Close this chapter of America’s use of torture (it’s over). Look ahead to the next chapter.

Summary: Here’s the last thing you need read about America’s WOT use of torture, unless you enjoy reading about such things. This ends with a transition to the next chapter, our future use of torture — and a song by Justin Timberlake about our long and rocky relationship with the CIA.  (This is the first of two posts today)

” I have said repeatedly that America doesn’t torture, and I’m going to make sure that we don’t torture.”

— President-elect Barack Obama on CBS “60 Minutes”, 11 November 2008. We elected him to tell us pretty lies.


Dreamland: the alternative to learning

The debate has ended. Next comes the squawking by politicians and policy gurus, which serves important purposes. Members of the outer party (i.e., the kind of people that write and read these kind of posts) need entertainment and a sense of participation. The news media need clickbait to get readers, and content to fill the space between ads.  “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Cut to the chase; this summary can help us remember the key points:

  1. Under Bush Jr our high government officials authorized torture.
  2. The CIA tortured (incompetently) but gained little or nothing of use.
  3. Medical and legal professionals violated the canons of their profession to assist.
  4. We, the citizens of America, knew about it but did nothing (a large fraction applauded).
  5. Our leaders stopped torturing at their discretion, and remain unapologetic about it.
  6. The only person punished was John Kiriakou, the CIA operative who blew the whistle (and went to jail for it).
  7. President Obama approved it by hiring those responsible for high office (e.g., John Brennan) and shielding everyone responsible from punishment.

To see the future we turn to John Brennan — senior CIA officer under Bush and Obama, vocal advocate of torture, who ran the “extraordinary rendition” program that sent people to be tortured abroad. A man who knows about these things. When asked about future use of torture at his December 11 press conference, he gave us a word salad — with a clear meaning.

And then finally, as far as what happens if, in the future, there is some type of challenge that we face here, the Army Field Manual is the established basis to use for interrogations. We, CIA, are not in the detention program. We are not contemplating at all getting back into the detention program using any of those EITs. So I defer to the policymakers in future times when there is going to be the need to be able to ensure that this country stays safe if we face a similar type of crisis.


Liberty cries

We will torture again.  {Got to love the mind-deadening jargon: torture becomes “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques”. Goebbels smiles.}

The future

“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson, perhaps apocryphal

History shows that methods used on foreign foes tend to come home, being used on us. As we see today with the tools of our foreign wars appear in our cities. Armored vehicles roll down our streets, disgorging police in full military gear. Less apparent are the surveillance tools and counter-insurgency methods employed against us by the legions of Federal, State, and local employees of the scores of intelligence agencies.

What goes around, comes around. We learned that from the revelations of the Church Committee in 1976. We forgot, and learned it again in the WOT. At some point we will pay dearly for our sloth and ignorance, and learn it again.

Justin Timberlake’s 2006 song “What Goes Around… Comes Around” nicely describes our long and rocky relationship with the CIA.

Justin Timberlake

What goes around, goes around, goes around
Comes all the way back around
What goes around, goes around, goes around
Comes all the way back around
What goes around, goes around, goes around
Comes all the way back around
What goes around, goes around, goes around
Comes all the way back around

Don’t want to think about it
Don’t want to talk about it
I’m just so sick about it
Can’t believe it’s ending this way
Just so confused about it
Feeling the blues about it
I just can’t do without ya
Can you tell me is this fair?

Posts in this series about the Senate report about torture

  1. The protests start about CIA torture as the echoes die on protests about NSA surveillance. Expect the same result.
  2. Consequences of US torture. And a snapshot of a tottering Republic going through the motions of “debate”.
  3. Close this chapter of America’s use of torture (it’s over). Look ahead to the next chapter.
  4. Our leaders justify torture in ways that justify its future use on their foes (including Americans)

Other posts about torture

  1. Something every American should read, 25 March 2009 — Details about CIA torture programs
  2. We close our eyes to torture by our government. The Brits are stronger., 9 April 2009
  3. So many Americans approve of torture; what does this tell us about America?, 30 April 2009
  4. The Reverse Nuremberg Defense – “We were just giving orders“, 20 May 2009
  5. Our government does torture, but it is just like the treatment of young reporters by newspapers, 16 February 2010
  6. The US government at work, doing dark deeds in our name, 13 March 2010
  7. Reading about American torturers is a bummer. Let’s close our eyes and pretend it didn’t happen, and will not happen again., 22 March 2010
  8. An expert speaks to us about torture, 5 May 2010
  9. The long-term consequences to America of torturing Bradley Manning, 15 March 2011
  10. More symptoms of decay: professional associations abandoning their standards and obligation to protect us, 4 May 2011
  11. As we finish a dark 2012, what will we see in 2013 of The New America?, 26 December 2012
  12. Why are we surprised that we supported militia in Iraq, and they used torture?, 12 March 2013



1 thought on “Close this chapter of America’s use of torture (it’s over). Look ahead to the next chapter.”

  1. A terrible reality that has began to sink in with a few of the few who have even read the report; the frequency with which “Untrained” and or “Unauthorized” personnel were allowed to witness and partake in the interrogations. The knowledge used in these events now loosed in our streets, walking among us. How many people are being subjected to milder forms of this treatment in their own home as a means of control?

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