Re: The Torture Report

1

It's pretty stunning, even to a cynic.

I wonder what all the redacted stuff is about concerning Asset X -- who kept telling the CIA he could get them KSM, but they had something more important they wanted him to do. If this turns out to have been related to Iraq, then I just don't know what . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 1:58 PM
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I don't even care about the awful details. I just want to know who will be going to jail. If the answer is "no one" (I know the answer is "no one"), then the awful details don't matter one whit.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:04 PM
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Can anybody make a credible case against the release of the report? I know that there are people who are angry about it, and the minority report (of which I have, admittedly, only skimmed the executive summary) seems some issues, but I haven't heard anybody saying this stuff didn't happen, nor anything remotely sufficient to justify keeping it covered up.

I mean, sure, some of our allies will be super pissed when they find out what we did, and others will be differently super pissed when the world finds out how they helped us. But is that it?


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:05 PM
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Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantánamo Bay not quite as far from the truth as you might have expected.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:06 PM
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3: They'll hate us even more for our freedom.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:07 PM
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3: They'll hate us even more for our freedom.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:07 PM
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Free to post twice.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:11 PM
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I agree with 1. Stunning.

Also, the best argument for Congressional oversight I think I've seen in my lifetime (not that the process shows that Congressional oversight is actually effective, but it sure seems to be more effective at getting truth out of the otherwise impenetrable national security state than executive, judicial, or public/press oversight).

Disagree with 2. Sure, people should absolutely go to jail. That's important. But just releasing the information is just as important, or maybe even more important. Having the world really for real know what happened and that we absolutely undeniably torture people in detail is a really big deal. To go not-quite Godwin, the Nuremberg Trials were actually extremely shitty at punishing Nazis (hello 7 year commuted) but extremely good at getting out information and demonstrating guilt, and that's important.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:13 PM
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Besides all the horrifying practices, what stands out to me is how much this puts the nails in the coffin of the "serious people" Jack Ryan mystique that still wafts around intelligence. Reliably producing bad leads? Questioned by many internal involved people? Interrogators with no relevant knowledge? Who cares and full steam ahead! says senior leadership; breaking the rules and brutalizing brown people is how we show we're manly men!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:13 PM
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Executive director of ACLU proposes the "pardon them" troll.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:14 PM
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To go not-quite Godwin, the Nuremberg Trials were actually extremely shitty at punishing Nazis (hello 7 year commuted) but extremely good at getting out information and demonstrating guilt, and that's important.

Oh, sure, fine, let me clarify... who is being criminally prosecuted? If they're acquitted, they're acquitted.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:21 PM
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9: Right. Fuck your fucking ticking bomb and your sterilized needles and your fucking waterboarding poses no risk or injury to the subject but they deliver true information immediately in response. The CIA was torturing and raping people not out of necessity, but because they wanted to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:24 PM
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And lying about it consistently throughout.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:27 PM
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this puts the nails in the coffin of the "serious people" Jack Ryan mystique that still wafts around intelligence

Maybe I'm just in a bad mood today, but I bet you're wrong.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:27 PM
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Some people like to torture other people, and that's true in every single country on earth. The trouble is that (and I'm aware I sound like a poster from the Democratic Underground when I say this) the Republican party is beyond conceding anything to decency at the detriment of partisanship, and so as disgusting as all this is, soon we'll have "push back" from people other than Dick Cheney that this was actually totes awesome.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:28 PM
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Also relevant (seen via neb and others): there's a decent argument to be made, FWICT, that the relevant treaties don't just require antitorture laws on the books; they mandate prosecution when it is found.

Article 7
1. The State Party in the territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.
2. These authorities shall take their decision in the same manner as in the case of any ordinary offence of a serious nature under the law of that State.

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:28 PM
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10 -- Well if they're actually going to pardon everybody then maybe we can talk about it. Otherwise, it's just the same unaccountable bullshit that is (a) called out in the report and (b) illegal under the CAT etc.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:29 PM
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If the mystique survived J. Edgar Hoover, I think it can survive this.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:29 PM
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14: Well, for us, hopefully.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:29 PM
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You'd have thought that the long history of previous CIA failures would have been enough to kill off mystique, though of course they didn't (Bay of Pigs, total incompetence in Vietnam, insane self-destructive James Jesus Angleton paranoia, total incapability to do its most important job -- that is, accurately analyze and predict the collapse of the Soviet Union). The bottom line is that the CIA just sucks it as an intelligence agency, even historically. It's basically been a crappy agency with a long record of failure (the NSA, for example, might be differently-evil but at least appears relatively effective).

The "successes" are, what, killing Bin Laden, Mossadegh, maybe Allende. The latter two I think are probably over-credited to the CIA and under-credited to locals. It sure looks like a basically unmitigated history of failure (in the "competence" sense as well as the "evil" sense) on both on the intelligence collection side and the covert op side since 1945.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:34 PM
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On the other hand, the wartime predecessor of the CIA jumpstarted Julia Child's career. So, six of one...


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:35 PM
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I realized in reading this that I still had some of that mystique left over in my head, maybe via Charles Stross.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:36 PM
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Trying to answer my own question in 3, there's this, I guess, but it basically boils down to three assertions: 1) torture is A-OK (actual quote: "EITs were not designed to be pleasant"), 2) it worked, and 3) all these claims of deception and failed oversight are BS. I'm not especially qualified to evaluate claim 3, I guess, but that the defenders of this stuff have to concede #1 and believe that #2 (even if true) is decisive is pretty depressing.

Granted, NRO might not be the place to look for the most intelligent analysis. But is there anything else?


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:40 PM
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i heard a bit of McCain supporting the report & condemning torture. Didn't wait to hear him getting disowned.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:45 PM
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this puts the nails in the coffin of the "serious people" Jack Ryan mystique that still wafts around intelligence

Maybe I'm just in a bad mood today, but I bet you're wrong.

Yep . . . still wafting.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:51 PM
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Agreeing with 8 regarding 2. In that vein, the NYT online headline itself is a valuable thing. It uses the T word!

SENATE TORTURE REPORT FAULTS C.I.A. FOR BRUTALITY AND DECEIT


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:51 PM
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One of the things I liked about the movie The Siege was that it painted the CIA as basically incompetent.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:53 PM
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The CIA has always been agency for undistinguished old money dudes to exercise their extra-democratic prerogatives, hasn't it?

(Note to 20: Mossadegh wasn't killed, he died under house arrest.)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 2:57 PM
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I think that the reason that this report was published rather than buried is that Feinstein's own people were spied on while researching it without their knowledge, and this botched spying angered the senator. The release of the report settles an internal grudge.

If I am reading correctly, this: A C.I.A. lawyer then referred the agency's suspicions to the Justice Department to determine whether the committee staff broke the law when it obtained that document. is how the information that congressional staff had been spied on came out. I'm not sure about that last part though.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:03 PM
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20: The book Legacy Of Ashes is a long, depressing chronicle of exactly what you say. Everything the CIA does turns to shit. Or ashes, if you're in polite company.


Posted by: Coach Tweet's Dad | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:06 PM
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You can't poop ashes, no matter what company you are in.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:12 PM
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Well, yeah, but the way the report takes down the CIA's 2013 response is way out beyond mere shit/ashes.

Have people read the Asset X part?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:14 PM
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9 et seq.: Not likely. I am slightly disgusted to write something so worse-than-cynical, but the chief lesson of the past few weeks has been that people worship violence and do not want to see the daring, powerful, formidable, strong, et hoc genus omne characters who practice violence nagged by the petty penalties available in a liberal democracy.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:15 PM
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(That is, I think everyone involved in the 2013 response should be summarily terminated. Let them re-apply if they can show that they argued against the stupid shit. [My opinion that everyone involved in the spying on the Senate should be summarily terminated is in TFA.])


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:17 PM
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Perfectly serious and sincere question - where and what are the NSA successes?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:19 PM
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Worthwhile on the whole timeline of the report.

It makes me think pretty highly of the staff who spent so much effort putting together the report, and Feinstein for seeing it through. Also, to 29.1, Feinstein was at least pressing for declassification in mid-2013, months before the fracas.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:25 PM
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Digby nails it like Digby on giving the proper context to McCain's quite eloquent defense of the release of the report:

Like most conservatives, Senator John McCain has an empathy gap and can only relate to something that he or someone close to him has personally experienced. He has experienced torture and so he spoke against it very eloquently today.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:27 PM
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35: I think they count everybody who is still alive as a win.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:30 PM
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16: thus have also seen it claimed explicitly that the same treaties make Obama a war criminal for not having prosecuted already.

As if this is all the information! Even modulo redactions.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:37 PM
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37: Sure, yeah, but consider how many Republicans aren't able to do even that much.

And McCain's statement is very strong - it represents a real effort to deny Bush/Cheney political cover. For example:

There was a good amount of misinformation used in 2011 to credit the use of these methods with the death of Osama bin Laden. And there is, I fear, misinformation being used today to prevent the release of this report, disputing its findings and warning about the security consequences of their public disclosure.

And:

"What might come as a surprise, not just to our enemies, but to many Americans, is how little these practices did to aid our efforts to bring 9/11 culprits to justice and to find and prevent terrorist attacks today and tomorrow.

He addresses blowback from disclosure and the moral dimensions of torture. A very strong statement.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:39 PM
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34: They have crossed the Rubicon.

(Did the Republic ever actually enforce that law? Don't know how loaded these dice are, historically.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:40 PM
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The speculation on asset X is that it confirms the CIA diverted resources from Al Qaeda to Iraq, right?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:42 PM
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Well done, NPR.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:42 PM
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Sulla preceded Caesar in bringing troops into Rome. Not sure how many others.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:43 PM
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Or rather, bringing troops into Rome without simultaneously relinquishing command, as I understand it.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 3:44 PM
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At moments like this, it's possible to imagine that America will be shocked enough to do the right thing, or at least something more right than what has been done so far.

I wonder how long it will take for it to become obvious that this is nothing but wishful thinking.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 4:05 PM
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Will we see a mea culpa from anyone in the media who was defending these practices? How is Fox News covering the report?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 4:06 PM
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How is Fox News covering the report?

The United States is awesome!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 4:15 PM
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48: That FOX host seems to think President Obama wrote the report. If only.


Posted by: Coach Tweet's Dad | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 4:22 PM
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47: Several RW folks have used the "this report is as credible as the RS UVA story". Also a lot of "politically timed to overshadow President Gruber's admission that Ocare was a total trojan horse actually designed to bus little black babies into the tummies of nice white ladies in the suburbs" in his testimony in front of Grand Inquisitor Issa.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 4:24 PM
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48 is highly amusing, in a genuinely depressing sort of way.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 4:29 PM
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But I learned a new vocabulary word: incongnient.

The vast majority of the documents, statements, and testimony highlighting information obtained from the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques, or from CIA detainees more generally, was inaccurate and incongnient with CIA records.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 4:32 PM
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52: Could be badly OCRed "incongruent".


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 4:39 PM
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Think it is actually a thing from some searches (also "congnient"). And there seems to be a specific technical definition having to do with chemical solutions.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 4:49 PM
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Heh.

Former MTV host Kennedy, who moved to Fox earlier this year, sounded a discordant note.
"We're the United States of America. We're better than this. We don't have to torture people. And we're also strong enough to have this level of discourse and transparency," she said.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 4:54 PM
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52, 53, 54: OCR can have systematic errors that turn up repeatedly. Matter for tyρmancy.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 5:09 PM
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... and there's mine. Tyρomancy.

more seriously, 46.1: it's our republic while we can maintain it. General strike gets more appealing by the day.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 5:13 PM
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56 did occur to me, but the pattern does not look like it. (Although if the original seed was be an OCR error that then got propagated as a word, that would be cool.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 5:17 PM
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Happens. Typomancy is IMO a propagated human misreading of the original with a ρ. (not that my O is qualified to say, but the etymology makes sense that way.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 5:27 PM
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Another trip down memory lane from Digby: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2014/12/uhm-remember-who-led-torture-charge.html She's absolutely right.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 5:49 PM
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44: Yeah, but could Caesar have landed that plane in the Hudson? I don't THINK so!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 6:05 PM
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16: 2. These authorities shall take their decision in the same manner as in the case of any ordinary offence of a serious nature under the law of that State.

And the name of that state...is Florida.

And now you know...the rest of the story.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 6:08 PM
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60: More retribution than punishment.


Posted by: Coach Tweet's Dad | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 6:18 PM
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Why the heck is this thing OCR'd? Did they really print it up and scan it back in? They know you can just export directly from MS Word or whatever into PDF, right?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 6:20 PM
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This is just a guess, but they didn't want to export directly from Word because of the redactions -- they didn't want to provide an electronic version which might permit one to see what had been blacked out. That happened a few years ago in the FTC's challenge to the Whole Foods merger. A simple way to prevent that is to print the Word file, and then to release that image. So then someone OCR'd it to generate a usable soft copy again.


Posted by: Coach Tweet's Dad | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 6:25 PM
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I wonder how many of these assbaskets were being fortified by the show 24, considering it premiered November 2001.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 6:31 PM
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Ah, so they OCRd it as a means of evading culpability supporting redactions. That makes sense.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 6:31 PM
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You don't want to know how the Senate files their campaign finance reports.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 6:32 PM
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That was me.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 6:32 PM
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Or rather me. First time accidentally clearing saved details!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 6:35 PM
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Or rather me. First time accidentally clearing saved details!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 6:35 PM
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the show 24, considering it premiered November 2001.

Best evidence evar for 9/11 as an inside job.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 6:40 PM
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Jesus Christ, that link in 48 pretty much makes me hate everything on earth, including myself for having watched it. I may not be cut out for this Internet thing after all.


Posted by: Swope FM | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 7:01 PM
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Good Christ this is depressing. Worse than I expected. So much so that I'm actually reevaluating comment 2--any chance this report creates pressure to rerhink the policy against prosecutions? On the one hand, I don't believe it could. On the other hand, I almost can't see how it won't.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 7:17 PM
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IIRC, and I probably don't, Season 1 of 24 had a vaguely pre-9/11 feel, in that the badguys were largely in the government itself maybe? And I think the badguys were Bosnians or something. I dunno. Tune in next week for "TV memories with Grandpa."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 7:17 PM
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Speaking of torture, did we note that this:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/102250262#.

Apparently unfolded at the same location as this:
http://gawker.com/my-14-hour-search-for-the-end-of-tgi-fridays-endless-ap-1606122925


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 7:19 PM
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The torture report means that we should pray for the all-consuming fireball to destroy America, but that a "Mistletoe Drone" exists and that it's clipping peoples' noses at a TGIFriday's makes me feel good about the world again.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 7:27 PM
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When was it I got into shit for saying America should be turned into a parking lot? Somebody said they would report me to the FBI.

It was at Ezra Klein's personal blog, after Pandagon before WaPo. Probably like 2007. Maybe earlier.

Worse now? Better? Been down a long long time.

And of course I remember My Lai and the Church Commission.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 7:42 PM
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Here's the bob mcmanus I like to remember:

Smith and Carlos weren't all that right, it depends on whether you thought/think America was the scumbucket of the world and should be shamed at any opportunity.

You know, the hypocritical racist shithead one.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 7:50 PM
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NMM to Jane Freilicher.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 7:59 PM
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79: We revisiting that what 50 year old controversy?

Fuck yeah, they were giving Huey a high sign. There is no doubt, raised fist was not a fucking peace sign at that time. We had another one.

After, when they had to please the squares prigs and puritans like you...they lied.

You just, like your fucking kind, think it is more important to hate on Brundage just like this thread, and god LGM sucks tonight wants to think torture is all about Republicans.

I would pave the whole fucking country.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 8:18 PM
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Ahh, good thread.

I said radical chic will never die there. Just reread the Wolfe full online this week cause of this:

A P Smith at Kotsko

"Just trust your Black comrades. It's the whitey in your head that makes you worried."

As the days of our lives, there is a Leonard Bernstein cocktail party in every generation. When the shooting starts, they always disappear.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 8:31 PM
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A side note to the horrific brutality and sadism in the report is how much of it comes across as amateur hour, CIA officers and contractors just making shit up as they go along as well as pulling stuff from SERE training (ultimately derived from USSR-PRC-NK interrogation techniques for forcing false confessions).

And I can grasp the idea, repellent as it is, of forced enemas, what they are calling "rectal rehydration," which is sexual humiliation combined with infantilization and feelings of disgust connected with feces fear of loss of bowel control. But where the fuck did they get the idea for forced rectal feeding? I'll tell you where I think they got it from: the South Park episode "Red Hot Catholic Love" which came out in the Summer of 2002. This is the episode where all the adults started this fad of eating with their asses - interorectogestion - and pooping out of their mouths.

I wonder if what happened is a bunch of CIA interrogators having recently seen that episode were joking around and decided to see if it would work using some of their torture victims.

What we have here is the apotheosis of dudebro culture ensconced in the deepest darkest levels of the national security state.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 8:53 PM
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Leaving aside the horrors of torture and whether or not we should kill whitey, that was a great South Park.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 9:01 PM
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74 -- Apparently, we can't even fire them, much less prosecute. I've been saying that Brennan apparently has the original of the Kenyan birth certificate, and I'm starting to believe it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 9:05 PM
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George ''I Will Never Give That Medal Back' Tenet:

The committee leadership say the report will ensure this never happens again," Tenet said. "My hope is that a report like this -- biased, inaccurate, and destructive -- will never happen again.

Keep on fucking that chicken, George.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 9:18 PM
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Timing: Kathryn ""based on first-hand accounts of actual events" Bigelow a guest on The Daily Show tonight.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 9:41 PM
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This release seems has the potential to become viewed as a watershed moment in political history (say, Pentagon Papers level). Just for the fucking lies if nothing else. But then I think about the 2014 electorate...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 10:01 PM
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Speaking of watershed and lies, that guy who ran Freedom Industries got charged for poisoning West Virginia.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 10:06 PM
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Freedom isn't free?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 10:10 PM
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Freedom's just another name for toxins in the loo.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 10:16 PM
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I know you're all reading this stuff anyway, but it really is stunning. The guy who basically gave them bin Laden, for example. They interrogated him peacefully, he talked openly in an initial interrogation and "sang like a tweetie bird." Then, according to the NYT summary:

Nevertheless, the C.I.A. then decided to torture Mr. Ghul to see if he would say more. He was transferred to a "black site" prison, where he was shaved, placed in a "hanging" stress position, and subjected to 59 hours of sleep deprivation, after which he began hallucinating; his back and abdomen began spasming; his arms, legs and feet began experiencing "mild paralysis"; and he began having "premature" heart beats. During and after that treatment, he provided "no actionable threat information" that resulted in the capture of any leaders of Al Qaeda, the report said.

So, then the CIA damage-management team issues a damage control-report saying, oh no, this guy didn't really give us bin Laden in his open interrogation; that was actually some other guy (this doesn't really address the issue, but the CIA is really straining for the "torture got us bin Laden" narrative, so they wanted to identify some other guy as the key bin Laden source). But wait!

But the Senate report shows that Mr. Baluchi's claim [Mr. Baluchi was the other guy] was not recognized as a breakthrough, in part because he recanted what he had said under torture.

So, you got good information freely and openly from one guy, who you then tortured for no reason at all. And then there was some other, accurate information, that ended up not serving as the "breakthrough," because the guy falsely recounted it when you tortured him! Awesome work, CIA torture.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 10:19 PM
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Speaking of toxins in the loo, I just read a Vox explainer on farts. Glad it's working out so well for Ezra.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 10:21 PM
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So, I'm assuming at this point there isn't some clean bill of NSA "successes"? What is the plausible reason the NSA is somehow better, more ethical or effective than the CIA?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 10:27 PM
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So, I'm assuming at this point there isn't some clean bill of NSA "successes"? What is the plausible reason the NSA is somehow better, more ethical or effective than the CIA?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 10:27 PM
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Wow, distracted by discussion of post WWI Austrian politics, inadvertent double post.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 10:28 PM
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Expect a lot of the "They were just giving orders" excuse* over the next few days.

*From the Poor Man Institute, correct? But can find no residual evidence.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 10:37 PM
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95 -- I didn't say more "ethical," at all. What I meant was that e.g. Project Shamrock and Minaret were pretty clearly super effective if what you're interested in was intercepting important signals moving in from overseas, which was their purpose. The NSA does seem from the little I can tell to have been gppd actually doing their basic job of signals intercept and learning things from the signals; that doesn't make them ethical or make their projects worth it. All I'm saying is that, compared to the CIA, their story seems to be less of one of basically constant fuck ups and big misinterpretations and coups-gone-wrong and stupid spy witch hunts, etc. that show that the CIA really sucked it even at their own game. Some of this may just be because we know much less about the history of the NSA in the Cold War than we do about the CIA, so we know about fewer failures.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 10:51 PM
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A little more here.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 10:59 PM
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Okay that's somewhat helpful. I suspect there's elements of both institutional culture being different (with CIA quite possibly significantly more screwed up) and pure lack of knowledge of NSA operations sufficient to allow any effective degree of oversight.

I'm leery of the possibility of chalking this up to CIA as dysfunctional org culture vs NSA effective, which so easily slides into and therefore (more) ethical but appreciate you did not write that.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 11:01 PM
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To be fair, we don't know if the NSA is actually more competent than the CIA or if they're just better at covering up their incompetence, which is probably easier to do with signals intelligence than human intelligence anyway. On the other hand, the CIA sets an astonishingly high bar for incompetence.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 11:25 PM
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They both set a very high bar for evil, of course. At this point it's very unclear to me why we need all these spy agencies anyway. Is anyone except the spies themselves actually benefiting from any of this? If the purported benefits are to defense and law enforcement, why can't the military and the police just do their own intelligence work (which they're already doing anyway)?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 11:29 PM
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I dunno, codebreaking and counter-codebreaking seem pretty important if you're going to have the world's biggest military, as does using signals intelligence (if you can) to prevent actual attacks. I guess I don't have any good answer for why the NSA should be its own agency instead of just a branch of the army, though. I think the real story is like everything else in the US government, some bright thing who works for the President creates new agency to break through the glaciated fiefdom of some older agency, like the Army, that's obsessed with its own budget, and give the President more direct access. Then the new agency becomes a new glaciated fiefdom obsessed with its own budget.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 11:49 PM
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Am I the only person here who wants not only a new Nuremberg court for these guys but also that they face the same death penalty the Nazis faced for this kind of behavior?


Posted by: roger the cabin boy | Link to this comment | 12- 9-14 11:52 PM
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SIGINT works, as Alex Harrowell always puts it - which is why the NSA is pretty effective at doing the specific thing it's tasked to do - i.e hoovering up communications.

The NSA is pretty much the military doing its own SIGINT - it's a an agency that resolves the Army/Navy split by existing alongside them. Yes you could split military intelligence into service level organisations & separate out foreign intelligence, but given that the key NSA skill is cryptanalysis, it seems kind of pointless to duplicate it.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:20 AM
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Me.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:20 AM
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105: Those points are well taken, and of course the NSA is administratively part of DOD, but there's also the DIA, which does human rather than signals intelligence. I'm still not seeing any meaningful role for the CIA.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:24 AM
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Hey, it's your guys' evil empire, I just live in it.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:30 AM
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105

Supposedly they get so much of it they are having big trouble managing it and extracting useful info from it. Or so they want you to believe!

107

I'm still not seeing any meaningful role for the CIA.

Keeping patrician Yale graduates from being unemployed?


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:16 AM
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Zr else's


Posted by: alameida b by. G bbvbbgh bbyhihbe bbbbbb Frrf | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:22 AM
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88: The correct historical analogy should probably have been the Church Committee rather than the Pentagon Papers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:28 AM
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NPR's interview with John Rizzo, who was acting general counsel for the CIA during the relevant period. In the interview, Rizzo sounds like a complete slimeball.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:30 AM
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I wish there was a transcript. He defends the program because he claims, at the time, the president, congress and the American public were all demanding that the CIA "take the risks" necessary to keep America safe. (By "taking risks", he means torturing people.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:34 AM
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Aren't CIA agents all Mormons now, rather than Ivy Leagers?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:38 AM
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I'd like to see the International Criminal Court indite some of these motherfuckers. The US isn't party to the treaty that establishes the ICC, but maybe some of the countries where these crimes took place are. Is that enough?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:39 AM
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Both. The Langley mission was very, very successful.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:39 AM
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You know, Richard Engel (NBC), you were presumably one of the people they lied their asses off to (or maybe you actually knewl, and then you're a bigger monster).

"When you look back, how are you going to remember this? Is it going to be remembered as the period in which the CIA, in secret while lying to the political leadership, beat some people to death and did horrible things and didn't get any results, which is what today's report is suggesting, or was it a period when the country was very nervous, the CIA was asked to do these horrible things, the practice stopped, and then you have the political leadership pretending that it didn't know anything and trying to wash its hands of the problem."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:50 AM
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He defends the program because he claims, at the time, the president, congress and the American public were all demanding that the CIA "take the risks" necessary to keep America safe.

This seems to be the dominant defense in both the Fox News and Broder circuit: we (the public) were scared of another attack, and we wanted them to do these things if necessary to prevent another one. The polling is all over the map, but I think nothing will never get done about this because people in power have lots of institutional incentives not to set precedents (e.g., Obama doesn't want to have staff prosecuted for signature strikes in 5 years), and there's no public constituency that cares enough about it to make this matter in elections.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:51 AM
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Obama doesn't want to have staff prosecuted for signature strikes in 5 years

They're probably going to be prosecuted for first degree attempted health care reform.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:56 AM
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The "we had to do it, because we had a vauge sense the political base of the Republican Party would support it" defense.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 7:09 AM
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Oh yeah, they were lying their asses off because they were doing what we wanted them to do?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 7:10 AM
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Oh yeah, they were lying their asses off because they were doing what we wanted them to do?

Oddly, I think this is almost exactly what Rizzo means, and I think he's thinking/speaking as a lawyer. The "risks" he was talking about being forced to take in order to protect America weren't in torturing people--it's that he felt compelled to approve these activities on specious legal reasoning, and he felt forced to lie and cover up for the program, all of which he perceived to be risky activity. And he was putting himself uncomfortably out on a limb like this all in order to help protect America.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 7:24 AM
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And he's not just speaking personally--he thought everyone was taking great risks, because everyone was lying. Which is risky.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 7:28 AM
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I obviously ass-dialed 110 though I'm not sure how...


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 7:46 AM
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It's still nuts. "To protect America"? Insiders to the program knew it wasn't 'protecting America' by producing useful information. And if the issue was that the public was somehow demanding it, telling the goddamn public that "Our highly trained interrogators are using the most effective methods of questioning subjects" sounds the same even if the effective methods being referred to are developing friendly relationships and being manipulative about supplying cigarettes (which, I understand, is pretty much what the most effective methods are).

I don't understand my reaction to this report. I was arguing about this stuff when it was happening, and I was upset about it then. But on this round I'm having trouble making myself read about it at all -- I'm reading a couple of paragraphs and then involuntarily turning away. I need to get over myself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 7:50 AM
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It's still nuts

If this was in response to 122/123, I hope it wasn't intended to suggest that 122/123 implied otherwise. Of course it's nuts. Although, really, more craven than nuts.

Insiders to the program knew it wasn't 'protecting America' by producing useful information.

This may be overstated. Some might have known this, and others probably had good reason to suspect it, but I bet a lot of people really expected it to work, and were hopeful that even if it hadn't produced useful information to date, that perhaps it would produce useful information in the future. I really doubt most people involved were involved out of a sadist desire for torture; I think they were just feeling like they needed to use all levers available--and that the criticism they would have faced if they'd left torture as an unexplored option and there had been another attack would be worse than the criticism they would face for torturing people.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:09 AM
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I suppose the adoption of the "the public made us do it" defense isn't too surprising. I noticed that once it became impossible to publicly deny what a fiasco the Iraq war was, the leading cheerleaders for the whole thing took up a very weasily usage of the word "we", e.g., "After all, we all went a little crazy after 9/11".

Now apparently the official line is "After all, we all became enthusiastic supporters of torture for a while".


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:14 AM
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Right, all while at the time we were getting vehement denials about the use of torture. "Enhanced interrogation". Fuck these people. Jail.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:16 AM
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But on this round I'm having trouble making myself read about it at all -- I'm reading a couple of paragraphs and then involuntarily turning away.

My comment 2 is coming from basically the same reaction.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:18 AM
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I wish these "we" people would stop conflating a mirror for the entire external world.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:19 AM
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I wish these "we" people would stop conflating a mirror for the entire external world.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:19 AM
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people really expected it to work, and were hopeful that even if it hadn't produced useful information to date, that perhaps it would produce useful information in the future.

A common mindset when an approach is failing. It is impractical to keep trying what has just failed repeatedly, it is impractical to flail around and just try stuff quickly. I'm not some super-enlightened guy and I know this, would be dismayed if I had a boss who did not understand. Basically, not acting on this impulse is a low-threshold marker of competence.

It would be so nice if anyone besides the left cared about this morally, I hope there's some outcome. I suspect instead that the combination of "those guys are monsters" (true, not relevant) and the cowboy ethic flip mentioned will prevail.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:24 AM
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The 'we' usage may well be justified. It's genuinely not clear to me that the American people in aggregate are particularly bothered by any of this.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:28 AM
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and that the criticism they would have faced if they'd left torture as an unexplored option and there had been another attack would be worse than the criticism they would face for torturing people.

"Personally, I wouldn't be in favor of forcing liquids up your ass, but due diligence is a bitch."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:32 AM
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We were compelled to rape, what if there had been another attack, people would ask: "where was the rape?" Maybe if there had been rape in that threat memo George Bush would of paid attention to it.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:40 AM
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133: Sadly true. But "not bothered by it" is different from "actively demanding it". I don't recall any spontaneous pro-torture sentiments just appearing out of nowhere.

Of course, now I'm remembering the disgusting accounts of US sponsored torture in central America that appeared in various newspapers back in the mid 90s. No one cared then, either.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:42 AM
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I can't read the report. Even clicking over to Sullivan's blog (which is going to no doubt excerpt the worst of it) is too much. I'm just burned out on evil right now. I feel to some degree tainted by the whole thing. I'm also a little wary of hitting Facebook because I know my right wing relatives will be linking to apologia. Ugh.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:48 AM
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I don't recall any spontaneous pro-torture sentiments just appearing out of nowhere.

So you're not an Atlantic Monthly subscriber, then? (To be sure, Bowden is tight with sources in the intelligence services, and the torture was already happening then, so it's possible that he was in on the secret to some degree.)


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 8:57 AM
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They could not start torturing people fast enough; it was something that clearly the administration wanted to be done. I might be mis-remembering but I want to say there were even trial balloons about it before 9/11. In the context of adopting Israel's, at that time already failed, torture policies.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:05 AM
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139: That's my memory as well. The claim that they were pushed into it is utter bullshit. They were eager to get started.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:07 AM
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I'd like to see indictments too. Too bad Baltasar Garzón is not still in office.

137 last is one of the main reasons I'm not on Facebook.


110, 124 Usually you butt-dial your spouse or SO or kids or mom. I think it's great that Unfogged is so near and dear to alameida's um, heart, that she butt-dialed the blog.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:07 AM
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Per a Gallup poll in 2005, around 80% of Americans disapproved of waterboarding and various similarly coercive techniques; the only practice with majority support was sleep deprivation. Certainly that disapproval doesn't have a lot of salience when it comes to voting, but it does exist.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:08 AM
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139, 140: To a neocon the use of force is a virtuous act when carried out by America or Israel. It's intrinsically good to hurt the other just because he is the other. Without violence neoconservatism collapses. As soon as they had power the neocons started looking for wars both overt and covert.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:11 AM
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142: Certainly that disapproval doesn't have a lot of salience when it comes to voting, but it does exist.

So arguably, it doesn't in fact exist.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:12 AM
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136: Yeah, really. People sort of suck. I'm no better, though. I disapprove, but I'm not out there organizing.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:15 AM
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Part of it is that torture did what torture does, which is produce answers the torturers wanted to hear. Oh Padilla is a sophisticated genius? Al Quaeda's infiltrating Iraq? The boss is gonna LOVE this memo.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:21 AM
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Padilla

To me this is one of the defining images of those times (along with Bush preening in the flight suit like a first-world Idi Amin, Abu Ghraib, and probably the little injured girl about whom the CNN host asked whether she knew we were there to help her.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:27 AM
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I'm trying to think of some way that torture and the 9-0 Integrity Staffing Solutions Inc.* decision could be applied to really screw people over. Maybe CIA outsources torture to Amazon who subcontracts it but since it is not a "principal activity" of the job their worker's mandatory 30 minutes of being a torturer at the end of the day is unpaid.

*Orwell was too subtle in his use of names.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:31 AM
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At the risk of getting tin-foil hatty. I think that the main purpose of the torture program was three-fold: 1. to in fact destroy the ability of the CIA to get accurate intelligence from it's detainees. Accurate information was not what the administration wanted (they wanted to invade Iraq), and would hamper their actual goals. 2. It would push out of the loop anyone who was a decent person or had any integrity or independence, ie: people unwilling to do exactly what you want. 3. It would destroy what little independence the CIA had from the Bush administration, because the CIA would be dependent on the administration, and later the republican party, to protect it from prosecution. We're 6 years into a democratic administration and the CIA public relations is indistinguishable from RNC flacks for the previous president.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:32 AM
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What do you mean we kemosabe?


Posted by: Opinionated Tonto | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:36 AM
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148: hard to believe that was a unanimous decision.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:41 AM
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149: Whether anyone was that outwardly conniving, that is a pretty good summary of what got accomplished. It's evil wrapped in incompetence wrapped in evil: The fundamental evil of the behavior (up and down the chain), the actual bizarre execution, and the evil of the organizational ends advanced.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:41 AM
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151: Administration supported it as well.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:42 AM
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153: don't care.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:42 AM
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hard to believe that was a unanimous decision.

To me, that indicates its probably a fair interpretation of a really crummy law. The solution is to change the law.

If Democrats were smart, they might make a campaign issue out of something like that, like they did with Ledbetter. But I'm not holding my breath.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:45 AM
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There weren't people clamoring for torture, but there was an environment of "do whatever is necessary to prevent this again and vanquish this evil from the earth, like we [sic] did Communism and Fascism".

At that point, something like 126 kicks in and the unhappy confluence of evil, incompetence, and ass-covering takes us to where we are today.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:45 AM
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To me, that indicates its probably a fair interpretation of a really crummy law. The solution is to change the law.

Not in this case. FWICT, all the relevant statute from 1947 says is that "activities which are preliminary to or postliminary to" the "principal activity or activities which such employee is employed to perform" are not compensable. What that actually means in the ISS case is down to a chain of judicial interpretations, and regardless of the DOL's support, that chain has gotten pretty flimsy.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 9:53 AM
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I think 149 is vastly overestimating both the competence and basic humanity of anyone working at the CIA. I would absolutely believe that they thought torture was a straightforward, mostly reasonable approach to getting information from people (because, as has been pointed out above, they are and have always been completely incompetent when it comes to doing this). And it's not like aren't getting protection right now too, and haven't from basically every president ever to the point where I've seen more than one person speculate about the extent to which they're blackmailing every president ever.

My guess is that the most obvious appearance is exactly what happened. They're mostly bunch of massively entitled upper class bros who had a chance to indulge their 'doing what's necessary for country!' action movie fantasies with 'oversight' consisting mostly of 'gosh aren't you tough'. And now despite a complete lack of negative consequences aside from people saying "wait, aren't you... not?" they're indulging in their wounded-warrior-martyr-hero fantasies. If it hasn't happened yet I'm guessing that we'll see "don't you see how hard it was for us I still bear the scars of what I had to do to keep the rest of you safe" type statements coming from within the CIA.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:03 AM
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There were at least some CIA employees both objecting to the torture, and pointing out internally that it wasn't producing useful data, right? Not effectively in either case, but they weren't all on the bandwagon.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:05 AM
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Also while there probably weren't many people advocating for torture specifically there were a lot of people screaming about the need to really, really show those people who the boss is in as violent and nasty a way as possible. The level of straight up "we're too important to do this to you need to get to your place, third world country people" was genuinely surprising to me and I'm not exactly the most yay-America-land-of-freedom-and-awesome! type person here. I really think a lot of the trauma caused by the attacks had nothing to do with the actual attacks and everything to do with the belief that people from less important countries were really out of line and needed to be made an example of for the other ones*.

I really do think that the need for intelligence (To Protect America!) was a fig leaf for this general motive. It was something that a lot of people were really interested in doing (though probably not in a way they were comfortable admitting to themselves), and this was as good an example as anything else. It's not like "torture doesn't get you useful information" isn't something that was generally understood by sensible people before they started off.


*(Or someone needed to be made an example. If that's the motive it really doesn't need to be the people directly involved.)


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:14 AM
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159: One of them is currently cooling his heels about midway between my location and Von Wafer's.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:15 AM
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Yeah, whose was the line about throwing some little country against the wall just to show the world who's boss? There's someone who no one decent should have ever interacted with again.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:16 AM
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"Hey, we told you not to look!"

"No one needs to see how sausage is made, they just want to eat it. Granted, that in this case, the sausage was poisonous, but the point stands."

"We made the ultimate sacrfice for our country. Others merely gave their lives; we gave up every last shred of decency. And all so that you could go spend money on trinkets at the mall without a single worry in your heart".


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:16 AM
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It was $600. What was I supposed to do with it?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:17 AM
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161: Michael Ledeen.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:18 AM
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162. I think it was Thomas Friedman, so, really someone who no one decent should have interacted with in the first place.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:19 AM
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162- That's the line before Friedman's "Suck on this" isn't it?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:20 AM
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165: Right, being quoted by Jonah Goldberg.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:20 AM
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Quoted approvingly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:20 AM
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161 s/b 1162 in 165 & 165 ->166

You are probably thinking of Friedman's "suck on this" moment on the Charlie Rose Show.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:21 AM
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101-103 -- My sense is that the NSA had a reasonably strong tradition of obeying the letter if not the spirit of the law (e.g. not wiretapping U.S. citizens in the U.S., but leaving that to GCHQ) but that it was broken, like everything else, during the GWB administration.

149 - One of the things going on was that the CIA kept telling Bush's people that they were wrong on Iraq and WMDs -- the yellowcake memo, right, among other things? Getting the CIA down the rabbit hole to hell of producing bad information via torture solves that problem a few different ways.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:22 AM
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Someone in the Bush Administration suggested attacking Colombia, right? Because it's conveniently located, and would suprise everyone?

Just goes to show -- Bush/Cheney could have done worse.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:23 AM
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Let's not forget the—I believe spurious—Orwell quote about "Rough Men...in the night..." I heard Garrison Keillor deliver that one, in those days.

Truly days of mass madness.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:24 AM
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Will we ever know anything more on who these guys were?

The agency contracted with two psychologists "to develop, operate, and assess its interrogation operations" for a $180 million fee in 2006; they were paid $81 million when the contract was terminated in 2009. Neither "had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialized knowledge of al-Qa'ida, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise," the report states.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:25 AM
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Are we having the same problem with links that we're having with embedded videos, where sometimes the last video/link is showing up instead of the current one? For me, 161 is linking to the same thing as 148.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:28 AM
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174: Bruce Jessen and James E. Mitchell


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:29 AM
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173: an actual quote from kipling, I think, but re-quoted?


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:30 AM
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173: It is close but spurious; the wording is a little off, and in context he's talking about the local workforce in Britain's colonies (in an article about Kipling):

It is true that Kipling does not understand the economic aspect of the relationship between the highbrow and the blimp. He does not see that the map is painted red chiefly in order that the coolie may be exploited. Instead of the coolie he sees the Indian Civil Servant; but even on that plane his grasp of function, of who protects whom, is very sound. He sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them.

The way the misquotation is used is absolutely antithetical to anything Orwell would have supported, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:31 AM
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Truly days of mass madness.

At least we've all learned from our mistakes and will behave better in the future.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:33 AM
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178:

Yes, I was going to say the same, thank you.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:34 AM
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176: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/18/AR2009071802065_pf.html


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:35 AM
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The Orwell-claiming on the right really pissed me off. I recall, back in 2003, getting into it with some moron who explained to me that of course Orwell wasn't a 'socialist' in any sense we'd recognize. The concept of having been anti-Stalinist from the left was completely incomprehensible to him. Twerp.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:42 AM
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There was so much torture, with so many different techniques, in so many different places, by so many different people of so many people, that I'm surprised none of it paid off for intelligence gathering. I realize that torture doesn't work as well as more humane methods of interrogation, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day, supposedly. They never tortured not one single actual terrorist? If they did, the terrorists didn't tell the CIA where to find even a car bomb or one single hostage or something? None of the torturers felt the need to justify their work to their superiors at all?

I'm not actually too confused; the previous paragraph is a mix of black humor and a tiny bit of lingering misplaced idealism. But every few months we get a few more details about the torture program, or another report on it, and I'm surprised its defenders still don't have even one concrete time is actually "worked." It was less effective than a stopped clock at its stated goal.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:42 AM
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Something that it's stupid of me to have found more affecting than the rest of the horrors -- the guy who told them about how to find Bin Laden before they started torturing him, and then they did it anyway? Something about the sheer horror of having done everything you could to surrender and cooperate, and then realizing that the people who are hurting you don't care, they just want to do for it's own sake, and there's nothing at all you can do to change what's going to happen to you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:45 AM
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Maybe the CIA was overly fond of great literature and wanted to inspire a new Kafka?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:46 AM
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What the fucking fuck, Bob Kerrey?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:47 AM
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165 is right - I was thinking of this.

Even now that video is shocking to me - the patient, calm evil involved is really breathtaking. And it was basically the position of almost all the powerful people in the country, and had widespread support to boot.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:49 AM
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183 - I think the problem is that torture checks the clock repeatedly throughout the day, and then just kind of takes the overall amount and goes with it. That is, torture absolutely got us accurate information about stuff (it does do that!) It just also got us thousands of times that in useless/false/desperate information from the same people, leaving the torturers in exactly the same place they'd started from.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:51 AM
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186: He's angry enough to knife a Vietnamese family.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 10:52 AM
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175: For me, 161 is linking to the same thing as 148.

Because they are--due to my cut-and-paste mistake. Meant to link to John Kiriakou's Wikipedia entry.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 11:00 AM
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186: I like how he cites the 9/11 Commission as an example of successful bipartisanship. What a dipshit.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 11:02 AM
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183: But it worked on 24 didn't it? That's what really counts. That Jack Bauer guy was sooooo cool and manly and stuff!


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 11:03 AM
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Once you decide that torture is the way to get accurate information, you have to torture even the people who've already told you what they know, so you can make sure it's true.

I think a bunch of the higher ups were not just evil, they were stupid.

(For example, I think Cheney really believed that there was an ongoing nuclear program in Iraq, and that once he found it, he'd be greeted as a liberator against the pansy-ass liberals in the intelligence community.)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 11:05 AM
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But it is substantially about manliness. Look at the Military Commissions -- it's been evident for many years that that system is utterly and completely inferior in every way to using our ordinary criminal courts -- and yet we persist, because no one can admit that the manlier military courts aren't tougher and, well, manlier, than the pansy ass civilian courts.

Maybe not inferior in every way, as a comparison between the current living situations of Salim Hamdan and David Hicks, on the one hand, with John Walker Lindh, on the other, pretty clearly shows.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 11:14 AM
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The Fafblog twitter feed has a series of tweets over the past hour that make some pretty good points. Among them: "So it's not the case that torture doesn't work. Torture works fine - it's just working at something even worse than what you'd imagined."


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 11:29 AM
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Ogged links to Sullivan, I link to British socialist Richard Seymour

195: Torture Works

Slate also has a decent set of articles today.

According to the polls, public support for torture has been going up as the information comes out

"In 2005, an Associated Press poll showed that 36 percent of the public said torture was never justified. Now, only 27 percent say it is never justified." ...John Dickerson

73% support means a whole lot of Democrats


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 11:56 AM
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Umm, 73% also means a whole lot of women.

Tired of the chivalrous essentialism


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 11:59 AM
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According to the polls, public support for torture has been going up as the information comes out

I wonder if there is some rationalization going on here. That is, the worse the details of the torture are, the more we cling to the idea that it somehow must have been justified. After all, we can't have been that unspeakably brutal for no reason whatsoever, right?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 12:15 PM
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Anybody link to this 15 min audio interview withKatherine Hawkins yet?

via ObsWi comment section


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 12:16 PM
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Now, only 27 percent say it is never justified.

It disturbs me greatly that the percent of people who believe that torture is never justified is now equal to the Crazification Factor.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 12:52 PM
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It disturbs me greatly that the percent of people who believe that torture is never justified is now equal to the Crazification Factor.

There are those who think that torture is always justified and those who think that it is never justified. Clearly the truth is somewhere in the middle.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 12:54 PM
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I blame the stupid-ass ticking bomb scenario. As was pointed out so clearly at Crooked Timber back in the day, sure, I can't rule out the possibility that literally anything at all, including torture, might be the lesser evil and therefore justified, so long as I can postulate a greater evil and a forced choice between them.

I would answer "never justified" to a pollster, but with the mental reservation "in the plausibly real world, you incredible asshole." People who were hammered hard enough with 'ticking bombs', though, might perfectly well be generally decent people who don't approve of torture for real, but feel as if it's off limits to say absolutely never.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:03 PM
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Whenever a pollster asks, I answer that it's absolutely always justified to run over fat men with trolley cars.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:14 PM
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The problem with the "ticking time bomb" scenario is that it assumes that you know for certain that there is a ticking time bomb out there and that you know for certain that the guy you have in custody has actual information about the bomb.

The real world scenario is that you have a guy in custody who may or may not know something about a bomb that may or may not exist, and furthermore he might not even be the right guy.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:24 PM
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Right. We hammered this one to death, back in the day, and if the American public would just read all the comments religiously, no one would ever bring up a ticking bomb justification for torture ever again.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:27 PM
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The reason support for torture has gone up and will continue to go up is that many of the popular tv dramas plug torture not just 24 but scandal, the blacklist etc etc.


Posted by: roger the cabin boy | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:44 PM
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Even talking about "the ticking bomb scenario" kinda misses it.

Torture had more real life, not fantasy, justifications, for instance on the edge of a Vietnam village wondering where the tunnels and weapons caches were, or in Iraq where the IED's were buried.

The isolated farmhouse where, bound and gagged, the young kidnap victim is starving to death.

Come up with your own "hardest possible cases" before saying:"Never justified"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:48 PM
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I found this slatepitch piece surprisingly persuasive on why Obama ought not seek prosecution for torturers.

Not completely persuasive, mind you. I think there's a strong argument to be made that the President must not be above the law in policy matters. But still, a better argument than I was expecting.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:54 PM
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208 was me.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:56 PM
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Via Eric Umansky at Pro Publica:

WSJ: "rough treatment"
WaPo: "severe tactics"
NPR: "enhanced interrogation"
NYT: "torture"

USA Today only one with "torture" in the main headline.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 1:59 PM
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Posted this at Welch's

"And I haven't quite grasped it yet, but I also think a horror of physical brutality misses the point. "We gave subject D 200 ccs of the latest formulation, applied the tourniquet, and upon request he ate his left arm off without hesitation, smiling and thanking us through the pain."

Or the fifty samurai who enthusiastically opened their bellies when their lord died.

Or the kamikaze. Or Pickett's charge.

Or even the guys landing on Normandy Beach.

I dread the time certainly coming when coercion will no longer be necessary to satisfy any public whim. Technology will give it to us.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:03 PM
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There's one comment buried somewhere in TFA that will convince the American public, but only if we can find it in time- who do we torture?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:07 PM
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I do not find 208 even a little bit persuasive.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:07 PM
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That's O.K. 211 wasn't even comprehensible.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:10 PM
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There's one comment buried somewhere in TFA that will convince the American public, but only if we can find it in time- who do we torture?

Gswift, SP wants you to propose another phony rape accusation scenario.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:11 PM
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I know I bang this drum, but you didn't have to be an obviously republican arsehole to be pro-toture. Here is Sam Harris, from "The End of Faith"

Enter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: our most valuable capture in our war on terror ... his membership in Al Qaeda more or less rules out his "innocence" in any important sense, and his rank in the organisation suggests that his knowledge of planned atrocities must be extensive. The bomb is ticking. Given the damage we were willing to cause to the bodies and minds of innocent children in Afghanistan and Iraq, our disavowal of torture in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed seems perverse. If there is even one chance in a million that he will tell use something under torture that will lead to the further dismantling of Al Qaeda, it seems that we should use every means at our disposal to get him talking.

(My italics). But remember this stuff was enthusiastically endorsed by a lot of people who would describe themselves as progressive.

Interesting that one of the more loathsome psychologists who took $81m for torturing was a Mormon, and in 2012 promoted to bishop. He stood down after a week. I don't know the back story.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:12 PM
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208: I thought it was a good argument for why the U.S. should sign on to the International Criminal Court, and allow them to preside over cases like this.

I don't think the author of the Slate piece would agree.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:14 PM
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Wait? There's $81 million in it?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:16 PM
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a good argument for why the U.S. should sign on to the International Criminal Court, and allow them to preside over cases like this

Which is exactly why the U.S. refuses to sign on to the ICC.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:16 PM
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So the Mormon church got $8.1M of torture money? Awesome.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:17 PM
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I mean really, we get Khalid Sheikh Muhammed in a very nice apartment with some gentle trained psychologists, and after three weeks he betrays his friends and all his ideals.

They're working on it.

Do you think this is better than waterboarding? I don't. Waterboarding is unlikely to be applicable to mass populations.

But "it is immoral to use advanced techniques of persuasion to get someone to abandon strongly-held values" is crazy talk. Isn't it?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:18 PM
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I'm genuinely confused about what exactly is being advocated for or against in 221.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:22 PM
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220: if he tithed, they will have got $8m. Good catch.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:24 PM
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I think that means it worked.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:24 PM
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216 - Sam Harris would be okay with torturing Muslims? This is me being shocked: .


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:24 PM
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I can't figure out what's supposed to be an eye there or what?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:26 PM
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222: As near as I can tell, bob saw the Spanish Inquisition sketch by Monty Python and sort of missed the point.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:28 PM
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Somebody should do a Buzzfeed-style piece on this. "Ten Religions Whose Members Sam Harris Would Be O.K. with Torturing (#6 will shock you)."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:29 PM
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226: The CIA put out his other eye and sewed his mouth shut.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:37 PM
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I think we're all missing the big story here-- the original contract was for 180 million and the government only paid them 81 million. Over 50% savings!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:41 PM
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Probably indirects.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 2:46 PM
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Here's a thing I don't understand about waterboarding. [, he actually typed.] It seems more elaborate than just holding someone's head under water so what's the I hate to say advantage, but advantage?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:07 PM
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It's possible to imagine worse arguments for not prosecuting torturers than that Slate piece, but that one is still pretty bad. It's main point seems to be summarized in the last two sentences of the first paragraph:

[Obama] acted rightly because prosecutions would have failed to secure convictions; and he acted rightly as a matter of principle. Criminal punishment of a partisan opponent who engages in illegal behavior for policy rather than personal reasons can pose a risk to democracy.

Both are just plain stupid.

The first sentence has the germ of a good idea in it - if torturers are prosecuted and get off, then bad things happen - but ignores the fact that if they don't even get prosecuted, then the same bad things happen, but even more of them. (Probably, generally, overall.)

The second sentence sounds like it means something logical but is just gibberish. Couldn't that distinction ("for policy rather than personal reasons") exonerate all war criminals everywhere equally well? Hell, wouldn't it excuse well-meaning incompetence in any job for any employer? And probably literally a dozen assumptions are necessary to make that statement apply to this situation; is even one of them true? And even of those assumptions are true, isn't it possible that starting prosecutions with people on the bottom and working the way up would be worthwhile, like other organized crime cases?

And, again, isn't the status quo of not prosecuting criminals because they're politicians also pretty bad for democracy?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:08 PM
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232: Having unique equipment and a special name for it is what changes it from torture to enhanced interrogation.

"Those aren't thumbscrews, it's an orthopedic device!"


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:10 PM
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232: Who has an extra bucket just sitting around?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:12 PM
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232: I believe there's less risk of accidentally drowning someone while still creating a horrible drowning sensation.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:15 PM
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232: It was initially reported as a magic technique that would instantly induce compliance without actually doing any damage to the person being tortured -- you're not really drowning people, they just think they're being drowned! People took that kind of seriously at the time. Heck, I took it kind of seriously at the time; not that it was okay, but that it was different from drowning people, because people kept on saying it.

In the real, horrible, world, wouldn't you think it would be about convenience for the torturer? Holding someone's head under water, even if they're restrained somehow, you still need to forcefully move a whole person around against their will while they struggle. Tie them head down on a sloping table, and all you need is a bucket of water to get the same result. Much less physical effort.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:16 PM
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Plus, you can use the bucket for something else without having to wash out the terrorist fear-spit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:19 PM
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You could hide your Christmas elf in the bucket.
Nah, that would probably count as too much oversight of the program.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:20 PM
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2006 post on waterboarding from Labs, saying, roughly, that even if, arguendo, waterboarding is magic along the lines claimed, allowing enhanced interrogation without oversight is still not okay. In retrospect, being a philosopher really does lead one to accept things for the sake of argument with wild abandon, but the fact of the post gives the nature of the claims being made about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:22 PM
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We Do Not Torture Like The Spanish Inquisition... It's More Like the Khmer Rouge


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:23 PM
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Further to 241, on the legal justification.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:35 PM
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Have any foreign judges offered to jail anyone who might go a-travelin', per Sullivan's proposition here?

And those begin with Bush and Cheney and Tenet. They are now wanted men. And they will go abroad again - at their legal peril. And so America becomes a legal sanctuary for war criminals. As long as they are our war criminals.

Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:37 PM
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ok thx twitter


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:39 PM
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"No prosecutions of political opponents who acted illegally for policy reasons" is pretty much the banality of evil.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:40 PM
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244: Those might be the only international venues, but couldn't some nation declare universal jurisdiction? That's what Spain did for Pinochet. Alternatively, whatever Switzerland did that's keeping Kissinger out of there.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:42 PM
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I half-remember that the Convention Against Torture obliges states to assert universal jurisdiction against torture.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:52 PM
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Maybe this will refresh your memory. (Advances with bucket of water.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:54 PM
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I'm genuinely confused about what exactly is being advocated for or against in 221.

Sigh. It's easy, you just don't wanna.Reread the above after this

I am arguing for a very expansive concept of personal integrity and identity that does not say the limits of aggression start and stop at the skin or the physically coercive but include an understanding of the "person" as also psychological and social. It also recognizes asymmetries in ability-to-persuade and ability-to resist.

For me the problem is not the torture. The problematic is making someone do something they did not previously want to do.

That is, changing people. I am not so concerned about the method and techniques as to the goal itself. I even extend it to persuading or teaching people in general, for example raising kids in Communism States to betray their parents.

Liberals do recognize that persuasion can be wrong, although it can be hard to reach them on the general question because they usually follow "the end justifies the means" when it comes to persuasion.

We obviously protect minors from persuasion.
Deprogramming the cult member.
Talking someone gay to straight.
Hannibal Lecter talking the next cell into killing himself.
Propaganda when used by bad people.
Religious indoctrination, when we don't like the religion.
Jonestown.

It is part of the liberal religion that individual autonomy is very strong, at least in intelligent adults. This is pretty much contradicted by historical and sociological ethnological evidence, including say freaking war. It is bloody easy.

By liberals saying torture is wrong, they are pretty much agreeing that non-physical persuasion is ok. If we can talk ISIS into laying down their arms, or bribe them, this is ok. If Isis can talk a young American into into raping and decapitating, well, this is bad.

The problem is using the other as a means toward your goals not hers, and I can't say that some means are radically more moral than others, or that some persons we don't like are fair game for persuasion.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 3:57 PM
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Someone in TFA had the bright idea of going on the websites of Spanish resorts and tourist destinations and requesting brochures, submitting Yoo's home address as the recipient, so he gets regular reminders.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 4:04 PM
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"Torture doesn't work" is, as I yelled over at Obsidian Wings at hilzoy for half a decade, a despicable evil argument. which may be why the refutation is at the front of the report.

Shall we keep trying methods of torture til we find one that works?

"Just cause" or tradition and history are obviously no better.

The inviolability of bodies is considerably better, but as you can see, I don't think it goes far enough, or recognizes the wider principle that the sanctity of bodies imply.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 4:54 PM
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Yes. You've persuaded me that persuading people is wrong.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 4:57 PM
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Internet trolling, an integral part of the laboratory for the development of enhanced persuasion techniques.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 5:09 PM
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252: It's either the post-structuralism or dialectic.

a) It is part of the reason i am, so ugly and nasty, to avoid accumulating social capital that would enhance my arguments,

b) why I link more than write

c) why i keep to myself, dislike socialization

d) it can also be connected to Marx/Gramsci, activist for the most part supply mere facts when requested, and because of the educational/skill asymmetry between a Trotsky and a peasant, the need for prole consciousness to be internally/materially created instead of given to the worker by the Vanguardist intellectual. And Marxian concepts of freedom contrasted with methods and tools of capitalist hegemonic power.

Power is everywhere, distributed unevenly, and used to create a society of control...by persuasion, more than anything else.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 5:27 PM
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245a: It's working.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 5:28 PM
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I would like to say that I am also physically unattractive and lonely as a result of a principled adherence to an admirable ideology. I would explain further but that would be coercive and my principles forbid that as well.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:10 PM
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Interview with James Mitchell, one of the two psychologists who came up with the torture techniques used.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:19 PM
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Digby, still killing it: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2014/12/why-not-hire-professional-liar-to-tell.html


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:25 PM
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And a good new piece here: the thrust of the report is to paint the White House as dupes rather than complicit. http://www.buzzfeed.com/adamserwer/unhappy-the-land-where-heroes-are-needed


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-10-14 6:29 PM
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Okay, you want links?

Emptywheel

Ben Emmerson is the UN's Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights. His statement released yesterday in response to the SSCI torture report points out the clear responsibilities that the US has under the Convention Against Torture and other international human rights laws to prosecute not only those who carried out torture, but those who designed the torture program and gave orders for its implementation.

Thing is, there were Japanese liberals who got excited when the League of Nations condemned the invasion of Manchuria in 1931. It didn't reign in the Empire. Littler countries push back when they're really scared, see a lack of self-restraint, and start looking for alliances. See BRICS.

That's about where I think we are. It's gonna get really bad, and with an exogenous event, it will get nightmarish really fast. Empire is about to roll.

God fuck Amerika.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-11-14 2:06 AM
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The thing I keep circling around to is that the total number of people killed on 9/11 was about a month's worth of road fatalities*. We could take drastic measures to reduce the number of fatalities due to car accidents, but we don't because freedom. Similarly, if we can prevent a twelfth of that a year by torture we shouldn't because decency. Part of the reason liberals keep circling around to "it didn't work" or backlash arguments is that the objections to it on other terms tend to involve Haidt's purity axis, which tend to be kind of weak in liberals. I think it's far better to simply say "it was wrong when Hitler did it, it was wrong when Stalin did it, it was wrong when Pol Pot did it, and it's wrong when the US does it."

*I'm leaving out the economic impact to simplify the argument.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-11-14 7:02 AM
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249 et al.

Carried to its logical conclusion, no one should ever communicate with anyone else, as you might inadvertently cause them to be persuaded of something. This at least has the advantage that it would clear out my inbox really fast. The program proposed in 254 is not enough; after all, ugliness and anti-social behavior combined with actual speech can signal "My arguments are so powerful that they will persuade you even if I look and act like a troll."


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 12-11-14 7:08 AM
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Brennan today: Leave the CIA alone!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-14 12:49 PM
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263 Could the press be more sycophantic thanking him for answering questions and repeating that horrendous EIT euphemism.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-11-14 1:16 PM
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If we can talk ISIS into laying down their arms, or bribe them, this is ok. If Isis can talk a young American into into raping and decapitating, well, this is bad.

Yes, because laying down arms is good, and raping and decapitating are bad.

I can't say that some means are radically more moral than others

An ethical framework which condemns all forms of persuasion as equally bad, yet makes no moral distinction between laying down arms and raping/decapitating is either a seriously flawed framework, or an act of masterful trolling, or some weird combination of the two.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 12-11-14 2:25 PM
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On the plus side it's a great system if you really, really don't want to have to consider that you might be wrong about something. If all forms of persuasion are basically the same as holding a gun to someone's head then, well, those people arguing with you can (and ought!) to have no bearing on your views.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12-11-14 3:17 PM
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Saw the Addams family musical. Many of the jokes didn't seem so funny any more (ie the scenes and jokes about torturing each other and asking for more.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-14-14 6:46 AM
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