Torture Database Chronicles Old Presidential Misdeeds as President Moves Forward


not quite

The ACLU launched a Torture Database today, on the twenty fifth anniversary of the Convention Against Torture going into effect. That international treaty, theoretically, set the limits to just how enhanced interrogation techniques can get.

Though the Torture Database includes exclusively documents from the Bush Administration, in a bit of a role reversal, it's Obama's fault. The ACLU's Alexander Abdo writes:

President Obama campaigned against the use of torture, but even before assuming office, he dismissed the possibility of investigating senior officials who authorized it. He explained that "we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards." The explanation was as political as it was illogical: all crimes occur in the past. Looking forward and not backward means simply ignoring crimes…

The administration has also been unsympathetic to claims for redress brought by torture victims. At the insistence of the executive branch, American courts have dismissed on procedural grounds every single lawsuit brought by victims of torture seeking official recognition of their ordeal and redress for their suffering. Perhaps the most pernicious of these procedural obstacles is the "state secrets" privilege, which the administration has invoked to shield grotesque abuses of prisoners from any judicial review.

Although the current administration released critically important documentation of torture and abuse of detainees (many in response to Freedom of Information Act litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union and other public interest organizations), it has staunchly opposed disclosure of other key records. It continues to withhold hundreds of CIA cables describing the use of waterboarding and other harsh techniques, hundreds of photographs of detainee abuse throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, and the presidential memorandum that authorized the CIA to establish its secret prisons overseas.

The initial stream of disclosures dried up as the administration took ever-more extreme positions in court, arguing, for example, that it could suppress descriptions of conduct that it conceded was unlawful. The result is that the public record of American torture is still incomplete.

There is another, related problem: the government has yet to create a single, official report documenting the post 9/11 abuses.

Per the president's appeal to not look back at old crimes but instead to look forward, Reason on due process eradicating drones and Obama's continuation of the war on terror.

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  1. In 2005, four years after the 9/11 attacks, the Michigan Daily published an article with the headline “Arab Americans Better Educated Than Most in U.S.” It is a classic American success story: Arabs had come from countries all over the Middle East and North Africa, flourished, and integrated. They tended to be “better educated and wealthier than most Americans” ? nearly twice as likely as the typical U.S. resident to possess a college degree, according to Census data, with above-average household incomes. Fully 42 percent could be found working in management jobs, compared to 34 percent of Americans at large. The executive director of the Arab American Institute even praised the Census report for showing “how integrated Arabs are in American life.”

    1. So it is astounding, seven years later, that the Commerce Department is considering a petition to classify Arab Americans as a “socially and economically disadvantaged group” entitled to special business assistance from the Minority Business Development Agency. The petition was put forward by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which has previously pushed for the Palestinian right of return, a boycott of Lowe’s for dropping its ad on the television series All-American Muslim, and divestiture from Israel. Its latest cause is to help Arab Americans like me ? a Jew of Iraqi descent ? gain entry to a racial spoils system for which they have no need and to which they have no claim.…..nder-kazam

      1. “astounding” but hardly surprising, is it?

  2. i was waterboarded in SERE school where i knew i would survive. its torture like mccain also says

    1. It causes brain damage, too.

      1. john yoo pitching while lil georgie caught caused blindness not brain damage you simp

        1. Your guy is definitely turning a blind eye to torture victims as well. Fuck John Yoo and fuck GWB, too.

          1. It’s not what a person does that matters, it’s who the person is.

    2. you didn’t go to SERE school.

      1. Yeah I actually laughed when I read that.

    1. From the Nobel Peace Prize website:

      Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

      Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.…

      1. “His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”

        Dman good thing that Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson et al thought differently. If this is the price of leadership, then maybe isolationism is the way to go!

        1. Washington, Adams, were informed by Enlightenment thinkers. Most of those enlightened ideas about liberty, peace, and prosperity have yet to be embraced worldwide.

        2. Well, to be fair, much of the rest of the world thinks torture is a-ok, as long as it’s not them on the rack. So does that count as a shared value?

      2. So they’re admitting he’s a demagogue. Or did they mean a demigod?

  3. If I were an evil administration overlord adviser, I’d recommend a solution: torture drones. If drones can kill without due process, surely they can merely torture without due process.

    Problem solved!

    1. I like the cut of your jib sir. You will go far in politics.

    2. Didn’t Darth Vader use one on Princess Leia?

      1. And if he was left to pursure his effective methods, Vader could have probably been able to prevent 5/25, a day a great crime was perpetrated against the people of The Glorious Empire by Alderaanian Separatists.

      2. I believe that’s correct. At least, until Tarkin decided threatening a whole planet and then destroying it was a better method. Pretty much handed the Rebellion the moral high ground after that gaffe.

        1. In fairness, such a large toy was just begging to be used. It wasn’t his fault Alderaan was peaceful and bereft of weapons. They were probably asking for it. Princess Leia was pretty cheeky and impudent, too.

          1. It wasn’t his fault Alderaan was peaceful and bereft of weapons.

            An unarmed society is a dead society.

            1. But an armed society is a polite society.

              1. So Ex, I have to ask. Are you playing The Secret World. I was playing the beta over the weekend and I noticed someone with your handle in chat.

          2. It gave the Rebellion a huge advantage in propaganda until they took the misstep of exterminating the Ewok home world of Endor when they below up the Death Star.

            1. After the party the Rebellion left Endor, and the raining Death Star debris caused a nuclear winter, killing all life.

              1. Meh. They were expendable assets. Ewok meat is pretty tough and gamy anyway. It gives you a case of the winds.

              2. This is correct, and the media uncovered proof that the Rebellion knew the consequences to Endor and the poor Ewoks.

            2. How is exterminating the Ewoks a mistake?

              1. Better to fight them on Endor than fight them on Coruscant.

              2. You’d be shocked how popular they were in certain circles. Apparently, the Bothans used them as some sort of sex slave.

                1. They look quite different when shaved down like a poodle.

                2. Cultural degeneracy is all the Ewoks have ever had to offer. Ever notice how all the liberal democracies in the galaxy weren’t founded by Ewoks?

                  Makes you think, doesn’t it?

                  1. That’s a fair point, but there’s no question that the Empire’s approval rating dropped. And the Emperor himself went down to negative numbers.

              3. How is exterminating the Ewoks a mistake?

                Good point.

            3. Yeah, dead teddy bears make for bad PR.

          3. “What’s the point of having this superb battlestation you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”

          4. It’s best not go into the rebellion thing half-assed, especially when you are going against an openly evil empire.

        2. Bullshit. There were terrorists on New Alderaan. Destroying the entire planet was the only sure way to kill them before they attacked The Empire again. Governments have the right and duty to protect their citizens from being murdered. So what if a few “innocent” New Alderaanians got killed? Collateral damage happens in war. Maybe they should have been living on a planet with terrorists? They could have moved. You pacifists don’t know anything about waging a star war.

          1. Like I said, the moral high ground was lost. The Rebellion’s recruiting numbers skyrocketed after that.

            1. Killing Alderaanian terrorists doesn’t create more terrorists, those were already terrorists. Your blowback theory is just a way to blame The Empire for the attacks against it. The Empire is just protecting its interests. Anyone that thinks that justifies terrorisism is just a terrorist sympathizer.

              1. Are you trying to say the Empire’s creed is not a suicide pact?

                1. No, I’m saying that The Empire didn’t start this fight, but they damn well will be the ones to finish it.

              2. This is why I come here every day.

                1. Me, too!

                  1. And me. Epic sub-thread.

              3. Well, there was that loony sectarian movement that claimed that the attack on The Empire was an inside job. That did muddle the waters a bit.

                1. I heard that one, too. Supposedly, Lord Vader’s own son played some sort of role. Complete nonsense, of course. It’s not widely known, but Lord Vader’s wife died in childbirth, and the child didn’t survive.

                  1. If Lord Vader had a son, where’s the birth certificate? Oh sure, I’ve seen that fake-looking Tatooine one they released. Obviously Photoshopped.

                  2. Supposedly, she had twins. Or at least that was what was rumored, anyhow. You know the smut rags these days. But that’s impossible. Sith lords are not allowed to marry.

                    1. Your obsession with the state and contents of Padm? Amidala’s uterus is creepy and morbid.

                    2. Don’t project yourself on me. It’s not my fault droids don’t have legally recognized unions.

                    3. No, I agree. It’s obviously Rebel propaganda. Lord Vader has worn black in mourning for his lost wife and son for decades. Why would he do that if it hadn’t happened?

                    4. Apparently, conversion to Sithlam demands such intense devotion and a vow to celibacy as atonement.

                    5. Apparently, conversion to Sithlam demands such intense devotion and a vow to celibacy as atonement.

                      What about all those allegations of child molestation?

                    6. What about all those allegations of child molestation?

                      You can’t judge the whole religion based on what a few deviants do, you just can’t. What do you think the Jedi were up to with all those “younglings” they kept around?

                    7. I think adherents to the Force are suspect in general. I mean, look at the name: “The Force.”

          2. Destroying the entire planet was the only sure way to kill them before they attacked The Empire again.

            Ah, the old “nuke ’em from orbit” ploy, eh?

            1. Preemptive strike. It’s nothing Bush or Obama wouldn’t have done.

            2. Prove that The Empire didn’t kill terrorists on New Alderaan. You can’t can you? Monday morning armchair quartergeneral!

              1. You’re full of shit. Alderaan was peaceful. It had no weapons.

                1. Alderaan was peaceful. It had no weapons.

                  Bunch of liberal douche bag pansies. They deserved to die.

                2. They found weapons. You just won’t accept the evidence. Go on, blame everything on The Emperor. That’s all partisan hacks like you ever do.

                  1. There were no WMDs on Alderaan! Nice how you just ignore the destruction of the evidence and witnesses that could prove that.

                  2. Let me guess. Fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here, right?

                3. Weapons or not, they were definitely planning something. Would you rather wait until the got their hands on a star destroyer?

                  1. Look, I love the Empire as much as the next guy. My dad helped design the Death Star, and I graduated from Sith State University with a double major in Force Lightning/International Relations. I just think the more we tighten our grip, the more star systems will slip through our fingers.

                    1. Bullshit, if any star systems fail to join the Empire it’s only because we aren’t squeezing hard enough.

                    2. You need to read Senator Organa’s weekly column.

                    3. You need to read Senator Organa’s weekly column.

                      You mean that column with Unfortunate Implications and rumored to have been written by an overzealous associate?

                    4. She makes sense to me. She did predict that the Emperor would do away with the Senate, which has proven to have been a mistake. After all, without the Senate, the Emperor lost an important scapegoat. Lord Vader would never had made such an amateurish mistake.

                    5. Pro, Vader can’t do it alone. Just shut up and get with the program.

                    6. Lord Vader is a great man. If he were in charge, these things wouldn’t happen. I have a friend who had a friend on the Death Star who said that Lord Vader opposed the destruction of Alderaan.

                    7. Anyone who thinks Lord Vader was against the destruction is either stupid or lying. He was the one who gave the order FFS.

                    8. Every time I see the destruction of the Death Star, I think “never again”.

                    9. Damned crooked contractors and their poor vent construction.

                    10. Seriously, that’s practically treason. Who builds a space station with a self-destruct switch? In effect, that’s what that was.

                4. Alderaan was peaceful. It had no weapons.

                  That’s right, but all the weapons were secretly removed and being stored on Hoth to create the image of a peaceful, unarmed society.

          3. You have perfectly managed to capture sneering condescension, moral bankruptcy, and irrational fear mongering in your post. Well done, A+.

            1. I see all you have to offer are ad homiminimen attacks. Typical.

              1. That’s ad houyhnhnm, you yahoo.

              2. How glib of you.

            2. Your thanks should go to Cytotoxic and everyone else on TEAM MASS MURDER, not SugarFree.

              1. I WILL NOT BE SILENCED!

              2. I was specifically thinking of Cytotoxic and John. It’s almost word for word what they’ve posted in the past.

                1. I don’t write the laws of war spraky. I just try to explain them to clueless liberaltarians.

                  1. I’ve never figured out why it is commonly accepted that politicians are the scum of the earth, but there is nothing more noble than killing people for them.

                    1. Because life sucks and people suck worse sarcasmic. In ideal world there would be no need for governments or nations. Sadly we don’t live in an ideal world.

                  2. Thanks for the heads up Darth Jhon. I guess I just haven’t managed to subvert my morals to the degree that you have.

                    1. Would you like help with the fourth nail in that cross St. Sparky? You just don’t like the answers life and reality give you. Much better to live in a fantasy world of smug self righteousness I guess.

                    2. Do you know why we don’t live in an ideal world John? Because there will never be a shortage of people willing to kill because they’re insecure. There will never be a shortage of people willing to put their boot on a neck to gain an advantage. That is reality and I fully accept that that’s just the way life goes. All I can do is hold onto my morals and not fall into that useless trap.

                    3. Do you know why we don’t live in an ideal world John? Because there will never be a shortage of people willing to kill because they’re insecure. There will never be a shortage of people willing to put their boot on a neck to gain an advantage.

                      No shit. And if you want to let them do it be my guest. I don’t plan to go down so easily.

                    4. I don’t plan to go down so easily.

                      So you see, I think you’re a perfect fit for the first group.

                    5. Yeah Sparky because I understand that people who hide amongst civilians and use them as sheilds in warfare are evil and ultimately the ones responsible for the civilian deaths, I am real oppressive.

                      I am sorry you lost the argument over the issue and are still mad about. Why don’t you just examine some of your assumptions instead being so emotional about it.

                    6. Frankly John, I couldn’t care less how you justify your feelings. I understand you think I “lost” whatever “argument” was going on. There is nothing emotional about understanding that your morals are completely corrupt in my opinion. That fact that you even see the need to chase your enemies into populated areas on the other side of the world where they are totally incapable of harming you in any way says all I need to know.

                    7. Sparky you are completely emotional and irrational. You lost the argument and have no response other than the to well be emotional and appeal to your “morals” whatever those are. Sorry but you are not fooling anyone.

                    8. John, claiming you “won” and argument that you were the only one engaged in is pretty sad. Also, your contention that I am “emotional and irrational” is pretty silly given the fact that you are the one getting all hot under the collar defending your utterly indefensible view. Don’t project your childish behavior onto me.

  4. Politicians are gradually learning not to prosecute their predecessors in office, because their successors will then prosecute *them.*

    And speaking of bad precedents – punishing torture makes it difficult for one’s own administration to engage in it.

    1. So don’t commit any crimes and you won’t have anything to worry about, right?

  5. We’ll just have Chloe or Edgar hack in and erase that database anyway.

  6. Congress including Pelosi and the entire Democratic leadership were informed of what Bush was doing after 9-11. And they all enthusiastically signed off on it. For that reason anyone who thought Obama was really going to look into torture under the Bush Administration was either lying or a complete fool.

  7. Add video testimony and sworn affidavits, so a future Libertarian president will have some evidence when his Attorney General starts handing down the indictments.

    1. And that is why there will never be a Libertarian President. No one cares and in fact most people including liberals are happy Bush did what he did.

  8. There is another, related problem: the government has yet to create a single, official report documenting the post 9/11 abuses

    Is it just me, or is expecting the various governemnt agencies to get together and compile a list of all the ways they (arguably) broke the law a little bit naive?

    1. Especially when both parties knew about and supported such activity. Yeah, a bit naive is an understatement.

      1. Well, ass-numbingly stupid seemed a bit much. Here’s the rub on this one, and what makes me think Epi and the rest of the anarchists aren’t necessarily wrong: in order to uncover and prosecute government wrongdoing, you need the government. And when we’re as far down the slope as we are, that’s no longer something you can rely on.

        1. We need an anti-government. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Censor needs to be outside of the government, though constitutionally recognized. Otherwise, the office will be quickly corrupted.

        2. This is exactly the problem. The only function that our government successfully performs any more is expanding its power. The representative democracy idea has become unusable mostly because the population has grown well beyond anything that can be dealt with. Voter apathy assures that, in general, no more than 30% of the population even participates anymore because people have lost faith in the government’s ability to do anything. Add to that the ability of those in power to invent new ways to keep themselves in power and what can you do? The current government is broken beyond repair, the only way to get around it is to start something new.

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