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Complicity -- and Accountability -- on Torture

As torture chronicler extraordinaire Mark Danner has pointed out, one of the great paradoxes of the torture scandal "is that it is not about things we didn't know but about things we did know and did nothing about."

It was, for instance, in December 2002 that Dana Priest and Barton Gellman first reported on the front page of the Washington Post that American interrogators were subjecting detainees to "stress and duress" techniques. James Risen, David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis first told the world about waterboarding in May 2004.

But that doesn't mean that the rest of us are as guilty as the people who committed the crimes -- or that those who ordered those crimes should avoid accountability.

Jacob Weisberg now joins Michael Kinsley, however, in arguing that the nation's collective guilt for torture is so great that prosecution is a cop-out. Kinsley, as I noted on Friday, wrote: "If you're going to punish people for condoning torture, you'd better include the American citizenry itself...Prosecuting a few former government officials for their role in putting our country into the torture business would not serve justice or historical memory. It would just let the real culprits off the hook."

And here is Weisberg, writing in Newsweek: "By 2003, if you didn't understand that the United States was inflicting torture upon those deemed enemy combatants, you weren't paying much attention. This is part of what makes applying a criminal-justice model to those most directly responsible such a bad idea. The issue we need to come to terms with is not just who in the Bush administration did what, but our collective complicity in their decision....Prosecuting Bush and his men won't absolve the rest of us for what we let them do."

There are two big problems with this argument, however. While it's true that the public's outrage over torture has been a long time coming, one reason for that is the media's sporadic and listless coverage of the issue. Yes, there were some extraordinary examples of investigative reporting we can point to, but other news outlets generally didn't pick up these exclusives. Nobody set up a torture beat, to hammer away daily at what history I think will show was one of the major stories of the decade. Heck, as Weisberg himself points out, some of his colleagues were actually cheerleaders for torture. By failing to return to the story again and again -- with palpable outrage -- I think the media actually normalized torture. We had an obligation to shout this story from the rooftops, day and night. But instead we lulled the public into complacency.

Secondly, while it's certainly worth exploring why any number of people were either actively or passively complicit in our torture regime -- and I'm all for some national self-flagellation here -- that has nothing to do with whether senior administration officials willfully broke the law, and whether they should be held accountable. It doesn't change the law.

Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald has repeatedly marveled at the Washington elite's nearly lockstep opposition to criminal prosecutions. Here he is last month: "The very same pundits and establishment journalists who today are demanding that we forget all about it, not look back, not hold anyone accountable, are the very same people who...played key roles in hiding, enabling and defending these crimes. In light of that, what is less surprising than the fact that, almost unanimously, these very same people oppose any efforts to examine what happened and impose accountability?"

And here he is in January: "Now added to the pantheon of 'liberal' dogma is the shrill, ideological belief that high government officials must abide by our laws and should be treated like any other citizen when they break them....Apparently, one can attain the glorious status of being a moderate, a centrist, a high-minded independent only if one believes that high political officials (and our most powerful industries, such as the telecoms) should be able to break numerous laws (i.e.: commit felonies), openly admit that they've done so, and then be immunized from all consequences. That's how our ideological spectrum is now defined."

Meanwhile, Philip Gourevitch writes for the New Yorker about who, exactly, has been held accountable thus far: "It was exactly five years ago that some of the photographs that Charles Graner and his comrades took at Abu Ghraib were aired on CBS's 'Sixty Minutes' and published in this magazine. At that time, the Administration claimed that [Corporal Charles A. Graner, Jr., the military-police officer in charge of the night shift] was the mastermind of the abuse represented in the photographs, and that they showed nothing more than the depravity of a group of rogue soldiers who had fallen under his sway. Yet it became almost immediately apparent—and has been confirmed repeatedly in the years since, most recently with President Obama's decision to release four Bush Administration memorandums seeking to establish a legal justification for the use of torture—that the Abu Ghraib photographs showed not individuals run amok but American policy in action."

Graner remains in prison, serving ten years. "His superior officers enjoy their freedom, and C.I.A. interrogators, who spent years committing far worse acts against prisoners than Graner did even in the darkest days at Abu Ghraib, have been assured immunity.

"But, if full justice remains impossible, surely some injustices can be corrected. Whenever crimes of state are adjudicated—at Nuremberg or The Hague, Phnom Penh or Kigali—the principle of command responsibility, whereby the leaders who give the orders are held to a higher standard of accountability than the foot soldiers who follow, pertains. There can be no restoration of the national honor if we continue to scapegoat those who took the fall for an Administration—and for us all."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy writes in a Boston Globe op-ed about the recently released "torture memos": "This was not an 'abstract legal theory,' or 'hypothetical,' as Alberto Gonzales dismissively described in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. These were specific techniques, authorized by high-ranking US government officials and used on real people. We have prosecuted people for these kinds of acts against Americans, and condemned other nations for sanctioning these methods....

"The apparent predetermined outcome of these legal memos raises the question of where the demand for this outcome and for approving these policies arose. Press accounts indicate that these were not the results of requests from CIA officers on the ground and in the field, but arose through pressure from senior administration officials in Washington....

"I still believe my proposal for a Commission of Inquiry remains the best way to move forward with a comprehensive, nonpartisan, independent review of what happened. Torture was and is against the law. Condoning it puts the men and women who bravely serve in our own armed forces at risk. It disregards the values that make this country great. Torture is illegal, immoral, and wrong. That is why Obama ended these practices.

"Let us reaffirm our guiding principles as a nation by joining together to come to a shared understanding of what happened and why. The risk of failing to learn from our mistakes is that they will be repeated."

I wrote on Friday (also see Harper's blogger Scott Horton) about a video in which former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice seemingly restated President Nixon's view that if the president does it, it's not illegal. "[B]y definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture," she said, after being questioned by Stanford University students.

Alec MacGillis writes in The Washington Post about Rice trying to explain her torture decisions yesterday -- to a fourth-grader. And afterward, Rice was pressed to clarify her remarks by an Al Jazeera television crew.

This time, Rice said: "Let me be very clear: The president said he would not authorize anything that was illegal. It was not legal because he authorized it; it was because he said he would do nothing illegal and the justice department and the attorney general said that it was legal."

Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, writing in the New York Times, take us back to Bush's issuance in June 2003 of the standard proclamation to mark the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

"The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment," the proclamation said.

Not surprisingly, the CIA freaked.

But that's just the top to a long article -- full of anonymous sources -- chronicling how the "consensus of top administration officials about the C.I.A. interrogation program, which they had approved without debate or dissent in 2002, began to fall apart."

They write: "The real trouble began on May 7, 2004, the day the C.I.A. inspector general, John L. Helgerson, completed a devastating report. In thousands of pages, it challenged the legality of some interrogation methods, found that interrogators were exceeding the rules imposed by the Justice Department and questioned the effectiveness of the entire program."

But even after 2006, "Mr. Cheney and top C.I.A. officials fought to revive the program. Steven G. Bradbury, the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel and author of the recently declassified 2005 memorandums authorizing harsh C.I.A interrogations, began drafting another memorandum in late 2006 to restore legal approval for harsh interrogation."

And: "When Mr. Bush finally reauthorized C.I.A. interrogations with an executive order in July 2007...forced nudity was banned, and guidelines for sleep deprivation were tighter....But Mr. Cheney and his allies secured other victories. The executive order preserved the secret jails and authorized a laundry list of coercive methods."

Peter Finn and Carrie Johnson write in The Washington Post that the recently resolved case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri "suggests that as the government pushes forward with plans to prosecute detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it may again have to accept lesser sentences for those who were subjected to physical and psychological abuse."

Bush had Marri "swept out of federal court and into a U.S. Navy brig so he could be interrogated without the legal protections afforded by the criminal justice system."

But: "By removing Marri from the courts in June 2003, the Bush administration effectively sacrificed the ability of prosecutors to throw the book at Marri when he was returned to the system, military and legal experts say."

They also write: "The fear that some Guantanamo cases are not prosecutable in federal court has sharpened debate within the Obama administration about the need to maintain military commissions, in which the rules of evidence are less stringent, according to sources involved in the discussions."

Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball write for Newsweek that "a Justice Department special counsel is quietly ratcheting up his probe into... the CIA's destruction of hundreds of hours of videotape showing the waterboarding of two high-value Qaeda suspects."

And Deepak Chopra writes in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed: "This is one of those moments when painful truth is the only way to heal.

"People don't want to hear about bad things from the past when the present is loaded down with more than enough bad things. But inconvenience and fatigue aren't good excuses. There is anger from the left — and not just the left — about an inexcusable Bush policy. There are demons in the closet, and shutting the door on them won't make them go away. Better to deal with it now, when a new president's idealism is still fresh. It will take idealism to face the torture issue. Otherwise, any truth commission will either turn into a vengeance squad or go the other way and sweep too much under the rug.

"The more the right wing tries to justify the torture policy, the worse they look. Using national security to justify torture is just a bald-faced attempt to hide the truth. What really went on was simple. The Bush administration felt that Al-Qaida could not be defeated while still preserving what America stands for."

By Dan Froomkin  |  May 4, 2009; 2:20 PM ET
Categories:  Torture  
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Comments

I give up. The America I thought I knew never existed. The ugly, barbaric, narcissistic, greedy, exploitive, manipulating, and brutal America I know now has always been the real America. If our citizens do not care enough to hold our politicians to our laws, nothing anyone can say or do will ever change this puss pit of a depraved country into something to be proud of. I. Give. Up.

Posted by: davidbn27 | May 4, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

"And here is Weisberg, writing in Newsweek: "By 2003, if you didn't understand that the United States was inflicting torture upon those deemed enemy combatants, you weren't paying much attention."

Nonsense. I reject guilty of complicity by passive knowledge. The president and VP were running around saying, "We don't torture." They never told the truth to the American people about what they had ordered. And MANY of us were dead set against using torture.

Maybe Weisberg SHOULD feel guilty. We can try him as an accomplice then. But this notion that insisting on the rule of law will tear our country up .... if that's so, let the chips fall where they may. After the mess is over, rule of law will have become the American standard again. That's worth sacrificing the lot of leadership in government and the Fourth Estate from the era as well.


A Truth Commission at the very least is called for, let's find out what really occurred.

Posted by: Mill_in_Mn | May 4, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I see Froomkin is defocused again babbling on about torturing and completely ignoring the Plague of the Day.

If you want to point fingers at complacency, then why not point towards yourselves ? This mystery is no enigma wrapped in illusion, it's all over the internet.

Statement was made sometime ago that if Watergate was to be done over again by WP maybe some things would have been done differently ?

Rice was just too obvious in her recent statements. And how much does loyalty really count to the new Administration ? I think "He" said there are no secret cows in America. Would have to look that one up though but we are tired of doing homework for lazy reporters. In addition, Specter told Leahy, just walk into the DOJ and look at the files for yourself. We did as some things like 302 documents were published online as well. What is the big mystery ?

Posted by: crowbar8Prying | May 4, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Two words: Extraordinary Rendition

Why does Froomkin ignore this? Could it be that it was in a Democratic administration? The movie documents the practice quite well complete with supervising CIA agents. And by the way, no caterpillars involved.

Posted by: hz9604 | May 4, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

This bears emphasis:

---begin---

"Now added to the pantheon of 'liberal' dogma is the shrill, ideological belief that high government officials must abide by our laws and should be treated like any other citizen when they break them....Apparently, one can attain the glorious status of being a moderate, a centrist, a high-minded independent only if one believes that high political officials (and our most powerful industries, such as the telecoms) should be able to break numerous laws (i.e.: commit felonies), openly admit that they've done so, and then be immunized from all consequences. That's how our ideological spectrum is now defined."

---end---

Posted by: mobedda | May 4, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

@ crowbar8Prying: HUH?????

Posted by: mobedda | May 4, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Among a few other questions, crowbar8prying...what's a "secret cow"? Do you really know English? It doesn't seem like you do.

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 4, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Condoleezza Rice has an option which might move us from the stalled, waiting-for-the-axe-to-fall state we're all in, concerning torture prosecutions.

She could assemble all the public documentation and surrender to the FBI, saying, "This isn't an admission of guilt, but all these people are saying I committed crimes. I have a right to my day in court!"

Posted by: justjohn_jj | May 4, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

What Kinsley and others stupidly ignore is that many citizens were in fact outraged and protested to their representatives who did what? I'll tell you what: they sent their standard boilerplate letters in response. Many have marched and protested the unjust war in Iraq from day 1 when the dismal and dim W lied to the world and sent our sons and daughters into war. Then what did we do? We voted for change and now the President of change is reticent to do what we've asked: hold these criminals to account! Arrest them at the highest levels. Get on with it or stop talking about what a beacon of light we are to the rest of humanity.

Posted by: medogsbstfrnd | May 4, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't agree with Kinsley that we are all to blame, and I agree with Mill_in_Mn that we have to reject guilt by passive complicity. Let's not forget the tone set early on by Ari Fleischer, when he warned people to be careful what they said, and by the Bush Admin stooges who jumped all over anyone - politician, journalist, celebrity - who would not fall into lockstep. We were bullied by these people, that is how thugs operate. Opposition was stifled. Until Dan Froomkin came along the tone of this paper was noticeably less realistic on the illegal and unconsitutional activities of the previous administration. Personally I agree that the CIA operatives who were assured that what they were asked to do was legal should be left alone. But the rest are up for grabs and it is the responsibility of congress, not Obama, to investigate.

Posted by: gposner | May 4, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I thought Froomkin had the WH beat. Isn't Obama the president now and doesn't the current WH deserve some level of scrutiny? I mean with the largest defict ever, Obama running the auto industry, he can't close Gitmo like he promised, hasn't filled all of his cabinet seats, authorizing attacks into Pakistan, trying to scare the nation into his agenda by claiming a crisis at every turn, etc. etc. I used to get mad at Froomkin because I didn't agree with what he wrote but now I can't do that because he has become irrelevant. I'd like to think that is good but now where will I go to get my daily dosage of angst?

Posted by: mmourges | May 4, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

My open letter to the Washington Post Ombudsman:

Dear Ombudsman,
I would like to question the integrity of the Washington Post
regarding its coverage of the so-called "torture" associated with
interrogations.

I have sent messages to both gentleman (Froomkin and Robinson) and posted comments asking why
the practice of Extraordinary Rendition is not included in their
outrage at the "torture" practice. Obviously one could conclude that
the Bush administration is their target and the aims are political.

I think the readers are owed at minimum a direct response from each
man as to why they refuse to address the true torture associated with
Extraordinary Rendition.

Can you comment on this exclusion from the Post's dialogue?

Thank you,
hz9604

Posted by: hz9604 | May 4, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

The previous administration had the distinction of institutionalizing the use of torture as a approved course of the action by the government of the United States. Procedures and methods were established and fully described. The approval of attorneys of the Justice Department of the United States then fully "legalized" the institutionalization of torture.

If one establishes that the procedure of extracting only the nail of the index finger of males aged 21 to 45 as an approved method of interrogation does this lessen the fact that this is torture?

Is there any doubt that if the ten authorized procedures of tortures were seen to be inadequate, the list of authorized procedures of torture could have been expanded by using a Justice Department that had already facilitated the institutionalization of torture?

If the attorneys of the Justice Department can be used to facilitate for an administration the institutionalization of torture then there is no protection that an administration might use the Justice Department to facilitate the institutionalization of euthanasia to deal with mental retardation.

The attorneys of the Justice Department may advise the executive branch of government on the law, but their purpose is not to aid in subverting the law. A special prosecutor is required to prevent the Justice Department being used in the future to approve and facilitate the use of torture, or other actions that are so inherently against the laws of the United States.

This is not a case for Congressional committees or special commissions. This is a case of subverting the law and "judicial murder" and requires full examination and trial for those in the Justice Department that subverted the law.

Posted by: bsallamack | May 4, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I give up on rotten G-dammed republicans. I never voted for one of them. I wrote letters to the editor against bush. Both elections.
This is sickening. I reject the whole f***ing lot of them.

Posted by: TOMHERE | May 4, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Kinsley is using "tortured logic" when he argues that all Americans are complicit. Let's not forget the infamous "silent majority" that was described by none other than Tricky Dick Nixon. Nixon declared that Vietnam war protestors were actually a minority because the "silent majority" supported the Vietnam war. The trouble with this kind of "logic" is that anyone who stands against the president (nixon, bush) is easily branded as a "traitor" or "unamerican." Who wants to stick out there hand, only to have it chopped off?

The other problem I see with Kinsley's argument is about his own role in the Bush "torture policy." Did Kinsley jump onto the Bush band wagon? Did other journalists jump into the deluded camp?

As with any moral argument, it is always easy to say "those other guys are wrong, but I am right." Kinsley is on a very slippery slope regarding labelling a large, undifferentiated group as complicit because they must have agreed with Bush.

I am sure that Kinsley might take umbrage with this statement: "all journalists were complicit in advocating for Bush's war." "If the shoe fits, wear it," might work in a fairy tale, but Kinsley must come clean on his personal stand regarding torture before he can persuade me that he is nothing more than a shrill surrogate for Bush.

Posted by: rmorris391 | May 4, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

We had a president and his administration that went out of their way to pursue, hide and at the same time hypocritically justify torture. We had a congress that could not bring itself to state the obvious and hold the president accountable. Indeed, they gave him more tools to do the same. The judiciary generally showed better judgment, but would only address the limited questions before it.

The press. Well, we now live in the days of talking heads (visual, audio or print) who say whatever necessary to gain an audience. They have loyal followers who cancel each other out. Which leaves the real reporters – or their editors – who largely refused to use the word torture when describing what was going on, instead using the sanitized phrases like "stress positions" and "enhanced interrogation techniques". (Well gee, why wouldn't we want to use the new, enhanced versions? Aren't they better than the old versions?)

And then there was the rest of us. Polarized. Manipulated. Told what we wanted to hear. Unable to accept that we were torturing or morally equivocating its existence.

Pretty pathetic for a "Christian" nation, I think.

My real problem is that it can all happen again. What's to stop it? Obama won't be president forever. What is to stop another Bush or Cheney from going down the same path? Take a look at potential GOP contenders for 2012. Not encouraging. There is only one thing to prevent it. We have to confront it – morally, ethically, legally – and haul those people responsible in front of the appropriate body for judgment.

But this would require a national moral compass that was nowhere to be found over the last 8 years. Has it now reappeared in our "forward looking" situation? I'm not convinced.

Posted by: tfspa | May 4, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Dan. This compound issue of the wrongness of torture and the necessity that we live under the rule of law - without compromise - is the most important one that we confront as a nation today.

Posted by: partialobs | May 4, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Hi Dan -

"Nobody set up a torture beat, to hammer away daily at what history I think will show was one of the major stories of the decade."

That's where you, Sullivan, Greenwald and others come in. Keep this subject front and center until this appalling behavior is thoroughly dealt with.

Thanks.

Posted by: JCinCT | May 4, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

This column is essentially a reiteration of the "Good German" problem, except that the "good Germans" in this scenario are actually ordinary Americans. It takes some interesting leaps of logic, though, to argue that the promoters of torture should not be prosecuted simply because it is not possible to put the entire American people in the dock.

If this reasoning had been applied to Germany after 1945, we would not have had the Nuremberg trials--admittedly in many respects an instance of victors' justice, but also crucial in establishing in international law the principle of executive responsibility for genocide.

It is not hard to see, though, why Obama is waffling on the question of punishment for the torturers. It is difficult to justify drawing a line between the torturers and the people who told them it was acceptable to torture; the defense of "I was following absolute orders" did not work for Eichmann, so why should it for these people?

On the other hand, the torture game in the US has always been about persuading the foot soldiers and the general public that the limit of acceptability is being approached but is not being crossed. The highly euphemistic coverage of torture in the US media has hardly advanced a clear understanding of the issue, or encouraged a public determination to reassert basic human rights.

The immediate aftermath of September 11 was a frantic time, with the various intelligence agencies playing catch-up, and it is becoming increasingly clear that many felt they had neither the time nor the space to deploy interrogation techniques which would have yielded more reliable intelligence at a greater cost in time spent.

I have no sympathy whatsoever for the individuals who fatuously approved of torture on the basis of superficial study of scenarios drawn from '24' or Andy McNab novels. But the issue as a whole is much more complex and will take more time and energy to unravel.

Posted by: jonathan_n_winkler | May 4, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

" . . as I noted on Friday, wrote: "If you're going to punish people for condoning torture, you'd better include the American citizenry itself...Prosecuting a few former government officials for their role in putting our country into the torture business would not serve justice or historical memory. It would just let the real culprits off the hook."

I DON'T THINK SO! There were many of the citizenry who tried in vein to scream about the torture that was taking place, even protesting at the WH, who were told they were trouble makers and not supportive of our troops in Iraq. Now the GOP wants to put the blame on us when in fact, this is theirs - they own it.

Furthermore, now that the R's have become the minority, they want to deny that torture even took place, and yet continue to state emphatically that 'harsh techniques' were NOT 'torture'. Sorry, that doesn't square. And yes, prosecuting 'MORE than a FEW' former govt officials would ABSOLUTELY SERVE JUSTICE AND HISTORY. They KNEW going in that TORTURE was against our law and international law and all they did was manipulate legal language to skirt the issue, but 'torture remained torture' no matter how they tried to spin it.

This makes me LIVID. For them to now say when the president does it, it's not illegal [Rice at Stanford], we can't discuss it publicly or you don't understand how DIFFICULT it is to PROTECT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE' is nothing more than the propaganda they have spewed for years. No one is buying any of it anymore. For their sakes, they'd better think of 'better excuses' cause those just aren't cutting it! It's the same old garbage we have always been handed by the GOP.

Posted by: MadasHelinVA | May 4, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

give up. The America I thought I knew never existed. The ugly, barbaric, narcissistic, greedy, exploitive, manipulating, and brutal America I know now has always been the real America. If our citizens do not care enough to hold our politicians to our laws, nothing anyone can say or do will ever change this puss pit of a depraved country into something to be proud of. I. Give. Up.

Posted by: davidbn27 | May 4, 2009 2:45 PM
========================================
Hey doofus, who do you believe, your own eyes or Froomkin? Do you believe in the America that you have formed your views of over your lifetime, or do you believe in the America that Froomkin has just stuck in your head?

It's weak-willed people like you who form the grass roots for nefarious political forces around the world.

You had an image of America in your head built up over a lifetime of personal experience. Then a propagandist came by (Froomkin) and ripped it out of your head and filled you with darkness and despair.

Awesome.

You remind me of girls in college that you could tell them you loved them and promise to respect them in the morning and they would do anything you asked, lol.

Posted by: ZZim | May 4, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Kinsley and Weisberg wrap themselves in scorn for the public to hide their own guilt as holders of public space who could have made a difference when it may have mattered.
Many of us have long despised those thuggish "leaders of the free world" - who promised early on to, effectively, sodomize the enemy - for this and for a hundred other sins, but all I knew to do was to write letters to my newspaper and to support candidates.
Others with blogs railed against the Bushies, but it's the Weisbergs of the world who used their column inches to give us a fair and balanced view of those criminals who must take a share, along with that portion of the country that voted Republican, of the blame.

Posted by: redacted54 | May 4, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I can't help but be reminded of the scene in Animal House where Otter defends his fraternity against charges stemming from their Toga party: "Isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well you can do what you want, but I'm not going to stand here and listen to anybody badmouth the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!" At which point the entire fraternity marches out of the room while humming "Pomp and Circumstance."

So this is the level to which our society has sunk -- that a once-great newspaper like the Washington Post can print op-ed after op-ed arguing that we should ignore torture sanctioned from the highest levels of our government, based on the flimsy argument that we are to blame because we elected George W. Bush. Kind of reminds me of another quote from Animal House: "You F'ed Up -- You Trusted Us..."

Posted by: jerkhoff | May 4, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

hz9604:

Extraordinary rendition can and should mean extracting someone from a foreign country to stand trial in the US. Israel has used this technique most famously, but the US has used it, and the Clinton administration used it. When you use extraordinary rendition to take someone to a secret prison, that's a problem. It's not clear to me exactly what the crime is in extraordinary rendition other than kidnapping in the country of origin - like the CIA is charged with in Italy. Anyway, extraordinary rendition itself does not violate the Geneva conventions. Keeping a prisoner "off the records" in a secret prison might be.

Posted by: dickdata | May 4, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

so, if i understand the writer correctly, we cannot prosecute anyone directly involved in high crimes because everyone of voting age who did not take up arms against the elected government of the united states of america to fight for rights of enemy combatants is an accessory to torture? i don't get it. really.

Posted by: silverfish1 | May 4, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see accountability and the rule of law upheld here. I am also trying to understand Obama's point of view. There appears to be two broad reasons to pursue investigations.
1) If laws are broken, then the guilty should be held to account.
2) We need to know what happened before we can make the adjustments to prevent such things in the future.

There is only one main reason for him to want to delay investigations, namely all of the other crises currently facing the nation. A call by Obama for any action on torture will be seen by the right, and presented by the media, as a politically motivated attack. This will undoubtedly interfere with his ability to accomplish other things. It is better (for him) if investigations are slow to get started and are not seen as Obama's idea.

Broken down it is easier to understand what Obama has said.
In response to 1) he talks about political abuse of the justice system. The president should not be pre-judging cases that are clearly the responsibility of the Justice Dept. They are already proceeding with their job and he shouldn't interfere.

In response to 2) he returns to the fact that he has ended the policies. There is no immediate danger of returning to those policies (he implies), so we have the leisure to focus on the looming future for now - to put off the historical analysis of what went wrong until a less heated and crowded time.

This is some delicate political judo.

Posted by: ath28 | May 4, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Froomkin,
You must continue with these articles. This subject cannot be allowed to quietly fade away into our history.

Posted by: CypressTree | May 4, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

whizbanger-O
I no engrish good, u no engrish ? Y u not look up quote 4 yurself, U leyZ 2 ?

modebba, I cannot explain that post in detail as Mr. Warren Buffett is the Director of the Washington Post, not I.

Are we beating an enemy combatent to death on this subject ? Ooops, some of those terrorist suspects have yet to be tried as enemy combatents. According to the Brass, some of them are no longer suspects either.

When, Bush was ordered to revise the Military Tribunal Law by the Supreme Court, Congress basically rubberstamped something that went onto be be contested in the Supreme Court. Have we gone full circle yet ?

Posted by: crowbar8Prying | May 4, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

You remind me of girls in college that you could tell them you loved them and promise to respect them in the morning and they would do anything you asked, lol.

Posted by: ZZim | May 4, 2009 3:52 PM
=========================================

Zzim, you lied to college girls to get into their pants and then laugh at them in the morning?

Torture loving is only a small part of your depraved personality.

Posted by: 2true | May 4, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I think we should move past this very split conversation we are having. You can't blame the republicans for everything. 'We the people' means everyone not half of the population. The fact of the matter is that we as a nation have allowed this to happen, so we as a nation need to fix this problem. Let's hold accountable the people responsible and show the world that we hold ourselves to a high standard all of the time not just when it makes for a good sound-bite.

Posted by: Kain | May 4, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Froomkin, do you know what proof texting is? It is taking a document and taking tidbits of it completely out of context to support a given viewpoint. Your articles amount to one big blog of taking things out of context, and therefore lack any shred of redeeming intellectual value.

For instance you misquote Ms. Rice badly. What she said was that the administration went to great lengths to make sure their treatment of the prisoners was legal under US and international law. Their lawyers determined that X was legal and so the President authorizd X. She then says that the President wouldn't do anything illegal and so she is sure that what he did was legal.

Your interpretation takes her statement completely out of context. I swear you right the same sort of emotional jumbled mumbo jumbo that High School students write. By using the word argument the reader presumes that your articles contain one, but in fact they are a series of conflations and appeals to emotions. If you are going to use the term at least have the common decency to put forth an actual argument instead of this EMO drivel.

Posted by: DCDave11 | May 4, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Kinsley's argument is the worst argument he has ever made. He has no plan to hold the citizenry responsible, so his proposal is nothing more than a proposal to hold no one responsible. That only makes sense when 100% of the world shares in the guilt, and it just does not go that far, even leaving out the people who were victims. In fact, we don't even need to consider the rest of the world; quite a few Americans were outraged by the news of Bush's torture regime from the first day that it was reported. Is Kinsley's argument anything more than an attempt to excuse his own indifference? Holding the perpetrators responsible may be politically impossible, but that does not make it morally O.K.

Posted by: rjoff | May 4, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

One more point, Mr. Kinsley and Mr. Weisberg are making is that if you are not going to prosecute people for the acts themselves, then you are talking about prosecuting for what in legal terms is called 'conspiracy'. If you are going to try someone for conspiracy, you are going to have to cast a wide net.

So the question Kinsley and Weisberg are making is whether or not something can be a conspiracy if everyone knows about it. I.e. you cannot try a few select people because their politics don't agree with your own. This means you have to try everybody, and if you do that well we will have to have another election because a hundred congresspeople and senators of both parties will be going to jail.

Posted by: DCDave11 | May 4, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Look at the results of the Pew Research poll on torture. Only 25% of Americans said torture should "never" be used. That means that 75% of us think there are circumstances where it can be used. That is the real reason why the government felt it was OK, why we let them do it, why Obama doesn't want to take it on, and the press didn't "shout from the rooftops". Even now, this issue is easily pushed to page 2. Sad but true.

Posted by: allknowingguy | May 4, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

This weekend CSpan repeated twice a discussion about torture from 2005. It was very informative: The only person who really gave excellent information was cought after the Kenya Embassy bombing and he was given a choice: go to Kenyan government with a lawyer or go to US government without a lawyer-- he ran to the US choice because US was known not to torture. The most info was gotten from that man WITHOUT torture.

Sheik Mohamet who was waterboarded over 100 times never did tell much about Osama Bin Laden who was directly above him in the Al qaida organization-- goes to show- torture does NOT work. Torture was NEVER approved by the military every since George Washington until 2000. Torture is like slavery- it comes to hought a civilization for many years--- DO NOT DO IT!!!! Take the high road..... sO FAR STILL 54% OF THE RELIGIOUS POEPLE AND 43% OF NON RELIGIOUS PEOPLE WOULD APPROVE OF TORTURE FOR SOME CASES--- they are misinformed!!!! watching too much TV "24" Mr Bauer is a fiction!

Posted by: humanbeing | May 4, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

So, Mr. Froomkin, here is kind of proof for you. Rice said Bush would never do anything illegal however the Supreme Court overruled both Bush and Congress on Habeous Corpus. So, Bush did something illegal and Rice said he would not do anything illegal. Forget about Cheney because it is rumored Cheney thinks Illegal is just a sick bird.

Posted by: crowbar8Prying | May 4, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

This argument by Kinsley and Weisberg is ridiculous. It's very similar to a tactic Bush used himself. He insisted in totally being in charge, just him, nobody else, enforced secrecy and blatant double speak, and bullied everyone who disagreed, calling them traitors. Then, when things went wrong he pointed to everyone else and said, Look it's really YOUR fault! You went along with me! You didn't stop me!

Besides I think a lot of people believed the double-speak when he kept saying "we don't torture" or when Gonzales called the memos "theoretical". You're going to implicate people for being gullible, for believing their president?

Finally, it doesn't really matter if everyone in the US thought torture was OK. There are plenty of times when the masses are for something unwise. It is up to the leaders to do the RIGHT thing. Their responsibility is much greater than the average person.

If they (the Bushies) wanted complete power, now it is time to give them complete responsibility too. PROSECUTE.

Posted by: catherine3 | May 4, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

The media and a majority of the American people accommodated the torturers. After all, they both gave the torturers a pat on the back in November, 2004. That, however, does not lessen the need for a Special Prosecutor to investigate whether laws were broken by government officials at every level.

There should not be two standards of law as now exist in our nation: one for the common folk (you break the law, you get punished) and one for government employees (we need to move forward).

Posted by: frazeysburger | May 4, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

first reported on the front page of the Washington Post that American interrogators were subjecting detainees to "stress and duress" techniques.
________
What now EVERYTHING is torture? If anything but talking nice to a prisoner is torture then the word torture no longer has any meaning. Froomkin is a FOOL! This is the only thing he cares about.. I guess his last chance of having his wet dream to see Bush arrested but it will never happen. First Obama doesn't want it. Obama seems to be one of the few sane ones on the Left on this issue. Besides if what happened was a crime to give CIA guys a pass to only go after people in the Bush administrtion is nothing more than selective prosecution. It will be seen for what it is a POLITICAL move which will be a disaster for Obama. Also most Americans don't care if al Queda terrorists had some water poured on their face to get them to talk. To be seen on their side going after the Americans who where just trying to stop another attack is another disaster for Democrats. Froomkin I sure and other idiots like Keith Olbermann will keep after this as long as they can but nothing will come of it. I must say I find reading Froomkin feels more and more like torture.. Maybe someone will lock him up.

Posted by: sovine08 | May 4, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Todays TortureGate makes Watergate and IranContra look like kindergarden politics..

I am not sure what is holding back President Obama.

I can agree to let the Practionners escapt unscathed. But not Cheney, Bush, Yoo, Rice, and the rest of the Neocon criminals go.

IMHO I think that Gates and Petraeus are also implicated and that Obama wants to keep them as they are true hard working and honest leaders.

BUT none the less, they know what happened.


Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | May 4, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Damn the Weak Knee Duct Tape Appologists for Torture are all here under new Posting Names..

\\\HIDING again boy's??

Pro Torture
Anti Civil Rights
Pro Tax Offshore Cheats

YOU guys leave a dark brown streak where ever you go.

Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | May 4, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I absolutely reject the collective guilt arguments made my Kinsley, Weisberg, et al. I voted against the criminals twice, I wrote letters to editors exposing their hypocrisies and lies, I marched in protest demonstrations against their torture regime and I argued with too many paranoid, fearful people to try to get them to understand what their government was doing in their name.

I DO NOT ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CRIMES OF BUSH, CHENEY, RUMSFELD, RICE, YOO, BYBEE, ADDINGTON, PELOSI, ROCKEFELLER OR ANYONE ELSE WHO PERMITTED TORTURE TO OCCUR.

I DEMAND THAT THEY BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE AND PUNISHED ACCORDINGLY.

Posted by: stephenlouis | May 4, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

The collective guilt theory is insane.

Kinsley et al. can go around screaming I AM SPARTACUS! but I refuse to.

I want everyone in BushCo who was responsible for torture brought to justice - period.

Anything less makes an even bigger mockery of justice than the collective guilt defense.

Posted by: solsticebelle | May 4, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

On 5/4/09, Ombudsman Internet DropBox wrote:
> Mr. hz9604,
>
> Thanks for writing. It's up to Mr. Robinson and Mr. Froomkin as to whether
> they wish to respond. Personally, I always think it's good to respond to
> readers, even if it's a simple "Thank you" to acknowledge receipt. That
> said, I presume both of them get a huge volume of e-mails from readers (I
> get more than 1,000 a week), and it's often difficult to respond to each
> one.
>
> Best wishes,
> Andy Alexander
> Washington Post Ombudsman
>
>
>
> RT
> 05/04/2009 03:16 PM
>
> To
> "ombudsman@washpost.com"
> cc
>
> Subject
> Froomkin, Eugene Robinson and Extraordinary Rendition
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Dear Ombudsman,
> I would like to question the integrity of the Washington Post
> regarding its coverage of the so-called "torture" associated with
> interrogations.
>
> I have sent messages to both gentleman and posted comments asking why
> the practice of Extraordinary Rendition is not included in their
> outrage at the "torture" practice. Obviously one could conclude that
> the Bush administration is their target and the aims are political.
>
> I think the readers are owed at minimum a direct response from each
> man as to why they refuse to address the true torture associated with
> Extraordinary Rendition.
>
> Can you comment on this exclusion from the Post's dialogue?
>
> Thank you,
hz9604

Posted by: hz9604 | May 4, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Liberals routinely use the term "torture" as if they knew what it meant. Being mean to terror arrestees is not torture. Scaring a grown man who kills people indiscriminately is not torture. Not allowing them 8 hours of sleep is not torture. Khalid Sheik Mohammed confessed to being the planner of the events of 9/11/01. He killed thousand of people on that day and caused an enormous amount of pain to thousands more. Why are liberals so solicitous about the comforts that savage is denied? The last US enemy that liberals fought vigorously was Nazi Germany. Ever since then consciously or not, liberals have sided with the enemies of the US. They still do. It is a mental illness they suffer from, called anti-Americanism.

Posted by: mhr614 | May 4, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Crowbar, your attempts to spoof English make more sense than your attempts to say something serious. (And you still haven't explained the secret cow...though I'm pretty familiar with the idea of a sacred cow. Comes from Indian culture. Indian as in, from India.)

What's surprising to me is to hear how difficult it would be to prove complicity in war crimes in court. It's not a matter of establishing that a person committed a certain act, like theft or murder. It's a matter of proving intent to circumvent the law, similarly to how proving libel involves proving that someone knowingly told an untruth. In either case, being convinved of an incorrect opinion is a successful defense.

In the case of the war crimes, I don't understand this at all.

But aside from that, I don't think prosecutions will be politically feasible. I'll settle for a thorough investigation.

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 4, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

ahumanbeing - "Sheik Mohamet who was waterboarded over 100 times never did tell much about Osama Bin Laden who was directly above him in the Al qaida organization-- goes to show- torture does NOT work. Torture was NEVER approved by the military every since George Washington until 2000."

What a naive moron!

Coerced interrogation works with a variety of "pressure tools" only one of which is the physical aspect of pressure. More often than not, with police, federal prosecutor, military, insurance fraud, accident investigation interrogators - non-physical threats of consequences if refusing to discuss the matter or being caught lying - causes most people to reveal details, though perhaps not convict themselves.

The knowledge interrogators succeed in their work work is why all governments at state, local, federal level have them. Why espionage and terror groups always have cells organized with the certainty interrogations work. Why militaries for thousands of years have sought to compartmentalize info on strategy, ops, codes - in case the other side gets prisoners.

Your claim that US troops have not beaten the truth out of enemy until after 2000 is ludicrous.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | May 4, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Ha! "No secret cows"!!

I'll add that to my list of Internet maloprisms, along with the often-seem "it's a doggy-dog world" and "it's all smoking mirrors."

To the topic at hand: I am genuinely concerned that Obama, America, and the media are going to let this pass. The media can beat their breasts and wear sack cloth over being complacent when the abuse was taking place, but in the past week I've sensed that the furor is drawing down. I, like davidbn27 at the top of this thread, don't feel optimistic that justice will be served.

Oh, and mhr614? The interrogation methods that Bush and company pushed through are illegal, both in US and international law. And from the birth of our country we had a standard of not abusing, mistreating, or "scaring" prisoners. You might want to see how the USA and the British handled interrogations of German prisoners. It wasn't by using Bush methods.

Posted by: hitpoints | May 4, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

whizbanger, conspiracy to commit torture is a federal statute, again, do your own homework.

BTW, lots of peeps online practice intelligence aquisition just like you are doing right now. Like, you inferring I am stupid so I tell you what I know. Doesn't matter what I know. It does matter what one can prove.

Can tell you are very reliant on others to tell you what they know which comes down to heresay if you don't do your own homework. I told you to find that quote for yourself. I don't want a lecture on Indian religious culture. I'll call microsoft support if I want to talk with an Indian, they are really smart people you know ? Great food too.

I'll let you have the last word as Bill O'Really says. It's all about Bill, Rush and you I guess. In otherwords, I won't be responding if you asked me the same question for the third time.

If you really want to do some homework, look up, "There are hundreds of terrorism cells sleeping in America" because that statement is contained in the Congressional record as well.

Posted by: crowbar8Prying | May 4, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Folks, ANYtime, and I mean ANY-TIME when the Powers That Be proclaim that laws should be ignored for the greater security of the country, that's when you know that the Bill of Rights is being used as toilet paper. How many of you contributed to the ACLU's campaigns to provide legal counsel for Gitmo detainees, and to challenge the Patriot Act?

If Bush, Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Libby, Addington, Yoo and the rest are not prosecuted, we can kiss good-bye all aspects of international justice begun at Nuremberg 60-some years ago.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | May 4, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Great roundup, Dan.

And thank you for challenging this notion that the public was fully aware of torture prior to the 2004 election. I was so outraged when I read Kinsley's column that I wrote a blog post about it.

In my blog post today I included a link to your post here because it was relevant to part of my post about the Bush administration's vigilante justice and how so many in our establishment media allowed their own desire for vengeance influence their coverage.


http://democracity.blogspot.com/2009/05/vigilante-justice-masquerading-as-law.html

Posted by: pmorlan1 | May 4, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

hitpoints, the Punk band X a counter culture Punk band opposing Disco music sang, "It's a dog eat dog, man eat dog, dog eat man" kind of a world. Imagine a decaying body in a war zone being devoured, rip to shreds, by a pack of wild dogs would you. That is a dog eat man world.

If you are so smart alleging that torture used since 09/11 was illgal then why did Rice recently say, that Bush would have never done anything illegal ?

I would guess that is because psyco babbling neoconservative lawyers brought into the fold by Rove and Ashcroft maybe gave the customer what he wanted. And if you think that is outside the dots, refer to Wolfo's comments on agreeing to use wmds to warrant pre-imminent invasion. Now all they had to do was prove Iraq had wmds, pure genious I tell ya, pure genious. Except gosh darnit, they could not find one pound of "stuff".

Thanks for the attention on that secret cow thing. Now what was the proper quote on what date and who said it ?

Posted by: crowbar8Prying | May 4, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Dan: Your comments are indicative of the unfortunate human condition that the demonstration of political and journalistic backbone in the face of authoritarian bullying is about as common as common sense.

The rationalization of the journalists you cite in your column is that, since all Americans were appraised of the existence of extreme interrogation techniques (even though the Bush administration insisted, without explanation or justification), that "We don't torture"), is disingenuous in the extreme. It is presumptuous to say that, since everyone "knew" what was happening, everyone is therefore guilty. Since everyone is guilty, then no one is guilty or accountable. That's pathetic journalism and an insult to logic.

Posted by: MillPond2 | May 4, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Forlorn, and Indecision, I hope you had a nice day.

Thought you retired but I guess not, sloth is just the government way.

Didn't Lindsey say, civilian law and military law are not the same way ?

Too bad, soo sad, Attorney General spot did not go Lindsey's way.

He is a good soldier though but now, earning much more pay.

"Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, so glad you could attend, come inside come inside..." ELP

Posted by: crowbar8Prying | May 4, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

There is only one main reason for him to want to delay investigations, namely all of the other crises currently facing the nation. A call by Obama for any action on torture will be seen by the right, and presented by the media, as a politically motivated attack. This will undoubtedly interfere with his ability to accomplish other things. It is better (for him) if investigations are slow to get started and are not seen as Obama's idea.

--------

Torture is treason, and the inability to understand how treason, and therefore torture, HARMS our country already guarantees Washington a loss.

No other way around it, once you understand the dynamic and the psychological motivations of the torturer, whether it be Brennan or some other kook, the thinking behind their decisions, you understand WHY and HOW this country will fail until the stupid and the treasonous are removed.

We have a brilliantly reasoned Constitution and legal code for a reason, American success was NOT incidental.

If I were to approach a war, for instance, I would plan, amid the total chaos, by understanding my military planning must comply constitutionally.

Once I understand and incorporate those premises, I can understand how and why I should fight -- economically, militarily and politically. The torture kooks tend to think anything goes, everything is easy, a little spank will do ya, and it always comes back to bite them, always.

And I would suggest it is very very difficult, but then, there's a reason Cheney lost, same for the torture kooks -- none too bright, and psychologically damaged, simply too stupid to fight an asymmetrical war.

And not even their hair is perfect anymore...

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 4, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Cheers to Froomkin for having the guts to own up to media responsibility, and to follow the logic that we need public investigation and, where appropriate, prosecution.

Look no further than Condoleeza Rice's pathetic lies to a a 4th grader to see why. They are STILL denying that torture was employed - at the very same time that enablers like Kinsley and Weisberg are saying "Oh, YOU PEOPLE knew that all along." As long as Rice, Cheney and the Right Wing press are still spreading the lies - then we have not gone far enough in establishing exactly what happened and exactly who is responsible. We owe it to that 4th grader, and all the other youngsters, to establish the truth beyond challenge.

Secondly, unless we establish what happened and that it was illegal, then the Republicans will reopen that torture shop as soon as they get back in power. We owe it to that 4th grader to say "Never again."

When Republicans do return to power and start torturing again, then I predict that Mike Kinsley will write an article saying, "Gee, it's America's fault, cause you dummies should have known all along what they would do. So we can't prosecute this time either."

Apparently being rich and powerful means never having to say you're sorry.

Posted by: HankNTennessee | May 4, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

The American people cannot be held accountable the same way as officials.

We don't have the same DIRECT decision making authority.

In other words, going forward, we'd have to have the CIA release all information on all torturing, and then maybe we could vote monthly as a referendum on whether we can continue to follow a certain policy. Or perhaps a panel of a 1,000 regular citizens could rotate monthly and receive a full CIA briefing, and if they say "no" to something, the CIA would have to stop.

It's absurd, we don't work that way. We vote our officials, but on a large range of issues.

We vote our officials to make those decisions, they call the shots, we expect them to follow the law.

If people still insist we have direct responsibility, then go to the above options. Give us a real chance to make a decision. Like i said, briefing us and letting call shots on cia operations is absurd.

Posted by: camasca | May 4, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

"But instead we lulled the public into complacency."

not to even mention the TV show "24".

Posted by: dwhite2 | May 4, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Cold hard fact is a government that tortures cannot sustain.

I know Limbaugh is too dumb to get it, and for that matter, Pelosi,too, I would hope others aren't.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 4, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

mhr614 - you accuse liberals of siding with the enemy, you low-life puke? You think conservatives have a monopoly on patriotism? Conservatives have a lot of sin to answer for in the conduct of war for the last 8 years. Your form of patriotism is what gave mussolini his power to destroy Italy

Posted by: Mill_in_Mn | May 4, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Waterboarding Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the right thing to do, it saved thousands of lives and he deserved it.

So go ahead, prosecute all the millions of Americans like me who voted for Bush... I'll be proud to stand in the dock and make my case.

We didn't mutilate anybody, we didn't carveout anybody's eyeballs like our enemies do. We made a few very nasty people frightened and uncomfortable for a while. Big deal.

Bring on your Stalinist purge, jerks.

Posted by: Robert2008 | May 4, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

To quote Tonto: What do you mean, "we," Kimosabe?

I did not approve the torture regime. I knew the "few bad apples" line was a monstrous lie. I demanded my representatives end the regime.

I was not alone. Nor are Kinsley and Weisberg. Only their company -- the company they sip drinks with -- is in the Beltway. What they are doing here is projecting the guilt of their mini-collective onto the general public, an entity whose pulse they've long since stopped taking. They prefer a bald-faced posit, a figment of their imagination. By now this is well-understood. Glenn Greenwald catalogs the workings of this process almost daily. They malign and undercount those who expose their scam, then treat echoes of their own drivel as public opinion. THEY ALL DO IT!

Hence the idea of complicity. Perhaps they really were in favor, really were scared, really did have to change their soiled undergarments as alert levels rose. Still, Tonto's question looms, and until they own to their scam -- and I'm not holding my breath -- I will watch as they hang their heads. wring their hands, and write in the strains of "Cry, the Beloved Country" knowing exactly what they are up to.

Moreover, to correct an impression left in the thread, Bush was not re-elected in 2004. He stole his second term. So we need to go through THAT one before we all jump into one big suit with horizontal stripes. Or are we all collectively guilty of not having registered our demand for an Ohio recount with these now-carping poobahs?

I think not.

Posted by: wjingber | May 4, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Waterboarding Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the right thing to do, it saved thousands of lives and he deserved it.
------------

No, this isn't a fairy tale, if you dont understand the implications and the contingencis of your actions and decisions, you lose, and other people will take advantage of your obtuse stupidity and narcissism.

That has tremendous consequences for the US, even in terms of, say, YOUR ability to pay your bills next month ; )>

No one is safe.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 4, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Haw haw haw. You can't pin nuffin' on *me*. I've got correspondence with my Congressman to prove my utter lack of complicity, I do, and aforementioned return form letters from same.

We already know Nancy Pelosi should be tried for treason for refusing impeachment. We know she was briefed on both torture and surveillance. Oh yeah, she was always ready to "move on," and she still is, I gather.

You can't wet an ocean. Whaddaya want, I should go buy a gun or something?

Posted by: fzdybel | May 4, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin: Don't let the torture issue eliminate attention to the violations of the US Constitution by the Cheney/Bush team, which are much more significant in the long term.

Posted by: LHO39 | May 4, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

i'm disgusted, wasn't anybody watching those 8 years, how the press reportted like lap dog's afraid of exclusion. trying to put that yolk of guilt around my neck isn't going to work. personally i told everyone that'd listen while i was making a living as a pipe welder. you aughta really be ashamed of yourself for even suggestting this, shame on you as well as them

Posted by: dconaty1 | May 4, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

"Kinsley ... wrote: "If you're going to punish people for condoning torture, you'd better include the American citizenry itself...Prosecuting a few former government officials for their role in putting our country into the torture business would not serve justice or historical memory. It would just let the real culprits off the hook."

--------------------------------

Kinsley's intellectual laziness allows sophistry like this disingenuous argument to see the light of day. Here's the counter-argument ...

By Kinsley's logic, no one s/h/b prosecuted at Nuremburg for Nazi atrocities, because the German people knew what was going on, and therefore are the "real culprits who were let off the hook."

WTF ???

Posted by: phoenixresearch | May 4, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Wingnuts: all of those Americans who believe torture is an evil act and that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, et al should be investigated and if evidence exists of lawbreaking they should be prosecuted, those Americans are not necessarily liberals. Opposing evil is an American tradition, espoused by liberals, to be sure, but also by some few Christians and even a few conservatives. I don't consider myself to be a liberal but I believe that the torturing of any living being is evil.

The idea that those Americans that supported the Bush administration and their torturing other human beings cannot be punished is plain wrong! What goes around, comes around. Those Americans will be punished, as well as the rest of us. America will be punished, probably in some future war.

Posted by: frazeysburger | May 4, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

What I'm growing tired of is hearing that the people aren't doing enough. I write my Representative and Senators on a regular basis. I stopped emailing and resorted to faxing for I felt emails are now overlooked even though faxing costs money and emails don't.

The problem is that it appears like we have to keep writing and writing the same thing or else we're not doing enough. I suppose if we only write 10 times we're not serious, but that 11th time will get their attention. Is the attention span of our elected officials so short that if we don't write weekly they forget what we want or what we stand for? Do they feel our minds have been changed unless we write weekly that we're tired of bank bailouts without anyone being held accountable, that we don't stand for torture and want those that authorized it held accountable, that we want equal justice under the law instead of a two tiered justice system, that we want elected officials to be honest and not vote the way we want them to instead of what the lobbyists want them to?

To be honest there is never going to be any real change until we revise our campaign finance laws. We need to limit the influence corporations have and limit the revolving door between government and lobbyists. I'm tired of seeing elected officials get millions from banks, insurance, big-pharma, and agri-business (and often sitting on committee's that oversee an industry) and seeing how that money influences their votes. How those millions destroy the democrat process to where policians represent the corporations and not the citizens of this country.

Posted by: rel615 | May 4, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

"What Kinsley and others stupidly ignore is that many citizens were in fact outraged and protested to their representatives who did what? I'll tell you what: they sent their standard boilerplate letters in response. Many have marched and protested the unjust war in Iraq from day 1 when the dismal and dim W lied to the world and sent our sons and daughters into war. Then what did we do? We voted for change and now the President of change is reticent to do what we've asked: hold these criminals to account! Arrest them at the highest levels. Get on with it or stop talking about what a beacon of light we are to the rest of humanity."

Amen.

Posted by: hadenuff1 | May 4, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I have a somewhat different take on our nation's "collective guilt". Yes, anyone paying attention, and not inclined to be biased, could tell we were likely committing torture years ago. As I was. As I complained about frequently to Mr. Froomkin.

I have been finding it fascinating that the media has suddenly adopted torture as a hot button issue. Upon reflection, I've realized why. These last several weeks, for the very first time, the media can now point to established facts (memos, quotes, timelines) for which there is corroborating evidence. Wow, what a difference that makes! Sure, the Post reported something in 2003, but it was all based on "inside sources" that couldn't be revealed. Kinda hard for the mainstream media to write too much about an issue when they have to constantly used the word "alleged", so they didn't. Can't really blame them for that. Alleged news isn't really news.

Given that we, as citizens, had nothing other than "alleged" sources to go on, it's kinda hard to blame us all for condoning torture. But now the facts are out, and I do believe the polls say the majority of Americans want some sort of independent investigation. Sounds like we're actually being pretty good citizens to me.

And I think we all pretty much have the same respone to Misters Weisberg and Kinsley: get your two-bit, sophomoric opinions the hell out of our way. You and all your apologist friends can choose to be as complicit as you want. We, however, support the wheels of justice to go right on turning.

Posted by: 4afreepress | May 4, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

The last line of the column gave me the chills. Looks like Cheney/Bush surrendered after the first hit. When we needed leaders we had draft dodgers and arrogant no-nothings. A truth commission is the only path out of this sewer.

Posted by: Ali8 | May 4, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

"Prosecuting Bush and his men won't absolve the rest of us for what we let them do."

Writing, and calling, my Congressmen isn't complicity. Is it?

Writing comment after comment to the WaPo isn't complicity. Is it?

The Bush henchmen had the WaPo and rest of the MSM in their pocket and no one's voice could break through.

And where were the Democraps? Kissing up to power, that's where. And you keep electing those people that truly were complicit. Hope and Change FOR THE WIN!!!!

I got the same response then from my "Representatives" on torture, Iraq, the surge, and Patriot Act as I do now on the "Beleaguered Mexico" and illegal immigrant propaganda.

American Citizens have a MORAL obligation to overthrow a corrupt Government. Time to have a real Tea Party.

Posted by: mdsinc | May 4, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

You remind me of girls in college that you could tell them you loved them and promise to respect them in the morning and they would do anything you asked, lol.
Posted by: ZZim
Your statement reveals more about your own character or lack there of, than it does about anything or anyone you choose to ridicule. If in your mind, deceit and disrespect, in the pursuit of your own self gratification are characteristics to be praised, I don’t think anyone who believes in honesty and mutual respect, need value any of your criticisms. In fact, they should consider any criticism you have to offer as high praise for their opinion.
It’s interesting how your college girls analogy of davidbn27, is analogous to the politics of the torture argument, and politics in general – ie: Tell the public what they want to hear, as opposed to the truth, and they’ll do whatever you want.

Posted by: seriouslookingdude | May 4, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

You remind me of girls in college that you could tell them you loved them and promise to respect them in the morning and they would do anything you asked, lol.
---------
Strikes me as the kind of guy who is so bubbled, he never heard the girls in college mocking him.

You know the type?

So surprised when he finds out he's been mocked for his bad breath and choice of clothes, and he's HURT. Right before he goes into a narcissistic meltdown.

Either that, or the kind who only heard about other guys and the girls in college.

But in the end, you know, he's just too DUMB, he only sees his own head, and he has no clue what that means.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 4, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

The last line of the column gave me the chills. Looks like Cheney/Bush surrendered after the first hit. When we needed leaders we had draft dodgers and arrogant no-nothings. A truth commission is the only path out of this sewer.
_-----

Yeah, bottom line.

And torture isn't courage, torture is a manifestation of internal fear, EASILY read and manipulated by even the most unsophisticated enemy, even that big-mouthed 4 star hated by his own people isn't really brave, just a stupid coward.

And it shows in the results doesn't it?

And now to Afghanistan with the same crew!

They fight like a bunch of harpy, aged, frustrated chicks, whether it's on CNN, or with the use of torture, or against the Iraqis.

And they fail everywhere.

I've never ever seen any one group in American politics, and the like, this stupid, ever.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 4, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Either we are a nation of laws or we are not. Either Mr. Bush and/or his aids committed crimes or they didn't. Either there is adequate evidence to bring these people to trial or there is not.

It seems to me that if our system of laws are real, then we need to start due process now that there appears to be probable cause that crimes have been committed. I think it is time that those who have shown probable cause be arested and procecuted. It is time that they should face 12 ordinary citizens.

Posted by: DrS1 | May 4, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

"collective guilt?" We're all guilty of some phantom crime?

Go soak your head. You're surely living in some alternate universe from real people.

Posted by: Cdgaman | May 4, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

"Jacob Weisberg now joins Michael Kinsley, however, in arguing that the nation's collective guilt for torture is so great that prosecution is a cop-out. Kinsley, as I noted on Friday, wrote: "If you're going to punish people for condoning torture, you'd better include the American citizenry itself..."

Generally I agree with Michael Kinsley....but what a crock and idiotic argument. By this standard, I suppose no war crimes should be prosecuted unless we were are willing to subject entire population to trials? Is this the argument? Michael, think before you write a crap like this.

Posted by: kevin1231 | May 4, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

how ironic the democrats think that waterboarding is toture, but they allow 3rd trimester and partial birth abortions.

Is sucking a fetus' brain out of their innocent skull torture? I thought so...

So, senator dodd, come after the GOP for war crimes. start the revolution, i dare you.

Posted by: jim000122 | May 4, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

"There are no secret cows in America."

Words to live by! Thanks, crowbar!

Posted by: thrh | May 4, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

The rethuglicans are counting on the generous forgivness and forgetability of the American public to save their leaders from prosecution and conviction. Our Justice Department must not let that happen.

Posted by: ghp60 | May 4, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

There is, and there was, absolutely nothing wrong with the rendering that occurred in the years after 9/11. IT WAS NOT WRONG. It was absolutely and totally right, and I applaud our government for putting the America and its security first.

Europe wasn't attacked. The middle east wasn't attacked. America was attacked, and when attacked, we fought. I cannot believe that we are not supposed to believe that these things were wrong.

I voted for Obama. I regret that vote and will do everything I can to get him out of office. Whether it is driving out American businesses with insane crusading anti-business tax wars against the people who make jobs possible, or its sending signals of weakness and cowardice, this president is a Leftist agenda monster who is destroying the free enterprise system in this company in the name of redistributing income to those who've done nothing to deserve a single penny of it.

Americans should stand up proudly and make it clear they are glad we tortured Khalid Shiek Mohammed, we are proud of it, and issue a rhetorical "up hours" to Kingsley and his sick anti-American perverts.

Posted by: dstafford2 | May 4, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

dstafford2 wrote:

There is, and there was, absolutely nothing wrong with the rendering that occurred in the years after 9/11. IT WAS NOT WRONG. It was absolutely and totally right, and I applaud our government for putting the America and its security first.

... The middle east wasn't attacked.
_________________________________________

I suppose the bullets from the AK-47s fired at my daughter's helicopter when she was deployed to Al Anbar were not real. And I suppose the dead soldiers and marines she and her fellow soldiers loaded on her Blackhawk were because of imaginary bullets and IEDs.

Funny, after living in a foriegn country that routinely tortured its prisoners, both foreign and domestic about 30 years ago (and being accussed at gun point of being a spy), how am I suppose to feel more safe knowning that my own government has violated its own tradition of reframing from acting like terrorists?

To paraphrase a famous movie, "Terrorists is as Terrorists does."

Posted by: DrS1 | May 4, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

The US government is and has been out of control for some time now. Many people are speaking out more now than before about the torture issue because they aren't seeing the change they believed in when they went to the polls. In truth, people are behaving as though the President is supposed to be an unstoppable power, much as George W. Bush and his administration often were. Of course Bush and his cronies had to trample much of the US Constitution into worthlessness in order to do that, and they had a little assistance from then Senator Obama regarding at least one violation of our 4th Amendment rights.
I never supported torture and said so in person or online dozens, if not hundreds of times. I contacted elected officials to voice my opinions beginning in the early 2000s and still do today. We in the US are headed towards a Constitutional disaster of our own making, and instead of doing what we know must be done to assure that the Constitution and justice continue to flourish in this country we are arguing over whether the people who authorized and ordered some of the most illegal and Unconstitutional acts in our history should be prosecuted.
Freedom in the US is dead already. Apparently we missed the funeral.

Posted by: meand2 | May 4, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

What happened is not "complacency" or not knowing what's going. But it is the sense of helplessness and fear from the press/gov/congress to be labeled "unpatriotic". And, YOU, the Media played a big role in this. So, please, stop patronizing us. Where were you (all Media)then?

Posted by: amndoye | May 4, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

The latest rationale from the right seems to be that the torture was not that bad, "Not allowing them 8 hours of sleep is not torture" as mhr614 said, or putting bugs in a box. Are you people seriously not aware of the people who have DIED from our torture in the last seven years??? And waterboarding simply cannot be excused, it is clearly torture, which the UN Convention Against Torture states is: "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions."

Posted by: guyanakoolaid | May 5, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

BTW, conservatives, here is your hero Ronald Reagan on the UN Convention Against Torture: "The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

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." -Ronald Reagan, 1988:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1079/is_n2137_v88/ai_6742034/

Posted by: guyanakoolaid | May 5, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Hey, ZZim - I've just reported you. Your earlier attack on davidbn27 adds nothing to the discussion here. You want to disagree with someone, that's fine - just be civil about it.

Posted by: apn3206 | May 5, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Yawn...Nobody was beheaded or gassed or sprayed with chemicals. They will all live to kill Americans another day.

Posted by: DD163 | May 5, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

col (crying out loud) Our country has endured and apparently survived the largest internal threat of my lifetime. We've had lynchings, world record homicides and incarceration, riots and assasinations, bad wars and bad business in that time, but nothing like the threat that Bush et al posed to our representative democracy.

Look at the Patriot Act II. If another terrorist attack had taken place before 2008, we could have faced martial law and a set of federal take-overs (banks, national guard forces, travel, weapons, communication) that turn this country into a police state. It's still possible, but I hope Obama and Co. are wise enough not to go there.

Where Bush exploited our fear, I think Obama would tap into our courage to face our enemies without resorting to

Posted by: russgeer | May 5, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

The Kinsley argument is deja vu. I know I read that back in what, the fall of 2003?

Posted by: boscobobb | May 5, 2009 2:32 AM | Report abuse

redacted54,
I have to strongly agree with your statement,
"Kinsley and Weisberg wrap themselves in scorn for the public to hide their own guilt as holders of public space who could have made a difference when it may have mattered. "

Many of us have supported Froomkin's opposition to torture. Note how few have done anything for 6 years.

Posted by: boscobobb | May 5, 2009 2:35 AM | Report abuse

Professional interrogators learned they get results without threats, violence, disrespect and all the tools of enhanced interrogation (sic) better known as torture.

If you want revenge don't deceive yourself that it's interrogation or that you're getting reliable information.

Posted by: boscobobb | May 5, 2009 2:39 AM | Report abuse

Welcome to Germany (1933-1945).

"When they came for my neighbor, I did nothing. When they came for me no one did anything."

We knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it. Now we are unwilling to punish the criminals. We know who they are and what they did. And we do nothing.

Who are we anyway?

Posted by: usaf-vet | May 5, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

The mainstream media were major facilitators of the constitutional abuses and war crimes of the Bush administration. Just look at the way the editorial staffs of the major papers cheered at the egregious UN speech by Colin Powell. As Dan says, except for a few reporters and columnists, the major media failed almost completely to perform an adversarial role. Froomkin himself played an adversarial role, but as a blogger was he really part of the mainstream media?

Posted by: skeptonomist | May 5, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

@dstafford2: "I voted for Obama."

You know what's amusing about you conservatives who claim to have voted for Obama? You've been willingly propagandized for so long that you don't even realize how blatantly obvious it is to outsiders. "sending signals of cowardice", "Leftist agenda", "redistributing income", etc. These are not the words of an independent or even a right-leaning one. You're a 20% dead ender, no question about it.

P.S. pretending to be a disappointed Obama voter was *so* two months ago. Log in to get some new marching orders.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | May 5, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Welcome to Germany (1933-1945).

"When they came for my neighbor, I did nothing. When they came for me no one did anything."

We knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it. Now we are unwilling to punish the criminals. We know who they are and what they did. And we do nothing.

Who are we anyway?

Posted by: usaf-vet | May 5, 2009 9:11 AM |

when you have the president,vice president,secretaryof defense.attorney general violating the law of the land and the world,(torture).and the congress and courts doing nothing about it..then that makes us a country of cowards if we don't demand that they be punished for their crimes.

Posted by: lucygirl1 | May 5, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Even to THIS day we see stories that talk about "harsh" techniques rather than torture. The self censorship of the media is astounding.

One of the tactics used by the prior administration is to define new words which help mask the reality of their actions. If "torture" is banned then the administration will not torture, but will simply interrogate. If "prisoners of war" must be treated a certain way then the people in our prisons will be called "enemy combatants".

If you sell drugs it doesn't matter if you call it grass, dope, weed, etc. The sale is illegal no matter what words are used by the defendants to describe their crime.

Posted by: fletc3her | May 5, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Torture, my A$$. 3000 people burning to death and jumping out of the 98th story of a building is torture. Get your liberal, uneducated, moronic heads out of you a$$e$.

Posted by: BobBumleg | May 5, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I don't think the entire country can be held responsible for the actions of the bunch of bumbling cowards who were the Bush regime. The most appalling thing about the whole torture scenario is the precedent it has now set for our own soldiers in the future. Our enemies will now have license to torture and maim them at will, and the US can have no argument against it, because having taken the bold move to define torture to suit our needs, other governments may now do the same without fear of recrimination from US or the world community.

Thanks Messers Bush and Cheney, the whole country owes you a debt of gratitude for opening a Pandora's Box of possibilities for the use of current, or new and more exciting modes of torture to be used on our own young men and women in the future. The nice thing for our enemies is that if we don't like it, all they have to do is subject it to a review by lapdog lawyers like those employed by the Bush regime to rubberstamp their use. Oh, America and the international community doesn't like it? No problem. We'll just unilaterally redefine torture to exclude our own actions. No torture, no violation of the Geneva Convention. Case closed.

Posted by: WeCThruHim | May 5, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

If most of the finger pointing wasn't being done by Liberals perhaps the general public would take the outrage a bit more seriously. There is no justification for torture, (unless it works!), but it has been used in every war we've been involved in. Remember, WW II, Korea and Vietnam were "Democrat wars" as the Democrats controlled the Congress and the White House. (And there was plenty of "torture" in all of those wars.) If there hadn't been such a "hate Bush" drumbeat starting in 2000, perhaps the general public would take some of this "torture" rheortic more seriously. As it is, to most of us it looks like a contintued effort on the part of the Democrats to discredit George Bush. It seems to be more "politics as usual" from the Left. What is needed is another "Great Awakening" in this country. (i.e. a Spiritual revival.)

Posted by: hpyost | May 5, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Torture isn't the only thing we need to investigate. First, ask yourself why Bush/Cheney et al considered torture necessary.
Perhaps for the same reason that North Korea used torture on our prisoners--to extract false confessions. Not one single Arab has been tried and convicted of having anything to do with 911. What if they are all innocent, and it was an inside job after all? That would explain the torture, wouldn't it? And if they would torture Arabs, what stops them from torturing U.S. citizens, or even killing us en masse? Wake up, America!

Posted by: shaman7214 | May 5, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

The appointment of a special prosecutor is way overdue. The felonious conduct should be followed all the way to the top, the truth clearly established, and illegal acts punished in accordance with the law.

I'm not impressed with the excuse of torture apologists that "We've always done this (torture)" or the claim that it necessary for our safety.

IF "we've always done this", its high time for our conduct as a nation to reflect our stated ideals and standards of conduct... if we haven't actually had the rule of law, but merely hypocritical posturing and pretense, its time we stepped up to the bar. And the claim that torturing people makes us in any way safer is naive and illogical on its face. The ONE open Cheney claim of "success" from torture involved the assertion that we captured an al Qaeda recruiter by torturing a detainee, but there's the rub: capturing a recruiter accomplished NOTHING, since in the process we handed all OTHER al Qaeda recruiters a golden sales pitch, "proving" to other putative recruits that the worst they said about us was true.

And "effectiveness"? If waterboarding (for example) were truly as effective as the torture apologists claim, it would never have been necessary to do it to one man 180+ times... 6 times a day for a month.

Posted by: Observer44 | May 5, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

And "effectiveness"? If waterboarding (for example) were truly as effective as the torture apologists claim, it would never have been necessary to do it to one man 180+ times... 6 times a day for a month.

______
Another way of looking at it is IF waterboarding was a BRUTAL as you say no man could survive 180+ times of it.. or certainly would have broken long before that. Thing is under the rules in which it was used, while it cause discomfort and eventually broke KSM.. it was not the torture you all make it out to be. As far as it being effective a number of heads of the CIA said it was effective, and since they know more than either you or I until it is proven otherwise their opinons carry more weight...

Posted by: sovine08 | May 5, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: shaman7214
Not one single Arab has been tried and convicted of having anything to do with 911. What if they are all innocent, and it was an inside job after all? That would explain the torture, wouldn't it?
________
Wait WHAT??? Bush blew up the WTC then blamed it on Osama Bin Laden and al Queda by waterboarding them?? Wow and people say Republicans watch to many TV shows like "24"

Posted by: shaman7214
And if they would torture Arabs, what stops them from torturing U.S. citizens, or even killing us en masse? Wake up, America!
___
So what President Obama is going to torture Americans now??? Ummm we don't need to wake up you need to say no to drugs...

Posted by: sovine08 | May 5, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

thrh, thank-you very much. I understand that pennicillin was invented by accident too (wink-nod).

I hope those peeps leave me alone today, I am trying to write a song here. It's very hard to get in touch with one's feminine side during a crisis.

/ignore peeps

Posted by: crowbar8Prying | May 5, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

The argument that the American people were aware that prisoners were being tortured and did nothing about it just isn't true. When the pictures of the torture at Abu Ghrieb appeared the out cry was so great that the Bush administration lied about what happened. They said that this was the activity of a small group of soldiers who were out of control. They tried and imprisoned several of the soldiers in spite of their claims that the torture sessions were directed by the CIA.
In addition, one of the reasons that the Republican party is no longer in power is that American voters finally voted for a president who promised to change the way things have been done in Washington D.C.
Over the last eight years many people have disageed with the way they were afraid that. the Bush administration treated prisoners. Unfortunately, it is just recently that some of the facts have come out.
Are all Americans guilty of torture. I don't think so. Many Americans are guilty of voting for G.W. Bush. They certainly showed bad judgment. However, almost half of all Americans voted for the other candidate. Many citizens expressed their disagreement and concern that actions by the Bush administration were wrong. Many voters elected Democratic congresspeople hoping that things would change.
Here's the question I have. It's really easy to indict the American people for the actions of their out of control President and his cabinet but what do you suggest should have happened? What did you do about this situation and what should you have done in addition to that? Flinging around accusations is easy. Contorlling an out of control President not so easy.
I have often wondered about the German people when Hitler was in power. If they protested about what was happening they disappeared, maybe they ended up in concentration camps maybe they were executed as traitors. In Bush we has a president who secretly tapped our phones, a congress who passed the "Patriot Act" which took away all sorts of rights and protections. It seems to me that a protesting citizen took his fate in his hands.
More consideration needs to be given to a situation such as this. It isn't enough to fling around accusations of universal guilt. There needs to be some action to prevent situation of an out of control Presidency.

Posted by: OhMy | May 5, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Froomkin,

Regardless of whether or not "torture" took place (some have different definitions than others), no one has yet to point me to a law in effect during the 2002-2003 time frame when the alleged torture occurred. Don't say Article III of the Geneva Conventions because I've read it, and it applies to uniform-wearing military of signatory nations, not to illegal combatants unaffiliated with a specific country. I'm not in favor of torture either, but I'm tired of people throwing around the idea of prosecutions when they can't even name a relevant law that was broken.

Posted by: Buffal0Bill | May 5, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

For those commenting on Obama's problem with prosecuting, he has difficulty because the methods used were briefed to both parties including Reid, Pelosi, and the leaders of the intelligence committees and they approved of the methods.

Posted by: Buffal0Bill | May 5, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

And "effectiveness"? If waterboarding (for example) were truly as effective as the torture apologists claim, it would never have been necessary to do it to one man 180+ times... 6 times a day for a month.

______
Another way of looking at it is IF waterboarding was a BRUTAL as you say no man could survive 180+ times of it.. or certainly would have broken long before that. Thing is under the rules in which it was used, while it cause discomfort and eventually broke KSM.. it was not the torture you all make it out to be. As far as it being effective a number of heads of the CIA said it was effective, and since they know more than either you or I until it is proven otherwise their opinons carry more weight...

Posted by: sovine08
____________________

According to the FBI interrogators, KSM was already providing information BEFORE they started torturing him, and provided little more of any use after the abuse began. That he survived is scarcely evidence that it "isn't really torture"... at most it might demonstrate that waterboarding isn't the MOST brutal torture technique possible, but so what? Its still illegal... and no matter the particular torture technique, there is almost ALWAYS something yet worse that some depraved individual could think up.

I'm also not impressed (or even surprised) that the CIA guys who tortured people would claim it was effective. What ELSE would they say...do you expect them to ADMIT it was all for nothing? That you give their self-serving and unverifiable claims ANY weight suggests you wouldn't recognize reliable evidence if it strapped you to a board and tried to drown you.

My bet is that they waterboarded the man 183 times in an effort to get "evidence" connecting Iraq with 9/11... they must have induced him to say what they wanted to hear, after all that, but apparently, nothing they could corroborate from other sources... don't forget that the best known use of this technique was by the North Koreans, to obtain FALSE CONFESSIONS (which is what its really good for).

Posted by: Observer44 | May 5, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

It just can't be possible that the dirty, lying, pile of sewer sludge George W. Bush is not going to have a rope put around his rotten neck and his stupid HEAD pulled off. What has gone wrong with my country? Guilty of war crimes, murder and treason and walks away free. May The Good Lord take pity on us all.

Posted by: TheDemocrat | May 6, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm also not impressed (or even surprised) that the CIA guys who tortured people would claim it was effective. What ELSE would they say...do you expect them to ADMIT it was all for nothing? That you give their self-serving and unverifiable claims ANY weight suggests you wouldn't recognize reliable evidence if it strapped you to a board and tried to drown you.
My bet is that they waterboarded the man 183 times in an effort to get "evidence" connecting Iraq with 9/11... Posted by: Observer44
_____
Except the what they said is NOT unverifiable. There are classified documents that they say show KSM gave up valuable information only after he was waterboarded. It is hardly their fault that information will not be released. You apparently in your bias will not believe anything that these men with long outstanding records have to say. I on the otherhand will believe them until it can be proved they are lying. I certainly believe them more than what you "BET" on..

Posted by: sovine08 | May 6, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

dstafford2: "This president is a Leftist agenda monster who is destroying the free enterprise system in this COMPANY in the name of redistributing income to those who've done nothing to deserve a single penny of it." CAPS ADDED

Fruedian slip, or the "corporate/conservative" ethos in a nutshell: I WANT MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!!!

Posted by: stephenlouis | May 6, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

We have devolved into a country that is NOT ruled by law. Just as in the Iran-Contra scandal, high government officials break the law with impunity, then some of the same government officials come back years later and break it again with impunity. We shall see it again in the future. Deja vu.

As Senator Daniel Inouye said at the end of the Iran-Contra hearings, "we have a shadow government that has its own army, its own air force, its own fund raising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself."

That explains our country in a nutshell. And it seems it is accepted as the way it is. We need to "look forward" and just imagine what lawbreaking they will do next.

Posted by: tom12 | May 7, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Buffal0Bill

Here's your law that was in effect during the time period that torture was taking place- it still applies to this day. It was ole Ronnie Raygun that supported and spoke publicly about torture being against the law under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES and that no one is above the law from being prosecuted.

Now, what else you got?

"Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment signed on behalf of the United States by Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead on April 18, 1988, at the United Nations. The United States became the 63d nation to sign the convention, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1984 and entered into force on June 26, 198 7, after it was ratified by 20 nations."

Posted by: wkreese | May 7, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Now I understand how Nazi Germany occurred. It is simply appalling and a sad commentary on modern humans that a good portion of U.S. citizens now accept torture without howling from the rooftops.

The torture issue, along with numerous other issues, including blue dog Democrats caving in to big business lobbyist instead of properly representing actual people, has caused me to lose faith in my nation.

We are facing many crucial questions over the next ten years. But, I do not think the U.S. is any longer up to the task of leading the world in the proper direction.

Posted by: pmse57 | May 7, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"It's a fair cop, but society is to blame."
"Right. We'll be charging them later."
- Monty Python's 'Dead Bishop on the Landing'

Posted by: CalDamage | May 8, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

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