Only Six days Left To Begin Impeachment
January 14, 2009 7:48 AM   Subscribe

"Yes, We Tortured," says Susan Crawford, Convening Authority of The Guantanamo Military Commission. "I sympathize with the intelligence gatherers in those days after 9/11, not knowing what was coming next and trying to gain information to keep us safe," said Crawford, a lifelong Republican. "But there still has to be a line that we should not cross. And unfortunately what this has done, I think, has tainted everything going forward."
posted by Xurando (131 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Of course, if she'd said something at the time, less of the "going forward" may have been tainted.

Anyway, I'm sure we'll now have a law against torture. Oh wait, we do. So now we'll have impeachment hearings. Oh wait, too late. Well, I'm sure we'll see war crimes charges.
posted by DU at 7:53 AM on January 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


Is there a consensus on whether or not a president can preemptively pardon before charges are brought?
posted by Auden at 7:55 AM on January 14, 2009


No, it's all a mistake. President Bush has said we don't torture. Glad that's all cleared up.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:57 AM on January 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Can with throw them in jail now? What can I do to help see they wind up in jail? Real jail. Not country-club jail. Jail that tells the world, "See? We are a nation of laws. We are not beholden to a bunch of rich ass-holes who behave like a mafia. We're a real, legitimate, responsible nation..."
posted by From Bklyn at 8:00 AM on January 14, 2009 [15 favorites]


Shirley this...
posted by chillmost at 8:01 AM on January 14, 2009


Shocking.
posted by chunking express at 8:02 AM on January 14, 2009


Let's all just put it behind us and move forward. That's what we need as a country. No prosecutions. We just need to push on.

Also, that guy I murdered? We don't need to prosecute me for that as well. The country needs healing. Let's just move forward, folks.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:03 AM on January 14, 2009 [15 favorites]


Quick! Everyone come clean before Obama gets here!
posted by rmless at 8:03 AM on January 14, 2009


I'm reasonably certain that yes, a president can offer pardons without charges being brought - Pres. Carter pardoned all of the draft dodgers, and although I'm not sure they weren't charged in absentia immediately upon missing their registration meeting-thingie, I think that's unlikely.

Also: ship, sinking, rats.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:03 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Boy wouldn't it have been nice if half of the people who've stepped up to say "I was against INSERT HORRIBLE CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION HERE all along" hadn't waited until:
a) Bush's approval ratings nosedived
b) a new President was elected
c) they were out of a job and needed to justify a book advance
d) some combination of a-c
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:06 AM on January 14, 2009 [13 favorites]


Quick! Everyone come clean before Obama gets here!

And/or buy a nice ranch in Paraguay.

Anyway, "I'm shocked! Shocked to find gamb..."

who the hell am I kidding?
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:07 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


That Bush and Cheney did this to us is something I will never be able to forgive. We The People had already decided that we didn't want to be a nation that tortures. And they just arbitrarily overruled us on that, involuntarily tainting us all with their stink. It was like a mass rape of our morality. That is unforgiveable and should be severely punished so that in the future no one ever even *dares* to consider repeating that mistake.
posted by jamstigator at 8:08 AM on January 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


More info on why it's hard to take Crawford's sudden case of scruples seriously.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:12 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]




We The People had already decided that we didn't want to be a nation that tortures.

I don't buy it. We The People suffered from terrible cognitive dissonance if that's what you believed. I suspect that if you polled the American people at any time since 9/11, including the present, they'd support torturing random Muslims if there was a 1% chance that they might know where we left our keys. I mean, it's not just 24 and all the damn "these colors don't run" shirts. What did you think Shock and Awe meant? This is what the vast majority of Americans wanted. What they didn't want were the consequences.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:25 AM on January 14, 2009 [25 favorites]


ericb, the cited source does not support the proposition.
posted by jock@law at 8:25 AM on January 14, 2009


Whitehouse: If Obama Doesn’t Investigate Bush’s Crimes, I Will.
“President-elect Obama this week said his team was in the middle of ‘evaluating’ Bush administration policies to see whether a criminal investigation would be worthwhile. NPR reports that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) says that he understands Obama’s reluctance to pursue investigations but that he may take matters into his own hands:
‘I think that there’s a lot that remains to look at, and I appreciate that President Obama doesn’t want to make it his purpose as a new president, with America in real distress in many directions, to go back and look at all this, but I think we in Congress have an independent responsibility, and I fully intend to discharge that responsibility,’ Whitehouse said.
In a 487-page report out today recapping Bush’s ‘imperial presidency,’ House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) recommends that ‘the incoming Administration finally begin an independent criminal review of activities of the outgoing Administration.’”
posted by ericb at 8:25 AM on January 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


We The People had already decided that we didn't want to be a nation that tortures.

Where exactly did that get decided? I think I missed it. A ton of people supported/support torture. Not me, but it's definitely not unanimous.

And if you're looking for someone to never forgive, don't forget Pelosi and Reid.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:27 AM on January 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, color me surprised. I just assumed they forced the inmates to watch reruns of VH1's Rock of Love, and Charm School. But then again, I would consider that torture as well.
posted by Heliochrome85 at 8:28 AM on January 14, 2009


ericb, the cited source does not support the proposition.
Bush:"So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him and they gave me a list of tools, and I said are these tools deemed to be legal? And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made."

"Last year, Bush admitted that he was 'aware' that his national security team met to discuss KSM’s interrogation, and that he approved of the meeting. His admission today suggests Bush had a far more direct role in developing the specific torture program, which included waterboarding, a freezing cell, and long periods of standing and stress positions (all of which have long been considered torture)."
posted by ericb at 8:29 AM on January 14, 2009


We The People had already decided that we didn't want to be a nation that tortures.

Though You The People still re-elected the torturers.
posted by biffa at 8:30 AM on January 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


I fully intend to discharge that responsibility,’ Whitehouse said.

We'll see.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) recommends that ‘the incoming Administration finally begin an independent criminal review of activities of the outgoing Administration.’”

Well I recommend that you go back in time and do it yourself starting when you gained power in 2006.
posted by DU at 8:32 AM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bush: I Personally Authorized Torture Of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
posted by ericb at 8:12 AM on January 14 [+] [!]

This here is reason enough to never vote republican ever again!!! There is a time for everything in this world. Would I support torture? If there was a nuclear bomb and some guy knew where and the code to disarm it, then yes torture the crap out of him, BUT only as a last resort. How about listening to your intelligence community first? How about doing things the Ol Fashion humanitarian way first? NOOO Commander numb nuts had to capture tons of people and torture them for no reason at all. Dear God I hate him. I hate for what he did to us economically, personal freedom wise, and for the fact that he made us all look like uncaring jerks to the rest of the world. I for one did not vote for this fucker and I am embarrassed that we the people didn't stand up, get a bunch of pitch forks and torches and forcefully remove him from office earlier. WORST PRESIDENT EVER!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:33 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can we finally stop pretending that Bush introduced torture into American practice - as opposed to simply being arrogant enough to do it out in the open?
posted by Joe Beese at 8:39 AM on January 14, 2009 [14 favorites]


In his first few days in office Ulysses S. Grant revoked two pardons by Andrew Johnson. It makes me feel all warm and happy to imagine Obama doing the same to Bush's inevitable last minute pardonfest of GOP criminals.
posted by stavrogin at 8:43 AM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the CIA has been torturing people since the 50s. Bush made it mainstream and more pervasive. America is a fucked up country. Bush fucked it way way more -- which is an accomplishment.
posted by chunking express at 8:44 AM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well I recommend that you go back in time and do it yourself starting when you gained power in 2006.

Look what happened when they tried to investigate the U.S. Attorney scandal. They called people to testify (Rove and Myers) those people didn't show up, and the DOJ declined to force them in.

It would be difficult for congress to do an investigation of the White house if the White house was willing to stonewall and "Impeachment was off the table" If Impeachment had been on the table, then congress could have had more bargaining power, I suppose.

Unless the Obama administration actively tries to suppress any investigations in congress of the bush administration, then it will be much easier to investigate, and much easier to get people on things like perjury if they lie.

That said, the complicity of the Democratic leadership with bush malfeasance in the house and senate can't be understated.
posted by delmoi at 8:47 AM on January 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the CIA has been torturing people since the 50s. Bush made it mainstream and more pervasive. America is a fucked up country. Bush fucked it way way more -- which is an accomplishment.

Exactly. Unlike previous administrations, Bush openly advocated and implemented torture, and attempted to justify it. And Congress played along. So did we. We the People, that is.

I didn't leave the States for political reasons, but the last eight years made me profoundly distrust my fellow Americans.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:48 AM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


OK, tinfoil hat brigade, stand down. Yes, I know you suspect the CIA of nefarious deeds going back to the Jefferson administration, and you have the photocopied zines to prove it, but this is different.

This is something much, much more concrete and actionable, something that needs to be taken with deadly seriousness by the electorate and the administration. Try not to spill any crazy on it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:56 AM on January 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


They called people to testify (Rove and Myers) those people didn't show up, and the DOJ declined to force them in.

And the House declined to use their superpowers (I forget what they are called) to do it either.

I will be pleasantly surprised if Whitehouse actually does anything.
posted by DU at 8:58 AM on January 14, 2009


Did anyone really think that Abu Ghraib was the only place that sanctioned torture was occurring? I know the term "slippery slope" has been overused in recent years but this is as about a perfect description of what's going on here as you can imagine.

I sometimes try to console myself with the thought that I never voted for Bush. But you know what? That's cold comfort. And it doesn't change a thing.
posted by tommasz at 9:03 AM on January 14, 2009


But, but...all this time I thought it meant they had surfing privileges.
posted by mandal at 9:03 AM on January 14, 2009


Scott Horton's take.
posted by chunking express at 9:05 AM on January 14, 2009


I love how no one bothers to sympathize with potential suspects, rounded up, taken away from home, and tortured. Cause you know, those interrogators were under an inhuman level of stress...
posted by yeloson at 9:09 AM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Try not to spill any crazy on it.

Yes, because that's obviously what's going to stop this from being acted on. There's been stuff like this coming up for years now. All sorts of concrete actionable stuff. It's not going to get prosecuted.

I would LOVE to be proved wrong here. Seriously.
posted by chunking express at 9:13 AM on January 14, 2009


Thanks, yeloson. I came in here to say that, but you've done beautifully.
posted by alphathefish at 9:24 AM on January 14, 2009


waterboarding, a freezing cell, and long periods of standing and stress positions

Whoop-dee-doo...
posted by chlorus at 9:26 AM on January 14, 2009


Is there a consensus on whether or not a president can preemptively pardon before charges are brought?

A pardon would be an admission of guilt.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:31 AM on January 14, 2009


Can we finally stop pretending that Bush introduced torture into American practice - as opposed to simply being arrogant enough to do it out in the open?

It's tempting to think this. After all, what about My Lai and pushing Viet Cong insurgents from helicopters? Or support for the Contras?

I think the problem here is that the Bush administration either legalized the use of torture, or sanctioned its use. And the problem with that is things like My Lai and the use of torture stop being transgressive, criminal activities or war crimes, but instead part of the normal order of things in, dare I say it, a authoritarian or criminal regime.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:33 AM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


If the democratic congress does not investigate, if the Obama justice department does not prosecute, if we do not see accountability for these war crimes, then -- as big an Obama fan as I am -- he loses my vote next time, as do my representatives.

This is, other than climate change, the biggest issue of all for me.

Just putting that on the record. You don't "move on" from war crimes.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:40 AM on January 14, 2009


You don't "move on" from war crimes.

Not prosecuting can be an important aspect of moving on. As in places where Truth and Reconciliation tribunals require non-prosecution in order to find out from those responsible what really happened, write the history based on the fullest account, and start planning the future.

Is that the case here? Hell no.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:43 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


waterboarding, a freezing cell, and long periods of standing and stress positions

Whoop-dee-doo...


Unless you're typing this from the stretching rack, this comment pretty ignorant.
posted by hermitosis at 9:44 AM on January 14, 2009


haha... "is" pretty ignorant. FAIL! Oh well, at least I don't support torture!
posted by hermitosis at 9:45 AM on January 14, 2009


Would I support torture? If there was a nuclear bomb and some guy knew where and the code to disarm it, then yes torture the crap out of him, BUT only as a last resort.

Let's say your device that will give puppies and flowers to everyone will activate in ten minutes. Some horrible person who doesn't want anyone to have nice things wants the code from you to stop it, and is going to torture you until you give it to him.

Do you think you'd just keep shut for the ten minutes, knowing that if you hold out, the device goes off anyway? Why on earth would you give up at that point?

The "ticking nuke" scenario is Hollywood bullshit.
posted by Legomancer at 9:46 AM on January 14, 2009 [11 favorites]


You don't "move on" from war crimes.

So long as the truth get's shown the light of day, moving on can be one of the best courses. The other is not as pretty (link not pretty).
posted by Pollomacho at 9:52 AM on January 14, 2009


Also: ship, sinking, rats.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:03 AM on January 14


That's it.

The "ticking nuke" scenario is Hollywood bullshit.
posted by Legomancer at 12:46 PM on January 14


That too.
posted by Bokononist at 10:01 AM on January 14, 2009


Would I support torture? If there was a nuclear bomb and some guy knew where and the code to disarm it, then yes torture the crap out of him, BUT only as a last resort.

So fine, do it, torture the guy if you think you are compelled to... and then you can have your day in court to defend yourself. It's a perfect example why we have trial by jury.
posted by geos at 10:02 AM on January 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


chlorus: You do know those are all forms of interrogation that China has been harshly criticized for using by both the US and the UN for years, right?

As has been pointed out, these torture techniques were literally derived from US military studies of the kinds of torture techniques likely to be used against American soldiers captured in a conflict with China or similar regimes.

It's weird, really. So much of what the Bush administration has done has helped to give China more international political power and diplomatic leverage it almost seems intentional...

What country was the first to get oil from Iraq since the invasion? Yep. That'd be China.

And what's the only non-middle-eastern country that's been granted access to interrogate prisoners in Guantanamo? You guessed it.

Yep. Weird.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:08 AM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Whoops. That was in response to this.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:10 AM on January 14, 2009


OK, tinfoil hat brigade, stand down. Yes, I know you suspect the CIA of nefarious deeds going back to the Jefferson administration, and you have the photocopied zines to prove it, but this is different.

Ad hominem argument = You lose

Thanks for playing.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:11 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Would I support torture? If there was a nuclear bomb and some guy knew where and the code to disarm it, then yes torture the crap out of him, BUT only as a last resort.

What would you not to in this scenario? Would you rape little children if that would get you the codes? Where do you draw the line? These 'scenario's are fucking stupid. fucking.
posted by chunking express at 10:17 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't understand this "truth and reconciliation" stuff. Don't we all already know the truth, or at least the broad outlines. I think many people will come forward to tell their stories after the 20th and we'll have a pretty good idea what went on.

We don't have a situation at all like South Africa where without reconciliation there was this delicate balance in society where those who had been oppressed were about to become the governing majority. We're talking about the torture of a small number of people, while millions of Arabs and Muslims were not really oppressed at all.

The people taking power are not the victims, rather they are simply another group Americans who happen to be opposed to torture.

I can't forgive bush and neither can any of you, because we're not the victims. For us to forgive bush would be like you forgiving your brother for shooting his wife.
posted by delmoi at 10:20 AM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's a shame that the bigwigs who authorised the acts weren't Democrats. At least then, because they're girly-man Frenchie-loving pseudo-Europeans, they wouldn't have been able to resist travelling to a country where they might be arrested.*

Because they're Republicans, alas, they'll be able to stay in America without feeling the slightest need to see any other part of the world.

* (thanks, Queen v. Bartle & The Commissioner of the Police for the Metropolis & Others ex parte Pinochet)
posted by athenian at 10:20 AM on January 14, 2009


These 'scenario's are fucking stupid. fucking.

Nothing to get mad over. Someone's just watched a little too much 24 is all.
posted by Spatch at 10:23 AM on January 14, 2009


I'm also mad that 24 hasn't had a good season in years.
posted by chunking express at 10:25 AM on January 14, 2009


Not to be confused with the Susan Crawford that's heading up the FCC transition team for Obama, or my childhood piano teacher.
posted by gyc at 10:33 AM on January 14, 2009


I'm not sure what the "The CIA/US/Somebody has been torturing for years" argument is supposed to say. Is it that we shouldn't care about this? That this shouldn't be treated as a war crime? That hey, we've been doing this for ages, so it's no big thing? Or is it just a contest to see who has the biggest cynical dick in town?

The biggest danger I see in all this is the fact that torture is seductively attractive to the public. It's a combination of the attitude that doing whatever it takes to save the country is good, combined quite frankly, with an element of bloodthirst and revenge. There's an inherent "We'll show THEM" element present in people that will always make torture ann attractive option.

In other words, we have to accept what that our founding fathers knew: the monster that creates atrocities is always lurking in the public mind. That's why we need a nation of laws, not men.
posted by happyroach at 10:35 AM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is there a consensus on whether or not a president can preemptively pardon before charges are brought?
"Now, therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from July (January) 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974. "

No charges had been placed against Nixon.

(well, impeachment charges, but they had been rendered moot before this pardon by the fact that Nixon resigned)
posted by Flunkie at 10:36 AM on January 14, 2009


Now that I think about it a little more, I don't even know if impeachment charges had been brought against Nixon. I know that the House opened an impeachment hearing, but that might have been just to decide whether or not impeachment charges would be brought.

But anyway, the main point stands: Ford preemptively pardoned Nixon.
posted by Flunkie at 10:39 AM on January 14, 2009


It's weird, really. So much of what the Bush administration has done has helped to give China more international political power and diplomatic leverage it almost seems intentional...

If my tinfoil hat weren't screwed on tight I might start thinking that there was some sort of conspiracy going on here, but we've just got too many players, I mean, who's got truly inside connections to the White House, China and the CIA. That guy would have to be pretty unique, right?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:41 AM on January 14, 2009


We don't have a situation at all like South Africa where without reconciliation there was this delicate balance in society where those who had been oppressed were about to become the governing majority.

So you do understand this Truth and Reconciliation "stuff", because I'm the only person to mention them in this thread, and you just agreed with what I had to say about it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2009


(it was in response to "you don't 'move on' from war crimes"; sometimes you do, but not here)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:50 AM on January 14, 2009


They called people to testify (Rove and Myers) those people didn't show up, and the DOJ declined to force them in.
And the House declined to use their superpowers (I forget what they are called) to do it either.
"Inherent contempt".

They could have placed (and should have placed (and still should place)) inherent contempt charges against these people, directed the Sergeant at Arms of the House or of the Senate to find these people and arrest them, bring them to the Capitol -- by force if necessary -- and throw them in the Capitol Jail until they start being less contemptuous.

No cooperation of the Executive Branch is necessary for any of this to be done. In theory, at least. In practice, we'd probably get to see exactly what lengths George Bush is willing to go to.
posted by Flunkie at 10:52 AM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


From waay upthread:

> [Torture] is what the vast majority of Americans wanted. What they didn't want were the consequences.

You are so fucking wrong about that. Torture was secretly sanctioned, and then the same fuckwits thought that it'd be nice to legally add it to the toolbox while people weren't looking.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:56 AM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


They called people to testify (Rove and Myers) those people didn't show up

Could they have been tortured to get their testimony?

This is just a hypothetical.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:56 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


So you do understand this Truth and Reconciliation "stuff", because I'm the only person to mention them in this thread, and you just agreed with what I had to say about it.

You may have been the only person to mention it in the thread but you certainly arn't the only person to have mentioned it in the world. In fact in the last thread one of the links in the FPP went to an op-ed calling for truth commissions.
posted by delmoi at 10:59 AM on January 14, 2009


These 'scenario's are fucking stupid. fucking.

Yeah, these kinds of fallacies are well-known among those who practice philosophy or otherwise engage in rigorous logical argument. They're a form of circular reasoning: you can always contrive a thought-experiment to depict some far-fetched, just-so scenario to support a particular, preferred conclusion. Searle's famous "chinese room" argument against A.I. is, IMO, another example of this type of fallacy (but that's another subject).

I could just as easily say: "Would you condone torturing one of Lex Luthor's henchmen if Lex Luthor had a giant ray gun pointed at the sun that would wipe out all life on earth and only minutes remained to find the location of his secret base before he pulled the trigger?" Both scenarios take place in a universe other than observable reality. It's only a matter of degrees that separates them. And once you start granting weight to arguments rooted purely in speculation, what preferred conclusions can't some set of imaginary facts be conceived to support? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? I'd argue ten, because, as any reasonable person will concede, that's likely as high as the angel in charge of the entertainment committee who organizes the pin-head dances can count, and it's just not like a good bureaucrat to leave the headcount to chance.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:02 AM on January 14, 2009 [9 favorites]


jamstigator Actually, a large percentage of We The People enthusiastically support torture. Every single person who voted for Bush in 2004 did so in the full knowledge that he was a torturer, in many instances they voted for him *BECAUSE* he's a torturer and they thought that was both good and necessary.

We The People saw the morality of America raped by We The Other People. Bush and Cheney were just the instruments by which our right wing cousins carried out their collective will, it was our fellow Americans who condoned the torture, who carried out the torture, and who elected the torturers. The reality is that America is not the place to find a shining beacon of morality and goodness, and it is our conservative countrymen who are responsible. Yes, Bush and Cheney have special responsibility, but it was millions of ordinary Americans who chose to turn America into a nation that tortures not Bush and Cheney alone.

When Abu Gharib first came out I was a student at WTAMU in the Texas Panhandle, and in a class of 14 people I was the only one who objected to torture on principle. My 13 classmates were unanimous in agreement that what happened at Abu Gharib was fully justified, right, proper, and good, that no one should be prosecuted for anything (except the traitor who leaked the evidence of torture), and that I, as a person objecting to the torture of "terrorists", was a traitor to America.

I'll quote Eric Flint from the end of Mother of Demons: "Evil is not a thing from beyond, a foe to be vanquished. It is a thing which emerges from within the life of a people. It can only be changed, by changing that life." Our people have embraced evil, and we cannot rid ourselves of that evil merely by demonizing Bush, or even merely by holding him and the actual torturers criminally responsible for their actions. Until our culture, our people, are changed so that they no longer support the evil of torture it will continue to be a part of our nation.

I'm not arguing that we shouldn't prosecute Bush, Cheney, and every other member of their torture team. We should. But we should not pretend that this somehow removes the stain from America, or that it will guard us against future acts of torture. The truth is that a love of torture is deeply rooted in the American psyche. We give our police tasers, instruments of torture, and delight when they employ them wantonly and indiscriminately. We gleefully tell "jokes" about rape in our prisons. We give torture approving shows top ratings. We are not a nation that abhors torture, we are a nation that loves torture and finds joy in its employment. Until that changes, until the vast majority of American people reject torture, we will continue to see US forces employing it, US politicians approving of it, and the US government supporting other nations that similarly love torture.
posted by sotonohito at 11:04 AM on January 14, 2009 [16 favorites]


delmoi -- I thought you were misconstruing my point, but if that's what you were responding to, then fair enough. My apologies.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:07 AM on January 14, 2009


Torture was secretly sanctioned, and then the same fuckwits thought that it'd be nice to legally add it to the toolbox while people weren't looking.

Sorry, I don't think that kind of historical revisionism is going to play this time.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:07 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


You are so fucking wrong about that. Torture was secretly sanctioned, and then the same fuckwits thought that it'd be nice to legally add it to the toolbox while people weren't looking.

I think you're overestimating the value that a substantial number of North Americans really put on "brown people who probably blow up airplanes because they're Muslim, AMIRITE!" (sic).
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:07 AM on January 14, 2009


Escuela de las Américas anyone?

Some people are underestimating how much "we the people" approve of torture.

After listening to some Chilean refugees in Mexico tell their stories when I was 10 years old or so, and reading some first hand accounts of some Guatemalan stuff, I grew up afraid of being kidnapped by US trained torturers and being tortured for years. I had nightmares of the Picana.

Now most cops in the us carry a portable picana, and use it to torture anyone who does not show proper fear and 'respect'. There are TV shows devoted to showing the police torturing innocent people with a picana, like "speeders" or "cops".

Trials would be cool, a truth and reconciliation committee would be good too, getting rid of illegal wiretaps, the patriot act, DHS, etc... would be a lot better.

There is a story about a father and his son who are taken by the secret police and tortured to death with an electrical prod, because they were spies sending secret signals to the enemy. Turns out their T.V. would lose the signal once in a while and they would turn it on and off rapidly to fix it. An informer saw the flicker coming from their window every night at the same time (soap opera time) and assumed it was a secret code. Every time I read about someone who dies after being tasered, and see the people saying how if he had done nothing wrong, he would be alive, I am reminded of this.
posted by dirty lies at 11:10 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obama 2.0 will get around to this. He 2.0 promises. Hope the sequel.
posted by srboisvert at 11:10 AM on January 14, 2009


War Crimes? A Zen Question
posted by homunculus at 11:12 AM on January 14, 2009


I'm the only person to mention them in this thread

You may have been the only person to mention it in the thread but you certainly arn't the only person to have mentioned it in the world


Actually, neither.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:13 AM on January 14, 2009


If there's a ticking nuke somewhere, and we catch a guy who we think knows something about it, it's going to go down like this, if we use torture:

* Detainee/prisoner clams up.
* We zap his nuts with electricity until he tells us something like, "Suitcase bomb...Great Lakes...boat..."

Here we reach an important period of time: do we continue to torture? If we do, then he now knows that no matter what he says, we're going to torture him, so there's no reason to tell the truth...so he won't. He wins.

If we stop the torture while we spend six hours checking every boat and dinghy on or near the water of any of the Great Lakes, then...he wins when the bomb unexpectedly goes off in San Diego. And he wins again by forcing us to become something we didn't want to become, which will then be used as a recruiting tactic and instant justification for whatever they want to justify.

His *only* goal will be to buy time. If we torture him no matter what he says, he will never tell the truth -- there's no payoff for him. And if we don't, he wins...but it's not the double victory it would be if we tortured him.

Now, you're going to say, "Well, it worked on the Khalid" guy. Yeah, maybe it did. (But even so, do the ends justify the means? Not to me.) But if we really did get some viable information from him via torture, the reason we did is that there *wasn't* a clock ticking, that there was the very real possibility that we might very well torture him *forever* unless he provided us something useful and with enough time to verify the info. And I bet when he did provide info, we immediately stopped torturing him -- that's the bargain between torturer and torturee. If that implicit bargain is not present, and it will not be if there's a ticking clock, then you will get no useful info in time to change anything...and so, why torture?
posted by jamstigator at 11:13 AM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Whoops, neither.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:14 AM on January 14, 2009


And I bet when he did provide info, we immediately stopped torturing him

I'll take that bet. Name your odds, I'll take you to the bank.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:18 AM on January 14, 2009


Torture is just "busy work" for sadists. It doesn't accomplish anything beyond satisfying cowardly urges to inflict pain. Anyone under sufficient duress to warrant the term 'torture' is going to say anything to make it stop -- even if its later proven to be false, at least the pain stops for a bit.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:19 AM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


>> Torture was secretly sanctioned, and then the same fuckwits thought that it'd be nice to legally add it to the toolbox while people weren't looking.

> Sorry, I don't think that kind of historical revisionism is going to play this time.

I would be grateful if you could correct me then, stinkycheese.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:22 AM on January 14, 2009


waterboarding, a freezing cell, and long periods of standing and stress positions

chlorus : Whoop-dee-doo...

You must be tougher than I am, because that all sound like stuff I would really be unhappy have to endure. In fact, I would go so far as to admit that I would probably say whatever someone wanted me to just to make them stop subjecting me to this. Even if it wasn't true.

But then, I've always been a complete wuss when it comes to being nearly drowned, and then forced to stand, maybe hunched over, in zero degree cell for eight or so hours. People are always remarking on this fact about me.
posted by quin at 11:29 AM on January 14, 2009


I thought I had pretty much reached outrage fatigue with justifications for torture, but these idiots using Jack Bauer as a justification for "roughing people" had me swearing at the computer screen this morning.
posted by afu at 11:36 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


FTA: "There's no doubt in my mind he would've been on one of those planes had he gained access to the country in August 2001," Crawford said of Qahtani, who remains detained at Guantanamo. "He's a muscle hijacker. . . . He's a very dangerous man. What do you do with him now if you don't charge him and try him? I would be hesitant to say, 'Let him go.' "

That, she said, is a decision that President-elect Barack Obama will have to make.


I wish President-elect Obama good luck with that decision. I hope he makes the right one.
posted by txvtchick at 11:45 AM on January 14, 2009


I would be grateful if you could correct me then, stinkycheese.

I'm just saying that your version of what happened is hopefully not going to be accepted as the historical record, as The Truth in other words. There's too much information out there, there's too many people paying attention, there's too much free exchange for such nonsense to stick.

People feigning innocence on this scale is a big lie, and I believe that truth will out.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:49 AM on January 14, 2009


OK, tinfoil hat brigade, stand down. Yes, I know you suspect the CIA of nefarious deeds going back to the Jefferson administration, and you have the photocopied zines to prove it, but this is different.

This is something much, much more concrete and actionable, something that needs to be taken with deadly seriousness by the electorate and the administration. Try not to spill any crazy on it.


God yes . . .
posted by Ironmouth at 11:49 AM on January 14, 2009


Yep, people working for The United States Government tortured people, and tortured some of them (like Manadel al-Jamadi) to death. That's not hypothetical-- that's as real as it gets.

It's hard to get useful information from a dead man.

So... what happens now? Some of the torturers, low-level folks like Lynndie England and Charles Graner, have already been sentenced. England has completed her sentence; Graner is in Leavenworth until 2015. Who else was responsible? Have any of the CIA Interrogators been tried and convicted? Have any of the people who authorized the use of torture been tried and convicted? If not, why not?

OK, tinfoil hat brigade, stand down. Yes, I know you suspect the CIA of nefarious deeds going back to the Jefferson administration, and you have the photocopied zines to prove it, but this is different.

The CIA's use of torture during interrogations began during The Cold War. It's all pretty well documented. No need for tinfoil hats and zines. A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from The Cold War to The War on Terror.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:50 AM on January 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


That said, the complicity of the Democratic leadership with bush malfeasance in the house and senate can't be understated.

I think it is far more important to go after the actual perps, not the people who, until 2006, lacked the power to do anything. Plus it gives the GOP people ammo to toss Bush aside and say he was bad but hey we got some shiny new stuff over here and continue to push for these sorts of policies.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:54 AM on January 14, 2009


What a happy little outrage-fest. Billy desires nothing but for you to die. Poor Billy. How dare you harm him? How we do love to sleep when our beds are burning.
posted by chlorus at 11:57 AM on January 14, 2009


Not prosecuting can be an important aspect of moving on.

Sure, a T&R commission. *Exposing* the war crimes is crucial. But these crimes were not committed as part of a civil war or conflict within a nation. They were violations of international law, not just American law.

So, screw moving on. Prosecute or lose my vote, democrats. I mean it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:58 AM on January 14, 2009


Seriously, everyone should go over to the Citizen's Briefing Book and inform the incoming Administration of what it is you want. If you want full-on investigations, you might as well let them know. Maybe they do it, maybe they don't, but let them know. Do the same for your representatives in Congress. Bitching here is fun, but we have to step up. Lincoln wasn't kidding when he said a government of the people, by the people, for the people. It is our responsibility to continue to pressure for what we want.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:00 PM on January 14, 2009


with an element of bloodthirst and revenge

Let's not beat around the bush. It's an element of sadism and perversity, and it runs like a mighty river through American culture. Violence gets people off.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:03 PM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, people who were tortured to *death* don't have a chance to decide to "move on."

So I repeat my opinion, which that there can be no "moving on" from war crimes that does not involve either punishment for the torturers or forgiveness by the victims, unlikely as hell in the case of this situation. None. These crimes fester like a cancer on the body politic until they are surgically addressed with sentences and sanctions and public shaming. We can pretend to forget they happened, but we will be paying the price for decades even if we do prosecute and ameliorate some of the worst abuses.

I suggest that we begin by offering people a choice between a fair trial or being waterboarded.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:07 PM on January 14, 2009


I suggest that we begin by offering people a choice between a fair trial or being waterboarded.

gotta disagree with that one. Either torture is wrong or it is not. The subject of the torture isn't the key matter. The government had enough on the "20th hijacker" to convict. Instead they chose to torture anyway. Many of the people we tortured are likely murders and terrorists. That doesn't make it right. Those who are accused of torture need to get the due process they did not get others. Otherwise, how are we any different than these Bushies?
posted by Ironmouth at 12:16 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


My suggestion was Swiftian. I don't condone actually waterboarding Dick Cheney. I propose offering it as an alternative to a fair trial since supposedly it isn't really torture, just "discomfort." I actually heard some right wing shill on TV refer to waterboarding as a source of "temporary discomfort." So if it's not torture, surely it's preferable to being tried in a court of law, right?
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:21 PM on January 14, 2009


Not prosecuting can be an important aspect of moving on.

Sure, a T&R commission. *Exposing* the war crimes is crucial. But these crimes were not committed as part of a civil war or conflict within a nation. They were violations of international law, not just American law.


Ok, so we're back to half-quotes, and half-reading.

My next paragraph reads:

Is that the case here? Hell no.

I'm done with this thread. Have fun arguing with each other despite being in agreement.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:24 PM on January 14, 2009


The fact that a show like "24" was made and was extrememly popular tells you everything you need to know about America. That extremely violent movies get a PG-13 but anything with a nipple gets an "R". The list goes on.
posted by maxwelton at 12:44 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Note that on Change.gov, the whole prosecute torturers thing has been favorited up to 370 points, which is the highest I've seen this go (not too experienced with the site). If this is your issue, let the President-elect and his people know what you think.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:45 PM on January 14, 2009


I thought I had pretty much reached outrage fatigue with justifications for torture, but these idiots using Jack Bauer as a justification for "roughing people" ...

With New Season Of 24, Right Wing Falls In Love With Torture All Over Again.
posted by ericb at 12:50 PM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: arguing with each other despite being in agreement
posted by Johnny Porno at 12:52 PM on January 14, 2009


Let's not beat around the bush.

Exactly. Let's beat the Bush. Hard.
posted by ericb at 12:55 PM on January 14, 2009


chlorus: What a happy little outrage-fest. Billy desires nothing but for you to die. Poor Billy. How dare you harm him? How we do love to sleep when our beds are burning.

Free Republic called. They said you have their inability to understand the fundamental difference between CRIMINAL actions and STATE actions, and they want it back.
posted by athenian at 1:05 PM on January 14, 2009


Who the hell is Billy?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:07 PM on January 14, 2009


Free Republic called. They said you have their inability to understand the fundamental difference between CRIMINAL actions and STATE actions, and they want it back.

Who the hell is Billy?


Let's not go there. Either he's a troll or he's monumentally stupid and not about to be dissuaded by any kind of rational argument. Either way, what's the point?
posted by Amanojaku at 1:13 PM on January 14, 2009


Would I support torture? If there was a nuclear bomb and some guy knew where and the code to disarm it, then yes torture the crap out of him, BUT only as a last resort.

Oh, this again. Yes, the Shin Bet used the same excuse to justify torture in interrogating suspects -- "there's a bomb on a bus that's set to explode in 20 minutes -- and he knows which bus it's on. How could you ask us to sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians?" That didn't hold water after B'Tselem (the Israeli human rights organization) subpoenaed the time cards of the interrogators. Guess what? Somehow, the "24" theme music stopped during lunch breaks and the weekend.

Others have pointed out that this is the type of scenario that occurs only in the fantasies of the American entertainment industry. But even if it were plausible, it doesn't describe the manner and situations in which the Administration has justified the use of torture.

In fact, if one would ever be in the situation that you describe, it would the result of the massive failure of your intelligence program. And then- as this FPP attests- you wouldn't ever be able to try and sentence the guy for the crimes he may or may not have committed.

But there's something else, something I wish people would talk about more. And that's the facile assumption about the effectiveness of torture. There's little chance that torturing "some guy" would yield the information you're looking for - torture is notorious for producing false confessions. The ethical argument against it is more important, but even on practical grounds torture isn't very useful as part of an intelligence program.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 1:14 PM on January 14, 2009 [7 favorites]


>>I would be grateful if you could correct me then, stinkycheese.

> I'm just saying that your version of what happened is hopefully not going to be accepted as the historical record, as The Truth in other words. There's too much information out there, there's too many people paying attention, there's too much free exchange for such nonsense to stick.

People feigning innocence on this scale is a big lie, and I believe that truth will out.


Thanks for the reply, but, seriously, do you really believe there was/is a genuine majority of citizens who condone torture? Most of us can separate reality from TV, so I expect that even most "24" fans would not approve of torture, much less seeing it legally justified.

So no, I don't see the attempt to legalize torture as acting on the will of the people; it was sneaked in via a legal back door, roughly speaking. Is this not what happened?
posted by Artful Codger at 1:26 PM on January 14, 2009


Speaking about loving a TV show, how about Battlestar Galactica? The right wing fell all over themselves about how the struggle against terror was just like the humans struggle against the Cylon menace. So what did the producers do? They decided the humans would strap suicide bombs to themselves to attack the Cylon menance. Man were those idiots on National Review's the Corner pissed off.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:30 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Billy is the little man who lives in his head.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:46 PM on January 14, 2009


Is there a consensus on whether or not a president can preemptively pardon before charges are brought?

In the best of all possible worlds, criminal proceedings are brought against Bush and Cheney by Congress, and they are tried and incarcerated.

If the legal options appear to be failing or frozen due to right-wing interference and games-playing, then Obama uses the "nuclear" option and issues Bush and Cheney pardons, with or without their consent.

The stink of a pardon would stain their records in the history books as much or more than jail time. In fact, jail time would probably make them come across as right-wing martyrs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:50 PM on January 14, 2009


(stepping in late. sorry.)

truth and reconciliation as a possible option is cool because it allows people to speak freely about the crap they pulled. sure they get to continue walking among us, but you know they'll do so with no pride for a very, very long time. because the entire world will get to hear about the atrocities they performed and judgement will be passed from the highest to the lowest level of our societies.

no one can handle shame. a lot of people kill themselves over it. some folks kill others. that's why the truth and reconciliation option is so intense and viable (as a strategy). the other grand aspect is that nobody really has an option after hearing all the testimony of saying, "well they had the WMDs," or "saddam did it."

we'll be told that we were lied to by the very liars themselves. all hail desmond tutu. get his ass over here today to show us how it was done.
posted by artof.mulata at 2:08 PM on January 14, 2009


Billy -- Don't Be A Hero.
posted by ericb at 2:09 PM on January 14, 2009


If the legal options appear to be failing or frozen due to right-wing interference and games-playing, then Obama uses the "nuclear" option and issues Bush and Cheney pardons, with or without their consent.

Sneaky! I like it (if other, more punitive, measures fail).
posted by Hutch at 2:16 PM on January 14, 2009


My old man did a great deal of counter insurgent work during his three tour as Special Forces officer in Vietnam. And though he has never come out and said it directly he witnessed VC being "interrogated" by some very unsavory means. I know this really disturbed him for some time. He often was very reticent to hand over prisoners to the South Vietnamese becuase of the treatment he knew they would receive. And that treatment was never kept secret. In fact it fucked him up in terms of building up the trust he needed amongst his own sources. This may sound counter-intuitive but you actually need your enemy to trust you in many respects.

I would not be here, on this earth, if this was not the case.
When my family was stationed in Vietnam—my father, mother, brother and sister— in the early 1960's American personnel were not often targeted by the VC. My father worked hard to contact these people. To the point of hiring "body guards" for my family that he knew were VC. This arrangement worked well. So well my family had a normal life in civil war zone. On certain nights of the week my mom and dad would have the housekeeper take the kids and they would have a date night at the movies. One night they were getting ready to go and my father received a note (he had "a drop" on fence post outside of town that he talked to local VC commanders) telling him not to go to the movies and to stay home. So he called the theater manager and told him to not show movies that night. They didn't. The theater was mortared. Nobody was hurt.

My parents stayed home. And conceived me.

Anyway. My father believes rather strongly that torture does not work. And reacts very strongly to the notion that it is going on with tacit endorsement of the Commander in Chief at a time when soldiers, like my father, are supposedly dying and killing for higher ideals and principles.
posted by tkchrist at 2:19 PM on January 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


“The fact that a show like "24" was made and was extrememly popular tells you everything you need to know about America.”

The fact that “The Road Warrior” was made and was extremely popular tells you everything you need to know about Australia.

“This is what the vast majority of Americans wanted. What they didn't want were the consequences.”

The vast majority of Americans are subjected to rhetorical bullshit 24/7 on everything from the efficacy of hemorrhoid cream and ‘safe’ toys from China to how great it is for you that some local developer is getting public land so cheap.

I find it hard to cast blame on people who are systematically lied to by one of the most (if not the most) sophisticated disinformation systems in the world.

It’s too easy to say ‘it’s these people’s fault’ instead of working to do something about it.
If one knows better, it’s one’s duty to try and fix it.
People don’t want torture. People want to get off work a little early, eat a little better, live a little more comfortably and have a little more money in the bank.

People are *convinced* that they want torture. Just as they are convinced they want war instead of having their kid with, y’know, legs.
Me, I blame the assholes doing the convincing.

Far as I can see people otherwise enjoy having legs.
But ok, maybe they don’t get it. Just means we have something to do. What’s a good man other than a bad man’s teacher? Evil, exist, good men, do nothing, all that.

Plus what KokuRyu said re: approved policy vs. transgression.

“If there was a nuclear bomb and some guy knew where and the code to disarm it, then yes torture the crap out of him,”

Someone told me you have the code. Please place your testicles on the moist pad.

“So fine, do it, torture the guy if you think you are compelled to... and then you can have your day in court to defend yourself.”

And have folks come and kill your family in reprisal....and then they can have their day in court to defend themselves.

There’s no end to that road. No such thing as a little bit pregnant on these things.
Not just the moral relativism (which I abhor), but practical application weeds out all the assumptions made here.
Like - how’d you capture the guy? How do you know he’s the right guy? How do you know he’s - verifiably - got the codes if you don’t know the codes?
I have and would kill someone who is a threat to the American people.
But someone puts me in a room, hands me a gun, tells me some guy is an enemy soldier and a threat, I’m not going to pull the trigger. I mean, how the hell do I know that? Plus - if he’s already in custody, how is he a threat? etc. etc. etc.
There are no circumstances under which I would ever follow an order to torture someone.
Nor would I take it upon myself to do so since the circumstances under which torture (given it is practical at all, which it isn’t) would be appropriate are so limited as to be non-applicable.

Like saying if I’m ever suddenly teleported to Mars I could live if I stayed low because the atmosphere on Mars makes the ground temperature during the day within tolerable human limits (with a plethora of unstated assumptions like I’m going to have food, water, some sort of oxygen supply, etc. and I’m going to be teleported back by this magical force at some point within those limits).
Then sure, yeah. It’s possible.
Of course, it’s impractical anyway since we know night will fall on Mars just as we know torture is a technique inferior to, y’know, every other technique of interrogation.

(And I’ll add the U.S. may have tortured in the past - but there weren’t any professionals or anyone who actually knew what they were doing involved in that. There’s this tacit assumption in this “the U.S. has always tortured” idea that torture actually is efficacious for something. It’s not. It’s a tool of political terror, that’s all. And at that, it’s not a very useful one - demonstrably - given the past record of where such tactics have been used. It’s always been the political end driving it. Not vice versa.)
posted by Smedleyman at 2:30 PM on January 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


I find it hard to cast blame on people who are systematically lied to by one of the most (if not the most) sophisticated disinformation systems in the world.

If we're that stupid, someone better come and take our guns away so we don't invade any more countries until we wise up. We can't have it both ways.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:41 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yep, that's a pretty lame argument.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:56 PM on January 14, 2009


“If we're that stupid, someone better come and take our guns away so we don't invade any more countries until we wise up”

Happened to the Japanese after WWII. And the Germans. As it sits, as a country that invaded another without provocation, I’d place us in that pile, yeah.
Far as I remember we didn’t eradicate the Germans or punish the Japanese people (quite the contrary after the war). But we did put their leaders on trial. Hmmmm.

But your insinuation is what, people have to meet an intelligence test or they have to be above a certain income level or they get disenfranchised? Eugenics has always been a popular idea among liberals. Maybe we could castrate them?
Instead of addressing the root causes, or prosecuting the leaders, blame the people. Swell.
So we what, jail 250 million people? Or only the people who voted for Bush?

Anyway, moot point, it’s a different world.
There’s no “someone” strong enough to come and do it. No group of someones either. The U.N., NATO, other organizations, have done only two things about it - nothing and like it.
Some harsh language maybe.
It’s up to us really. It’s got to be a domestic thing. And the burden falls on folks who are politically aware to pursue it.

Fortunately looks like government isn’t going to be locked up the way it has been the past 8 years so something *can* be done about it.
I’ve said before, I don’t just want retribution on this, I’d be happy to see Bush, et.al. skate if it meant this kind of thing wouldn’t happen again.

Means a lot more work though. Writing laws. Deep thoughts. Debate. Asking ourselves tough questions as to what it is we do want our country to be. Formalizing all that.
Lot of work. Easier just to say ‘we all suck’ and call it a day.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:02 PM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I guess with Bush and Cheney being only days away from being distant, hellish memories, Crawford probably thought there was no problem hiding the obvious anymore. It's also probably one last "FUCK YOU" to Obama. Sort of like "Yeah, America tortures people. Has for years. Now Obama gets to deal with the international fallout!"
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:06 PM on January 14, 2009


Taking Jack Bauer Seriously
posted by homunculus at 3:57 PM on January 14, 2009


All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side ... The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
-- George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism
posted by kirkaracha at 4:08 PM on January 14, 2009


In the best of all possible worlds, criminal proceedings are brought against Bush and Cheney by Congress, and they are tried and incarcerated.

Congress lacks the power to bring charges. Only the executive has the power to prosecute. This one's up to Obama. Let him know how you feel.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:02 PM on January 14, 2009


Yeah, hom, that "if you only knew what I know" wannabe mystique irritates the hell out of me. Like it can legitimately defend state action in a democracy. Like secrecy about terrorism (other than not hyping the effects perhaps, or the names, the way you don't blather gang information in the press to give them publicity) is at all useful.
I mean, it's worse than we think? Really? Why? Shouldn't you be off your ass then and out there doing something about it?
I do, in fact, know a few things, and it's been my experience that it's always a lack of communication and misunderstanding that causes most of the real problems.

Hell, what can be scarier than global nuclear war? A few million deaths don't bother me as much as the over reaction to them. Or what those deaths can be used as a pretext for.
Only a few thousand perished on 9/11 (not saying that was a walk in the park here) but look at the fallout.
I mean, without invoking the name of St. Stanislav Petrov, we almost ended the world over a launch by Norway near Spitzbergen in '95. The Russians didn't clue in the staff who were on duty that day that the Norwegians were sending up some scientific instruments. In 1980 it was a faulty computer chip at Pacific Command. In 79, an exercise tape at NORAD. In '73 Kissinger (that jagoff) ordered us to DEFCON 3 as a kind of voodoo warning to the Soviets not to help out Egypt during that dust up in the Sinai. Someone at an AFB in Michigan accidentally tripped an alarm and the B-52's were scrambled as though we'd already taken nuclear strikes.
I guess picking up the fucking phone just wasn't his style.
Anyway, they were called back obviously. Plenty more, but that's just the public stuff.
August 1st 1991 Bush the greater actually did pick up the phone and called Gorby to let him know his people were restless (gasp! - no one had ever done that before). Which, really, was a good move.
Still, Gorby said all was well, went on vacation and we all know what happened a few weeks later. The gang of eight relieved him of the nuclear codes - or didn't anyone wonder why Gennadii Yanayev's nerves were shot all to hell and his hands were shaking? Ending the world before the Soviet Union dissolved was a viable option for those hardliners.
Well, I don't imagine Joe Airport Check was plugged in to all that at the time, so what these guys think they know that it's good to keep silent about, but still act on, I'm not sure of. It's not like their operators. And if they were, they wouldn't go around letting people know with this "If I told you, I'd have to kill you" bullshit.
The guy who's actually in the know isn't the guy in the suit in the government office or the dude down the block who says he only works in Washington at a boring agency *cough*.
It's the guy who you'd never expect. Some ad-rep for some company selling widgets or something. And he's pretty much the guy you never see. Because, y'know, he's doing his f'ing job instead of talking about it.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:51 PM on January 14, 2009


Would I support torture? If there was a nuclear bomb and some guy knew where and the code to disarm it, then yes torture the crap out of him, BUT only as a last resort.

So fine, do it, torture the guy if you think you are compelled to... and then you can have your day in court to defend yourself.


If an honorable person in power really believed torture was necessary to save the United States in some circumstance, that person would indeed authorize the torture, but also accept the consequences, including the necessity of a criminal trial to preserve the rule of law, as part of their sacrifice to the nation.

These people claimed their actions were necessary, but then hid, lied, denied, and tried to change the law to protect themselves from the consequences.

And that's the difference between this Administration and honorable men.
posted by rokusan at 8:58 PM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is this the right place to point out that Kiefer Sutherland is the grandson of politician Tommy Douglas, first leader of Canada's left-wing NDP party and the creator of socialized medicine in Canada?

I really hope that 24 takes a Battlestar Galactica-style twist soon, and sucks all the torture apologists along for the humiliation.
posted by rokusan at 9:05 PM on January 14, 2009


Maybe someone could do a "citizens arrest?" Anybody up for that? Just march up to ... any of them, Rummy, Bush Jr., Cheney, Rice, and say "I, a citizen of the US arrest you for crimes against humanity and the US constitution." Maybe if it was an episode of 24 first, we could get people a little more behind this.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:04 AM on January 15, 2009


Maybe someone could do a "citizens arrest?" Anybody up for that?

I can't get the image out of my mind of Jim Neighbors (as Gomer Pyle) hollering "Citizen's Arrest! Citizen's Arrest!" on an episode of Mayberry back in the 60's. I guess good luck with that, is what I mean.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:23 AM on January 15, 2009




“Maybe someone could do a "citizens arrest?" “

There are congressmen on this. It’s got legs. It’s not like it can’t possibly happen. All you need is the DOJ to execute it. Put enough pressure on - or give enough backing to - Obama through the congress, and it will get done.
In fact, it has been done. There’s just been a lot of waffling.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:09 PM on January 15, 2009


(Yeah Hom, I saw Specter grilling him.)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:10 PM on January 15, 2009


I missed it, but I'm glad to hear that he rejected the ticking time bomb scenario.
posted by homunculus at 3:32 PM on January 15, 2009






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