truth and consequences


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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10 Responses

  1. Avatar Roque Nuevo says:

    Enough with the liberty and justice we hold so dear, our national honor and dignity! I get it: you’re a morally righteous individual. That point is taken (over and over and over again). Why belabor the point? If you keep this up, I’m going to put you down as some kind of schoolmarmish moral scold.

    I’m pretty sure that there will be no “truth commission.” That’s because these practices have gone on under both Republican and Democratic administrations for a long time and in the case of the Bush administration, Congress was fully informed as things went along and raised no objections at all. Like Scheuer said:

    All of the whining to date has been nothing more than a Democratic effort to politically hang Mr. Bush — which is not a bad idea for his starting of the Iraq war — and to make sure that the far worse things that happened to those rendered under the direction of that merry pair of felons, Clinton and Berger, are hidden from public view.

    The more potent objection to releasing the memos is that they give our practices away to the enemy and make it much more difficult for our intelligence operatives to do their jobs.

    Another reason is

    Current and former CIA officials, on the other hand, have warned that a public investigation into the agency’s practices would push line agents into an uncontrollable political spectacle, chilling efforts to prevent future terrorist attacks.– Shane Harris,

    Instead of releasing these incendiary memos to no purpose at all, justice and national security would have been served had Obama called for a thorough revision of our legal framework so as to make it adequate to the challenges that asymmetric warfare poses. Then let sleeping dogs lie.Report

  2. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    I make no pretenses about my own righteousness, Roque. I simply find torturing other human beings an abhorrent practice. Where else have I talked about national honor and dignity and liberty and all that? Link me. If I have it’s been one of my more infrequent topics.

    I find it particularly odd that you would find the release of these documents so ill-advised. Can’t one be both pro-intervention as you are, a hawk, pro-Israel, etc. etc. and still be opposed to these sorts of self-defeating tactics?

    Personally I think that these torture tactics actually weaken our ability to fight the terrorists; weaken our ability to bring justice to our enemies; and provide faulty information to our intelligence agencies.

    And just because these practices may or may not have gone on before does not mean that it is right they did.Report

  3. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    If you keep this up, I’m going to put you down as some kind of schoolmarmish moral scold.

    Is that how you categorize those of us who feel disgust at American condoned torture tactics? We’re just scolds?

    I’m not holier than thou, nor do I pretend to be. I’m a sinner and a fool much of the time; that doesn’t mean that I’m just going to shrug off the torture of other human beings at the hands of my government.Report

  4. Avatar Roque Nuevo says:

    I never said I supported torture. Like you say, link me! And don’t put words in my mouth.

    I may agree with you (or not) about torture weakening our ability, etc etc. My point is that the release of the memos also weakens it. A little moral ambiguity there for you, if you’re interested. Well… it isn’t my point. It’s the point of the comments I linked to. I say they have a good point. That’s all.

    I was not condoning these practices by quoting Scheuer. I was only trying to show why the release of the memos is a show.

    If you really thought you were a sinner and a fool, you would never have said that you were a sinner and a fool. That’s how these things work.Report

  5. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Nonsense – admitting my own humanity – wait a minute – so you’re saying I’m neither sinner nor fool? Am I supposed to argue this now….?

    I’m confused…


  6. Avatar Roque Nuevo says:

    Sorry about that. I shouldn’t have gone there since it’s about your religious beliefs. I apologize.Report

  7. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    It’s all good, Roque. Point is, I don’t think I’m better than anybody else. I’m just as much a weak and human creature. But that doesn’t mean I put my opinions on the shelf, or don’t get pissed off when I see torture, or terrorism, or any number of other things. It’s just worse when it’s your side making the mistake.Report

  8. Avatar Andy Vance says:

    The more potent objection to releasing the memos is that they give our practices away to the enemy and make it much more difficult for our intelligence operatives to do their jobs

    As a wise man once tweeted, I for one feel much less safe now that Al Qaeda will be able to train to withstand our brilliant “bug in the box” technique.Report

  9. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Since we’re discontinuing these methods, I fail to see how it matters if the bad guys know our techniques.Report

  10. Avatar The sun is setting on this empire says:

    With regard to “techniques” and timelines, Seton Hall University Law School has a document archive and ongoing project in which they have analyzed over 100,000 documents from the Department of Defense regarding Guantanamo and the treatment of detainees. On April 1, 2009 they released a report entitled:

    TORTURE: WHO KNEW: An Analysis of the FBI and Department of Defense Reactions to Harsh Interrogation Methods at Guantánamo, the Center’s 13th Guantánamo Report is based, like all preceding Center reports, entirely upon the careful study of over 100,000 pages of the government’s own documents, most of which were procured through Freedom of Information Act suits.

    Among the report findings:

    FBI field agents repeatedly reported detainee abuses during interrogation by DoD interrogators between 2002 and mid-2004:

    FBI personnel stationed at GTMO submitted a series of unsolicited reports describing at least 118 improper interrogation techniques: physical harm to the genitals–to a degree punishable by life imprisonment as sexual assault under military law; forced viewings of homosexual pornography; denial of food and water; disorientation techniques such as sleep deprivation; and religious abuse such as forced “satanic baptisms.”

    FBI agents reported at least 20 times that these interrogation techniques produced unreliable intelligence, at least 8 times the methods were counterproductive, and at least 6 times the information extracted through the use of abusive techniques was likely to be inadmissible in court.

    Note the dates of the abuse 2002-2004, prior to the writing of these memos.
    These were written after the fact to provide cover for illegal acts.Report