Friday, May 22, 2009

On Further Review

Following up on yesterday's posts: the reviews are coming in and there seems general agreement among those with eyes and ears and matter behind/between them that Cheney's speech was, at best, the same old sh*t, and, at worst, full of omissions, lies, and distortions. (Which, of course, is the same old sh*t. So I repeat myself.) Not everyone loved Obama's, naturally; some civil libertarians were disappointed, and the RWS™, unsurprisingly, were unable to process such depth and thoughtfulness at all. But there weren't lies.

Giving Cheney the benefit of the doubt, I'll assume that 9/11 scared the crap out of him. How terrifying must it have been -- especially for a guy who (unlike me) managed five deferments to avoid serving in Vietnam -- to sit in a bunker somewhere not knowing what was going on and wondering if you might die. (Been there, done that. Not the bunker part, but the die/fear part: daily, nightly, for months on end. He didn't have time to get used to it, like I did.) So, okay. Bad guys, need to fight back. Yes.

I'll even forgive him, in his moment of panic, for turning to torture as his brain, drained of blood, scrabbled for protection. His hero, after all (the one on the right), when he was Cheney's age, couldn't distinguish between movies he'd been in or life experiences he'd had. So let's assume he tortured people (for it's now clear that the approvals came from him) for higher purposes, believing it works. But can we really swallow the idea that he considered it legal?

The tortured memos he demanded (yes, that's an assumption, but the evidence is that the torture began well before the memos, which smells of an attempt at retroactive cover) simply made up rationales for calling a pig a princess. What was done was torture. Torture is illegal.

But, okay, you want to save lives, you break the law. No big deal. If it works, who cares? Right?

Wrong. First of all, the way torture has always worked is in extracting false confessions. Ask John McCain. And as the evidence accumulates that most of the information obtained from captives was from legal methods, and that torture produced false information that was used to justify war (even after it was suggested that the info was false), and that torture was further used to try to get people to confess to links between al Queda and Saddam Hussein, it has become clear to all but the the deadest of dead-enders that torture is a bad thing. And that it was used, deliberately, by the United States of America, in exactly the way it had been used by despots and dictators for centuries: to force false confessions. Why doesn't that scare the crap out of everyone, even (especially) the RWS™?

Cheney insists we got useful information from torture. Maybe we did. What we still don't know is, first, whether it could have been gotten in other ways; second, how much false information was obtained (we know there was some, and it led to disaster); third, how, in a time of crisis, you can tell whether you're getting good or bad information, since it's undisputed that torture gives bad information (or desired answers, true or not); fourth, how much damage to the nation was done as the rest of the world found out what we'd done?

Listening to him yesterday, I wondered what he's really up to. Does he believe what he says? If so, is it because he's truly delusional, or because he knows things we don't? If that, does he simply discount the known failures? Is he trying to justify a program for his own protection, or because he still believes it was a good thing? Is he trying to change the subject from illegality and deliberate dredging for falsehoods to efficacy alone? Seems shaky ground either way, given what we're learning.

So he's a real puzzle, putting it mildly. Trashing his predecessor while claiming dissent gives comfort to our enemies. Making a case based on omissions and distortions. Can he not know?

There's one thing he says for which I'm all: release the documents. All of them. And, sure, let's find out about what was said to Pelosi. All of it. Let's have a full-fledged investigation of the whole program of torture, all of it.

Of course, that's not what he really wants. Like the Congressional Republicans, he wants to be highly selective and hide the ball. But let's not. Lets dig it all out, and let the chips fall. Where ever. Because if torture works, I want to see the data; and then, I want there to be a full discussion. Should we reject the Geneva Conventions, the agreements on torture, go it alone for our own safety? Should we be using it in our legal system? On guys like Timothy McVey? Serial murderers? Is there a line? Where? Why? I know what I think: no. It degrades us, it endangers us. It gives unreliable information. It makes us no different from those over whom we claim to have the higher ground.

Torture is illegal for good reasons, not the least of which is that it's too damn easy. To guys like Dick Cheney. Panicked, in his bunker. Looking for ways to feel unafraid. Looking for ways to feel tough, damn the implications, damn the dangers of falsehood it produces. Because of the falsehoods.

That's why I say no. And why I think it's time for Dick Cheney to return to Wyoming and lecture cows or whatever they have there. And for the media to stop acting like he has credibility equal to Barack Obama's.


  1. Here you go--even Joe (Secret Service code name: Bozo) Biden, --BO's pick to be a heartbeat away--admits that BO has no idea what he's doing.

  2. Shows you how people see facts differently. You see it as a condemnation of the plan by Biden. I see it as acknowledging the difficulties. Of course, the snarkiness of the article may have confused you a bit. Snark is not fact.

    The point of the Biden's comment was that closing Guantanamo is complicated -- because it was such a bad idea in the first place, and so poorly done. Biden says so; so does Obama. There's NOTHING that suggests Biden thinks Obama doesn't know what he's doing.

    Of course, when seeing complexity, Rs indeed don't know what to do; so it's understandable that you confuse admitting complexity with not knowing what to do. Give yourself time. Watch. You might learn something, and be better for it.

  3. anonymous: one more thing: I may have misunderstood what I wrote, but it seems to me I was talking about torture, not Gitmo. If so (and I'm pretty sure I was) it would seem reasonable for a response to my post to address that. But, once again, there I go getting all complicated.

    Frank: I'd try him first. That's the difference between me and you.

  4. ""But, look, what the president said is that this is going to be hard. It's like opening Pandora's Box. We don't know what's inside the box."

    He also said that "to the best of my knowledge" the number of prisoners "who are a real danger who are not able to returned or tried" has "not been established" by the Obama administration."

    The BO administration doesn't know how many people it's talking about. That's a quote, not snark.

    And you realize The One is talking about holding some of these people forever, without a trial, right? But he does it with better intentions than Bush, so now it's fine.

    Nice job.

    PS--Frank did say "he can be tried". I know it's hard to read long comments, but give it a try. You'll get better eventually.

  5. I said....."So he can be TRIED as a War Criminal and executed..."

    Gee, Sid, I was just joking about that Alzheimer's thing...

    Might wanta get it checked out while you still can...


  6. non: Frank said that first, then "oh wait..." But I'll take your reprimand in the spirit in which it was given.

    And you keep repeating the same thing. And, therefore, so must I: yes it's complicated. No, they don't have a final plan. Things have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Obama said during the campaign he'd close Guantanamo, and he says he will. That it's hard, that they don't have it all figured out yet does not prove anything other than that they're being careful. Unlike Cheney and his marionette, who released prisoners willy-nilly. So. I see care being taken.

    In my opinion, and in that of many including not just Obama, Guantanamo has been a very bad thing for the US. Part of the proof is how difficult it now is to deal with.

    And it created terrorists.

    Oh, and to link it with my comments on torture, read this.

  7. Bill Gates works for him, so what Gates says is Obamaspeak. Just like when BO's employee Leon Panetta says Nancy Pelosi is a liar.

    And yet she's the leader of the House dems. They voted for her, they keep her in there. And you complain about Congress. Maybe it's all them dems!!

    Oh--and it's the dems in the Senate keeping Gitmo open now.

    Maybe BO would like to explain what he would have done with terrorists captured on the battle field. They're not POWs--the don't wear a uniform. They didn't sign Geneva, so they're not entitled to those protections. They're thugs--and the world doesn't want them. Maybe they can live with you.

  8. non: you're such a tool.

    Meanwhile, I've said plenty about the Dems in Congress, and Nancy Pelosi in particular. On the other hand, you might check into what Repubs have said in the past about the CIA and lying. Ever heard of Pete Hoekstra?

    But if you don't want to talk in a given thread about the issue at hand, don't expect more answers. We're both wasting my time.

  9. And you hate having to address something hard. You'd rather rant about the Republicans...who don't run things, now do they? Every problem belongs to the dems.

    Reid. Pelosi. Biden.

    The best of the dems.



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