That Flushing Sound You Hear Is America’s Moral Authority Going Down the Toilet

So, Mexico’s been torturing suspected drug traffickers. When America slapped its wrist by threatening to withhold funding for the drug wars, their response was, basically, “Fuck you, you fucking torturing hypocrites.”

While the neocons were salivating over their Jack Bauer dreams, we DFHs saw this coming a mile away. We knew America was pissing its credibility away, and human rights abusers everywhere would use our torturing ways to excuse their own:

The accusations of hypocrisy highlight one of the hard-to-quantify costs of the Bush administration’s use of torture against suspected terrorists to extract unreliable intelligence: the loss of credibility as a champion of human rights. In recent months and years, in fact, a growing number of nations have rejected calls from the U.S. to end human rights abuses, citing the Bush administration’s actions:

China: In response to the State Department’s annual human rights report critical of the Chinese government, a government spokesman said the report “exposed the double standards and downright hypocrisy of the United States on the human rights issue, and inevitably impaired its international image.” [3/12/2008]

Iran: The L.A. Times reported on Iran’s latest response to the State Department’s latest human rights report, writing, “Iranian officials regularly accuse the West of hypocrisy in zeroing in on Iran’s human rights record, citing prisoner abuse allegations in the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay. [3/11/09]

Russia: In response to criticism from former Vice President Dick Cheney regarding Russia’s human rights abuses, then-Russian President Vladimir Putin asked, “Where is all this pathos about protecting human rights and democracy when it comes to the need to pursue their own interests?” [5/11/06. Similar remarks: 3/27/08]

Venezuela: The Venezuelan government responded to a recent State Department report on Human Trafficking, saying, “It is scandalous that a country…where torture has been practiced and terrorists are protected, pretends to prop itself up as a judge of human rights in the world.” [6/19/09]

As Matt Yglesias recently explained, the abuses that go on in Iran, China, North Korea, and other nations are perpetrated on a much wider scale and have gone on far longer than those that occurred in U.S. detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba. But the fact remains that “whenever you read about these kind of techniques being applied in Iran or North Korea, it’s immediately apparent to everyone that it’s torture, it’s cruel, it’s inhumane, and it’s wrong.” Indeed, it was immediately apparent to the world that the U.S. abuses were torture as well. Now, Obama must work to rebuild the credibility that his predecessor squandered.

Too bad he’s not.

Now just imagine how much worse it would be if we’d given the world John McCain instead.

Hannity, the Defiant Coward


Are you fucking kidding me?

I’m getting rather ambivalent about having celebrities get waterboarded, even when it changes their opinion like Erich “Mancow” Mueller. It’s torture, now he knows it. But the more it is done the more it becomes a parlor trick in too many eyes. It’s torture, it’s a crime not a game of Cranium.

And you still have a result like this from moral degenerates:

Mancow also revealed that his friend Sean Hannity “called me and said ‘it’s still not torture.’”

So more evidence that Sean Hannity is an a-hole.

So, he’s still too much of a despicable coward to put his money where his mouth is, but he thinks he’s right and Mancow’s wrong.

I don’t even have the words for what a disgusting piece of yellow shit he is.

Olbermann to Hannity: “You Are Now Unnecessary”

Keith Olbermann has pronounced Sean Hannity a superfluous piece of shit:

Last night on Countdown, Olbermann announced that he was rescinding the offer to Hannity, and instead giving $10,000 to charity following radio host Erich “Mancow” Muller’s waterboarding attempt. Olbermann promised to donate to the charity Veterans of Valor, founded by Sgt. Klay South, who administered the waterboarding to Muller. Olbermann revealed that Mancow’s publicist had contacted Olbermann’s show yesterday to see whether Olbermann would make a similar offer to Mancow as he did for Hannity:

OLBERMANN: Mancow Muller had the guts to put his mouth where his mouth was, and the guts to admit he was dead wrong. As you saw, he not only said it is torture, but that he had nearly drowned as a boy, and it is drowning, and that he would have admitted to anything to make it stop.

So the offer to the coward Hannity — a thousand dollars a second he lasted on the waterboard — is withdrawn.

And to Mr. Muller, whose station’s publicity person contacted us yesterday saying she’d heard I’d offered ten thousand dollars to anybody who would do what he did –

You got it. Ten thousand dollars to the military-families charity of the man who did the waterboarding, Veterans Of Valor. [...]

As to Hannity, you are now unnecessary.

Not that he was necessary to begin with, o’ course.

And so ends this chapter of the Waterboard Hannity chronicles. Skeptic Kitteh was right:


Bookie Kitteh’s now taking bets on how long it is before Hannity feels brave enough to spout off about waterboarding again.

Torture Apologists on Parade: Flying Cow Edition

Unlike Sean Hannity, Mancow isn’t afraid to put his water where his mouth is. Alas, as he discovered, empirical evidence trumps ideology:

On his radio show this morning, “conservative libertarian” talker Eric “Mancow” Muller set out to prove that waterboarding isn’t torture by having himself waterboarded. But instead, after enduring “6 or 7 seconds” of the interrogation technique, Mancow admitted that it was “absolutely torture”:

Turns out the stunt wasn’t so funny. Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop. He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.

“It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that’s no joke,”Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child. “It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back…It was instantaneous…and I don’t want to say this: absolutely torture.

I wanted to prove it wasn’t torture,” Mancow said. “They cut off our heads, we put water on their face…I got voted to do this but I really thought ‘I’m going to laugh this off.’”

He stated that the sensation brought on by waterboarding was exactly the same as drowning. He should know – he drowned as a child. No wonder the cow went flying the second the water hit him.

Jury’s out on whether he goes back to trying to wish the truth away, but still, I respect him. He actually tested his beliefs. He admitted he was dead fucking wrong. And he didn’t use weasel words. He may not be able to make it thirty seconds under the waterboard, but he’s already kicked the collective asses of Hannity et al. Good on him.

Now we’ll see how long it takes before the Cons and their media darlings start scoffing at the whole thing. If you watch the video, it doesn’t look that bad – guy gets some water on the face, freaks out, turns pasty white and starts babbling “It’s torture! It’s torture!” The lack of screaming, blood and breaking bones deceive. That’s why people without the imagination to realize just what suffocating under a stream of water does to your mind and body need to undergo this themselves.

I’d like to request Lou Dobbs volunteer next:

Lou Dobbs calls out Chuck Schumer for his waffling on whether Americans would accept torture being used in the phony ticking time bomb scenario. He then asks his audience to participate in an on line poll and asks whether they would “personally employ torture to save American lives and prevent an attack on this country?” And surprise, surprise…the overwhelming answer is…YES! Looks like all that fear mongering is paying off well for you. What’s next Lou? You going to ask them if they’d like to shoot Mexicans to put an end to illegal immigration?

I’m tempted to head out to the streets with a board, a bucket of water, and a towel, and see just how many of my torture-loving fellow Americans are willing to enjoy some torture themselves. Even in Seattle, I’m likely to find a few fuckwits who are still under the illusion that 24 is a documentary and they’re so tough they could outlast Mancow.

Fuck. Let’s turn it into a reality show. And let’s take our buckets to Congress, where I’m sure we’ll find plenty of volunteers in the minority party, along with a select few in the majority.

What’s that? They all ran away? Gee, I’m shocked. After all, it’s just a little splash of water. Don’t they want to keep America safe?

(Tip o’ the shotglass to the folks I filched the images from. Please forgive my lack of Photoshop-fu – I did the best I could.)

Torture Apologists on Parade: WWF Smackdown Edition

I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t have much respect for Jesse Ventura. Mind you, I rooted for him when he won the Minnesota elections and became a governor – mostly because the media et al had been such dismissive fucks, and it was fun to see them shocked that a lowly wrestler from a third party was now chief executive of a state. But still, didn’t really consider him to be anything more than a showman.

Opinions can change in the face of evidence (unless you’re a Con or creationist, o’ course). And there is something glorious about watching a former pro-wrestler and Navy SEAL who survived Vietnam slam pro-torture wingnuts into the mat:

Jesse Ventura’s been making the rounds lately by taking on all comers on the issue of torture, which has left little quivering wingnuts like Joe Scarborough having to resort to attacking him out of his immediate presence.

Because as Brian Kilmeade of Fox and Friends found out this morning, doing so in person can be extremely unpleasant. Especially if you try pulling the lamestain right-wing crap we’ve gotten accustomed to, namely, accusing their interlocutors of not wanting to keep us safe, you’re not patriotic enough, blah blah blah.

That’s what Kilmeade tries pulling right off the bat, and it makes for possibly the best of the Ventura smackdowns yet:

Ventura: I have been waterboarded. It is torture. I can speak from experience. It was part of SERE training that I went through as a Navy SEAL.

Kilmeade: And are you OK now?

Ventura: I’m fine.

Kilmeade: So is Khalid Sheik Mohammed. He’s about 60 pounds overweight, having a great time —

Ventura: It doesn’t matter. If it was OK, then why don’t we do it to criminals? Like, if we’ve got gang members in L.A., OK? We know that their gangs are gonna do bad things. When we arrest them, why don’t we waterboard them so we can get information out of them? Because it’s against the law.

Kilmeade: Do you want us not to be safe from attack?

Ventura: Don’t come after me with that nonsense.

[Debate over its efficacy -- "ticking time bomb"]

Ventura: OK, why didn’t we waterboard McVeigh and Nichols, then? There were more people that they thought involved at Oklahoma City. Why weren’t they waterboarded to get more information? Because it’s against the law.

Wait — and if we’re not going to be a country that goes by the rule of law when it’s convenient or not convenient, then what do we stand for?

But what about the difference — you bring up Timothy McVeigh and maybe gang members, and maybe those threats weren’t as imminent as the threats –

Ventura: I don’t think these threats are imminent.

You didn’t think after 9/11, that America felt threats were imminent, that more could be coming?

Ventura: Maybe. But I think our behavior has caused us to be in more trouble. Now they won’t release these photos. Why? Because they know the Muslim world will go irate. They’re all after Nancy Pelosi — when did she know? When dah dah dah — Well, if we hadn’t of tortured, it would be a dead issue, wouldn’t it?

Let’s go to the real issue: It’s called torture.

I think I’m in love.

No wonder Joe Scarborough was too shit-scared to have Jesse in the studio when he launched this ridiculous rant (h/t):

This is unbelievable. Joe Scarborough, who publicly lectured/tattled on me for not engaging in civilized debate, talking about Jesse Ventura:

“Perhaps Jesse should stop smoking whatever Jesse’s been smoking and keep his mouth shut about things he knows absolutely nothing about. This is a guy who, by the way — I must continue to say this — that got paid two million dollars by this network, did one show and sucked so bad that they sent him back to Minnesota and said “we never want to see you again.”

I wish I was that bad. Perhaps I am. Maybe they’ll fire me and I’ll take my money and go to Florida. [...] Seriously, that’s the sort of stupidity — it’s just — it should seriously be a crime to be that dumb and on TV. [mocking Jesse's voice] We only waterboard Muslims. Oh God.

Let’s bring in Rudy Giuliani. Former Republican mayor of New York City, former presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani. This seems like a great place to start. [begin douchey sarcastic voice] Why is it that people like Jesse Ventura are so concerned about how we treat people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? Why is that?”

Jesse Ventura was a Navy Seal who survived the SERE program and served in Vietnam. He “knows nothing” about torture and war, Joe? And you do? That’s rich.

Isn’t it awesome how all these Yellow Elephants think they’re more expert than veterans? I notice Sean Hannity still hasn’t set a date for his waterboarding-for-charity. We’ll have to add a Scarborough-dissing-Ventura-to-his-face watch to our calendars.

Speaking of smackdowns, Marcy Wheeler’s compiled a handy little guide to the CIA’s briefing list errors. Cons keep whining about that awful Nancy Pelosi being soooo mean to the CIA. This list gives them a choice: either the CIA’s a bunch of lying asshats, or the CIA’s a bunch of bumbling buffoons who can’t even compile a simple list. My question for the Cons is, which explanation do they prefer?

And when will they demand Pete Hoekstra apologize for impugning the CIA’s integrity?

Hoekstra’s repeated objections to Pelosi accusing the CIA of having lied to Congress is quite odd given the fact that he’s made nearly identical claims on multiple occasions. As Marcy Wheeler first noted, Hoekstra wrote a letter to President Bush in 2006 accusing the intelligence community of withholding information on their activities from Congress. “I have learned of some alleged Intelligence Community activities about which our committee has not been briefed,” Hoekstra wrote. He said that he believed the Bush administration’s failure to fully brief his committee could constitute “a violation of law“:

hoekstra_letter

Similarly, in 2007, Hoekstra described a closed-door briefing by representatives from the intelligence community (including CIA) on the National Intelligence Estima
te of Iran’s nuclear capability, saying that the members “
didn’t find [the briefers] forthcoming.” More recently, in November 2008, Hoekstra concluded that the CIA “may have been lying or concealing part of the truth” in testimony to Congress regarding a 2001 incident in which the CIA mistakenly killed an American citizen in Peru. “We cannot have an intelligence community that covers up what it does and then lies to Congress,” Hoekstra said of the incident.

My goodness, Pete. Who would have ever guessed you’re a ginormous fucking hypocrite? What a shock.

Why, it’s almost as shocking as learning the CIA would lie to cover their asses, and that torture apologists can get totally pwnd by a former SEAL. If you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go to the hospital. I believe I’m having a heart attack from not surprised.

Torture Apologists on Parade: Freudian Slip Edition

Most of you have probably already seen David Waldman’s masterful performance on CNN. If not, here ye go:

You’ll notice a Center for American Progress representative spouting Con talking points there. Glenn Greenwald gave her a spanking:

This is what she said:

The American people right now are actually not interested in this sideshow and this discussion. The American people are interested in looking forward — nobody is concerned anymore with what the Bush administration was doing and did. We decided it was torture. Conservatives may or may not disagree. None of that matters at this point and time.

I wonder how Williams reconciles her claims about what “the American people” are and are not interested in with this:

That poll was from February, and while some subsequent polls have produced different results, all polls — even the most recent ones with the most anti-investigation findings — find that, at minimum, roughly 40% of Americans believe there must be some form of investigations in Bush crimes. That’s a lot of people to be dismissing away as “nobody.”

Since then, she’s posted a mea culpa. It’s appreciated, but… um… Well, let me preface with a suitable joke, oft told among my circle of friends:

Sometimes, when you mean to say one thing, it comes out a little bit different than you intended. Like the other morning, I was having breakfast with my wife, and what I meant to say was, “Honey, could you please pass the marmalade?” but what I actually said was, “Bitch, you ruined my life!

Erica Williams’s apology reminded me of that joke:

When the conversation veered slightly off topic and turned into a yelling match about torture between two other bloggers, making it difficult for me to jump in, my talking point about “moving forward and taking the American people’s attention off Obama’s ambitious legislative agenda” (which I intended to say only in reference to the Pelosi/CIA who-dunnit) somehow came out as the following –

The American people right now are actually not interested in this sideshow and this discussion. The American people are interested in looking forward — nobody is concerned anymore with what the Bush administration was doing and did. We decided it was torture. Conservatives may or may not disagree. None of that matters at this point and time.

What the heck did I just say? Dear God – A TORTURE APOLOGIST TOOK OVER MY BODY.

That’s not a Freudian slip. That’s a Freudian ballgown.

Talking about torture seems to bring on the insanity in quite a few people. Just look at Faux News and the Con party, who’ve completely lost their heads:

There are more than a few annoying angles to the recent Republican attacks on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, related to the CIA interrogation briefings she received in 2002 and 2003. Most notably, the GOP’s goal is transparent: don’t investigate officials from our team, they’re telling Democrats, or we’ll want an investigation of officials on your team.

With that in mind, Faiz Shakir did a nice job pulling together some Fox News coverage from this week, in which this very dynamic is discussed rather candidly. The goal, the reports indicated, is to create a “Mexican standoff,” in which both sides back off in some kind of mutually-assured-destruction scenario. Looking at accountability for possible war crimes through this lens seems crazy, but here we are anyway.

[snip]

To be sure, there are legitimate questions about the briefings. If Pelosi was told about torture and failed to raise objections, that warrants criticism. If there’s evidence that Pelosi was less than candid about what she was told — there isn’t — that’s a political problem.

But in general, this entire “controversy” is a ridiculous GOP stunt, which the media is falling for. We’ve effectively been told that the only person who should face real scrutiny for the Bush/Cheney torture scandal is the liberal, powerless, then-House Minority Leader who opposes torture.

As A.L. noted the other day, “The level of hypocrisy and incoherence it takes for Republicans to point to Pelosi as being some sort of key figure in this scandal is astounding. And the fact that the press corps would latch on to this rather ridiculous diversion is telling.”

It is indeed.

This is what happens when people try to justify the unjustifiable. Pathetic, innit?

Torture Apologists on Parade: Who’s Afraid of Nancy Pelosi? Edition

I do believe Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has hit a nerve.

Newtie’s outraged:

The other day, I compared Newt Gingrich to an erupting popcorn maker, spewing incoherent talking points in every direction. Today, he offered a good example of what I was talking about.

[snip]

“I think she has lied to the House, and I think that the House has an absolute obligation to open an inquiry, and I hope there will be a resolution to investigate her. And I think this is a big deal. I don’t think the Speaker of the House can lie to the country on national security matters,” Gingrich said.

He continued: “I think this is the most despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

“She is a trivial politician, viciously using partisanship for the narrowest of purposes, and she dishonors the Congress by her behavior.”

I see. The Bush administration engaged in systematic torture, but our disgraced former House Speaker is outraged that Nancy Pelosi did what members of Congress have been doing for decades: she questioned the veracity of a CIA briefing.

How dare she! Doesn’t she know how sensitive CIA agents are?

The hysteria has reached new heights by FOX News as they spin the Pelosi outrage as far as it can go. How far is that? The CIA will just stop working and America may be attacked because of her. Wingnut Du Jour, ex-CIA agent and FOX Newser Wayne Simmons said that Pelosi has. What is the impact of Nancy Pelosi saying that the CIA lied to her and members of Congress? We’re doomed!!!

Simmons: The best thing about not being a diplomat or a politician is that I can tell you that first and foremost Nancy Pelosi, the woman whose third in line to be President of the United States, the Speaker of the House is a pathological liar and her attacks on the CIA, the release of the CIA memos has so sent a chill through the CIA to guys like me who were not only interrogated in our entire careers, but ran interrogations and interviews that I can assure you that we are not going to go the extra mile EVER in this climate to secure information and intelligence that’s going to protect the Untied States so understand that the American people need to, this has directly affected the National Security of the United States.

[snip]

Simmons paints the CIA as one big chickenshit outfit that can’t take a little criticism from the big bad Nancy Pelosi. They will even abandon their posts and let terrorists attack the country because their itty-bitty feelings are so hurt. I say they should all quit right now if Simmons is correct.

I second that. If they’re so easily butt-hurt by Pelosi, there’s no way they’re tough enough to protect us from terrorists.

As Cons screamed over that mean ol’ Nancy Pelosi saying awful things about the CIA which they’d never ever say (oops), they rather forgot their Shakespeare. There is such a thing as protesting too much. And you know you’re protesting way too much when it shocks some sanity into Hannity’s show:

Sean Hannity couldn’t have been too pleased last night when his “All American Panel” — which he usually manages to keep nicely docile — took a decidedly liberal detour on the subject of Nancy Pelosi’s charge that the CIA lied to her.

First, Sunny Hostin, a former federal prosecutor, pointed out the obvious:

Why do we think that she is the liar?

Regina Calcaterra, a Democratic consultant, promptly chimed in:

It’s a smokescreen. I think this is a smokescreen by Republicans, because Republicans are concerned about Congress holding the Truth Commission, which you know is going to be the parallel to the 9/11 Commission.

Later, Hostin raises the really relevant point:

The issue here is that everybody knows that waterboarding is torture. And that was an approved policy. It is torture! Everyone knows that. And that was the policy of the Bush administration. Why don’t we talk about that?

Indeed. Because on Planet Wingnuttia, claiming that “Nancy Pelosi knew about it too” justifies the policy.

Aha. No wonder they’re so upset by evidence the CIA, y’know, didn’t quite manage to inform Pelosi about their hijinks. So now they have to paint Pelosi as a big fat liar and hope that nobody gets a calendar.

Oh, and on the ticking time bomb front… this is just utterly pathetic:

The Washington Post‘s Charles Krauthammer received some well-deserved flak after his pro-torture column a couple of weeks ago. He argued at the time, that “the ticking time bomb” is a reasonable excuse for torture. “An innocent’s life is at stake,” Krauthammer said. “The bad guy you have captured possesses information that could save this life. He refuses to divulge. In such a case, the choice is easy.”

The general response to this is that the proverbial ticking time bomb is a fantasy scenario, best left to action shows on television. Today, the conservative columnist responds by pointing to a specific example, that actually happened, to help bolster his point.

On Oct. 9, 1994, Israeli Cpl. Nachshon Waxman was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists. The Israelis captured the driver of the car. He was interrogated with methods so brutal that they violated Israel’s existing 1987 interrogation guidelines, which themselves were revoked in 1999 by the Israeli Supreme Court as unconscionably harsh. The Israeli prime minister who ordered this enhanced interrogation (as we now say) explained without apology: “If we’d been so careful to follow the [1987] Landau Commission [guidelines], we would never have found out where Waxman was being held.”

Who was that prime minister? Yitzhak Rabin, Nobel Peace laureate. The fact that Waxman died in the rescue raid compounds the
tragedy but changes nothing of Rabin’s moral calculus.

Krauthammer had weeks to come up with a real-world scenario to help prove his case for justifiable torture, and this was the best he could do.

Wow. Torture apologetics and Christian apologetics have something in common: they both cause the people engaging in them to look like a right bunch of nitwits.

Torture Dumbassitude on Parade: Cheney’s Guilty as Hell

It’s becoming something of a spectator sport: who’s gonna top the dumbfuckery next? It’s a good thing I’m not playing a drinking game, because I’d be suffering chronic alcohol poisoning.

I think Rep. Pete Hoekstra won today’s event:

In a tense interview on Fox News today, host Shep Smith repeatedly pressed Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) if waterboarding is torture. Hoekstra initially dodged, saying, “I don’t know if it’s torture or not.” “I’d like an answer, sir,” Smith responded. Asked a fourth time, Hoekstra finally said he believes that interrogations used in the “immediate aftermath” of 2002 — which included waterboarding — were “consistent” with the law:

Q: And waterboarding is or is not torture?

HOEKSTRA: There is a wide range of waterboarding. I’m telling you, that I know waterboarding was used, Shep. I’m not mincing words. I’m saying that I believe the techniques used in 2002, in 2003, which included waterboarding in a specific format that I’m aware of how they used it, that I believe that was consistent with U.S. law.

“A wide range of waterboarding.” What kind of permanent brain damage do you have to be suffering in order to believe that? Was he dropped on his head repeatedly as a child, or did his terminal glue-sniffing just not come out during his campaign?

Joe Scarborough came in a close second:

Yesterday FBI agents who were involved in interrogating detainees testified to Senate that these techniques didn’t work and that they were able to obtain valuable information using traditional methods. Well that apparently doesn’t sit well with Joe Scarborough considering his new line of defense – the FBI agents are “exaggerating”.

They’re exaggerating their role in interrogating suspects. They are mudding up the facts and what we see here is the FBI trying to undercut the CIA – the FBI has always hated the CIA.

So Scarborough is essentially saying that the FBI is willing to perjure themselves just because of some grudge they have against the CIA.

Torture apologists stop at nothing to defend their passion.

Former SERE instructor Malcom Nance does violence to the whole “ticking time bomb” scenario, thus showing advocates of that idea up for the raging idiots they are:

Host Rachel Maddow then asked Nance if he would use SERE techniques in the “faulty” premise of a “ticking time bomb scenario.”

MADDOW: In the case of an actual ticking time bomb scenario, which is a faulty premise because things don’t work out this way in the real world, would you do SERE, these techniques on a prisoner in that scenario? [...]

NANCE: No of course not, because one, it defeats the ticking time bomb scenario, in that all the prisoner has to do is not answer the question or, better yet, the prisoner will lie. And once the prisoner lies, especially with al Qaeda members. Let me tell you something, their ideology — they have a concept within their ideology called “al-warrah el barrah” (sp) and that is absolute devotion to their god, but absolute disavowal and hatred of anything that’s not their god.

Nance added that when these techniques were used, detainees knew they were were giving “gibberish,” thus seeing “that as a victory.” “[W]hat we’ve done is we created al Qaeda SERE school for them,” Nance said.

On the feigned outrage front, Cons and their fellow travellers are outraged, outraged I tell you, that Nancy Pelosi would ever question the integrity of our nation’s spies:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi apparently raised quite a few eyebrows today when she argued that CIA officials misled congressional leaders on interrogation techniques during Bush’s first term. Specifically, she said the briefings included “inaccurate and incomplete information.”

The usual suspects quickly lined up to express their outrage.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said today that he “totally disagrees” with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) assertion that the CIA regularly misleads Congress.

“No, on that specific point I totally disagree,” Lieberman told MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell. “Over the 20 years I’ve been here, I’ve been briefed constantly by the CIA, and I’d say they’ve told me the truth as they see it.”

Republican lawmakers were, not surprisingly, far harsher in their rhetoric. Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), for example, exclaimed, “It’s outrageous that a member of Congress would call our terror-fighters liars.”

Sure it us. Except, well, our “terror-fighters” are liars:

Bob Graham just appeared on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show. In addition to repeating earlier reports that he was never briefed on waterboarding, Graham revealed that the first time he asked the CIA when he was briefed on torture, it claimed it had briefed him on two dates when no briefing took place.

I didn’t get Graham’s exact quotes (and the quotes below are rough approximations), but when asked to respond to Philip Zelikow’s assertion that members of Congress from both parties had been briefed on this program, Graham said that when he asked the CIA when he had been briefed on the program, the CIA gave him the dates of four briefings, two in April 2002 and two in September 2002, when they claimed they had briefed him about the program. But after Graham consulted his own records, he pointed out that on two of those dates, he had not attended any briefing. After Graham pointed this out to the CIA, they conceded their own dates were incorrect.

Yup. Liars. Unless, o’ course, you prefer to believe our vaunted terror-fighters are complete fucking idiots who don’t know how to keep records or use a calendar. Sooo… are Cons then calling our terror-fighters complete fucking idiots?

Speaking of liars, check out Darth Dick deciding to order people tortured in order to
perpetuate his lies
:

This is incredible but not surprising news. Robert Windrem, who covered terrorism for NBC, reports:

*Two U.S. intelligence officers confirm that Vice President Cheney’s office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner, a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection. *The former chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, in charge of interrogations, tells The Daily Beast that he considered the request reprehensible. *Much of the information in the report of the 9/11 Commission was provided through more than 30 sessions of torture of detainees…read on

Read the entire story. What this report says is that the Bush administration took an active role in how torture was being used and their purposes were purely political and not to keep America safe. Richard Wolffe says the same thing to Nora on MSNBC.

Cheney and his band of inquisitors wanted to find something that could justify the Iraq war to the American people after all the lies were uncovered for us to see. And there was nothing. NO WMD’s in Iraq and no connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda. Cheney willingly promoted the use of torture for his own political gains.

Did we really expect anything less of the man who shoots his friends in the face?

For those in the audience who lurves them some torture and tend to believe that such bombshells are just liberal hysteria, there’s Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff of the Department of State, who knows a thing or two about what was going on. He absolutely annihilates Cheney on a myriad of points, and if you read nothing else on torture, you should read his piece. Here he is absolutely destroying the “ticking time bomb” argument, and showing that Cheney ordered torture:

Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002–well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion–its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa’ida.

So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney’s office that their detainee “was compliant” (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP’s office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa’ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, “revealed” such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.

There in fact were no such contacts. (Incidentally, al-Libi just “committed suicide” in Libya. Interestingly, several U.S. lawyers working with tortured detainees were attempting to get the Libyan government to allow them to interview al-Libi….)

If America can’t get its shit together and prosecute these evil fucks, I sure as shit hope the Hague does it for us. Bring on the Spanish Inquisition. Anything. I don’t care who nails these fuckers just so long as they get nailed.

This nation can’t recover one iota of moral authority until these lying, conniving, torturing fucktards are rotting in prison.

Prosecutions. Now.

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.

Torture Apologists On Parade

As the “debate” on torture drags on and on (and on and on and on), it’s gone from merely disgusting to completely absurd. We’re seeing displays of outrage by people who are so morally corrupt that – well, it can’t be described, only demonstrated.

For instance, Cons believe that releasing photos of torture is wrong:

On April 23, the Obama administration announced it would release hundreds of photos of detainee interrogation, obeying a court order from a lawsuit filed by the ACLU. Predictably, conservatives furious with the Obama administration’s attempt at greater transparency denounced the move. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) wrote to President Obama asking him not to release the photos because they could inflame potential terrorists:


The release of these old photographs of past behavior that has now clearly been prohibited will serve no public good, but will empower al-Qaeda propaganda operations, hurt our country’s image, and endanger our men and women in uniform.

[snip]

Today, Liz Cheney, daughter of the former Vice President, decried the move as “appalling,” saying in a Fox News interview that the decision was proof Obama was aiming to “side with the terrorists”:

CHENEY: Clearly what they are doing is releasing images that show American military men and women in a very negative light. And I have heard from families of service members, from families of 9/11 victims, this question about, you know, when did it become so fashionable for us to side, really,with the terrorists?

Note, it’s just the photos they object to. The torture itself is hunky-dory. They do not subscribe to the idea that “The photos of torture aren’t the root of the problem. After all — if you don’t torture, you don’t have torture photos.” To them, it’s unthinkable we stop torturing:

In fact, Huckabee defended the utility of waterboarding within 30 seconds of agreeing with Hannity that Obama’s release of interrogation photos was “hurting our nation’s defenses.”

And Liz Cheney thinks that a thin wallpaper of inane legal memos is all it takes to magically turn toture into a-okay interrogation techniques:

Robinson: I do not think that’s the case. Torture is a war crime. It is a war crime.

Cheney: That’s right. And this wasn’t torture. Those legal memos demonstrated where the line was, and where it would become torture.

Robinson: Waterboarding was torture during the Spanish Inquisition, it was torture when Pol Pot did it, and I believe it was torture when we did it. But that –

It quickly devolves into crosstalk, and Cheney spends a lot of time filibustering with her talking points, but she never is able to effectively respond to Robinson’s chief point: Legal paperwork is not adequate cover for committing torture, one of the most heinous of all crimes.

But, of course, Cons inhabit their own reality, which isn’t the same thing as actual reality. In their reality, it isn’t torture that recruits the terrorists (despite their cries that photos of torture recruit terrorists) – it’s the lack of torture that really brings in the bombers:

As conservatives continue to rally around torture, Karl Rove last night praised Dick Cheney for his “reasoned, thoughtful series of observations” about how President Obama has made the U.S. less safe. He also conjectured that ending the practice of torture will provide al Qaeda with a great “tool” to help them recruit new terrorists:

ROVE: Taking, for example, the memoranda about the enhanced interrogation techniques and making them public has been a value to our enemy. It has served, frankly, I think, as a recruiting tool. They can now take these memoranda and go to prospective, you know, recruits and say, This is the worst that the enemy, the United States, would ever do to you, and they’ve even forsworn these things. We can help you, prepare you to deal with these things, but even the enemy is so weak they’re not going to use these techniques on you. And it’s given them a tool to make it more attractive to recruit people, and you know, this kind of thing is harmful to us over the long haul.

Um… no. But thanks for playing, Karl.

In a shining example of just how idiotic our media’s become, check out who’s got hisself a columnist gig:

You may have heard the news that the Philadelphia Inquirer has given infamous torture memo author John Yoo a contract to write a monthly column for the paper. A bunch of folks, understandably, have already registered their objections to the hire.

The Inquirer has defended the decision by arguing that Yoo is “knowledgeable” about legal subjects, which has “promoted further discourse, which is the objective of newspaper commentary.”

But there’s another dimension to the story that’s also worth noting. Yoo is using his platform for more than just writing opinion columns.

Indeed, he actually used his newspaper gig to attack his political opponents — tho
se who are pushing for a torture probe — at a time when government officials were mulling whether to investigate those who created the torture program, including him.

The Inquirer thinks it’s fine to give such an opportunity to a torture architect because, and I quote editor Harold Jackson’s email to Greg Sargent:

The Inquirer in its editorials has been a consistent voice against the torture (and we do call it torture) that occurred during the Bush administration. Just as we also consistently opposed that administration’s domestic spying program.

Somehow, they think this makes everything okay. I fail to see how.

It’s only a matter of time before Yoo’s column contains a dumbshit statement like “waterboarding isn’t torture cuz we’re not actually drowning people” or “it’s not torture because we do it to our own troops!” This is a popular argument on the right. Let’s hear (once again) from an expert in such matters:

One of the most repeated lines from conservatives in the debate over interrogations is that waterboarding is not torture because it is performed on U.S. troops as part of training. Yesterday on CNN’s Larry King Live, former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura — a former Navy SEAL who has been waterboarded — poured cold water on this talking point, saying that waterboarding is in fact “drowning.” Ventura said he could waterboard Vice President Cheney and get him to admit to anything:

KING: You were a Navy SEAL.

VENTURA: That’s right. I was water boarded, so I know — at SERE School, Survival Escape Resistance Evasion. It was a required school you had to go to prior to going into the combat zone, which in my era was Vietnam. All of us had to go there. We were all, in essence — every one of us was water boarded. It is torture.

KING: What was it like?

VENTURA: It’s drowning. It gives you the complete sensation that you are drowning. It is no good, because you — I’ll put it to you this way, you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.

If waterboarding isn’t torture, I don’t see how Cheney could have any problem allowing Ventura to put this proposition to the test. And I’m sure he will – just as soon as Sean Hannity manages to fit his own waterboarding into his busy schedule. Right, Sean?

Sean?

Funny. He appears to have run away. Strange how they come over all cowardly when it’s time to put up or shut up, innit?