Torture

Please explain to me how we are having this godawful stupid debate.

[P]sychologists and other specialists, commissioned by the Intelligence Science Board, make the case that more than five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has yet to create an elite corps of interrogators trained to glean secrets from terrorism suspects.

While billions are spent each year to upgrade satellites and other high-tech spy machinery, the experts say, interrogation methods — possibly the most important source of information on groups like Al Qaeda — are a hodgepodge that date from the 1950s, or are modeled on old Soviet practices.

Future generations can argue whether 9/11 made a subset of Americans so loopy that they lost the moral compass altogether, or the terror attacks just offered a golden chance to let those ugly impulses hang out in the open. Consistent with my conservation of craziness principle I will side with the idea that every country has levelheaded folks and complete fruitcakes, the unique culture and political structure of each nation determining which group generally occupies leadership positions. This line of reasoning always leads back to Bob Altmeyer’s work, so go read a few chapters if you haven’t done so already.

My Conservation of Craziness principle looks especially good when you consider how deeply we have fallen down the rabbit hole in such a short span of time. Our topmost leaders don’t mind cribbing interrogation policy from not one but both bugbears of the twentieth century. No GOP challenger can win today without supporting explicit torture of American captives with no binding limitations regarding who, when or how. At the most recent GOP debate the torture-stoked audience* only quieted down when John McCain suggested that torturing prisoners is wrong. To put it frankly, an entire class of America did not spontaneously go insane some time in the last six or seven years. The sick mentality exposed by this torture debate has percolated beneath the surface for as long as any country has existed. America was a great nation not because we lacked howling torture boosters but because people like that felt ashamed to express themselves in public.

But then some folks have proven immune to the deontological angle of the torture debate. Who cares if torture is morally wrong, they argue, or how deeply it degrades us as a nation as long as “enhanced interrogation techniques” (a phrase coined by the gestapo) gets results? It might make us safer. And don’t forget about those apocryphal ticking bombs! It’s a fair question that deserves an answer.

[I]n meetings with intelligence officials and in a 325-page initial report completed in December, the researchers have pressed a more practical critique: there is little evidence, they say, that harsh methods produce the best intelligence.

The idea that torture has little value for gathering intel should surprise exactly nobody. The Soviets honestly didn’t care that much about gathering reliable intelligence – they had enough informers on most city blocks for that. The techniques that they developed and we copied only existed break down prisoners until they confess to whatever bogus crime the state felt like charging them with that day. Needless to say prisoners in American custody have done exactly the same thing, and as a result we have wasted countless time and money chasing leads that proved meaningless.

So in the absence of either a deontological or a utilitarian justification, why exactly are we having this debata? Military and civilian interrogation experts almost universally opposed the rule. Military JAG officers had to be ordered out of detention centers to keep their objections from gumming the works. The only thing I can conclude is that some people, sadly in the most elevated positions of American government, just have some visceral attraction to the idea of torture. In that sense prisoner abuse is not that different from abstinence-only sex ed or tax cuts for the rich. It doesn’t matter whether it works or serves America’s interests, they just like it.

***

(*) Giuliani’s comment (“anything my interrogators can think of”) was chilling on its face, but especially so in light of Abner Louima. Giuliani knows full well what unrestrained officers can think of.






81 replies
  1. 1
    MobiusKlein says:

    Sadly, we can’t just call it Republican Stupidity. Did the Democrats filibuster it when they had a chance?

    Have the Dems come out and voted anything to counter this since they came to lead the House & Senate?

    Just remember – when the Japanese and Germans did the same stuff in WWII, it was a War Crime, punishable by Death.

  2. 2
    Delia says:

    This goes well beyond Republican Stupidity. File it under Republican Sadism. Which may involve stupidity, but is something much worse.

  3. 3
    Pb says:

    Just remember – when the Japanese and Germans did the same stuff in WWII, it was a War Crime, punishable by Death.

    Precisely–and dismissing it as “a hodgepodge that date from the 1950s, or are modeled on old Soviet practices” is really being far too kind–or far too cowardly.

    The phrase “Verschärfte Vernehmung” is German for “enhanced interrogation”. Other translations include “intensified interrogation” or “sharpened interrogation”. It’s a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court. The methods, as you can see above, are indistinguishable from those described as “enhanced interrogation techniques” by the president.

    Say what you will about Andrew Sullivan–he’s still got more balls than The Gray Lady (what liberal media?).

  4. 4
    Ian says:

    I’m not convinced that torture was popular in the Soviet Union, certainly not to the degree to which it is currently popular in the US.

  5. 5
    The Other Steve says:

    I said in 2004 that the Republicans were using Nazi-like tactics.

    Not surprised.

  6. 6
    jake says:

    The only thing I can conclude is that some people, sadly in the most elevated positions of American government, just have some visceral attraction to the idea of torture.

    It’s all about control, innit? Torture allows you to control what the prisoner says. You can then take his “confession” of blood-curdling deeds done and attempted and planned to the public and use it to control them with fear of what could happen if they don’t allow you to do whatever you decide is necessary to keep them safe.

    With time you can shape what people consider acceptable and when you get the majority to accept torture, phone taps don’t seem too bad.

    Of course the other part of the equation is a high enough number of cowards in the population. Not crazy people per se, just people crazed by fear who don’t care what it takes to make them “safe.” The just plain crazy part comes in when you consider the majority of Americans do not live in places that a terrorist is likely to target. What the hell do they care? Why does a man living in Warsaw, IN, believe waterboarding some guy in Gitmo will make him safer? That’s the crazy bit.

    Just remember – when the Japanese and Germans did the same stuff in WWII, it was a War Crime, punishable by Death.

    Which brings us to the US reaction to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Perhaps we should change IOKIYAR to IOKIYAA[merican].

  7. 7
    Wilfred says:

    The United States is a great country, but Americans are not a great people. If we were, there would be no ‘debate’ about torture.

    It’s not just some people in the government who like torture, it’s everyone who doesn’t denounce it for what it is. Sadly, most Americans have no problem with it. If they did, we wouldn’t be talking about it.

  8. 8

    […] More at Balloon Juice and Obsidian Wings. […]

  9. 9
    RSA says:

    So in the absence of either a deontological or a utilitarian justification, why exactly are we having this debat[e]? . . . The only thing I can conclude is that some people, sadly in the most elevated positions of American government, just have some visceral attraction to the idea of torture.

    I like jake’s observation that it’s all about control; I’d say something similar, that it’s all about power. It’s not rational. Consider that none of the Republicans who support torture are willing to say where the line is, which suggests that they know torture is wrong; they also can’t say what we’ve learned from torturing people in Guantanamo. What they can say (regardless of whether it’s true or not) is that bad things are happening to bad people, which is comforting to people of a particular mindset.

    I realize that pro-torture views are not limited to religious conservatives (Tim F.’s reference to right-wing authoritarianism is closer to the mark), but I’m reminded of the view that if someone fails to follow a set of rules and accept a set of beliefs, he deserves an eternity of torment. That establishes a very long yardstick.

  10. 10
    Wilfred says:

    Future generations can argue whether 9/11 made a subset of Americans so loopy that they lost the moral compass altogether, or the terror attacks just offered a golden chance to let those ugly impulses hang out in the open

    During the 1920’s, membership in the Ku Klux Klan was over 5 million. By the 1930’s, it had fallen to practically nothing. What happened? Did the members have a sudden epiphany that they were a bunch of racist, lynching bastards and it was wrong to be so?

  11. 11
    jake says:

    Did the members have a sudden epiphany that they were a bunch of racist, lynching bastards and it was wrong to be so?

    Perhaps. It helps when one of your leaders breaks a whole lotta the group’s commandments:

    The second Klan collapsed partly as a result of the backlash against their actions and partly as a result of a scandal involving David Stephenson … the Grand Dragon of Indiana and fourteen other states, who was convicted of the rape and murder of Madge Oberholtzer in a sensational trial (she was bitten so many times that one man who saw her described her condition as having been “chewed by a cannibal”).

    So much for defending Christianity, purity, white womanhood and all that jazz. Here is another account for the wiki haters.

  12. 12
    Punchy says:

    [P]sychologists and other specialists

    Something tells me Malkin and Hannity will now decry psychologists and other specialists as having a clear and consistent liberal bias.

  13. 13
    jh says:

    I’ll make this short but sweet.

    This country has always been run by sadists and their passive enablers.

    Look at the historical treatment of minority groups if you doubt that.

    And then look at men who took it upon themselves to try to cure this nation of its need to hurt weaker members of society.

    Their reward?

    Hot Lead.

    This is a country of sickos and it always will be.

  14. 14
    RSA says:

    Well, obviously. Someone with a Ph.D. in psychology probably thinks he’s smarter than most people. (Look at Charles Krauthammer, for instance.)

  15. 15
    RSA says:

    Sorry, my last comment made no sense whatsoever. Please ignore.

  16. 16
    Zifnab says:

    Please explain to me how we are having this godawful stupid debate.

    Because they want to kill us, Tim.

  17. 17
    Shinobi says:

    I hate the whole torture debate. I think it violates the very soul of this country to even consider torturing captives.

    But here is my dilemma, if I want to vote for someone in 2008 who opposes Torture, I will probably have to vote for someone who wants to create a public health service.

    Where have all the moderates gone?

  18. 18
    Pb says:

    most Americans have no problem with it

    But Americans do have significant problems with it–and note also that a majority of Republicans are ok with it “often or sometimes”, whereas Democrats fall on the “rarely or never” side.

    Which isn’t great, but it’s something. For the rest, I’m with Al Gore on calling for more reason, logic, and generally sanity be put back into the public debate (and hopefully less torture porn like 24….).

  19. 19
    Pb says:

    Shinobi,

    Where have all the moderates gone?

    The moderates are supporting Universal Health Care; FYI.

  20. 20
    RSA says:

    But here is my dilemma, if I want to vote for someone in 2008 who opposes Torture, I will probably have to vote for someone who wants to create a public health service.

    Where have all the moderates gone?

    If we’re talking about national health insurance, that is the moderate position, in the sense that the majority of Americans favor such a thing.

  21. 21
    Tim F. says:

    if I want to vote for someone in 2008 who opposes Torture, I will probably have to vote for someone who wants to create a public health service.

    Well, I won’t advocate voting for McCain because he’s way out of my comfort zone on too many issues and, frankly, the Straight Talk Express got lost in bullshitville a long time ago. But if you’re willing to overlook his capitulation on the torture bill (I know, a big if) then he sounds like your guy.

  22. 22
    ThymeZone says:

    911 didn’t change everything, but it did make cowards of moderates and of the level-headed crowd.

    Failure to stand up to the crazy people, IMO, explains more about Patriot Act America than does a surge in craziness. The craziness is always there, we just lost the wisdom and will to keep it in check for a while.

    We’re getting it back, but it takes time and work.

  23. 23
    Lee says:

    911 didn’t change everything, but it did make cowards of moderates and of the level-headed crowd

    I have to admit I was part of that. As a Marine getting called a coward and/or unpatriotic/traitor for questioning the policies of our great and noble leader and not be able to punch the person in the nuts gets pretty frustrating. So I quit for awhile (the questioning, not the abstaining from the nut punching). Now I’m giving it back in spades to the douchbags.

    (yes I’m bitter)

  24. 24
    Mark says:

    When I see someone like Cheney boosting torture and dissing the Constitution, I get the feeling that the mindset he is selling is some spin on American exceptionalism: the fouler the things we do, the more important they are, because we must have a really good reason for doing them.

  25. 25

    […] By coincidence, Tim F., today, plucks the same note: Future generations can argue whether 9/11 made a subset of Americans so loopy that they lost the moral compass altogether, or the terror attacks just offered a golden chance to let those ugly impulses hang out in the open. (my emph) Filed under: Uncategorized — cleek @ 3:16 pm […]

  26. 26
    Andrew says:

    Where have all the moderates gone?

    I’ll get David Broder’s address for you.

    You two can complain about how Clinton destroyed American and how, thankfully, Bush saved our country from the immoral leftists. In a moderate manner, of course.

  27. 27
    Rome Again says:

    To put it frankly, an entire class of America did not spontaneously go insane some time in the last six or seven years. The sick mentality exposed by this torture debate has percolated beneath the surface for as long as any country has existed. America was a great nation not because we lacked howling torture boosters but because people like that felt ashamed to express themselves in public.

    The true Republican mindset is fairly covert, because, of course, they don’t really like to admit that they’d throw someone else over the side to keep themselves alive and never feel an ounce of regret. Yes, it has been simmering beneath the surface all along, because folks like Rush Limbaugh have been feeding that mindset for more than 20 years now.

  28. 28
    Rome Again says:

    By the way, speaking of torture, I don’t like that concept at all, but, wake up at 6 am and immediately thereafter find your cat pissing on your surge protector can change that thought in a moment’s notice, so I’ve found out this morning!

    Yeah, that was my morning. He’s still alive, and walking on all fours.

  29. 29
    Zifnab says:

    By the way, speaking of torture, I don’t like that concept at all, but, wake up at 6 am and immediately thereafter find your cat pissing on your surge protector can change that thought in a moment’s notice, so I’ve found out this morning!

    I’m kinda with Rome on this. Sure, people don’t wake up one morning and suddenly decide mutilating suspected terrorists is a good idea. But after years of Smoking Gun Mushroom Clouds and 9/11 imagery and “They want to kill us!” rhetoric and ticking time-bomb senarios and Jack Bauer TV, people do change. It’s that Overton Window. 9/11 greased the skids and Republicans put their backs into it. People who would normally want to see justice run its course suddenly want to rap Osama’s balls in razor wire. Not because they like balls meshed in razor wire, but because they really don’t like OBL. Then, when the guys who do like razored balls come around, all they have to do is point and shout, “He’s just like Osama” and suddenly the testicle mutilation crowd gains a few more otherwise moderate heads.

  30. 30
    Pinhead says:

    I am absolutely fed up with both factions of the party. Republicans openly let us down and squashed civil liberties, and dems are quietly complicit. They completed the process by appearing to be defenders of liberty when in truth they all have the same agenda, and I doubt Dems will do much to put an end to the ridiculous torture debate. Again, two factions, same **fascist** party.

  31. 31
    Mary says:

    When I see someone like Cheney boosting torture and dissing the Constitution, I get the feeling that the mindset he is selling is some spin on American exceptionalism: the fouler the things we do, the more important they are, because we must have a really good reason for doing them.

    Yep. Classic cognitive dissonance at work.

    “Americans are good people” plus “We torture people, which is bad” = “We’re doing it for the greater good, somehow.”

  32. 32
    Tsulagi says:

    But if you’re willing to overlook his capitulation on the torture bill (I know, a big if) then he sounds like your guy.

    Bullshit. McCain has been hard at work wooing the 28%er retarded wing of the Bush Republican party on a number of other issues. He’s been working toward his fluffer stars with the Jesus set in their abortion and gay wars.

    And while he gave a decent answer on the torture issue at the last Pub debate, his spine turned to jello on that a long time ago to fellate the Purple Heart bandaid warriors. Before MCA, he got an anti-torture amendment passed with something like 90 votes in the Senate. But not one mavericky word said when Bush gutted it with an “enhanced” democracy tool, a finding, one of hundreds issued by the retard who would be king.

    But I guess McCain knows his target audience. The “family values” set. Those who at every opportunity, when they’re not dialing for straight hookers or banging gay ones, will tell they represent the moral fiber of this country.

    Apparently good Christians love their torture of others by others well over their heathen secular neighbors. Catholics lead the charge. Seems they’re good with guys like Zarqawi setting their moral compass.

  33. 33
    Pinhead says:

    if I want to vote for someone in 2008 who opposes Torture, I will probably have to vote for someone who wants to create a public health service.

    Well, I won’t advocate voting for McCain because…

    because he co-authored the Military Commissions Act, **which authorizes the use of torture** (and gives the executive branch the power to determine who is and who is not an “enemy combatant” and hold said individuals indefinitely without the right to challenge their status)?

  34. 34
    Jake says:

    “Americans are good people” plus “We torture people, which is bad” = “We’re doing it for the greater good, somehow.”

    We only do it to bad people (-) presumption of innocence (+) They’re not Americans (+) THEY WANT TO KILL US! = Torture.

    From an historical stand-point this looks like the precursor to torture of citizens. Step one is getting citizens to accept torture of “the other.” Step two is getting citizens to equate some subset of their own population with “the other.” Step three is ???? and Step four is Profit!!

    Or something.

  35. 35
    {õ£õ} says:

    I said in 2003 that Capital Punishment was the cure for this administration.
    But I was deleted from all the comment sections of blogs on the so called left & the rabid right.

  36. 36
    AkaDad says:

    Would torture be appropriate to reveal who outed a covert CIA operative?

  37. 37
    Zifnab says:

    That’s what everyone keeps asking.

  38. 38
    ThymeZone says:

    Would torture be appropriate to reveal who outed a covert CIA operative?

    Yes, as long as it’s administered by Jack Bauer. He is the standard now for the ruling party.

  39. 39
    Rome Again says:

    Would torture be appropriate to reveal who outed a covert CIA operative?

    Tim already answered that:

    The idea that torture has little value for gathering intel should surprise exactly nobody.

  40. 40
    Rome Again says:

    I have to add, I slightly tortured my cat this morning and all I wanted to know was if he would never do that again, I got no answer.

  41. 41
    ThymeZone says:

    all I wanted to know was if he would never do that again

    Meow.

  42. 42
    ThymeZone says:

    I got no answer.

    How many volts did you apply to his testicles?

  43. 43
    Batocchio says:

    The only thing I can conclude is that some people, sadly in the most elevated positions of American government, just have some visceral attraction to the idea of torture. In that sense prisoner abuse is not that different from abstinence-only sex ed or tax cuts for the rich. It doesn’t matter whether it works or serves America’s interests, they just like it.

    That about sums it up. In The One Percent Doctrine, Bush is described as really liking descriptions of derring-do and interested in whether the more “extreme” interrogation techniques really work. Torture is about obtaining a confession, normally false, not about getting the truth. We’ve got horrendous policies in place due to people in power with a middle school, Rambo-esque view of the world.

  44. 44
    Rome Again says:

    How many volts did you apply to his testicles?

    None, but had he sat on that surge protector (that is if I didn’t yell “NO!” at the top of my lungs), he could have done it to himself. That might have taught him the lesson, perhaps i shouldn’t have reacted at all. LMAO

    I gotta admit, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry about this situation.

  45. 45
    ThymeZone says:

    None

    I recommend starting with 110 vac, and then taking it up from there in 50-volt increments until the cat complies.

    Few cats will hold out past 208 vac. You can get that at your dryer or electric range outlet.

  46. 46
    timtimes says:

    It’s a waste of time discussing Republican presidential aspriations. There’s no way in hell that any of them can/will win. They thought 2006 was a shock!! It’s of no relevance what they are saying (bad as it is) because they are all chasing after a 28% landslide.

    Enjoy.

  47. 47
    ThymeZone says:

    It’s a waste of time discussing Republican presidential aspriations. There’s no way in hell that any of them can/will win. They thought 2006 was a shock!! It’s of no relevance what they are saying (bad as it is) because they are all chasing after a 28% landslide.

    To me, it’s going to be kind of like watching the Wiener Dog Races. A lot of fun, and nobody cares who wins.

  48. 48
    Dhalgren says:

    In addition to Bob Altmeyer’s book, I would also recommend the documentary “Taxi To The Dark Side,” which should be released on DVD later this year.

  49. 49
    ThymeZone says:

    Just to wrap up the concept, this is your Republican primary race in a nutshell.

    The dog still in the starting gate is Thompson.

  50. 50
    Jake says:

    I slightly tortured my cat this morning and all I wanted to know was if he would never do that again

    Don’t forget to keep your stitches clean, apply plenty of anti-biotic ointment and change those bandages frequently!

    I don’t know if cats feel electricity. One of mine likes to snack on cords. The only thing more alarming than coming home late at night and finding your phone cord has been neatly snipped into pieces is smelling burning carpet when the answer phone clicks on because an evil critter has chewed that up as well.

    THEY WANT TO KILL US!

  51. 51
    Rome Again says:

    I recommend starting with 110 vac, and then taking it up from there in 50-volt increments until the cat complies.

    Few cats will hold out past 208 vac. You can get that at your dryer or electric range outlet.

    I won’t tell him you said that. ;)

  52. 52
    ThymeZone says:

    I don’t know if cats feel electricity.

    Oh, they do. And they hate us for our freedom.

  53. 53
    Rome Again says:

    Don’t forget to keep your stitches clean, apply plenty of anti-biotic ointment and change those bandages frequently!

    Nope, he’s declawed, so I got no scratches, but I did knick my hand somehow. I’ll be fine, I’m sure. No stitches or bandages needed.

  54. 54
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    In that sense prisoner abuse is not that different from abstinence-only sex ed or tax cuts for the rich. It doesn’t matter whether it works or serves America’s interests, they just like it.

    Exactly. There was agreat article a couple years ago (I think I have the link on my comp at home) about why it can be so frustrating to try to debate with neocons. Of course, there are tons of reasons why, but the one the article focused on is pretty much what Tim says above: They aren’t talking about means to an end, they talk about the means being the end.

    The example used was tax policy. Most people see it as a means to an end–you support tax policy A in hopes of bringing about result X. But for neocons, the sentence merely ends with, “You support tax policy A.” That’s it. They want tax cuts for the rich–end of story. The end doesn’t matter in the slightest, which is why they say you must cut taxes for the rich during a recession, during a boom, during war, during peace, whenever. The result of the policy doesn’t matter at all; getting your way with policy is the only thing that matters.

  55. 55
    Rome Again says:

    I don’t know if cats feel electricity.

    I have it on good authority that fur burns almost as easily as paper.

  56. 56
    ThymeZone says:

    I have it on good authority that fur burns almost as easily as paper.

    This has been today’s episode of “Things I Learned at the Rudy Giuliani Institute of Authoritarianism.”

  57. 57
    Jake says:

    I did knick my hand somehow.

    If you suspect your cat has learned to wield a knife you need to run, not walk, to the nearest exit. Seriously. All that separates us from being slaves to the Feline Overlords is the fact we have the opposable thumbs. But they’re working on it. A co-worker has one of these bad boys and he says his monster’s little “thumbs” are quite good at gripping things.

  58. 58
    CaseyL says:

    When cats all have thumbs and have figured out how to use them, they can fight it out with the raccoons over who becomes Earth’s Next Dominant Species.

  59. 59
    ThymeZone says:

    This line of reasoning always leads back to Bob Altmeyer’s work, so go read a few chapters if you haven’t done so already.

    Okay, so I figured this out. I personally was against all authoritarianism …. until I read this material.

    Now my view is, I will submit to ANYTHING if this guy will just GET TO THE FUCKING POINT.

    Oh my god. It’s like listening to Bob and Ray do the Slow Talkers of America routine.

  60. 60
    Tim F. says:

    Now my view is, I will submit to ANYTHING if this guy will just GET TO THE FUCKING POINT.

    I think you need to read at least two chapters before you can say anything.

  61. 61
    ThymeZone says:

    I think you need to read at least two chapters before you can say anything.

    :)

  62. 62
    ThymeZone says:

    who becomes Earth’s Next Dominant Species.

    This issue may be settled:

    Kudzu and Cogongrass: The Invasive Plants that Ate the World
    By Tina Samuels

    The only thing running a close second to the eating power of kudzu is cogongrass. Between these two invasive plants, the world is slowly being covered by vines. If you would like to learn more about kudzu and cogongrass, the two plants that are on a mission to eat everything in their path, this is the article for you.
    KUDZU

    Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a native plant of Japan that was brought to the United States in 1876 thanks to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Not long afterwards it became an overgrowing part of the south at the New Orleans Exposition. Although always troublesome, during the Great Depression farmers were paid an impressive $8 an acre to plant kudzu to aid in erosion efforts. Kudzu is a perennial vine, member of the bean family, and covers more than 7 million acres in the southeast. It can grow in its peak growing season at a rate of a foot a day. No matter how diverse the growing condition, kudzu can find a way to flourish, so much so that it takes over 10 years to kill a well established kudzu patch. It is the single worst threat to native plants in Georgia, mostly by overcrowding and shading the landscape. It will literally choke everything in its path. It is used in a wide variety of projects, ranging from medicinal to decorative, from teas to alcoholism therapy, in hopes of finding more and more ways to combat the overgrowth of the plant.

    COGONGRASS

    Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica), hailed as the “new kudzu”, is a highly invasive perennial weed plant with upright shoots measuring 2-4 feet high and is spread via windblown seeds. The leaf margins have silica crystals and have a silvery hairless blade. It is tolerant of shade and drought, and is very hardy, being found in any ecosystem. It was introduced into the United States as a packing material and studied as an erosion crop, just like kudzu. While it is still relatively new to the Georgia area, it is still on a watch list. There are researchers in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi that are trying to find viable control options for cogongrass. Ground nesting species can be displaced due to the extreme dense cover that is created by the mat of thatch and leaves it forms. It is nearly impossible for other plants to exist, or animals to live, with cogongrass around.

  63. 63
    tBone says:

    It was introduced into the United States as a packing material and studied as an erosion crop, just like kudzu.

    Clearly we need to find the person who introduced this plant to the US and torture him/her.

    Where are the cogongrass seeds? WHERE are the COGONGRASS SEEDS?!? WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!

  64. 64
    Dreggas says:

    Zifnab Says:

    People who would normally want to see justice run its course suddenly want to rap Osama’s balls in razor wire. Not because they like balls meshed in razor wire, but because they really don’t like OBL.

    Guilty as charged on this. I will admit after 9/11 and seeing bin laden’s smiling face plastered on TV I wanted to be the one using those enhanced interrogation techniques, not to get him to confess but to make him suffer before I personally killed him.

    However it only took a few months for the anger to settle to a dull roar and I was relatively sane again. Those who watched nothing but fox news and philated Mann Coulter never settled down, the anger and fear didn’t dissipate and they became the monsters they were supposedly fighting.

  65. 65
    Jake says:

    This issue may be settled:

    Don’t get me started about kudzu, that crap, along with fire ants made an unpleasant stay with relatives in Alabama into a non-stop creepfest. I know it has medicinal value but fine. Cut it all down and drag it off to a factory.

    It’s been up here in DC for a few years and for whatever reason local authorities only refer to it as an “invasive plant.” As in:

    “Goats will be in sections of Rock Creek Park this weekend as part of a test to control an invasive plant.”

    And there’s something worse out there? Greeeat.

  66. 66
    Rome Again says:

    If you suspect your cat has learned to wield a knife you need to run, not walk, to the nearest exit. Seriously. All that separates us from being slaves to the Feline Overlords is the fact we have the opposable thumbs. But they’re working on it. A co-worker has one of these bad boys and he says his monster’s little “thumbs” are quite good at gripping things.

    He can be my overlord all he wants, as long as he doesn’t piss on electrical outlets. LMAO

  67. 67
    Rome Again says:

    Now my view is, I will submit to ANYTHING if this guy will just GET TO THE FUCKING POINT.

    Oh, is THAT the trick? I’ll remember that. ;)

    I shall talk v – e – r – y s – l – o – w – l – y!

  68. 68
    ThymeZone says:

    I shall talk v – e – r – y s – l – o – w – l – y!

    Say again?

    Heh. Just kidding :)

  69. 69
    Rome Again says:

    Say again?

    Heh. Just kidding

    Oh just long enough for you to say:

    ” will submit to ANYTHING if [you] will just GET TO THE FUCKING POINT.” :)

  70. 70
    Rome Again says:

    Sorry, got something in my “I”.

  71. 71
    ThymeZone says:

    will submit to ANYTHING

    This is pretty much the gist of what I meant.

  72. 72
    Rome Again says:

    This is pretty much the gist of what I meant.

    Thot so!

  73. 73
    Tax Analyst says:

    Rome Again Says:

    By the way, speaking of torture, I don’t like that concept at all, but, wake up at 6 am and immediately thereafter find your cat pissing on your surge protector can change that thought in a moment’s notice, so I’ve found out this morning!

    Yeah, that was my morning. He’s still alive, and walking on all fours.

    Yeah, and now it’s your damn fault that I just spit out bits of Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers all over my monitor…

    …But I wouldn’t torture you over it…

    …and it’s not even the worst “what my pet did” story I’ve heard in the last 24 hours…my boss took her little poodle on a plane flight and made the mistake of taking the little thing out of the carrier case for a few moments. The dog immediately starting shaking and quivering and in the next moment shit all over EVERYTHING -self, seat, boss, floor…you name it, she shit over it. Which left boss stuck there in the exact middle of a 4-hour fully-packed flight. Wearing and stinking of dog-shit with the attendant odor completely grossing out and disgusting virtually every passenger in that section of the plane. I imagine it was a VERY long 2+ hours for all involved before that flight finally ended.

    Torture? Well, in a good, God-fearing society like Amurricca there’s s’posed ta be the infliction of pain on SOMEBODY when something bad happens – it’s just about an absolute requirement…because SOMEBODY, for God’s sake, has to do SOMETHING…because otherwise Tehy’ll Kill Uz All – and when you have people running things who are otherwise clueless as to what to do about REAL problems the most obvious course of action is to blame somebody who kinda looks like one of the bad guys and either kill him or hurt him very badly. They will do this right up to the very moment when the rational folks somehow wrest control of situation…they can’t stop, it would prove it was wrong to do it in the first place.

    Are we ready for any rational people to wrest control of the situation yet? I honestly feel like the public is pretty close to ready, but it’s going to be hard to get it past “The Decider” since he’s still got one finger connected to the electrified vice-grips that have been attached to the gonads that our Constitution used to have.

    Oh, and be Nice to Your Cat…remember, if he’d really wanted to harm you he would have.

  74. 74
    Tax Analyst says:

    Hmmm…I don’t know how I managed to put a strike-through in my last post, but it doesn’t belong there. The incident really did happen and there really was shit every-fucking-where…diarrhea, actually…at least per my boss…I seriously doubt she’d tell such a completely embarrassing, humiliating, and mortifying tale if it were not so.

  75. 75
    ThymeZone says:

    be Nice to Your Cat…remember, if he’d really wanted to harm you he would have.

    Exactly. Clearly, a person who knows cats well.

  76. 76
    Tax Analyst says:

    ThymeZone Says:

    be Nice to Your Cat…remember, if he’d really wanted to harm you he would have.

    Exactly. Clearly, a person who knows cats well.

    Hey, I learned at the paws of One of The Best…

  77. 77
    Rome Again says:

    Oh, and be Nice to Your Cat…remember, if he’d really wanted to harm you he would have.

    My cat gets very special treatment 99.99999% of the time. He knows he’s loved and cared for. This one incident will not create any true hardship on him, but I think he’ll think twice before going anywhere but in his box now.

  78. 78
    Jake says:

    Oh, and be Nice to Your Cat…remember, if when he really wants to harm you he would have will.

    Fixed.

    And being shut up in a shit scented plane sounds like an enhanced interrogation tactic to me.

  79. 79
    ThymeZone says:

    And being shut up in a shit scented plane sounds like an enhanced interrogation tactic to me America West Airlines, pretty much.

    Heh.

  80. 80
    Rome Again says:

    And being shut up in a shit scented plane sounds like an enhanced interrogation tactic to me.

    Yeah, if I were another passenger, I’d want my money back.

  81. 81

    […] Here’s part of Juan Cole’s take on it from over at Balloon Juice: Future generations can argue whether 9/11 made a subset of Americans so loopy that they lost the moral compass altogether, or the terror attacks just offered a golden chance to let those ugly impulses hang out in the open. Consistent with my conservation of craziness principle I will side with the idea that every country has levelheaded folks and complete fruitcakes, the unique culture and political structure of each nation determining which group generally occupies leadership positions. […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Here’s part of Juan Cole’s take on it from over at Balloon Juice: Future generations can argue whether 9/11 made a subset of Americans so loopy that they lost the moral compass altogether, or the terror attacks just offered a golden chance to let those ugly impulses hang out in the open. Consistent with my conservation of craziness principle I will side with the idea that every country has levelheaded folks and complete fruitcakes, the unique culture and political structure of each nation determining which group generally occupies leadership positions. […]

  2. […] By coincidence, Tim F., today, plucks the same note: Future generations can argue whether 9/11 made a subset of Americans so loopy that they lost the moral compass altogether, or the terror attacks just offered a golden chance to let those ugly impulses hang out in the open. (my emph) Filed under: Uncategorized — cleek @ 3:16 pm […]

  3. […] More at Balloon Juice and Obsidian Wings. […]

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