Us at our worst.

Good lord, but the torture report is ghastly. I try not to take these things personally, but the details of what was done in the name of this country is truly sickening – sick being the point when I read about how we pumped hummus up a man’s ass.

I don’t know what the blowback will be overseas on this; in large part, it’s things we already knew, or suspected. But a subtler sort of corrosiveness will be inevitable.

Or, to put it another way, this would be an excellent day to stay away from the comments sections. All of them. (Except this one.)

I have to duck out today, for the usual reasons. You might enjoy this amusing story about how a Brooklyn art-scene fixture has had enough of Brooklyn and its ridiculous rents, and is relocating to? This place, bitches.

Posted at 8:47 pm in Current events |

45 responses to “Us at our worst.”

  1. David C. said on December 9, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    A while back I was listening to “The Smartest Man in the World” podcast and in the audience question part someone asked Greg Proops, the host, what a good city for young artists to settle in would be and he said Detroit. I guess he was right. Wouldn’t it be something if in ten years Detroit is the place to be. Perhaps the 2024 loose, washed jeans inhabitants of Detroit can look down at Brooklyn hipsters and pronounce them so 2014.

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  2. Sue said on December 9, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Insult to injury will be the big yawn that follows this report, and the lack of outrage at Dick Cheney’s ‘Yeah? So?’ response.
    I haven’t read the report because I don’t think I can do it without vomiting, but the general gist of it seems to be that unknown someones kept important officials out of the loop, so of course no one can be held responsible.
    In other news, the Supreme Court unanimously decided that your employer can engage in wage theft by detaining you at your workplace, and Brownback of Kansas is going to go after public employee pensions while Scott Walker takes notes for future reference.

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  3. Deborah said on December 9, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    The US paid two itnterrogation psychologist contractors $80 million to develop the plans to torture detainees Huh? are you kidding me $80 million!!! Is that hush money?

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  4. Sherri said on December 9, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    No, Deborah, it’s selling your soul.

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  5. adrianne said on December 10, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Even more sickening than the reports of “rectal feeding” and “rectal rehydration” was seeing the likes of Dick Cheney running around defending torture.

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  6. Linda said on December 10, 2014 at 7:19 am

    Everybody overseas probably knew more about it than Americans who picked up the tab for the monstrous things done in their name. But grown ass people own up to doing wrong. They admit it and try to do better. And Americans are not used to having a grown ass president. Hence the nasty comment sections.

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  7. Jeff Borden said on December 10, 2014 at 8:28 am

    The administration of George W. Bush is the gift that keeps on giving…

    And now this. And now buffoons and bastards come from under their rocks to assure us all that this torture was effective and that the release of this report is revenge by Democrats controlling the Senate. I have little doubt we will see Americans killed, embassies attacked, facilities burned by the release of this report, which will lead our conservative cousins to lash out at those who want to make this public. But this reckoning is long overdue. And maybe, just maybe, we will learn something from it.

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  8. beb said on December 10, 2014 at 8:40 am

    The Supreme Court decision (9-0) about the time spent waiting in a security check-out lane is outrageous. It goes against earlier court rulings that the time spent putting on special work garb is time employers must pay for. If you can’t leave your place of employment until you go through this check-out lane it ought to be time paid for, since its your employer insisting that you do this. But when was the last time that the courts have burdened an employer?

    I wonder how many people in Kansas are winning for a do-over on the election since Gov. Brownnose, er Brownback, seems determined to run the state in the ditch and perhaps nosing Mississippi out of last place as the worst state in America.

    Aside from the forced enemas I don’t think there are any really new revelations in the Torture Report, except that we’ve formally acknowledged that we did this. The argument that releasing this document – sorry, it’s the summary report of the full 6000 page document – will hurt America’s reputation is BS because the world already knew we were doing this stuff.

    Now the question is: what are we going to do about this? At the very least we have to prosecute Pres. Bush, V-P Cheney, and John Yoo, who wrote a legal justification for torture, for war crimes. We need to prosecute a lot of the smaller people as well, just like we did in the Nuremberg Trials. Otherwise it will just keep on happening.

    One of the conspiracy theories about the death of JFK is that the CIA kiled him because he was going to break-up the CIA. After reading the mews about the Torture Report that theory doesn’t sound quite as crazy as it once did.

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  9. brian stouder said on December 10, 2014 at 8:54 am

    I lean toward the presidential pardon route (proposed by – was it Amnesty International?)

    It would make the point that this was criminal, and would avoid ever turning Dick Cheney into a martyr.

    It would be a double-bonus if Cheney (et al) refused the pardon, and ended up in the dock

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  10. brian stouder said on December 10, 2014 at 10:05 am

    One Big Lie in the NYT torture story:

    Mr. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and a number of former C.I.A. officials have said more recently that the program was essential for ultimately finding Osama bin Laden, who was killed by members of the Navy SEALs in May 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

    If this isn’t a Total Lie, then we’re reduced to quibbling and calibrating the exact meaning of the words “essential” and “ultimately”, in that context.

    I will never forget angrily tossing aside a ‘dead-tree’ newspaper when I read (somewhere in the mid-2000’s) that President Bush had de-funded and essentially shutdown what had been a fairly large effort to find Sammy bin Laden. It seemed to me that we needed his head on our pike, period.

    And President Obama, immediately upon taking office, steeped up the efforts and resources to find Sammy, and to kill him – and THAT effort had everything to do with mundane police-work (I think they ultimately followed a courier – like a barn rat scurrying to his hole – right back to Sammy in Pakistan, and then plugged him.

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  11. Bitter Scribe said on December 10, 2014 at 10:28 am

    The conservative piece of dung who now occupies the space left in the Tribune by the great Mike Royko had the predictable response: Blah blah blah ISIS beheads people. What has happened to this country, when we judge ourselves by the moral standards of our enemies?

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  12. Judybusy said on December 10, 2014 at 10:36 am

    As a teen, I remember reading about Nazi torturers and feeling relieved I didn’t live in such a place, under such a government. I’ve felt so powerless about all this happening, and especially knowing torture does NOT produce accurate info. That’s been known for a really long time.

    In other news, the Lisa Fischer concert was last night. Bassett, she’s coming to Nashville soon. I don’t know what kind of music you like, but she is transcendental, and the three-guy band she plays with is up to the task. There were a lot of re-worked Stones tunes, and Led Zeppelin’s “Been a Long Time Since I Rock and Rolled” As my wife put it: “Robert Plant just got spanked!” So if she comes your way, all of you, just go see her.

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  13. brian stouder said on December 10, 2014 at 10:41 am

    So noted!

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  14. Pam said on December 10, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I heard on a BBC interview this morning on NPR that the guy who was assigned to “fix” Detroit’s finances, offered its debtors real estate in Detroit for free, which most of them took. It was either that or get nothing. They were offered abandoned properties. I would take that in a heartbeat.

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  15. J. Bruce Fields said on December 10, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I hate to nag, but I’m actually kind of upset by this from yesterday.

    Either your or me is very confused about something there, and I’m pretty sure it’s you, and I think it’s an important point, and worth a retraction.

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  16. nancy said on December 10, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Bruce, honestly, I’ve been swamped. I’ll take a look. Don’t get upset. It’s not worth it.

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  17. brian stouder said on December 10, 2014 at 11:20 am

    The word “explicitly” might be the sticking point.

    From here in the cheap seats, the very impossibility of ‘explicit’ guidelines in cases where intoxicants are involved is the nub of the problem.

    Default position (in all cases): I’m on Nancy’s side!

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  18. J. Bruce Fields said on December 10, 2014 at 11:43 am

    “From here in the cheap seats, the very impossibility of ‘explicit’ guidelines in cases where intoxicants are involved is the nub of the problem.”

    Right, and I understand Nancy’s criticism to be that they’ve tried to draw a hard line when there isn’t one. When in fact they haven’t done that–basically the rule as I understand isn’t “did someone drink at all”, but “was someone too drunk to be capable of consent”. Which seems exactly right to me. It covers clear cases such as that in the Jezebel Q-and-A (sex with someone who blacked out after heavy pressure to drink deceptively strong drinks) without requiring alcohol-free dating, and levaes you to sort out inbetween stuff on a case-by-case basis. Which is hard, but what can you do?

    Anyway, OK, OK, I won’t be upset.

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  19. brian stouder said on December 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Or as Bond would say – you can be shaken, but not stirred (up)!

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  20. coozledad said on December 10, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Business schools, sports and the Greek system need to be cashiered from the University system. They serve no function except as representatives of the retrograde subset of the population. It’s bad enough we’re letting the educational system rot at the bottom, but people who are paying through the nose for a degree don’t need this human shit in the way:

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  21. Peter said on December 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Cooz, the best part is her e-mail that ends “Thank you and go Noles”.

    Yeah, Go ‘Noles, and take Jameis Winston with you.

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  22. brian stouder said on December 10, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Cooz – wow.

    And Mr Fields – this sentence fairly leapt off the page, given recent conversation:

    A friend of Lively brought O’Connor’s posts to the attention of the university administration, which has no official social media policy for employees, but probably wasn’t keen on the attention.

    I’d say a generous severance package, or a healthy lawsuit, is next up for the nutty professor

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  23. MarkH said on December 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Brian @10 — Then-CIA Director Leon Panetta is on record as disagreeing with you.

    Right after the bin laden takedown, I was struck by an interview he did with Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News right after the mission. Half way through he interview, Williams asked him specifically if finding bin laden was a result of EIT, and he responded “That’s correct”. For proper context, here is the complete transcript of the entire interview. Scroll about half way through for the exchange.

    This not meant to endorse either side on this issue, especially what’s come out in the senate CIA report; just relaying a piece of relevant information. Panetta is a bit of enigma for me, especially since he turned on his former boss in his recent book. He has been conspicuous in his absence of comment since the report came out yesterday.

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  24. Deborah said on December 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I still can’t wrap my brain around “rectal infusion”. I mean, who were those interrogators? Sadistic perverts? I never would have thought they would have done something like that, it never entered my mind that anyone would do that. Sometimes Coozledad’s rhetoric gets colorful, but you know what, all this time he’s been right on.

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  25. MarkH said on December 10, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Also interesting is the revelation that Panetta conducted a classified review of these tactics used by the CIA, while he was director. The results were damning, as was the disclosure that the CIA conducted surveillance on the senate intelligence committee.

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  26. alex said on December 10, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    I think the CIA got its ideas from South Park. There was an episode in the early ’00s where people were eating with their asses. Martha Stewart swallowed a whole deep-fried turkey up hers.

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  27. Charlotte said on December 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    I can’t even deal with the torture report. Really. Head in sand, fingers in my ears, humming. I can’t help but wonder about the mass denial about all these different forms of violence: against the poor, against black men and boys, the rape endemic in the armed services and our universities, fracking. The list just goes on and on. Vulpine predators let loose across the land.

    So I’m pulling a Candide and taking to my sunny greenhouse room at least until after the solstice.

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  28. coozledad said on December 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    The CIA got its ideas from the Gestapo and the NKVD, and from the frat rushes where white boys get bottles jammed up and cigarettes put out on, their worthless asses. The frat world never stops for frats, it’s more that the world has to bend to accommodate their sickass crap.

    My adviser in college encouraged me to write my thesis on the tendency of imperial Democracies to adopt the strategies and police state machinations of their enemies as they are swirling headlong into the shitter of history. I thought he was a little kooky, especially since he used 5th century Athens as a case in point.

    But he was right. Athens was also awash in jock and frat trash in its own right, and it had that ass-kisser’s obsession with sport along with a streak of misogyny so deep that asshole was the favored location to put the cock even among hets. When a society revisits the idea of making women chattel, it’s a warning sign that the torture worms are cranking up.

    And it’s not just a signal of the end of a democracy, it’s a signal the state itself is shitting its last turd.

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  29. brian stouder said on December 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    This bit doesn’t expand upon what I remember as a Bush-era DE-emphasis on finding Sammy (followed by an Obama-era PUSH to find that guy); but interesting nonetheless on how they chased the barn-rat to his hole, and killed Sammy

    (CNN) — Did waterboarding and other coercive interrogation techniques that were used on al Qaeda detainees in CIA custody eventually lead to the Navy SEAL operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan early in the morning of May 2, 2011? The Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday has a simple answer to that: Hell, no!

    According to the Senate report, the critical pieces of information that led to discovering the identity of the bin Laden courier, Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, (Ahmed the Kuwaiti) whose activities eventually pointed the CIA to bin Laden’s hiding place in Pakistan, were provided by an al-Qaeda detainee before he was subjected to CIA coercive interrogation, and was based also upon information that was provided by detainees that were held in the custody of foreign governments. (The report is silent on the interesting question of whether any of these unnamed foreign governments obtained any of their information by using torture.)
    Even worse for the CIA — which has consistently defended the supposed utility of the interrogation program, including in the hunt for bin Laden — a number of CIA prisoners who were subjected to coercive interrogations consistently provided misleading information designed to wave away CIA interrogators from the bin Laden courier who would eventually prove to be the key to finding al Qaeda’s leader.

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  30. Sherri said on December 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    I don’t care if torture provided information that captured bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and the boogey man. It’s still wrong, and it poisons what we supposedly stand for.

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  31. Charlotte said on December 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    It’s a sign you’ve been spending too much time on social media when you find yourself wanting to Favorite/Like/retweet Sherri at 30.

    Favorite/like/retweet/agree …

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  32. coozledad said on December 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    “The CIA has lied to its overseers and the public, destroyed and tried to hold back evidence, spied on the Senate, made false charges against our staff, and lied about torture and the results of torture. And no one has been held to account,” Udall complained. “There are right now people serving in high-level positions at the agency who approved, directed or committed acts related to the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. It’s bad enough not to prosecute these officials, but to reward or promote them and risk the integrity of the U.S. government to protect them is incomprehensible.

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  33. brian stouder said on December 10, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Three cheers for John McCain.

    Oxy-Rush, who isn’t fit to be the clean-up boy at one of the waterboarding sessions that he so ardently supports, pilloried and heaped scorn upon Senator McCain, when the senator passionately defended the publication of the torture report.

    Hmmmm – a sunny-day “patriot” who dodged the draft with a sore spot on his ample ass (or whatever) pillories a decorated naval aviator and combat veteran, who has ‘seen the elephant’ (and been practically smashed to death by it), and all his admirers can think to do is nod their heads and say “ditto”?

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  34. Jolene said on December 10, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Here’s a good essay by John Dickerson re the torture report and its connection to public opinion and our current politics. Seems that most of the American public is pretty OK with torture.

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  35. Deborah said on December 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    As Andrew Sullivan says “is there a single political party in the whole western world that supports torture besides the GOP?”, I don’t think so. And according to that link to Slate that Jolene posted, no one cares. Wow.

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  36. Sherri said on December 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I don’t find it surprising that most of the American public is okay with torture, as long as we’re doing it to other people. Those same Americans would be screaming about the barbarism of our enemies if other people did it to us, and of course, that’s the justification many of those people use for torture: they’re beheading people!

    That still doesn’t make it right, and it still is poisonous to our ideals. Many people would probably be in favor of torturing other people who commit crimes that strike a deep chord, like child molestation, but we don’t do that.

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  37. FDChief said on December 10, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    I think the importance of this report isn’t the information it presents but the opportunity it offers us to see ourselves as who we are.

    There is now no way to deny that the United States tortured people. There is now no way to pretend that this was “a few bad apples” or “a rogue program”. It was clearly the policy of the intelligence arm of the U.S. government to use of many of the same methods of torture for which we executed members of the Gestapo and the Kempeitai after WW2.

    So at this point the choice is very much black-or-white; are we either truly a “nation of laws”… (including the antitorture portions of the Bill of Rights, the Geneva and Hague Conventions, and the United Nations Convention on Torture which the U.S. signed in 1984 at the urging of President Ronald Reagan who said at the time:

    “The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called ‘universal jurisdiction.’ Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.”

    …or “a nation of men” who are happy to sanction the torture of their captives, regardless of the legal status of those captives.

    Now the U.S. public is confronted with the choice between acquiesence and rejection.

    Wanna bet me all the money in your pocket against all the money in mine which option We the People will choose?

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  38. coozledad said on December 10, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    They’re already fine with cops mowing down blacks in the streets. Once you’ve got extralegal detentions and torture or disappearance without judicial review, you’ve got an effective framework for a shadow state which can use its own metric for determining who is the enemy and what are the acceptable ways to inhibit “crime”.

    Local police departments already use torture illegally. This now sets a precedent for them to construe the law as they wish, unless the quasi-legal apparatus governing secret detentions has been publicly and thoroughly dismantled by a criminal court.

    Brennan, Tennant et al need to be fired and tried in Federal court, and the rest of the CIA black ops creeps tried before an international criminal court.

    I don’t know what you do with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Yoo, except passively wait for them to die and display them in glass boxes so their corporeal rot can be observed catching up with their souls.

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  39. Sherri said on December 10, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    The first place I’d start with Yoo is to remove him from his law school professorship at Berkeley. That he is teaching lawyers at a publicly funded law school disgusts me.

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  40. Deborah said on December 10, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    How did Yoo et al, get to the point where they said torture was legal? I’d be interested in reading something that could break it down to dummies like me, how they could twist it to get them there?? Does anyone know of any good books out there that lay it all out? Or if not books, articles?

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  41. Jolene said on December 11, 2014 at 1:39 am

    Deborah, I haven’t done any reading on this subject myself, but a little googling led me to a book called The Dark Side by Jane Mayer, who earned a lot of praise for her writing on the torture issue in The New Yorker. Was on the NYT best books list and several other such lists the year it was published. Just google “torture memos” for more ideas.

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  42. David C. said on December 11, 2014 at 6:21 am

    If the Secret Service can be asleep at the switch at the White House, I’m sure Bush and/or Cheney’s contingent could be away long enough to get him kidnapped and brought to The Hague. The argument for the United States not being part of the International Criminal Court is that US courts could handle these things. The courts may be able to handle it, but the political system obviously can’t.

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  43. Jolene said on December 11, 2014 at 6:51 am

    The Washington Post peels away another layer of the UVa story.

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  44. beb said on December 11, 2014 at 8:20 am

    “Why aren’t they more grateful?”
    Interesting reflection back on the career of Robert Moses

    As the only member of Congress who has actually been tortured, you would think John McCain would have taken after Rep. Pete King with a bullwhip for dismissing torture as people standing around in awkward position.

    And midnight tonight the US government runs out of cash unless Congress pays a new continuing resolution. I wonder how many poison pills the Dems will swallow in order to get the government working?

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  45. brian stouder said on December 11, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Beb, a great link indeed! “Why aren’t they grateful?” indeed! –

    Pretty much foreshadows what the GOP will be muttering, after Elizabeth Warren derails their goodie-bag for Wall Street robber barons

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