Crime

Rumsfeld vs. Blagojevich, Cheney vs. Spitzer

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Salon's Glenn Greenwald wonders at the press corps reaction to two ongoing examples of political crookery and malfeasance:

The bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report issued on Thursday—which documents that "former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials share much of the blame for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba" and "that Rumsfeld's actions were 'a direct cause of detainee abuse' at Guantanamo and 'influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques … in Afghanistan and Iraq'"—raises an obvious and glaring question: how can it possibly be justified that the low-level Army personnel carrying out these policies at Abu Ghraib have been charged, convicted and imprisoned, while the high-level political officials and lawyers who directed and authorized these same policies remain free of any risk of prosecution?

……….

This Report was issued on Thursday. Not a single mention was made of it on any of the Sunday news talk shows, with the sole exception being when John McCain told George Stephanopoulos that it was "not his job" to opine on whether criminal prosecutions were warranted for the Bush officials whose policies led to these crimes. What really matters, explained McCain, was not that we get caught up in the past, but instead, that we ensure this never happens again—yet, like everyone else who makes this argument, he offered no explanation as to how we could possibly ensure that "it never happens again" if we simultaneously announce that our political leaders will be immunized, not prosecuted, when they commit war crimes. Doesn't that mindset, rather obviously, substantially increase the likelihood—if not render inevitable—that such behavior will occur again? Other than that brief exchange, this Senate Report was a non-entity on the Sunday shows.

Instead, TV pundits were consumed with righteous anger over the petty, titillating, sleazy Rod Blagojevich scandal, competing with one another over who could spew the most derision and scorn for this pitiful, lowly, broken individual and his brazen though relatively inconsequential crimes. Every exciting detail was vouyeristically and meticulously dissected by political pundits—many, if not most, of whom have never bothered to acquaint themselves with any of the basic facts surrounding the monumental Bush lawbreaking and war crimes scandals….

The auction conducted by Blagojevich was just a slightly more flamboyant, vulgar and reckless expression of how our national political class conducts itself generally….But Blagojevich is an impotent figure, stripped of all power, a national joke. And attacking and condemning him is thus cheap and easy. It threatens nobody in power. To the contrary, his downfall is deceptively and usefully held up as an extreme aberration—proof that government officials are held accountable when they break the law.

The whole piece by Greenwald contains many more damning examples of high-level Bush administration complicity in some horrible acts and prisoner deaths. He does a similar comparison of the dreadful vs. the petty when it comes to political crimes with Dick Cheney (war, illegal wiretapping, torture) and Eliot Spitzer (consensual prostitution purchase), and sees who gets honored and who gets disgraced.

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  1. That shoe guy had it right.

  2. Damned liberal media bias!

  3. WAR CRIMES! WAR CRIMES!

  4. Warren’s learned a new chant. Yay!

    But seriously, people always find it easier to deal with the petty stuff, because that can be written off as failure of character or something equivalently silly. The big stuff (torture, spying, etc.) is harder for people to deal with, because it is fundamentally hard for most people to believe anyone they (formally) trusted to be capable of such acts. If they can do something horrible, why not me?

  5. The big stuff (torture, spying, etc.) is harder for people to deal with, because it is fundamentally hard for most people to believe anyone they (formally) trusted to be capable of such acts

    I would say that the big stuff is harder because it is an indication of a failure of the system, which people do not want to acknowledge.

  6. Not a single mention was made of it on any of the Sunday news talk shows, with the sole exception being when John McCain told George Stephanopoulos…

    So then it was discussed on This Week. Don’t let facts mess up a good story about news outlets ignoring facts, Greenwald.

  7. Selling a Senate seat is ‘petty’ and ‘inconsequential’?

  8. I think the big stuff is harder for people to acknowledge, especially in these specific cases, because they still think that the president, or whoever is in charge of the failure, really was honestly trying to _________. (here, the blank would be filled with “protect us from terrorism in a post 9-11 world.”)

    On orders of personal character problems, people can see the dishonesty, and they don’t like that.

  9. Good point. By the time any of the petty scandals like blago or spitzer are in the news, the people involved are already on their way out. Reporting on them is actually a vindication of the system, since the guilty are already being punished. To go after the substantive stuff would require more iniative then getting on the us attorney’s press release list, which few in the mainstream media seem to have anymore.

  10. I’m a war criminal.

  11. To elaborate on my last post, the public and media tends to forgive “good intentions,” hence why we have such a “we have to do something” congress. Hence why nobody will get punished for the bailout, or for the corporate favoritism that comes via some regulations, or for attrocities committed by Americans in an effort to protect their homeland – – – do anything under the guise of good intentions, and you’re cleared.

  12. Selling a Senate seat is ‘petty’ and ‘inconsequential’?

    Blago was an amateur

  13. The press isn’t going to say anything because they know damn well that Obama is going to do the same thing. Perhaps these issues are not as easy as people like Greenwald think they are?

    I have said this before and will say it again now, you are going to see a gradual rehabilitation of Bush’s record on the war on terror over the next few years as Obama faces the same choices and makes many of the same decisions.

  14. He’s going to lie to bring us into a war and torture people? Uh, ok.

  15. “He’s going to lie to bring us into a war and torture people?”

    I would be shocked if he doesn’t get us into at least one small war. I doubt he’ll have anyone tortured though.

  16. “I would be shocked if he doesn’t get us into at least one small war.”

    I can see a small-bore “humanitarian” conflict like Kosovo. But I don’t see, say, attacking Iran.

  17. He’s going to lie to bring us into a war and torture people? Uh, ok.

    Hey, I’m not foreclosing the possibility.

    In August 2001, people were busy making fun of the laughably incompetent president who was perpetually on vacation. He was so incompetent, at the time it was almost inconceivable that he could do anything malevolent on such a wide scale. I would have put the probability then of two full scale wars within the next eight years as low enough for it to be stupid to take bets on the matter.

  18. “He was so incompetent, at the time it was almost inconceivable that he could do anything malevolent on such a wide scale. ”

    And Cheney was just absent from your thinking at that time?

  19. “He’s going to lie to bring us into a war and torture people? Uh, ok.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122636726473415991.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    Obama has made no commitment whatsoever to change CIA interrogation rules. He voted for FISA. All of his national security picks so far have been very mainline. I would be very surprised if anything significant changes in those policies. You just hear about as much because the media will give Obama more cover than they ever gave Bush.

    As far as wars go, the enemy gets a vote on that. The chances are that we will get into another war in the next four years. But that has to do with the state of the world we live in more than it will with Obama.

  20. Presidents don’t torture people. Government employees lower down the food chain who can be sacrificed do. Technically.

  21. “I would have put the probability then of two full scale wars within the next eight years as low enough for it to be stupid to take bets on the matter.”

    I didn’t know we only started wars and not anyone else. The leaders of Afghanistan and Iraq had nothing to do with those wars then? Bush could have just as easily invaded Canada I guess if the globe he was spinning had stopped there.

  22. Iraq wasn’t doing anything different than what they had been doing from 1991-2002. They were contained. So he had to use 9/11 hysteria to whip up fears about non-existent WMDs to cow the media and congress into compliance.

  23. Invading Iraq was a goal that the group around Bush held long before 9/11.

  24. I thought it was just some bad apples, on the night shift, in this one prison, this one time, because of p0rn.

    I don’t think “the big stuff” is harder for people to acknowledge. I think there was a massive media campaign carried out by the executive branch of the government, the RNC, and a whole lot of self-motivated activists to simultaneously justify and deny the war crimes and torture carried out as part of this administration’s war policy, and nothing remotely similar was done in defense of Blagojevich’s crimes.

    Then again, maybe that’s because this was, indeed, big stuff.

  25. “Iraq wasn’t doing anything different than what they had been doing from 1991-2002. They were contained. So he had to use 9/11 hysteria to whip up fears about non-existent WMDs to cow the media and congress into compliance.”

    Oh poor defenseless Congress. I am not going to highjack the thread into Iraq thread number one million. But I will say is that don’t let your love and adoration of Obama cause you to beleive that he will not do what is necessary to defend the country. Whatever hit he will take from the Greenwalds of the world for not rolling back Bush’s anti-terror policies will pale in comparison to the hit he would take if he does change them and the country gets attacked. Further, it is not like you or Greenwald won’t vote for him again in 2012 anyway.

  26. Invading Iraq wasn’t necessary to defend the country, genius.

  27. John | December 17, 2008, 1:18pm | #

    The press isn’t going to say anything because they know damn well that Obama is going to do the same thing. Perhaps these issues are not as easy as people like Greenwald think they are?

    But John, aren’t you always telling us that detainee abuse, torture, and other war crimes are completely unrelated to any Presidential-level policies, and only insane moonbats with BDS think they are?

  28. Shorter John: She was asking for it.

    John,
    You might want to read an article newer than one a week after the election, when he has a semblance of a cabinet created. Something like this.

    “It is (important that) the new president say up front that the United States is not going to engage in torture or enhanced interrogations,” retired Rear Adm. John Hutson, one of the participants in the meeting, said during an appearance on “CNN Newsroom.”

    Not only are such techniques generally ineffective, Hutson said, but they also “smear the good name of the United States, domestically and internationally.”
    Don’t Miss

    * Obama poised to rebrand America, experts say
    * Obama team ponders what to do with Guantanamo inmates

    Hutson also indicated that some of the inmates currently housed at the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, “should be treated like any other criminal” and tried in a U.S. district court.

    During the presidential campaign, Obama indicated his intention to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and re-examine the Bush administration’s policies relating to the interrogation and torture of suspected terrorists.

    “I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that,” Obama said during a recent appearance on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

    “I have said repeatedly that America doesn’t torture. I’m going to make sure that we don’t torture. Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world.”

    You need to find newer talking points to regurgitate.

  29. Think about this BDB, why are they not playing up this story? Because they love Bush? This should have been a huge story. The reason it isn’t is that the media is smart enough to know that things are not going to change.

    Maybe we will get those war crimes tribunals dingbats like Dalia Lithwick want. Or maybe just maybe, the country has always done pretty nasty things in its defense and all the people who know that but professed to be “appalled” by Bush were just saying so for political purposes and will do the exact same thing when faced with responsibility. I feel pretty confident it is the latter. If anything, our anti-terror policy will get more ruthless under Obama. Bush had to worry somewhat about the Democrats. Who is Obama going to worry about? It is not like the Republicans are going to be whining about it.

  30. “Who is Obama going to worry about? ”

    The Democrats on his left flank, that’s who. Democratic Presidents are destroyed by their left not their right.

  31. “Think about this BDB, why are they not playing up this story? ”

    What story? And I’m not into MainsreamMediaKonspiracies.

  32. Who is Obama going to worry about? It is not like the Republicans are going to be whining about it.

    My ass. Members of both parties have no problem decrying policies the supported and vice versa with little or no qualms. See the earlier piece on filibustering judges or the flip from opposing the Balkans War to supporting Iraq (and vice versa).

  33. “But John, aren’t you always telling us that detainee abuse, torture, and other war crimes are completely unrelated to any Presidential-level policies, and only insane moonbats with BDS think they are?”

    No I say that Abu Garib wasn’t. Water boarding KSM and the things that happened in the CIA detention camps certainly were. Those things are going to continue just like NSA data mining will. The vast majority of the American public doesn’t care what we do to terror suspects but they sure as hell will care if something bad happens. It is not a hard political calculus to do.

  34. Thank God at least you have enough sense of morality to admit that waterboarding qualifies as torture. Nothing makes my teeth itch more than t he morons who say it is “discomfort”.

  35. The media isn’t playing up this story because they’ve conditioned to reject accusations of war crimes as irresponsible and unpatriotic.

    The idea that the media, but not the Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee who released the report, are making sure Barack Obama won’t face a problem down the line is beyond the realm of credibility.

  36. “My ass. Members of both parties have no problem decrying policies the supported and vice versa with little or no qualms. See the earlier piece on filibustering judges or the flip from opposing the Balkans War to supporting Iraq (and vice versa).”

    They will do a lot of those things, but they won’t say shit if it turns out the CIA is out waterboarding people. You are kidding yourself if you think they will. The left will have a fit, but fuck the left. It is not like they are going to go out and vote Republican in 2012.

    Maybe BDB is right that the left will wipe him out like they did Johnson. But the left only turned on Johnson over the Vietnam war. That is a bit different than how you are interrogating people in CIA prisons.

  37. “The media isn’t playing up this story because they’ve conditioned to reject accusations of war crimes as irresponsible and unpatriotic.”

    And they’d get thousands of emails screaming that they’re “tinfoil hat wearing moonabts” etc.

  38. And Cheney was just absent from your thinking at that time?

    At the time it was not at all clear what role he was playing, nor the extent to which he had commandeered the decision-making processes of the administration.

  39. John,

    From the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee:

    “The abuses at Abu Ghraib, GTMO and elsewhere cannot be chalked up to the actions of a few bad apples. Attempts by senior officials to pass the buck to low ranking soldiers while avoiding any responsibility for abuses are unconscionable. The message from top officials was clear; it was acceptable to use degrading and abusive techniques against detainees. Our investigation is an effort to set the record straight on this chapter in our history that has so damaged both America’s standing and our security. America needs to own up to its mistakes so that we can rebuild some of the good will that we have lost.”

    Maybe it was an honest mistake you’ve made all these years, and will now acknowledge that the abuses at Abu Ghraib, by jailers who were told to soften up subjects for interrogation, actually was of a piece with the other torture and murders committed in this dirty war.

  40. ‘The media isn’t playing up this story because they’ve conditioned to reject accusations of war crimes as irresponsible and unpatriotic.”

    What the hell are you talking about? The media has spent the last four years accusing Bush of exactly that. They only stopped after Obama won the election. Why? Because they can’t very well accuse Obama of being that, so they will just shut up about it now. Like I said, Obama is free to and will run an even more ruthless anti-terror policy than Bush.

    What political price did Bush ever pay for the interrogation techniques? None that I can see. Bush paid a price for Katrina and Iraq, but he won re-election in 2004 well after Abu Garib broke. Go back and read history sometime. The worst accusations against Bush are minor league compared to the things that went on in Vietnam, Korea or World War II. The public didn’t care then and they don’t care now.

  41. The left could vote 3rd party, see: Al Gore. Or they could stay at home, see: John McCain.

    There are a lot of unaffiliated voters, such as myself, that care about things like torture. If torture is still around in 2012, I will not vote Obama.


  42. At the time it was not at all clear what role he was playing, nor the extent to which he had commandeered the decision-making processes of the administration.”

    It turns out he had basically done that even before the Florida recount was finished. I’m reading Angler right now, and from what I can tell Bush is such a spineless tool he’s basically let Cheney steal the entire Presidency. He told Cheney he wanted to have a humble foreign policy and work with Democrats, and Cheney said “no” is the long and short of it.

  43. What the hell are you talking about? The media has spent the last four years accusing Bush of exactly that

    No, they’ve spent the last four years accusing Bush of wrongly going to war. On the issue of torture and war crimes, they’ve gone right along with the “few bad apples” story.

    What political price did Bush ever pay for the interrogation techniques? None that I can see. None. He’s a Republican. His people get off on this stuff.

    The worst accusations against Bush are minor league compared to the things that went on in Vietnam, Korea or World War II. The public didn’t care then and they don’t care now. My side did then, and my side does now. I sleep well because of that.

  44. “The abuses at Abu Ghraib, GTMO and elsewhere cannot be chalked up to the actions of a few bad apples.” Bare accusation no facts

    “Attempts by senior officials to pass the buck to low ranking soldiers while avoiding any responsibility for abuses are unconscionable. The message from top officials was clear; it was acceptable to use degrading and abusive techniques against detainees.” That may be true, but the fact remains none of the defendents at Abu Garib ever said they were ordered to do anything or ever ratted out higher officials despite great attempts by their attorneys to get them to do so.

    “Our investigation is an effort to set the record straight on this chapter in our history that has so damaged both America’s standing and our security. America needs to own up to its mistakes so that we can rebuild some of the good will that we have lost.”

    I have read that to Joe and it is horse shit. They are saying that the perverts at Abu Garib did what they did because John Yoo wrote a memo. Bullshit.

    That report is a political hack job. If they were interested in the truth, they would have looked at Bagrim and the CIA detention centers where abuses did occur and they were the result of higher ups giving the OK. They only say “Abu Garib” because it plays well in the media.

  45. Mo | December 17, 2008, 1:49pm | #

    …Or they could stay at home, see: John McCain.

    Or, see 1994. Lowest turnout in history, mainly because disappointed Democrats stayed home.

  46. “My side did then, and my side does now. I sleep well because of that.”

    Who is your side Joe? The Democrats controlled the entire government during World War II. Last I looked FDR was a Democratic icon. They also controled the entire government during Korea and most of Vietnam. What kind of fantasy world do you live in?

  47. “Or, see 1994. Lowest turnout in history, mainly because disappointed Democrats stayed home.”

    And Bill Clinton was so affected by that he triangulated, passed welfare reform, cut taxes and got re-elected. Clearly, the Left put the fear of God into Clinton. You really do live in a fantasy world Joe. It is just amazing what goes on in your head. I thought 1994 was the result of the Contract with America and the gazzillion Democratic Congressional scandals like Rostinkowski going to jail and the House banking scandal and Clinton over reaching on Hillarycare and gays in the Military. No, in Joe world it was because Clinton wasn’t leftist enough in his first two years.

  48. Partisan slapfight! Hey everybody, come see the first…no, wait, the one millionth partisan slapfight between John and joe!

  49. Bare accusation no facts

    Oh, you’ve read the report? Or you’ve decided you don’t need to, because there can’t possibly be any actual facts to back up what you don’t want to believe.

    That report is a political hack job. If they were interested in the truth, they would have looked at Bagrim and the CIA detention centers where abuses did occur and they were the result of higher ups giving the OK. You mean like when in the part where they talk about Baghram?

    Aggressive Techniques Authorized in Afghanistan and Iraq (U)

    (U) Shortly after Secretary Rumsfeld’s December 2, 2002 approval of his General Counsel’s recommendation to authorize aggressive interrogation techniques, the techniques – and the fact the Secretary had authorized them – became known to interrogators in Afghanistan. A copy of the Secretary’s memo was sent from GTMO to Afghanistan. Captain Carolyn Wood, the Officer in Charge of the Intelligence Section at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, said that in January 2003 she saw a power point presentation listing the aggressive techniques that had been authorized by the Secretary.

    Do you ever bother to find out the truth about what you’re talking about before you spout off with your partisan gibberish?

  50. The republicans will denounce Obama for doing what they did if they think it will turn the American people against the dems. Think ahead to the next election cycle.

    The techniques used at all detention facilites in Afganistan and Iraq where roughly the same, which suggest that it couldn’t have been only a handful of people in one Iraq facility.

    Cheney was chosen by Bush for his experience. Bush was considered inexperienced by many republicans so he need an experienced player to fill the gap. If the shit hit the fan Cheney was Bush’s go to guy.

  51. Who is your side Joe?

    The liberals. The progressives.

    You might have noticed, the Democrats changed somewhat in their ideas about war and human rights around forty or so years ago.

    Everyone who’s still OK with torture was wearing those Purple Heart band-aids four years ago.

    John | December 17, 2008, 1:57pm | #

    “Or, see 1994. Lowest turnout in history, mainly because disappointed Democrats stayed home.”

    And Bill Clinton was so affected by that he triangulated, passed welfare reform, cut taxes and got re-elected. Clearly, the Left put the fear of God into Clinton.

    So, in other words, yes, you agree, I’m right. Clinton lost Congress, and as a result, had to change his entire political program, give up on just about everything he had hoped to accomplish, and play defense for the rest of his term.

    I thought… You think a lot of things. They just don’t happen to be true.

  52. “””And Bill Clinton was so affected by that he triangulated, passed welfare reform, cut taxes and got re-elected.””””

    Clinton was big on welfare reform and fiscal responsibility when Governor of Arkansas.

  53. “Captain Carolyn Wood, the Officer in Charge of the Intelligence Section at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, said that in January 2003 she saw a power point presentation listing the aggressive techniques that had been authorized by the Secretary.”

    Did they authorize aggressive techniques? Of course they did. Everyone knows that. They have known that since the Yoo memo came out. But, that doesn’t mean that people didn’t use that as an excuse to do stupid shit. The problem was that they authorized X and people like Wood did X and Y and a whole lot more. Should they have authorized X? In some circumstances maybe. But, that is never how this stuff workds out. It is never just waterboarding KSM. Everyone thinks they have KSM and quickly becomes beating some poor cabby to death at Bagram.

  54. Right, TrickyVic.

    It wasn’t the policies he pushed that were the big change; it’s the policies he had to abandon.

  55. “The liberals. The progressives.

    You might have noticed, the Democrats changed somewhat in their ideas about war and human rights around forty or so years ago.

    Everyone who’s still OK with torture was wearing those Purple Heart band-aids four years ago.”

    When exactly did the Progressives find time to denounce torture between apologizing for Stalin and talking about how the North Vietnamese Communist were just groovy people? The last people who should sleep well at night after the 20th Century are Progressives. The fact that you apparently do, just shows how much you live in denial of reality.

  56. Did they authorize aggressive techniques? Of course they did. Everyone knows that. They have known that since the Yoo memo came out. But, that doesn’t mean that people didn’t use that as an excuse to do stupid shit. The problem was that they authorized X and people like Wood did X and Y and a whole lot more. Should they have authorized X? In some circumstances maybe. But, that is never how this stuff workds out. It is never just waterboarding KSM. Everyone thinks they have KSM and quickly becomes beating some poor cabby to death at Bagram.

    I’m sorry, that sounds an awful lot like They are saying that the perverts at Abu Garib did what they did because John Yoo wrote a memo. Which, once upon a time, was Bullshit.

    Now that you’ve had your reality sandwich, and taken back your assertion that this is a partisan hack job that only looked at stories that got media attention, let’s get back to the point:

    This is why you don’t authorize torture.

    It is why, in fact, you actively work to stamp out detainee abuse, and make it crystal clear that it is not acceptable.

    Unless you want it to happen. They ordered torture, and they let everyone know that they it was ok.

  57. How did the question of whether high-level people ought to be prosecuted for this shit turn into the question of whether Obama is going to authorize the same shit?

    Suppose Obama does authorize torture. OK, fine, let’s prosecute the rotten bastard.

  58. How come no one pointed out that the chair of the “bipartisan” Senate Armed Services Committee is Ted Kennedy? Surely, no one would accuse the great Ted Kennedy of playing partisan politics with an issue.

    Let’s face it, the report confirms what the people in charge of the committee wanted it to confirm. It was compiled from sources that have long been public. There’s no more evidence of a causal link between the abuses at Abu Grahib and Donald Rumsfeld now than there is between the Postmaster General and my Christmas Cards not arriving until Independence Day.

    This isn’t to say that there aren’t valid criticisms of how Iraq’s and Gitmo’s detainee systems were run. It’s just saying that these criticisms have been well aired.

    Nothing in the Senate Armed Services Committee report was “new.” That’s why it wasn’t “news.”

  59. I have said this before and will say it again now, you are going to see a gradual rehabilitation of Bush’s record on the war on terror over the next few years as Obama faces the same choices and makes many of the same decisions.

    John, I fear that you may be right.

    Those who want to can tell me that Obama is not the sort of man who would do that. However, even if you are right, Obama is one man, and he has to work with a lot of people and institutions. There’s a limit to how much change he can deliver on issues where the public can be easily frightened into supporting horrors.

  60. Carl Levin! I meant carl levin d-MI.

    Oh, screw me.

  61. Well put Abdul. The committee is saying that because the Whitehouse authorized some techniques in some circumstances, they are responsible for all the abuses in all circumstances, which is bunk.

    But you can’t explain that to Joe. You have better luck talking to a wall. But Joe does give a really good discourse on how the Republicans fire bombed Japan and locked up all of those Japanese during World War II.

  62. thoreau,

    No one wants another 9-11 to happen on their watch. I say that out of respect for Obama. I don’t think he or his people want American blood on their hands or to think that they could have stopped something from happening but didn’t.

  63. When exactly did the Progressives find time to denounce torture between apologizing for Stalin and talking about how the North Vietnamese Communist were just groovy people?

    Shorter John: hey, look over there!

    No no, don’t look at who actually leads the fight against torture in America and around the world, and who defends it in our domestic political discourse: sixty years ago, there were some lefties who supported Stalin.

    So, I’m living in an altered partisan reality, while you know that the Armed Services Committee report is a partisan hit job, because they don’t talk about Baghram. Except that they talk about Baghram.

    Oh, well. It was a nice partisan talking point while it lasted.

  64. John | December 17, 2008, 2:16pm | #

    Well put Abdul. The committee is saying that because the Whitehouse authorized some techniques in some circumstances, they are responsible for all the abuses in all circumstances, which is bunk.

    Actually, that’s not what they’re saying, John. They’re saying that the authorized techniques were torture, and criminal.

    Read the fucking report, and try to make an accurate statement about the truth, before you spout off about what it does and doesn’t say.

    For

    A

    Change.

  65. Joe,

    Abdul said it quite well. Just because some techniques were authorized doesn’t mean that the Whitehouse is responsible for every sadist who took that as an excuse to go nuts. That is the essence of what the Senate is saying. You will never see that or understand that because you are too stuborn and dogmatic to see it. As time goes on, you seem to get less and less willing to see things in anything approaching an even handed way.

  66. So, I’m living in an altered partisan reality, while you know that the Armed Services Committee report is a partisan hit job, because they don’t talk about Baghram. Except that they talk about Baghram.

    Oh, well. It was a nice partisan talking point while it lasted.

    I get it.

  67. John | December 17, 2008, 2:18pm | #

    thoreau,

    No one wants another 9-11 to happen on their watch. I say that out of respect for Obama. I don’t think he or his people want American blood on their hands or to think that they could have stopped something from happening but didn’t.

    Flip! Flop!

    Flip! Flop!

    Of course the administration didn’t order torture! And they did, it would be totally ok, cuz of 9/11! Only a deluded partisan would ever think that people in the White House would authorize completely appropriate, necessary practices.

  68. “Actually, that’s not what they’re saying, John. They’re saying that the authorized techniques were torture, and criminal.”

    Maybe they were, but the shit that actually happened and people were prosecuted for at Abu Garib and Bagram were beyond the authorized techniques.

    Once again Joe, Obama is not going to change those techniques one bit. Get used to it. Since it is a prime directive of yours not to criticize Democrats, you might want to start thinking about how to defend those techniques because come Janurary, you will own them. Have fun.

  69. That is the essence of what the Senate is saying.

    NO, IT’S NOT!

    Read the fucking report.

    Read the fucking report.

    Read the fucking report.

    Read the fucking report.

    Read the fucking report.

    Read the fucking report.

    Read the fucking report.

    Oh, and you know what? Read the fucking report.

  70. Thank God at least you have enough sense of morality to admit that waterboarding qualifies as torture. Nothing makes my teeth itch more than t he morons who say it is “discomfort”.

    You might try brushing once in a while.

    Waterboarding is such horrendous torture that protesters do it to each other in public.

  71. Maybe they were,

    Oh, so once again, the statement that once proved what a deluded moonbat I am, you suddenly have to acknowledge it true. Why do you think this keeps happening to you, John?

    but the shit that actually happened and people were prosecuted for at Abu Garib and Bagram were beyond the authorized techniques.

    The silly naked-guy-stacking was beyond authorized techniques. The beatings, the freezing, the sensory deprivation, the waterboarding, the dogs, and the “stress positions” most certainly were not beyond the authorized techniques.

    You’re just trying to pretend that the photos you saw with Lyndie England are the only torture that went on at Abu Ghraib, and ignore everything else that’s come out about it.

    It wasn’t two enlistedmen on the night shift who stuffed a man in a sleeping bag, sat on him, and beat him until he was dead. Those were interrogators, using techniques that had been authorized.

  72. Waterboarding is such horrendous torture that protesters do it to each other in public.

    Hey, can I try?

    Electrocution is such horrendous torture that reporters let themselves be tasered. There, I just proved that electrocution isn’t torture.

    Since people are willing to endure the agony of a technique for a few seconds in order to demonstrate how evil it is, that means it’s not evil? I must remember that.

  73. Waterboarding is such horrendous torture that protesters do it to each other in public.

    People have voluntary vaginal and anal sex every day in their own homes. How bad can rape really be?

  74. Once again Joe, Obama is not going to change those techniques one bit.

    If your predictions were worth anything, John, President McCain would have beat Hillary last month, and democracy would have been sweeping the Middle East since January 05.

  75. Joe,

    No authorized killing anyone. If the techniques were abused to the point that people died, that is on the dumbasses who did it. Were aggressive techniques authorized? Yes. People took those techniques to extremes and killed people. I am not defending the people who did it. I just don’t think that any technique short of “it is okay to shoot someone” can be used as an excuse to kill someone.

  76. “Jim Treacher | December 17, 2008, 2:26pm | #”

    Go fuck yourself.

  77. “If your predictions were worth anything, John, President McCain would have beat Hillary last month, and democracy would have been sweeping the Middle East since January 05.”

    Why don’t you just write “Na Na Na”. It makes about as much sense and it is much easier to type.

  78. John | December 17, 2008, 2:35pm | #

    Joe,

    No authorized killing anyone. If the techniques were abused to the point that people died, that is on the dumbasses who did it.

    Wow.

    I don’t know what’s worse.

    Thinking that it would be ok to torture someone within an inch of his life, then stop.

    Or thinking that ordering people to be tortured within an inch of his life leaves you wholly blameless when some of them die.

  79. People have voluntary vaginal and anal sex every day in their own homes. How bad can rape really be?

    That’s a winner. Also, John (and Abdul) the argument that the admin is only responsible for “some torture, some of the time” really doesn’t buy you much of anything. As far as I know, if you are responsible for one act of torture, you have committed a war crime.

    Maybe you know better. Is torturing five terrorist ok? Maybe ten, but only if they were reaaaaaaaly bad guys. Right? What am I missing from this retarded moral equivocation that you’re peddling?

  80. People have voluntary vaginal and anal sex every day in their own homes. How bad can rape really be?

    Remember that Take Back the Night rally where they raped each other to show how awful it is?

  81. You can’t BE voluntarily raped! Then it wouldn’t be rape, dumbass!

  82. Go fuck yourself.

    Les already covered that, but I appreciate the offer.

  83. I’m still waiting for you to explain how a person can volunteer to be raped.

  84. You can’t BE voluntarily raped!

    Precisely, but you can be voluntarily waterboarded. Kind of my point. I’m not sure where rape enters into it, no pun intended.

  85. The lack of consent is part of what makes it torture.

  86. I’m still waiting for you to explain how a person can volunteer to be raped.

    Well, I was using sarcasm to point out the flaw in his argument. But you seem determined to be indignant about something, so I suppose that will suffice.

  87. Ex., if the guy on Jackass staples his testicles together for a stunt, that’s not torture. But it sure as shit is if some CIA agent puts a bag over your head, ties you down, and staples your testicles together.

  88. The lack of consent is part of what makes it torture.

    Oh. So, then, holding somebody against his will would qualify as well. Once the guy says, “Let me go,” that is.

  89. Did you see when I said, part of what makes it torture? I didn’t say that IS what makes it torture. Part.

  90. Ex., if the guy on Jackass staples his testicles together for a stunt, that’s not torture. But it sure as shit is if some CIA agent puts a bag over your head, ties you down, and staples your testicles together.

    I’m not sure why they’d go to all that trouble and inflict such grievous, possibly permanent bodily injury when they could just waterboard the guy. But I eagerly await the list of things masochists do to themselves that terrorists wouldn’t want done to them. Sorry, suspected terrorists.

  91. Jim,

    Some people pay to get whipped and beaten. They even get off on it. It doesn’t mean that being whipped and beaten isn’t torture.

  92. Did you see when I said, part of what makes it torture?

    Was it before or after you said, “Go fuck yourself”? If it was after, I don’t much care.

  93. Isn’t that cute, you’re pretending like waterboarding doesn’t cause physical injury.

    Does oxygen deprivation, broken bones from the restraints, and brain damage count?

  94. I really don’t much care for amoral dirtbags, so we’re even. Arguing with you is like arguing with 9/11 Troofers.

  95. Some people pay to get whipped and beaten. They even get off on it. It doesn’t mean that being whipped and beaten isn’t torture.

    So those protesters get off on being waterboarded? That would explain a lot.

    Hey, how come they don’t do any of the other stuff they’re protesting? You know, the stuff that can cause permanent physical harm?

  96. Precisely, but you can be voluntarily waterboarded. Kind of my point. I’m not sure where rape enters into it, no pun intended.

    You can be voluntarily fucked and it’s actually great fun. If you are involuntarily fucked, it’s a nightmare and a form of torture. So, you see, saying “waterboarding isn’t so bad because people do it to each other” is a terrible way to argue that waterboarding isn’t torture.

    Sorry, suspected terrorists.

    If you’re being sarcastic, could you explain what makes you think the government is capable of only arresting actual terrorists?

  97. Mock executions don’t even scratch people, but it’s torture.

  98. Isn’t that cute, you’re pretending like waterboarding doesn’t cause physical injury.

    Does oxygen deprivation, broken bones from the restraints, and brain damage count?

    In your case, I’m not sure how we’d determine the first or last. j/k lol

    Well, I’m sure we could dig up incidences of criminals suffering injuries while, say, resisting being handcuffed by the police. Does that mean it’s torture?

    I really don’t much care for amoral dirtbags, so we’re even. Arguing with you is like arguing with 9/11 Troofers.

    Are we arguing? I thought we were just talking. I let the “Go fuck yourself” slide, even. For such a peace-loving guy, you sure seem hostile.

  99. Oh. So, then, holding somebody against his will would qualify as well.

    John is a man. Therefore, all men are John.

    Torture is nonconsensual; therefore, all nonconsensual things are torture.

    Nope. John is one of many men. Torture is one of many nonconsensual acts.

  100. For such a peace-loving guy, you sure seem hostile.

    Yeah, I don’t like torture apologists. I also don’t like 9/11 Troofers, Holocaust deniers, and people nostalgic for the Confederacy. Call me crazy, but I don’t.

  101. But I guess if someone, say, grabbed joe in the middle of the night, put a bag over his head, disoriented him, brought him to a undisclosed location, then told him he was going to be executed, made him dig his own grave, say his last words, then simply fire a blank instead and start laughing that wouldn’t be torture since there’s no lasting physical harm, or any physical harm at all.

  102. You can be voluntarily fucked and it’s actually great fun.

    More than I wanted to know about your personal life, but rest assured that I was opposed to Prop. 8.

    If you are involuntarily fucked, it’s a nightmare and a form of torture. So, you see, saying “waterboarding isn’t so bad because people do it to each other” is a terrible way to argue that waterboarding isn’t torture.

    Yeah, it’s almost as bad as equating waterboarding with rape. I don’t see protesters wiring each other’s gonads to a car battery, or administering the bastinado to each other. Just waterboarding. Weird, huh?

    If you’re being sarcastic, could you explain what makes you think the government is capable of only arresting actual terrorists?

    Can you explain how Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has been unfairly accused?

  103. No peace without justice.

  104. I don’t think it’s remotely weird that people trying to demonstrate that waterboarding is torture would reenact waterboarding sessions instead of one of the other varieties of torture.

    Since waterboarding, as opposed to electrodes on the nuts, is the act whose status as torture is in dispute.

  105. Can you explain how Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has been unfairly accused?

    I can explain how Maher Arar has been unfairly accued, prior to his torture, but I think this report does a pretty good job.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/19/world/americas/19canada.html

  106. Stop.Feeding.The.Troll.

    Thank you.

  107. Yeah, I don’t like torture apologists.

    Me neither. But then, I don’t think waterboarding is torture. I will now pause to allow you to scratch your teeth.

    John is a man. Therefore, all men are John.

    Torture is nonconsensual; therefore, all nonconsensual things are torture.

    Nope. John is one of many men. Torture is one of many nonconsensual acts.

    Yay, non sequiturs!

    But I guess if someone, say, grabbed joe in the middle of the night, put a bag over his head, disoriented him, brought him to a undisclosed location, then told him he was going to be executed, made him dig his own grave, say his last words, then simply fire a blank instead and start laughing that wouldn’t be torture since there’s no lasting physical harm, or any physical harm at all.

    I think, for joe, it would be a dream come true. “They really are out to get me!”

  108. So I take it you don’t think mock executions are torture, either?

  109. Stop.Feeding.The.Troll.

    I don’t agree with BDB, but I’d stop short of calling him a troll.

    I don’t think it’s remotely weird that people trying to demonstrate that waterboarding is torture would reenact waterboarding sessions instead of one of the other varieties of torture.

    Since waterboarding, as opposed to electrodes on the nuts, is the act whose status as torture is in dispute.

    So they prove it’s torture by doing it to each other in front of a crowd. Okay, I guess I can see that.

  110. But then, I don’t think waterboarding is torture

    The US criminal code, and the war crimes tribunals established after WW2, would like to disagree.

    Yay, non sequiturs!

    Yeah, non sequiturs are awesome. So, any response to the point that your logic is flawed, and the argument you made about consent invalid?

  111. So they prove it’s torture by doing it to each other in front of a crowd.

    Actually, they prove it’s torture by allowing the crowd to see the effect it has on a human being.

    You kind of need the crowd for that to work.

  112. So I take it you don’t think mock executions are torture, either?

    You might want to grab another toothpick.

  113. More than I wanted to know about your personal life, but rest assured that I was opposed to Prop. 8.

    Hey, I said “you can be voluntarily fucked.” You don’t think that’s fun? Glad you opposed Prop 8, but I’m a hetero husband.

    Yeah, it’s almost as bad as equating waterboarding with rape. I don’t see protesters wiring each other’s gonads to a car battery, or administering the bastinado to each other. Just waterboarding. Weird, huh?

    I think it’s fair to equate involuntary waterboarding to involuntary sex. And you’re just repeating yourself, here. “Protesters waterboard each other, therefore waterboarding isn’t torture.” That argument, that something which is done voluntarily doesn’t qualify as torture when done involuntarily, makes no sense. As it’s been pointed out, sex is frequently done voluntarily. That doesn’t mean it’s not torture when done involuntarily.

    Can you explain how Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has been unfairly accused?

    No need to explain that since neither I nor anyone here has made that assertion. You, however, have implied that suspected terrorists are actual terrorists based only on the claims of the government. So, again, what makes you think the government is capable of only arresting actual terrorists?

  114. Actually, they prove it’s torture by allowing the crowd to see the effect it has on a human being.

    A few minutes of B-movie blubbering and then home for a nap.

    But hey, why would they be anything but honest? The nice thing about psychic scars is that nobody can prove you don’t have ’em.

    So, any response to the point that your logic is flawed, and the argument you made about consent invalid?

    How could there be, joe? What you lack in compositional clarity, you more than make up for in the moral variety.

  115. Les, I can’t figure out which part of your comment is quoted material and which is the no-doubt-precise debunking of my torture-apologizing nonsense, so I’ll just say, “Could be.”

  116. Given that I don’t think Treacher is as dumb as he’s playing, I can only assume that he’s breathtakingly dishonest and immoral.

  117. “Hey, how come they don’t do any of the other stuff they’re protesting? You know, the stuff that can cause permanent physical harm?”

    Well, probably because it can cause permanent physical harm. And i second the “go fuck yourself”. Ass.

  118. Thanks. Hey, wait.

    When in doubt, go to motive!

  119. Sorry, but joe did a good job in pointing out how your logic in “nonconsent = torture” was a total failure.

  120. Well, probably because it can cause permanent physical harm.

    As opposed to the permanent psychic harm they inflict on each other.

  121. “”””The lack of consent is part of what makes it torture.”””

    I disagree, I is an element but I wouldn’t call it the one that makes it torture. If I burned you with a cigarette, even on purpose without your consent, it’s not torture. If I burned you to set an example and then said I would repeat the process till you told me what I want to know, that’s torture. Maybe torture light, but torture is about giving someone an expectation that the bad thing will continue to happen until you say what they want to hear. Escalation is another element of torture, you think this is bad, don’t answer and it gets worse. That’s why waterboarding someone in SERE school is not torture, the person has an expectation that it will not be repeated over and over. If you didn’t let the guy up and did it repeatedly trying to get an answer to a question, if changes from demonstration to torture.

  122. Sorry, but joe did a good job in pointing out how your logic in “nonconsent = torture” was a total failure.

    Well, I don’t know why you’d say it if it weren’t true. Dagnabbit! The Forces of Good have triumphed again.

  123. Jim, I’ll try again.

    Yeah, it’s almost as bad as equating waterboarding with rape. I don’t see protesters wiring each other’s gonads to a car battery, or administering the bastinado to each other. Just waterboarding. Weird, huh?

    I think it’s reasonable to equate involuntary waterboarding to involuntary sex. And you’re just repeating yourself, here. “Protesters waterboard each other, therefore waterboarding isn’t torture.” That argument, that something which is done voluntarily doesn’t qualify as torture when done involuntarily, makes no sense. As it’s been pointed out, sex is frequently done voluntarily. That doesn’t mean it’s not torture when done involuntarily.

    Can you explain how Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has been unfairly accused?

    No need to explain that since neither I nor anyone here has made that assertion. You, however, have implied that suspected terrorists are actual terrorists based only on the claims of the government. So, again, what makes you think the government is capable of only arresting actual terrorists?

  124. “””But hey, why would they be anything but honest? The nice thing about psychic scars is that nobody can prove you don’t have ’em.”””

    Is really nice for Tyrants because you can’t prove you DO have them in court of law.

  125. The liberals. The progressives.

    Hate to derail the fascinating discussion now in progress, but i just thought i’d point out that these two terms are, technically, opposites. K thx bye!

  126. P.S. If it’s any consolation, I do think being held underwater and beaten with a board would qualify as torture. I’m not completely heartless.

    Well, sorry to get you guys so upset. No hard feelings, eh? Have a good one!

  127. “””Hate to derail the fascinating discussion now in progress, but i just thought i’d point out that these two terms are, technically, opposites. K thx bye!”””

    Can you explain that without quoting Fox news or Rush Limbaugh?

  128. Mr. Doherty,

    What on earth did you do get get stuck on Greenwald-reading duty? Don’t you people have interns for that sort of abuse?

  129. I wouldn’t say non-consent by the victim is an element of torture (you don’t see it in the Geneva Convention definition*), so much as consent would be a defense against a charge of torture.

    But that’s splitting hairs. And we don’t do that around here.

    *any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.

  130. Shelby,

    Greenwald is usually a lot more libertarian in his writings than you’ll find at most conservative blogs. And he has been consistently critical of Democrats who, with or without Republican assistance, diminish our civil rights.

  131. A few minutes of B-movie blubbering and then home for a nap.

    Right, that’s just what American POWs and Cambodian political prisoners did after they were waterboarded. Play-acted and then a quick nap. That must be why the people who performed the deeds were prosecuted for torture.

    How could there be, joe? You’re right, there couldn’t be. Your entire argument relies on the reader not realizing that consent matters in judging the morality of what one person does to another. Once I pointed that out, what could you possibly say?

  132. Consent might be the differnece between torture, and a night of S&M role playing. 😉

  133. Or the difference, take your pick.

  134. …Doms are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the subs.

  135. Your entire argument relies on the reader not realizing that consent matters in judging the morality of what one person does to another. Once I pointed that out, what could you possibly say?

    Oh wait, I know this one: “No soap, radio!”

  136. No Coke. Pepsi.

  137. Well dip my balls in sweet cream and squat me in a kitchen full of kittens.

    Methinks that Joe just may be the threadwinner this time around.

  138. Must be, if Burrow Owl says so.

  139. If Jim would sign a waiver saying that I can waterboard him with no time limit [either for the entire duration of the event, or for individual periods where he can’t breathe] and waiving all criminal and civil liability for me if he “accidentally” dies – and if we assume for the purposes of argument that such an agreement would be legally enforceable – I imagine I could give him quite an education on whether or not waterboarding is torture.

    That’s what idiots like him don’t realize – that waterboarding is torture because the practitioner can kill you if they don’t relent, and the subject both knows this and immediately experiences it physically.

    There’s no “extreme or permanent damage” if I shove your head in a toilet, either. Elementary school kids gave each other swirlies for decades. But if you don’t know if I am ever going to bring your head up again – if that’s entirely in my control, at my whim, and I can kill you without punishment if I choose and you know that – then getting a swirlie would be torture. Or at least it would be if I was in charge, you can bet that much.

  140. Thank you, Burrow Owl. I’ll drop by the tree where you live some time.

  141. It’s interesting – in all his posts, I don’t think Jim made a single clear, substantive, non-ironic comment or response, beyond a brief statement that he doesn’t believe waterboarding is torture. It would be helpful if some folks would start their posts with some sort of disclaimer along the lines of “I am completely unwilling or unable to engage in an open, substantive discussion.” That might save a little time.

  142. It’s torture because I wouldn’t enjoy it. Hey, if I get tortured by Fluffy, please let Burrow Owl watch.

  143. Ok, this whole Blagojevich story really needs to go away. Sadly, the more bad publicity he gets, the more he will make when he writes a book two years from now. He doesn’t deserve it.

  144. This has gotten a little silly. I hope you all realize that the national press is being manipulated by the powers that be. The slavering reaction oriented national news are tools at this point of those who want to obfuscate the truth.

    Anyone remember Elliot Spitzer erstwhile Governor of NY? He had a very high priced call girl. Without proof, but also without doubt, many of our powerful politicians have the same type of arrangement. Spitzer took on Bank of America and the financial infrastructure though.

    Blago was looking to see what would get done for a senate seat. I don’t think this is odd for a governor either. However, Blago took on Bank of America.

    Neither of these guys are angels. Both are likely sociopaths like the rest of their ilk (politicians). However, the reason that they are in trouble is because they did something that was potentially hurtful to the same financial institutions that have stolen our money and made themselves targets.

    Their actions are politics as usual. They got caught because they had our best interests at heart. Think on that for a moment.

    Is this the country we want? Where the powerful can do whatever they want until they rock the boat too much and then they are fed to the sharks in order to obfuscate things like the financial scandals and the foibles of the Bush administration?

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