Drip Drip Drip

The leaks of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture are starting:

A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.

The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document.

It’s probably just my nihilistic cynicism talking, but I’ll be surprised if any CIA management is ever held accountable for what they did.






94 replies
  1. 1
    Feudalism Now! says:

    I am sure some Guantanamo clerk will be formally and sternly reprimanded. A letter in his file is a hefty price compared to over a decade of torture and abuse. What more can you ask for, monsters?

  2. 2
    Emma says:

    New verse, same as the first. We’ve been here before.

  3. 3
    Bob says:

    It’s probably just my nihilistic cynicism talking, but I’ll be surprised if any CIA management is ever held accountable for what they did.

    Why would anyone think they would be held accountable? Obama clearly wanted to sweep the Bush dirt under the rug.

  4. 4
    NotMax says:

    A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee Captain Obvious concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation torture program for years

    Well, at least WaPo used “brutal” rather than “enhanced.” Small steps.

  5. 5
    C.V. Danes says:

    A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years…

    Jeez, who could have known?

    There is one purpose for torture, and one purpose only: revenge. Why is it surprising that an unaccountable agency notorious for lying to everyone, even itself, would continue to use it, even when it yielded nothing useful?

    Whatever. Water under the bridge, right?

  6. 6
    kbuttle says:

    Yes there was torture. Yes it was more punitive than investigatory. But it was all Lyndie England’s fault!

  7. 7
    Cervantes says:

    I’ll be surprised if any CIA management is ever held accountable for what they did.

    You are, indeed, being too cynical. We have special prosecutors who have gone after these monsters; special courts in which secret evidence has been heard against them; and special prisons where the worst of them are serving out life sentences, often in solitary confinement.

    Oh, wait — those aren’t prisons — they’re appointed offices, academic chairs, corporate boards, and green rooms.

    (April Fool!)

  8. 8
    Punchy says:

    A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public

    I’m quite certain the above blockquote could have been written in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s…..etc.

  9. 9
    brendancalling says:

    “nihilistic cynicism”? Is that some sort of euphemism for “realism”?

  10. 10
    Fuzzy says:

    Rumsfeld and Cheney should be sentenced to appear live on Fox news, without pay, everyday for the rest of their lives.

  11. 11

    The only thing I have ever seen both parties of congress in absolute agreement over is that Bush’s ‘war on terror’ shall not be questioned. When Obama ordered Guantanamo closed, they blocked him not only with a veto-proof vote, but near unanimity. Later, when arguments started floating that Bush’s torture was useless, they passed a law retroactively declaring that entire program legal. Neither Israel nor the defense budget, the two most famous sacred cows of our government, get this kind of iron clad agreement these days. I do not get it, but no, nothing will be done to punish the Bush torture program. I have no idea if Obama wants to, because the issue is moot. Congress has made it abundantly clear they would stop him.

    Now, congress’s pride might get them to slap down the CIA’s lying to them. That’s a separate issue.

  12. 12
    Paul in KY says:

    @NotMax: That is a step. I think that by 2039 they might start calling it ‘torture’.

  13. 13
    Paul in KY says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: A lot of Democrats voted with the Repubs back in the 2001 – 2004 era.

  14. 14
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @NotMax: I had missed that, thanx for pointing it out. (kinda sad I am celebrating the use of a more accurate euphemism)

  15. 15
    LanceThruster says:

    We were only ignoring the orders we were told not to follow.

  16. 16
    Joel says:

    Cynicism is unfortunately warranted in this case.

  17. 17
    Paul in KY says:

    @LanceThruster: You know, that’s probably a true summation.

  18. 18
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    Maybe they’ll order the CIA to stop using A Clockwork Orange as a training film.

  19. 19
    inkadu says:

    Let’s start a pool: which country will be the first to arrest a Bush administration official for war crimes? My money’s on Spain.

  20. 20
    Hawes says:

    Right after we prosecute the Banksters who broke the world, we’ll get right on the Torturers who “puked up America’s ancient soul”.

  21. 21
    Ash Can says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:
    @Paul in KY:

    I’m sure there are a lot more dirty hands than clean ones among fed-level pols in both parties. I don’t think Obama himself numbers among the dirty-handed, but I’m sure enough legislative allies would have been placed in deep kimchee by the investigations — not to mention alienating the entire GOP back in the days when Obama still thought that reaching across the aisle was a possibility — that it made the prospect of investigating the previous admin’s wrongdoing decidedly unappealing to him. History and hindsight may yet show that it would have served the nation better for Obama to investigate than to get elected to a second term. Personally, I don’t see how, though — we wouldn’t have health care reform, we would have VP Sarah Palin (assuming she wouldn’t have quit 2 months into her term), and the investigations, which tend to take longer than a couple of years to bear fruit, would have been summarily discontinued the moment McCain took office, so they would have ended up being futile on top of everything else.

  22. 22
    J R in WV says:

    People didn’t seem to understand what made us the good guys once upon a time. Mostly people thought we were the good guys because America! The shining city on the hill!

    But this isn’t how good guys / bad guys works at all

    Back in that day, when we could be confused with the good guys, we didn’t torture as a matter of official policy. The bad guys (on the other hand) had official policies requiring torture of those regarded as enemies of the state.

    The bad guys WERE the bad guys because they did bad things, deliberately, as a matter of policy. Serfs were beaten at the whim of their owners, serf being another word for slave. The only difference between serfs and slaves was that slaves could be sold any time, and mostly serfs could not; they were attached to the soil owned by their masters.

    In the case of the Nazis, they did bad things both as a matter of state policy, and because some of them enjoyed killing painfully and torturing people to death. This made them very bad boys in my book.

    The very instant American government officials first tortured someone in an official policy, we, as a nation, lost any claim to being the good guys, and deserved whatever we got as newly enrolled members of the bad guys club. Official annual evil-doers national competition entries!

    Yes, Democratic America, with our Kiwanis and Rotary, Lions Club and the Moose, became a nation of bad people. Evil doers, collectively guilty of – well, torture. Right there with murder, rape of little kids, using medical doctors to keep prisoners alive so they could suffer longer, etc.

    To give President Obama a little credit, he seems to have ended the official torture of prisoners just because we could. But punishment of those bad people who moved America from the rank of the Good Guys into the group of Bad Guys? Not so much, huh?

    Professional investigators trained in formal methods of interrogation learn that the use of pain in questioning is a negative policy, because people will tell you anything to make the pain stop, even for just a few minutes.

    The Spanish Inquisition “proved” that witches had sex with Satan and his devils, flew through the air to meet with their co-religionists, kissed the Devil where the sun don’t shine, to prove how much they loved him. They sacrificed little babies on altars at midnight.

    All this was well know to be a fact. The witches swore it was the truth! Why? Because the agony would lessen a little, for a while. The inquisitors knew how much abuse a human body could take before it dies. They walked right up to that line, every day, for weeks, in order to force their witches to confess to the crimes the inquisition knew they were guilty of.

    Same for political prisoners: the state interrogators would force them to admit that they were spies for the enemy of the day: Communists, Czarists, Lutheran reformers, the Anti-Pope, the Jewish Conspiracy ( a favorite of Nazi torturers ) etc, etc.

    Today, mooslum conspirators are the favorite target of interrogators, at least here in the “free world”.

    And that Shining City on the Hill? There’s a stench of rotting blood. The shine seems hysterical. The light has a little UV in it, black light mixed in.

    Bad guys do bad things, and when they do bad things as a matter of official policy, that official infrastructure is evil, the people who authorize the bad things are evil, the government who allows them power is evil, and the people who delude themselves that their polity is Good, they’re evil too.

    I don’t vote for Republicans as a matter of policy. Even my neighbors who are Republicans, and members of the county Republican committee, nice guys, really good neighbors who will get out in 5 degree pre-dawn snow to give you a hand, I wouldn’t vote for them. Does that keep me from being evil?

    I dunno.

    Late in the night, when I can’t sleep because of chronic injuries, because my mind won’t stop spinning, that’s one of the questions I spin. I didn’t vote for G W Bush and Dick Cheney. Now those two guys, they ARE evil. What did I do to stop them from committing evil?

    Evil is a slippery thing, isn’t it? And those guys, they were doing it in my name! In our name! In your name, too.

    Have a nice day.

  23. 23
    Ash Can says:

    @inkadu: My money’s on none. In order to arrest any of those guys, you need to get them into those countries first. Unfortunately, they’re smart enough to know which countries have warrants out for them, and how long the respective statutes of limitation are. They simply won’t go there.

  24. 24
    RSR says:

    Wouldn’t be surprised if the cull out a couple sacrificial lambs, but just like Wall Street, there will be little to no real accountability.

    America, fuck yeah!

  25. 25
    Bill in Section 147 says:

    Thank goodness this is coming to light. Now 3% of wingnuts will at least call it unfortunate-though-necessary torture as opposed to the awful euphemism ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’

    Does this also mean one elected Republican will chide Rush Limbaugh for referring to this as college-style hazing?

  26. 26
    Butch says:

    “Look forward, not back” is going to define too much of this administration, and not in a good way.

  27. 27

    @Ash Can:
    I kind of agree in general, but the one thing that has become crystal clear is that congress would and did stomp on every attempt to reverse Bush’s illegal actions. One of the first things that happened in Obama’s presidency was the vote to defund Obama’s attempt to close down Guantanamo, a loud and clear message that he had damn well better look Forward, not Back.

  28. 28
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @Fuzzy: Throw them in the briar patch!!

  29. 29
    inkadu says:

    @Ash Can: Maybe we should Mossad-style escort them to a pleasant vacation destination, then.

    And are there countries with actual written warrants out on Bush officials?

    I’ll will put your bet down for, “no country, ever.”

  30. 30
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @J R in WV:

    The bad guys WERE the bad guys because they did bad things, deliberately, as a matter of policy.

    That describes the US for most of it’s history.

  31. 31
    wenchacha says:

    We were fucking right, to paraphrase torture enthusiast Judith Miller.

  32. 32
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @inkadu: Italy has some warrants for some CIA guys convicted in absentia. Don’t hold one’s breath for more than that.

  33. 33
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    The fact that the CIA lied to and fucked with people like DiFi actually makes it much more likely IMO that this will be pursued.

  34. 34
    J R in WV says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Sadly true. Trail of Tears. Wounded Knee. etc, etc. I mentioned slavery, which we did end, eventually. Replaced by prison sentences at hard labor for the richest big planter, Jim Crow, and lynching.

    At least we were on the side of good in WW II. Kinda. Sorta.

    Damm, history is grim. Evil everywhere you look, under every bench, behind every tree.

  35. 35
    AxelFoley says:

    @Butch:

    So with all the problems we have, you wanted President Obama to waste capital going after the previous administration, something that no administration has never done in the history of this nation? You wanted to have the media circus that would ensue, wasting precious time that was needed to keep the nation from going over the edge economically? And all this, with THIS Congress we have?

  36. 36
    AxelFoley says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    That describes the US for most of it’s history

    Thank you. The U.S. was NEVER the Good Guy.

    Ask Native Americans. Ask African Americans. Ask a whole shitload of people.

  37. 37
    Chris says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    There is one purpose for torture, and one purpose only: revenge.

    This.

    All these arguments about the inefficiency of torture are falling on deaf ears, because it’s not about that. All it’s about is “stinking hajjis attacked us on 9/11, and we have to get even.” Sure, other methods might be just as effective, but not as satisfying. To those who cares about such things.

  38. 38
    Chris says:

    @inkadu:

    They’ve certainly got the experience with those kind of douchebags.

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:

    It’s probably just my nihilistic cynicism talking, but I’ll be surprised if any CIA management is ever held accountable for what they did.

    Oh, I’m pretty sure that Darrell Issa is going to call up as many Obama appointees as he can and demand to know why they were torturing people in 2005. That’s how the Republicans roll.

    But actually going after the guys who authorized and enabled it at the time? Not a chance in hell.

  40. 40
    Ash Can says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I’m pretty sure that Darrell Issa is going to call up as many Obama appointees as he can and demand to know why they were torturing people in 2005.

    That saying, “I wish a motherfucker would,” comes to mind. Imagine the, ahem, collateral damage.

  41. 41
    Mnemosyne says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Actually, the indictments (and conviction in absentia) have already happened: Malaysia stepped up and did it.

    I don’t know that the International Criminal Court is going to do anything, but they have the transcripts of the trial.

    I guess now we know why the Bush administration was so hot to spy on the former prime minister of Malaysia.

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chris:

    Torture is also very good at getting false confessions so the torturers look like they’re making “progress” with their investigations. Gets you those brownie points in your annual review, don’t’cha know.

  43. 43
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @AxelFoley:
    Bingo.

    Honestly, this is more than I ever thought was going to happen. Also…I can’t imagine something this big and crazy takes mere weeks or months or even years to completely investigate for possibilities of prosecution anyway. Hell, just the ridiculous Christie bridge scandal took a couple of months to blow up. Not saying I think anything is going to come of this (I am too ignorant of the machinations of these matters to make a sound judgement) but if it was going to it would take a while.

  44. 44
    Chris says:

    @AxelFoley:

    I much prefer the “lesser of two evils” approach to history and politics to the “good guys and bad guys” one.

    (And no, I don’t always place America in the “lesser” category).

  45. 45
    Chris says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Oh, wow.

    Amir, props to your country!

  46. 46
    jonas says:

    Anyone they try to prosecute for this stuff is of course going to lawyer up and those lawyers are going to do their job and try to show how their client was just following orders from above, and there will be a clear trail ending smack in the middle of the Oval Office and the Office of the Vice President. Everyone knows this, which is why no one will be prosecuted.

  47. 47
    Butch says:

    @AxelFoley: Versus demonstrating conclusively that you can do anything you want, including torture and trashing the economy, and there are no consequences whatever? I stand by my statement.

  48. 48
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The deserting coward and the Dark Lord will never be held responsible, so why should any of the Death Eaters be held responsible? I mean, they were all under the Imperius curse or something, right?

  49. 49
    Citizen_X says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    There is one purpose for torture, and one purpose only: revenge.

    Ah, but that’s half of it. The other purpose is terror: to spread the fear that this is what we will do to you. Why? Because we can!

    Torture is the ultimate act of state terrorism.

  50. 50
    A Humble Lurker says:

    @Butch:

    Versus demonstrating conclusively that you can do anything you want, including torture and trashing the economy, and there are no consequences whatever?

    Versus getting the stimulus, Obamacare, Lilly Ledbetter, DADT repeal, and a few other things through congress?

  51. 51

    @A Humble Lurker:
    With the added proviso that going after the previous administration was more likely to lead to it being legally proven that you cannot punish a previous administration than anyone actually being punished.

  52. 52
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Chris:

    All these arguments about the inefficiency of torture are falling on deaf ears, because it’s not about that. All it’s about is “stinking hajjis attacked us on 9/11, and we have to get even.”

    Exactly. Just own up to it and be done with it.

  53. 53

    @C.V. Danes:
    No, while I absolutely think revenge is a big part of the motivation, I also think that asshole Jack Bauer fantasies are a big part. They do actually believe torture works. They’ve seen it in all the movies. Their gut tells them it works, so facts are irrelevant.

  54. 54
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    It was kind of a crappy movie, unfortunately, but the pre-9/11 movie The Siege was pretty good at showing the downsides of establishing a torture regime to try and track down terrorists. I’m not a huge Bruce Willis fan, but he was really good as the general who gets corrupted by his reliance on torture.

  55. 55
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Rethugs have been totally mesmerized by what happens in the movies ever since the shitty grade-Z movie star was elected to the Presidency with all his fantasies of having liberated Nazi death camps when he never left the continental United States at any time during WWII.

  56. 56
    Chris says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Not dumb enough to think movies are or should be reality, but oddly enough, my favorite movie scenes involving interrogation are the ones where they get things done without having to lay a finger on the suspect. Which kind of matches what the professional interrogators I’ve asked about it in real life said – “interrogation is psychological, any interrogator who knows what he’s doing can get the information he wants without any violence.” And what was said by, for example, the FBI interrogator in charge of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – when Dick Cheney said that torturing him had helped save lives, the interrogator went public and said that actually, all that information was being extracted perfectly well without torture before the orders from on high came to switch to more… proactive methods.

    Also too, this scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZhFJ7VSqrE

  57. 57
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chris:

    I don’t know if you ever watched NYPD Blue (you may be too young ;-) but they had several great interrogation episodes where the detectives got the suspects to confess by pretending to sympathize with them. The greatest one was probably the two-parter “Lost Israel,” where Det. Simone (Jimmy Smits) has to pretend to sympathize with a child molester to get his confession and is having a really hard time with it.

  58. 58
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mnemosyne: Those are the sort of techniques that ACTUALLY WORK if your intent is to get to something approaching the truth.

    Of course, if you’re looking to extract confessions for propaganda purposes, well, the techniques of the Hanoi Hilton work just fine, thank you.

  59. 59
    Chris says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    No, I’ve never watched that, but I remember a similar scene in one of the early episodes of Foyle’s War. Foyle walks into the cell with a prison guard who killed a conscientious objector, all business, basically saying “yeah, you wasted a yellow coward, nobody cares, just help me with the paperwork.” The suspect confesses in a couple of minutes, at which point Foyle gets the satisfaction of dropping the act and telling him he’s going to jail.

    I’ll watch 24 and often enjoy it, but I do definitely prefer the other type of show.

    ETA: also, too, the Russian officer interrogating American prisoners in Vietnam, in “Without Remorse.” One of the better done versions of how to extract information.

  60. 60
    catclub says:

    @Bob: “Obama clearly wanted to sweep the Bush dirt under the rug. ”
    Early 2009 was a very busy time. One could announce that the investigations will begin, and get no cooperation from the GOP on the economy, because they are having shitfit over criminalizing political actions by powerful people. Or just get no cooperation on the economy from the GOP because they are assholes. But no shitfit.

    I say in this situation ‘wanted’ is a pretty strong word.

  61. 61
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @catclub: I love the people who presume that accomplishing anything is politics is simply a matter of will. If it didn’t happen, it’s because someone didn’t want it bad enough. It is akin to the people who “know” that people are only poor because they are lazy.

  62. 62
    Larv says:

    @Butch:

    Versus demonstrating conclusively that you can do anything you want, including torture and trashing the economy, and there are no consequences whatever? I stand by my statement.

    The problem with consequences is that there needs to be some mechanism for imposing them, and only one of your complaints is even potentially actionable. Trashing the economy means you lose the next election, but I’m not sure I’m on board with anything beyond that.

    Torture may potentially be subject to criminal prosecution, but had the Obama admin done so, I think it’s very likely that nobody would have been convicted. Anybody implicated at the Executive level would claim Executive Privilege, and that claim would then make its way to the SC where the Roberts court would almost certainly find in their favor. An actual prosecution would never even get off the ground.

    The truth is that yes, the president can do whatever he wants within very broad limits. If he needs to reined in, that’s the job of Congress, not the next administration. That way lies madness and an unending cycle of reprisals and recrimination.

  63. 63

    @catclub:
    I was more concerned with the shitfit a lot of Democrats in congress would have. Obama had to herd cats to get the great stuff he got passed. Alienating a bunch of Senators and pushing them to make a stand against him at the start would have made that harder. Guantanamo was a clear sign of how that wind blew.

    @Larv:
    And congress had zero intention of reining Bush in. That goes all the way back to Iran-Contra.

  64. 64
  65. 65
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Yep. Like it or not, powerful Democrats like Dianne Feinstein were in on the torture regime up to their necks, and pursuing charges against them (because, yes, people in both parties would need to be investigated and charged) is pretty much a non-starter for getting anything else done in Congress.

  66. 66
    burnspbesq says:

    @inkadu:

    Let’s start a pool: which country will be the first to arrest a Bush administration official for war crimes? My money’s on Spain.

    In order to arrest somebody, they need to physically be in your jurisdiction. I doubt that any of those folks are dumb enough to attend a Real Madrid match in person.

    Garzon might issue a warrant for somebody’s arrest, but since the United States (correctly, in my view) rejects his cockamamie notions of universal jurisdiction, they would not have to worry as long as they don’t leave the country.

  67. 67
    gvg says:

    Earlier on I didn’t want the lower level following orders types prosecuted because it was unfair. Clearly the big shots would get off and blame it all on rogue subordinates. Now my frustration and alarm has built to where I think it would be strategically wise to throw the lower level grunts to the wolves. If they get blamed for going rogue some at least will provide more evidence that they had direct orders from above AND in the future subordinates will resist this kind of order more effectively.
    Apparently that is the best I can hope for now.
    Shocks the heck out of me though.
    I go around and around about what is worse but I have to say it frustrates the heck out of me that they chose to do something that has proven to be so useless in the past. By doing so, they began polluting the data for all analyists of what the truth was and it has to have made us less effective at protecting ourselves. Such a waste of time and built up good will.

  68. 68
    Paul in KY says:

    @J R in WV: Excellent post, JR.

  69. 69
    Paul in KY says:

    @Chris: To me, the only ‘defense’ the torturers would have (defense of torture) is how do you get someone to give up info you know he/she has & that you know he/she would never give up under any ‘normal’ circumstance?

    My answer would be ‘Guess, we’ll never get that info’ (cause I’m not going to torture).

    Is there any other legit answer to above?

  70. 70
    Cervantes says:

    @J R in WV:

    Back in that day, when we could be confused with the good guys, we didn’t torture as a matter of official policy. The bad guys (on the other hand) had official policies requiring torture of those regarded as enemies of the state. The bad guys WERE the bad guys because they did bad things, deliberately, as a matter of policy.

    I understand the distinctions you’re trying to draw but who is “we” and when was “back in that day”?

    Also, when you speak of “official” as in “official policy,” is that a synonym for “openly admitted,” or would you say that a government policy can be official without being openly admitted?

    Thanks.

  71. 71
    Another Holocene Human says:

    John Stewart had some ex intelligence guy on TDS years ago who baldly stated that torture didn’t work and no serious person has ever suggested, much less proved otherwise in the intervening years.

    I guess nobody wanted to hear it then? Because this is reminding me of the Snowden affair … these were known knowns.

  72. 72
    Another Holocene Human says:

    In fact the criminal justice system has gone to videotaped interviews not only to prove that confessions are voluntary but because police have finally gotten the picture after getting embarrassed with high profile false confessions that you can press a weak person until they confess … to something … and you’ll look like the dumbest putzes on the East Coast when the real killer strikes again.

  73. 73
    PJ says:

    @Paul in KY: You’re making assumptions on behalf of torture which are either unprovable or are demonstrably false. The first is that you (the torturer) “know” that the prisoner has information which you want, but the only you could be certain that you “knew” this is if you actually possessed the information, in which case the torture has other purposes than to obtain that information. A bigger assumption is that torture – the intentional infliction of pain – causes people to disclose “the truth.” There is no evidence that this is the case; people who talk as a result of torture will say whatever they think it is will get the torturer to stop, which has no necessary connection to the truth. And, as a matter of fact, much of the torture practiced by the Bush regime was designed to break prisoners so that they would say whatever the regime wanted, in particular that there was a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

  74. 74
    Cervantes says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Garzon might issue a warrant for somebody’s arrest, but since the United States (correctly, in my view) rejects his cockamamie notions of universal jurisdiction, they would not have to worry as long as they don’t leave the country.

    When dealing with violations of human rights, I’ve never seen a rejection of universal jurisdiction that didn’t leave me feeling embarrassed (at best) for the one doing the rejecting.

    That could change right here, right now — but I doubt it will.

  75. 75
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Cervantes: We may be going back a bit here. The Dowager Empress was famous for sentencing criminals she wanted to make a particular example of to death by slow slices. The Ecclesiastical Courts were famous for their cruel and unusual punishments. Shariah law proscribes the cutting off of hands which might be considered torture. The US has an official policy of subjecting political prisoners to sleep deprivation, which certainly is torture, though really nothing so bizarre or creative as what China did to convicts before the Chinese Civil War.

    During WWII, correct me if I’m wrong, the Soviets and the Allies pretty much followed the Geneva Convention on the handling of POWs and also civilians, such as the Jewish civilians that the USSR took into protective custody. They shipped them to Siberia and it wasn’t exactly the Ritz-Carlton–it was a hard life, but it was a far sight better than what happened to their relatives at the hands of the Einsatzgruppen and the SS. “The Endless Steppes” is a pretty famous book by a survivor of that transport. On the other hand, the Axis, particularly the Germans, Austrians, and Japanese, engaged in torture, summary executions, and genocide on a massive scale. (Before any dipshit tries to defend the Austrians, let’s recall what happened to the Jews of Vienna for a moment.) So yeah. There was a difference.

    Too bad we made another choice in the 60s and 70s and used napalm and Agent Orange in SE Asia.

  76. 76
    Heliopause says:

    It’s probably just my nihilistic cynicism talking, but I’ll be surprised if any CIA management is ever held accountable for what they did.

    Way to go out on a limb there. Yes, I would say that if Obama is the most liberal President of our lifetimes and he wont hold them accountable then nobody will. Put that one in the “two dollars on Secretariat to win the Belmont” category.

    What’s most striking is the contention that the torture techniques were pointless, everybody knew they were pointless, and they were done anyway. That means the people in the CIA are not bureaucratic fuck-ups, they are pathological criminals. Our TV landscape is dominated by crime dramas which depict psychotics who love to kidnap, rape, and torture other human beings; well, guess what, those people run the CIA. Pleasant dreams, everyone.

  77. 77
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @PJ: The Inquisition got a lot of women to admit they were witches who flew about at night.

    At least magic devices like sodium thiopental and polygraphs have some sort of scifi-y justification, even if it turned out later they don’t really work. I think I can forgive people in the 50s a little easier than anyone who gave credence to the waterboarders in the 2000s.

  78. 78
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Heliopause:

    What’s most striking is the contention that the torture techniques were pointless, everybody knew they were pointless, and they were done anyway.

    The torture sessions weren’t “pointless” — they were done to get the “intelligence” the Bush administration wanted to justify their invasion of Iraq. The Bush White House wanted to hear that they were right, and the torturers gave them that information. As I said above, it looked really good on a lot of CIA agents’ annual reviews — I extracted X confessions from al-Qaeda criminals!

    Personally, I find torture for careerism more horrifying than torture for fun, but YMMV.

  79. 79
    Kyle says:

    Shorter CIA:
    We’re psychopaths who wanted to torture people for no operational reason, so we made up excuses.

    Torture was tailor-made for the Bush/Cheney bullying management style of ‘end justifies the means’ and ‘tell me what I want to hear, I don’t care if it’s true’.

  80. 80
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: ding ding ding

    In their hearts, everyone knows this is true. That is why they don’t get on the internet complaining about every action movie, thriller, TV show, comic book, pulp novel that involves the federal government and implies or outright states that the security state is entrenched in levels above the actual president and he (or she) can’t touch them. Nobody goes around saying “that broke my suspension of disbelief”. Yet they run around and blame Obama for not being a superhero. It’s funny, everyone can see that in a term limit state like Florida the lobbyists are more powerful than the legislators and it’s also clear who tells who what to do. Same thing in many podunk, badly run towns and counties where city staff runs the elected officials. Yet when it’s Washington DC we all regress to 2nd grade and think the Prez can just march around and give orders without consequences?

    Somebody like TR had power because he had a popular groundswell behind him. Let’s just face the fucking fact that OVER AND OVER THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS HAVE BEEN AGAINST US ON THIS. And until that changes in the worst way, there will be no reining in of shitstorms like the CIA and FBI. And NSA.

  81. 81
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Kyle: Too much power, not enough oversight, and incompetence at the helm, with private gain in their minds–sounds like SeaWorld in BLACKFISH. Or those “cryogenics” companies in FROZEN (the book, not the movie).

    This is what lack of regulations and restrictions gives us. Horrors beyond our worst imaginings.

  82. 82
    Mike G says:

    John Stewart had some ex intelligence guy on TDS years ago who baldly stated that torture didn’t work and no serious person has ever suggested, much less proved otherwise in the intervening years.
    I guess nobody wanted to hear it then?

    If you’ve worked for authoritarians you’ll know. The answer is they don’t care if it works or not, and evaluating it on empirical evidence is insubordination. They want it because they want it, discussion by us lowly peasants is not encouraged, and the underling’s job is to shut up and deliver or else. They’ll reward the drones who reinforce their fantasy world, and punish those who don’t.
    Psychopaths like Cheney decreed that we would torture, that it would be found “effective”, and would yield “evidence” to justify the invasion of Iraq.

  83. 83
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I don’t know if you ever watched NYPD Blue (you may be too young ;-) but they had several great interrogation episodes where the detectives got the suspects to confess by pretending to sympathize with them. The greatest one was probably the two-parter “Lost Israel,” where Det. Simone (Jimmy Smits) has to pretend to sympathize with a child molester to get his confession and is having a really hard time with it.

    Detectives do this in real life. One more reason for the old saying “cops lie”. One more reason rich dicks with private attnys get away with so much… they never say shit to the fuzz.

    It only works on those who experience anxiety and guilt, though. And they have to get to the point where fear of the consequences of talking recedes behind fear of their secret.

    Plus you can still get false confessions that way.

  84. 84
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Mike G: I’ve worked for narcissists. They talk like authoritarians but unlike real pants-pissing, monsters under the bed authoritarians they lack real conviction. They just want people to blow smoke up their ass all the time.

    Working for an NPD jackhole sucks a lot, though. They don’t like empirical evidence until enough time has passed that “nobody could have known” because everyone else needs to be on their learning curve since they are the most important (not to mention most visionary, smartest, most attractive) person in the universe.

    I’ve worked WITH a few authoritarians. They suck. They often do get their way by metaphorically screaming “MIKEY HIT ME” from the backseat of life. Then the normal people who show adult levels of restraint, they get screwed by the system. Pisses me off.

    I’m sure if all those years I was alone with clients and declined to call down the law on people because I didn’t wish that on anyone that if I had been assaulted it would have been a blame-the-victim-fest of epic proportions. OTOH if you manipulate the situation so Angry Guy gets dragged away in cuffs then nobody’s really asking questions about how you provoked that person… especially if you’re friends with the supervisors. I’m not bitter or anything…. Okay, maybe I am.

  85. 85
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @AxelFoley:

    So with all the problems we have, you wanted President Obama to waste capital going after the previous administration, something that no administration has never done in the history of this nation?

    Coolidge didn’t stop the post-mortem of the Harding admin. Of course, those were different times. Back then, the ruling class didn’t like people who stole (from them). (Stealing the sweat of working men and women’s brows was a different matter.)

    One thing Glenn Greenwald is right about, Ford changed all of that by pardoning Nixon.

  86. 86
    Cervantes says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    During WWII, correct me if I’m wrong, the Soviets and the Allies pretty much followed the Geneva Convention on the handling of POWs and also civilians […] There was a difference. Too bad we made another choice in the 60s and 70s and used napalm and Agent Orange in SE Asia.

    Thanks! Am I reading you right that the answer to one of my questions is that “back in that day” means “during WWII”?

    How about in the 320 years between, say, 1620 and 1941? How about in the 60 years since 1945? (I do see that you except the ’60s and ’70s.) When it was possible to confuse us with “the good guys,” was it solely because of how we may have conducted ourselves during the four years we were in WWII?

    Oh, and by the way, re “the Soviets and the Allies,” the Soviets were our allies!

  87. 87
    Paul in KY says:

    @PJ: You must assume in my scenario that not just 1 person would ‘know’, but that it has been verified by multiple sources, etc.

    I said we ain’t getting that info, if that’s the case. I would go on record as saying that.

    You are just nitpicking the scenario.

  88. 88
    Paul in KY says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Mauthausen was in Austria. The USAF will never forget the 800 allied airmen tortured to death there (forced to carry rocks till they died).

    Plus all the other poor souls murdered in Austria.

  89. 89
    danielx says:

    It’s probably just my nihilistic cynicism talking, but I’ll be surprised if any CIA management is ever held accountable for what they did.

    Accountable?

    Accounting is for clerks.

    As far as somebody ever being brought up on charges of…whatever, let’s say cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners…fuhgeddaboutit, never happen. Whatever CIA (or other agencies) interrogators did, it was at the behest – if not written orders – from the very top, case in point being comments from that old blood drinker Dick Cheney. If you’re not going to deal with those who found justification for and approved such policies *cough*John Yoo*cough*, you can’t very well charge those who implemented said policies.

    Must look forward, not backward, don’t you know.

    @Another Holocene Human:

    During WWII, correct me if I’m wrong, the Soviets and the Allies pretty much followed the Geneva Convention on the handling of POWs and also civilians…

    Well…kinda. Generally speaking US and British troops did follow the Geneva Convention, although whether Germans or Japanese, particularly the latter, ever got to BE POWs is a separate question. There were cases where Germans who were attempting to surrender or had surrendered were shot out of hand, due to a tactical situation or the heat of battle. The paratroopers who dropped into Normandy, for example, didn’t take many prisoners; they didn’t have people available to guard prisoners. In the latter case, it was very difficult for a German machine gunner to surrender if five minutes previously he’d been busy slaughtering his captors’ squad mates. Understandable, if not according to the Geneva Convention. Same deal in the Pacific only more so, as Japanese troops were much less likely to surrender in the first place. However, those who managed to surrender (German or Japanese) were by and large treated according to the rules.

    The Soviets, different story. Germans who attempted to surrender might or might not be shot out of hand, depending on the situation and how Soviet troops felt on that particular day. As far as POWs were concerned, the Soviets were well aware of how Soviet POWs were treated by the Germans (horribly) and felt no qualms about returning the treatment – the USSR not being a signatory of the Geneva Conventions anyway. Case in point Stalingrad, the Soviets took 91,000 prisoners of whom only 6,000 lived to be repatriated after the war. An extreme case, but the most conservative estimate is that of ~3 million German POWs held by the Soviet Union, approximately 356,000 died in captivity. German estimates are much higher; 1,300,000 German military personnel are still officially listed as missing, most are believed to have died as POWs.

    Soviet treatment of civilians was appalling. Mass rape, murder and looting were common when Soviet armies crossed the East Prussian frontier in January and continued through the fall of Berlin.

  90. 90
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Yup. Sad but true. And now you have all the surveillance shows making teaching people that’s ok too.

  91. 91
    C.V. Danes says:

    @@Citizen_X:

    Torture is the ultimate act of state terrorism.

    Indeed. And the ultimate corrupter of one’s soul, too.

  92. 92
    Cervantes says:

    @danielx: Re the four years of our (i.e., the good guys’) involvement in WWII, you’ve covered the POW and not-likely-to-become-POW story for now, but as for our good-guy treatment of civilians, one should not forget Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo, Dresden, etc.

    Looking for “good guys” during war-time is … an unenviable task.

  93. 93
    danielx says:

    @Cervantes:

    All too true. There are no good guys during wartime.

  94. 94
    LanceThruster says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I was just following orders 2.0

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