Durbin Was Wrong

Remember when Dick Durbin said the following:

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

You remember the collective FREAKOUT from the right wing when that happened, right? If not, head here and read. At any rate, Durbin was wrong, it turns out. That behavior was not like the Nazi’s, or Svoiets with their gulags, or Pol Pot- it was actually the Communist Chinese we were emulating:

The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Can the indictments start now?

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63 replies
  1. 1
    cleek says:

    Can the indictments start now?

    no.

    this Simple Answer has been brought to you by the Speaker Of The House, Nancy Pelosi.

  2. 2
    El Cid says:

    Well, it’s okay then, because since then the Chinese have become very close partners with Wal-Mart, and that’s the most American thing there is.

  3. 3
    tofubo says:

    no

    i speak, for the house; i do not set up tables, for the members

    -nancy p.

  4. 4
    Lavocat says:

    Looks like Orwell was off by a few years, but he still got it right.

  5. 5
    pinola says:

    Well, the neocon penchant for all things Cold War rears its ugly head again. How sentimentally sweet. How apropos.

  6. 6
    pinola says:

    NO. We have a presidential campaign to run and more important things to discuss, like faith-based initiatives.

  7. 7
    Frank Jacobs says:

    Can the indictments start now?

    What exactly would be the point of that while Bush controls the Justice Department and can instruct people to ignore subpoenas at his whim? He could delay any meaningful proceedings ’till the end of his term. Save a few bucks and wait ’till then.

    (I’m not, by the way, implying that this is in any way some “secret plan” on the minds of folks like Pelosi or Reid, nor should this in any way be inferred. This is just my own take on it, taking all realities into consideration.)

  8. 8
    gypsy howell says:

    It’s almost as if these criminals are intentionally setting themselves up to be convicted in The Hague.

    Reminds me of the best dope-slap advice given to my then-17 year old son by a lawyer (after the police illegally seized his camera’s memory chip, whereupon he informed us that there “might” be pictures of him & his friends smoking pot on it) :

    “Lemme give ya a piece of advice, kid. Don’t ever take pictures of yourself committing a crime, OK?”

  9. 9
    4tehlulz says:

    GOP = PRC

  10. 10
    Wilfred says:

    Yes, a nation turns its weary eyes to AG Mukasey:

    Mr. Mukasey got it right when he called waterboarding “repugnant”; like many senators, we wish he had also clearly stated that it is illegal. But to do so would have been likely to bring him into conflict with existing Justice Department memorandums that have been used by CIA interrogators and others to legitimize their actions. Mr. Mukasey has promised a careful review of each of those memorandums; if he is rejected, no nominee is likely to promise more in advance of confirmation.

    Has anybody seen any of these careful reviews? Indictments my ass.

  11. 11
    El Cid says:

    pinola Says:

    Well, the neocon penchant for all things Cold War rears its ugly head again. How sentimentally sweet. How apropos.

    That the right wing continually moans about the ‘left’ (DFH’s) nostalgia for the past has always been impressive, given their perpetual residence in a faked up WWII / 1950s / Reagan haze.

  12. 12
    KevinD says:

    I’m remember reading about France’s war in Algeria, how the French had learned their torture techniques from the Nazis.
    Now I’m reading Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilisation, where he tells how the Algerian’s learned how to torture from the French and are now using the same techniques against the islamists.

    Same Shit, Different Day

  13. 13
    Redhand says:

    It’s almost as if these criminals are intentionally setting themselves up to be convicted in The Hague.

    One can only hope they’re arrogant and stupid enough to travel after January 2009.

  14. 14
    TR says:

    GOP = PRC

    Given the slavish cult of personality in both, this isn’t surprising.

  15. 15
    jake says:

    Done to Americans by foreigners = Immoral and evil.
    Done to foreigners by Americans = America! Fuck Yeah! Also: Yipee-ki-yay motherfucker!

  16. 16
    Punchy says:

    “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

    Torture? Sounds like a bad night of sex….

  17. 17
    The Thinking Man's Mel Torme says:

    Interesting, about the Chi-Com torture playbook, given how shopworn the “Manchurian Candidate” meme from the wingnut axis viz. B.O. has become. Perhaps it’s reverse-vampire ju-jitsu misdirection? Anyone seen Khigh Dhiegh malingering around RNC headquarters?

  18. 18
    C says:

    Let me guess: You lefty freaks who are complaining about poor terrorists’ sleep being disrupted probably also cheered the decision freeing child rapists from the death penalty.

  19. 19
    nightjar says:

    A relief so far today. If this is the best the High Priests of Liberal Purity can muster to chunk rocks at Obama, I (and others)can take a day off from chunkin’ ’em back. However, the day is still young.

    :-)

  20. 20
    nightjar says:

    On the other hand, it would have been better to have posted my comment on the right thread.

  21. 21
    Zifnab says:

    Punchy Says:

    “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

    Torture? Sounds like a bad night of sex….

    At least the Gitmo detains get 3 hot meals a day. I mean, what are they complaining about? My girlfriend makes me do all the cooking.

  22. 22
    Con Mhac says:

    What happened to good old fashioned American ingenuity? Now we have to outsource even our “coercive interrogation” techniques to the Chinese! Simply outrageous.

  23. 23
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Now we have to outsource even our “coercive interrogation” techniques to the Chinese!

    So far we’re just borrowing their ideas. It’s only a matter of time before we start sending them actual prisoners. I’m sure they’ll torture them for a quarter of the hourly rate paid US uniformed personnel, and a tenth of whatever we pay private firms like CACI.

  24. 24
    cleek says:

    It’s only a matter of time before we start sending them actual prisoners.

    actually… we do their torturing for them.

  25. 25
    jvill says:

    C Says: Let me guess: You lefty freaks who are complaining about poor terrorists’ sleep being disrupted probably also cheered the decision freeing child rapists from the death penalty.

    No, but if you fell into an open manhole and died I would laugh.

    Does that make you feel better?

  26. 26
    Garrigus Carraig says:

    […] how the French had learned their torture techniques from the Nazis.

    Can we walk this back? Where did the Nazis learn their techniques? The Inquisition? Was there some “torture revolution” that took place between the Inquisition and the Third Reich?

  27. 27
    Zifnab says:

    It’s only a matter of time before we start sending them actual prisoners. I’m sure they’ll torture them for a quarter of the hourly rate paid US uniformed personnel, and a tenth of whatever we pay private firms like CACI.

    Hey now. If there’s one company I’m confident the GOP will protect the job security of, its Blackwater USA.

  28. 28
    rachel says:

    This is what the unhinged Right looks like to me.

  29. 29
    C says:

    jvill: Speaks volumes about your mindset that you could even write such a thing, actually. Very nice.

  30. 30
    cleek says:

    oh no, you’ve hurt the troll’s feelings!

  31. 31
    cbear says:

    We had to torture the prisoners in order to save them.

  32. 32
    Punchy says:

    if you fell into an open manhole

    I really don’t think he’s gay.

  33. 33
    Garrigus Carraig says:

    You lefty freaks who are complaining about poor terrorists’ sleep being disrupted probably also cheered the decision freeing child rapists from the death penalty.

    F1x3d?

  34. 34
    Gus says:

    I really don’t think he’s gay.

    Not openly anyway.

  35. 35
    KevinD says:

    Was there some “torture revolution” that took place between the Inquisition and the Third Reich?

    More like an evolution probably, or maybe Intelligent Design?

  36. 36
    croatoan says:

    I’m remember reading about France’s war in Algeria, how the French had learned their torture techniques from the Nazis.

    France lost in Algeria. The Nazis lost. The Soviet Union isn’t around any more. Why keep copying the losers?

  37. 37
    Cris says:

    a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions

    Sweet!

  38. 38
    Garrigus Carraig says:

    Why keep copying the losers?

    We faced the Chinese once and they pwn3d us.

  39. 39
    The Moar You Know says:

    jvill Says:

    C Says: Let me guess: You lefty freaks who are complaining about poor terrorists’ sleep being disrupted probably also cheered the decision freeing child rapists from the death penalty.

    No, but if you fell into an open manhole and died I would laugh.

    Does that make you feel better?

    For the win!

    Let me go on record saying that if his seeing-eye cat led him into a spinning wheat thresher, I would pay good money to see the video.

  40. 40

    Frank Sinatra, Lawrence Harvey, Angela Lansbury, Frank Silva (as the Chinese guy).

    croatoan Says:

    France lost in Algeria. The Nazis lost. The Soviet Union isn’t around any more. Why keep copying the losers?

    Because it is so much fun for psychopaths. As a child you stick firecrackers up frogs’ butts. As a young man you brand pledges to your frat with hot clotheshangers. As Prez you have the power to torture the whole world.

  41. 41
    mrmobi says:

    You’re in good form today, John. This post reminds me of the posts which first drew me here.

    Hitchens is pretty much despicable on almost everything these days, but that is one damning indictment, coming from him.

    And, can I just say, since I’ve waited for so long, my Senator, Senator Durbin, was absolutely RIGHT, Godwin notwithstanding!

  42. 42
    keevan d. morgan says:

    can we get rational here?

    i never took offense at durbin’s comments. first, i am dead set against torture (with the below limited exceptions) and believe that its use devastates the position of the u.s. in the world’s eyes. (yes, world opinion is important–the declaration of independence says that it is written in part to justify the colonies’ position to the world.) as i like to say, if the u.s. is on a pedestal, everyone has to look up at us. second, all durbin was doing (just like johnny cochran did at oj’s trial when he said we have to keep cops from being fascists) was making a “slippery slope” argument. durbin didn’t say we are nazis, he just said that this sort of thing is what nazis or soviets may have done, but that doesn’t make waterboarding mass extermination. so, the right-wing way overreacted to durbin–so much so it became an outright distortion of durbin’s comments. durbin should never have surrendered by apologizing. instead, he should have explained what a slippery slope argument is.

    on the other hand, for the very reason durbin’s comments must be considered distorted by the right-wing, so are the left’s arguments about u.s. “torture” exaggerated and distorting. i say, don’t torture at all, among other reasons, so that we don’t get this distortions. but, waterboarding is NOT mass extermination. waterboarding or playing loud music or sleep deprivation are not stalin’s wiping out of millions of kulacks or mao’s killing of 20 million, or hitler’s holocaust. let’s not get carried away.

    or, let’s get carried away in one sense. if the left’s yelping helps to keep the u.s. on a pedestal, it serves the same useful purpose as the aclu. we may not agree most of the time or much of the time, but that’s what keeping watch of our rights calls for. objectively, however, the conduct of the u.s. in iraq is nothing more than normal warfare and if anything is more “by the rules” than most.

    ok, those torture exceptions. first, one would have to be morally myopic to say you don’t torture one person to save an atomic bomb going off. of course you do. then, you confess and the life-saving goes to sentencing. maybe you even get congratulated. the problem is whether the torture would be effective, but if that were a given, only a monstrous illogic would let 100,000 die to keep 1 from some pain. second, how many ss officers in world war2 do you read about getting through our lines to a trial? it’s common knowledge there was revenge taken, and rightfully so. not legally right, and if caught the perpetrators would have to be punished. but really, if an iraqi who lost 3 relatives to a sadaam henchman (and who tortured many hundreds more) were seen on the street right after sadaam’s fall, we can’t cry that the citizen who lost the relatives takes him out, or that the ss uniform meant street justice at the end of world war2. we can cry theoretically, but not emotionally or caringly.

    keevan d. morgan, chicago

  43. 43
    scarshapedstar says:

    Well, sure, the commies may written the book on torture, but that was back when we were at war with Oceania.

  44. 44
    EL says:

    Let me guess: You lefty freaks who are complaining about poor terrorists’ sleep being disrupted probably also cheered the decision freeing child rapists from the death penalty.

    Post of the day for trollery! Using the techniques of:

    – Ad hominem attack – “lefty freaks”
    – Mindreading – “probably also cheered…”
    – Irrelevant material – “freeing child rapists from the death penalty”
    – False equivalence

    You’re not DougJ (or are you?) If you work at it, you could probably crowd in a few more illegitimate debate techniques or off-the-wall statements having nothing to do with the issue at hand.

  45. 45
    El Cid says:

    We were just jealous that the Chinese were getting to drill for oil off the coast of Cuba, a mere day’s drive from Harlingen, TX.

  46. 46
    EL says:

    Grr – I use paragraphs to make it a list, and it comes out in paragraph form anyway! And it looks exactly the same in the preview whether I use the LI or OL buttons. Grr!

  47. 47
    Wilfred says:

    I’m forever pimping his blog but Col. Pat Lang has a post up on this as well. His commenters are an interesting bunch.

    Where’s St. John on all of this, btw?

  48. 48
    Tony J says:

    on the other hand, for the very reason durbin’s comments must be considered distorted by the right-wing, so are the left’s arguments about u.s. “torture” exaggerated and distorting. i say, don’t torture at all, among other reasons, so that we don’t get this distortions. but, waterboarding is NOT mass extermination. waterboarding or playing loud music or sleep deprivation are not stalin’s wiping out of millions of kulacks or mao’s killing of 20 million, or hitler’s holocaust. let’s not get carried away.

    Dude. Read this paragraph through again, and insert (Because, Durbin didn’t say we are nazis, he just said that this sort of thing (waterboarding) is what nazis or soviets may have done) and then ponder whether or not you just contradicted your own argument.

    i.e. Claiming that ‘the left’ are getting so “carried away” over torture that they’re saying it’s JUST LIKE the genocidal crimes the regimes you namecheck went on to commit is JUST LIKE accusing Durbin of it. Not true, and not helpful when you consider the very real downside of a nation like the USA making torture, and the defence of it, a centrepiece of its counter-terrorism strategy.

    objectively, however, the conduct of the u.s. in iraq is nothing more than normal warfare and if anything is more “by the rules” than most.

    Horrendously not true. Go read the Geneva Conventions.

  49. 49
    DBL says:

    One hopes that if in the future some foreign tribunal tries to exert jurisdiction by arresting former American officials for their acts while in office, that the then-current US President, whether it be Obama or McCain, responds by sending an aircraft carrier task force to the offending nation with instructions similar to those given by President Jefferson to the Navy when he dispatched them to deal with the Barbary pirates.

  50. 50
    Tony J says:

    Oh, ferfucksake.

    nsert (Because, Durbin didn’t say we are nazis, he just said that this sort of thing (waterboarding) is what nazis or soviets may have done) between

    on the other hand, for the very reason durbin’s comments must be considered distorted by the right-wing

    and

    so are the left’s arguments about u.s. “torture” exaggerated and distorting.

  51. 51
    Tony J says:

    One hopes that if in the future some foreign tribunal tries to exert jurisdiction by arresting former American officials for their acts while in office, that the then-current US President, whether it be Obama or McCain, responds by sending an aircraft carrier task force to the offending nation with instructions similar to those given by President Jefferson to the Navy when he dispatched them to deal with the Barbary pirates.

    Why?

  52. 52
    Tony J says:

    nsert? What the f~*k is a nsert?

    I give up. That shit beats ignoring the CAP feature any day.

  53. 53
    jvill says:

    C Says: jvill: Speaks volumes about your mindset that you could even write such a thing, actually. Very nice.

    Sure does. My mind-set: The current class of assclowns and chuckleheads that makes up the conservative political class really have nothing at all to offer except insults, willful ignorance, and fear, fear, fear. Thank you for illustrating it.

    Ahem. And what was I responding to?

    C Says: Let me guess: You lefty freaks who are complaining about poor terrorists’ sleep being disrupted probably also cheered the decision freeing child rapists from the death penalty.

    You compared the posters on this thread to child rapist sympathizers because — I guess they’re SOMEHOW connected — we think it’s wrong that the Bush Administration has co-opted full-blown Communist torture techniques — war crimes when used against Americans — against our captives.

    And I’m the a-hole?

    Give me a break.

    Shouldn’t you be busy throwing a BS hissy fit over General Clark’s non-attacks on McCain’s military record… by yourself attacking General Clark’s own (and much more decorated) military record?

    Maybe we can get some POW Band-aids made up in time for the RNC?

    Oh right. THAT would be classless and reveal a deep moral bankruptcy. Couldn’t agree more.

  54. 54

    C Says:

    jvill: Speaks volumes about your mindset that you could even write such a thing, actually. Very nice.

    Most of us would feel pretty badly if the Govt did this crap to you. In fact that’s what the bitching is about. All of us dumbass, not just terristsss.

  55. 55

    […] We really suck at this tough guy shit. And that’s not even talking about the hypocrisy of it all. […]

  56. 56

    You remember the collective FREAKOUT from the right wing when that happened, right? If not, head here and read. At any rate, Durbin was wrong, it turns out. That behavior was not like the Nazi’s, or Svoiets with their gulags, or Pol Pot- it was actually the Communist Chinese we were emulating:

    Mmmm – that reminds me of the screams of indignation when Amnesty International compared the American rendition system to the Soviet gulags, disappearing people off into the night. Oh, the wails! Oh, the bitterness.

    Oh, the complete and utter fucking silence when it fucking turned out that the fucking CIA had rented facilities for fucking rendition in fucking Eastern Europe – *LITERALLY* TAKING OVER PARTS OF THE FUCKING GULAG!!!

  57. 57

    One hopes that if in the future some foreign tribunal tries to exert jurisdiction by arresting former American officials for their acts while in office, that the then-current US President, whether it be Obama or McCain, responds by sending an aircraft carrier task force to the offending nation with instructions similar to those given by President Jefferson to the Navy when he dispatched them to deal with the Barbary pirates.

    And if that foreign tribunal is Chinese, the then-current US President will bend over and take it up the ass from the “offending nation” or face economic ruin.

    It must suck to be a superpower firmly on the DOWNWARD slope of your Golden Age.

  58. 58
    mclaren says:

    John and the rest of you might be surprised to learn that this is not the first time American troops have tortured insurgents by waterboarding. It happened back in 1900-1902 during the Phillippine insurrection.

    Here’s a New Yorker article about America’s first use of waterboarding on helpless prisoners.

    Only the vigorous pursuit of justice could restore “the credit of the American nation in the eyes of the civilized world.” By early 1902, three assistants to Welsh were chasing down returning soldiers for their testimony, and Philippine “cruelties” began to crowd Philadelphia’s party bosses from the pages of City and State.

    (..) Less than two weeks later, on February 17, 1902, the Administration delivered to the Lodge committee a fervent response that was tonally at odds with Taft’s jocular testimony. Submitted by Secretary of War Elihu Root, the report proclaimed that “charges in the public press of cruelty and oppression exercised by our soldiers towards natives of the Philippines” had been either “unfounded or grossly exaggerated.”

    Overwhelming evidence of torture committed by American troops as a matter of official policy, public hearings, official denials, no indictments, publicity blows over, entire section of American history soon forgotten.

    Sound familiar?

    Just as none of you today even had an inkling that American troops waterboarded Phillippine insurrectos as a matter of official government policy in 1901, 20 years from now no one will have a ghost of a clue that any American troops tortured insurgents during the Iraq war. When facts prove inconvenient, we erase them from the history books and delete them from our collective memory.

  59. 59

    […] John Cole at the Balloon Juice blog asks, “Can the indictments start now?” posted 7/3/08 at 8:27am to Politics, Wingnuttery · 0 replies · » […]

  60. 60
    Blue Buddha says:

    El Cid Says:

    That the right wing continually moans about the ‘left’ (DFH’s) nostalgia for the past has always been impressive, given their perpetual residence in a faked up WWII / 1950s / Reagan haze.

    Also, they’re the ones that keep bringing up Vietnam and the “Terrible 60’s/70’s”. The last time I heard a Dem. bringing up that era was when Kerry had to defend his war experience.

    By definition, aren’t conservatives living in the past?

  61. 61
    Karen Haggerty says:

    The “harsh”interrogation is our own collective nightmare. How will we ever regain our moral standing in the world after all that has been done in our name so far???? Not my America any more.

  62. 62
    Original Lee says:

    My dear keevan, you are rather conveniently ignoring the fact that the Nazis, IN ADDITION TO GENOCIDE, also tortured huge numbers of civilians; it’s immaterial that many of the people they tortured were sent to the gas chambers later. The Soviets also tortured huge numbers of civilians; it’s immaterial that many of the people they tortured were shot afterwards.

    The U.S. is indulging in hand-crafted, individually-tailored, limited-run torture and farming out the bits it doesn’t think will play well in Peoria to alleged allies. I don’t care if Bushco got its ideas from Chinese Communists, Nazis, or the Hammacher-Schlemmer catalog, torture is morally wrong, illegal, and repugnant, and I am ashamed, appalled, disgusted, and furious that my government has put me in the position of having to apologize for my country. I am also tired beyond your feeble ability to conceive the idea of trying to explain to numbnuts like you that the only purpose of torture is to satisfy some emotional need of the *torturer*. Pfui.

  63. 63
    mclaren says:

    Bob In Pacifica remarked:

    Frank Sinatra, Lawrence Harvey, Angela Lansbury, Frank Silva (as the Chinese guy).

    Actually, Henry Silva played the Korean guy. Khigh Dheigh played the Chinese guy. But his best-known role was as Wo Fat, the Chinese spy, on the TV series Hawaii 5-0.

    Trivia note: his name was originally Kenneth Dickerson Dheigh. He changed it to Khigh Dheigh when he became an actor.

    Incidentally, I think Bob In Pacifica nailed it. The true purpose of the torture isn’t to extract information and isn’t to show the world we’re “serious” about the war on terror, it’s to provide jerkoff material for the sociopaths in the White House. That’s what happened to the videotapes of the torture at Abu Ghraib. They weren’t destroyed to get rid of the evidence, they were taken so the freaks in the West Wing could jack off while watching ’em.

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  1. […] John Cole at the Balloon Juice blog asks, “Can the indictments start now?” posted 7/3/08 at 8:27am to Politics, Wingnuttery · 0 replies · » […]

  2. […] We really suck at this tough guy shit. And that’s not even talking about the hypocrisy of it all. […]

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