Republicans And Torture – A Love Story!

On Sunday night I kept trying to imagine what crazy shit the Republicans would come up with to both not give credit to President Obama and divert the credit towards President George “Pet Goat” Bush. I never imagined it would be the reprisal of the “waterboarding is good” meme. It’s just so hard to predict stupid, you know? I guess that’s a good thing, though. And of course the person who is primarily pushing it is none other than the PR guy for waterboarding, Rep. Peter King of New York. I’m sorry but that man is as dumb as a box of rocks. From ThinkProgress…

KING: Well I don’t know if everyone knows this or not, but you mentioned the fact that we obtained information several years ago, vital information about the courier for Obama [sic]. We obtained that information through waterboarding. So for those who say that waterboarding doesn’t work, who say it should be stopped and never used again, we got vital information which directly led us to bin Laden.

O’REILLY: Wow! Let me stop you there. I did not know that and I’m sure most of my audience didn’t know that. Explain how that went down. How did we get that information, where did it come from, was it from Guantanamo Bay?

KING: It came from an overseas prison where Khaled Sheik Mohammed was being interrogated. Waterboarding was used, and it was during the interrogation of Khaled Sheik Mohammed, through waterboarding, that this information was learned.

O’REILLY: KSM gave it up? Mohammed himself gave it up?

KING: KSM gave us the first lead.

That was a complete fabrication that his fellow Republicans and former Bush minions admitted back when the “waterboarding is good” meme was being developed. I’m not even going to bother to chase down the quotes, sometimes I think Republicans say stupid shit just to keep us liberal bloggers occupied, chasing our tails. The linked stories debunk it pretty well anyway. I don’t always blame Republicans for knowingly lying, most are just so fucking stupid that they don’t know better, but they will defend that stupidity to the death.

But getting to the heart of the matter, you have to wonder why so many on the right like inflicting pain on other people, is it some sort of a “blood lust” or something. I once shot an interview with a World War II veteran who fought with the Red Arrow Division in what was the bloodiest front of the war, Buna/New Guinea. After the interview, as we were standing around he told me how when he was hiding in the jungles, constantly looking for Japanese soldiers. known as the fiercest of fighters, he had this obsession, a lust for wanting to kill as many “Japs” as he could. It was his mission. I wish the camera had been rolling. He said it was a kill or be killed attitude, it’s really hard to convey it in words. I have to equate a similar mindset to people like Rep. Peter King and the other crazy Rep. King, Steve from Iowa. From TPM…

The most prominent of these conservatives was Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who took to Twitter to ask sardonically, “Wonder what President Obama thinks of water boarding now?


“The news is sure to reignite debate over whether the now-closed interrogation and detention program was successful,” the AP wrote. “Former president George W. Bush authorized the CIA to use the harshest interrogation tactics in U.S. history. President Barack Obama closed the prison system.”

There’s just one problem. The key bit of intel wasn’t acquired via torture, according to a more fleshed out version of the same report.

So the AP ran with a very flimsy story that seemed to evolve over time. I call it “Evolving Journalism“. I particularly notice it whenever I am dumbstruck and go over to to torture myself with the writing of Glenn Greenwald, who loves to update his stories many times over. But, is that what we should expect from the AP now?

Besides the “blood lust” theory I proposed, I really don’t understand the mentality of these people who want to justify torture. Making the connection between information gleaned many years ago to what happened on Sunday is a huge stretch, even if we play along with them on the “waterboarding did it” idea. It’s like 6 years later, trails get pretty cold after 6 years. The only other thing that comes to mind is that kid in the neighborhood who liked to pull the wings off insects or do other hideous things to small animals, well, I guess some of them grow up to be Congressmen and Senators and they just have graduated up to torturing humans.


Is Bradley Manning Really Being “Tortured”?

I know I run the risk of alienating a lot of my readers, but I have to call it how I see it. We must be living in a Twilight Zone, really. If you Google the words “Bradley Manning” and “naked”, you will get over 6 million hits. It may be true that the last 4 million of those hits will be pornography, but is it any different than the first 2 million hits? Everyone seems to be thinking about Bradley Manning standing naked. I knew the internet was full of people who only think about naked people, but the names on these results aren’t your usual suspects. They are liberals who probably paraded around naked at Woodstock and called it freedom. I would have been one of those people, if I had been old enough to go to Woodstock. And a whole lot of the hits you will see if you Google those words will include the word torture or imply it in some way. Is it really torture to make a person accused of a crime stand naked for 3 minutes in a prison cell (a brig)? In my humble opinion, it doesn’t even come close to torture. I’ve spent some time reading about his detention and found the 11 page letter that Bradley Manning wrote about his detention. What he says doesn’t even come close to what Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher have been saying to get those oh-so-wonderful clicks that put more money in their pockets. I found this on his lawyers website and have snipped it up, go read the whole thing…(dated December 18, 2010)

The guards at the confinement facility are professional. At no time have they tried to bully, harass, or embarrass PFC Manning.

At 5:00 a.m. he is woken up (on weekends, he is allowed to sleep until 7:00 a.m.). Under the rules for the confinement facility, he is not allowed to sleep at anytime between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

He is allowed to watch television during the day. The television stations are limited to the basic local stations. His access to the television ranges from 1 to 3 hours on weekdays to 3 to 6 hours on weekends.

From 7:00 p.m. to 9:20 p.m., he is given correspondence time. He is given access to a pen and paper. He is allowed to write letters to family, friends, and his attorneys.

Each night, during his correspondence time, he is allowed to take a 15 to 20 minute shower.

On weekends and holidays, he is allowed to have approved visitors see him from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.

He is allowed to have any combination of up to 15 books or magazines. He must request the book or magazine by name.

Due to being held on Prevention of Injury (POI) watch:

At night, if the guards cannot see PFC Manning clearly, because he has a blanket over his head or is curled up towards the wall, they will wake him in order to ensure he is okay.

He is not allowed to have a pillow or sheets. However, he is given access to two blankets and has recently been given a new mattress that has a built-in pillow.

He is only allowed to have one book or one magazine at any given time to read in his cell.

Torture? Really? From all that I’ve read, and I spent a lot of time looking into it, I haven’t seen anything that constitutes torture. Matt Osborne at OsborneInk, about the only other person on the left who sees what bullshit this whole “nontroversy” really is, has this to say about it…

Like Bradley Manning, I have processed through a MEPS center and been inducted into the US Army. I had to get naked in the basement so a doctor could examine me for anything out of the ordinary. Was Bradley Manning being “tortured” then? Like Manning, I also went through Basic Training where I showered with lots of other naked men. Were we being tortured? We thought so at the time, but mostly because we were constantly being harassed into exercise by drill sergeants. Many of us had already been naked-showering with other guys since Junior High P.E.

Manning has allegedly been “tortured” by not being allowed exercise, but this charge turned out to be untrue as well. All of these charges have come through his attorney, David Coombs, and been amplified by the growing Greenwald-Hamsher chorus. The latest outrage: Bradley Manning is required to strip naked each night, which is exactly like waterboarding him. See how that works?

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.