The Talking Dog

May 14, 2009, Tortured reasoning

We'll start with this amazing piece in the Washington Note by Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, who takes Dick Cheney to utter task over the former veep's pronouncements regarding the effectiveness of torture, scooping, perhaps everyone on Earth, with the following:

Third--and here comes the blistering fact--when Cheney claims that if President Obama stops "the Cheney method of interrogation and torture", the nation will be in danger, he is perverting the facts once again. But in a very ironic way.

My investigations have revealed to me--vividly and clearly--that once the Abu Ghraib photographs were made public in the Spring of 2004, the CIA, its contractors, and everyone else involved in administering "the Cheney methods of interrogation", simply shut down. Nada. Nothing. No torture or harsh techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator. Period. People were too frightened by what might happen to them if they continued.

What I am saying is that no torture or harsh interrogation techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator for the entire second term of Cheney-Bush, 2005-2009. So, if we are to believe the protestations of Dick Cheney, that Obama's having shut down the "Cheney interrogation methods" will endanger the nation, what are we to say to Dick Cheney for having endangered the nation for the last four years of his vice presidency?

In other words, the timing of the torture seems to be consistent with what we have come to learn, as our friend Andy Worthington tells us so succinctly in reviewing Col. Wilkerson's comments, was that the main purpose of torture, it seems, was not to gather "actionable intel," but to gather a justification for invading Iraq, in this case, by torturing "confessions" of a Saddam/Al Qaeda link and/or a Saddam WMD cache out of whoever happened to be in custody at the time this justification was needed.

Well... what you gonna do?

And, with the yin of the entire torture-regime that needs punishin' snapping into focus, we get the yan of Al Giordano telling us, in effect, to "get over it," because "the law" is a rather ineffective policy tool, especially when directed at the powerful... while I agree with his immediate sentiment re the story du jour of the 39 or so detainee abuse photos, I disagree with Al on the merits of prosecuting the torturers, of course (in the strongest terms, btw; the lawlessness of this era made Watergate and Iran-Contra look like nothing, and hence, I utterly reject his analogs), but he has some extremely interesting and pragmatic views, and I certainly do agree with him as far as the likely outcome. Al does point out some very interesting things that the President is doing (such as quietly terminating the United States's nuclear arsenal, over the objections of his SecDef), in part, to prevent the military and intel communities from "going rogue". I am trained and schooled in the law; Al is trained and schooled in hard-knocks and reality. As far as outcomes, I would bet on his (i.e., give up the prosecutions people... not gonna happen...) And I admit part of my thinking is about a fantasy of this country being truly exceptional... not the fantasy many right-wingers have of magical American exceptionalism because we're rich and mostly WASPs, but because we have a set of rules and principles and we follow them. Further, our embrace of torture really has endangered our military personnel, as duly noted in this amusing piece at Balkinization (h/t to Bonnie).

Well... there you go. This has been "Tortured reasoning."