Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Milky Way, United States Get Bronx Cheer

I am so ready for some good news, readers. I want us to do something right for once. We have been on the fucked-up side of history for so long, even the universe is giving us the razzberry.

This will have to do for now: nine Republicans crossed the party line to confirm Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services today; eight if you don’t count the newly Democraticalized Arlen Specter.

She’ll have to hit the ground running, especially since it seems likely that the US will have at least some swine flu fatalities, and the WHO just bumped our pandemic status up another notch, and Mexico has closed all its restaurants. Restaurants, y’all. Mexican restaurants. Closed. For health concerns. I don’t know about you, but if that doesn’t sound like one of the seven signs of the apocalypse, I don’t know what does.

The Republican opposition to Sebelius was centered around her pro-choice voting record. Wow, imagine, Obama nominating a pro-choice person for a position that oversees the government’s involvement in issues of women’s health. Crazy.

You know, Republicans, not to give away free advice to the party of torture lovers, but you might want to save your ju-ju for opposition to a position that is not 100% predictable and expected and proper and, like, the biggest “Whew!” that women have experienced in this country since McLovin left office eight years and 100 days ago.

And speaking of torture, leave it to the inimitable Harry Shearer and his indispensible Le Show to make me aware of what the major rags have not – that torture was used against prisoners for the purpose of, yes, finding that elusive link between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein.

I’ll pause while you pick your jaw up off the floor. I know I had to, because, readers, even I did not think that we would stoop so low.

During the period in question, two “high-value” prisoners were water-boarded a total of 266 times between them. Knowing that, as we were subjecting them to simulated drowning, we were asking about the non-existent collaboration between Iraq and al-Qaida kinda sticks a big pin in that whole “ticking time bomb” Jack Bauer bullshit, don’t it? Witness:

"There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, especially the few high-value ones we had, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people to push harder," [a former senior intelligence official said].

"Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies."

Senior administration officials, however, "blew that off and kept insisting that we'd overlooked something, that the interrogators weren't pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information," he said.

A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under "pressure" to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.

"While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq," Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. "The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results."

Look, I can’t believe that any argument about torture as a policy would hinge upon whether or not it is effective. Torture is what third-world banana republics and despots and criminals and terrorists do, it’s not what we should do. It’s why you go to the goddamn trouble to create a civilization in the first place, so that things like basic human rights are afforded to everyone, not just those who obey the law, but everyone. Sixty years ago, we knew that. Sixty years ago, we prosecuted those who tortured in order to help win their war. Today, the question of whether or not to torture is fodder for the moronic yammer shows. What the fuck has happened to us?

And even if you can get around the morality, how the fuck do you justify waterboarding one person 183 times? I mean, do you say to yourself “Never mind, 183’s a charm!”????

And just for the record, it’s not effective. It’s just not. You know who used to torture, but stopped, because it WASN’T FUCKING EFFECTIVE? Israel. Yeah, Israel.

And you might say they know a thing or two about Islamic terrorism.


Some Guy said...

I wish I could say it boggles my mind that people still have to be convinced that waterboarding is torture, but it doesn't. Not after those dark eight years. It's frustrating.

Johnny Yen said...

When I heard that they tortured people until they admitted to a non-existant Al Queda/Iraq connection, I couldn't help thinking of the scene in The Big Lebowski where the idiot goon keeps dunking The Dude's head in the toilet and then asking "Where's the money Lebowski?"

I'll believe any Republican who claims waterboarding is not torture who volunteers to go through it a hundred times or so.

Michael said...

I think it goes to show that Abu Ghiraib wasn't an aberration of the previous administration so much as the logical extreme of its unexamined will to use force.

SkylersDad said...

And all the hard right wing nuts just keep repeating their mantra "Yeah but we've been safe for the last 8 years"...

jesus tap dancin christ, what have we become?

dguzman said...

Great post, Vikki. It's mind-boggling, the idea that ANYONE could drag those "high-value" prisoners into the torture room not just once, not even ten times, but ALMOST TWO HUNDRED FUCKING TIMES. And I don't give a shit HOW much pressure Cheney and Rummy were putting on those interrogators; why the fuck didn't they just say NO. Or just lie and they'd done it again when they were really just out having some ice cream.

To think that those folks will come back from the war to live among us -- that's truly scary. I don't want to sound disrespectful of the military, because I'm not--but I would NOT want to meet any of those interrogators from Gitmo or Abu Ghraib. Those people have to be fucked up.

Anonymous said...

I'll take Johnny Yen's analogy and run with it. New shit has come to light, man. We now have evidence that proves the Bush administration used torture to manufacture bogus intelligence that was used to justify the illegal war in Iraq. It's time to investigate Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest of those sick fuckers for war crimes.

Dad E said...

Torture is immoral and stupid as you have thoroughly described. And it seems to fall right into all the other fuck ups from the Crawford brush clearer's (thanks for the term Garrison)gang of dark minded dofuses.

Supposedly, there once lived a radical Jewish preacher that urged people to "love your neighbor as thyself". Seems like there is modicum of wisdom for all people, especially for those seeking rebirth.

But America only gives "pro forma" acceptance to religious morality and don't ever forget it.

Grant Miller said...

Is it effective or affective? I never get this right and I practically have a Phd in English.

For fuck's sake.

Distributorcap said...

these people will spend the next eight years defending everything bush did -- that is all they have left. then again with 21% only willing to admit they are a republican, there will soon be more child pornographers