The NYTimes piece that el io linked has some good graphics. Also see this 2009 article about the 2 psychologists who created the torture program: Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

I don't think I can adequately express my enormous contempt for these two people.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:39 PM on December 9, 2014


That was a great post infini

Meh, you should have seen it before the 3 rounds of redactions ;p
posted by infini at 10:39 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


@clavdivs
No I don't think he is as he hasn't come out extolling its virtues.
posted by RedShrek at 10:39 PM on December 9, 2014


@infini, I totally believe you. I worked in the McLean area for years, interesting place with a lot of interesting people.
posted by RedShrek at 10:41 PM on December 9, 2014


Don't mind me if I find a BND.
posted by infini at 10:53 PM on December 9, 2014


^ A Germain agent?
posted by RedShrek at 10:57 PM on December 9, 2014


I wonder if back when the great menu at Guantanamo was touted as evidence we treated the detainees well they realized the menu was being inserted up the butt.

American Dad is almost starting to look like a documentary.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:07 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


RedShrek: But he digested the information just the same, tell me, what is the difference from extolling? Is that the word we want?
Eulogize fits extoll. Is that what you mean? A lot of folks here and realtime have/had mc zips so? Unless you want to unburden as infini did (and well ) as it lends credence. Operations sucks the soul, soul being the operative word that indicates what someone once believed is in doubt and the confliction is evident.
You ascribed a possible personal reason, more a "is it no wonder", of why the good senator from California has come forth these last 24 hours with this summery of previously unknown abuses of a program she supported. Is it politics? Conscious perhaps? Did you see Boxers' expressions? That was more telling then anything as to motivation. She has support. Yes, it is disneyesqe, welcome to Washington.
posted by clavdivs at 11:17 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


@ clavdivs

So you asked if he was an apologist and I said no based on his statements that I have heard. Now past that, when we start talking about accountability and actually doing something to address the findings in this report, then we have something else.
posted by RedShrek at 11:21 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


What goes around comes around. Good luck, America.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:27 PM on December 9, 2014


To Combustible Edison Lighthouse -

I think you already know this, but I'll elucidate it for you, anyway: In no way am I attempting to minimize the effects of the CIA report - it stands solid, if filthy, on its own.

My point is only that distraction has been an effective strategy for breaking down the unity of any anti- anything movement in this country for some time, but most particularly in the last few years. Divide and conquer isn't exactly a new concept, but it still works. If enough people begin to get upset and excited and gather together and protest and make headlines and take up TV space - and they just don't QUIT - something has to be done because if it isn't, there may one day be too many of them and then there could be some real damage done to the status quo - in this case, the brotherhood of police.

There's enough material in the CIA report, especially in the parts we haven't been given yet, to keep outrage alive for years, in all its forms. Yes, of course, it involves people other than Americans - uh, yes - that's the point, isn't it? Abu-Ghraib and Gitmo are stains that won't wash out; thank you, Cheney, the whole country will have to carry the shame of your let's-set-the-cat-on-fire-and-see-if-he-screams twisted form of thinking for life.

But, again, my point is that there is need for outrage in BOTH issues and I don't want to see the dilution of demands for change in police policy with regard to minorities and police brutality in general - both issues demand serious action.
posted by aryma at 11:39 PM on December 9, 2014


Don't forget that in addition to torture, we can also prosecute for perjury, obstruction, etc.

Michael Hayden’s testimony vs. the Senate report
posted by rhizome at 11:41 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Like I said
Welcome to Washington were we are free to be wrong and have a system to address these grievances no matter that it is flawed. We are all flawed. The we makes those flaws more human something I believe most of the world has forgotten. There is tremendous strength in admitting weakness and horror and we have only just begun the real debate of moral conduct in an increasingly unstable world and your right, the real outcome, the real reason why humans convene in the body politic is to solve problems and redress grievances that is our "something else"
Many of the politicians don't want trials etc. why is that?
Because we are all guilty. We. The people, not all. Those brave enough to resist and oppose these odious energy laden- moral compass building wars were right. Yet it continues. Why is that. I look to other countries views and find little that comforts.
We means we can talk about these issues here, now and that imo is like some form of back-up democracy.

So, is not addressing the issue at least the beginnings of doing something or do you have a more concrete plan which I think we could agree upon is to stop. Stop torturing. Now, have we stopped?
Has anything changed since EI has been at least reduced, I know it's absurd, but is that not a step in redressing this issue?
posted by clavdivs at 11:50 PM on December 9, 2014


Scratch "not" apologies for tirade.
Good night F3, and good luck.
posted by clavdivs at 12:34 AM on December 10, 2014


I know when I'm looking for unbiased opinions about the activities of people implicated in a report, I go right to the people implicated in the report.

When I followed the DA's advice and filed a Police Report with North Greenbush about the Official Misconduct of the Information Security Officer at Hudson Valley Community College, the cop called the college for their opinion. The college said it wasn't a criminal act, so...
posted by mikelieman at 2:38 AM on December 10, 2014


Of course individuals committing state violence are human. Darren Wilson openly admitted he would do it again, and was lavishly rewarded for it - what are we to make of that

Some (most?) people are traumatized by the trauma they inflict on others. Some people lack empathy altogether. Our society is organized in a way that it frequently rewards those who lack empathy. They are at the highest levels of power in government and business, and are often in control of the corrupt systems we endure.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:26 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


infini, do you have evidence "anthropologists" and "ethnographers" were involved in torture? I know about the HTS controversy (and was professionally involved in protesting it) but that is very different from what psychologists who managed torture sessions did. HTS was supposed to lead to more culturally informed policy, in theory.
posted by spitbull at 4:11 AM on December 10, 2014


It seems that the brutality of torture has become its own justification for a large swathe of people. Necessity means unpleasant choices, therefore the more unpleasant something is, the more necessary it is.

Bad enough when Americans decided torture is A-okay as long as it was necessary to further their own interests; fine, many countries do it, but most of them don't pour out endless self-valorising twaddle about Cities on the Hill and American Freedom and the demigod Founding Fathers. Apparently now it doesn't have to produce results, it doesn't matter if the victim had no information to offer, or even if it was the wrong person to begin with. It'll be enthusiastically defended even if the torture actually proves to be counterproductive to your interests.

I feel like Debord etc may have been onto something: people have become completely unmoored from the reality behind their words, and we play symbol games with each other while humans scream and die.
posted by forgetful snow at 4:50 AM on December 10, 2014 [14 favorites]


A Truth Commission in Brazil just released a report on government violence during the 20th century, and so I shared both links (ours and the CIA's) to my Facebook timeline with the comment: "History happening here." An American friend interjected that it's only history happening if things change, to which I replied:

The point about this kind of transparency, the point about truth commissions and this notion of "reporting as justice" is that once we establish a certain version of facts as a fixed point in the otherwise maleable fabric of historical truth, it gains political leverage. After all, it's now The Established Truth.

It's criminal to deny slavery, to deny genocides, and now it is somewhat criminal too to deny these violent acts of our governments. And that narrows down our societies' possible futures a bit, which is already a change in history in its own right.

But it's up to you guys to turn this ripple into a proper wave (as it is for us here in Brazil with the report from the second link).


I see a bit of cynicism/snark in the comments here, so I thought to cross-post that commentary here. The key elements to change here are that (1) we do not allow these truths to be denied (unless there's evidence in their contrary, which a quick skim through the comments here show there isn't so far), and (2) we crunch, narrate and amplify these messages, and make them actionable (that's the genius of Aaron Swartz's work).
posted by rufb at 5:38 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


spitbull, i'm sorry if that comment from the overheated night before implies the involvement of professionals other than the two psychologists involved in this specific and targeted activity, that was not my intent to miscommunicate. Looking back, I was probably (and cryptically) musing out loud about all the different professions which, like Alfred Nobel's invention, can be used for good or evil. And, how many of these skillsets were being used in less ethical situations than originally imagined. i.e. if you're taught the ways and means to find the buttons to push to generate preset responses (for eg. certain disciplines of design have a long history of behavioural change embedded within them such as interior architecture etc) and you're now applying your skills for evil, its a sad thing for the entire profession and taints it's reputation, across the world.

I hope this helps.
posted by infini at 6:39 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I feel like Debord etc may have been onto something: people have become completely unmoored from the reality behind their words, and we play symbol games with each other while humans scream and die.

iirc we had a metafilter thread on this back when the first collateral damage whitewashed away the little boys and girls with prosthetic legs.
posted by infini at 6:42 AM on December 10, 2014


It seems that the brutality of torture has become its own justification for a large swathe of people.
“Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.” - 1984
posted by empath at 7:33 AM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Suspects in trials are biased too, but that doesn't mean they're convicted in their absence. And these guys weren't even interviewed by the senate staffers! If true, that's absolutely ludicrous.

I'm glad that you support trying the people involved. What do you think we should charge them with? It seems like a huge list, perjury, assault, torture, murder, crimes against humanity, possibly even treason? I don't even know where to start.
posted by empath at 7:37 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


The derails about Obama in this thread make me sick.

I'm sorry, but he's violating international treaties today by continuing the cover-up of these crimes, keeping Guantanamo and probably other black sites open and refusing to prosecute those responsible. It's not a derail. We're still force-feeding prisoners there and who knows what else.
posted by empath at 7:41 AM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


a huge list, perjury, assault, torture, murder, crimes against humanity,

You know who else?
posted by infini at 7:41 AM on December 10, 2014


Jose Rodriguez, a 31-year veteran of CIA

And also the guy who destroyed videotape evidence of the actual torture sessions.

So... who should we believe here... an exhaustive senate intelligence committee report, or a guy who destroyed evidence and his boss who has been caught in lies throughout the investigation?

I don't think you're making a very convincing case for reporting bias, if these are your sources to expose it.
posted by adamp88 at 7:41 AM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Adam, you naive, idealistic child. In order to be unbiased, one must always give lies and the truth equal billing. We can't give good any sort of advantage over evil.
posted by empath at 7:48 AM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


OK. We've been saying all along that torture doesn't work. It's obviously immoral - but the "It works" people have lost their fig leaves. We need to press things and now's the time. Ask them that given that torture didn't do anything why they supported it. Give them options:

1: They were mistaken. In which case why aren't they publicly admitting it - and supporting those who were right?
2: They wanted to appear to be villains - in which case why shouldn't we treat them as such?
3: They have a fetish that includes non-consensual asphyxiation, and non-consensual sticking food up peoples' rectums.

And if they have any other explanations I'd love to hear them.
posted by Francis at 8:01 AM on December 10, 2014


Let's not forget that the CIA actively broke into the Senate computer network to destroy evidence that was being used in this report. Surely they would be forthcoming and truthful in face-to-face interviews!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:07 AM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


America is awesome! We are awesome!

Fox News' Andrea Tantaros agrees!

"The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome! We’ve closed the book on it, and we’ve stopped doing it. And the reason they* want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome."

* These the not-awesome Americans, presumably. Perhaps in Congress's 2015 session, they will convene the House Un-Awesome Activities Committee.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:15 AM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Doktor Zed: Fox News' Andrea Tantaros agrees!

Trigger warning: explicit video of total fucking idiots talking about things they don't understand.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:17 AM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Er, wait, I guess "Fox News" covers that. n/m.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:18 AM on December 10, 2014


Maybe, oh just maybe those whom Judge Garzon wanted to bring to Justice over 5 years ago will finally see their day in the tribunals.
Lest we forget who these perverted and twisted people are :
Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales,
former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee
former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo
former Defense Department general counsel William J. Haynes II,
Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff David Addington,
former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith
All accused of having given the green light to the torture and mistreatment of prisoners held in U.S. detention.
posted by adamvasco at 8:21 AM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


yes but democrats compiled the report so who cares lol
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:35 AM on December 10, 2014


From Article 2 of the Geneva Convention:

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

posted by JackFlash at 8:35 AM on December 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


The U.S. Spent Decades Teaching Torture Techniques To Brazil
A Pentagon manual from the 1980s revealed in 1996 showed that the American instructors "recommended interrogation techniques like torture, execution, blackmail and arresting the relatives of those being questioned." It was only through the U.S.'

[...]

...more than 300 members of the Brazilian military spent time at the School of the Americas, run out of Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia. While there, attendees "had theoretical and practical lessons on torture, which would later be replicated in Brazil." ...

Now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, the school continues to operate, but has removed torture from its curriculum...
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:37 AM on December 10, 2014




thanks to that link, I've now read the CIA's response to the report

Just to be clear, that report is not the CIA's response. It is the minority response produced by Republicans on the Intelligence Committee. The CIA's response to the study's conclusions can be found in this report from June 2013.

There are some differences in tone. This is from the minority Senate response:
When asked about the value of detainee information and whether he missed the intelligence from it, one senior CIA operator [redacted] told members, "I miss it every day." We understand why.
And this is from Brennan's introductory letter preceding the agency response:
I personally remain firm in my belief that enhanced interrogation techniques are not an appropriate method to obtain intelligence and that their use impairs our ability to continue to play a leadership role in the world.
Additionally, the CIA response, while viewing the lack of interviews as a significant flaw, explains that it was a limitation imposed upon the Senate investigation:
A methodology that relied exclusively on a review of documents with no opportunity to interview participants, owing to the Department of Justice investigation of the program
The Republican minority response agrees that the lack of witness interviews was the result of this limitation. Neither the CIA nor the actual Republican minority response allege that this is evidence of bias.

Shivohum, can you find any published sources that both (1) allege bias and (2) explain the agreed upon reason why interviews were not possible?
posted by compartment at 8:45 AM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


I do not agree with the position that torture people in our custody, though immoral, is sometimes justified to protect the nation's physical safety. However, to those who make that case I would argue that by that same reasoning it is neccesary to arrest and convict those who perpetuated torture in order to protect the rule of law and the moral standing of a nation. If we will torture foreigners to protect the US, surely we have the backbone to prosecute our own--in the Hague if necessary.

The people who say the release of this report endangers us by revealing what we have done will surely agree that prosecutions will make us safer by showing we take these crimes seriously.

In the future, anyone who tortures should know with rock solid certainty that they will someday be imprisoned for it. Then they will only do it if they are convinced it is necessary, and they are willing to patriotically sacrifice their own freedom to save lives.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:47 AM on December 10, 2014 [14 favorites]


FWIW, apparently Feinstein's office is getting lots of calls from people opposing the release of the report (even these limited/redacted findings).

If you are in support of the release of the full report, or even just what we have seen, please call your Senator and say so.

These calls are logged and reported, and do influence policy. (In the aggregate, anyway.)
posted by suelac at 8:53 AM on December 10, 2014


sotonohito: fffm: for letting her be the nation's scapegoat and allowing the cocktail party circuit to pat themselves on the back following her conviction and tell everyone that it totally solved all the problems and there wouldn't be any more pesky trouble with torture now that **she** was out of the way.
Only fools - Fox News audience and other Republicans, mostly - bought into that lie.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:56 AM on December 10, 2014


The derails about Obama in this thread make me sick.

Sorry, but here's another one:

We are not going to engage in this debate,” said a senior administration official close to Mr. Obama who briefed reporters under ground rules that did not allow him to be identified...

And finally, Mr. Obama asked the nation to stop fighting about what happened so many years ago before he took office. “Rather than another reason to refight old arguments,” he said, “I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong — in the past.”

posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:58 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Human Rights Watch counsel and spokesperson Reed Brody on Democracy Now: New Calls to Prosecute Bush Admin as Senate Report Reveals Brutal CIA Torture
posted by homunculus at 9:04 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


This really is a chance for Obama to stamp a serious legacy into the history books. Arrest everybody who ordered this shit and send them to the Hague.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:07 AM on December 10, 2014


Where is the judiciary branch in all this? Surely some prosecutor somewhere is going to be willing to take the case. International treaties are the supreme law of the land, according to the constitution. I think this should give any prosecutor anywhere jurisdiction to prosecute, no?

I actually don't know the legalities here, though.
posted by empath at 9:11 AM on December 10, 2014


Here's a good question: Where did the torture program come from? Who proposed it, and why? This is what John Yoo says in a recent editorial:
After the late 2001 capture of al Qaeda facilitator Abu Zubaida, whose refusal to cooperate first raised the question of interrogation methods
Yoo is rehashing an old claim that we've heard before. From the SSCI report:
In early June 2002, the CIA interrogation team recommended that Abu Zubaydah spend several weeks in isolation while the interrogation team members departed the facility "as a means of keeping [Abu Zubaydah] off-balance and to allow the team needed time off for a break and to attend to personal matters ... As a result, from June 18, 2002, through August 4, 2002, Abu Zubaydah spent 47 days in isolation without being asked any questions ... The CIA would later represent publicly—as well as in classified settings—that during the use of "established US Government interrogation techniques," Abu Zubaydah "stopped all cooperation" in June 2002, requiring the development of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques. CIA records do not support this assertion.
I would be interested if anyone can find anything in the CIA or minority responses refuting this claim. I searched but came up empty. Basically, the SSCI report alleges that the CIA placed Abu Zubaydah in isolation, did not ask him any questions, freaking went home, framed this as a refusal to cooperate, and used it as a rationale to develop a torture program.

That's some crazy shit.

Also, Yoo says that "refusing to interview" involved parties "clearly shows the bias inherent in the investigation," but he fails to disclose the reason why he was not interviewed. Wow, much surprise, what are the odds, etc.
posted by compartment at 9:14 AM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


For this entire fucking thing to be based on some spooks' half-assed excuse to go on vacation is darkly hilarious.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:39 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jose Rodriguez, a 31-year veteran of CIA

And also the guy who destroyed videotape evidence of the actual torture sessions.

So... who should we believe here... an exhaustive senate intelligence committee report, or a guy who destroyed evidence and his boss who has been caught in lies throughout the investigation?


According to Rodriguez, we should believe the poeple who "put their big boy pants on."
posted by homunculus at 9:49 AM on December 10, 2014


“The Truth About Torture, Revisited,” Andrew Sullivan, The Dish, 10 Dec 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 9:55 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


This really is a chance for Obama to stamp a serious legacy into the history books. Arrest everybody who ordered this shit and send them to the Hague.

Hey now, we do that, and the next administration will invade the Netherlands.
posted by el io at 10:03 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


If these people really believed they had to torture suspects, they should turn themselves in for prosecution and present an affirmative defense. Of course they won't, because they are really just cowardly sadists.
posted by ryoshu at 10:07 AM on December 10, 2014 [10 favorites]






It's interesting to me how all the reporting has been about how the CIA is the problem, not the Bush Administration. I was mad at first because the Bush Administration was definitely culpable, right to the top. But there's no point in going after them now; no one in Washington will ever prosecute them. The CIA still exists though, and the people in the CIA who performed and approved this torture is there. Putting the focus on them means there's a chance for actual change.

I don't think anyone's linked this yet; CIA Saved Lives, a little propaganda site "by a group of former CIA officials". (Including torturers?)
posted by Nelson at 10:22 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


I feel like I owe you an explanation of why I see no problem with relying on the work done by the CIA's OIG.

I appreciate your clarification, but I disagree.

Typically, when you're going in to do an assessment of something and you find that management has already done an assessment of that thing you are independently assessing, the natural place to start is with management's work and then building from there. If you find that management's work is not sufficient or poorly done to meet your needs then you increase the scope of your independent assessment.

Well first of all I'd draw a pretty clear distinction between an auditor (or an IG) relying on management's assessment and this committee relying on an IG's assessment. The IG is not "management" at the CIA; it's independent, as you probably know, and IGs can often be antagonistic to the agencies they oversee. If management commissioned a report, then at least you might have some sense that management has taken care to see that its point of view is reasonably fairly represented.

Second, the Senate Committee was creating a massive report meant to be a kind of final word on an incredibly important, divisive, and secretive program. How could it possibly know whether the OIG had done a "sufficient" job if they didn't ask even elementary questions of the most important decision-makers in the program they're writing about?

Third, this was not a routine assessment. This was meant to be a landmark paper with huge public implications. Not to talk to people like Rodriguez or Hayden at all opens the Committee up to all-too-predictable charges. And as a result they've undermined the legitimacy of their conclusions, because, as phaedon points out above, the CIA is now saying: "They didn't talk to anyone in the program. The program did generate a lot of valuable, actionable intelligence. The report is simply wrong."
posted by shivohum at 11:09 AM on December 10, 2014


Former Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Bob Kerrey on the report:
I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it. The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.
...
I have participated in two extensive investigations into intelligence failures, once when Aldrich Ames was discovered to be spying for Russia after he had done substantial damage to our human intelligence collection capability and another following the 9/11 attacks. In both cases we were very critical of the practices of the intelligence agencies. In both cases we avoided partisan pressure to blame the opposing party.
...
In both of these efforts the committee staff examined documents and interviewed all of the individuals involved. The Senate's Intelligence Committee staff chose to interview no one...Fairness should dictate that the examination of documents alone do not eliminate the need for interviews conducted by the investigators. Isolated emails, memos and transcripts can look much different when there is no context or perspective provided by those who sent, received or recorded them.
...
The worse consequence of a partisan report can be seen in this disturbing fact: It contains no recommendations. This is perhaps the most significant missed opportunity, because no one would claim the program was perfect or without its problems. But equally, no one with real experience would claim it was the completely ineffective and superfluous effort this report alleges.
posted by shivohum at 11:25 AM on December 10, 2014


John Brennan Must Go
posted by homunculus at 11:32 AM on December 10, 2014


The program did generate a lot of valuable, actionable intelligence.

Yeah and the internment of Japanese-Americans prevented any sabotage during WWII. Torture is still immoral and reprehensible...not to mention illegal. So following your logic it would be morally acceptable to inter all Arab-Americans in camps to prevent terrorism, if lives are saved.

Former Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Bob Kerrey

Who is a managing director of Allen and Company alongside former CIA head George Tenet.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:36 AM on December 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


Regarding rectal feeding: I swear there was an FPP about an American citizen in an American prison who was force-fed because he was on a hunger strike. He'd been convicted of killing his wife, but maintained his innocence. He'd been sentenced to death but the date wasn't coming quickly enough, so he tried starving himself. The prison is keeping him alive by force feeding until they can execute him. The article made it sound like it wasn't unheard of in other American prisons. Anyone else remember this? I could have read it on Longreads or Longform, too.
posted by desjardins at 11:41 AM on December 10, 2014


Not to talk to people like Rodriguez or Hayden at all opens the Committee up to all-too-predictable charges [from torture apologists].

Hayden testified to Congress under oath multiple times. This testimony is included in the report (and amply refuted in detail). What would you expect Hayden to say to investigators when not under oath that he failed to say while under oath? He has had ample opportunity to express his views, both in Congress and on TV shows like Fox News and CNN. It is simply self-serving piffle that adds nothing to the report findings.

Rodriquez had already communicated his intention to plead the Fifth Amendment in Special Prosecutor Dunham's grand jury, so he's not talking no matter what, unless granted immunity.
posted by JackFlash at 11:41 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.

Isn't that ridiculous? If they thought important evidence was being missed, why didn't they work hard to fill in the gaps rather than "checking out?"
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:44 AM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


This really is a chance for Obama to stamp a serious legacy into the history books. Arrest everybody who ordered this shit and send them to the Hague. fffm

This intrigues me. Is this even possible? Is President Obama allowed to arrest Bush and Cheney and Rice and Rumsfeld and send them to the Hague? Really? Or are you talking only about the second-level and below? Even so, is it within Obama's power to just decide HE'S going to arrest "everybody who ordered this shit"? What is the law here - what can he do and what can't he do?

Jessen and Mitchell are from Spokane (yippee). This article about them and their role in the torture was in today's paper - it's pretty sickening, all the way around.
posted by aryma at 11:56 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


It probably would make more sense for Obama to turn himself into the Hague at the end of his presidency for drone strikes.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:01 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


[Fixed up the formatting error with your link, aryma.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:05 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I really just cannot stomach the spineless coverage of this. I had to turn off the radio on the way home when NPR again framed this without using the word torture, and hammered home the point that the CIA disagrees with this, etc., etc., interviewing some dumbshit politely.

I had to turn the radio off, it was making me so fucking livid. The guy NPR interviewed was former-CIA, and he went so far as to say, oh, you think this was bad? Drones are bad. What the other guy does is bad. We're totally just fighting back.

This is not justified because the other guy did it first. What the hell? Are we twelve and on the playground?
posted by PearlRose at 12:08 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


If management commissioned a report, then at least you might have some sense that management has taken care to see that its point of view is reasonably fairly represented.

Management were the people lying to pretty much everybody, their view is well-known. Besides, they'll have plenty of opportunity to tell their side of the story on the stand; it's not like they're at all saying that Gul Rahman is still alive.
posted by rhizome at 12:10 PM on December 10, 2014


Hayden testified to Congress under oath multiple times. This testimony is included in the report (and amply refuted in detail).

Let me re-emphasize that point: The report documents multiple, specific instances in which the documentary evidence shows that Hayden was lying. To Congress, among others. This point alone, to the exclusion of the mountains of physical and documentary evidence the report cites, makes the notion that the report is somehow "biased" because Hayden isn't interviewed again utterly laughable.
posted by Gelatin at 12:20 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Here are two thoughts that I don't think came up in threads about torture:

1. An average american thinks about it like this: "If you tie me up, put a pair of pliers in front of me and look at me suggestively, I will tell you my ATM pin number, passwords, etc. Why won't this work for some terrorists?"

2. "Under torture, the suspect will tell you what you want to hear." - In some cases answers can be checked quickly, e.g. what is the address where you accomplices are, what is the address where the weapons are?

I think if these 2 points are addressed, vast majority of Americans will be against torture.

Jon Stewart put things very succinctly when he said,

"If torture is immoral and ineffective, great! If torture is moral and effective, also great! But if torture is immoral and effective, aggghhh.. "
posted by rainy at 12:25 PM on December 10, 2014


ob1quixote: The Truth About Torture, Revisited,” Andrew Sullivan, The Dish, 10 Dec 2014

Thanks for that link. I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I read it, but there it is - the position taken by Charles Krauthammer, torture apologist, is now the reasonable, mature, civilized position. How far we've fallen.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:26 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


This point alone, to the exclusion of the mountains of physical and documentary evidence the report cites, makes the notion that the report is somehow "biased" because Hayden isn't interviewed again utterly laughable.

Seriously. I am sincerely impressed with the patience some of you have in trying to engage in good faith with the gleeful, disingenuous torture apologia bobbing up in this thread, but for real - this is one giant red herring bumping its head against the bottom of the rowboat.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:32 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jose Rodriguez's "Hard Measures," Big Boy Pants," concepts, look at the language! This is classic subliminal sell for fetish activity. The tapes were destroyed but I bet they have been widely distributed in a very dark fetish market. Maybe the Swedes just got 'em off of Pirate Bay.

This habit of abuse has been exported to South America, like anyone needed more government kink anywhere. This habit of heavy handed doings is being passed down to police departments in the form of weaponry to use against citizens the police are sworn to protect, in a lawful fashion. The Big Boy thinking, courtesy of Big Brother, is an emerging epidemic, resulting in serious loss of innocent lives, in our nation, where we are supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty, of the "crime" at hand, as opposed to pre-hearing, pre-trial, slaughter. The information age has doomed previous offenders.

I guess they use Psychologists since they don't have to obey the Hippocratic oath. If only I hadn't just read "Gravity's Rainbow" the cavalier inworkings of this would not seem so clear.
posted by Oyéah at 12:36 PM on December 10, 2014


.

For the innocent people murdered in my name.
posted by zug at 12:44 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Not to talk to people like Rodriguez or Hayden at all opens the Committee up to all-too-predictable charges.

Well, at least someone is being charged.
posted by compartment at 12:45 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


@ shivohum

I think you have some deep misunderstandings of how IG's work and the overall process in general and that misunderstanding is ever so clear now. I and a few others have taken the time to explain it to you as clearly as possible but you either can't or don't want to gain the understanding so I'm just going to stop because it's a waste of my time.

I have asked you a couple of times to provide some form of credible evidence to backup your assertion of bias in this report and all you have not done that. Until you are able to demonstrate this bias you have asserted, I see no point in engaging with you. If you're fo
posted by RedShrek at 12:50 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


The prison is keeping him alive by force feeding until they can execute him. The article made it sound like it wasn't unheard of in other American prisons.

You don't keep somebody alive by pumping hummus into their ass. But you do humiliate them that way.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:01 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


at least you might have some sense that management has taken care to see that its point of view is reasonably fairly represented

What possible point of view could there be that validates torture? You are operating from the premise that there is one. There isn't.

This intrigues me. Is this even possible? Is President Obama allowed to arrest Bush and Cheney and Rice and Rumsfeld and send them to the Hague? Really? Or are you talking only about the second-level and below? Even so, is it within Obama's power to just decide HE'S going to arrest "everybody who ordered this shit"? What is the law here - what can he do and what can't he do?

Well, I probably spoke glibly and/or elided the details. Direct the AG to investigate whether crimes were committed, and prosecute under the relevant laws, which would include The Hague as the venue for prosecution of war crimes.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:10 PM on December 10, 2014


Can anyone clarify for us the mechanism whereby the report summary can be released on orders from Senator Feinstein, but somehow the whole 6,000+ page document is still classified?

..and, whose job would it be to declassify the full document?
posted by bird internet at 1:30 PM on December 10, 2014


Essentially, it's the President who has classification/declassification authority. These authorities are usually delegated down.

http://fas.org/sgp/crs/secrecy/RS21900.pdf
posted by RedShrek at 1:33 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


feckless fecal fear mongering: Direct the AG to investigate whether crimes were committed[…]
“Justice Department will not reopen torture inquiry,” Kevin Johnson, USA Today, 10 December 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 1:50 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, I probably spoke glibly and/or elided the details.

Gee - y'think?

You have a whole pile of Bush administration people who are guilty to the max of war crimes and crimes against humanity - years and years of torture, thousands of dead due to Bush's war to kill Hussein; Cheney and his mercenary connections, warmongering and underhanded dirty deals; Rumsfeld and Ashcroft driving the bus and answering to no one under the guise of "security"; and lovely Condi, the token woman, classy lady with a (virtual) bloody stiletto in her purse - and what are you on about?

Obama.

Obama needs to arrest everybody and send them to the Hague, Which isn't within his power in the first place.

True, he can order whatever kind of investigation necessary to bring all these creeps to justice - yes, he can do that - at tremendous cost, involving court procedures and defense attorneys and prosecuting attorneys and hearings and a full-blown media circus, off-the-wall Republican frenzy and fury and rage from middle-of-the-road Americans who can see clearly that none of it has any point because there's no way any of them are going to end up at the Hague - ever. That's reality, even though it's awful - it's still not half as horrible as the Bush administration's doings.

Read something a little while ago that said that if Obama should choose to pardon the Bush Gang, that would make them criminals - per the ACLU. That might be the most sensible thing of all because at least it would leave them labeled as criminals instead of leaving them labeled as a poor, misunderstood Republican President and his VIPs who have been attacked and demeaned by the evil Democrat Barack Obama. It's a moral compromise, which no one wants to see, but it's a tiny bit of punishment that could become reality compared to what they deserve, which will never happen.
posted by aryma at 1:51 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Do Americans Even Look at Torture as a Moral Issue?
Torture just isn't unthinkable for most Americans. Maybe it was just around the time we first learned about the Bush/Cheney torture regime, but we're used to the idea now.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:52 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well it's not like Bush is going to prosecute anyone or even has the ability to order anything. Obama does.

I agree that he won't. But he does have that power. I quite liked the ACLU idea, I guess we'll find out in two years if it'll happen.

I don't think cost should be part of the calculus, though. Totally understand that it is, but it really shouldn't be.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:55 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jose Rodriguez, a 31-year veteran of CIA, comments as well: "The report’s leaked conclusion, which has been reported on widely, that the interrogation program brought no intelligence value is an egregious falsehood; it’s a dishonest attempt to rewrite history. I’m bemused that the Senate could devote so many resources to studying the interrogation program and yet never once speak to any of the key people involved in it, including the guy who ran it (that would be me)."

the CIA is now saying: "They didn't talk to anyone in the program. The program did generate a lot of valuable, actionable intelligence. The report is simply wrong."

Well, since Rodriguez and the CIA are clearly happy to step forward into the public discussion now, I look forward to the forthright, detailed, documented, and verified report from them on who was tortured, how, the exact actionable intelligence that was yielded, and the outcomes it prevented.

It won't change my mind on whether or not torture should be legal (even *if* it's occasionally useful, it's arguable it should remain illegal and would-be patriots who need to employ it in extremis can make the calculation about whether paying the legal price is worth it). But it might keep me from thinking they're not deluded or lying (professionally, of course) about whether the program "worked."
posted by weston at 1:59 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Torture just isn't unthinkable for most Americans. Maybe it was just around the time we first learned about the Bush/Cheney torture regime, but we're used to the idea now.

If that's true, I'd think the near-constant barrage of "justifiable torture" scenarios in network and cable TV shows has played a major role in inuring people to the idea. It's not just 24. I've seen justifiable torture scenarios on so many shows over the years since the torture news first broke, it's absurd.

We used to be a nation of people who at least aspired to high ideals. Now we just keep lowering the bar further and further and then saying it's okay because, well, we just keep saying that's okay.

We're in a very dangerous downward spiral when it comes to illegitimate use of state authority that's feeding itself at this point. If we can't do something big to disrupt the pattern, it will just get worse and worse until, next time, it'll be American people being secretly detained without due process and tortured and the public shrugging "meh" about it.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:02 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


"The program did generate a lot of valuable, actionable intelligence.

Yeah and the internment of Japanese-Americans prevented any sabotage during WWII."

True. We got the 442 instead.
posted by clavdivs at 2:06 PM on December 10, 2014


There's a great movie called Unthinkable that turned the justifiable torture thing right on its head. Well worth seeing, highly uncomfortable, and a lot of terrifying violence.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:07 PM on December 10, 2014


@saulgoodman

But it's already here and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it. You know why? Because this is what we as a nation wanted.

Remember when unmanned aerial vehicles were deployed overseas only. Well, now we have them flying over our heads. It's only a matter of time and the right circumstance before they get armed.

Remember when warrant less wiretapping and SIGINT/ELINT collection was something we did to non-Americans only. Well, we have it here now and it's only going to become more total as time goes by.

Remember when the government could not kill American citizens. Well, we now have that based off lists created in secret without the benefit of a public trial.

Remember when torture was reserved for only non-Americans. Don't worry, under the right Jack Baueresque scenario, it will be coming to a military base or clandestine site in CONUS near you.
posted by RedShrek at 2:12 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I Can’t Be Forgiven for Abu Ghraib
The Torture Report Reminds Us of What America Was
[...]
Eric Fair, an Army veteran, was a contract interrogator in Iraq in 2004.

posted by Joe in Australia at 2:15 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


But it's already here and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it. You know why? Because this is what we as a nation wanted.

Or, at least, it's what the loudest people in the nation wanted. Those of us who were warning y'all about how far this could go back in the early 2000's were being shouted down as "unAmerican libruls" by people who were flipping out about whether we were building a mosque in the same zip code as the World Trade Center site.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:15 PM on December 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Was that Mosque ever built?
posted by clavdivs at 2:24 PM on December 10, 2014


It wasn't even a mosque in the first damn place, that's the hell of it. But no, it wasn't ever built.

But that's my point, is that there was a vocal majority that was so caught up in "OH MY GOD TEH EVIL WE HAVE TO STOP IT" that no one was listening to the facts. Everyone was in such a state of "WE HAVE TO STOP TEH EVIL" panic that emotion ruled the day, and when emotion rules the day, the people who say "now, hang on a second, here's what isn't quite right about what you're saying" get mowed down, and you end up with something like this happening.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:30 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


The Torture Report and the “Glomar Fig Leaf”
After the April 15, 2005 National Security Principals Committee meeting, the CIA drafted an extensive document describing the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program for an anticipated media campaign. [...] Referring to CIA efforts to deny Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for previously acknowledged information, the attorney noted that, “[o]ur Glomar fig leaf is getting pretty thin.”  Another CIA attorney noted that the draft “makes the [legal] declaration I just wrote about the secrecy of the interrogation program a work of fiction.”

[...]

The agency was telling the courts that nothing could be disclosed about its torture program without compromising national security, but at the same time, it was providing quotations and “facts” to the media in order to persuade the public that its activities were lawful, necessary and effective.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:36 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, you said flipping out/ building mosque. I know the Taliban does not want the center built which is loony.
posted by clavdivs at 2:37 PM on December 10, 2014


I see what you mean about confusion in this matter. The wiki page had this quote that helps explain things.

"We insist on calling it a prayer space and not a mosque, because you can use a prayer space for activities apart from prayer. You can't stop anyone who is a Muslim despite his religious ideology from entering the mosque and staying there. With a prayer space, we can control who gets to use it."
posted by clavdivs at 2:45 PM on December 10, 2014


It's not just 24. I've seen justifiable torture scenarios on so many shows over the years since the torture news first broke, it's absurd.

Torture was the single biggest reason why I stopped watching Agents of SHIELD. I wanted so much to like that show. I could forgive the sloppy writing and other silliness. But all through Season One, I don't think I saw a single interrogation that didn't involve physical threats or force. The cast talked about it blithely.

And I don't think for a moment this was done to show a "gritty" show with moral grey areas. The writers clearly envision the cast as the good guys. It's not a morally grey show; it's a show written by people with no moral compass at all.

And here we are, the day after the mid-season finale and everyone's talking about it on my social network feeds and such, the same week that this torture report drops, and not a hint of anyone making the connections until and unless I bring it up.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:50 PM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Some dark humor: Cheney Calls for International Ban on Torture Reports
posted by MysticMCJ at 2:53 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Former Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Bob Kerrey

Who is a managing director of Allen and Company alongside former CIA head George Tenet.


He's also potentially a war criminal in his own right:
In the telling of former Navy SEALs, unarmed civilians - women, children, even a baby - were killed on Kerrey's order that night, during a mission gone terribly wrong. Kerrey's own retelling is more complicated, but hardly problem-free.

"While witnesses and official records give varying accounts of exactly what happened,'’ the story in the New York Times Magazine said, "one thing is certain: around midnight on Feb. 25, 1969, Kerrey and his men killed at least 13 unarmed women and children. The operation was brutal; for months afterward, Kerrey says, he feared going to sleep because of the terrible nightmares that haunted him."

In the article, Vistica writes, "Did Kerrey and his men commit crimes of war, or were they just applying the basic rules of a dirty war as best they understood them?"

Kerrey responds: "Let the other people judge whether or not what I did was militarily allowable or morally ethical or inside the rules of war. Let them figure that out. I mean, I can make a case that it was."
I'm sure he can.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:58 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Some dark humor

There's more from where that came from...

Critics Worried New CIA Report Puts U.S. At Considerable Risk Of Transparency

Revelations Of The Declassified CIA Torture Report

CIA Admits Role In 1985 Coup To Oust David Lee Roth

Although even Jon Stewart can't find much to laugh about this time... by a weird coincidence, he has the director of Zero Dark Thirty on the same show.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:07 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


I was disappointed by Jon's lack of zeal in pushing Ms. Bigelow further. Her "it's complicated" response was so annoying.
posted by RedShrek at 3:11 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Psychology Profession Has Disowned the CIA's Two Torture Psychologists
The reported role of the psychologists is particularly distressing for the association, Farberman said. “If these allegations are true, they are clear violations of all of our professional ethics and all of what the discipline stands for.”

The response wasn’t altogether unexpected. The so-called ‘torture report’ raises a sensitive issue for the APA, which has been accused of en​abling psychologists to aid in the development and implementation of these interrogative techniques. (By contrast, the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association told members that participation would violate their ethical guidelines.)

The association spent years denying and evading these accusations, but finally agreed last month to hire an external attorney—Chicago lawyer David Hoffman—to conduct an investigation into the APA’s actions and determine whether or not it enabled the government to torture its war prisoners.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:12 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was disappointed by Jon's lack of zeal in pushing Ms. Bigelow further. Her "it's complicated" response was so annoying.

NOT TO MENTION her movie is based on a completely fucking false premise -- that torture was necessary to find Bin Laden -- WHICH WE KNEW AT THE TIME, even before this report was released!

The impunity with which corporate media show hosts treat people they should be roasting over the fire is completely un-fucking-forgivable.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:16 PM on December 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


"...and the home of depraved."
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 3:21 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


It is worth saying that this report, unlike the Benghazi report in the House that cleared the administration of blame, was not bipartisan. It was written solely by Democratic staffers.

Which is a pretty damned good argument against voting Republican.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:28 PM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


Dick Cheneys comment on the report: "whooey"

damn it dick, that is exactly what we want to know.
posted by clavdivs at 3:42 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


"if I had to do it over again, I would do it.”

I thought the President was supposed to be the one making these decisions.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:53 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Cheney and Rumsfeld ran the President in those days.
posted by rhizome at 4:07 PM on December 10, 2014


Been waiting for Der Spiegel or some such to put forth their thoughts. Its still too early for the considered responses to emerge. Today's paper in Singapore took pains to clarify that the Bali bombings guy was *not* found due to any information from this "torture" nonsense (I can't even write the word without feeling nauseated) and it was sheer luck yada yada.

They also gave sufficient words and sentences to North Korea's opinion and Iran's, not to mention China and Russia's...

"Those who live in glass houses should not bark like dogs at passersby" or however the proverb goes.

Be interesting to see the impact of this on international relations... next time someone asks "are you with us or against us" people are going to go, hmmm, are we for torture outside the borders and brutality internally on the poor and vulnerable sections of society?

These are the values that you're horse trading on the global diplomatic stage, amirite?
posted by infini at 4:15 PM on December 10, 2014


If we could get Cheney and some of the other higherups who are actually culpable, I'd be fine with Obama taking a hit too (as long as it were something reasonable like an accessory after the fact or other symbolic charge), if only to teach the lesson that we don't reward sweeping evil under the table. We're not the Nazis, and we shouldn't let spite and bitterness turn us into them.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:43 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


You know, I just realised something. Bin Laden won.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:55 PM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


Former Interrogator Eric Fair has at least acknowledged that this was not something we should be proud of or simply forgive and forget.
posted by humanfont at 4:58 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


What the Torture Report Kept Hidden
The descriptions are excruciating in their detail, but other important info—from the Obama administration’s stalling to Syria and Libya’s role—is missing.

posted by Joe in Australia at 5:01 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the Luftwaffe water boarded prisoners like we did.
posted by clavdivs at 5:07 PM on December 10, 2014


Isn't that the air force? did they have seaplanes?
posted by infini at 5:15 PM on December 10, 2014


You know, I just realised something. Bin Laden won.

You're a little behind the curve. I knew that the first time I had to take off my shoes in the airport.
posted by JackFlash at 5:26 PM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


McCain, the only US rep to have been tortured, says the good cop - bad cop model works and the torture model fails because tortured prisoners says whatever they think the torturer wants to hear, why must anybody go beyond this testimony? Idiots dominate our intelligence agency, nobody smart has wanted to go into the CIA in a generation. Revenge torture is fun for them but returns no actionable intelligence.
posted by koebelin at 5:29 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]




Just some old links on Zero Dark Thirty since Jon Stewart had her on for this show :
- Erin Brockovich for Fascists
- Zero Dark Thirty is practically a fascist manifesto
- Zero Dark Thirty's torture problem is ours as much as the film-makers'
- The CIA’s Hollywood Release

I wonder if we'll eventually memory hole our current fascist propaganda like Zero Dark Thirty or 24.

posted by jeffburdges at 5:38 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Besides the, uh, travel inconveniences, Bin Laden also succeeded in setting, or at least facilitating, the narrative of global history that the 21st century began with the United States initiating a preemptive war under false pretenses that killed a quarter of a million people, apologizing to Germany for torturing people in secret prisons in Poland and elsewhere, and sending out a fleet of flying killer robots into the world to, among other things, assassinate its own citizens.
posted by XMLicious at 5:42 PM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


When you start to torture, the sheer evil of what you are doing requires that you believe ever more in its value. You can never admit error, because it would mean you have committed crimes against humanity without even the defense of acquiring any useful intelligence. You are revealed as monsters – and you cannot accept that of yourself or of those you know. And so you insist – with ever-rising certainty – that the torture worked – even though that’s irrelevant as a matter of morality and of law, and even though your own internal documents prove that it didn’t.

And so you become the monster you were supposed to be fighting. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

posted by infini at 5:45 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the Luftwaffe water boarded prisoners like we did.

I don't know, but the Khmer Rouge certainly did (previously).
posted by homunculus at 5:53 PM on December 10, 2014


This is completely objectionable because torture gains no advantage from the tortured and only indulges revenge instincts.

Obama has to rely on the CIA for the fight against ISIS, so he cannot make justice, the brutes have to be used.
posted by koebelin at 5:56 PM on December 10, 2014


Beginning to sound a wee bit like the planet Pyrrhus in Harry Harrison's Deathworld trilogy, where native fauna and flora were in a vicious cycle of evolution into ever more lethal biowarfare against the colonists. Turned out, they were only responding to the colony's psionic emanations of hostility.
posted by infini at 6:07 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]




koebelin: Obama has to rely on the CIA for the fight against ISIS, so he cannot make justice, the brutes have to be used.
You know what? Fuck that. Hand over all the intelligence functions to the DIA and burn the CIA down. Literally. Raze the buildings and salt the earth. Erect a cenotaph to the victims on the site with something appropriate engraved upon it, perhaps Niemöller's "First They Came."



P.S. Rachel Maddow's "A" block tonight is stunning.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:10 PM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wow homunculus, Pol pot was quite the monster, no wonder we supported the KR.
posted by clavdivs at 7:05 PM on December 10, 2014




I need to re-phrase that.
No wonder we supported the UN decision to support the KR.
posted by clavdivs at 7:17 PM on December 10, 2014


“The Road to Hell,” Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station, 10 December 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 7:21 PM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


from ob1quixote's link:

Think about something: what if we let police search you and your property without a warrant? What if law enforcement was allowed to randomly come into your house or place of business and go through your closets and your hard drive and your car? If you’re not doing anything wrong, you’ve really got nothing to worry about right? You can trust the cops not to abuse this power, can’t you? I mean, sure it would be inconvenient, but isn’t that a fair trade for the decrease in crime? Sure as hell, the cops would find drugs and porn and stolen goods and people who cheat on their taxes and abuse their spouses.

So why don’t we allow that?

No, think about it. Why do we require the police to get warrants before searching private property? Why did they put that into the Constitution?


LOL Ferguson.
posted by infini at 7:38 PM on December 10, 2014




Why the Senate Report Is a Mistake Even If the CIA Torture Program Was an Immoral Disaster
You should read the whole post here, but to summarize, Schindler argues that releasing the report without bipartisan backing guarantees that Republicans will oppose (necessary) CIA reforms, that a great deal of information about the agency's malfeasance had already been made known to the public (and was perhaps even approved by Congress itself), that releasing the details of the United States' cooperation with foreign intelligence services will make them less likely to cooperate with us in the future, and that open partisan condemnation will encourage the CIA's most cautious, self-protecting impulses.
CIA Torture: An Insider’s View (John Schindler)

note: Schindler is a noted conspiracy theorist and penis picture provacateur.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:50 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Let's not forget, the only CIA officer to have faced prision time for the torture program was John Kiriakou, the whistleblower who revealed it.

The man who did the most to fight CIA torture is still in prison: He's still the only government official to go to jail over the program

Previously.
posted by homunculus at 8:06 PM on December 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


GE, what do you make of the Slate article. Your PPP (heh) source link was so funny I showed ms Clav which is rare. We agree while the source is dubious, fleshing it out has a few points. The one that stands out is possible info being gathered that could damage relations with other countries counter-parts. I doubt it but see how as traction builds, the more books start falling out of the walls so to say.
posted by clavdivs at 8:11 PM on December 10, 2014


Infini, you stumbled into the torture thread perhaps? There is a Fergeson thread open I believe.
posted by clavdivs at 8:52 PM on December 10, 2014


They're all the same rights.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:56 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Secrecy is the hallmark of dishonesty.
When my flesh runs like water from my bones
In the blast wave
Know then I am free
From this infamy.
Nothing I said at the time
Would change it they were
So afraid the money wouldn't come,
The Sunday dinner, the girls,
The smell of suits and colognes
The burbon, the palm trees
The proxy domination of the
Resources of a world.
Then came the whippings and the
Dark skinned boys curled in cold corners
And the fascination of what all it would take
To unravel their faith, to empty
And fill them up again then try them
On a therapeutic diet of butt beans,
While producing scholarly papers and
Actionable intel, and speaking as if
You were or are a member of our society.
Sadly you are still talking about your role
But not about your infamy, or about
What your hands do down your
Big boy pants and how you
Feel yourself, a hero, a man among
Patriots which words for now,
Actionable intel, justifiable, a policy,
A necessity, given our failures with regard
To 9/11, these oversights your
Words spew out as if the greedy
Maggots that compose your mind,
Sense your relevant pretense ending,
And seek a new home among
Some yet new breed of believer.
Visited by some present day demons
You constructed a salt pit
Grotesque, it was then
You joined the queue
With Cortez, with Göbbels, you
Are not now nor were you ever
A hero by any description,
Your personal fiction lies in the
Occult friction in some gap, between
Lies and flesh and the paperwork
To make a plausible mesh on what?
E-Harmony? Dinner with the IG?
A medal, a plaque, your secret star,
On some memorial for a war,
Conducted safely in a suit?
All that money is it a comfort
For you honey? And who
Was your favorite? Did you cry too
When he broke for you?

It is time,
It is time,
It is time to stop marching
For their nickles and their dimes.
It is time to stop buying
Their heroic, beans up the ass
Theories, and state secret bullshit
Of the first order and end it.
We do not need them to be free,
We are lashed to their wheel,
By the sticky saliva of their eternal lies,
So calmly now lubricating their
Holiday forks, the ending gavel falls
In the impotent great halls where the
Last steps have faded to silence
This particular December day,
And we will pay.
posted by Oyéah at 9:19 PM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


e rights.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:56 PM on December 10

I see what you mean. Thanks for the clarification, LOL, progress is good in discussion.
posted by clavdivs at 9:37 PM on December 10, 2014


Pss.2

[1] Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
[2] The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
[3] Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

Ps. II
posted by clavdivs at 9:44 PM on December 10, 2014


Niemöller, 2014 style:

First they came for the Blacks, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not Black.

Then they came for the Poor, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not Poor.

Then they came for the Women, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Woman.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.
posted by mikelieman at 1:22 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does anybody actually think the Republicans would possibly have been on board with an actual investigation into torture by the CIA, "biased" or not? Even as they're condemning the report they're not actually disputing that Americans employed torture (I'm sorry, "enhanced interrogation"), they just argue that (a) it worked, and (b) national security concerns trump everything else, including domestic and international law.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:54 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


From pages 109–110 of the report:
After 56 hours of standing sleep deprivation, Arsala Khan was described as barely able to enunciate, and being "visibly shaken by his hallucinations depicting dogs mauling and killing his sons and family." According to CIA cables, Arsala Khan "stated that [the interrogator] was responsible for killing them and feeding them to the dogs."

[...]

After approximately a month of detention and the extensive use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques on Arsala Khan, the CIA concluded that the "detainee Arsala Khan does not appear to be the subject involved in... current plans or activities against U.S. personnel or facilities," and recommended that he be released to his village with a cash payment. CIA interrogators at DETENTION SITE COBALT instead transferred him to U.S. military custody, where he was held for an additional four years...
How could this happen, you might ask. Well, they basically didn't know how many prisoners they had, or (very often) why they had them. After they noticed this fact, the CIA requested that the station count their prisoners. Their response, in a cable dated December 2003:
"In the process of this research, we have made the unsettling discovery that we are holding a number of detainees about whom we know very little. The majority of [CIA] detainees in [Country | | have not been debriefed for months and, in some cases, for over a year.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:02 AM on December 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


Oh, this is rich:

CIA torture report: former Polish leader acknowledges black site
Poland's former president Aleksander Kwasniewski acknowledged for the first time that he allowed the CIA to operate a secret interrogation centre in his country but denied that he knew prisoners were being tortured there.
[...]
He defended the decision to co-operate with the CIA in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, saying his administration had calculated that Washington would return the favour if Poland's national security was ever threatened. That was an even more important consideration now, when Russia's intervention in neighbouring Ukraine has left Poland itself feeling vulnerable to attack, he added.
Yes, well, good luck with that.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:13 AM on December 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


Satire Alert
The Trial of Richard Bruce Cheney.
posted by adamvasco at 2:43 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


The one that stands out is possible info being gathered that could damage relations with other countries counter-parts.

Does anyone actually imagine that this report, released now, is the tool that would damage relations?

Is short term memory of the 24/7 media cycle so poor, or so slanted, that there's no recollection of US moles and spy infestations that were discovered in Berlin?

Or other things, over the years, that we will never know about, but enough clues abound simply from the attitudes of naive arrogance trampling courtesies and human rights.
posted by infini at 4:11 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Vibrissae: "Here's the way Fox viewer's will be told to see it."Democrats Want to Punish America, and Blame Bush""

Why are they showing images from 9/11 during a discussion of the torture report? Why are they shaking their heads disapprovingly? Why are they focusing almost exclusively on how the world will react to this horrible findings, rather than on the findings themselves?

I mean, I actually know the answer to these questions, but still…

What gets me is that the pretty universal reaction from conservatives is that we shouldn't let people who are potentially our enemies know about the bad things we've done, or they'll get angry at us. It's reminds me of the South Park episode where all of the gathered Catholic priests were up in arms about the terrible problem of child abuse — that being, that the abusers were reporting the abuse rather than keeping silent.

If ever there were a "if we ___, then the terrorists have won" it's got to be "abandon our principles [ha] of democracy and justice".

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." that's Benjamin Franklin, one of your founding fathers that you idolize so much you freaks. Do you not get what it means?
posted by Deathalicious at 5:24 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Doesn't hurt to read what has been signed and ratified.
posted by infini at 5:53 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


If any Americans ever believed that America held themselves in a higher regard and were the saviours of the world, they were blind. Of course we participate in vile things towards other humans to get what we want. It's called politics.
posted by stormpooper at 7:43 AM on December 11, 2014


Some of my friend have had this world-weary response to the torture report like stormpoopers. And it makes me angry. I do highly regard my country, I do hold it to a high moral standard. We are not supposed to be a nation of torturers. This right now is the latest moment in that debate, the time when we examine ourselves and ask "are we OK with torture?". Just sort of shrugging and saying "meh, we've always been bad people" is giving up far too easy.

I'm not proposing ignoring the ugly parts of American history. Quite the opposite. But I still hope we keep looking at past crimes as mistakes. Slavery was wrong. Killing almost all the Native Americans was wrong. Torturing prisoners was wrong.
posted by Nelson at 7:56 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Brazil president weeps as she unveils report on military dictatorship's abuses
-Dilma Rousseff was herself tortured; 191 people killed; 243 ‘disappeared’
-US and UK trained interrogators in torture during 1964-85 military rule

posted by infini at 8:15 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


What kills me is that all this stuff about the US training torturers and supporting torture regimes was well known in this country in the eighties and nineties. People protested it, people went to jail, the FBI investigated and harassed the organizers of the protests. You could know about this stuff if you paid any attention. But people could not hear what was being said - just like now, I guess. You could show them all kinds of evidence and it just....didn't sink in. I had so many, many conversations with people about this stuff, and they would nod and acknowledge your words and then just forget.

For me personally, now, it's harder to see people ignore and dismiss the evidence, and it will be very hard to see all this get swept under the rug. Back then, it was very rarely on the nightly news, there was no internet - you had either to be interested or to be a pretty serious reader of the news and foreign policy stuff in general to know what was going on. People knew, important people knew, it was possible to know; now it's very hard not to know. But it won't matter. Ordinary people have very little power to affect what the mighty do, even if ordinary people care about it. It was useful, pleasant and convenient to encourage our allies to machete students to death or machine gun protesters back in the eighties; there's no reason to believe that a single person in power has more of a conscience today. And people really don't care as long as it's not them.
posted by Frowner at 8:30 AM on December 11, 2014 [11 favorites]


there's no recollection of US moles and spy infestations that were discovered in Berlin?

I think he probably means the governments secretly cooperating with the CIA. If the US could end up publishing their involvement, they may choose not to risk it in the first place.

GE, what do you make of the Slate article.

Oddly, I often see Schindler retweeted by respectable neocon journalists; he seems a bit out there to me, though.

I found his comments about the CIA's surprising lack of experience with interrogation and their massive management and organizational problems interesting. This seems true of Abu Graib as well: No one had experience with interrogation, so they just let the most sadistic soldiers start torturing prisoners. The DoD apparently had torture experts from South and Central America, but they used Iraqis to do the torturing.

I don't buy his idea that the report prevents congress and the CIA from fixing their problems. The fact that they are making this excuse shows how truly incompetent the CIA and GOP are.

Unfortunately, Obama only used an executive order to stop torture instead of actual legislation. The next President can rescind the order at any time. I think the Democratic Party may be in shambles. Without someone like 2008 Obama, they just don't have the voters. We could easily see Republican control of all branches of congress in 2016, and their priority will be to repeal Obamacare, the Civil Rights Act, and the New Deal, and try to stop immigration demographic changes to the voting pool. The filibuster may be the only tool left for the dems for some time.

So releasing the report is the only thing the Democrats can realistically do to address the torture problem until they can pass legislation again, which could be a long time. The GOP is doubling down on torture. The international spot light the report puts on the CIA may encourage them to address their problems, though sadly it seems this may not be the case. Feinstein deserves a lot of credit. She has probably done a lot of damage to her standing in the Senate.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:43 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


"So releasing the report is the only thing the Democrats can realistically do to address the tortu..."

Have you read that nifty pamphlet on presidential powers yet, it's a hoot.
posted by clavdivs at 8:51 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would truly like some links to aggressive, fucking angry journalists on this topic. Please tell me there are some out there. For fuck's sake, the depravity.

“Corrupt, toxic and sociopathic”: Glenn Greenwald unloads on torture, CIA and Washington’s rotten soul
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:04 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I love the guy, but Greenwald's kind of a known quantity on the topic. I would like some glimmer of hope that power from the people will be able to do something about both torture and police impunity, but this is going to take legislation on both fronts to criminalize the muscle of the political class.
posted by rhizome at 10:04 AM on December 11, 2014


My Dad was an interrogator for the US Air Force. He was good at what he did, refusing officer's school, it made him a great candidate to take down officers of grade, because they didn't see him coming. When I was outraged by one thing or another "they" were doing he would tell me how stupid "they" were and I was giving them (the US Government) way too much credit. So, when I read about the agency in charge, not even knowing their inventory of souls in custody, I remember his words.

Accountability is the hallmark of effective social service institutions. It is time we, as Americans, demand that from all agencies of our government. I remember when the new (relatively new) CIA building went in, with many floors undergtound and size, there was no cost accounting and no one even knew where they got the money for it.

We are supposed to be one nation, united in the common goals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our focus on forwarding the goals of certain industries the oil, the foreign mining companies, security and support services for them has veered our nation from many of its primary reasons for being.

We don't have to believe or behave how "the big boys" say the world works. They built this, and we can deconstruct it. We can have a nation grounded and functioning within long standing, stated values. Shouting on the internet gives a feeling of action, but often it is just more data for the planners of the ongoing fiasco.

The monster Dick Cheney stands up and says he is a valuable human being who was looking after us all, when he let 9/11 happen, when he went forward adjusting the oil business in Iraq with the murders of both American troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. He is currently patting himself on the back for the win. These architects of the war and torture policy of the Bush puppet administration, belonged then and now in jail, and laugh over their dinners at us, and slap Boehner on the back for going after Obama, and we as a nation are in the worst place we have been for a long time. I assure you we are all running from the hounds, though it seems certain the people of color have it worse, they always have been the lightning rod for what we as a nation are capable of.

It is time to get our country in order, stop funding the offensive war schemes, fund defense, real science, real health, real education and real infrastructure. We need our monies to tend our home renewable energy sources ( I say this rather than tend our home fires, as the old saying goes.)

The reprehensible greed and cowardice that created the way we "defend our nation, and its "interests,"" needs a thorough revamp. We have been set upon each other to make sure this does not happen, and I have no idea how to effect the reunification of purpose this nation so sorely needs.

It is kind of late to be confronting the robbery of the American People which characterized the Bush administration. But we can change how we support overseas business. We can try criminals, even if they are wealthy, powerful and white.

I take it personally torture is still occurring in a pretense of making me secure. That was never why it happened. To say our nation was terrorized by the events of 9/11 is a coward's excuse. We are not a nation of cowards. Even with the torture, I have never been convinced the events happened without complicitous oversight, from within our nation. It was the hard sell of the war economy, put to the services of the energy business. Waterboard Cheney, he'll break in under a minute and tell us all.
posted by Oyéah at 10:22 AM on December 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


retweeted by respectable neocon journalists

what
posted by Sys Rq at 10:27 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


U.S. Gives Up a CIA Torture Victim
Tina Foster, one of al-Najar’s lawyers, said she was informed of his transfer by U.S. authorities yesterday. “It’s a desperate attempt to have to avoid defending obviously the allegations in our petition that he was tortured by the CIA, that has all been confirmed by the government itself,” she said. “The timing of this is horrendous.”

[...]

His condition was so wretched that a military adviser who visited the facility said any U.S. military involvement in his detention would place the military itself at risk if his treatment were ever disclosed. And yet, the CIA inspector general concluded in a later report that the interrogation of al-Najar became a model for dealing with other detainees at the Cobalt facility.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:38 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Dad was an interrogator for the US Air Force. He was good at what he did, refusing officer's school, it made him a great candidate to take down officers of grade, because they didn't see him coming."

Interesting. I applaud him for not becoming an officer and for his service to our nation. Also did he have an invisibility cloak?
posted by clavdivs at 10:54 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Come on folks. The topic is evident and consensus that torture is wrong.

I poke because I want to hear what is being done to stop it. Updating and adding info like the SOA is good. History is very important but it has its limit when used an indictment on a subject matter that has consensus.

Homunculus gave a link to an old meta thread on this subject, it is apt and I appreciated it for its subtle referential nature. Though that Corne link was hinky. Dudes site was crashed after his conflation and he can't spell Khmer (khymer). Pet peeve. What I took away was a qoute from a great mefi.
It's stupid to argue in torture threads.
Your Missed here.
But thanks for that and I bow to you homunc.
posted by clavdivs at 11:14 AM on December 11, 2014


Morris Davis (he tweets) was chief prosecutor in Guantanamo from September 2005 to October 2007. He expressed opposition to torture methods such as sleep deprivation and forbade his teams from allowing testimony obtained via torture. In protest against the questionable methods used by the military commissions at Guantanamo, he ultimately resigned.
"The guy who said waterboarding is A-okay I was not going to take orders from. I quit."
He wrote an article for De Spiegel 2 years ago.
posted by adamvasco at 11:31 AM on December 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


clavdivs: he can't spell Khmer (khymer). Pet peeve. What I took away was a qoute

my pet peeve is guys who can't spell 'quote' lol
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:47 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


The contempt the officers felt for the enlisted interrogator, functioed like a cloak of invisibility, they must have thought they got a free pass, but it didn't work that way. He was very good with a lie box and very good with observation. He was also an excellent marksman, I crawled around the housing area for a week with him at night, while he worked out the details of the rifle and infrared scope. This was just before six weeks of TDY in Berlin. The gangsters he was monitoring came to him in a narrow street late at night and told him they would let him live, if he would walk away.

Things changed as time went by. There has never been accountability, just apologies, occasionally.
posted by Oyéah at 12:36 PM on December 11, 2014


And, it's you're missed.

He who snarks about spelling...
posted by Oyéah at 12:56 PM on December 11, 2014


ugh..this is torture..
posted by bird internet at 1:04 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Airdrops UN approved commas)

Thanks for the tap Q, I love, loving you.

And that is my cue to skidoo from the thread.
posted by clavdivs at 1:41 PM on December 11, 2014


my pet peeve is guys who can't spell 'quote' lol

....dude.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:48 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


You know what, fuck NPR. It just happened again where they had a whole story about it without using the word torture.

Ridiculous and despicable. Who do I write? Sometimes it seems like On The Media tackles these things, isn't there a Mefite there?
posted by odinsdream at 2:35 PM on December 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah seriously fuck NPR. I think I just heard the same report where they didn't use the word torture once. Instead it was referred to as "harsh interrogation methods," "harsh methods," and "harsh tactics." Fuck you Dina Temple-Raston you boot licking sycophant.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:51 PM on December 11, 2014 [5 favorites]




Serious question: if NPR's news is awful, as we all know it is, why are people still listening to it?
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:40 PM on December 11, 2014


Why are we capitalists?
posted by Strass at 3:43 PM on December 11, 2014


I've been listening to it in cars since I was a small child, I'm not sure what else could fill the dead air during my commute, even if I don't much care for the content.
posted by indubitable at 3:44 PM on December 11, 2014


Some time ago I took hastily arranged flight aboard a leased Gulf Stream 5 to a recently reopened airbase in Lithuania. After this flight I found myself standing in front of a naked Pashtun man chained to a wall. He had along beard and had been without sleep for some time. He was talking nonsense. My task was to end the nonsense talk and get him to start providing information.

To do this task I performed a number of carefully designed procedures. There procedures may seem to you like torture, as they did to me when they were first described. They are not torture. have been assured of this by lawyers, superiors and medical professionals. These techniques were developed by psychiatrists, who are obligated by their profession to not engage in torture. Furthermore these techniques have been carefully reviewed by the Department of Justices just to make sure that these techniques conform to the laws and treaty obligations of the United States.

This man who is chained to a wall. He is a dangerous man. He has been captured at great expense. He is held in a classified facility in an allied country that was established through careful negotiations and at a tremendous cost. It is important that we get information from this important terrorist.

Thus I followed the procedure without concern, even though I realize that to your untrained, uninitiated point of view these thing seem grotesque and morally questionable. I proceeded to remove a plastic bag containing a medically sterilized set of wires and alligator clips. I will attach a positive and negative wire via these clips to the man's ball sack. I will then attach the other end into a positive and negative terminal. I will turn a switch allowing an array of ten twelve volt car batteries to send 120 volts of direct current through the subject's ball sack for no more than 8 seconds. The documentation and DOJ memo on this procedure is clear. 10 car batteries and only a direct current may be used. AC or more than 10 batteries and you are no longer engaged in a scientifically established IET protocol, you are torturing a human being. We may not re-use the clips and wires on a second subject, lest we risk spreading disease. We must use a fresh set from a new bag each time. After we are finished with the session the wires and clips will be placed in a red biowaste bag and disposed of using appropriate protocols. Would a real torturer take this care? I doubt it.

I have no idea what he said after I applied this procedure. I do not speak Pashtun. Work is compartmentalized and need to know. I don't have a need to know. Obviously he provided important information. I mean why else would we go through all that. If there was no important information why expensive jet, the secret prison, the repeated application of 8 seconds of 120 volts DC to a sleep deprived Pashtun's ball sack? A procedure part of an integrated program developed at great expense by two psychologists with Ivy League pedigrees. Obviously he talked. They all talked, or at least enough talked for this to make sense. We learned important things. This was not torture.
posted by humanfont at 3:52 PM on December 11, 2014 [11 favorites]


honestly not sure wtf that was so i'm going with "dark satire"
posted by indubitable at 4:01 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Historical fiction?
posted by Strass at 4:14 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


if NPR's news is awful, as we all know it is, why are people still listening to it?

Why do I read the Drudge Report? Because I want to know what the enemy is thinking. Normally NPR is better than most, but it is still rank propaganda for the state. It's good to know what the conventional wisdom is on any given topic from many different perspectives. That being said, listening to a report about torture and the actual word not used once is really frustrating.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:25 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Being untrained, uninitiated is a badge of honor. The reports said the process was designed by Psycholgists, not Pychiatrists, big difference.

The scrotum imagery is torturous and a threat on its own. The money spent, such a value, the millionaire torture psychologists, suppose they will go to work in the teenage boot camp industry when they retire? I am sure their Ivy League education absolutely and dissolutely prepared them to design this highy effective and valuable piece of work that collectively as a nation, we are so proud of.

It is not torture, it is a reality TV quiz show.
posted by Oyéah at 4:29 PM on December 11, 2014




Serious question: if NPR's news is awful, as we all know it is, why are people still listening to it?

I can only answer this personally, of course, but for me it's literally the only station that is bearable for my commute, which is a typical 7:30AM/5:30PM kind of thing. Any other station during this time is borderline Idiocracy-level insanity.

Even so, I do find myself turning it off out of disgust more and more these days. Their subservience to traditional power structures is just shameless. I admit I probably have unrealistic expectations, but when you have a 5-minute story about torture and never use the word, then follow that up with a 5-minute interview with Glenn Close, I just.. what.. what the actual fuck? You spent zero time at all bothering to even remind listeners that we were hearing an interview with someone defending rape, murder, and torture, and instead I hear 2 fucking minutes about how Glenn Close managed a nosebleed.

Literally. What.
posted by odinsdream at 5:50 PM on December 11, 2014 [6 favorites]








>Suspects in trials are biased too, but that doesn't mean they're convicted in their absence. And these guys weren't even interviewed by the senate staffers! If true, that's absolutely ludicrous.

>The Senate's Intelligence Committee staff chose to interview no one...Fairness should dictate that the examination of documents alone do not eliminate the need for interviews conducted by the investigators.

I wonder why they didn't interview anyone? Hmmmmm?

Before Feinstein had even stopped speaking on Tuesday, the New York Times noted that a new website, CIA Saved Lives, had gone live. Created by former CIA officials, one of its primary complaints is that the Senate committee did not contact them for interviews.

But Feinstein has explained repeatedly that no CIA officials were made available because of a 2007 Department of Justice investigation into the destruction of videotapes of CIA detainee interrogations. “CIA employees and contractors who would otherwise have been interviewed by the Committee staff were under potential legal jeopardy,” Feinstein wrote in the executive summary, “and therefore the CIA would not compel its workforce to appear before the Committee.”
(source)

There goes your bias argument.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:54 PM on December 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's funny how similar this is to the NSA Snowden revelations. Pretty much everything coming out of the mouths of the apologists is an outright lie. Too bad we don't have anyone in leadership positions with the gumption and moral fortitude to prosecute those responsible.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:58 PM on December 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


From page 19 (hypertext and italics added):
Notwithstanding the Hart investigation findings, just five years later, in 1983, a CIA officer incorporated significant portions of the KUBARK manual into the Human Resource Exploitation (HRE) Training Manual, which the same officer used to provide interrogation training in Latin America in the early 1980s, and which was used to provide interrogation training to the [REDACTED] in 198[REDACTED]. CIA officer [REDACTED] was involved in the HRE training and conducted interrogations. The CIA inspector general later recommended that he be orally admonished for inappropriate use of interrogation techniques. In the fall of 2002, [REDACTED] became the CIA's chief of interrogations in the CIA's Renditions Group, the officer in charge of CIA interrogations.
This is an organization that has successfully resisted reform since the days of the Church Committee.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 10:38 PM on December 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


The thing to worry about is whether like army surplus, these tools will trickle down to small town police.
posted by infini at 11:04 PM on December 11, 2014


Obama is constrained at present because he doesn't want to make things hard for the next Democratic candidate for President. As soon as the election has been held, just you watch!
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:16 PM on December 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


clavdivs: he can't spell Khmer (khymer). Pet peeve. What I took away was a qoute

my pet peeve is guys who can't spell 'quote' lol

He's been spelling Claudius wrong for years now too.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:55 PM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Too bad we don't have anyone in leadership positions with the gumption and moral fortitude to prosecute those responsible.

I just had one of those 'early morning' thoughts as I rolled out of bed.

Senator Gillibrand's is very outspoken about sexual assault and wants to reform the way reports are handled in the military and on college campuses. However, if she is unwilling and/or unable to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who tortured people in our name, the idea of her actually holding people accountable for sexual assault is empty rhetoric.

She cannot wash her hands of one, and still be taken seriously on the other. Either Due Process and the Rule of Law matter, or they don't.

And I *WILL* be calling her office today at 202-224-4451 and sharing this observation.
posted by mikelieman at 2:35 AM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


One of the hardest things we struggled to make sense of, back then, was why US officials were authorizing harsh techniques when our interrogations were working and their harsh techniques weren’t.
Ali Soufan was an FBI interrogator at a "black site" prison in 2002.
posted by adamvasco at 5:27 AM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon: my pet peeve is guys who can't spell 'quote' lol
Ignore that whizzing sound overhead. It's probably nothing.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:30 AM on December 12, 2014


mikelieman: She cannot wash her hands of one, and still be taken seriously on the other. Either Due Process and the Rule of Law matter, or they don't.
Black-or-White fallacy. If we exclude anyone who is imperfectly fighting to improve the world, no one will remain.

I'm not saying you shouldn't complain, but your thinking is a perfect example of why (I believe) filibuster-proof Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress under a Democratic president would still have problems achieving as much as we'd hope.

Senator Gillibrand is one of the Good Ones.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:36 AM on December 12, 2014


Torture Is Who We Are
The implication of the statements by Obama, King, and Yarmuth is that there is an essential, virtuous America whose purity the CIA defiled. But that’s silly. Aliens did not invade the United States on 9/11. In times of fear, war, and stress, Americans have always done things like this. In the 19th century, American slavery relied on torture. At the turn of the 20th, when America began assembling its empire overseas, the U.S. army waterboarded Filipinos during the Spanish-American War. As part of the Phoenix Program, an effort to gain intelligence during the Vietnam War, CIA-trained interrogators delivered electric shocks to the genitals of some Vietnamese communists, and raped, starved, and beat others.

America has tortured throughout its history. And every time it has, some Americans have justified the brutality as necessary to protect the country from a savage enemy.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:54 AM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


This equivocation business is dangerous. Unlike a lot of those previous examples of brutality in the US, this was a massive, secretly coordinated system of abuse operating right under everyone's noses, a lot more analogous in its logistical dimensions to the Third Reich's secretly putting Jewish populations in death camps while telling the public they were relocating them. What should be unsettling to everyone about this is how not accidental and impulsive it was; this was meticulously planned and executed, with specific players like the CIAs psychologists and other DOJ officials providing carefully designed legal cover.

I don't buy this whole it was a "panic reaction" bullshit. This was a deliberate attempt by political actors who had been advocating for an executive branch with more secret authority and greater latitude to operate independently for many decades before this all came to a head. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush and co have spent years arguing for a stronger, more authoritarian executive with greater ability to operate in secret. This wasn't a panic response; it was an opportunistic use of circumstances to advance an existing agenda.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:02 AM on December 12, 2014 [13 favorites]




CIA Psychologist's Notes Reveal True Purpose Behind Bush's Torture Program
..as Jessen’s notes explain, torture was used to “exploit” detainees, that is, to break them down physically and mentally, in order to get them to “collaborate” with government authorities. Jessen’s notes emphasize how a “detainer” uses the stresses of detention to produce the appearance of compliance in a prisoner.

[...]

“I think it’s about time for SERE to come out from behind the veil of secrecy if we are to progress as a moral nation of laws,” Kearns said during a wide-ranging interview with Truthout. “To take this survival training program and turn it into some form of nationally sanctioned, purposeful program for the extraction of information, or to apply exploitation, is in total contradiction to human morality, and defies basic logic...”
Kearns sounds like an excellent prospective prosecution witness.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:09 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]




If I can have just one thing for Christmas, it would be that any interviews with torture apologists had to include this reading from the report:
As described in the context of the rectal feeding of al-Nashiri, Ensure was infused into al-Nashiri “in a forward facing position (Trendlenberg) with head lower than torso.” According to CIA records, Majid Khan’s ‘lunch tray’ consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins was “pureed” and rectally infused.
I'd then like detailed follow-up on the interviewee's positions on what should or should not be rectally fed to prisoners, and a confirmation as to whether interviewee has been rectally fed anything before.
posted by odinsdream at 10:24 AM on December 12, 2014




The Debate about Torture We’re Not Having: Exploitation
"Guidebook to False Confessions": Key Document John Yoo Used to Draft Torture Memo Released
Air Force Col. Steven Kleinman, a career military intelligence officer recognized as one of the DOD's most effective interrogators as well a former SERE instructor and director of intelligence for JPRA's teaching academy, said he immediately knew the true value of the PREAL manual if employed as part of an interrogation program.

"This is the guidebook to getting false confessions, a system drawn specifically from the communist interrogation model that was used to generate propaganda rather than intelligence," Kleinman said in an interview. "If your goal is to obtain useful and reliable information this is not the source book you should be using."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:36 AM on December 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


> Ali Soufan was an FBI interrogator at a "black site" prison in 2002.

The Interrogator: An extended conversation with Ali Soufan, an FBI agent who was at the center of the 9/11 investigations
posted by homunculus at 10:57 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


It was not torture. To call it torture would be to minimize it. This was a global scale program, developed by mad scientists for the application of state violence. They called it the enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT). What was enhanced about it? Why was it the go to method; not the method of last resort? Even when it was clear that KSM was spouting gibberish after each waterboarding session, they persisted. Why?

Perhaps it was the mindset of the leaders of this conflict. Men who saw this not just in pragmatic, tactile terms. Men who saw this as an appocolyptic battle, at a biblical level. These terrorists were not just our enemy; they were sinners whose souls were tainted by an evil stain. The enhanced interrogation program was not about getting information. It was like the inquisition. Walk the sinners through a hell on earth in order to remove the evil from their soul. The suffering is a penance that will deliver them to the light.
posted by humanfont at 11:10 AM on December 12, 2014


Jon Chait, New York Magazine: The Torture Party: Why Republicans Defend the Most Sadistic Government Program in Recent History
That is more than one can say for the torture apologists. Having dug in to mount an extended, pointillistic defense of waterboarding, they have found their position suddenly overrun, and have retreated to new ground. “Every civilized nation agrees that torture is wrong,” Senator Ted Cruz complained after the report was released, but, “after six years, enough with saying ‘everything is George W. Bush’s fault.’ ” To Cruz and other Republicans still in office, the allegation that the Bush administration used torture had gone from outrageous smear to tired news without ever having passed through the stage of acceptable topic of discussion. Senator Marco Rubio insisted on Twitter, “Those who served us in aftermath of 9/11 deserve our thanks not one-sided partisan Senate report that now places American lives in danger.” Rubio’s previous tweet boasted that the Senate has passed “our bill imposing sanctions against human-rights violators” in Venezuela. The cognitive dissonance surely whooshed right over Rubio’s elegantly coiffed head.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:17 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Another explanation is that in the CIA (and in commerce, and probably in politics) only the most sociopathic people have a chance of advancing to the top. IOW, we are ruled by sick fucks who don't care at all about us.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:45 AM on December 12, 2014


I really have to wonder about the people (I assume mainly guys) who do the actual torturing. What are their lives like?

"Hi honey, I'm home"
"How was your day, dear?"
"Oh, the same really. Had to electrocute this guy's balls seven times today! And they want me to work the weekend too. What's for dinner?"

I'm joking but not really. How on earth do you compartmentalize that? Or does the CIA just have a knack for finding sadists and training them into proto-serial killers?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:56 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing all their work is classified to the nth degree so the conversation probably goes more like this:

"Hi honey, I'm home"
"How was your day, dear?"
"Can't tell you!"

As to the more general question of how they compartmentalize, the people doing the torturing don't see it as an evil act. They see it as a necessary -- perhaps even noble -- process to defeat evil enemies bent on destroying their friends and family. If that weren't the case, yes, it would be hard to waterboard someone, or what have you, day after day.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 12:06 PM on December 12, 2014


The compartmentalization that Noisy Pink Bubbles is talking about is probably not far off - in interviews Jon Stewart's done about Rosewater, he says that a lot of people are surprised at what the torture scenes are like - people always imagine some weird dungeon-type situation and an evil mustache-twirling guy, but really the modern "torture chamber" looks more like a boring doctors' office in a strip mall or an office building, and the guy doing the torturing is really just a guy doing his job.

And ditto on the classification - my father wasn't anywhere NEAR a torturer, but he did have some work in the late 60's designing subs for the military, and got shown a bunch of classified information in the process; and he says that there's some things he saw that he is STILL not allowed to talk about, even though it's been over 40 years and he was just a low-level engineering design yutz.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:12 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


At first, at least, it seems a lot of people hated what they were doing, given the feedback in the beginning. Then I think the CIA got wiser and began to move people into the jobs who could "handle" it better.
posted by Atreides at 12:14 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I really have to wonder about the people (I assume mainly guys) who do the actual torturing. What are their lives like?

"Hi honey, I'm home"
"How was your day, dear?"
"Oh, the same really. Had to electrocute this guy's balls seven times today!Inject a puree of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins up a prisoner's ass. What's for dinner?"

I'm joking but not really. How on earth do you compartmentalize that? Or does the CIA just have a knack for finding sadists and training them into proto-serial killers?


FTFY.
posted by odinsdream at 12:55 PM on December 12, 2014




Learned Helplessness, aka training "bottoms." This is how starving kids are trained into sexual slavery the world over, same principles.
posted by Oyéah at 1:30 PM on December 12, 2014


Read the baby monitor thread newer, human monitors can tell if the employees enjoy torture, with out even asking. They were vetted by verbal response, after a while they could just vet by monitoring the neuro responses of employess. Digital tacit acknowledgement, what I am getting at is this a culture of gross malfeasance. As it has been stated by the experts, there are a lot more effectve ways to get info.
posted by Oyéah at 1:40 PM on December 12, 2014






The implication of the statements by Obama, King, and Yarmuth is that there is an essential, virtuous America whose purity the CIA defiled. But that’s silly. Aliens did not invade the United States on 9/11.

The CIA must have been infiltrated by HYDRA. Our government would never commit such atrocities. We're the good guys.
posted by homunculus at 2:10 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Elephant In The Room Is Iraq

I 100% believe that the entire torture program was created in order to produce false confessions by detainees of connections between Saddam Hussein and Al Queda.
posted by empath at 2:16 PM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Is Mark Udall still considering reading the full torture report into the Congressional record?

These torturer's names should not remain redacted.
posted by anemone of the state at 3:35 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


These torturer's names should not remain redacted.

Ha, interesting question for the MeFi Anti-Doxxing Contingent: given that what's at issue is torture (the nauseating John Brennan's gargoyliform face's spluttering televised bloviations notwithstanding), and that justice for the perpetrators is unlikely to be forthcoming through official channels, would it still be ethically impermissible for some hypothetical vigilante to strap on the old Guy Fawkes mask and make these criminals' identites known? (Not that I think this is particularly plausible scenario; I'd just like to see how far the consensus about doxxing gets taken.)
posted by busted_crayons at 4:04 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I 100% believe that the entire torture program was created in order to produce false confessions

It's certainly true that while torture is an appallingly inefficient way of procuring usable information, it's a very effect method for gathering confessions, especially if the actual guilt of the person giving the confession can't be relied on. If we are to assume that the CIA aren't idiots, we can only conclude that their intention was the latter rather than the former.
posted by Grangousier at 4:11 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]




Drawing on a cache of secret email communications between key players in the torture program and senior officers of the APA, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter James Risen suggests in Pay Any Price, his new book, that the APA rushed to change its ethics rules to allow its members to participate in the torture program.

Speaking of Risen: Justice Department won’t compel journalist James Risen to reveal anonymous source
posted by homunculus at 5:23 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


would it still be ethically impermissible for some hypothetical vigilante to strap on the old Guy Fawkes mask and make these criminals' identites known?

It's like telling jokes: It's OK if you're punching up. CIA torturers? Have at them.
posted by anemone of the state at 5:56 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Good news for Risen.
posted by rhizome at 6:34 PM on December 12, 2014


Congress Authorizes Spying On All Americans Without Due Process

Unless I'm missing something super sneaky, there's nothing at all in H.R.4681 even remotely like that.

As "anti-media" as I am myself, there's something to be said for news organizations that employ fact-checkers.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:38 PM on December 12, 2014


There's some pretty terrible language in Section 309. Ctrl-F "Enciphered".
posted by anemone of the state at 6:48 PM on December 12, 2014


For the record, that bit was (emphasis added):
(B) Limitation on retention.--A covered communication shall
not be retained in excess of 5 years, unless--

(i) the communication has been affirmatively
determined, in whole or in part, to constitute foreign
intelligence or counterintelligence or is necessary to
understand or assess foreign intelligence or
counterintelligence;
(ii) the communication is reasonably believed to
constitute evidence of a crime and is retained by a law
enforcement agency;
(iii) the communication is enciphered or reasonably
believed to have a secret meaning;

posted by anemone of the state at 6:53 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fuck. Nothing is going to be done about this. We just don't learn anymore. I'm more ashamed of America and my fellow Americans now than I've ever been of anything. America is a dead letter now.

the communication is enciphered or reasonably 
believed to have a secret meaning;


So any communication that employs metaphor, irony, or double entendre, then? I mean, depending on the interpretation of the judge on the bench at the time. Only approved speech patterns that aren't "double-minded," or metacognitive, will be allowed soon. We're squeezing all complex thought out of public life, bit by bit, in ways both obvious and subtle now. /triedtomakeajokebutjustfelttoobitter
posted by saulgoodman at 7:08 PM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]




Fuck. Nothing is going to be done about this. We just don't learn anymore. I'm more ashamed of America and my fellow Americans now than I've ever been of anything. America is a dead letter now.

It's easy to get depressed, but just remember: If you have any talent or inspiration whatsoever, a day spent using that talent and inspiration to make life miserable for the powerful is a day well spent.

People today only have what rights they have because people fought for them in the past.
posted by anemone of the state at 7:56 PM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


would it still be ethically impermissible for some hypothetical vigilante to strap on the old Guy Fawkes mask and make these criminals' identites known?

Personally, I believe the NSA and CIA -- at the very least, but probably including several other shadowy US intelligence organizations -- should be nuked from orbit. And since they break laws and lie to Congress with impunity, there seems to be no way of holding them to account short of some vigilante justice. Hack away, I say. Disclosing the identities of the people involved with these awful programs seems like a very minimal step in that context.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:41 PM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Lets overthink this plate of beans.

If indeed we, as a community, are against doxxing, then wouldn't making this exception for these people take us down the same slippery slope that they went down in the context of this thread?

Secondly

reasonably
believed to have a secret meaning;


Hamburger, lets FIAMO or DTMFA will soon be the way everyone will start talking to each other.
posted by infini at 1:58 AM on December 13, 2014




I'm not going to let it drag me down personally, but I guess I've got no illusions left that America as it exists today is legitimate. If one guy can be choked to death for the crime of selling loose cigarettes while others get away year after year with carrying out criminal conspiracies like Iran/Contra (flooding American neighborhoods with cocaine, selling weapons and funding insurgencies against the explicit will of the public) and the secret prison torture complex without even losing their social standing or political power, the American system of justice is a perverse joke.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:30 AM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Let's overthink this plate of beans"

At least it is a plate of beans, and not a pastry bag 'o beans.

We the people have been doing the awful all over the world for some time to create and facilitate businesses, legal or illegal. One company insider discussed our doings in South America in the sixties, I think it was Agee. The alphabet soup forms in the Ivy League," American Interests" they serve are buiness interests, especially setting up governments who allow resource exploitation. We the people have been walking all over the indigenous peoples of the world, and hurting the well being of nations a long time. Currently we are going after the Apache sacred lands in North Easten Arizona, and in a strange twist giving Native American lands to a foreign corporation.

We the people should think over who we serve with this dark Rube Goldberg, contraption. It is amazing to see the victims of our torture practices, taken in by the tearful survivors of torture.

Unless there is serious and prolonged public outcry, we the people will continue to function as a criminal enterprise, the biggest and baddest bullies on earth. This system is so sick and endemic and self serving, it utterly mocks reason anymore.

If you can, turn this sucker inside out. Reveal every seeming corporation, that is actually a cover, reveal every drug cartel that actually is a money making arm, make sure all the teen bootcamp schools anywhere are not staffed, owned or run by torturers. Get our people back inside the US, and change the way we do business.

This global BS we the people are now enslaved by, these oil alliances, mining alliances, military dictatorial alliances, the bullying for the .01 percent does not serve the planet or life.

What is the goal of this system? The end product? A big spaceport, we have mined the Ringwoodite, sold the extra ocean water, the lucky can go somewhere that is still alive? Everyone in the global service caste must wear a jumpsuit of a certain color? How does this story progress say in fifty years? I think the powers that be, allow forward thinking conferences where they make pretty pictures of Tesla's stuff, and so forth, and use these people like decorations for parties, where they all gather and wear their new stuff, designed by millenials, but still dig up Alberta, and girdle our grasslands our grainlands with potenial disaster.

Then we try to teach anti-bullying curriculum in schools, when in fact bullying is the defacto means by which we the people operate. You can wrap yourself in your impotence, and smallness and say we don't do this, but we allowed it and therefore we do. I lived as a child in West Germany in the early fifties. The German people (whom I liked then, and whom I admire now) all claimed to have fought on the eastern front. We the people can not say we didn't torture. We the people can not point to some convention that says punishing individuals by solitary confinement, rape, anal anything, amateur electric memory reassignment, genital anything, anything under 60 degrees, or over 95 degrees for that matter, harm to family, is OK or justifiable.

We the have to call court on our employees who have taken to criminal practices. We the people have to let our employees know they are fired. We the people must let our erstwhile managers know we think them guilty of murder, torture, misuse of funds, and resources. We the people should prosecute, and jail these former managers, and in the process find out what they tried to cover up in these processes. Then we have to move off this entire paradigm and become what we imagine we are, a great nation, the land of the free, a beacon of creativity and compassion and reason.

I love this place, but the shadow management sucks. We the people should not be defined by such as these, sham, would be patriots and heroes. We have plenty of real patriots, real heroes who serve the the people and well being of our nation. I honor and commend all sacrifices, everyone who tried to make sense of 9/11, every life lost. These "would be heroes" paint us as a nation of cowards and bullies, murders, manipulators, global shakedown artists. We the people are not this, we should not succumb to helplessness on this or any other issue of national identity.
posted by Oyéah at 9:58 AM on December 13, 2014


Learned Helplessness, yeah have we all learned our helplessness yet? If we don't, when is the next lesson?
posted by Oyéah at 10:13 AM on December 13, 2014


Of fear, loathing and tortured bodies and souls - Hisham Melhem
...the report raises a daunting question about a uniquely American dilemma: How can a colossus power, an empire in fact with strategic and economic interests all over the world reconcile defending these interests with maintaining its democratic ethos?

[...]

Most Arab states were members in this confederacy of torturers. It is as if their motto was: we torture your prisoners, so that we can torture our prisoners with impunity, now that we are partners in crime. The “extraordinary rendition” program, suspended by President Obama, meant that the U.S. during the presidency of George W. Bush had pioneered what might be called the “globalization of torture” by using a wide international network of prison systems, to help capture, interrogate, transport and outsource torture to foreign government, and engage in practices it cannot engage in on American soil.

[...]

Focusing only on the CIA and its failings during the “war on terrorism” lets the whole political class off the hook. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were overwhelmingly supported by the democratic members of congress. After 13 years of the invasion of Afghanistan (a worthy objective had it remained limited only to punishing Al Qaeda perpetrators and their Taliban enablers) and 11 years after the disastrous invasion of Iraq, none of the senior Bush administration officials expressed even a whiff of mea culpa. None of the people who ordered the invasions that led to the death and wounding of tens of thousands of American soldiers, and a countless number of Afghans and Iraqis is willing to own their decisions, or to engage in serious introspection or self-criticism. [...] At times the U.S. looked and behaved like a third world country: the leadership commits costly and literally bloody blunders, and everybody’s heads remained intact.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:30 AM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Refusing to Take Sides, NPR Takes Sides With Torture Deniers

Whoa, I can feel the heat of that burn in the postscript all the way over here on the other side of the internet.
posted by indubitable at 10:55 AM on December 13, 2014


Currently we are going after the Apache sacred lands in North Easten Arizona, and in a strange twist giving Native American lands to a foreign corporation.

Are you refering to the land being taken from the San Carlos Apache Tribe and given to Resolution Copper?

Fuck, it really is business as usual. I was just starting to respect John McCain again over his stance on the torture report, but this is bullshit.
posted by homunculus at 11:16 AM on December 13, 2014


Given to Rio Tinto. It should go to the supremes as unlawful search and seizure. The US military geosurveyed the whole planet and sold the data. This POS is in the new budget under defense. Tinto is having bad times in Utah with a large landslide that cut down the profits there. They have made a huge mess. *Yawn*, on to new horizons. This is supposed to become the biggest copper mine in the world, dumping Mercury, smelting into the air of Monument Valley, and all flowing waste water ultimately hits the Colorado. It has to be near Canyon De Chelly. Prevailing winds will take the stuff over the New Mexico res.

This attitude of gimme is part of the endemic corruption of our system. The other Senator from Arizona just went off about NA people being wards of the government while is busy selling their stuff. The colonial attitude is not over, the chauvinism, the priviledge, and with it the tacit stance this is all OK we are the players here, noxious Sneaking this theft into the budget just before Christmas recess, noxious theft.
posted by Oyéah at 12:44 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I finally heard NPR use the word "torture"! It was on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, the jihadi propaganda show comedy news quiz. Peter Sagal accepted "the torture report" as the correct answer to a current events question.

Meanwhile this morning on actual State Radio News Hour I listened to Scott Simon bend over backwards avoiding the T-Word in this report. Despite the web headline "Yale Law Professor: Torture Is Never Justified", the word "torture" was never used on the radio. The transcript reflects that Simon used the word in an interrogative sense in this other report.

It's a striking editorial stance they've taken, I imagine it sits poorly with many of their journalists.

I haven't read the actual report summary from the Senate. What nouns do they use for the torture they are reporting about?
posted by Nelson at 12:57 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


If indeed we, as a community, are against doxxing, then wouldn't making this exception for these people take us down the same slippery slope that they went down in the context of this thread?


That's a terrible argument.

What about publishing leaked information? There's a difference, for example, between The Fappening and the Stratfor hack or Cablegate. One isn't in the public interest. The others are.
When government is corrupt and refuses to take action against people who made prisoners stand on broken legs and raped them to the point of anal prolapse, it's in the public interest that their identities be made public.
posted by anemone of the state at 1:06 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


You can bet they won't mention rectal prolapse on NPR. The world did not allow the "We didn't know" defense in the case of post WW2 Germany. They are still looking for the torturers and murderes.

Managment has to pay. I wonder how many Americans were snuffed for failure to play along with this? You have to guess that happened. Given the scope of this and the long term application of these means.
posted by Oyéah at 1:25 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Try to have some perspective. America has come a long way in 200 years. We gone from a motley lot of genacidal, slave owning revolutionary tax protestors to this. During WWII we rounded up thousands of innocent Japanese Americans with no evidence and put them in prison camps for the duration of the war. The conditions in those camps were terrible and we never punished anyone for it.
posted by humanfont at 2:55 PM on December 13, 2014


Untrained CIA Agents Were Just Making Up Torture Methods As They Went Along

"I know 27 ways to ask questions, herp derp"
posted by infini at 3:12 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


The black humour would be in finding out that nobody knew the local language and they just kept yelling louder in English.
posted by infini at 4:44 PM on December 13, 2014


Untrained CIA Agents Were Just Making Up Torture Methods As They Went Along

If you really believed in the "ticking time bomb" argument, wouldn't you use your absolute best interrogator? And have that person backed up by a whole host of analysts, with the information distributed widely? I mean, the accuracy and the timeliness of the information are both crucial; you wouldn't want to take any risk that something may be overlooked. But no, the people assigned to torture duty were unstable clods; and their overseers weren't any better. They literally didn't know how many people they had imprisoned! Many of the prisoners were ignored for months! People died in custody because of the incompetence of their torturers, with any hypothetical information they possessed gone forever.

The impression I have is that the decision to use torture was made at the highest levels, but the actual torture was delegated all the way down the line. Officers at each subsequent rank swiftly saw that torture was useless and potentially career-damaging so they confined themselves to support roles: building prisons, setting up illegal rendition and so forth. The people who actually carried out the torture were at the lowest levels that could be entrusted with such a secret activity, both in terms of rank and of intelligence. Anyone smarter found a way to be assigned elsewhere. Consequently, you end up with a CIA genius trying to save the free world by sticking raisins in a prisoner's bum.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:56 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not just torture: Senator says CIA stalling over bogus intelligence that led to Iraq war: "CIA Director John Brennan, under fire over the Senate report on the CIA’s use of torture, is facing new heat over his role in what a senior lawmaker calls an apparent coverup involving bogus intelligence used by the George W. Bush administration to help justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq."
posted by homunculus at 5:01 PM on December 13, 2014 [7 favorites]




I have to wonder if anything like this level of heat would be on the CIA if they hadn't been arrogant enough to pull that stunt where they hacked the investigators' computers. Dianne Feinstein strikes me as someone who is usually extremely cozy with the military/industrial and intelligence communities.
posted by indubitable at 8:35 PM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Try to have some perspective: the nation is run by sociopathic criminal gangs that engage in drug trade for income and weapons trade for laundering, the nexus of which is the CIA, and thoroughly documented as such.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:52 PM on December 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Conor Friedersdorf at his searing best:
Fox Catches Dick Cheney Lying About Torture
Take the moment in the Fox News interview when Baier brings up Senator Mark Udall's statement about former CIA Director Leon Panetta's review of CIA torture, and the fact that it reaches some of the same conclusions as the Senate report.

Here is Cheney's actual retort: "Well, I don't know where he was on 9/11, but he wasn't in the bunker." Baier seemed stunned that Cheney doesn't have any substantive rebuttal. I'm not. Many of Cheney's positions on this subject have no basis in fact.

It's nice to see a Fox News anchor help to expose that.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:09 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


King Leopold's GhostFormer US Air Force psychologist Dr James Mitchell confirms his role in designing the CIA's torture program.

And apparently it's all the fault of the media:
The New York Times has alleged that waterboarding was used on IS captive James Foley, who was later beheaded on video.

“I feel horrible about that I really do,” says Dr Mitchell. “But I think the primary responsibility for that lies with the media. Because the program was classified, they’re the ones that spread it out in public, made it a hotbed issue ... so they kind of highlighted it as something you would want to do and I’m surprised more people aren’t doing it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:35 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Odd choice of photo for this OpEd on torture in The Guardian.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:48 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Refusing to Take Sides, NPR Takes Sides With Torture Deniers

The photo accompanying that piece is one every American should be forced to look at.

NPR's enthusiastic willingness to go along with describing torture "enhanced interrogation" was the last straw for me with them. "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" are now effectively DoD / CIA / NSA press releases with hip interstitial music.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:23 AM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


UK report to be released on 17th apparently.

Phil Shiner, a solicitor with the law firm PIL (Public Interest Lawyers), which is handling the claims, said: "These cases involving the most serious human rights violations imaginable pose immensely difficult questions. The UK mindset in Iraq appears to be one of savage brutality and a sadistic inhumanity, irrespective of whether it was women, children or old men being tortured, abused or callously subjected to lethal force. The systemic issues must now be dealt with in public."
posted by infini at 6:24 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


CIA report describes medical personnel’s intimate role in harsh interrogations
In some cases, they warned that interrogation sessions, both planned and underway, risked exceeding guidelines they had compiled. But in most instances documented, medical personnel appear to be enablers — advising that shackles be loosened to avoid extreme edema while a detainee was subjected to prolonged standing or stress positions; covering a wound in plastic during water dousing; and administering “rectal feeding” and “rectal rehydration,” which one medical official described as an apparently effective way to “clear a person’s head” and get him to talk.

[...]

Abu Zubaida “seems very resistant to the water board,” the medical officer wrote. “Longest time with the cloth over his face so far has been 17 seconds. This is sure to increase shortly. NO useful information so far. . . . He did vomit a couple of times during the water board with some beans and rice. It’s been 10 hours since he ate so this is surprising and disturbing. We plan to only feed Ensure for a while now.”
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:25 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]




Apparently this (NPR not using the word torture) has come up before:

NPR Ombudsman: Harsh Interrogation Techniques or Torture?

NPR’s ombudsman: Why we bar the word “torture”

NPR Ombudsman: Your Voices Have Been Heard

From way back in 2007, a piece on the orgin of the word "enhanced interrogation":

"Verschärfte Vernehmung"

Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I'm not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn't-somehow-torture - "enhanced interrogation techniques" - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:18 AM on December 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


Cheney on Meet the Press

Cheney does demonstrate, I have to say, incredible, psychopathic levels of delusion, deception, and sophistry in his almost comical attempts to evade calling anything we did "torture."
posted by shivohum at 10:48 AM on December 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Those 2009 NPR ombudsman articles are some serious MiniTrue goodthink. I get that NPR is trying to be precise in their reporting and that the word "torture" is both a strong emotional term and a term with specific legal significance in US law. But then again, the acts described in the report are clearly torture by any reasonable use of the word. It bothers me to see NPR get all hair splitting to avoid duckspeak.

To answer my own question, a quick skim of this searchable copy of the report suggests the committee also avoided the word "torture" as the noun to designate CIA actions on prisoners. They don't shy away from the word entirely, it's on 15% of the pages, but always either as a quote or else in the context of talking about the specific question of the US legal ban on torture and whether CIA actions affected it. There's lots of other condemnatory language; "abuse", "improper actions", "brutal".
posted by Nelson at 10:56 AM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here's a map of all the countries that helped the CIA torture program. The source is this Dec 9 Huffington Post article. (Please look past the unfortunate decision not to color the US in on the map.)
posted by Nelson at 11:00 AM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Cheney comments today are maddening, despicable, etc, but I do appreciate his determination to insist that the torture regime was not the result of a rogue or befuddled CIA, as the Senate's report would have it, but that he and his colleagues at the highest echelons of the Administration knew about them, approved them, and insisted upon them. It's as if he's challenging the rest of us do something about it.

One hopes that some authority somewhere has the brass to take him up on it.
posted by notyou at 11:03 AM on December 14, 2014 [7 favorites]




"Members of the Senate and the House were briefed. Many of them are lying right now about not having been briefed," Gary Berntsen, a top official and former station chief, said on AM 970 radio show "The Cats Roundtable."

Honestly, I have no problem at all believing this is true. The whole "what? they were doing what? why weren't we told? of *course* we'd never agree to that!" dance is pretty insulting.
posted by rr at 12:32 PM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Shame on The Hill for allowing itself to be used as a channel for official propaganda. Every time I see something attributed to an anonymous "senior official" I die a little inside.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:34 PM on December 14, 2014


To answer my own question, a quick skim of this searchable copy of the report suggests the committee also avoided the word "torture" as the noun to designate CIA actions on prisoners

There seems to be the desire to attach a judgement term (torture) to the report which is describing what was done. The idea that the report, which MUST provide a series of reports describing what was actually done should add "were tortured by ... " before each instance comes from a very childish desire. It is not necessary and adds nothing. The descriptions stand for themselves without decoration.
posted by rr at 12:36 PM on December 14, 2014


Yes, what we should do is not judge shoving tubes up peoples asses until their intestines fall out.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:58 PM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


You are confused. A report is intended to be factual. Adding that noise accomplishes nothing. It's coming from a childish desire to have the position of the reader re-enforced over and over. Read the facts and make a decision without someone having to spoonfeed you how you should feel.
posted by rr at 1:10 PM on December 14, 2014


'Torture' is a factual word. 'Harsh' or 'enhanced' 'interrogation' is a term invented specifically to avoid using the word torture.

It's hard to read the facts when the facts are being obfuscated at every turn. Go read 1984.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:14 PM on December 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


One, you're being a ass.

Two, the idea that any strictly factual piece of writing should never use a word with any normative content is unjustified and certainly not universal or desireable.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:19 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think rr attributed to me the position that the report should be using the word "torture". FWIW, I didn't take that position. (And don't). I'm dismayed by such uncivil language as "childish desire" though, Metafilter usually tries to be better than that.

I do think reporting in colloquial English from journalists should use the word "torture".
posted by Nelson at 1:41 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


If someone isn't going to call torture what it clearly is, then they're not acting in good-faith. Therefore, there's no point in trying to discuss the issues of not holding those who MADE THE CHOICE to torture prisoners in their custody accountable under the Law.
posted by mikelieman at 1:49 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


it is frustrating that the only people who get to talk to reporters are the true believers. Based on reports of low morale at the CIA among the rank and file, I'm skeptical that any senior leader has any idea what the rank and file employees think.
posted by humanfont at 2:38 PM on December 14, 2014


You don't have to do any mental gymnastics to see how disingenuous this is. NPR and most other outlets regularly use the correct word to describe what happened to John McCain. Since what we did to our prisoners (and note even this term is subject to the same waffling) is objectively at least as bad, and arguably worse, it's clearly torture.

Note that this proof is an attempt to just avoid the whole thing about whether you think it is or isn't torture, and is just a means to demonstrate that NPR and others like them are full of shit.
posted by odinsdream at 2:42 PM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


What is the point of this quibbling? Torture is an actual thing and it is silly and childish to pretend that we are being more intellectual and less judgmental by using an impoverished vocabulary. The OED defines it as
1. The infliction of severe bodily pain, as punishment or a means of persuasion; spec. judicial torture, inflicted by a judicial or quasi-judicial authority, for the purpose of forcing an accused or suspected person to confess, or an unwilling witness to give evidence or information [...]
2. Severe or excruciating pain or suffering (of body or mind); anguish, agony, torment; the infliction of such.
Does it make sense to describe the USA's actions in any other terms? This is what Cheney himself says they were doing!
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:48 PM on December 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


What is the point of this quibbling?

"Torture" has a specific legal implication. "Torture" is still illegal in the US, "enhanced interrogation" is not. That's why I think it's appropriate the Senate Committee Report doesn't use the word "torture"; to use it would implies making a judgement on the legality of the CIA's actions, which was not the committee's goal.

Cheney himself explicitly made this distinction in a sound bite I heard on CBS Radio today, something like "we made sure we stopped short of torture". Apparently Cheney considers 50 hours of sleep deprivation, near-drowning, being forced to sit naked on cold concrete until you die of exposure, and hummus enemas as mere interrogation tactics, not actual torture. I would dearly love to see a court of law rule on that but I fear that will never happen. (At least not an American court. Joke on Twitter today: "Did you hear Cheney won a sailboat? All he has to do is go to The Hague to pick it up.")

Of course, all of this is ridiculous hair-splitting for anyone with a shred of moral decency or humanity. But that's exactly what's being done by NPR and everyone else who refuses to use the word "torture" when colloquially describing the actions of the US government.

Language aside, what bothers me most is my feeling of personal moral responsibility, as an American, for the actions taken by my country. I support Amnesty International and Doctors without Borders and the like, but it's really not enough to wash away the stain.
posted by Nelson at 3:07 PM on December 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


"Torture" has a specific legal implication. "Torture" is still illegal in the US, "enhanced interrogation" is not.

That's magical thinking and it serves nobody's interests other than the torturers. The word "torture" isn't a legal term per se. It's an act that is forbidden by law, but it was a recognised act before there were laws forbidding it. In contrast, things like "murder" and "theft" only exist because they are defined by law: someone killed in self-defense has not been murdered, nor has someone executed under law, even if I feel that this is wrong.

In any event, the United Nations Convention against Torture defines torture as
Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
Is there any doubt at all that the USA was torturing people? If not, use the damn word.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:47 PM on December 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


He did vomit a couple of times during the water board with some beans and rice. It’s been 10 hours since he ate so this is surprising and disturbing. We plan to only feed Ensure for a while now.”

Yeah, "Disturbing", no shit
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:01 PM on December 14, 2014


This idea that new outlets don't want to use the term "torture" because it's a legal term is so much bullshit, I can't believe anybody believes it. News outlets use legal terms with specific meanings all the time - "first degree murder", "no contest", "probable cause". Why is this one special? Oh, because it serves powerful interests to cover it up? And here I thought journalists were supposed to be fighting against secrets, not aiding and abetting them.
posted by zug at 5:15 PM on December 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


... comes from a very childish desire. It is not necessary and adds nothing. The descriptions stand for themselves without decoration.

I'd like to clarify something. I have not said anything in this thread about my opinions of the wording found in the report itself. For one thing, we have a heavily redacted version, so it's not really useful to argue about what the report fails to mention. We can only go with what it does mention.

Further, the report as you have noted, includes the actual description of events, for the parts we have available.

My criticism is with an organization which claims to provide a journalistic role, and their choice of language. I take issue with your assertion that it's just a childish desire to care about the kinds of words, as if I'm crossing off a checklist of "yep - said Torture, all is well now."

The lack of using this word is one of many things wrong with their coverage; it's a symptom of a subservience to power structures and an indicator of a lack of integrity. Again, their addition of the actual word "torture" wouldn't solve anything by itself.

Take a look at any of their coverage on this, though, and I think you'll find several troubling aspects including softening language itself, laying out stories with the torture-apologist position carefully presented as the "reasoned" approach, selecting interview guests from a pool of torture apologists, few or no attempts to present primary source documentation, such as the words from detainees themselves, or the report itself, and programming these segments with little time for examination and following them with fluff.

Look at the words themselves: Harsh interrogation techniques. Every bit of this phrase is designed to steer you away from anything resembling an immoral act. Harsh as in "oh that job interview was a bit harsh". Interrogation implies an information-gathering exercise, something that's part of a system of controls, training, processes. It's a familiar term that immediately frames the situation in a positive light. Techniques implies some sort of step-by-step process, it may even bring up images of clinical operations.

Every fucking bit of this is designed to put you off the target. Every fucking bit. And if we're to pretend that they want to simply avoid taking a stance on the issue, that's way off the mark. The proper way to do that would be to actually use the description of events, to ask probing questions about the utility, to follow up on evasion, to challenge guests on their assertions.

None of this transpires with NPR's coverage, and pointing that out isn't childish.
posted by odinsdream at 5:29 PM on December 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


Didn't Cheney say he'd torture again. Again, the plausible deniability feint,"partisan politics."
posted by Oyéah at 5:54 PM on December 14, 2014


Dick Cheney's David Frost Moment
Keep in mind, Cheney was not talking about the accidental death of innocents on the battlefield. Every war involves the accidental death of innocents, but just war standards command that every reasonable effort be made to avoid them. This was someone in the custody of the United States, who had done no wrong and was mistakenly taken into custody, whose physical mistreatment by representatives of the United States killed him while in custody. Faced with that travesty of justice, Dick Cheney could not even muster a perfunctory expression of regret.
The ‘24’ Effect: How ‘Liberal Hollywood’ Carried Water For Torture

Judge orders sweeping 9/11 trial secrecy review
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, CUBA
The judge overseeing the Sept. 11 mass murder trial has ordered prosecutors to go back and look at secrets sealed up in the court record to assess what the public can now see in light of this week’s revelations in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s so-called Torture Report.

The chief prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, declined to discuss the three-page order on Saturday — neither its substance nor its implications — because it was not yet made public.

But four attorneys who read it said the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, on Friday instructed the prosecution to carry out a sweeping review of more than two years of classified trial filings.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:15 PM on December 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Every fucking bit of this is designed to put you off the target. Every fucking bit. And if we're to pretend that they want to simply avoid taking a stance on the issue, that's way off the mark. The proper way to do that would be to actually use the description of events, to ask probing questions about the utility, to follow up on evasion, to challenge guests on their assertions

But not the report itself, which doesn't do this at all. I was specifically commenting on the complaining at the word count for "torture" in the report as if that meant anything at all or was a productive (as opposed to points-scoring) line of discussion.

Frankly, I think the idea that talking about what we did without pre-chewing it to "torture" is ridiculous. Look at Obama's own almost-lightweight-comical use of the word torture in his statements. "Tortured some folks" is 100000% less impactful than staying we made a man stand on his broken legs for days on end. "Torture" is the cover word for the actual acts, not the other way around.
posted by rr at 6:20 PM on December 14, 2014


what we are saying that using the term 'enhanced interrogation techniques' instead of 'torture' is fucked up, not using 'torture' instead of describing the actual acts.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:32 PM on December 14, 2014


rr: perhaps we're just talking past each other. You were talking to someone about word-counting the report. I was talking about NPR's coverage. I do absolutely agree with you that using the fully descriptive language to explain what the situations entailed is preferable, but of course the NPR coverage doesn't even come close.
posted by odinsdream at 6:32 PM on December 14, 2014


RR, that path leads to a reporter respectfully talking about "rectal rehydration" rather than saying what actually happened, which is that US agents pureed the contents of someone's lunch tray and jammed it up his ass. Torture really is tormenting someone in order to get their cooperation. If we don't use that word we're going to be stuck with "enhanced" or "harsh" interrogation, not some litany of "and then we let this guy go blind because we were denying him medical treatment, and we froze that guy to death, and ..."
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:34 PM on December 14, 2014


All you are nitpicking is how detailed we want to be. Pretty sure that "rectal feeding" is sufficient to get people to stop and pause in a way that the word "torture" is not.

What people should be doing instead of whining about the coverage is being blunt when the topic comes up: it's not funny nor is it trivial and no, they didn't have it coming, and furthermore anyone who claims to be a conservative who supports an vast, oversize, well-funded government agency run amok and operating outside of the legal system and the basic premises of the American way (in a very real sense) is not a conservative at all, they are the liberal big-government types they claim to be worried about. And by "blunt" I do not mean scoring points.
posted by rr at 6:40 PM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


perhaps we're just talking past each other. You were talking to someone about word-counting the report. I was talking about NPR's coverage. I do absolutely agree with you that using the fully descriptive language to explain what the situations entailed is preferable, but of course the NPR coverage doesn't even come close

We are talking past one another, yes.

NPR is in a weird position and is not the tool of the left that the right wing echo chamber has made it out to be; it is very weird that there are so many people who expect them to be despite the evidence. Consider, to try and understand their position, that they have been similarly tepid about the uptick in drone killings by the United States (which is this administration's version of a solution to the same problem).

If they're doing honest (even if tepid) coverage they are probably doing a reasonable job in the long term.
posted by rr at 6:44 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


What people should be doing instead of whining about the coverage is being blunt when the topic comes up

what a stupid argument. we can do more than one thing you know
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:45 PM on December 14, 2014


One of my favorite headlines to date, complete with eyes closed cover pic,"Karl Rove defends rectal feeding." He also states Bush knew about it all, eventually, but expressed discomfort at some of the specifics. So are they passing the figurative buck up the line?

This time is a perfect/ imperfect storm with accompanying protests regarding the police state.
posted by Oyéah at 6:48 PM on December 14, 2014


Many things are possible that are rarely observed in practice.
posted by rr at 6:48 PM on December 14, 2014


I was specifically commenting on the complaining at the word count for "torture" in the report

No one did that.
posted by Nelson at 6:52 PM on December 14, 2014


maybe it wasn't a complaint, maybe it was a childish whine?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:59 PM on December 14, 2014


To answer my own question, a quick skim of this searchable copy of the report suggests the committee also avoided the word "torture" as the noun to designate CIA actions on prisoners. They don't shy away from the word entirely, it's on 15% of the pages, but always either as a quote or else in the context of talking about the specific question of the US legal ban on torture and whether CIA actions affected it. There's lots of other condemnatory language; "abuse", "improper actions", "brutal".

"avoided"

etc.
posted by rr at 6:59 PM on December 14, 2014


Torture is illegal, if our legislative body says it enough times, maybe they will have to do something about the lawbreaking. Suddenly the players are passing the buck up the line while coming out of the woodwork like a whack-a-mole game.
posted by Oyéah at 7:07 PM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Many things are possible that are rarely observed in practice.

Yes, for example, the possibility that you are not concern trolling. Are you really so obtuse as to believe that pointing out the spineless and subservient position of NPR precludes whatever your rambling counterpoint was supposed to be?

NPR is in a weird position and is not the tool of the left that the right wing echo chamber has made it out to be; it is very weird that there are so many people who expect them to be despite the evidence.

Thank you for tipping your hand. But please do explain how calling torture by its name constitutes a media outlet being a "tool of the left."
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:09 PM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


All you are nitpicking is how detailed we want to be. Pretty sure that "rectal feeding" is sufficient to get people to stop and pause in a way that the word "torture" is not.

"Rectal feeding" isn't a real thing, per Wikipedia. If you Google "rectal alimentation" you will find medical articles from the early 1900s discussing why this doesn't work: the lower intestine is incapable of digestion; they might as well have been pumping concrete up there. We also know why they did it anyway: it was grossly painful and humiliating and it was therefore a useful "interrogative technique."

So it's not "feeding"; it never could have been "feeding"; and it wasn't intended to be "feeding". You're promoting the use of the torturer's made-up term that was designed to obfuscate the issue. It's like saying "terminating" or "despatching" instead of "killing", except that it's apparently still subtle enough to fool some people.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:11 PM on December 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


I would not wipe my arse with The Spectator, reason #513: ‘Torture is torture’ ignores the complex nature of intelligence gathering

Summary: "The report is probably a pack of lies. And not all torture is torture! Would you say that slapping a prisoner amounts to torture? Some would! [and they'd likely be right - Joe] Anything worse - if it happened at all - must be addressed by the CIA, of course. Anyway, we did worse things fighting the IRA and who knows how many lives were saved. Going on about this just encourages foreigners to hate us. Also, Obama's worse, neener neener."
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:18 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


American exceptionalism.

Who knew they meant exceptions from international law and war crimes.
posted by JackFlash at 10:57 PM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


America tortures. So whatcha gonna do about it?

CIA sotto voice: that's what I thought. And thus the world is ruled.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:35 PM on December 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


So when exactly did Nostradamus say the antichrist was arriving again?
posted by infini at 6:20 AM on December 15, 2014




oh darn bukvich, I thought you'd linked to this
posted by infini at 6:58 AM on December 15, 2014




Pretty sure that "rectal feeding" is sufficient to get people to stop and pause in a way that the word "torture" is not.

I would call it 'anal rape'.
posted by empath at 7:40 AM on December 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


We had this GRAR back when "collateral damage" was first introduced. Don't worry... in a few months, all will be forgotten and world can carry on as per plans.
posted by infini at 7:43 AM on December 15, 2014


Willingness to torture became, first within elite government and opinion-making circles, then in the culture generally, and finally as a partisan GOP talking point, a litmus test of seriousness with respect to the fight against terrorism. That – proving one’s seriousness in the fight – was its primary purpose from the beginning, in my view. It was only secondarily about extracting intelligence. It certainly wasn’t about instilling fear or extracting false confessions – these would not have served American purposes. It was never about “them” at all. It was about us. It was our psychological security blanket, our best evidence that we were “all-in” in this war, the thing that proved to us that we were fierce enough to win.
[The American Conservative]
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:46 AM on December 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


It turns out that CIA Officer 1 was accidentally identified by the government in 2012

So it seems that the government sometimes accidentally doxxes its own employees
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 8:29 AM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


On the recommendation up-thread I watched Unthinkable, a 2010 thriller about a terrorist being interrogated while nuclear bombs are about to go off. It's a seriously fucked up film, but it's also sort of perfect in its awfulness for the United States of Torture. I think it's a good film, it's much more complex than justifying torture. But also an immoral film, or at least amoral, and I'd rather live in a place where such a movie were unthinkable. It is interesting if you have a strong stomach. Samuel Jackson and Carrie-Anne Moss are both great in it.

I hate the way our media normalizes torture. The defining moment for me was when Supreme Court Justice Scalia cited TV show 24 as a plausible hypothetical torture situation. What's so disgusting about it is these thriller plots are never realistic. The real situations are much more mundane and depraved, like those described in the Senate report. But people reason from the heroic fiction.
posted by Nelson at 9:08 AM on December 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I feel like the reality of 2014 is beyond the wildest imaginings of Gibson et al's dystopian cyberfuture.
posted by infini at 9:14 AM on December 15, 2014


Cheney's new standard for America. Anything short of 9/11 is a-ok.

Destroying a country, murdering innocents. Rape, torture. All of it justified because apparently it's not as bad as 9/11.
posted by empath at 9:32 AM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


silenced all my
posted by infini at 9:47 AM on December 15, 2014


Btw, infuriatingly, the white house spokesman used the same bullshit when defending the drone program:
Q Okay. You have repeatedly talked about moral authority. So can you explain how the President believes that it’s un-American to use these techniques but it was okay to ramp up the drone policy and basically thousands of people around the world, innocent civilians were killed. What’s the moral equivalency there? How do you have moral authority when innocent civilians are killed by drones?

MR. EARNEST: Well, I think that the difference here, Ed -- and this is a stark difference in the way that the United States conducts our policy and the way that terrorists around the world conduct their policy -- that there is significant care taken and there are significant checks and balances that are included in the system to ensure that any counterterrorism action that’s taken by the United States of America does not put at risk innocent lives.

Q But they do in the end. I understand there are safeguards, but in the end, we’ve seen many cases around the world where U.S. drones have killed innocent civilians, despite those safeguards. So how do you have moral authority?

MR. EARNEST: What I’m saying is that is a stark difference from the tactics that are employed by our enemies, who seek to use car bombs to actually target innocent civilians.

Q Yet you still kill civilians. No one is defending the terrorists’ tactics, but by your tactics --

MR. EARNEST: But you’re asking about our moral authority, and I think there is a very clear difference.

Q How do you have moral authority if --

MR. EARNEST: There is a very clear difference between the tactics that are used by terrorists and the counterterrorism tactics that are employed by the United States of America that go to great lengths to protect the lives of innocent civilians. In fact, many of these terrorists that we’re talking about -- and, again, many of these counterterrorism activities that are used against terrorists are targeting terrorists that themselves have targeted local populations, that have targeted fellow Muslims in some situations. So the efforts that are taken by this administration to limit or to prevent innocent civilian casualties are consistent with our values and are consistent with our broader strategy for protecting the American people.
The reporter was asking about the difference between the drone strikes and the cia torture program. The spokesman refused to even make the comparison, instead comparing drone strikes to terrorist attacks.
posted by empath at 9:53 AM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


That Cheney summary is useful; I haven't had the stomach to watch him on TV. Particularly floored by his statement "torture was what the al-Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11".
posted by Nelson at 10:23 AM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Poll: Most say CIA interrogation tactics provided reliable intel
Most Americans say the harsh interrogation tactics used by the CIA following Sept. 11 produced reliable information to prevent further terrorist attacks, a new poll finds.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:26 AM on December 15, 2014


Poll: Most say CIA interrogation tactics provided reliable intel

Whereas actual interrogators and experts agree that rapport-building approaches and neutral/respectful stances are many times more likely to elicit reliable information from terrorism suspects.

Ironically, bonding with a terrorist over 24 bootleg DVDs is a better tactic than using Jack Bauer's "enhanced interrogation" that the general American public has uncritically accepted as the norm.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:32 AM on December 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Whereas actual interrogators and experts agree that rapport-building approaches and neutral/respectful stances are many times more likely to elicit reliable information from terrorism suspects.

Which we already knew back during WWII.
posted by homunculus at 12:14 PM on December 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's been known for 400 years.
posted by rhizome at 1:00 PM on December 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Poll: Most say CIA interrogation tactics provided reliable intel

The fact that polls can reliably produce results wherein people believe demonstrably untrue things makes me lose hope for democracy.
posted by empath at 1:13 PM on December 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Cheney said he tortured and would do it again.
Because he is a danger as a repeat offender, read him his rights, and arrest him. He has confessed to a heinous crime.
posted by Oyéah at 1:34 PM on December 15, 2014 [5 favorites]




I R CONFUSE:
FBI says Europeans tortured by Assad regime
Human rights groups hope the new evidence can be used to prosecute the Syrian president for war crimes
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:11 PM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Cheney argument basically boils down to "When we do it, it isn't torture, by the way 9-11."
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:17 PM on December 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


From NPB's link: …young Arabs know where to find alternative news either on satellite channels or on social media to avoid the rigid agenda of the various regime.

Young Westerners, too.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:06 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ironically, bonding with a terrorist over 24 bootleg DVDs is a better tactic than using Jack Bauer's "enhanced interrogation" that the general American public has uncritically accepted as the norm.

Whooaaa now... That shit is illegal. If the interrogator actually had pirated DVD's, that's pretty much criminal activity.

America is better than that.

We'll stick to the apparently very legal anal rape.
posted by el io at 12:13 AM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


We're supposed to feel that these monsters deserve this depravity, given current events. IRL derails aplenty. Ignore any reference to wedding parties.
posted by infini at 4:19 AM on December 16, 2014




Now We Are Rome - The Awl looks at America and torture through the lens of movie/TV history
posted by psoas at 12:32 PM on December 16, 2014 [4 favorites]




That NPR have been held up as some kind of progressive voice is absolutely pathetic.

Their coverage serves as a masseuse to the upper-middle-class conscience, with feigned (imagined?) progressive credentials that assure their audience there isn't anything fundamentally wrong with the system they benefit from- the Obama of broadcasting.

They don't want to take sides, they say- but they always give the last word to the powerful.
posted by anemone of the state at 1:33 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is there any reason to not believe NPR is part of Operation Mockingbird?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:50 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Real power doesn't need to exert itself in such obvious ways. If NPR interviewed a USAn torture victim I imagine there would be an outcry from the conservative media, NPR itself would become the story, and it would be defunded. So NPR has the power to do something like that once, at most. That's effective control.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:14 PM on December 16, 2014




I must be missing this; what evidence is there confirming El Gamil is CIA Officer #2? It seems plausible, but I'm not seeing any direct link. Or is this just a leak to put people on the trail?

The Zirbel story is particularly disturbing because it sounds like Zirbel is still employed by the government, or very close contractors. The WashPo article says Gamil left the CIA, I wonder what he's doing now?

Matthew Zirbel does not yet have a Wikipedia page.
posted by Nelson at 4:58 PM on December 16, 2014


I think holding the architects of the deceit, torture, malfeasance, and dishonor, to counts is the important issue. Our leadership has to be in line with the ideals of our nation, not lower our actions to below the lowest denominator. This war was a deceit and is still spiralling downward with every strike and counterstrike that takes innocent lives.

Go after the architects of the torture program. The workers know they have to follow orders, and in the theater of war, with gusto.

Cheney said he broke the law, book him, find out if he also helped execute 9/11 by whatever means he sanctioned in the past.
posted by Oyéah at 6:33 PM on December 16, 2014


WMA Declaration of Tokyo - Guidelines for Physicians Concerning Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Relation to Detention and Imprisonment
1) The physician shall not countenance, condone or participate in the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures, whatever the offense of which the victim of such procedures is suspected, accused or guilty, and whatever the victim's beliefs or motives, and in all situations, including armed conflict and civil strife.

2) The physician shall not provide any premises, instruments, substances or knowledge to facilitate the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or to diminish the ability of the victim to resist such treatment.

3) ...

The physician shall not use nor allow to be used, as far as he or she can, medical knowledge or skills, or health information specific to individuals, to facilitate or otherwise aid any interrogation, legal or illegal, of those individuals.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:49 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


The WMA declaration specifically mentions forced feeding (the answer is "no", by the way). It's kind of shocking to see how the physicians working for the CIA basically broke every principle laid down for ethical medicine.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:48 PM on December 16, 2014 [5 favorites]






Of course Americans are OK with torture. Look at how we treat our prisoners.
It’s not just that Americans want a system that metes out punishment, it’s that—despite our Eighth Amendment—we are accepting of the cruelest punishment. And while it’s not legal, it exists and it’s pervasive. In theory, our prisons are holding cells for the worst offenders and centers for rehabilitation for the others. Inmates can work, learn, and prepare themselves for a more productive life in society. In reality, they are hellscapes of rape, abuse, and violence from gangs and guards.
How can anyone say America is against torture? What's more American than a prison rape joke?
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:50 AM on December 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm not normally a fan of polls, but these two from the WashPo / ABC seem worth crying over. Majority says CIA harsh interrogations justified. Nearly every demographic group believes torture can be justified.

The latter one is particularly upsetting because it's asking an ethical hypothetical. "Looking ahead, do you feel that torture of suspected terrorists can often be justified, sometimes justified, rarely justified, or never justified?" 57% of adult Americans took one of the more pro-torture positions. Only 20% said "never justified". Christians tend to be more pro-torture; in fact, "no religion" is one of the groups least pro-torture.
posted by Nelson at 9:08 AM on December 17, 2014 [4 favorites]




Shit, people justified packing us into railway cars and shipping us to extermination camps. Justifying it doesn't make it right.
posted by mikelieman at 2:56 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Breaking: NPR Drops Pretense of Neutrality, Calls It Torture
In a stark departure from a long-standing policy of refusing to use the term "torture" to describe brutal, inhumane interrogation tactics, NPR's coverage of one prisoner's fight for survival is a breath of fresh air.

It remains to be seen whether this action by host Melissa Block will result in any disciplinary action from the organization, whose ombudsman has staunchly defended its previous use of government-sanctioned euphemisms such as "enhanced interrogation". This also marks a watershed moment in not only the network's coverage, but US media as a whole, as the first in-depth coverage of the human cost of the brutally inhumane interrogation program from the perspective of one of its thousands of victims.
posted by odinsdream at 5:03 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well finally. Funny though that it happens on Cuba day and the day it comes out that the feds drop their pursuit of medical marijuana.
posted by rhizome at 5:18 PM on December 17, 2014


I didn't listen, but I think odinsdream is trolling. It's a report about a World War 2 solider who was a POW held by the Japanese and, I assume, enhancedly interrogated.
posted by Nelson at 5:33 PM on December 17, 2014


"...brutalized, tortured, beyond comprehension..." 50 seconds in.
posted by odinsdream at 6:41 PM on December 17, 2014


When Chicago Tortured
[...] Chicago's history of torture is centered on police commander Jon Burge, who was assigned to Chicago's south side in 1972. Between then and 1981, Burge and his men used torture to elicit confessions from more than 110 African-American men. In addition to beatings, the police under Burge allegedly suffocated suspects with plastic bags and used electrical shocks to victims' genitals, a technique Burge may have learned as a military police investigator in Vietnam.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:49 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]






From Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic, who has really been fighting the good fight on this:

John Yoo: If the Torture Report Is True, CIA Officers Are at Legal Risk
A surprising admission by an attorney who was instrumental in enabling the Bush Administration's brutal interrogation practices
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:07 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have no recollection of that...
posted by mikelieman at 6:32 PM on December 18, 2014








I'm not normally a fan of polls, but these two from the WashPo / ABC seem worth crying over. Majority says CIA harsh interrogations justified. Nearly every demographic group believes torture can be justified.

The survey needed a second question: "Are you ok with yourself being tortured in the name of the national security of the United States of America?"

That would be the non-sadistic support of torture in this country.
posted by Talez at 10:50 AM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


For the sickest shit, hit up wikipedia and read about the CIA's experiments on humans. Putting people in isolation boxes doped up on LSD, in an attempt to erase and reprogram their mind. Testing chemicals out on unsuspecting population. Inventing new ways to break people.

The go read up about grandpa Bush's attempt to overthrow the US government, his hobnobbing with Nazis, Bush Sr's leadership of the CIA, and think about how Bush Jr became President and Jeb's desire to run for President.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:50 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]




US Soldiers Raped Boys In Front Of Their Mothers

This is a spectacularly sensationalistic and inflammatory headline that Seymour Hersh himself later corrected, and Hersh admits he selectively falsifies and is generally careless with facts in his speeches.

With respect to this particular incident:
What Hersh said wasn’t entirely correct. His book Chain of Command would deliver the authoritative Seymour M. version: “An attorney involved in the case told me in July 2004 that one of the witness statements he had read described the rape of a boy by a foreign contract employee who served as an interpreter at Abu Ghraib,” Hersh wrote. “In the statement, which had not been made public, the lawyer told me, a prisoner stated that he was a witness to the rape, and that a woman was taking pictures.”

Horrifying stuff. But key details were different from the impression Hersh gave to the ACLU crowd. And the Sy version raced halfway across the Internet before Seymour M. could get his boots on.

Many who blogged the revelation believed that Hersh was talking about multiple rapes committed by American soldiers. Nearly everyone took it for granted that Hersh had seen the videotapes himself because he’d described their horrifying soundtrack. And everyone did assume that there were in fact videotapes, which there may not be. (“Was it a video camera or a digital camera? Nobody was quite sure,” Hersh told students at Tufts later in the year.) The speech was so widely blogged that the ACLU says Hersh asked it to remove part of the video—including the sodomy allegation—from the organization’s Website, which it proceeded to do.
posted by shivohum at 9:26 PM on December 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Since the CIA is known to lie, and they're torturing people why would anyone think that a line would be drawn at raping children? Maybe Hirsh is wrong about this one instance. But the CIA sure as fuck ain't RIGHT.
posted by mikelieman at 2:35 AM on December 20, 2014


In Risk Management, we think "capability not intent".

Is there a clear and present danger from the CIA due to their CAPABILITY to rape children?
posted by mikelieman at 2:37 AM on December 20, 2014


With respect to this particular incident:

Uh, I think "there was only one rape of one child, as far as we know" isn't exactly reassuring.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:13 AM on December 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


Meet Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, the senior officer at the center of the CIA's torture scandals (wp)

The Intercept is naming Bikowsky over CIA objections because of her key role in misleading Congress about the agency’s use of torture, and her active participation in the torture program (including playing a direct part in the torture of at least one innocent detainee).
posted by jeffburdges at 7:32 AM on December 20, 2014


Appears we've a new thread on Alfreda Frances Bikowsky. :)

Panel advises against penalty for C.I.A.’s illegal hacking of Senate computers
posted by jeffburdges at 7:59 AM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


The new 2015 dictionaries are in early and in the interest of good taste and not unnecessarily hurting anyone's feelings, several terms that the editors deemed excessively judgmental have been retired in favor of happier, more neutral alternatives. Please make a note.

Henceforth:
  • enhanced interrogation techniques replaces "torture"
  • enhanced labor management practices replaces "slavery"
  • enhanced relocation procedures replaces "genocide"
And remember to smile when you say them.
posted by Nerd of the North at 5:06 PM on December 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


EIT also replaces outright murder, of course.
posted by odinsdream at 5:26 PM on December 20, 2014


And anal rape is now called "feeding".
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:38 PM on December 20, 2014




enhanced relocation procedures replaces "genocide"

That would replace "Ethnic Cleansing", surely. Genocide would be "Enhanced Demographic Streamlining".
posted by Grangousier at 8:32 AM on December 21, 2014


> enhanced relocation procedures replaces "genocide"

That would replace "Ethnic Cleansing", surely. Genocide would be "Enhanced Demographic Streamlining".
If you prefer:
  • "enhanced relocation procedures" replaces "ethnic cleansing" which previously replaced "genocide"
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:30 AM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Are you sure? I thought ethnic cleansing was involuntary geographical reallocation and genocide was directed mass devivification.
posted by Grangousier at 1:13 PM on December 21, 2014


Just as long as we can joke about it, it's all okay, ha-ha!
posted by five fresh fish at 3:20 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]




NY Times editorial board: Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses
posted by homunculus at 9:30 PM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


That is a strong editorial, particularly its naming specific individuals who should be prosecuted. Wouldn't it be amazing if some other newspapers joined the NYT's call? "The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch are to give Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. a letter Monday calling for appointment of a special prosecutor": perhaps that will keep this in the news another day or two. I'm very pessimistic anything will come of it.
posted by Nelson at 7:40 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]






Re: the man of twists and turns link two comments up.

That is the second excellent post I have seen on that blog in the last three days and four days ago I had never heard of those people. Anybody know who they are?
posted by bukvich at 10:18 AM on December 23, 2014


The Mysterious Case of Prisoner 212
posted by homunculus at 12:12 PM on December 27, 2014




He has been accused in a civil suit, to be clear. Busted might be slightly strong language.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:58 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Enhanced discovery"?
posted by infini at 8:05 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


And only accused of trying to defend the actual perpetrators rather than being a perpetrator himself. Which is odd, because he's a defense attorney, so....that's, like, his job.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:06 AM on January 5, 2015


And only accused of trying to defend the actual perpetrators rather than being a perpetrator himself. Which is odd, because he's a defense attorney, so....that's, like, his job.

Unless I misread the legal document in the link, it appears that AD is accused of having sex with one of the girls and of observing other abuse as part of his social interactions with his friend the primary abuser/trafficker. It's a pretty shocking and disgusting story if even half of it is true.
posted by Frowner at 8:14 AM on January 5, 2015


Unless I misread the legal document in the link, it appears that AD is accused of having sex with one of the girls and of observing other abuse as part of his social interactions with his friend the primary abuser/trafficker.

Yep, that's exactly what he's been accused of. I couldn't read the whole document (once it got to the part about photographic evidence of Epstein's abuse being in the government's possession, I felt kinda sick to my stomach) but yeah, Dershowitz is named as having taken part in this abuse.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:28 AM on January 5, 2015


Dershowitz is named as having taken part in this abuse.

Well when your buddy shared his stable of underaged sex-slaves with you, the least you can do is negotiate immunity for him and any co-conspirators, right?

I mean, what are friends for?
posted by mikelieman at 9:00 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


A slightly less breathless take on the suit: Utah law professor claims British prince, well-known attorney had sex with teen ‘sex slave’. Note the suit names Prince Andrew as another perpetrator.

Here's Dershowitz's own words on torture warrants, or the Wikipedia summary. I think the argument is wrong, but it's a pretty theoretical legal argument. Not quite the level of UC Berkeley professor John Yoo actively drafting the legal cover for the actual torture the US committed.
posted by Nelson at 9:15 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wow, I missed that. I stand corrected.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:09 AM on January 5, 2015


Anyone know if the Alan Dershowitz outing is linked to #OpDeathEaters (google) activities? I find them largely incomprehensible, except for an actor named Bill Maloney being thrown in jail for claiming that Tom Cruise and Kenneth Clarke are pedophiles, or something like that.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:27 AM on January 6, 2015


"Hey, I mean, if Jack Bauer needs to torture to get the terrorists, how can it be wrong?" -- American proverb

Can Jack Bauer Convince You to Torture? Fictional depictions of effective torture may be more persuasive than reasoned arguments.
posted by homunculus at 2:27 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


« Older The Australian answer to the latte: the flat white   |   There's a tear in my beer because of bad... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments