Torture Testimony: Stupidity on Parade

I’m not sure what Sen. Lindsay Graham ate for breakfast before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee’s hearings on torture, but it must have included some heaping helpings of Instant Idiot.

Here he makes the argument that the older something is, the more useful it must be:

In today’s hearing on detainee interrogations, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) attempted to defend the Bush administration’s torture program. “Let’s have both sides of the story here,” Graham declared, saying there could be evidence that torture provided “good information.” Graham then made the puzzling claim that since torture has been used for half a millenium, it “apparently” is useful:

The Vice President is suggesting that there was good information obtained, and I’d like the committee to get that information. Let’s have both sides of the story here. I mean, one of the reasons these techniques have survived for about 500 years is apparently they work.

Former FBI interrogator Ali Soufan responded, “Because, sir, there’s a lot of people who don’t know how to interrogate, and it’s easier to hit somebody than outsmart them.”

Yes, torture techniques have been the tool of choice for dumbshit interrogators who want confessions, not truth, for a very long time now. According to Graham, this is a mark in their favor. I think Jesse Ventura should prove the usefulness of such techniques to Graham by getting him to confess to the Sharon Tate murders right alongside Dick. While he’s at it, let’s also get Graham to confess to giving Lizzie Borden’s dad forty whacks with an ax and riding his broomstick over for some hot wild monkey sex with Satan. Then we’ll ask him how well torture works.

Of course, we can’t expect much from a man who forgets that favorite right-wing shows have been debunked:

Hmm, not a great moment. While directing hostile questioning at a witness during the Senate torture hearing, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham cited an infamous ABC News report from 2007 that said a terror suspect broke under minimal waterboarding, and suggested it undercut the claim that torture didn’t work.

But Graham didn’t appear to be aware that the report has since been debunked, and that ABC itself has since corrected the record.

[snip]

When the witness pointed out that the story had been debunked, he stared into the distance without saying anything and moved right on to a new round of questioning.

I can imagine the small explosion that went off in his brain when he realized just how big a fool he’d made of himself just then. Like every determined fool, however, he plunged right into new opportunities to make himself look like a moron.

Like here, when he attempts to play the “Dems did it too!” card when he’s not in possession of it:

I’ve been meticulously tracking the erroneous claims made about whether or not Democrats got briefed on torture because:

  • The known briefing schedule makes it clear that CIA broke the law requiring them to inform Congress of their actions
  • Some of the arguments rely on either illiteracy or willful ignorance of the public record in their claims

But in today’s hearing Lindsey Graham makes clear why the Republicans are arguing this point so aggressively.

Now. I don’t know what Nancy Pelosi knew and when she knew it. And I really don’t think she’s a criminal if she was told about waterboarding and did nothing. But I think it is important to understand that members of Congress, allegedly, were briefed by … about these interrogation techniques. And again, it goes back to the idea of what was the Administration trying to do. If you’re trying to commit a crime, it seems to me that’d be the last thing you’d want to do. If you had in your mind and your heart that you’re going to disregard the law, and you’re going to come up with interrogation techniques that you know to be illegal, you would not go around telling people on the other side of the aisle about it.

Ahem.

Yes.

That’s the point now, isn’t it?

Because no one in Congress was told that the CIA was going to start torturing in 2002, until it was too late. Pelosi and Goss were told, after CIA had waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times, that CIA might waterboard in the future. Bob Graham was not told of waterboarding at all, according to him. Jello Jay was not at the briefing at which CIA told Pat Roberts “in considerable detail” about waterboarding. The CIA doesn’t even say Jane Harman was told about waterboarding specifically in February 2003 (though I assume she was).

The first time CIA can say for certain that any Democratic members of Congress at all were briefed on waterboarding was in July 2004, after CIA had waterboarded for what ended up being the last time, and after their own Inspector General determined they were breaking the law.

This “we wouldn’t tell Dems about it if it wasn’t legal” argument is really going to come back to haunt these schmucks. Heckuva job, Graham.

I really don’t think Cons came out of this hearing looking too good. It wasn’t just Lindsey Graham, it was the fact that there’s just no way to defend the indefensible. But Cons keep trying. And some of their religious right buddies are right there with them:

And on the flip-side, there’s Gary Bauer.

Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate affiliated with several Christian right groups over the years, said the discussion should not come down to “Would Jesus torture?”

“There are a lot of things Jesus wouldn’t do because he’s the son of God,” he said. “I can’t imagine Jesus being a Marine or a policeman or a bank president, for that matter. The more appropriate question is, ‘What is a follower of Jesus permitted to do?’”

Bauer said the answer is “it depends” — but the moral equation changes when the suspect is not a soldier captured on a battlefield but a terrorist who may have knowledge of an impending attack. He said he does not consider water-boarding — a form of interrogation that simulates drowning — to be torture.

“I think if we believe the person we have can give us information to stop thousands of Americans from being killed, it would be morally suspect to not use harsh tactics to get that information,” Bauer said.

Got that? It would be morally suspect not to think the ends justify the means, according to this prominent Christian conservative leader.

Something to keep in mind the next time the religious right is lecturing the rest of us about our moral depravity.

Someone apparently thinks the last name “Bauer” means he’s related to Jack. Believe in one fictional story, be susceptible to believing in them all, I suppose.

Lately, too many people who should know better have let themselves be distracted by questions of whether torture works or not. It’s a ridiculous question to ask of something so inhumane. It’s time we shut that argument down with some very simple truth:

Ari Melber very nicely handled the torture question today in a way I wish more”democratic strategists” would do. On MSNBC earlier with Carlos ‘n Contessa, he and Republican Joe Morton squared off over the FBI Agent’s testimony on the efficacy of torture before the Senate today:

Morton: And yet there are others who would say that the waterboarding helped. It helped provide information…

Melber: But Joe, even if we put that aside and say that might be possible, there are leaders throughout the world who would say that genocide helps security, that cancelling elections helps security, that fascism helps security. At some point here the whole issue is that we have to move beyond the framework of just saying torturing someone or killing someone worked, and be bound by the rule of law.

This is so obvious to me that I can’t understand why people don’t say it more often. If you can excuse breaking the law to use torture to keep the nation safe, you can excuse breaking the law to do anything to keep the nation safe. That nullifies the rule of law — and civilization.

That’s it. End of story. And that’s exactly why we need to prosecute the people who turned us into a nation of torturers. Now.

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