I Will Second Unqualified Offerings

Jim Henley is right– this Larison piece is spot on (and really, you all should be reading Larison and the AmConMag daily):

There are new reports based on Jane Mayer’s new book The Dark Side detailing a Red Cross investigation that concluded that detainees have been tortured by the CIA and also revealing that the administration ignored warnings that many of those being held at Guantanamo had been detained by mistake. The authorised use of torture is a disgrace and a blot on the reputation of the government, but it has hardly been a secret. Indeed, the efforts of members of the administration and its supporters to define away various forms of torture as something other than torture took for granted that the government was using torture on detainees. The way that most Republican presidential candidates were rushing to out-do one another at one debate in their enthusiasm for brutality towards terror suspects, the dreadful invocations of necessity from Republican bloggers and the ease with which administration supporters began deploying euphemisms to describe torture (e.g., “enhanced interrogation techniques”) all pointed with certainty that the government was using torture and its defenders were either indifferent to this or openly supportive of it. The progression of apologists for the state is always more or less the same: to suggest that the government is doing something flatly illegal and immoral is disloyal, and then once it has been proved that the government has been doing something flatly illegal and immoral it is only soft-headed idealists who think that such things are unjustifiable. “We have to be pragmatic!” they tell us. This is where the logic of wanting to “get things done” takes you.

The way that the Republican establishment, Republican elected officials, right-wing bloggers, and all the rest of the assorted culprits managed to not only condone, but at times encourage the advance of the United States into the list of regimes who employ torture as a necessity to preserve the state have done more damage than Osama and his ragtag band of villains could ever accomplish. While Larison mentions the recent GOP debate as one point (a performance somewhat related to this pronouncement from a Giuliani advisor) in the rapid descent into madness, by that time the damage had already been done.

And, it should go without saying that this wasn’t accidental, and there are a number of people out there still blogging (and we will focus on them, as this is a blog), who actively and passively supported the creation of the torture state. You can go through the last few years and find your own favorite lowlights, whether it be the “Gitmo cookbook,” the feigned outrage that the military would never do anything with a Koran or menstrual fluid or so on, the “few bad apples” chorus, the invocation of the manliness of our glorious SecDef as they stated repeatedly that “Don Rumseld stands at his desk for eight hours, so clearly a little enhanced interrogation techniques is not torture,” the tried and true “ticking time bomb” mantra, or the Orwellian past-time of claiming that we merely disagree on the definition of torture, so therefore your idea of torture is not actually torture. I am sure I am missing some, but this is just off the top of my head.

If I had to choose a favorite, I would probably roll with the “Gitmo cookbook,” as that sort of encapsulated the entire twisted thought process. Willful ignorance masked as a twisted joke with a spice of dehumanization and a smidgen of self-righteous nationalism as mindless drones intoned that “We treat them better than most of them live in their native country,” all wrapped up into a talking point product that was then marketed for profit. If you want to see the bedwetting, excuse anything sound-bite right wing at their very best, I would suggest you start there.






58 replies
  1. 1
    rachel says:

    The whiff of corruption was enough to tell me that something was rotten; wading into the sewer to look at it is more than I can stand.

  2. 2
    Ted says:

    but at times encourage the advance of the United States into the list of regimes who employ torture as a necessity to preserve the state have done more damage than Obama and his ragtag band of villains could ever accomplish

    Ouch. Fix that please.

  3. 3
    TCG says:

    I was reading Larison pretty regularly until I read his Duncan Hunter GOP Nomination Prediction. But I agree with quote above

  4. 4
    John Cole says:

    LOL- I have done that several times. Fixed now.

  5. 5
    Ted says:

    LOL- I have done that several times. Fixed now.

    It’s probably better to refer to the mass murderer by his last name anyway. I mean, surely there are plenty of innocent Osama’s out there somewhere.

  6. 6
    Ted says:

    I’ve always liked AmConMag. It’s like the last refuge for all the real conservatives who’ve been long ago booted out by the absolute sleazebags who took over the GOP.

  7. 7
    John S. says:

    I mean, surely there are plenty of innocent Osama’s out there somewhere.

    And they are all fucked.

    My wife knows a guy who is Palestinian and owns the store next to hers in the mall. His name is Osama. He now goes by ‘Sam’ because he has been afraid to use his given name for the past 7 years.

  8. 8
    calipygian says:

    A potential POTY candidate.

    Unfortunately, those “a few bad apple” bloggers and admirers of Rumsfeld’s studliness for enduring the torture of standing eight hours a day will never have enough self-reflection to realize how low they have helped bring this country. And if, in my wildest dreams, scumbags like Yoo, Addington, Rumsfeld, etc. ever do go on trial, in this country or in Europe, you can be sure that the Malkin’s of the world will be yelling, kicking and screaming about a witchhunt, even as the evidence piles up in reams of paper numbering in the thousands.

    The damage has been done. Our country will never recover without some sort of catharsis rooted in justice.

    There was no truth and reconcilliation commission in any of the former Communist countries after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Some have muddled through (Poland). But, the most important of those countries, Russia, is backsliding into a totalitarian, state-capitalist fear-state with a demoralized populous and a few making out like bandits.

    That’s what happens in countries that have lost their souls and don’t do anything to try to correct it.

    Welcome to the new United States of America.

  9. 9
    RSA says:

    This is what I keep coming back to Balloon Juice for. Nice work, John.

    It also gives a useful perspective, I think, on the current Presidential election. Sometimes you’ll hear, “Better the devil you know. . .” Not in this case. We have to change the status quo.

  10. 10
    El Cid says:

    Pretty similar to the progression of discussion around the Reagan administration’s hiring of death squads to carry out its Central American attacks.

    First, it was high dudgeon to suggest, like the NYT’s Ray Bonner reported in 1982, that Our Salvadoran Allies were sending out death squads to massacre civilians, in particular at El Mozote.

    So the NYT gave into the screaming How Dare You squads from the U.S. ambassador to Reagan’s pundit thugs to the entire WSJ, and kicked Bonner off his beat.

    As it increasingly emerged that the death squad nature of our allies in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and to a smaller (literally numerically) extent the Contras, then it all became justified as What We Have To Do To Stop The Russians.

    And of course, 10 years later when all the bones were dug up, the NYT had to do one of its pathetic apologies to the people who were right at the right time, this time its own reporter, Ray Bonner.

  11. 11
    Emma Anne says:

    RSA:

    This is what I keep coming back to Balloon Juice for. Nice work, John.

    Agreed. The snark is much appreciated, but the basic decency is the foundation.

    The only time I actually considered moving to Canada was when I realized that a good chunk of my fellow Americans were just fine with torture. I thought “I don’t belong here.”

  12. 12
    Ted says:

    My wife knows a guy who is Palestinian and owns the store next to hers in the mall. His name is Osama. He now goes by ‘Sam’ because he has been afraid to use his given name for the past 7 years.

    Ahhh, the stupidity. Because of Ok. City, I’m going to recoil in horror the next time I meet a guy named Timothy. Makes sense!

  13. 13
    cleek says:

    i’ve said it before…

    in Harry Potter’s world, these people would call themselves Death Eaters

  14. 14

    Hey, John — just a heads-up that FDL’s going to do a Book Salon with Jane Mayer next month. It’s scheduled for August 23. More as more is known.

  15. 15
    GSD says:

    I hear the Roman’s used to call crucifixion an ‘enhanced interrogation technique’.

    Throw that one at your garden variety pro-torture GOP-er.

    -GSD

  16. 16
    Rex says:

    This whole torture thing was just a few bad apples from -surprise!- West Virginia. Are you implying that Lyndie England and what’s-his-nose Garner didn’t come up with and implement this entire torture idea on their own? You couldn’t possibly be suggesting that those were civilian contract interrogators that were supervising in those Abu Ghraib photos. It would be completely impossible to conceive that those guys have already been evacuated to Costa Rica and Belize until the next time the junta calls. Moonbats.

  17. 17
    D. Mason says:

    In most torture-centric regimes they keep their practices as in the dark as possible, which the Bush junta tried and failed. Then they did something so brazen that even Hitler didn’t dare try. They codified torture into law. We get to be (I think) the only first world nation with legalized torture. All thanks to George Bush! God bless America bitches!!

  18. 18
    Corner Stone says:

    it is only soft-headed idealists who think that such things are unjustifiable. “We have to be pragmatic!” they tell us. This is where the logic of wanting to “get things done” takes you.

    Hmmmm…this theory sounds familiar…maybe if I read through the recent comments re: Obama I’ll eventually figure it out.

  19. 19
    matt says:

    Larison is probably my favorite blogger, but his obsession with Obama has really been dragging his blog down. It’s even worse than Sullivan was with Hillary, which is difficult to comprehend. Plus, he’s been prediciting Obama’s coallaspe for about a year now, so it’s not even like we’re being well informed on the horse race aspect.

    Still, he remains one of the most interesting and invaluable writers we have.

  20. 20
    matt says:

    John, if you ever decide to take requests, I would love to read your thoughts on Ron Paul. I don’t recall you mentioning him much during the craze, even to mock.

  21. 21
    John Cole says:

    Larison is probably my favorite blogger, but his obsession with Obama has really been dragging his blog down. It’s even worse than Sullivan was with Hillary, which is difficult to comprehend. Plus, he’s been prediciting Obama’s coallaspe for about a year now, so it’s not even like we’re being well informed on the horse race aspect.

    I like that, to some extent. I can read pro-Obama stuff almost anywhere on my links. I like someone to balance it out.

  22. 22
    John Cole says:

    I should also probably add that from where I sit, it seems like there is almost a meta-game involved with Larison’s Obama anitpathy. Both he and Andrew Sullivan agree that conservatism is dead, and it is almost as if the two of them are sparring to define conservatism. Seen in that prism, it often appears to me that much of his anti-Obama stuff is pushback against Sullivan’s enthusiasm

    Of course this could also all be psycho-babble from me, but sometimes that is certainly what it seems like.

  23. 23
    jeff says:

    When did Usama become Osama?

  24. 24
    cleek says:

    conservatism isn’t dead. the party which represents it just made a bunch of terrible choices and now it has to spend a little time digging itself out from under a giant pile of shit. but it’ll be back, no matter what Harper’s thinks, and probably sooner rather than later.

  25. 25
    mark says:

    If I had to choose a favorite, I would probably roll with the “Gitmo cookbook,” as that sort of encapsulated the entire twisted thought process.

    My vote is for Rush’s vile “Club Gitmo”.

  26. 26
    jake says:

    My wife knows a guy who is Palestinian and owns the store next to hers in the mall. His name is Osama. He now goes by ‘Sam’ because he has been afraid to use his given name for the past 7 years.

    During the Gulf War (you know, the one where they had a plan and that actually sorta made sense), people in my neck of the woods with the last name of Hussein had to go unlisted because of the death threats. Now of course, if you’ve got the right last name, or close to the right last name your ass might get dragged half-way around the world and plopped behind bars, just in case.

    Progress!

  27. 27

    With regard to torture, I remember the classes in the Law of Land Warfare I took as a soldier and taught as an NCO. We covered the Geneva Convention in detail. It was shocking to see how quickly people, e.g., officers, who should have known betterm just follow the line laid out by the lawyers like John Yoo and David Addington.

    The disinformation that flowed out through the right wing media channels was ludicrous but was like honey to a bear over there. My favorite was we what were calling torture was things like the desecration of the Koran. There was so much denial over there about torture and a stunning lack of responsibility on the part of our elected politicians to deal with it.

    With regard to conservatism, all you need to know about it can be found here:

    http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/.....atism.html

  28. 28
    AkaDad says:

    Silly Liberals. It’s not torture when “we” do it.

  29. 29
    Rosali says:

    We treat them better than most of them live in their native country

    Sadly, for Jose Padilla, it was his native country that tortured him.

  30. 30
    D-Chance. says:

    Ted Says:

    but at times encourage the advance of the United States into the list of regimes who employ torture as a necessity to preserve the state have done more damage than Obama and his ragtag band of villains could ever accomplish

    Ouch. Fix that please.

    Freudian slip of the keyboard. Or a prescient look at things to come…

  31. 31
    Redhand says:

    The way that the Republican establishment, Republican elected officials, right-wing bloggers, and all the rest of the assorted culprits managed to not only condone, but at times encourage the advance of the United States into the list of regimes who employ torture as a necessity to preserve the state have done more damage than Osama and his ragtag band of villains could ever accomplish.

    You can go through the last few years and find your own favorite lowlights, whether it be the “Gitmo cookbook,” the feigned outrage that the military would never do anything with a Koran or menstrual fluid or so on, the “few bad apples” chorus, [etc.]

    For me the worst of the conservative blogosphere were the asshole commenters at Ace of Spades HQ who flew into a foaming, spittle spewing rage whenever I pointed out that waterboarding was torture, but that to Cheney it was a “no brainer.” I’ll never forget one of these clowns who defended him by sneering, “Sure he’s an asshole, but he’s our asshole.”

    As Joe Walsh says, “You can’t argue with a sick mind.”

  32. 32

    To paraphrase V for Vendetta: Let’s give these bastards a November they’ll never forget.

  33. 33
    John S. says:

    I’m going to recoil in horror the next time I meet a guy named Timothy. Makes sense!

    Sadly, this is what our nation has become – thanks in part to the Bush administration. The boogie-brown man is the root of all evil, and we should all be very afraid of them. Nevermind the fact that our ‘culture’ has infiltrated and transformed huge swaths of the Arab world. Because it’s ok for that to happen, but not for any of their world to invade our own — because we’re superior!

    I am sickened by the villification of Muslims and folks from the Middle East in general. I don’t think it’s going to pass anytime soon.

  34. 34
    Svensker says:

    I am sickened by the villification of Muslims and folks from the Middle East in general. I don’t think it’s going to pass anytime soon.

    Given that Mukasey has now made it policy to “investigate” folks based on their Middle Eastern name, heritage, or Muslim religion, it has now become official. Why don’t we just assign yellow crescent arm bands and get it over with?

  35. 35
    calipygian says:

    Silly Liberals. It’s not torture when “we” do it.

    Do a little experiment. Go over to Malkin’s place. Point out that we are using Red Chinese techniques on Gitmo prisoners who may or may not belong there in the first place. We’ll never know since exculpatory evidence is not allowed at the Gitmo tribunals. Get out your stop watch and time how long it takes to see the phrase “typical lib moral equivalence”.

    Malkin’s crew are nothing if not predictably stupid.

  36. 36
    BC says:

    You know what really sickens me? The complete silence of our religious establishment on this issue. Do you hear any of the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Baptist (Southern or otherwise), Pentecostal, UCC, or any other Christian denomination poobahs coming out against torture? Nope, just crickets. I can’t prod my religious leaders to speak out – just won’t happen. Have Dobson, Robertson, Graham spoken out? Crickets again.

  37. 37
    calipygian says:

    Have Dobson, Robertson, Graham spoken out? Crickets again.

    Robertson gonna speak out? In your dreams! He’s too busy piling up his Sierra Leonean gold and diamonds a la Daffy Duck and doing head flips in the heap yelling, “I’m rich, I’m rich, I’m filthy rich, WOO HOO WOO HOO!”

  38. 38

    Of course not, the Catholics are too busy protecting their sacred crackers to stand up against torture.

    Is it heretical to have bacon flavored Eucharist?

  39. 39
    LiberalTarian says:

    From one of the comments at AmCon …

    #
    Continuum, on July 13th, 2008 at 7:37 am Said:

    Hopefully, this corrupt criminal conspiracy that is the Bush Administration will go quietly into the good night. One wonders what additional cravenness will occur as the Bush Administration faces their removal from power.

    What makes him think that when the Bushies fade from view they are going to do anything but plot more along the same lines, except now with the new and improved get out of jail free cards Congress has been laminating for them?

    These guys were never about running the country for the populace, they were always about running the country to feather their nests. “But we are talking torture, not looting.” But, are we really? When we talk about the chilling effects of extraordinary rendition, aren’t we also talking about making sure that whatever the government should decide to do, in whatever country, we are keeping our heads down lest we be next??

    No, if we want our country back, with only its garden variety disappointments of mismanagement and the occasional stolen penny ante election, we cannot let these guys crawl back under their rocks where they can emerge to damage the country again in 4 or 8 years (if they wait THAT long).

    These people need to be tried for war crimes, in the United States. Let the Malkinites scream and froth and gnash their teeth. Crime has been paying for these folks, it is time for them to make restitution. The only just course is for them to spend time in prison. We need to call for very very agressive prosecution (as soon as we have a AG who is not a corrupt Bushian stooge).

  40. 40
    TenguPhule says:

    The damage has been done. Our country will never recover without some sort of catharsis rooted in justice. BLOOD.

    Corrected.

    The only way to fix this involves lots of executions. Anything less and the shit genie will just pop out of the bottle again.

  41. 41
    Rosali says:

    The right-wing bloggers are the same ones who tried to argue that German WWII labor camps weren’t bad.

  42. 42
    El Cid says:

    Oh, c’mon, moving on and forgive & forget are the correct way to proceed; after all, the scumbags from the politely limited debacle known as “Iran-Contra” all kept themselves quietly out of public life forevermore, right?

  43. 43
    Echoes without Bunnies or Men says:

    That GOP debate reference, where they all tried to one-up each other with how badly they would torture detainees was great fun to watch. It reminded me of this Monty Python skit, the Four Yorkshiremen, in reverse.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo

  44. 44
    calipygian says:

    Oh, c’mon, moving on and forgive & forget are the correct way to proceed; after all, the scumbags from the politely limited debacle known as “Iran-Contra” all kept themselves quietly out of public life forevermore, right?

    There is a two week series on Chandra Levy coming up in the Washington Post. You heard me: 12 days of front page coverage about an intern who may or may not have been murdered by a congress critter seven years ago.

    But, there is nary a peep about the Grand Unified Theory of American Politics that has lasted, quite literally, as long as I have been alive. And that is the restoration of Monarchy in Presidential garb. From Nixon and “If the President does it, by definition it isn’t illegal” and Iran Contra and “The Congress can pass a law, but let them try to enforce it” to our fucked up situation today, the last forty years of American politics has been a struggle between people who want a king and people who believe in checks and balances.

    And Dick Cheney has been the malevolent force behind the scenes the whole forty years, from being Ford’s Chief of Staff and a Nixon staffer, to him authoring the Iran-Contra minority report to him authorizing torture.

    Twelve days of Chandra Levy. Not a goddamn line about forty years of Republican subversion of the Constitution.

    Way to go, Post.

  45. 45

    You know, they love playing like a crime family. Don’t you take fingers for screwing up?

  46. 46
    El Cid says:

    Hey, speaking of Chandra Levy, how is the Lori Klausutis story coming along?

  47. 47

    Hey, speaking of Chandra Levy, how is the Lori Klausutis story coming along?

    Oh, come on, El Cid! She was just found dead with multiple head injuries, including a skull fracture nearly eight inches long that caused multiple hematomas in her brain, including a fist-sized one — yet the medical examiner (who was practicing in Florida because he’d lost his license in Missouri) said that she died from a previously-undiagnosed heart ailment and the head wounds occurred when she hit her head on a desk as she fell dead to the ground (even though hematomas can’t develop once the heart stops beating). Oh, and Lori used to run in 5k fun runs, so you’d think if her heart was going to blow up it would have happened then, but bringing that up is just petty.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    John S. says:

    RE: The New Yorker cover of the Obamas…

    It just reinforces what we all know to be true around here: The name of the game is Ball Buster. It’s a family game.

    Er, I mean getting eyeballs on their crap so they can make money.

  50. 50
    Mentis Fugit says:

    D.Mason:

    Then they did something so brazen that even Hitler didn’t dare try. They codified torture into law.

    Ahem.

  51. 51

    Re: El Cid and El Salvador

    I can remember all the work leftist groups put in trying to end The School of the Americas which used to be, I think, in Fort Benning (I believe it was moved to post-Noriega Panama). As much as I’d like to lay all the inhumanity of the U.S. at the doorstep of Dubya and his friends, there is a long history.

    Seems to me there was a case in Vietnam where CIA interrogators took several Vietcong up in a helicopter, got up a few thousand feet and threw one of them out of the helicopter. The rest immediately started pouring their guts out. I’ve got to believe that throwing people out of aircraft to their deaths violates the Geneva Conventions.

    And let us not forget Operation Phoenix, a wholesale assassination program.

    If there’s a coherent thread to all this it seems to be the CIA. Tell me if there is any political power base in our country which could, as John Kennedy said he would, “tear the CIA into a thousand pieces”? I suspect that the recent FISA cave-in was more a cave-in to the our intelligence community than to any political entity.

  52. 52
    AWJ says:

    From a comment on that ABC article by “American Patriot”:

    Democrats lost in the south because people in the southern states rejected racism that was supported by the like of Robert Byrd.

    Face, meet palm. What UNIVERSE do these wingnuts live in?

  53. 53
    Fulcanelli says:

    All this sound and fury about ‘Justice’ for the Bush reich war crimes… Trials and such… Ain’t gonna happen. Wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture… Too many right wing judges and well-heeled think tanks, rabid Christian Dominionists, Fox news and slack-jawed “low-information voters”.

    Since the beginning the biggest problem for the sane, patriotic peaceful folk (read: liberals, moderates, traditional conservatives, genuine people of faith and a few others) has always been: How do we rid ourselves of authoritarian right wing pricks who compulsively need to dominate and control everything in sight and crush their opponents without becoming just like them in the process.

    We feel we need to be above all the nastiness, take the high road as it were. More laws and legislative cat and mouse games, while they laugh at us.

    Well, how’s that working for ya’ Jack, Martin and Bobby?

    These fucks have a personality disorder. Period. Read John Dean’s “Conservatives Without Conscience” It’s a good primer, but stops short of saying what many shrinks and sociologists have been saying for years. They’re sociopaths and can’t be ‘fixed’.

    Shorter “Justice”.

    Play by their rules, and deal with them like they deal with those who get in their way. Anything else is jerking off. Draw your own conclusions.

  54. 54
    Delia says:

    Fulcanelli Says:

    Since the beginning the biggest problem for the sane, patriotic peaceful folk (read: liberals, moderates, traditional conservatives, genuine people of faith and a few others) has always been: How do we rid ourselves of authoritarian right wing pricks who compulsively need to dominate and control everything in sight and crush their opponents without becoming just like them in the process. [etc.]

    Yeah, that’s the fundamental problem, all right. It always is when you play with the fascists. That’s why Bush was able to seize power in 2000, and even if Obama wins this time, I don’t know how much he can, or is even prepared to do (see FISA/telecom capitulation). The damage that’s been done to the fabric of society since 2000 is incalculable. And of course, the bastards are always waiting in the wings for their next opportunity. We’re hardly at a point where we can expect any sort of truth and reconciliation council.

  55. 55
    OriGuy says:

    There’s no standard transliteration of Arabic into English, but from what little I know, Usama is closer to the actual pronunciation, just as Muslim is preferred over Moslim. I predict that one of the first things the Obama administration does is change the spelling of bin Ladin’s name to Usama.

    There is a chain of diners called Johnny Rockets’ that started in LA. I remember reading that the founders were Middle Eastern. The restaurants have a row of retro-looking signs along the walls. Mostly promoting menu items. However, each store had a sign that said “xxx Eats Here”, where xxx was the name of one of the founder’s sons. Naturally, one was named Osama. Those came down after 9/11.

  56. 56
    robertl says:

    You make a nice list of the goons and thugs involved in the current torture regime. However, you have forgotten the #1 culprit in this entire, sordid mess. The 51% of American people who, knowing full well that George Bush was a torturer, re-elected him to continue his hobby. I applaud the constant reminder of what we have become but lets face the facts. America is a torturing country and the majority of Americans, sadly, support it.

  57. 57
    TenguPhule says:

    How do we rid ourselves of authoritarian right wing pricks who compulsively need to dominate and control everything in sight and crush their opponents without becoming just like them in the process.

    I hear France will give us a good deal on guillotines.

  58. 58

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