This is a special “torture report” edition of Odds and Ends. There has been so much great reporting on it that I could easily put out ten quotes posts. But I don’t want to do that. I think we all understood in a general sense what was being done. It is important that it be laid out now, as disgusting as it is. See my article on the subject yesterday, Torture Report Shows We Are Unjust and Creepy. I have to say, I can’t get over how every time we misbehave in this way, we show ourselves to be sexual perverts. I don’t think it is a surprise that this is what comes from a country that is almost 80% Christian. Paul the Apostle had real sexual issues and he poisoned the Christians who came after him.
We Have Seen the Enemy…
Charlie Pierce wrote a downright poetic response to those who refuse to accept what we have done and attempt to minimize it, The Torture Report and What it Says. Here is his summation:
Anyone who still believes [that the report is off base because CIA agents are “patriots”] is an idiot and a coward and I have no time for them.
I no longer take seriously anyone, in or out of government, who talks about “the debate” over whether the United States tortured people. The only debate left is the debate over whether or not it will remain the policy of this nation to torture people, or to outsource the job of torturing people, or to otherwise commit moral and national suicide by euphemism.
Anyone who still believes there’s a “debate” over whether or not the United States, using techniques previously used by the Japanese Imperial Army, the Gestapo, the North Korean People’s Army, and the KGB, tortured people is an idiot and a coward and I have no time for them. Not any more. Debate’s over. We became what they think we are. And worse. This is not debatable and, alas, it is anything but a surprise.
Pierce also wrote two other articles worth checking out: The Torture Report and What it Means and The Torture Report and What Comes Next.
You may have seen Bob Kerrey’s ridiculous USA Today OpEd, Partisan Torture Report Fails America. How did it fail America? By not including the Republicans after they refused to be part of the investigation! Ed Kilgore hit this one out of the park, A Textbook Case of False Equivalency:
When Republicans “check out” of a bipartisan process because they cannot control it, it is by definition the fault of the Democrats for not finding a way to prevent it.
Lord-a-mercy. When a former Democratic senator — a former college president, for God’s sake — succumbs to this kind of “logic,” is it any wonder Republicans keep blowing things up so they can scream for fire trucks?
A Little Help From Our Friends
The Washington Post put together this color-coded map so you can follow along in the torture report to know where the atrocities were committed. Fun for the whole family!
That’s the great thing about invading a country — so much room to stretch out your torture program. But there’s more! Check out Max Fisher’s article at Vox, The 54 Countries That Helped the CIA With Its Torture-Linked Rendition Program. It’s not just Poland! But note: at least France and Norway are clear!
But don’t worry. That’s only 28% of the nations on earth.
How Despicable Are We? Let’s Count Some Ways!
Dylan Matthews at Vox put together, 16 Absolutely Outrageous Abuses Detailed in the CIA Torture Report. You will be aware of some of them, of course. It provides the relevant text from the report, but here’s the list:
- The CIA put hummus in a detainee’s rectum
- Interrogators forced detainees to stand on broken feet
- CIA interrogators threatened to sexually assault the mother of a detainee
- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded at least 183 times
- KSM and Abu Zubaydah nearly drowned to death during some of their torture sessions
- Abu Zubaydah lost his left eye in CIA custody
- The CIA conducted torture sessions knowing they’d worsen detainees’ injuries
- Detainees were kept awake for as long as 180 hours — over a week
- CIA interrogators broke down a detainee until they judged him “clearly a broken man”
- The interrogations probably killed at least one person
- The CIA tortured people before they even tried asking them to cooperate
- CIA interrogators objected to the torture but were told to keep going by senior officials
- At least 26 out of 119 known detainees were wrongfully held
- The CIA lied to the White House about the effectiveness of torture
- The CIA refused to vet participants in the torture program who had admitted to sexual assault
- They refused to impose disciplinary sanctions on an interrogator involved in a detainee’s death
Number 11 goes right along with what I’ve always said: torture wasn’t about getting information; it was about being “tough.” I’m so ashamed. But I’ve got to remember that no matter what we do, America Is Awesome!
Once a Liar…
The New York Times has reported that CIA Director of Public Affairs, Bill Harlow, claims that the CIA disagrees with the report, “We don’t think it’s true.” Well, he would, wouldn’t he? Jon Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution noted that, Organizer of CIASavedLives.com Told CIA’s Most Blatant Lie about Iraq and WMD:
Bill Harlow told the CIA’s most blatant lie about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, just weeks before the US invaded in March, 2003. Here’s what happened:
By the end of February, 2003, the US case for war with Iraq was disintegrating. That February 15th had seen demonstrations of millions across the world in the biggest antiwar rallies in human history; the British parliament was showing signs it might vote against participating in the invasion; and most crucially, the UN had found no trace of WMD in Iraq.
At that point Newsweek published what was, to the Bush administration and CIA, the most terrifying story possible — that Iraq likely had no WMD, and the United States knew it.
What Newsweek revealed was that in 1995, when Hussein Kamel — Saddam’s son-in-law and head of Iraq’s WMD programs — had defected to Jordan, he told the UN, CIA and British intelligence that in fact Iraq had no WMD left.
According to Newsweek, “The CIA did not respond to a request for comment.” But the story quickly gained traction online, and when Reuters followed up on the Newsweek story, they went to Bill Harlow…
He then quoted Harlow from the Reuters‘ story saying, “It is incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue.” Schwarz continued:
There’s absolutely no ambiguity here; Harlow was lying through his teeth. He wasn’t addressing what Iraq was doing in 2003, or even whether what Hussein Kamel had said in 1995 was true. Rather, he was simply addressing what Kamel said, something that the CIA knew with 100% certainty.
But it doesn’t matter. No one in the power elite like Bill Harlow is ever held accountable. They can lie and be caught again and again, but they are still treated as though their opinions matter. It’s an outrage Harlow isn’t in prison, much less being quoted as an authority by The New York Times.
Bleed for Me
This Dead Kennedys song is from 1982, when I thought we just supported countries that tortured. How far we’ve progressed! Backwards.