Republican Bloodlust, Why Do They Love Torture?

This clip is from last week on Morning Joke. It’s amazing, Lawrence O’ Donnell goes off on Marc Thiessen who wrote a book called “Courting Disaster: How The CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting The Next Attack”. Lawrence kicked his ass and went right for the jugular, Joe Scarborough cut him off and went to commercial.

A couple of days ago, Joe Scarborough had Marc Thiessen back on to debate the issue with Daniel Freedman, who does an excellent job countering the many lies that Thiessen is pimping around. Here’s that exchange…

It just amazes me that some on the right, Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney and Marc Thiessen are so intent on torturing people. WTF is wrong with these people. This passage from Elizabeth Holtzman’s piece on says it much better than I ever could. (emphasis mine)

Military interrogations in wartime are critically important. They might reveal, for example, where the enemy is going to strike next, and affect the lives of thousands of American troops. Yet until the Bush Administration took office, the US did not adopt torture as an official tool to extract such information. It’s good to recall why.

After horrific mistreatment of detainees during World War II, including the torture of American POW’s by the Japanese, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces, urged the US to ratify the Geneva Conventions. General Douglas McArthur voluntarily instituted the Conventions for American troops in the Korean War, even before they were ratified.

There are very good reasons why America as a country shouldn’t torture. They all seem obvious to me, but I guess the lessons of history don’t mean a whole lot to some. So many of the people who are the biggest supporters of torture also claim to be patriotic, how patriotic is it to dishonor those soldiers that fought in previous wars and who learned the lessons of war? More from Elizabeth Holtzman…

These commanders supported the Geneva Conventions, not because they thought it acceptable to “tie our hands” during combat and expose American troops to unnecessary risk, but because they realized the real danger to our country lay in using torture, not in abstaining from it. They saw professional interrogations produced important information without torture. They knew torture only weakens our reputation and our ability to project “soft power” — to command respect and persuade abroad. They perceived inhumane treatment of the enemy would only further endanger the lives of American troops.

David Patreus, the hero of the right until recently, was on Meet the Press this past weekend and reiterated his feelings about torture. Here’s part of what he said on that show.

I have always been on the record, in fact, since 2003, with the concept of living our values. And I think that whenever we’ve perhaps taken expedient measures, they’ve turned around and bitten us in the backside. We decided early on, in the 101st airborne division, we just said, we decided to obey the Geneva Conventions…

Abu Ghraib and other situations like that are non biodegradable. They don’t go away. The enemy continues to beat you with them like a stick…. Beyond that, frankly, we have found that the use of interrogation methods in the army field manual that was given the force of law by Congress, that that works.”

Whenever I hear one of the neo-cons arguing for torture, I can’t help but think to myself that there is some other reason why the crave torture. Why could they be so adament about it in the face of so much evidence from psychologists, professional interrogators in the FBI and by people like John McCain who actually was tortured? Why do they ignore all that evidence and continue to pine for the days of torture under Bush/Cheney’s regime? In a post by Peter Levine called “What’s Wrong With Torture”, he helps to explain a possible reason.

While there are no major ancient or medieval critiques of cruelty, the classical liberals (who were the intellectual ancestors of today’s conservatives and progressives alike) focused on cruelty as a special evil because it represented what they feared most: state tyranny…

it tends to “normalize” torture. Normalization is a powerful and dangerous pyschological phenomenon. As Luban writes (pp. 1451-2):

“we judge right and wrong against the baseline of whatever we have come to consider “normal” behavior, and if the norm shifts in the direction of violence, we will come to tolerate and accept violence as a normal response. The psychological mechanisms for this re-normalization have been studied for more than half a century, and by now they are reasonably well understood.”

Dick and Liz Cheney along with Marc Thiessen seem almost desperate in their attempts to “normalize” torture and they like to use people’s fears and emotions to gain their support. I’m certainly thankful that President Obama has put a stop to it and we are returning to the morals and principles that our country was founded on.


13 thoughts on “Republican Bloodlust, Why Do They Love Torture?

  1. Nice post. We are already a nation of violence, against. women, latinos, blacks, and the poor. It’s a shame but that is our history.

  2. Thanks Roberta, I’ve been working on this post for a few days.
    Maybe I’m old fashioned, I’m only 47 years old, but I was raised to believe violence against anyone is never appropriate. My parents were pretty liberal and pacifists, for sure, but also very moral people. Not religious, but moral.

  3. Because of the rules this game is played by we (the average citizen) will never know if the alleged torture of KSM and his ilk provided us with good intelligence or not.

    The anti-torture people use very dated studies to make their case against torture. Who’s to say the studies are still true today; a lot has changed over the decades. Can you say for certain that torture NEVER helps us gain valuable information? I don’t think you can. The pro-torture people can’t disclose their findings because it’s all wrapped up in classified government documents. If something needs to change then it is that they need to do a better job of keeping their methods secret.

    My feelings would be different if we were discussing POW’s but these illegal combatants who’ve allegedly been tortured should be grateful we don’t just summarily execute them.

  4. Great post, Jim. I think it’s safe to say that most republicans tortured their family pets growing up. They hate anything that is living or breathing.

    Osama bin Laden has been dead for years, but George Bush made sure Osama’s plan for America was carried out!

  5. I wished I could say the same. I was brought up in a violent environment, I am not a violent person. So I am not a wasr monger. Our family has been Military and some career but I never held with war. I want out of Iraq and I know Obama is doing it. I live in Killeen, TX so I see the results quite a bit. not nice.
    Thank you so much for your sanity.

  6. Kay, I do not see anything in any of the Geneva Conventions that would classify those cowardly pukes as POWs. The Third Convention Article 4 defines POW. Those chicken shit detainees are not POWs as defined by the Geneva Conventions.

  7. Ahhhhh, Chicken Hammer, you’ve just dug yourself a hole. If they aren’t POW’s, then shouldn’t they be treated as criminals, in civilian courts? And if so, they have rights under our constitution, sorry to inform you of that.

  8. I didn’t dig that hole Jim; SCOTUS dug that hole. One of the few intelligent things GWB did was Gitmo. Since they were not US citizens and not being held on US soil they had no right to habeas corpus. When SCOTUS affirmed their habeas right SCOTUS dug their own hole; witness how SCOTUS has been absent from the brew ha ha going on over where and when to hold the trials. In the same vein as the feds push unfunded mandates on the states and tell them to deal with it SCOTUS has done the same thing to the USDOJ.

    But getting back to my response to Kay, the detainees are no more entitled to Geneva Convention rights than any other murderer, rapist, kidnapper, etc… in our prison system today. The Geneva Conventions clearly define POWs and the detainees we are holding definitely fall outside that definition.

  9. Chicken Doofus, if an American is captured overseas, you’re fine with that person being tortured and beheaded?

    GITMO, Abu Graib, and all of the illegal secret torture CIA prisons that George Bush’s Brownshirts set up ARE ILLEGAL WHERE ATROCITIES OCCURRED AT THE HANDS OF AMERICANS! And we wonder why people of other countries hate our guts so much!

    Americans are not barbarians unless the American Taliban (today’s republicans/conservatives/teabaggers) are in charge! Then we are no different than the terrorists! Right Chicken Doofus?

  10. Some of the PRISONERS WERE PURCHASED FROM THE COUNTRY OF PAKISTAN (Mushareff rounded his political opponents up to help George Bush fill up his prisons to make it appear like Bush was tough on terror!). How do you define them, Doofus? Hard cargo?


  11. Chicken Hammer – Only you could think that Gitmo was a good thing, it’s a symbol around the world of America as a country that tortures and imprisons innocent people. Kay is exactly right.

    It’s pretty sick that people go to such extremes to justify their torturing. Where are your morals? Is it OK for other countries to torture our military? Or is it just OK for America to torture?

  12. Jim, strategical Gitmo was brilliant. A very secure location not on US soil. It is also a great place to try foreign terrorists. It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars securing NYC for trials when we’ve already got a secure location bought that wouldn’t require any additional security.

    I don’t recall saying anything to justify torture. I was making the case that the Geneva Conventions does not apply to the terrorists we have in our custody. Our military on the other hand would clearly have POW status under the Geneva Conventions. There is a huge difference in how a POW should be treated and how a criminal (terrorist) should be treated.

    It pisses me off when I hear ignorant people spout off about the foreign terrorists we capture are protected by the Geneva Convention[s]. Most of those idiots don’t have a clue what’s in the Geneva Conventions, don’t know it is plural, don’t have a clue that the 3rd convention clearly defined who is a POW, or how the definition is there in part to keep terrorists from hiding behind civilian human shields. Captured soldiers ARE POWs. Captured terrorists ARE NOT POWs.

    Idiots (you know who you are) who have never read the Geneva Conventions (you know who you are) have no place telling us who is and who is not a POW.

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