Move Over, Torquemada

Well, the CIA’s IG report on torture was released today, mostly to yawns.  So what if we threatened to kill a detainee’s children?  Who cares if we said we would sexually assault a detainee’s mother, in front of him, natch…  What’s the big deal about staging mock executions, since it appears that we also had quite a few real ones?  And come on, power drills aren’t really that scary, especially those cheapie Black and Deckers from Home Depot, which always start whining and smoking as soon as you hit bone, and the gun they used wasn’t even loaded.  I remember when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out, and Senator Dick Durbin quite appropriately compared them to the practices of the world’s worst dictatorships, he, not the torturers, was the one who ended up having to apologize.  Ah, the land of the free and the home of the brave, and all that.

Welcome to America in what will surely be her last, and worst, century as a nominal democracy.  I don’t even have to tune into Rush Limbaugh or FOX to know that our righty bloviators will be out in force, doing their usual torture two-step: It wasn’t that bad, and they deserved it, anyway.  Moreover, these obscene atrocities, of course, “kept us safe.”  From what, pray tell?  Certainly not from becoming a brutal, despised, global pariah that can no longer even get an extradition approved from most of the free world.  The same people who cynically thundered ad nauseam about Saddam Hussein’s torture chambers evidently did so out of envy; his power drills were of inferior quality than those made in the good old USA.  The still heavily redacted five-year-old document seems unlikely to cause any outrage, except perhaps from those who would have suppressed it forever.  Same shit, different day.

It wasn’t always this way.  During WWII, Germans eagerly surrendered to American forces, secure in the knowledge that they would be treated humanely.  And we won that war, as I recall.  Now we are torturers, and we’re 0 for 2, and counting.  And despite the rhetoric comparing Saddam to Hitler, the Nazi war machine we defeated was formidable enough to conquer a whole continent, while Iraq’s ragtag resistance has hobbled us for nearly seven years.  In this case, it seems that nice guys don’t always finish last.

CIA Director Leon Panetta somberly vowed to “stand up for those officers who did what their country asked and who followed the legal guidelines they were given.”  When your country asks you to threaten a detainee with a power drill and your legal adviser says that’s a-ok, I would humbly suggest you need either a new country or a new lawyer, preferably both.  Further, John Yoo’s vile and plainly illegal memos have now somehow taken on the standing of a danged Supreme Court decision, and thus the rantings of an insane wingnut will serve as convenient exculpatory evidence that these good-hearted tool-wielders had every reason to believe what they were doing was both legal and worthwhile.  To borrow a phrase from Barney Frank, “on what planet?”

The vestigial capacity for horror at these disgusting abuses of power is probably not enough in today’s America for it ever to be politically expedient to prosecute these latter-day Inquisitors, and the Obama Administration’s querulous need to “look forward, not backward” has, perhaps inadvertently, joined the noisy Right in normalizing such despicable crimes to the point where nobody, particularly among the political and media elite, even get what all the fuss is about.  So we tortured some people and continue to do so, big deal.  Following the inevitable trajectory of every story of the crimes that have blighted our history since Bush was placed in office by a corrupt Supreme Court majority,  torture is just another “wild conspiracy theory” that has now magically become “old news.”

Change we can believe in, indeed.


  1. Retzilian says:

    I’d sure like to see the redacted portions of that report, especially the recommendations and indices. That’s where the really good stuff is. But noooo. What a crock. I can see where Cheney got his talking points about how effective the EIT were. But what about the part where it says there was NO EVIDENCE that the so-called plots were ever real? That there was NO EVIDENCE of certain confessions being true?

    The information from this report (that which we are allowed to see) was leaked all over the place, so nothing is shocking anymore. I was expecting to see more than this, but it’s still 30% redacted.

    When someone leaks the redacted stuff, then we can sit up.

  2. cocktailhag says:

    And they never will. Coverups are the new bipartisanship; I’m so relieved we can all agree about something. They didn’t get jack shit from torturing people, except their jollies, and they’ve spent five years warming us up to that fact. Torture was a tool that Tom Friedman summed up beautifully, “Suck. On. This.” And millions of Americans agree.

  3. Retzilian says:

    I suggest that there may be a darker, more sinister motive for the torture, and that was to elicit false confessions, which may be what has been redacted. I don’t think the torture tapes the CIA destroyed were trashed just to protect the interrogators, I think some were destroyed because of the things that were said by the detainees under interrogation – either they were forced to confess to things that they didn’t do or plots that never existed, or the nexus between AQ and Saddam, or even who hired whom for YKW.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I think you’re exactly right, but I would also take it a step further; torture, as a practice, is designed to intimidate a population, as Naomi Klein outlined wonderfully in “The Shock Doctrine.”
      When people realize they live under that kind of government, they tend not to make much noise, unsurprisingly. I think that’s why so much of it has been allowed to become public.

  4. sysprog says:



    PRESIDENT: The, uh — Now, uh, we could — Have you considered any other poss–, have you considered the other, all other possibilities you see here, John? You, you’re the one who is supposed to –

    DEAN: That’s right. I think we,

    PRESIDENT: You know the bodies.

    DEAN: I think we’ve had a good go-round on –

    PRESIDENT: You think, you think we want to, want to go this route now? And the — let it hang out, so to speak?

    DEAN: Well, it’s, it isn’t really that –

    HALDEMAN: It’s a limited hang out.

    DEAN: It’s a limited hang out.

    EHRLICHMAN: It’s a modified limited hang out.


    • cocktailhag says:

      As a Watergate scholar, with three shelves of it in my library, I’m quite familiar with that quote. And, that’s pretty much what this is, except IT”S A NEW, OPPOSITION, ADMINISTRATION. That’s the reason I drink so much. Or as good a one as any.

  5. Karen M says:

    Change that disgusts me…

    I need a better verb.

    • Karen M says:

      Okay… change that repulses/repels/sickens/nauseates/ appalls/shocks/offends me.

      • cocktailhag says:

        It’s not the change, Karen, but the lack of it. We have elections because?

        • Karen M says:

          Oh, there was change alright. We now have a more eloquent apologist for all of the evils of the last admnistration. I call that change for the worse.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Well, it’s pretty close to it. Worse, as Glenn and others have pointed out, it makes such heinousness the New Consensus. Nice. Even for a Hag who’s seen a lot, the switch was astonishingly rapid, but no less horrifying.

      • Meremark says:

        Wayne Madsen does a couple of righteous riffs on Obama’s 2-bit “change”.

        Keep the change, Barry.

        What changed is hope. Now, the new ‘hope,’ is hate we can believe in.

  6. sysprog says:

    Long ago in 2008 . . . Tracy Chapman :

  7. Jim White says:

    Ack! Only two pages into the comments at UT and the trolls are already out. I’m afraid I wasn’t very civil to one of them. “Cheney” makes such a good verb.

    I’m beginning to think that the issue of torture is going to define whether our country survives as a place decent people want to live. And I’m not very optimistic about the outcome.

    • Karen M says:

      I thought your use of “Go, Cheney yourself!” was most appropriate, Jim… under the circumstances.

    • heru-ur says:


      “Only two pages …”

      I would have posted a note; but it would have mentioned war crimes then and war crimes now. Glenn does not like me to mention the present war crimes so I passed.

      I will point out here that if one follows the trail to the top of the chain, we find that the Bush Administration should be tried for starting an aggressive war and the present administration should be tried for continuing these policies.

      As Jebbie is writing all the time: “impeach now”. But I think we should convict Bush first, and then impeach Obama.

  8. cocktailhag says:

    Nor am I, Jim. I’m sickened. I remember talking about this stuff with my mother, who by virtue of being born in 1928, was viscerally horrified that we were torturing people. That generation is dying off.
    Can’t wait to go see what the doings are at UT…. the Hag even put up a little something, so I’m following, for a change.

  9. timothy3 says:

    Hello CH. It’s been a tough day and one that’s proved more depressing than usual. Now this is going to sound stupid, but I really cannot get a grip on these people (like those over at UT) who so blithely shrug off–when they’re not outright advocating–torture. These are people with children, brothers and sisters, parents, friends–I just really don’t get it.
    You mention German forces surrendering to US forces in WW2–and that’s right; there was a time when we were noble and justifiably proud of it. My late father, who served in the Pacific, often talked of how eager the Japanese were to surrender, and the Americans knew exactly why. And again, they wore that as a badge of honor.
    I really don’t know what happened or where we went wrong. But I’m sorry as hell that it happened. That’s why I embrace–figuratively (it’d be literal if we were in proximity with each other)–you and Glenn Greenwald; there are people yet who remain human despite the oppressiveness that surrounds us (and I also include RMP, sysprog, Jim White, Kitt, Jebbie, Pedinska–and all the others whom I’ve neglected to name specifically).

    • cocktailhag says:

      Torture, like war, Hummers and Big Mac’s, has been purposely sold to us, and a lot of people bought, unfortunately. How many times have we been told that it “works?” Who cares if it works? And what does that even mean? Thanks for the virtual hug, T3…

  10. Meremark says:


    There are so — non-Hag — very many ‘Democratic’ blogging websites, even right here in River City, ( … and that starts with ‘B’ and that rhymes with ‘glee’ and that stands for torture murder, of all those subhuman antisemitic Arabs), and there is ‘progressive’ radio, defined as hating Hatetalk — but not to do anything about it like enthusing crowds to protest and picket outside the radio-station and TV-station Media Properties, such as KPOJ’s silent complicity here in River City, or such as, and even more insulting, KOPB — and those sanctimonious bloggers are agog, and those allowing announcers are teasing, with the lovely bloodbath butchery that they can use (exploitative and capitalizing on) to ‘lead the news’ or ‘banner the blog.’ Not that any, (at least not many) of them are set to crucify our Congresspersons — waterboard Wyden, barf on Blumenauer, screw Wu, haunt Hooley, waste Waldren — for appropriating public money to the slaughter of Iraqi innocents. Heavens no! Democrats who were fine with false fearmongering — whereas plain common sense could quickly truly tell that Nine-Eleven Op was explosives in the Towers and ‘Arab’ hijackers had nothing to do with it, except as scapegoats to frame and focus fear onwhat?, you thought Cheney/Bush didn’t start lying until AFTER nine-eleven, starting with the anthrax ‘act’ and WMD bullsh!t ?? — and Democrats who delighted in dealing death and desecration, heavens no! the BO-blogs and POJ-radio are NOT insisting on Nuremberg for Congresspersons’ war crimes, because, well, because those were ‘our’ own Democratic Congressperson peeps. [n.b. all sarcastic parody in the paragraph is confined in parentheses]

    As American as baseball, the national sport. Be a hitter, swing a big stick, get some wood on it, club ‘em … Clancy lower the boom.

    - – w/ apologies to by Ernest Lawrence Thayer

    ‘Rahm Emanuel Fat the Bat, Whirr the Drill’

    A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
    Clung to the hate which springs eternal in the human breast;
    They thought, “If only Rahm Emanuel could get a whack at that –
    We’d put up even money now, with Rahm Emanuel at the bat.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, Wyden unexpectedly grew a set and stood up today to the lameness of the purported “investigation.” Maybe it was just a sop to paper over his pathetic health care cave. I don’t pretend to know.

  11. ondelette says:

    Retzilian –

    In at least the Effectiveness section and in the other documents (which are on the Washington Post site), at least some of the redactions are due to pending court cases. As far as I can tell, if they hadn’t redacted, there might be some question as to whether or not evidence used in U.S. courts was obtained/derived from torture. Some of that evidence, or allegations that were contained in complaints, have already put people in maximum security for the duration, it would embarrass the government and start a major firestorm if those convictions could be tossed.

  12. Retzilian says:

    Thanks for your input, Ondelette. Seems to make more sense than covering up descriptions of torture, but I think there is more behind those black marks than just CYI for future court cases. But, it would be smarter to hide things in plain sight rather than behind black redactions – that just makes people more curious. You think they’d have more sense than that.

    Then again, the people running things right now are not the sharpest crayons.