WHEN THE reports of the conversation between Secretary John Kerry and Senator Diane Feinstein over the Senate Torture Report, which will be released later today, began circulating in the media, the storyline of their dialogue became almost mythological. It went like this: If the torture report is released it will endanger Americans and our allies abroad. The findings are supposedly so shocking and horrible, to go beyond the value of transparency and holding ourselves accountable for what the U.S. government did in our name. If ever there was self-serving propaganda that served no purpose beyond hiding those who tortured, this was it.
There’s a moment in NBC’s new drama “State of Affairs” where torture is featured in the “Half the Sky” episode,” but we’ve come a long way from Zero Dark Thirty, which caused such a furor over the plot line surrounding the efficacy of torture. Katherine Heigl’s character stands up against the private contractor, Nick, suggesting other methods be used instead of torture, which she chastises him doesn’t work, then suggests what would work, beginning with tapping his emotional attachments. It’s a cultural milestone of sorts.
This latest report reportedly lays the Bush administration‘s torture policies out, proving Vice President Dick Cheney lied about the techniques from the start, something we’ve known for some time.
As special agent in charge of the criminal investigation task force with investigators and intelligence personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq, I was privy to the information provided by Khalid Sheik Mohammed. I was aware of no valuable information that came from waterboarding. And the Senate Intelligence Committee—which had access to all CIA documents related to the “enhanced interrogation” program—has concluded that abusive techniques didn’t help the hunt for Bin Laden. Cheney’s claim that the frequent water boarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed “produced phenomenal results for us” is simply false. – Mark Fallon [Politico Magazine]
Glenn Greenwald will be liveblogging the Senate Torture Report.
Col. Morris Davis, the retired Air Force Colonel who served as the Chief Prosecutor of the Military Commissions at Guantánamo until 2007 when he lost his job for criticizing the tribunal, notes that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough this morning explicitly defended the torture techniques, arguing: “whatever it takes to keep America safe.” Aside from being the essence of the authoritarian mindset – security über alle – it’s quite striking that major television personalities in the U.S. explicitly justify the use of torture. Is there any other western country where that’s true? After all, The Washington Post hired former Bush speechwriter Marc Theissen as a columnist after he wrote an entire book justifying torture (when used by the U.S.). – Glenn Greenwald
At this point, however, I’m just wondering how much Americans will care. Beheadings of journalists and aid workers likely won’t make the case that caring about lives of barbarians matters much in people’s everyday lives.
As a nation, however, it does matter what U.S. policy is and the message we send to the world after the Bush era. Unfortunately, Obama’s drone policy and his inability to close Guantanamo Bay hasn’t exactly changed America’s image abroad.
— Col. Morris Davis (@ColMorrisDavis) December 9, 2014