Two More Things About Torture Report

Stop Torture - Funny enough, cropped from image at US Embassy WebsiteI’ve seen two more things about the torture report that really should be read. The first is from Jonathan Chait, The Torture Party: Why Republicans Defend the Most Sadistic Government Program in Recent History. It’s a longish article, that will be in the upcoming issue of New York Magazine. It makes a number of good points. For example, all the torture apologias up until now have used the same now discredited claim, “We waterboarded in the CIA — the CIA waterboarded three terrorists. Just three.” Of course, we pretty much knew that wasn’t true two years ago. But now we know that wasn’t true and that the CIA did much worse.

This leads us to the horrifyingly amusing spectacle of Ted Cruz claiming that torture is terrible but “after six years, enough with saying ‘everything is George W Bush’s fault.'” Because the torture report is really just the administration’s effort to blame everything on Bush. And we know this because (1) the White House did not want to release the report; and (2) the report is really a whitewash as far as Bush and company are concerned — it puts all the blame on the CIA, where it most definitely does not all belong. Chait noted, “To Cruz and other Republicans still in office, the allegation that the Bush administration used torture had gone from outrageous smear to tired news without ever having passed through the stage of acceptable topic of discussion.”

Chait also pointed to Dick Cheney on Fox News, who finally said what he really thinks, “What are we supposed to do? Kiss him on both cheeks and say ‘Please, please, tell us what you know’? Of course not. We did exactly what needed to be done in order to catch those who were guilty on 9/11 and prevent a further attack, and we were successful on both parts.” In addition to being morally bankrupt, people like Cheney will never accept that (1) torture is not effective; (2) we tortured a whole lot of innocent people; and (3) there are huge opportunity costs associated with what we did. Chait ended with a summation that I’m afraid applies to a whole lot more people than just Dick Cheney:

Here, finally, was the brutal moral logic of Cheneyism on bright display. The insistence by his fellow partisans on averting their eyes from the horrible truth at least grows out of a human reaction. Cheney does not even understand why somebody would look away. His soul is a cold, black void.

Ron Wyden

After the report was released, a group of ex-CIA heads wrote an OpEd in The Wall Street Journal, Interrogations Saved Lives. I think there is a special kind of logic here that they would never admit to, “Our interrogations must have saved lives! If they didn’t, then we would have to admit to being monsters!” But you know what I say, “If the rectal tubing fits, it doesn’t matter how nice a suit you wear, you are a monster.” But I digress.

Senator Ron Wyden saw the OpEd and he wasn’t pleased. So he put together the following annotated version of it. You will have to click on the full-screen button to read it. But it is very much worth the effort!

Wyden Torture Rebuttal

What bugs me about all of this is the sense I have that the American media is so done with this torture report. To me, this is extremely deep. Even at the time, I was greatly disturbed. When I was young, I was a true believer in America. I believed everything I was taught. And one of the things that I was taught was that we don’t torture. That was a big difference between “us” and “them.” But the moment it became convenient, we tortured. It seems as though many people had just been waiting for the chance. When Walter Johnson’s fast ball started to slow, he retired. He didn’t turn into Ty Cobb. I guess it is different for nations. The error was mine: to ever think that we were better than others. So maybe Dick Cheney and company did me a great favor. The sad thing is, they can torture and still think that we are better.

H/T: Zack Beauchamp

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

4 thoughts on “Two More Things About Torture Report

  1. Wyden seemed like Lord Whingditzeroo Of The Right Honorable Moron Clan when he first ran. He’s really become a good Senator. All props to a guy who’s treated his job seriously.

    • He’s always seemed like a decent guy to me. He was my Representative when I lived in Portland and I was pleased with him then. But I didn’t pay the kind of attention to politics that I do now.

  2. Loved the Walter Johnson reference. I too was a true believer, my heroes growing up were the Astronauts. When I traveled to Europe as a kid, I remember people loved Americans, they treated us great. We were the good guys, the John Wayne of the globe, we would never torture… what the heck happened to us?

    • Racer_X, huh? You must be my age. I’m glad someone appreciated the Walter Johnson reference. Interestingly, Johnson and Cobb got along quite well. But I figure Johnson got along with everyone, and his friendship with Cobb was just proof of that. I wish I knew what happened to us. Or rather, I wish more of us would admit to what has happened to us. We might get better.

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