The Amorality Of Dick Cheney And The Right In Response To The Truth About C.I.A. Torture

Vice-President Cheney's amoral defense of torture has come to define how most conservatives view the issue, and that's a problem.

Dick Cheney

Yesterday, former Vice-President Dick Cheney appeared on Meet The Press in what was described as an “exclusive” interview regarding the release last week of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s Bush-era torture regime. By the time the interview was over, one had to wonder what the point of the interview was because, as he had in the past, Cheney expressed no regrets at all for what the Central Intelligence Agency had done in the wake of the September 11th attacks, with the approval of the Bush Administration, nor was he willing to admit that the Administration he was a part of might have gotten anything wrong:

As vice president, Dick Cheney was the most enthusiastic sponsor for the brutal C.I.A. interrogation program used on Al Qaeda suspects, protesting when President George W. Bush scaled it back in his second term. Now that a Senate Intelligence Committee report has declared that the C.I.A.’s methods, later prohibited, violated American values and produced little or no useful intelligence, Mr. Cheney is fiercely defending not just the agency’s record, but his own as well.

“I would do it again in a minute,” Mr. Cheney said in a spirited, emotional appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He denied that waterboarding and related interrogation tactics were torture, noting that three of the last four attorneys general have agreed with his view.

“Torture is what the Al Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11,” Mr. Cheney said in his latest interview defending the C.I.A. program. “There is no comparison between that and what we did with respect to enhanced interrogation.”

The NBC host, Chuck Todd, pressed Mr. Cheney on what might constitute torture, reading actual episodes from the Senate report: Holding a prisoner in a coffin-sized box for 11 days? Handcuffing a prisoner’s wrists to an overhead bar for 22 hours a day? But Mr. Cheney gave no ground.

“I can’t tell from that specifically whether it was or not,” he replied.

He even declined to criticize C.I.A. practices used on prisoners called “rectal feeding” and “rectal rehydration,” though he noted that “it was not one of the techniques approved” by the Justice Department. “I believe it was done for medical reasons,” he said. The Senate report suggests that it was largely used without medical orders to punish prisoners who refused water or food.

In a sense, Mr. Cheney is continuing a fight that began inside the Bush administration, defending his own role in the first Bush term against the retreat from the most aggressive methods in the second term.

At 73, nearly three years after a heart transplant, Mr. Cheney clearly feels his own legacy is at stake.

In the early months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President Bush delegated the detailed oversight of the campaign against Al Qaeda to his vice president, who embraced the task and urged the harshest measures. Mr. Cheney had long believed that restrictions placed on the intelligence agencies after scandals in the late 1970s were ill-advised, and he relished the chance to take the restraints off the C.I.A.

Mr. Cheney may be running some political risk. For some viewers, his gloves-off comments on “Meet the Press” may recall his many appearances being interviewed on Sunday morning television shows in late 2002 and early 2003 before the invasion of Iraq.

At that time, he repeatedly asserted that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda, claims that turned out to be false. He also made a famously inaccurate prediction on the same show, “Meet the Press,” on March 16, 2003, that American troops would be “greeted as liberators.”

Continue reading the main story
But that experience has not deterred him. In the wake of the Senate report, he has only stepped up his defense of the C.I.A., deciding that the best defense is a relentless offense.

Mr. Cheney was also asked on Sunday to answer questions about detainees who had faced lengthy incarceration, and sometimes harsh treatment, even though the C.I.A. concluded they posed no terrorist threat or had been imprisoned by mistake. The Senate report counts at least 26 such “wrongfully detained” prisoners among the 119 detainees who passed through the C.I.A. secret overseas jails.

The former vice president responded that, in his mind, the greater problem was “with the folks that we did release that end up back on the battlefield.”

Asked again whether he was satisfied with a program that erroneously locked up detainees, he replied, “I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective.”

A report published in The New York Times late last week estimated that as many as 26 people who were held in C.I.A. custody, both at the prison at Guantanamo Bay and at one of the several C.I.A. “black sites” located around the world in nations ranging from Egypt to Poland were in fact held in error and that a large number of those were subjected to at least some form of the “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a fact for which Andrew Sullivan labels the former Vice-President a sociopath:

What I take from these statements is that the torture program was, for Cheney, partly an amateur thug’s idea of how you get intelligence, but partly also simply a means of revenge. Yes: revenge. This was a torture program set up in order to vent rage and inflict revenge. It was torture designed to be as brutal to terror suspects as 19 men on 9/11 were to Americans. Tit-for-tat. Our torture in return for their torture; their innocent victims in return for ours. It was a program that has no place in a civilized society.

He was then asked about the 26 people whom the CIA admits were tortured by mistake. One of them was even frozen to death. A sane and rational and decent human being, who presided over the program that did this, might say: “The decision to torture was an extremely agonizing one, but I still believe defensible. But of course the torture of innocent people is horrifying. I deeply regret the chaos and amateurism of the program in its early phases.”

So what did Cheney actually say? When confronted with the instance of Rahman Gul, the individual tortured to death, Todd asked what the US owed these torture victims. Cheney actually said this:

 

The problem I have is with all the folks we did release who ended up on the battlefield … I have no problem [with torturing innocent people] as long as we achieved our objective.

It doesn’t get any clearer than that. The man is a sociopath. He is a disgrace to his country. And he needs to be brought to justice.

Conor Friedersdorf, meanwhile, goes into much further detail in his criticism of Cheney and what he correctly sees as Cheney’s insidious moral relativism:

Once 9/11 happened, Dick Cheney ceased to believe that the CIA should be subject to the U.S. Constitution, statutes passed by Congress, international treaties, or moral prohibitions against torture. Those standards would be cast aside. In their place, moral relativism would reign. Any action undertaken by the United States would be subject to this test: Is it morally equivalent to what al-Qaeda did on 9/11? Is it as bad as murdering roughly 3,000 innocent people? If not, then no one should criticize it, let alone investigate, charge and prosecute the CIA. Did a prisoner freeze to death? Were others anally raped? Well, what if they were?

If it cannot be compared with 9/11, if it is not morally equivalent, then it should not be verboten.

That is the moral standard Cheney is unabashedly invoking on national television. He doesn’t want the United States to honor norms against torture. He doesn’t want us to abide by the Ten Commandments, or to live up to the values in the Declaration of Independence, or to be restrained by the text of the Constitution. Instead, Cheney would have us take al-Qaeda as our moral and legal measuring stick. Did America torture dozens of innocents? So what. 9/11 was worse.

Now that Cheney is stating all this explicitly it must be rejected as moral madness. Torture was the ticking time bomb. It exploded. And a city on a hill was destroyed.

It’s not surprising, of course, that Sullivan and Friedersdorf would be this critical of the former Vice-President’s defense of the C.I.A.’s torture program given that it mirrors what they and others have been saying about the Bush era for years now. Notwithstanding that fact, though, the points that they raise are absolutely correct. Cheney’s defense of the torture regime even to the point of defending the torture of people known later to be innocent reveals a man who is so obsessed with defending a record that he had a prominent role in creating that he has completely lost whatever moral compass he may have had in the past. Of all the former members that have spoken publicly since the report was released, as well as in the years since President Bush left office, it is Cheney alone who has stood out as the person who insists not only that the techniques that the C.I.A. was using in an effort to obtain information from known terrorists necessary under the circumstances, he argues that they were some kind of moral good that ought to be celebrated. Even John Yoo, who authored the legal briefs upon which President Bush based his decision to authorize the C.I.A. to engage in so-called “EIT’s” as the legal memorandums were always careful to call what ended up amounting to torture, has said in recent days that many of the techniques outlined in the Senate Committee Report appear to have crossed the line beyond what he had in mind when he analyzed the issue for the President, or what the President intended when he signed off on the program. President Bush himself has not commented on the report, but his past comments on C.I.A. program and his decision to authorize it have always at least given the sense that he realized the moral implications of his decisions, of course the fact that the President was apparently kept in the dark about the details of the program for years makes it hard to judge exactly what he thought about it while it was going on.

Cheney, though, has no moral regrets about the program, and to a large degree it is Cheney’s amorality that has come to embody what the right believes about the torture program. Watch a few minutes of coverage of this story on Fox News, listen to talk radio, or read many of the sites in the conservative blogosphere, each of which I’ve done to some extent in the week since the report came out in an effort to get some understanding of what conservatives, who claim to be guided by the morality of Jesus of Nazareth, think about what was done in the name of the United States of America, and you’ll find the same amorality that Cheney displays in this interview. The ends justify the means, they will tell you, because the nation was at risk after September 11th, and evidence that these techniques didn’t actually result in any actionable intelligence will be dismissed and ignored. Others will bring up the inevitable “ticking time bomb” scenario where someone would be subjected to such techniques to gain information about a terror attack known to be imminent or underway, even though there is no evidence of any such scenario unfolding at any point in the thirteen years since the September 11th attacks. Point out that torture is a violation of human rights, domestic law, and international treaties to which the United States is a signatory and the response will typically be that such concerns should not apply when we’re trying to “protect the homeland,” while others will blithely say that terrorists in particular, or even Muslims in general, don’t have rights under the U.S. Constitution because they are allegedly seeking to destroy the West. Look for any sense of regret about what was done, and instead you’ll often find what you see in the former Vice-President, not only a refusal to acknowledge that there could have possibly been anything wrong with waterboarding, forcing people to stand naked in a room for hours on end, or “feeding” them rectally, but some sense of pride that it was done at all. For a movement that claims to place morality and religious faith at the center of its philosophy, it’s a striking and, quite honestly, repulsive thing to see. Perhaps the best thing about the fact that this report has become public, finally, is that it is bringing the existence of such amorality to light. The question is why anyone would give people who hold such views political power ever again.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, Law and the Courts, Military Affairs, National Security, Politicians, Terrorism, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Hazelrah says:

    Will torture be enough to get James or Doug to stop voting republican? I think the sad, sad answer is no.




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  2. @Hazelrah:

    Not every Republican endorses torture,

    And, who I vote for, if I vote, isn’t really relevant to this issue.




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  3. stonetools says:

    There’s really one way to stop people torturing in the future, like there is only one way to stop police brutality. And that’s criminal prosecution.

    Over to you, Obama and Holder.




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  4. C. Clavin says:

    Well put, and thank you.
    One…Todd did an admirable job in an interview that was never going to get anywhere….better than I think Gregory ever would have.
    Two…It’s apparent from the talking points that these guys really have nothing. They aren’t using facts to repudiate claims…they are using emotions. The Congressional Report is “a crock”…but we are offered no facts to support that view. What facts are given are lies…there is in fact no medical justification for a$$-rape. And, apparently, 9.11 justifies any possible action done in response…which is a pretty sketchy moral equivalency.
    Let’s review the record, shall we? 9.11 happened on Cheney’s watch. He tortured people. He then invaded the wrong country.
    Please tell me why anyone would listen to this man, or his daughter, ever again?




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  5. Moosebreath says:

    “The ends justify the means, they will tell you, because the nation was at risk after September 11th, and evidence that these techniques didn’t actually result in any actionable intelligence will be dismissed and ignored.”

    And yet, they will also tell you that it’s liberals who are moral relativists.

    Good post, Doug.




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  6. Tillman says:

    The question is why anyone would give people who hold such views political power ever again.

    Because torture has become a partisan issue. Republicans have claimed the national security mantle for some time, and nowadays you have to be willing to torture possibly-innocent people to keep that mantle.

    It’s not like a lot of the mess of the Bush years was backed up by logic. Emotional appeal to 9/11 justified a lot of crap that went on then.




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  7. Tillman says:

    I reflect on how we have a [popularly-portrayed] doofus for a VP now, and how everyone makes fun of ol’ Joe Biden. Then I think, “Well, at least he isn’t that sociopath Dick Cheney.”

    That Dick Cheney was a nefarious ne’er-do-well in our government back then was always cast as a leftist defamation of his character. Boy, how times change.




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  8. Rafer Janders says:

    For a movement that claims to place morality and religious faith at the center of its philosophy, it’s a striking and, quite honestly, repulsive thing to see.

    The key word there is “claims.”

    In other news, the German Democratic Republic was neither democratic nor a republic….




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  9. Rafer Janders says:

    @stonetools:

    There’s really one way to stop people torturing in the future, like there is only one way to stop police brutality. And that’s criminal prosecutionThere’s really one way to stop people torturing in the future, like there is only one way to stop police brutality. And that’s criminal prosecution

    What?!?! But that’s criminalizing war crimes!




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  10. KM says:

    @Tillman:

    Emotional appeal to 9/11 justified a lot of crap that went on then.

    Oh, still does. Only they don’t say “9/11” specifically (the words themselves are played out and parodied), they just say “terrorist” or “never again” or a dozen different ways to allude to it. They’ve never stopped using the same justification – they’ve just changed their vocabulary a little. All they really have is emotional appeal at this point.




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  11. DrDaveT says:

    [Three different comments reconsidered, then deleted. I am still far, far too angry about this.]




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  12. DC Loser says:

    Obama should just pardon both Bush and Cheney, even if they don’t ask for one. Let the world know they are criminals. Put this behind us and vow never to repeat it.




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  13. Jack says:

    I have no problem [with torturing innocent people] as long as we achieved our objective.

    This sounds just like today’s law enforcement leadership at all levels. “I have no problem [with shooting/tazing/clubbing/beating innocent people] as long as my officers get home after their shift.”




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  14. I think a search-and-replace for “amoral” to “immoral” is warranted in the post.




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  15. DeborahG says:

    here’s my question to all you liberal weenie squeemish whiners. Imagine your child, your husband Mother,sister getting airline fuel doused on them then set on fire.Then imagine having such fear you throw yourself off 105 stories to your death. Imagine 12,000children without their parent forever with the vision of the horror on TV implanted in your mind forever. What would you do?

    Then imagine the fast thinking,systems set up in virtually hours to protect us , three vicious bastards got stressed? Too F-ing bad. These are NOT people who honor rules of engagement or the Geneva coinvention. EVIL pure EVIL savages that understand NOTHING except IF their foe is stronger than they are. Me personally? I don’t think it went far enough. ALL the captured terrorists should be treated very harshly. Let the world know they will be. We need a MAN like BUSH,Cheney,Rumsfeld. Not some pansy 1/2 gay weenie who wantds to sit in his office and opine on who we are. he ISN”T who we are in fact the Democrats are not who they were. We have a very weak Socialist administration that would rather divide us than unite us. In a owrd I have no respect for you or him. Disgraceful BTw? My husband was a first responder ask him if it was “mean” AND? No rectal feeding as torture. They went on a hunger strike. Ask any REAl doctor how you get food and fluids into hunger strike patients. Sick people you libs




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  16. C. Clavin says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    From the folks at Wikipedia:

    If morality is intrinsic to humanity, then amoral human beings either do not exist or are only deficiently human.

    C’mon…the guy shot a fellow hunter in the face and chest…causing the fellow minor heart event…and as far as I can tell never apologized.
    Deficiently human.




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  17. C. Clavin says:

    @DeborahG:

    These are NOT people who honor rules of engagement or the Geneva coinvention.

    No…they aren’t. We are.
    Ronald Reagan on the treaty we signed that says we don’t torture:

    The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

    More from you:

    We have a very weak Socialist administration that would rather divide us than unite us.

    Now I see…you are supporting torture for purely partisan reasons. Do you support Reagan or Cheney? It cannot be both.

    Sick people you libs

    Says the woman in favor of a$$-rape.




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  18. Liberal Capitalist says:

    So… Here is the dilemma:

    It’s ONE THING for the USA to come out with a report like this… and even though I am one who has been vocally opposed from Day 1 of the Iraq invasion, and vocal as well about our role in the war re: torture (even to the point of saying that we should NOT “support our troops” in these actions)… If those who were in a position of power admitted their mistake and been regretful for the actions taken on the part of the American Public… I could have understood a presidential pardon, putting this behind us.

    I would be personally disappointed, but I would understand.

    But it’s ENTIRELY ANOTHER THING for those in power to continue to deny the specifics of the report, and insist that we would do it again.

    As a person who has at one time (or another) stood in from of Judges, they generally take a very poor view of a person that is not in some way remorseful.

    So, in this case, it’s the American Public as well as the International signatory of the UN Treaty against torture (that does include US) that stand in judgment.

    I would say that the Loyal 28% (that would vote for a Republican no matter what) will defend Cheney to the last breath.

    But the remaining Republicans that make up the 22% of the conservative voting block will not stand with them. And I would venture to say that well over 50% of the Dems would not support the role of the Bush / Cheney team as “Team Torture”.

    So here we are: Cheney flaunting his statements, standing on his platform of legality based on review of the program (under their administration, of course).

    This is not the first time that Cheney stated that he would do it again… it has been his position all along.

    We have no choice but for the FBI (our Domestic Law Enforcement organization) to act and arrest those involved, both in the former administration, and the CIA.

    If we do not, then we lose legitimacy globally.




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  19. Rafer Janders says:

    @DeborahG:

    AND? No rectal feeding as torture. They went on a hunger strike. Ask any REAl doctor how you get food and fluids into hunger strike patients.

    More in my continuing series “Ask a REAL Doctor!”:

    For all practical purposes, it’s never used,” Thomas Burke, a Harvard Medical School professor and emergency physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, said in an interview. “No one in the United States is hydrating anybody through their rectum. Nobody is feeding anybody through their rectum. . . . That’s not a normal practice.” He added that he had polled more than a half-dozen colleagues with decades of clinical experience and that none had ever employed it.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/senate-report-uncooperative-terrorism-suspects-faced-rectal-rehydration-feeding/2014/12/09/fcffb1ec-7fb8-11e4-8882-03cf08410beb_story.html




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  20. Rafer Janders says:

    @DeborahG:

    Ask any REAl doctor how you get food and fluids into hunger strike patients.

    More in “Ask a REAL Doctor!”:

    “To some degree it’s a higher-resolution view,” Steven Miles, professor of bioethics at the University of Minnesota Medical School, said of the Senate report. “Things including the withholding of care are much more graphically displayed.” The CIA use of techniques such as “rectal feeding” were previously unknown, said Miles, who also serves on the board of the Center for Victims of Torture. “There is no such thing as rectal feeding. It can’t physiologically be done; the colon does not have a lining on it that can absorb nutrients. . . . This thing is not any kind of medical procedure, it’s purely an instrument of causing extreme pain.”




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  21. Neil Hudelson says:

    @DeborahG:

    Imagine your child, your husband Mother,sister getting airline fuel doused on them then set on fire.Then imagine having such fear you throw yourself off 105 stories to your death. Imagine 12,000children without their parent forever with the vision of the horror on TV implanted in your mind forever. What would you do?

    You do understand that 9/11 didn’t just happen on your TV set, right?

    Some of us decided we didn’t want to be like the monsters who would commit such an act.

    Others–like you–decided being just as despicable is OK.

    It’s fine that you made that choice. It’s just sad that the people we elected were just as immoral and reactionary as you are.

    Fortunately we have better leadership now (at least in the executive), and even your party has some leaders (Paul) who are taking a stand against monsters who are OK with torturing innocent people.

    Maybe it’s because of my strong Christian upbringing, maybe it’s because of my loving parents–whatever the reason, I’m just glad I turned out better than you and can distinguish right from wrong.




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  22. @C. Clavin: I understand the point. However, going to the dictionary, Websters has this for “immoral”:

    conflicting with generally or traditionally held moral principles

    And lists the following synonyms:

    black, dark, evil, bad, iniquitous, nefarious, rotten, sinful, unethical, unlawful, unrighteous, unsavory, vicious, vile, villainous, wicked, wrong

    I think this describes Cheney’s actions and views. “Amoral” lets him off the hook.




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  23. michael reynolds says:

    I’ve been commenting here at OTB for years, and over the course of years I’ve been told that I was too quick to play, ‘the race card,’ and too quick to assume that people to my right are not just wrong or mistaken, but in many cases, evil. I’ve used the word “fascist” at times.

    I note that my view on the GOP and race is increasingly the consensus view, and my view that there is something not just ‘mistaken’ but dangerous and sick at the heart of the GOP is on its way to being the consensus view now as well.

    Policy papers are not the only way to understand politicians. You have to look at character. And votes are not the only way to understand a constituency. There, too, you need to look at elements of character, at motivation, and you have to listen as hard to what isn’t said as what is.

    The Republican party is not conservative, it is radical, it is extremist. Its motives are not just to make the rich, richer, but to crush minorities, to disenfranchise voters, to strip away the hard-won rights of women and gays and the poor. Their minds are closed. Their hearts are hardened, to use the old biblical formulation. They’ve abandoned all connection to reality, substituting their own Fox-driven alternate reality. They aren’t just wrong, they are dangerous.

    Racism, sexism, nativism and fascism are the heart of the Republican party. Let’s all, please, stop pretending that there’s still a party of Everett Dirksen and Jack Kemp and Bob Dole. That party is dead. This is the party of torture now. This is a fascist party.




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  24. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: Instead, Democrats (the Obama regime) prosecuted whistleblowers who told the truth about government crimes.




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  25. anjin-san says:

    @DeborahG:

    Simple question – would you rather die/face death standing for your principals or live crawling away from them? The former is the choice a lot of the people serving in the armed forces make every day. The latter is the kind of choice the people of Germany made when they allowed Nazi tyranny.




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  26. Sirkowski says:

    Amoral or immoral?




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  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Some years back I got stuck in a particularly tight, muddy and nasty crawl in a cave for about 2 and half hours. It was cold, wet, and muddy and my arms were stuck over my head for the entire time. By the time somebody was able to get a rope around my ankles and slowly but surely pull me back as I wiggled and pushed back up the sloping passage, I was damn near crippled. Sat by the fire for a good hour plus with my arms pulled down in front of my body. And that was nothing, NOTHING, NOTHING… compared to what these men went thru.

    Donald Rumsfeld? You wouldn’t last 2 hrs standing if I was on the other end of the rope.

    These people act as if pain is just a bad headache. They have no idea.




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  28. Liberal With Attitude says:

    @DC Loser: “Obama should just pardon drone strike both Bush and Cheney, even if they don’t ask for one. Let the world know they are criminals.:”

    Its not like he doesn’t have the legal power to do that, amirite?




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  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DeborahG: I wonder, do you think Jesus loves you?




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  30. Dave D says:

    The worst part is that certain conservatives still won’t even admit that this is torture. Rich Lowry speaking on KCRW’s Left, Right and Center:

    “As someone who has defended these measures over the years, it is uh shocking to uh be confronted with the cumulative effect of it. I don’t think anyone would say slapping is torture. That um keeping someone awake is necessarily torture. That shaking someone in a so called attention grab is torture. And you can go on and on through these methods. But when they are cumulatively applied, to someone for weeks, then you’re up against or maybe over the line. But this was a good faith effort to find, to get information from these guys. And in 2002 and 2003 even the most impeccably liberal democrats like Jay Rockefeller were saying ‘we have to take the gloves off. We have to be very, very tough on KSM.'”

    emphasis mine.

    Is it really that hard to say using rendition to abduct possibly innocent people to CIA blacksite prisons, waterboarding them, sleep depriving them, chaining them to walls, violating them anally, and even allowing them to freeze to death is torture? One doubts CIA agents would be brought to tears for being ordered to use these techniques if they were something other than torture. This is a stain upon our nation and makes us no better than them.

    “I understand the reasons that governed the decision to resort to these interrogation methods, and I know that those who approved them and those who used them were dedicated to securing justice for the victims of terrorist attacks and to protecting Americans from further harm. I know their responsibilities were grave and urgent, and the strain of their duty was onerous.

    “I respect their dedication and appreciate their dilemma. But I dispute wholeheartedly that it was right for them to use these methods, which this report makes clear were neither in the best interests of justice nor our security nor the ideals we have sacrificed so much blood and treasure to defend.
    – John McCain




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  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Dave D:

    “I understand the reasons that governed the decision to resort to these interrogation methods,

    Hmmmm, I don’t.




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  32. C. Clavin says:

    Considering that nothing will happen to Cheney I think it’s good that he is out there speaking his mind so that historians have an un-ambiguous record of his depravity…and the depravity of the rest of the party that refuses to condemn him and his actions.




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  33. Jeremy R says:

    @Jack:

    Instead, Democrats (the Obama regime) prosecuted whistleblowers who told the truth about government crimes.

    Who exactly are you referring to? Kiriakou wasn’t prosecuted for his torture whistleblowing. Manning was an indiscriminate bulk leaker.




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  34. @michael reynolds:

    Your outrage would be more compelling if you weren’t Mr. Done-them-all-and-let-God-sort-them out.




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  35. Dave D says:

    @Dave D: I commend Doug and everyone on both sides, but especially the right for calling this what it is. When what should be a simple black and white issue like torture is bad, and as Americans we are better than our enemies because we don’t torture especially innocent people; has become an issue of partisanship and contention is disgusting. Are we that depraved as a nation where something as simple as saying we shouldn’t torture our enemy regardless of what they have done to us is a political issue? Even if torture worked aren’t we supposed to be better than our enemies? What has become of this nation?




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  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    I’m not a pacifist. I can believe its a good idea to kill terrorists who plot the deaths of Americans without supporting torture. We beat the Nazis without torture even as we were burning their cities down. I’m not for unilaterally disarming or surrendering. A man who is in your custody is not a threat, he’s a prisoner.




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  37. J-Dub says:

    “There is no such thing as rectal feeding. It can’t physiologically be done; the colon does not have a lining on it that can absorb nutrients. . . .

    Well that would explain why I’m still hungry.




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  38. CB says:

    @DeborahG:

    I’m gonna go ahead and pile on here (and talk to a brick wall at the same time). Do you know that it was more than three people, and that a lot of these “vicious bastards” were farmers and shepherds in the wrong place at the wrong time? Would you even care?

    Yeah, someone is sick here.




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  39. CB says:

    @Dave D:

    Seconded, it’s heartening to see something of a consensus on this, though it’s not nearly as uniform as I’d like. But let’s be real, the Floracks of the world will never see the light.




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  40. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I get where you’re coming from, it’s certainly where Conor and Sully are coming from and I’m inclined to agree, but I used amoral specifically because it seems clear from that interview that Cheney quite simply doesn’t care about whether or not torture is immoral or not. In some sense, that kind of cold-blooded detachment from reality strikes me as worse.




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  41. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You forgot “to force the sick and elderly to eat dog food.”




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  42. Stonetools says:

    @Guarneri:

    The Republicans want to do that too, if you check out the Ryan budget. Thanks for the reminder.




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  43. Scott F. says:

    @CB:

    Rand Paul and John McCain do not a consensus make. Per the New Yorker article Tillman links to above…

    Rejali, who has studied the tension between torture and democracy around the world, says that “there’s a five- or six-year window for any kind of accountability. We’re now past that window. The two sides are entrenched.” Without a mutual acknowledgment of the mistakes made, and some form of accountability, he warned, another reversion to torture may be difficult to prevent: “Nothing predicts future behavior as much as past impunity.”

    We are truly and completely screwed as a nation. There will be no accountability. Suppose Obama wanted to bring down the epic sh*tstorm that would occur should he move to prosecute anybody above a CIA foot soldier. You think he can count on John (sour grapes) McCain or Rand (2016) Paul to take up the cause and publicly support him? Puhleze!! (Hint: Obama didn’t ask for this mess and he wants no part in cleaning it up and McCain and Paul won’t align with their rhetoric when it comes time for a vote.)

    The media will bang their Reasonable People can Disagree drum, partisans will take sides and our country’s bar for what constitutes morality is dropped all the way into the mud. The “wrong and dangerous” Republican party Michael illuminates above just won control of both Houses of Congress and they control most of the State Houses. There is no price to pay for being depraved.

    It’s a very sad day in America and it’s only going to get worse in the next few years.




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  44. Grewgills says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    He is both. He is immoral in that he doesn’t practice generally or traditionally held moral principles and amoral in that he doesn’t care. Generally speaking though, amoral implies a lack of understanding or knowledge about the moral framework one is flouting. Infants, animals, and sociopaths don’t have a moral compass either because they haven’t developed one yet or are incapable of developing one. I think Cheney knows his ethical standards (such as they are) fall well outside the norms of our society and is belligerent about it because he thinks his standards are better or at least necessary. That makes him more of an immoral actor than an amoral one.




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  45. michael reynolds says:

    @Stonetools:

    Republicans attacked Social Security as recently as the George W. Bush administration when they wanted us all to put our retirement money into the stock market that promptly fell over dead. Because we can trust the investment bankers, dontcha know, whereas we can’t trust the government. The government that had to bail out the investment bankers. The government that’s never missed a social security check in what, 80 years?




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  46. @Doug Mataconis: I think he thinks he was acting morally in protecting the US.




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  47. @Grewgills: I would concur with this assessment.




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  48. michael reynolds says:

    What GOP apologists don’t get (or deliberately choose not to get) is that their arguments in support of torture for terrorists work equally well when applied to regular old criminals. I mean, hey, if it works, why not torture a drug dealer to give up his suppliers? (To which Republicans reply, “Fine with me!) And why not torture illegal arms dealers? (To which Republicans reply, wait a minute, what?)




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  49. Pharoah Narim says:

    @DeborahG: Get the he’ll out of here with your cowardice memes. The real response was to rally the nation to participate in its own defense through vigilance and action as opposed to turning everything over to a national security behemoth and heading back to the malls to shop.

    I’m so sick of your ilk trying to claim some mantle of toughness when it’s you, YOU who wanted the big government you supposedly believe can’t do anything right to make the bad men go away. Sorry, in my book that makes you a fascist coward. Any terror cell attempting to do anything else to this nation should have been scared shitless to do anything suspicious for fear of being discovered, beat senseless, prosecuted and tried. I guess that would take time away from shopping at the mall though….




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  50. Scott F. says:

    @Scott F.:

    As Rejali states in the New Yorker article, the die is already cast for the decline of our nation’s character. And today, Pew comes along and backs that up with data:

    http://www.people-press.org/2014/12/15/about-half-see-cia-interrogation-methods-as-justified/

    Do the People reflect our leaders or do our leaders reflect Us?




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  51. Hal_10000 says:

    The defenders of torture tend to land in two camps: 1) people who were complicit, like Cheney; 2) people who are mindlessly defending the Republicans because DEMOCRATS! I’ve long given up the illusion that more than a fraction of the American public really cares about human rights (see this issue and compare to the silence from many Democrats on surveillance and drones).




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  52. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I understand, to an extent, the inconceivable amount of pressure the Bush administration was under in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. And that kind of pressure makes a lot of people take very poor decisions.

    That’s no excuse, of course. We must expect better from men in their position, and better men would have withstood the pressure, and not resorted to torture.

    Sadly…Bush and Cheney are not better men.




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  53. CB says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I agree with your general point, but one can support the use of drones and surveillance as tools, while having issues with the way they are deployed. I know I do, on both accounts. But torture doesn’t fall into the same camp.




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  54. PJ says:

    I don’t rejoice when people die.

    One of the very few exceptions will be Cheney.

    I believe I will have cake.




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  55. grumpy realist says:

    @DeborahG: Oh, and the innocent people who got caught up in this by mistake, or because their neighbor wanted to turn them in for the bounty? Well, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and all that, right?

    I trust you will be of the same mentality when it is YOUR child or spouse who gets caught up in one of those “sweeps against terror” and ends up getting tortured to death, right? Or is that different, because they aren’t some of those nasty foreigners?

    Goose, gander…..




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  56. grumpy realist says:

    By the way, Doug: bravo. You have elegantly outlined the moral apathy of Cheney and his supporters.




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  57. BenR says:

    A few things come to mind…
    Several comment about being more like Jesus.
    Ask the money lenders at the Temple how peaceful Jesus was.

    Most of you think Bush created all evil, ever wonder what happened to the people that Clinton submitted to rendition?

    And as bad as this was..calling it torture..what will you call true torture?




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  58. @BenR: Are you really going to compare Jesus chasing the money changers from the Temple with rectal feeding and allowing an innocent man to die of hypothermia?

    Seriously?




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  59. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Cheney quite simply doesn’t care about whether or not torture is immoral or not.

    The issue is that Cheney doesn’t care whether torture works or not. An amoral person who supports torture would do so purely on pragmatic grounds. It works, therefore do it.

    It is beyond question that Cheney’s support for torture is not based on or motivated by pragmatism. If nothing else, Cheney absolutely revels in the idea that supporting torture somehow demonstrates that he is “tougher” than other people.

    Mike




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  60. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Jesus probably still does love Deborah, but I would guess that he is very sad about what she wrote.




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  61. C. Clavin says:

    @BenR:
    Wait …Jesus a$$-raped the money lenders ???
    And you Republicans claim the bible is against homosexuality!!!
    Make up your minds would ya?




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  62. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Scott F.: If it helps any, the famous line from the old Pogo comic strip is “we have met the enemy, and he is us.”

    If you’d like a more scholarly approach von Clauswitz said (approximately) “people get the government they deserve.”




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  63. C. Clavin says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker:
    I think Deborah is Jenos.




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  64. CB says:

    @BenR:

    I would call torture breaking someone’s legs and shackling them to a wall.




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  65. Tillman says:

    @BenR:

    And as bad as this was..calling it torture..what will you call true torture?

    Trying to comprehend how someone can implicitly compare Jesus Christ to torturers is a form of moral and intellectual torture, I suppose.




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  66. anjin-san says:

    @BenR:

    Ask the money lenders at the Temple how peaceful Jesus was.

    Ummm. He upended some furniture.

    Are you under the impression he grabbed a staff and went all Bruce Lee on the money changers?




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  67. anjin-san says:

    @BenR:

    And as bad as this was..calling it torture..what will you call true torture?

    Why don’t you volunteer to have your Christmas dinner pureed and rammed up your ass and then get back to us on what is, and what is not torture…




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  68. Tillman says:

    @Scott F.: Jose Rodriguez understood the power of images when he destroyed the videotaped “enhanced interrogation” sessions.

    They were discussing on the Diane Rehm show today how our facilities overseas hadn’t been subject to as much violence as we expected when the report came out, and one of the factors a guest noted was that Abu Ghraib, the go-to model for this sort of backlash, was accompanied with gruesome images of what prisoners were subjected to. Even in the last couple of weeks, among the right you have the very different reactions to the return of no indictment in the Mike Brown case and the Eric Garner case. The left banged its shibboleths as it always does, but the right was willing to believe Darren Wilson’s testimony. In Eric Garner’s case there was near-universal outrage due to the extant video.

    Much as I dislike it, people respond more to pictures than words. It’s not enough to read about CIA personnel being extremely disturbed by what they were doing; we have to see what they saw.




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  69. Hal_10000 says:

    @CB:

    Agreed.




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  70. Terrye C says:

    The problem is not Cheney’s amorality…it is the back stabbing way in which a lot of people are approaching this issue today. The Congress and the President both told the CIA they wanted to them stop another attack like 9/11…whatever it took. I remember those times. To come along years later and accuse these people of torture and amorality in a fit of sanctimony is in and of itself amoral. It is also opportunistic. There is something to be said for keeping issues such as this in the context of their times.

    BTW, it is also true that according to Pew Poll a lot of Americans tend to see things Cheney’s way on this particular issue.

    When FDR gave the order to intern Japanese following the attack on Pearl Harbor he was not being amoral. He was reacting to a set of circumstances for which he was not responsible. He thought he was doing the right thing for the right reasons. Years later of course people felt differently. However, even though people might have disagreed with this particular policy, they did not feel the need to doubt the man’s morality. I think it would be wise in regards to Cheney and the men and women who work for agencies such as the CIA if we gave them the same benefit of the doubt.




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  71. C. Clavin says:

    @Terrye C:
    “Whatever it takes” is by definition immoral.

    BTW, it is also true that according to Pew Poll a lot of Americans tend to see things Cheney’s way on this particular issue.

    A lot of Americans also call themselves Christians.
    What should we believe when they are the same people?




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  72. BenR says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: NO That statement was only to illustrate that even Jesus could show anger




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  73. BenR says:

    @Tillman: Separate thoughts. No such implication intended.




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  74. @BenR:

    That statement was only to illustrate that even Jesus could show anger

    And how is that relevant?




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  75. cian says:

    BTW, it is also true that according to Pew Poll a lot of Americans tend to see things Cheney’s way on this particular issue.

    All the more reason to mourn for your country, not rejoice at its fall.




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  76. KM says:

    @anjin-san :

    Are you under the impression he grabbed a staff and went all Bruce Lee on the money changers?

    Actually, some of them truly are. It’s one of the newer sick twists that radical evangelicals have slandered Him with. They talk about Jesus coming back and kicking ass, ultra-remix of Chuck Norris and Jack Bauer in robes and a flaming sword to judge the world smite people they think are sinners. You know, old-school projection issues? They feel insecure and a deep need to be seen as Badass, so they project this onto a figure who is supposed to have chosen to literally die rather then fight back and told his followers to do the same.

    They can’t have a pacifist Christ – how else can they justify their bloodthirsty ways?




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  77. KM says:

    @BenR:

    That statement was only to illustrate that even Jesus could show anger

    No it doesn’t – it proves you’re willing to twist Scripture and tarnish Jesus’ name to make a stupid point that didn’t even make sense. Jesus got rid of eye-for-an-eye and told people to practice compassion. Turn the other cheek, even when it hurts. ESPECIALLY when it hurts. It’s incredible easy to be moral and righteous when one is not tested. You are failing the test rather spectacularly – you and all those who would have us turn into the monsters you want to fight. You aren’t trying to protect yourself – you just want blood.

    Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give that place unto His wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. – Romans 12:19

    What part of that is not clear to you? If you call yourself Christian, torture is a NO. Period. If you are a decent human being, torture is a NO. Period.




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  78. Barry says:

    Doug: “Even John Yoo, who authored the legal briefs upon which President Bush based his decision to authorize the C.I.A. to engage in so-called “EIT’s” as the legal memorandums were always careful to call what ended up amounting to torture, has said in recent days that many of the techniques outlined in the Senate Committee Report appear to have crossed the line beyond what he had in mind when he analyzed the issue for the President, or what the President intended when he signed off on the program. ”

    No, what’s happening is that Yoo is secreting a little slime just in case.

    “Not every Republican endorses torture,”

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht.




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  79. Barry says:

    @BenR: “Ask the money lenders at the Temple how peaceful Jesus was.”

    If you don’t know the difference between righteous and unrighteous anger, please stop quoting the Bible and have somebody explain the difference.




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  80. Barry says:

    @Tillman: “They were discussing on the Diane Rehm show today how our facilities overseas hadn’t been subject to as much violence as we expected when the report came out, and one of the factors a guest noted was that Abu Ghraib, the go-to model for this sort of backlash, was accompanied with gruesome images of what prisoners were subjected to. Even in the last couple of weeks, among the right you have the very different reactions to the return of no indictment in the Mike Brown case and the Eric Garner case. The left banged its shibboleths as it always does, but the right was willing to believe Darren Wilson’s testimony. In Eric Garner’s case there was near-universal outrage due to the extant video.”

    Actually, the Iraqi people *did* know what was going on in Abu Ghraib, and it’s come out recently that US prisons in Iraq were a major cause of the fighting, and helped trained its leaders, and the leaders of ISIS.




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  81. E.A. Blair says:

    “At 73, nearly three years after a heart transplant, Mr. Cheney clearly feels his own legacy is at stake.”

    Correction: Heart implant. He didn’t have one to begin with.




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  82. anjin-san says:

    @KM:

    Well, if Americans can morph Jesus into a white guy with blue eyes, why not an avenging action hero too?




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  83. Tillman says:

    @BenR: Eh, posting the thoughts to a story about defending torture would lead to that implication. Best to be careful of context in the future. 🙂




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