Senate Intelligence Committee Report Reveals A Dark and Regrettable Time In American History
A dark and regrettable time in American history is finally seeing the light of day.
Notwithstanding warnings from some members of the intelligence community as well as former members of the Bush Administration, the Senate Intelligence Committee released its long anticipated unclassified report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of torture and other enhanced intelligence techniques during the Bush Administration:
WASHINGTON — A scathing report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday found that the Central Intelligence Agencyroutinely misled the White House and Congress about the information it obtained from the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, and that its methods were more brutal than the C.I.A. acknowledged either to Bush administration officials or to the public.
The long-delayed report, which took five years to produce and is based on more than six million internal agency documents, is a sweeping indictment of the C.I.A.’s operation and oversight of a program carried out by agency officials and contractors in secret prisons around the world in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It also provides a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects.
Detainees were deprived of sleep for as long as a week, and were sometimes told that they would be killed while in American custody. With the approval of the C.I.A.’s medical staff, some C.I.A. prisoners were subjected to medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” — a technique that the C.I.A.’s chief of interrogations described as a way to exert “total control over the detainee.” C.I.A. medical staff members described the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, as a “series of near drownings.”
The report also suggests that more prisoners were subjected to waterboarding than the three the C.I.A. has acknowledged in the past. The committee obtained a photograph of a waterboard surrounded by buckets of water at the prison in Afghanistan commonly known as the Salt Pit — a facility where the C.I.A. had claimed that waterboarding was never used. One clandestine officer described the prison as a “dungeon,” and another said that some prisoners there “literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled.”
During his administration, President George W. Bush repeatedly said that the detention and interrogation program, which President Obama dismantled when he succeeded him, was humane and legal. The intelligence gleaned during interrogations, he said, was instrumental both in thwarting terrorism plots and in capturing senior figures of Al Qaeda.
Mr. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and a number of former C.I.A. officials have said more recently that the program was essential for ultimately finding Osama bin Laden, who was killed by members of the Navy SEALs in May 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The Intelligence Committee’s report tries to refute each of these claims, using the C.I.A.’s internal records to present 20 case studies that bolster its conclusion that the most extreme interrogation methods played no role in disrupting terrorism plots, capturing terrorist leaders — even finding Bin Laden.
The report said that senior officials — including the former C.I.A. directors George J. Tenet, Porter J. Goss and Michael V. Hayden — repeatedly inflated the value of the program in secret briefings both at the White House and on Capitol Hill, and in public speeches.
As Ms. Feinstein was preparing to speak, the C.I.A. director, John O. Brennan, issued a response that both acknowledged mistakes in the detention and interrogation program and angrily challenged some of the findings of the Senate report as an “incomplete and selective picture of what occurred.”
“As an agency, we have learned from these mistakes, which is why my predecessors and I have implemented various remedial measures over the years to address institutional deficiencies,” Mr. Brennan said.
But despite the mistakes, he added, “the record does not support the study’s inference that the agency systematically and intentionally misled each of these audiences on the effectiveness of the program.”
The entire report is more than 6,000 pages long, but the committee voted in April to declassify only its 524-page executive summary and a rebuttal by Republican members of the committee. The investigation was conducted by staff members working for Democratic senators on the committee.
he New York Times and other news organizations received an advance copy of the report and agreed not to publish any of its findings until the Senate Intelligence Committee made them public. The Times did not receive an advance copy of the Republican rebuttal.
Many of the most extreme interrogation methods — including waterboarding — were authorized by Justice Department lawyers during the Bush administration. But the report also found evidence that a number of detainees had been subjected to other, unapproved methods while in C.I.A. custody.
The torture of prisoners at times was so extreme that some C.I.A. personnel tried to put a halt to the techniques, but were told by senior agency officials to continue the interrogation sessions.
The Senate report quotes a series of August 2002 cables from a C.I.A. facility in Thailand, where the agency’s first prisoner was held. Within days of the Justice Department’s approval to begin waterboarding the prisoner, Abu Zubaydah, the sessions became so extreme that some C.I.A. officers were “to the point of tears and choking up,” and several said they would elect to be transferred out of the facility if the brutal interrogations continued.
During one waterboarding session, Abu Zubaydah became “completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.” The interrogations lasted for weeks, and some C.I.A. officers began sending messages to the agency’s headquarters in Virginia questioning the utility — and the legality — of what they were doing. But such questions were rejected.
“Strongly urge that any speculative language as to the legality of given activities or, more precisely, judgment calls as to their legality vis-à-vis operational guidelines for this activity agreed upon and vetted at the most senior levels of the agency, be refrained from in written traffic (email or cable traffic),” wrote Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the head of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center.
“Such language is not helpful.”
The Senate report found that the detention and interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah and dozens of other prisoners were ineffective in giving the government “unique” intelligence information that the C.I.A. or other intelligence agencies could not get from other means.
The report also said that the C.I.A.’s leadership for years gave false information about the total number of prisoners held by the C.I.A., saying there had been 98 prisoners when C.I.A. records showed that 119 men had been held. In late 2008, according to one internal email, a C.I.A. official giving a briefing expressed concern about the discrepancy and was told by Mr. Hayden, then the agency’s director, “to keep the number at 98” and not to count any additional detainees.
The committee’s report concluded that of the 119 detainees, “at least 26 were wrongfully held.”
“These included an ‘intellectually challenged’ man whose C.I.A. detention was used solely as leverage to get a family member to provide information, two individuals who were intelligence sources for foreign liaison services and were former C.I.A. sources, and two individuals whom the C.I.A. assessed to be connected to Al Qaeda based solely on information fabricated by a C.I.A. detainee subjected to the C.I.A.’s enhanced interrogation techniques,” the report said.
There’s plenty of horrific detail set forth in the report in addition to the above, of course, much of it details that we already knew, some of it brand new to those outside the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a great deal of it horrifying to anyone with even the slightest sense of decency. The revelation that is both the most and in some sense the least surprising, though, is that intelligence officials appear to have deliberately kept President Bush ill-informed about exactly what its agents and contractors were doing in the name of the United States at the various secret holding sites around the world where these activities were conducted. Officials also kept Secretary of State Colin Powell completely in the dark about the program for fear that he would “blow his stack” if he knew the truth about what was going on. At first glance, of course, it should be shocking to anyone who believes in the concept of Constitutional government that the person theoretically responsible for authorizing the behavior in question should be deceived in this manner. After all, in the past members of the Bush Administration from the former President on down have justified the use of these techniques as something that was necessary for the security of the nation, something which has saved lives, and, allegedly, something which helped to extract information that was ultimately used to find Osama bin Laden and launch the raid that ended in his death at the hands of Seal Team Six. On the other hand, of course, there are reasons why it would be wise to keep the President only vaguely informed about the techniques used given the fact that there are clear concerns that the techniques themselves violated American and international law and that even being involved in authorizing them could expose not only the people involved in the interrogations but also people higher up the food chain to some form of legal liability either domestically or internationally, although after all this passage of time it seems unlikely that any such thing is going to happen. It’s the concept of deniability, one which we saw during the Iran/Contra scandal and at other points in history when the President was shielded from exactly what was going on in order to provide him with some level of political and legal shielding from the consequences of potentially illegal action.
Politically, the reaction to this has been about what you’d expect. Republicans, who are largely standing by the report signed off on by all but one of the Republican members of the Intelligence Committee, are contending that the primary purpose of the report was to embarrass the Bush Administration and the GOP as well as repeating the arguments raised before the report was released that doing so will endanger Americans around the world. Even some elements of the Administration were opposed to the timing of the release of the report, with Bloomberg reporting on Friday that Secretary of State Kerry was lobbying Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein to delay the release of the report, a request which was ultimately rejected. Once the report was released, though, the Obama Administration released a statement in which it stated that the report, in both its recitation of what was done by the CIA and rebutting the already flimsy claims that the enhanced techniques “worked” in some sense of the word, vindicated the President’s decision to end all such programs when he became President. Perhaps the best response to the report, though, came from Senator John McCain, who knows better than anyone else in the Senate what torture is all about, who took to the Senate floor after Feinstein and gave a passionate speech about the immorality of torture under all circumstances and the importance of bringing this information to light:
I’ve been critical of Senator McCain many times, but on this issue he deserves the thanks of a nation for being willing to speak the truth.
On balance, it strikes me that releasing the report was most certainly the right thing to do. For too long, the American people have been kept in the dark about this part of our recent history, and it seems to me that its far beyond the time at which the dirty laundry must be aired. Those who argue that releasing the report will put Americans at risk are clearly engaging in scare tactics and, ironically, are largely the same people who tell us that making the argument that terrorists strike at Americans and the West because of our policies are “blaming America” even when there is clear evidence that this so-called “blowback” is a real phenomenon, and one that is often used quite effectively to recruit new terrorists into groups like al Qaeda and its affiliates, ISIS, and other organizations intent on causing harm to the West. In any case, as I have long said, much of what it is in this report consists of things that have long been known or suspected about what was going on in the early years after the September 11th attacks in secret locations all over the world. Releasing this report now is unlikely to do anything but confirm things that people have already known or suspected. In addition to the importance of the truth seeing the light of day, there is also value of the people being held accountable, by the judgment of history if not the legal system, for actions that were clearly illegal and contrary to every principle of American law up until the early 21st Century when the President of the United States essentially signed off on legal findings that said that the CIA could engage in illegal action in the name of the “War On Terror.” Finally, the fact that the program was far more extensive than first believed, and that the details of that program were deliberately concealed from the people in charge is something that should shock the conscience of any American regardless of what political party they belong to. Sadly, in today’s hyperpartisan world, that is unlikely to happen.
In any case, feel free to judge for yourself, as I’ve linked all the relevant reports below:
- Senate Intelligence Committee Report
- Senate Intelligence Committee Minority Report
- Central Intelligence Agency Response to Senate Intelligence Committee Report.
After all, this was done in your name and mine. It’s time we knew the truth.
What have we learned:
1. It was all legal because a law professor said it was
2. If we say America is great over and over, we don’t have to do the hard work of actually being great
3. We have to be really careful what we say because we may make the terrorists mad
For those who say we shouldn’t pursue prosecution, a repeat from another thread.
You pardon Nixon, you get Reagan.
You refuse to indict Reagan, you get Bush II.
I wonder how bad the next guys are going to be now that we’re looking forward not backward on Bush II.
Oh look, Hannity’s going to have Jose Rodriguez on tonight to discuss the controversial Senate report on torture. Let’s ask the guy who destroyed the videotaped “enhanced interrogation sessions” about what he thinks about what he covered up!
God, I’m this sick from just reading about it. Imagine if we had Garner-esque video evidence of it.
1. This Overton window has been pushed well to the right now. If a “moderate” Republican like Nicole Wallace blows her stack and starts throwing around 3,000 killed and we did whatever was necessary to prevent “24” style, torture has become part of the instruments of state and will be part of the Republican platform with the proper euphemisms of “enhanced interrogation” and not “coddling terrorists” and criminals.
2. I note a lot of the language by the torture proponents is really about the idea of “punishment” and the torture was part of the “revenge” for 9/11, and then of course “revenge” for resisting “liberation” when we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and the natives were about has happy as the Lakota were when Custer came into the Black Hills in 1876. Punishment and terror for terror so to speak as we all sink back to Middle Ages. Cruz, Rubio, and Huckabee want to launch a general crusade against all Muslims. The Crusades started a series of wars that lasted from 1095 to 1272, so we have a couple hundred years of warfare to look forward to, with much mutual massacres and slaughters.
The reaction to this on much of the right is a good reminder that while I may always be conservative, I may never be a Republican again. The minority report really crosses me as weak. It quibbles on specifics, is long on rhetoric and even then has to admit to some wrongdoing.
Being black while walking with Skittles and tea, punishable by death.
Being black while jaywalking, punishable by death.
Being black while holding a toy gun, punishable by death.
Torture? Against all US and International law? “These are PATRIOTS! What are you THINKING???!?!?!”
Somebody, indeed a whole lot of somebodies, need to be headed to federal prison …
Mr. Kumbah Yah in the White House, in the name of comity and to achieve Reasonable Bipartisan Compromise, didn’t pursue this in 2009. That might have been the biggest mistake of his Presidency. He got no compromise and achieved no justice.
Maybe there is time for him to make amends, but it seems too little and too late. It’s what you get when you pursue peace first. It should have been justice first, then peace.
Today I learned that reporting on torture is worse than torture itself. Which makes sense, if you’re evil and stuff.
Here is Fox News host Andrea Tantaros’ reaction to the report:
“The United States of America is awesome. We are awesome, but we’ve had this discussion” about torture, Tantaros said. She lamented, “the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are;” rather, “this administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome.” This is because “they apologized for this country, they don’t like this country, they want us to look bad. And all this does is have our enemies laughing at us, that we are having this debate again.”
Brilliant. I’ll be sure to utilize the “I’m awesome” defense next time I’m accused of grossly violating human rights.
Stuck in traffic on the way home, I tuned to the talk radio station. “Weather and traffic on the tens.” (In case you were wondering…”Another slow drive in the metro area.”)
They had a “terror expert” on, who was basically a right wing hack, to talk about how the report is A) factually wrong, b) a politically motivated parting shot from a departing Democratic majority, and c) shouldn’t have been released for 50 years because it will just incite more terror attacks.
Like Hal_10000, I think this is extremely weak. It’s only going to get weaker as the days wear on.
There is so much here … earth-shaking really.
But what really strikes me is the ability of some to willingly endorse the most immoral acts in the name of partisan loyalty.
The depth and the breadth of the information is staggering. To pretend this is something done to embarrass the previous administration is laughable. To stand by lies and pretend the information is inaccurate is belittling to those doing so.
Kudos to Feinstein et al for accomplishing this monumental and important work.
Some people need to go to jail.
A detainee rendered to an unnamed country, then tortured into false testimony used by the Bush Administration to justify the claim Saddam Hussein supported al-Qaeda. Even made it into Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN security council!
Keep in mind that no matter how gruesome the report, it omits the stuff CIA and the State Department believed would really enrage people, things worse than breaking humans into bits and torturing to death.
It makes you wonder–had Iraq been a cakewalk, had there been WMDs and nukes and a way to forge a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda, what exactly would have come next for these people? Because they would not have stopped. And not only in Syria or Iran, but in America–annihilation of any safety net, forced conversion for gay people, Jesus St Jesus everywhere in peoples’ lives whether you want the sm freak bastard or not, the basic monitoring of every liberal that opposed the war, and the 24/7 assumption that anyone who did not approve of torture to be a traitor or worse.
It would have been like a third and fourth term for Richard Nixon.
Also, I wish people who gave us those complicated arguments that defended torture against liberal sensibilities would stop by to pull out some golden oldies, but with examples from the report.
“So you just have a guy and you want to f–k him up good, like real good, because he might or might not have random information about an attack or plot that no one has heard of. So you hang him from a wall for a week, stick a tube up his ass, waterboard him for a couple of days, and when he’s crying and screaming and begging to be saved you get him to give you four names, three of which you’ve never heard before. And then you do the same to them. And the same to the people that those four name. Are you willing to say that if your kids were sitting in a building in America for the next three years you would not set up a chain of dungeons designed to emulate the regime North Korea? Are you? Because I’m not. I’m not willing to take that risk.”
The mind boggles that anyone could seriously think that “But if we let people know what we’re really like, they’ll hate us even more” is somehow a defense.
In war do you kill a guy who’s trying to kill you? You do. Do you kill a guy who is getting ready to try and kill you? You do. Simple principle: It’s a war and that man means to kill you. It’s kill or be killed. It’s a savage enough principle, but necessary, or at least unavoidable, as sad as that may be.
But torture a man who is powerless to threaten you? On what principle? That’s not kill or be killed. It’s just brutality. It’s revenge. It’s sadism.
I can even understand the 20 year-old combat soldier who hasn’t slept in 48 hours and hasn’t eaten in 12, who sees his friend’s face blown away, and loses control and does something outside the range of acceptable warfare.
But this program wasn’t being run by scared 20 year-olds. This was run by cold-blooded old men sipping Scotch and trying out their best determined jaw look. They weren’t in danger to begin with. They weren’t being shot at. They had all the time in the world to conceive and plan this global torture network. They put months and years into it, going home to their kids at night after a day of designing an American torture squad.
American torturers. If that phrase doesn’t make you want to throw up then you’ve lost any shred of love for this country. These people smeared their scat all over our country. These people hurt us, and I don’t think it was for patriotism. I think they were getting off. I think they loved it.
I know all the reasons it shouldn’t be done or couldn’t be done, but simple justice cries out for prosecution. These men have done a very bad thing. No traitor has ever done more damage.
These are the people that want you to believe deposing democratically elected leaders in places where we have purely strategic interests and launching foreign wars of choice based on trash heap intel don’t induce blowback.
Apologies to our wonderful blog hosts, but fuck these people.
Well, apparently it’s ok because 9.11 scared the crap out of everyone. If you are scared, you can shitcan your principals and get a pass on it. At least on one end of the political spectrum you can.
The moral outrage about the torture is well founded. Too bad the commenters here are so full of shit you could take their heads off and dip it out, for selectively failing to observe – I’m sure it’s just an oversight ( snicker) – that Obama’s drone program is every bit as bad. I guess hiding, make that the inability, to show the people who have been blown to bits makes droning OK. Out of site, out of mind.
But then again, intellectual honesty is a rare event here.
How is killing someone with a drone different than killing them with any other munition? Drone, tomahawk, smart bomb – dead is dead.
Another stupid talking point that keeps coming up. One of the most basic concepts in the law and morality of war is that the rules which apply on the battlefield are fundamentally different than the rules which apply once a person is an unarmed, defenseless captive (and Michael just explained this, eloquently). Even children and conservatives should be able to grasp a concept so simple.
Also, thank you for this excellent example of the tu quoque fallacy.
it hasn’t escape my notice, and it shouldn’t have asked a few hours, that the very day the Democrats decided to release this report was the very day that Jonathan Gruber was supposed to testify before a congressional committee as regards to his lying about Obamacare to get the thing passed.
No one outside the nut-O-sphere gives a crap about Gruber.
Dropping bombs is the moral equivilant of torture?
Your ability to embrace the immoral in order to maintain your partisan loyalty is sweet.
What a moron.
Speaking of “intellectual honesty,” let’s just say that Obama’s drone program is worse.
In the best possible way.
Bush’s torture program was only able to kill terrorists accidentally.
Interesting report here on Obama’s handling of the torture issue:
I know I’m going to get downvotes on this, but I understand why Obama didn’t want to get into this at the start of his Presidency.
He was facing an economic sh!tstorm, he had important legislation he wanted to pass, and he campaigned on hope and change and peace and love. Still, the whole thing sticks in my craw.Could it have been done differently? How? I would welcome some ideas as to how.
Ha! So true.
Still you have to love it:
Gruber’s testimony > the torture report
What a joke.
Yes…his actions here don’t match his words. There are political calculations he’s making that pi$$ me off.
Still… Even now … Does anyone really think Cheney or Hayden are going to jail?
I’m glad this information is out there…but at the end of the day it is little beyond another data point the shows the incompetence of Republicans.
It is well known that there are more effective, harmless methods to pull information from these people. One method involves a type of dialogue, surroundings, and manipulation . This method can be seen in the movie “Argo” and some of the “Criminal Minds” episodes (I am thinking especially of the one where the terrorist is tricked into giving the location of the bombs he set). Another method involves using disguises, fake locations, and technology to create a simulation. This is best seen in the “Mission Impossible” tv shows and movies. The other method is the use of mind control, brain washing, and hypnotism. All of these methods have been proven to have high success rates (90% +), are safe, harmless, and reliable. They do require people who are experienced and well trained. The CIA, F.B.I., Scotland Yard, and MI 6 have people who use those methods.
I wonder what will be done with the remaining captives in Cuba. They should try those who they have enough evidence . The remainder should be released with the stipulation that they not join or have any connection to terrorist groups such as ISIS (of course), al quida, or the Muslim Brotherhood.
CBS news had a relevant story on the US interrogaters of Nazi officers after WWII and the effective methods they used. This tells in detail the methods that I have described. These methods are widely used and are the standard procedure in the military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies.
I had to think about this overnight.
I realized, I didn’t feel anything, all I did was shrug.
To answer your statement; the America I loved caught a cold in 1968 got really sick in 1980, went terminal in 2000 and has been flailing on her death bed since. All I’m hoping for now, is that in the future their can be an America for my son to love.
This may well a “dark and regrettable time in American history” – but also a policy that continues to enjoy support from the military-industrial complex, as well as “small government” conservatives. When people operate out of fear this is what you get.
Those are reasons, but not the main reason.
The main reason is no President will ever prosecute a predecessor. Ever. For anything. Doing so would limit his own options and diminish the power of the office, which no President would ever do.
There is no answer to your question because it would never have been done differently by any President.
Even if we accept, for the sake of argument that the timing of the report was, in any way, political, that doesn’t change the content of the report.
I have no problem if someone wants to call Gruber an arrogant ass, but the presence of an arrogant ass is hardly news in American politics. A detailed report on American torture, however, is more than a tad more significant.
You need two separate responses. I’ll do the easy one first.
Could not disagree with you more. If you have children or manage employees, the number one rule is consistency and the number two is consequences. If you don’t have those two, you will fail.
see my comment here for what happens without consequences. >>> Loviatar
While, answering these questions may seem to be more difficult, their really very simple. Also, the answer is not 20/20 hindsight, they were there from the beginning.
F#ck the neo-consevative party. There was never going to be any comity between a black man and the neo-consevative party. Nancy Pelosi provided the blueprint; ram through what you can while you have the power. Those on “your side” who refuse to fall into line hammer as hard as you do the neo-consevative party. To paraphrase a line from Bush II “you’re either with us, or you’re with the neo-consevative party”.
To expand on a statement I made in another thread “We need another Generals Grant and Sherman”.
We’re at war, we’ve been attacked by traitors and we need the political equivalent of Generals Grant and Sherman who understand this and are willing to use any means necessary to destroy this infestation of neo-consevatives.
Question for the Civil War buffs.
Which of Lincoln’s generals would you consider Obama’s equivalent?
– Frittered away his advantages while trying to negotiate with an enemy who does not see him as legitimate.
I’m trying to figure out how close we are to getting our political equivalent of Grant and Sherman
We’ve talked about the drone program many, MANY times here at OTB. But today, we are talking about torture.
I suppose we can compare and contrast the two policies, and I suppose your intentionally inflammatory remarks are a sort of introduction to such a discussion. But you could have just said the same thing without calling people names. So sorry, but you deserve to be ignored now.
@anjin-san: @C. Clavin: As one who is not categorically against the use of drones, Gaurneri has a valid criticism of the drone program as it presently exists:
CIA drones strikes in Pakistan have killed nearly 2,400 people since 2004. But despite US claims it just hits “confirmed terrorist targets,” only 84 of the victims have been named Al-Qaeda members, a report revealed.
Call it 2350… 2266 dead innocent civilians is definitely not good. We can compare the relative… “evils” of the 2 and one can reasonably say that the torture people is worse, but your casual dismissal of the facts pertaining to the drone attacks only reinforces the point he is making about liberals.
You might want to rethink the rhetoric, especially given the topic under conversation.
People who think liberals don’t care about the drone program have never heard of Glenn Greenwald.
@Guarneri: The drone war has been raised and criticized on this blog before.
I, for one, am not in favor of the drone war and have serious concerns about not only its efficacy,but also its morality.
However, the presence or lack of commentary on that subject really does not impact the ability of people to criticize the torture report. In other words: problems with the drone war does not, in any way, alleviate the problems with past torture.
(Of course, both policies are direct outgrowths of our out-sized fears of terrorism we have/had had in the US)
While I agree with you 100 per cent here:
1. Both Obama and a lot of the VSP Beltway people thought that indeed there was a possibility that Obama could forge deals with the Republicans. We now know that this was BS, but hey-Obama did believe it. Nancy Pelosi didn’t, and Harry Reid didn’t , but the idealistic young reformer from Chicago had the stars in his eyes.
2. You didn’t explain how Obama could have done his legislative program AND pursued the prosecutions at the same time.
3. Don’t you mean “Neo-Confederate, not Neo-Conservative? ;-).
I’m sorry…dropping a bomb on someone who is actively trying to harm US interests is not the same as a$$-raping someone with their hands tied above their heads.
I have problems with the drone program….but it a false equivalency.
@Steven L. Taylor:
No, I chose to use that terminology here for a specific reason; the one which you identified, the fear that the term “any means necessary” engenders. I want the neo-conservative party supporters to have that fear. Specifically, I want them to have it in a thread where we are discussing the horrors of what was done to others under the “any means necessary” standard that they’ve set forth. Someone calling for “any means necessary” to be used against them may make them hesitate the next time. It won’t for the majority, but maybe a few will have second thoughts.
When words fail, sometimes it requires a hammer to penetrate the mind.
In my minds eye, they’ve become interchangeable and I didn’t even see the difference.
Oh wow. LOL
@Loviatar: this is an odd rhetorical choice to make in the context of a criticism of torture.
@C. Clavin: thtat logic follows only if one assumes that only bad guys are getting bombed.
Those stats are exaggerated. They seem to deliberately exclude Taliban and refer only to Al Qaeda, and then only to proven Al Qaeda. But that’s a quibble.
I don’t think anyone thinks it’s a good thing when innocent people die in war. But innocent people always do. There were an insignificant number of enemy soldiers hit in most bombing raids in WW2. There were somewhat more vital industrial workers and facilities, but by the time we got around to firebombing Dresden and Tokyo we were just trying to terrorize the enemy into surrendering. The 60-80,000 dead in Hiroshima were civilians, non-combatants, innocents.
Since then we have spent tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars learning to make weapons more precise. Compared to a bunch of B-24’s our air attacks today are amazingly precise, even accepting the numbers you cite.
If you believe it is necessary to stop Al Qaeda from pulling another 9-11, and I assume you do, then it becomes a question of means and methods. We have chosen to do our killing “over there” because it minimizes the risk to our people “over here.” It’s not a war we started. It’s a war they could end tomorrow, but that we cannot end. It only takes one side to keep a war going.
So what’s the moral line here? If we take the position that we must never under any circumstances kill an innocent person, even in war, we essentially surrender. If we take that principled pacifist stand we’ve announced that our people, our country and our allies are available for plunder or destruction. This is incentivizing the worst in humanity. It rewards the savage and in short order civilization itself will be obliterated.
If on the other hand our position is that we will continue to try and destroy those who would destroy us, we inevitably kill innocent people in the process. Zoom out and you see that this is a binary choice: die or kill. As I said above, no sane person likes this choice, but there it is, just the same.
There is no die or torture. Torture has long been discredited as a way to obtain live-saving information. And cold-bloodedly torturing those already in your power takes the savagery another step, a step beyond what is necessary and beyond what is tolerable within the admittedly stretched boundaries of morality. There’s nothing unavoidable about torture, it’s quite easily avoidable. We’ve been avoiding it for six years.
War is like a chronic disease of human beings. At times in history – and this is one of those times – we’ve tried to find ways to restrain war and minimize the damage. Drone warfare is precisely about limiting the damage. We don’t want to lose pilots, and we don’t want to waste ordnance. We want to kill just the people we need to kill and avoid killing anyone else.
We should work ceaselessly to improve intel and targeting. And we should work ceaselessly to improve the precision of our weapons. None of that is a disconnect morally from a repugnance for torture, in fact, it’s very much of a piece. To carry the disease analogy forward, if war is a human disease, we are trying at great expense to find ways to treat it without doing more harm than good. A thousand years ago we’d have pulled a Scipio or a Genghis and tried to kill every last person in Afghanistan. 80 years ago we’d have bombed indiscriminately. Now we bomb with discrimination. It’s not a church picnic, but it’s an improvement.
Torture, by contrast, is a reversal of direction. It’s doubling down on the savagery of war. It is violence without purpose, without a counterbalancing positive, without the argument of necessity.
As I said, it’s not 20/20 hindsight to say we knew what the game plan needed to be we just didn’t execute. That’s why I asked the followup question.
Pass what you can (all of his significant legislation was passed by the 2010 midterms), then start the investigations. Turn to the American people and ask for Republicans to sit on the panels and then let the chips fall. Obama was never going to get support from the neo-confederate party, so why worry about their feelings.
Unfortunately, a large portion of the democratic party has bought into the comity argument, even you with the way you’ve framed your questions. The traitors haven’t, the neo-confederate party see you as their enemy, someone to be destroyed, there is no comity between enemies. There is the victor and the defeated.
Unless its their blood or those they love on the wall, “any means necessary” isn’t really a concept people grasp. It’s very easy to be cold-blooded and dismissive when it’s a faceless “terrorist” – it is dishearteningly simple for a soul to come up with justification for the things they do to someone they can’t see. Empathy is not something we value as a culture or promote as a society.
Actually, I think we should. Show people what it truly means. You won’t get them all (hell you won’t get as many as you think you should) but visceral video might be what America needs to be reminded we’ve allowed this tumor to grow in our heart for too long. At the very least, it will confirm once and for all who’s soul is so blackened they can watch that and still defend it.
@Steven L. Taylor:
No, its an absolutely sane choice. This is the place for it.
The neo-confederates party supporters who are here Defending Torture should have a brief moment of introspection where they consider what the term “any means necessary” may lead to when used against them. And to have it in a thread where torture is discussed, is in my humble opinion, sheer brilliance.
In all of this, there is the over riding issue of these secret government documents, how they are released, when, and how much is released, and who decides all of this. We understand the need to protect the identities of individuals, their covers, and to keep secret military strategies and operations. But the government has classified documents going back to the 1800’s (Booth conspiracy). Why? How about the warehouses of documents that are stored at an air force base, dating from the early ’50’s, documents that are off limits to even the president, ? Are they still a security issue ? How? Just what is it that they do not want the people to know and why? The files on Lee H. Oswald ? How about all of these classified documents, Mrs. Finstein? What about these shadow agencies that exist, without the knowledge of the president, and congress? How about the use of private companies in all of this?
See this:(they can’t very well hide this)
@Steven L. Taylor:
There are almost always collateral damages in war…and we should do all we can to minimize them. Certainly innocent people died in our march across the continent in 1944. Should we have not had D-Day? Whether you like them or not…the fact remains that the drone attacks have eliminated important targets.
Torture is always immoral. Period. It is beneath us. (Apparently only most of us.)
I just do not see the equivalency.
Let’s not forget that “rendition” was authorized by a presidential directive signed by President Clinton in 1995. Can’t wait to see Hillary and the Left disavow that.
You know, if guys like you had an ounce of honesty, or education in the actual issues, you’d understand that Mr. Obama has spent the last six years trying to avoid having George W. Bush and Dick Cheney indicted for crimes against humanity. Obama’s been defending the CIA, trying to avoid, bowdlerize and quash the intelligence committee report, because he knows – as you don’t – that the United States has specific treaty obligations that require us to turn over to the Hague anyone in our country who has committed torture.
This is from the Geneva Convention:
There is no “American exemption.” There is no, “They started it.” There is no, “But it works!”
We are required under treaties we signed, to arrest and turn over anyone guilty of violating that treaty. Period. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney clearly, unmistakably, ordered Americans to commit torture. They are clearly, unambiguously, guilty of crimes against humanity.
So what’s on the line here is not mere partisanship. Mr. Obama is struggling to avoid a situation where Dick Cheney has an international warrant out for his arrest and the US has to shield a war criminal, which pretty much blows to hell 100% of our credibility in international law and in human rights. It puts us on the same moral footing as Hafez Assad or Saddam Hussein or Al-Baghdadi.
Why would Hillary disavow it? She’s a hawk. You need to update your notions, bud.
What we now know is that WE ARE on the same moral footing as those guys.
I know of no way to conduct combat operations without civilian casualties. Are you advocating a policy of no combat ops against terrorists?
@OzarkHillbilly: Really? what we have learned is to paraphrase gruber …… t the public who believes this garbage is stupid
martin was a thug and so was brown .. deal with the truth
@michael reynolds: Yet, CIA director Brennan says the operations saved lives and Obama wants him to stay. So, all that you are left with is a partisan report supported by partisans.
I’m not advocating torture, just arguing against the release of the report. This report will result in deaths of Americans and their allies, just like the Snowden, NASA and the Assange leaks. I think national security trumps telling everything the government does. Sure, it is a fine line, but releasing the report was not done in the name of either instance. It’s partisan politics at it’s dirtiest.
The report only outlines torture. The original sin is the torture. You are not only advocating for torture, but you are advocating for covering it up once the sin has been committed.
The Director of the CIA is saying the CIA is right? I am shocked, shocked.
Why? Please be specific.
One week you are screaming about the rule of law…the next you are screaming for a cover-up.
You can probably get professional help for your schizophrenia. Obamacare will likely cover it..
From Daniel Drezner:
I’m sure that Rogers and Hayden are smart men, and I’m also sure that current intelligence officials have been making the same claims anonymously to reporters. But to suggest that this Senate report will really tip the scales when it comes to the United States’ enemies rallying support, you have to believe that the following exchange is happening somewhere in the Middle East:
ABDUL: Ahmed, why won’t you come with me to attack the infidels? You are not outraged that the United States has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and caused so much suffering in two Muslim countries?
AHMED: It’s not enough for me to take up arms.
ABDUL: You are not outraged that in the past three years the great Zionist oppressor has waged air campaigns against two Arab countries — Syria and Libya — and accomplished little but to extend the suffering of our Muslim brothers and sisters?
AHMED: It’s not enough for me to take up arms…
ABDUL: You are not outraged about all the stories of infidels torturing our Muslim brothers in Abu Ghraib, in Bagram, in Guantanamo Bay? The stories about infidel soldiers desecrating the Koran?
AHMED: It’s not enough for me to take up arms.
ABDUL: You are not outraged by the just-released Senate report about CIA torture?
AHMED: Wait, did you say ‘Senate report’? Okay, I will take up arms now…
@C. Clavin: Several CIA chiefs and their deputies say it will cost lives. You looked past my comment that there is a fine line between the public’s right to know and national security. But then, whenever did you care about the nation’s interest ?
@Rafer Janders: Yet you blindly followed the Administration’s line that Benghazi was caused by a low budget indie film critical of Mohammed.
P.S. Keep your day job, you’re a lousy scriptwriter.
Because there is no way the CIA leadership is simply engaged in the old game of CYA.
Conservatives never cease to amaze me. They utterly distrust government, yet they want the government to have the power to execute and torture.
The National Interest was blown to bits the minute we first tortured. If you remember Republicans were apoplectic and demanded that poor Lynddie England punished to the fullest extent possible, claiming all along that she was just a bad apple. Now y’all want to cover it up because it’s your leadership who was in charge of the torturing. Covering up an immoral act IS NOT in the Nations interest. Although it certainly is in the interest of Republicans who have proven themselves incompetent, both in protecting us, and then bringing those who harmed us to justice. Which explains your partisan position of defending and advocating the torture of other human beings.
You’re back to Benghazi.
Obama et al blamed the video because the video was to blame. Link. The liar is you.
What a good little statist you are. You think it’s better for citizens to not know what our government is doing.
See, a government that tries to enforce court orders against a scofflaw rancher is a government that is too powerful and a threat to liberty. True patriots must defend Cliven Bundy’s right to be a freeloader. Likewise for the right to not photograph a gay wedding, and the right to not pay for health insurance that covers contraception. Stand up for freedom from government tyranny! On the other hand, a government with the power to torture (and then cover it up) is not too powerful and not a threat to liberty.
‘Conservative’ rhetoric has so many contradictions that even the contradictions have contradictions.
Speaking of which…Lynndie England should be exonerated, given an honorable discharge, and paid handsomely for the time she spent in prison in the place of Dick Cheney.
Actually, that is the conclusion the CIA reached. Did you not just quote the CIA as a reliable source of information that you trust?
Well if you can’t believe the CIA, who can you believe???
The merits of that script aside, you realize it’s a quote, right? That I didn’t write it?
perhaps you haven’t heard, or else are ignoring this report….
@Eric Florack: @John425:
So, we’ll put you down for “OK for government to kill unarmed black males,” and “OK for government to torture and then lie about it.”
I always said that beneath the small government b.s. in the Tea Party GOP base beats the hearts of fascists.
@michael reynolds: “Heart” might be too kind a word.
@Loviatar: I would go with General Ambrose Burnside.
@michael reynolds: And the liberal heart beats to the tunes of pedophilia, totalitarianism, atheism and the brute force of Maoism. Who is your political hero? Genghis Khan?
@John425: That’s it?
You’ve spent the better part of the afternoon supporting torture and covering it up. This, after months and months of complaining that Obama doesn’t follow the rule of law.
And the best you can do is to label half the political spectrum as pedophiles???
Good for you.
Look how nasty you are. This is the person you set out to be?
@Loviatar: you impeach clinton and get obama……
but seriously, if 1 American life was saved or terrorist attack averted by faux drowning some sheethead then i’m just fine with that.
So knowing that countless brave men have faced death in battle to preserve America’s ideals, your position is “F**k yea, let’s torture. There is a tiny possibility it will keep me safe”?
Well there are real men, and there are cowards. I think we all see what side of the line you come down on. The side that would rather live crawling away from our ideals than possibly die standing for them.
Of course you’re okay with it bill. Never doubted you’d be on the side of torture.
@michael reynolds: You throw around filthy claims and invective and so I served notice that 2 can play the game.
Dude…in a game of wits… You are unarmed.
@John425: Maybe you should continue to wait for the “woman” to explain things to you…I don’t think you get it on your own,