The Torture Report, Barack Obama, and the Abdication of Leadership


The Daily Beast

The release earlier this week of the Senate's "torture report" has been discussed mostly in terms of what went on under George W. Bush's presidency and at "his" CIA. That lets other lawmakers—including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat in charge of the committee that released the report, and Barack Obama, among others—off way too easy. And it leads to a serious misapprehension of the true significance of the mess in Washington, D.C. From my Daily Beast column on the topic:

We need to be clear about the ultimate import of the torture report, which covers a period from late 2001 through 2009 and whose release was unconscionably delayed for years. It won't be the cause of lowered international esteem for America or even attacks on overseas personnel. No, that's all due to the same old failed interventionist foreign policy, massive and ongoing drone attacks, and the proliferation of "dumb wars" over the past dozen years under both Republican and Democratic presidents and Congresses.

The torture report is simply the latest and most graphic incarnation of an existential leadership crisis that has eaten through Washington's moral authority and ability to govern, in the way road salt and rust eat through car mufflers in a Buffalo winter. "America is great because she is good," wrote Tocqueville back in the day. "If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." We've got a lot of explaining to do, not just to the rest of the world but to ourselves. How much longer will we countenance the post-9/11 national security state, which Edward Snowden's ongoing revelations remind us are constantly mutating into new forms and outrages?…

Nobody here has credibility. Claims that they never knew about waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques by leaders such as Nancy Pelosi have never been particularly credible. Sen. Dianne Feinstein notes at the very start of the report, the original investigations started in 2007 when it came to light that the CIA had destroyed (accidentally!) video of its interrogations. What took so long for this all to see the light of day? And for all President Obama's cloying campaign patter about transparency, he still chose to keep 9,400 CIA documentsfrom the Senate Committee, citing "executive privilege." Some secrets, it seems, must be kept even from elected representatives who could still be sworn to secrecy….

The leadership in both parties is laughable and ineffective, incapable even of pushing a budget through in the official manner while missing no opportunity to sermonize on the real and imagined evils of their legislative adversaries. The torture report taunts both sides equally because in the final analysis, the difference between "How could you support this?" and "How could you let this happen?" is morally null and void.

Read the whole thing.

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  1. I doubt the report’s release will do much of anything but give the news cycle something new for a few days, maybe weeks. Those who “hate America” would do so regardless of any claims made by Senate investigators, and a decent number of Americans feel they want Cheney on that wall, need him on that wall.

  2. Terrorists scare me, so I think that whomever our executive branch puts in charge of stopping the terrorists can do whatever they want to do, whatever they have to do, to keep me safe from terrorists.

    I do not want to experience 9/11 x 100.

      1. Did my math wrong, 81.81?

        1. 81.8181818181818181…. and on and on FOREVER.

          FOREVER!!! Is THAT what you bleeding heart peaceniks want?

          and DON’T GET ME STARTED on the tyranny of transcendental numbers!

          1. That’s an algebraic number, not transcendental. If we were in ISIS I would chop your head off for that blasphemy.

            1. I wasn’t referring to the prior number, I was referring to the tactics of the e.thiopian pi.rates

              1. OK, you’re spared. For now.

            2. The word, “algebra” actually comes from arabic, although the “arabic” number system and its innovation of zero actually come from the Indian subcontinent. Hard to tell the blasphemers without a program!

  3. In ten years, when you’re getting your head chopped off in a New York soccer stadium by order of the Caliphate, because your haircut violates Sharia law, maybe then you’ll wish somebody had waterboarded and butt-fed more terrorists before it was too late.

    1. Butt-chugging 4 peace!

      1. If we were really serious about stopping terrorism, we’d shred a Koran in front of the prisoner, and then pump the shavings into their colons to force them to shit on the Koran. None of this namby-pamby hummus stuff.

      Not a kick-ball stadium!

  4. We need the best and brightest to save us form these dangerous people who live in caves and Tents,kill each other by the 1000’s and have no navy or air force or country.They are so dangerous they can make a atomic bomb out of sand and camel dung and place it in NYC by raft.Little Peter King told me so.

    1. You’re fighting the last war. You don’t need an atom bomb to attack the soft underbelly of American society (and it’s very soft).

      1. Sure,in some cities,go out around the any gun owners and see how soft they are.

        1. And while you’re at it, see how well they protect the infrastructure.

        2. If they weren’t soft they wouldn’t need guns, they could protect themselves bare-handed or at most with melee weapons.

          Here we go with the “guns solve every problem” dogma. Hint: the defense against the lone midnight burglar or alley mugger is not going to be the same as the defense against terrorists.

          You guys have some serious “everything’s a nail” issues.

          1. As opposed to you, who views torture as the only way to stop the Caliphate from taking over New York before it’s TOO LATE?

            ‘Everything’s a nail’ indeed.

            1. Tu quoque fallacies make Baby Jesus cry.

              1. I just find it amusing that the guy claiming that America is ‘soft’ is the one hyperventilating about scary terrorists taking over and the only way we can stop that is through torturing people.

                We get it Stampede, you’re terrified. Fortunately some people are made of sterner stuff.

                1. Fear does not make one soft, complacency and blithe arrogance does.

                  Nobody in Byzantium saw it coming in 700 AD either.

      2. Pathetic imagination you have there.

        In the first place, there are so many ways to disrupt the infrastructure and terrorize the country, cheaply, that there is only one valid explanation for why it hasn’t been done: lack of volunteers.

        Only four on the 19 9-11 hijackers knew it was a suicide mission. The other 15 thought it was a standard hijacking. If they couldn’t get suicide volunteers for that mission, and haven’t gotten any since, other than the pathetically incompetent underwear and shoe bombers, then why should we waste trillions of dollars and thousands of lives fighting them in their sandboxes?

        Was Saddam a worse dictator than the Saudis? No. He was Bush’s friend (Bush 1, not BOOOSH aka Obama the 0th).

        This GWoT is control freakery pure and simple. Scare the masses, terrorize them from within, keep taxes and power on 11.

        Any fool who believes in the GWoT is a gullible naive sheep.

        1. Eh, I think we had to knock off the Talib gov’t of Afghanistan…past that, this has gone on too long. I hope Rand Paul can force a vote to sunset the original AUMF.

          1. Yes, there was some justification for that, as long as you don’t go back any further in history and see how every intervention leads to more and more. But the rest is just fresh santorum.

            1. Yeah, if we hadn’t fought the Nazis and Imperial Japan, the world would be a much better place. [/sarcasm]

              Dogmatic non-interventionism is simplistic. Simplistic beliefs and the real world don’t mix well.

              1. False equivalence fallacies make Baby Jesus cry.

                1. as long as you don’t go back any further in history and see how every intervention leads to more and more.

                  Looks like a true equivalence to me. Quit torturing the God-baby.

        2. They’re working on the volunteer issue with some success (seen in recent news stories) using Facebook and Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg is a Jew, btw.

          1. They’ve had thirteen fucking years and haven’t worked it out yet. But I suppose once they get Top.Men on it, they will succeed.

            Teddy Roosevelt had a child’s plushy named after him, btw.

      3. “You don’t need an atom bomb to attack the soft underbelly of American society”

        All you really need is to leave empty packages and/or backpacks lying around any major city.

  5. Don’t tell AC about this “rectal rehydration” thing. He might try and get into Gitmo:) If coming here isn’t enough.

  6. my roomate’s step-aunt makes $71 an hour on the internet . She has been laid off for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $20349 just working on the internet for a few hours. read the article….

  7. So many things left unspoken about the motives behind this partisan report. The casting of blame upon the intelligence community and the avoidance of mentioning of any oversight that sanctioned their program. The distraction away from critical budget legislation. The painting of conservatives and the military as rabid attack dogs hungry for blood while the liberal Senator pounds her chest in self righteous anger.

    Just a continuation of the pattern of deception that has left many Americans wondering when patriotism, duty, honor and their security became subordinate to political strategy.

    1. So many things left unspoken about the motives behind this partisan report.

      So you’re saying that the facts included in the report are false?

      Because “partisan” and “motives” means jack shit if the facts are correct.

      1. When was the last time you saw a credible report that failed to take testimony from a single one of the principals? I guess this one does it for you, then?

  8. Natalie . even though Steven `s artlclee is nice… I just purchased Peugeot 205 GTi after earning $6824 thiss month and-even more than, ten grand this past-month . with-out any question its my favourite job Ive had .
    Best way to keep

  9. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

  10. Stampede=Tulpa?

    1. Yup. He just can’t stay away. His patheticness is like his tears: yummy and sweet.

  11. My local paper published my criticism of torture. There is some impressive derp in the comments:…..r_29845952

    The text of my letter is here:


    1. It’s funny how they refer to you as a “libtard.” They clearly need to branch away from the left-right dichotomy and into the real world.

  12. Interestingly enough, FXM Retro just showed the movie Circle of Deception this morning (it’ll be on again tomorrow morning at 4:00 AM). The main character is tortured by the Nazis, with waterboarding clearly portrayed, as the guy is strapped to a board and his head is dunked into a bathtub full of water.

    There’s also electric shock torture, with clamps placed on the guy’s ears and an electric charge applied. No forced rectal stuff, though, since movies back in 1960 couldn’t show that.

    1. On his ears? Clearly they’re doin’ it wrong! The clamps should be on his nipples.

      1. I’d have thought the Nazis would put the clamps on his testicles, but obviously they couldn’t show that in a movie in 1960.

        1. Compromise, one on a testicle, one on the opposing nipple.

  13. my classmate’s mother makes $83 hourly on the computer . She has been out of a job for five months but last month her paycheck was $13982 just working on the computer for a few hours. Check This Out………

  14. Jumping Jack Flash is not going to like that dude.

  15. There are two types of presidents who engage in torture: ones who also believe in single payer, and ones who don’t. Bush was the latter, so he was a monster and all of us as Americans are inherently guilty because of his torture. Obama is the former, so, you know, politics are complicated, and Republicans blocked his anti-torture efforts, no leader is perfect, etc…

    /Prog logic

  16. The culture of the CIA completely and totally changed once Obama came into office.

    They changed all their ways in 2009….Not.

    When will the 2009 to present report come out?

    1. They had to start over. The draft was on one of the broken hard drives.

  17. “Lack of volunteers…”

    1. Hmmm… apparently the paragraph after this was cut off???

      Anyway, the point I was trying to make was that the job of our leadership is to make sure that few volunteers can be found to go against us; imho, that boils down to living up to our high ideals. We must make sure that impartial justice is served to all. Our government must show respect to its own people, as well as to the people, in whose countries we hope to trade and engage in cultural exchange. Our enemies can spin all the anti-U.S. propaganda they want. But when those who could be potential volunteers against us see that we actually try to live up to high ideals, only the most twisted of them will have the heart to take up arms or commit heinous acts. On the other hand, as long as we keep torturing and allying ourselves with regional tyrants, the line of potential terrorists who wish to kick Uncle Sam in the crotch will wrap around the block several times.

  18. I’m glad all this torture stuff came out. I needed to be reminded of why I hate conservatives too.

    1. I don’t think torture is on the conservative mission statement. RINO statist on the other hand …

  19. Torture my ass. And this canard that you don’t get reliable information from torture is just as lame. If you need information IMMEDIATELY torture is the only way. Obviously you can get info over time by aggressive interrogation (which is what we’re talking about here). But if you feel you don’t have the luxury of time and mere days may count, real torture may be the only method.
    However, true torture means that you’re serious, and more importantly, your suspect knows that. The Gitmo Dream Team knew that the world knew where they were and would hold accountable the captors, to a greater or lessor degree. Believe me, if you’re in the bowels of some nameless shithole and the interrogator lops off your first three fingers at the “get to know you” meeting, you tend to dread his next visit. Infantryman POWs in Viet Nam knew this; They weren’t worth as much as airmen POWs in training $ or bargaining value. Nobody knew where they were or what was happening to them, and their stories were much different.

    1. The Gitmo Baddies knew just the opposite. Everyone knew where they were and who had them. The knew their lives were not in danger nor was real bodily harm. The interrogation, while surely uncomfortable, could be managed. Even so, over time, real info was gathered, at a much faster rate than conducting some hilarious version of “good cop, bad cop” on a bunch of fairly committed terrorists.
      Hopefully, what the spooks have finally learned is that you tell no one and intern the fucks in a real shithole under the auspices of the Turks or Saudis, people who truly make shitbirds like the “shoe bomber” shake like a dog shitting a peach seed, and let the info flow.

  20. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

  21. I think he is correct in terms of:

    Torture should bug us just as much as drones (assassination) and bombing of other countries when not at war.

    The report is garbage, the lack of oversight is garbage, and the attitude from left and right is garbage. None of that changes our behavior (as a country) is fucking horrible. We have become the bogey man.

    1. Never underestimate the ability of radical muslims to sink to new lows.

  22. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

  23. Any bets on whether there’s a gentleman’s agreement between Obama and the GOP leadership on this one? Or whether the GOP is afaid of what Obama does if they act like an opposition party?

  24. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

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