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Greenwald writes: "Ever since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture, not even the ones recognized by the U.S. Government itself as innocent, not even the family members of the ones they tortured to death."

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg. (photo: Rex Features)
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg. (photo: Rex Features)

US TV Provides Ample Platform for American Torturers, but None to Their Victims

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

16 December 14


ver since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture, not even the ones recognized by the U.S. Government itself as innocent, not even the family members of the ones they tortured to death. Whether by design (most likely) or effect, this inexcusable omission radically distorts coverage.

Whenever America is forced to confront its heinous acts, the central strategy is to disappear the victims, render them invisible. That’s what robs them of their humanity: it’s the process of dehumanization. That, in turns, is what enables American elites first to support atrocities, and then, when forced to reckon with them, tell themselves that - despite some isolated and well-intentioned bad acts – they are still really good, elevated, noble, admirable people. It’s hardly surprising, then, that a Washington Post/ABC News poll released this morning found that a large majority of Americans believe torture is justified even when you call it “torture.” Not having to think about actual human victims makes it easy to justify any sort of crime.

That’s the process by which the reliably repellent Tom Friedman seized on the torture report to celebrate America’s unique greatness. “We are a beacon of opportunity and freedom, and also [] these foreigners know in their bones that we do things differently from other big powers in history,” the beloved-by-DC columnist wrote after reading about forced rectal feeding and freezing detainees to death. For the opinion-making class, even America’s savage torture is proof of its superiority and inherent Goodness: “this act of self-examination is not only what keeps our society as a whole healthy, it’s what keeps us a model that others want to emulate, partner with and immigrate to.” Friedman, who himself unleashed one of the most (literally) psychotic defenses of the Iraq War, ended his torture discussion by approvingly quoting John McCain on America’s enduring moral superiority: “Even in the worst of times, ‘we are always Americans, and different, stronger, and better than those who would destroy us.’”

This self-glorifying ritual can be sustained only by completely suppressing America’s victims. If you don’t hear from the human beings who are tortured, it’s easy to pretend nothing truly terrible happened. That’s how the War on Terror generally has been “reported” for 13 years and counting: by completely silencing those whose lives are destroyed or ended by U.S. crimes. That’s how the illusion gets sustained.

Thus, we sometimes hear about drones (usually to celebrate the Great Kills) but almost never hear from their victims: the surviving family members of innocents whom the U.S. kills or those forced to live under the traumatizing regime of permanently circling death robots. We periodically hear about the vile regimes the U.S. props up for decades, but almost never from the dissidents and activists imprisoned, tortured and killed by those allied tyrants. Most Americans have heard the words “rendition” and “Guantanamo” but could not name a single person victimized by them, let alone recount what happened to them, because they almost never appear on American television.

It would be incredibly easy, and incredibly effective, for U.S. television outlets to interview America’s torture victims. There is certainly no shortage of them. Groups such as the ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, Reprieve, and CAGE UK represent many of them. Many are incredibly smart and eloquent, and have spent years contemplating what happened to them and navigating the aftermath on their lives.

I’ve written previously about the transformative experience of meeting and hearing directly from the victims of the abuses by your own government. That human interaction converts an injustice from an abstraction into a deeply felt rage and disgust. That’s precisely why the U.S. media doesn’t air those stories directly from the victims themselves: because it would make it impossible to maintain the pleasing fairy tales about “who we really are.”

When I was in Canada in October, I met Maher Arar (pictured above) for the second time, went to his home, had breakfast with his wife (also pictured above) and two children. In 2002, Maher, a Canadian citizen of Syrian descent who worked as an engineer, was traveling back home to Ottawa when he was abducted by the U.S. Government at JFK Airport, held incommunicado and interrogated for weeks, then “rendered” to Syria where the U.S. arranged to have him brutally tortured by Assad’s regime. He was kept in a coffin-like cell for 10 months and savagely tortured until even his Syrian captors were convinced that he was completely innocent. He was then uncermoniously released back to his life in Canada as though nothing had happened.

When he sued the U.S. government, subservient U.S. courts refused even to hear his case, accepting the Obama DOJ’s claim that it was too secret to safely adjudicate. The Canadian government released the findings of its investigation, publicly apologized for its role, and paid him $9 million. He used some of the money to start a political newspaper, which has since closed. He became an eloquent opponent of both the U.S. War on Terror and the Assad regime which tortured him as part of it.

But all you have to do is spend five minutes talking to him to see that he has never really recovered from being snatched from his own life and savagely tortured at the behest of the U.S. Government that still holds itself out as the Leader of the Free World. Part of him is still back in the torture chamber in Syria, and likely always will be.

Nobody could listen to Maher Arar speak and feel anything but disgust and outrage toward the U.S. Government – not just the Bush administration which kidnapped him and sent him to be tortured, but the Obama administration which protected them and blocked him from receiving justice, and the American media that turned a blind eye toward it, and the majority of the American public that supports this. But that’s exactly why we don’t hear from him: he isn’t on CNN or Meet the Press or Morning Joe to make clear what Michael Hayden and John Yoo really did and what the U.S. government under a Democratic president continues to shield.

There are hundreds if not thousands of Maher Arars the U.S. media could easily and powerfully interview. McClatchy this week detailed the story of Khalid al Masri, a German citizen whom the U.S. Government abducted in Macedonia, tortured, and then dumped on a road when they decided he wasn’t guilty of anything (US courts also refused to hear his case on secrecy grounds). The detainees held without charges, tortured, and then unceremoniously released from Guantanamo and Bagram are rarely if ever heard from on U.S. television, even when the U.S. Government is forced to admit that they were guilty of nothing.

This is not to say that merely putting these victims on television would fundamentally change how these issues are perceived. Many Americans would look at the largely non-white and foreign faces recounting their abuses, or take note of their demonized religion and ethnicity, and react for that reason with indifference or even support for what was done to them.

And one could easily imagine such interviews quickly degenerating into a blame-the-victim spectacle. When Fareed Zakaria this week interviewed former Guantanamo detainee (and current detainee rights advocate) Moazzem Begg, Zakaria demanded that Begg condemn ISIS even though Begg kept explaining that he was “abused cruelly, inhumanely and degradingly” by the U.S. Government, that “pictures of my children are waved in front of me while I’m being beaten and tortured and abused by people who claimed to be the bastions of freedom and democracy and human rights,” and that “whatever the situation was, the Taliban and the ISIS, they didn’t torture me. They didn’t put me into dungeons. They didn’t beat me. They didn’t threaten to, you know, abuse my family. They didn’t do that to me. So I can only talk to my experience.”

What this glaring omission in coverage does more than anything else is conclusively expose the utter fraud of the U.S. media’s claims to “objectivity” and “neutrality.” Outlets like The Washington Post and NPR still justify their refusal to call these torture tactics “torture” by invoking precepts of “neutrality”: we have to show all views, we can’t take sides, etc.

But that’s pure deceit. They don’t show all sides. They systematically and quite deliberately exclude the victims of the very policies of the U.S. Government they pretend to cover. And they do that because including those victims would be too informative, would provide too much information, would be too enlightening. It would, for many people, shatter the myths of American Goodness and the conceit that even when Americans do heinous things, they do it with Goodness and Freedom in their hearts, with a guaranteed and permanent status as superior. At the very least, it would make it impossible for many people to deny to themselves the utter savagery and sadism carried out in their names.

Keeping those victims silenced and invisible is the biggest favor the U.S. television media could do for the government over which they claim to act as watchdogs. So that’s what they do: dutifully, eagerly and with very rare exception. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+53 # Billsy 2014-12-16 18:32
Thomas Friedman's quotes remind me particularly of the general attitude prevalent throughout Reagan's administration and still in vogue today: it's more important for Americans to feel good rather than to actually BE good.
+1 # wrknight 2014-12-19 08:23
According to PEW Research polls, more than half of Americans believe torture is justifiable; and most of these patriotic Americans call themselves Christians. I wonder what Jesus is thinking about this right now.
+41 # Archie1954 2014-12-16 18:38
I'm just an ordinary person, not possessed of any special knowledge of where to look or where to gather infrmation about the World but yet I do. In fact I don't watch US MSM. I get my information from the Worldwide Net, from many, many sources. You see I don't trust the US media and haven't since the Downing Street Papers incident. Nothing about them was mentioned in the US media except one small mention in the back pages of one newspaper. I thought that is the proof I've been missing that we are being robbed of information and deceived. Enough is enough! Every since then, the US media is dead to me!
+13 # economagic 2014-12-16 20:13
More than you realize--keep up the quest.
+21 # Thinking 2014-12-16 20:47
What a disappointment -- NPR -- collecting operating dollars from the public and then reporting with such a blatant bias!
0 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-12-17 10:40
Which is why the Republicans subverted it.
+1 # 2014-12-17 11:19
Why would republicans subvert only NPR for its biased reporting? I would think it should be just the opposite, that they would support NPR for getting with the program.
0 # Johnny 2014-12-17 12:26
Republicans and Democrats, alike, support NPR precisely because it acts, not as a watchdog, but as a lapdog for the international banking elite and their puppet governments in Israel, the U.K., and the U.S. That is why "NPR" stands for "Nazi Propaganda Radio."
+19 # PrinceDarrell 2014-12-16 18:51

We need new media, and we need an online discussion forum where rational people of all flavors can decide what America is about.
+29 # LGNTexas 2014-12-16 18:53
A Pew poll shows Americans by 51-29 percent believe the CIA's methods were justified and by 56-28 percent that the information gleaned helped prevent terror attacks. Mostly it is Republicans who are PRO-torture and Democrats, ANTI-torture. Yet many of these same people look down their noses, feel superior to the "evil" German and Japanese people when the average person in those nations at the time had nothing to do with or had any power over torture.
+5 # jmac9 2014-12-17 13:22
America the great hypocrite.

Preaching 'freedom' while supporting and creating dictatorships that crush human freedoms.
Batista Cuba, Pinochet Chile, Diem Vietnam, Guatemalan military junta, Samosa Nicaragua, Sam Doe Liberia, Shah of Iran, Columbia fraud called government, Honduras military control of government, Mexico and on and on... at least has an agenda of change to get the discussion going for new candidates away from the 100% criminal Republican-tea baggers and the 75% corporate Dems.

Thank you - Ed Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, RSN and all the 'Whistleblowers '.
+29 # leftcoast 2014-12-16 18:53
Nothing hurts like the truth. Preach, Greenwald, preach!
0 # MaestraB 2014-12-19 12:43
Agreed -- what Greenwald writes is devastatingly true. But what can we do about it? I would love to get involved in some action or group that would work for change in this ghastly write-off of torture.
-33 # BostonPundit 2014-12-16 18:54
Like many of you, I focused on the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on torture and was not pleased.

Quite aside from my own rage at what I thought were sadistic excesses beyond the need for getting information, I was troubled that we had given license to those who have no standing to criticize this country to point their fingers, shoot out their lips and shake their heads.

This includes the worst offenders whether the Chinese, the Russians, the Germans, the Brits, yea even the Aussies with their miserable record on human rights when it comes to the Aussies.

But I've also tried to parse through this stuff in my mind. I suspect that most Americans would say that if enhanced interrogation techniques could be shown to prevent another attack, we'd at least have to consider them. This is a moral dilemma that can lead one to either side.

-38 # BostonPundit 2014-12-16 18:54
But the question of efficacy and causal connection is what eludes us because we have too little information.

On the one hand, we want to disbelieve Dick Cheney because he seems inherently untrustworthy to most sensible people.

But what of Mike Morell?

Well, take a listen to this Charlie Rose interview. It's well worth your time.

Mike Morell is the CIA Deputy Chief who was in charge of the counter terrorism section.

He disputes the use of the term "torture" because he says that is a LEGAL term and the Justice Department cleared the EIT as not torture.

He says that Cheney obviously knew about it because he says so, but so did Pres. GWB because he too says in his book he approved the techniques and Condi Rice was briefed and said she told the President.

He raises some interesting counterpoints on the morality issue - is it a moral obligation to try to prevent an attack that might kill another 4,000 Americans or endanger millions.

He puts into perspective the REAL fear in context at the time that there might be a second wave of attacks.

He also says that EIT worked in subtle ways and that Brennan's statement that the connection is "unknowable" is a politically expedient way of dealing with the issue.

All in all, a very smart guy who goes on to express his own misgivings.

+19 # kenrogers 2014-12-16 23:14

I'm sorry to hear that whether to torture a human being or not poses a moral dilemma for you. You say if torture "...could be shown to prevent another attack.." How, exactly, could that be shown?

CIA Director John Brennan, who doesn't know how that could be shown says, "I have already stated that our reviews indicate that the detention and interrogation program produced useful intelligence that helped the United States thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives. But let me be clear: We have not concluded that it was the use of EITs [torture] within that program that allowed us to obtain useful information from detainees subjected to them. The cause and effect relationship between the use of EITs [torture] and useful information subsequently provided by the detainee is, in my view, unknowable."

How can Morell characterize that as a "politically expedient" statement? Brennan has every self-protective , political reason in the world to claim effectiveness for the torturing of suspects by his underlings.

But the question of the "effectiveness" of torture is a red herring in any event.

People engaging in torture are behaving sadistically, immorally, and illegally, and no amount of rationalizing, hypothesizing ju jitsu can change that.
-4 # BostonPundit 2014-12-17 05:06

There seems to be a persistent inability of people on this forum to comprehend simple sentences.

You say that whether to torture poses a moral dilemma for me.

Actually, what I wrote was "But I've also tried to parse through this stuff in my mind. I suspect that most Americans would say that if enhanced interrogation techniques could be shown to prevent another attack, we'd at least have to consider them. This is a moral dilemma that can lead one to either side. But the question of efficacy and causal connection is what eludes us because we have too little information."

Brennan made a different point—that although useful information was obtained from those questioned under EIT, he couldn't draw the causal connection between EIT and a SUBSEQUENT disclosure of information."

That seems obvious - one has to question the causal nexus even if only on a temporal basis. Morrell makes a different point—of a demonstrable difference in cooperation and compliant behavior. Do I know if that is true? Of course not.

But if you could show that you got information from the use of EIT that actually prevented another attack—and this is what Morell claims but I don't know if it's true—and your choice was to try to discover or not to discover that information, as I said you have to at least CONSIDER the argument. You may choose not to adopt it.

In the final analysis, the question is whether Morell's construct is false or realistic. Read with greater care.
+1 # Johnny 2014-12-17 12:49
No, Brennan said it was the detention and interrogation program that produced useful information. He specifically disclaimed knowing that the torture produced anything useful, either immediately or subsequently. It was "BostonPundit" who claimed, "...if enhanced interrogation techniques could be shown to prevent another attack, we'd at least have to consider them." But that is precisely the point that BostonPundit misses intentionally in his effort to make excuses for torture. It cannot "be shown" that torture, which BostonPundit in his sadistic zeal calls "enhanced interrogation techniques," prevented another attack. There was never a possibility that torturing kidnap victims could "prevent another attack," because if the official Arab suspects perpetrated the attack, they were dead, and if the probable suspects in our shadow government perpetrated the attack, torture of kidnap victims prevented nothing except an investigation that might have incriminated the actual criminals.
-2 # BostonPundit 2014-12-17 14:58
Actually Johnny Boy, I didn't say any of that. I was reporting what Morrell said in the interview.

The term EIT is the CIA's, not mine.

Yes, Brennan was talking about EIT in the detention program but said the causal connection between that interrogation and information SUBSEQUENTLY learned was unknowable.

And like most people who cannot read and comprehend, you misstate what people with whom you disagree wrote. I didn't say we SHOULD torture people. Actually what I wrote was a suspicion: "I SUSPECT that most Americans would say that if enhanced interrogation techniques could be shown to prevent another attack, we'd at least have to consider them. This is a moral dilemma that can lead one to either side."

The PEW Research poll just released bears me out on this.

Your last sentence is just gobbledygook. Try rewriting it in English.
-31 # BostonPundit 2014-12-16 18:55
What you may find interesting - something I didn't know is that of more than 100 detainees about 30 were subject to EIT and ONLY 3 of those to waterboarding. I find that a surprisingly low number given what the press has been reporting.

He also says that the Senate Intelligence Committee, i.e., the Democrats, have distorted the facts.

He rejects strongly, the President's use of the term torture. But remember he's standing up for his CIA officers. And who can blame him for that?

For my part, I find the parsing over whether waterboarding is torture a bit too much. After all, we prosecuted Japanese soldiers for doing it to our soldiers during WWII.

Nevertheless, the different sides of the morality debate and the sheer debating skill shown by Morell are fascinating.

You'll find this interesting.
+38 # dyannne 2014-12-16 19:29
I really don't care what those people, Morell, Cheney, et. al., think is or is not torture. I think I - little ole me - knows what torture is and the things they did are torture. I think our country is wrong in the strongest of terms to have done this and to condone this in any way - and VERY wrong to protect the people that thought it up, ordered and did it.
+26 # economagic 2014-12-16 20:15
The international media, and just about every human being on the planet outside the United States of Absurdistan (not my coinage--I wish), agrees with you.
+19 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-12-16 19:01
What is truly comical-George Bush converting "Jews for Christianity." The implication is that whomever does the converting has morality. Now, Jeb. Bush has decided to run for president. A joke. Only in America.
+13 # RMDC 2014-12-16 19:30
"Zakaria demanded that Begg condemn ISIS "

I can't stand watching this lackey for the neo-cons. I don't think there's ever been a neo-con dick he has not eagerly sucked.
+29 # tomtom 2014-12-16 19:56
Dear Bostonpundit; only 30% suffered Extreme Interrogation Techniques? The Key word is Extreme. Beatings, feces shoved in Your face, freezing, sleep deprivation, with people screaming Death threats for your wife and children while dogs are barking, and sticks rammed up their asses, for hours and days, weeks, months, years;; when most of them are innocent. You're fucking crazy! In Your pleasant to heár facts, you left out that these sick practices were and are still being practised at dozens of worse than Guantanamos, with zero oversight on thousands of innocent adults and children, on floating prisons and numerous other black sites, all over this planet.
-21 # BostonPundit 2014-12-16 20:22

You can yell and scream all you like, I'm just reporting what Morelli said.

If Morelli is right your claims of zero oversight are ignorant statements. Or perhaps Morelli the guy who was there is ignorant. But then you are the typical RSN troll who doesn't care about facts just your own noise.

It's amazing that with next to zero knowledge of the facts you can call me fucking crazy.

No, I'm just trying to listen to all sides.

Morell's agenda item, not hidden mind you, is to protect his CIA officers.

That doesn't detract from the facts .

The truth is somewhere between the senate report and Morell's account.

Have a good life.
+14 # reiverpacific 2014-12-16 21:46
Quoting BostonPundit:

You can yell and scream all you like, I'm just reporting what Morelli said.

If Morelli is right your claims of zero oversight are ignorant statements. Or perhaps Morelli the guy who was there is ignorant. But then you are the typical RSN troll who doesn't care about facts just your own noise.

It's amazing that with next to zero knowledge of the facts you can call me fucking crazy.

No, I'm just trying to listen to all sides.

Morell's agenda item, not hidden mind you, is to protect his CIA officers.

That doesn't detract from the facts .

The truth is somewhere between the senate report and Morell's account.

Have a good life.

Doesn't that rather describe y'r occasional, generally arrogant infestation of this site to the letter, accusing somebody you don't know and painting the rest of us with a broad brush dripping with a thin paint?
By instinct, I tend to distrust a self-described pundit; on what subject(s) prithee? After all, the punditocracy of the US owner-media are pretty self-regarding, superficial opportunists who really pitch their alleged in-depth wisdom on behalf of the status-quo.
Youre motives seem decidedly ego-driven but I don't know you so I may be wrong.
If you don't find debate on RSN satisfactorily up to y'r self-exalted standards, do feel free to unhook y'r horse from this buggy, which struggles along but tries to practice free speech altruistically.
Sleep tight.
+3 # 2014-12-17 11:28
Bush has already admitted to tortue, and the principals accused of torture have accepted that, yes, they tortured, but they are proud of it. Additionally, the Torture report says, yes, people were tortured, but we can only release 600 pages of a 6000 page document, and even that is heavily redacted. Finally, torture is illegal in this country, by anyone, at anytime, against anyone. What is there to add?
+30 # PrinceDarrell 2014-12-16 20:05
The simple fact is the 8th amendment prohibits torture, and anyone who claims to love the constitution but cannot acknowledge that, is not a person you can have arational conversation with.
-14 # BostonPundit 2014-12-16 20:16
Actually the 8th Amendment has nothing to do with torture. Read it.

Different legal issue.

Torture is banned by US statutes and treaty obligations.
+12 # wrknight 2014-12-16 22:22
Quoting BostonPundit:
Actually the 8th Amendment has nothing to do with torture. Read it.
The text of the Eighth Amendment contained in the Bill of Rights is as follows: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." Now even a third grader can understand that, which begs the question, where the hell did you learn to read?
-14 # BostonPundit 2014-12-16 22:57
so wrknight

let me give you a lesson in comprehension at the third grade level.

The reference to bail presupposes an arrest on a complaint or indictment and being let out of jail pending trial. The reference to "fines" presupposes a conviction for an offense - the only ambiguity here is whether it applies to both criminal (yes) and civil (maybe) fines.
The reference to "punishments" is a reference to the sentence upon conviction.
This amendment says nothing about "torture" used in investigation of or prevention of crime.
Nor would it make sense to torture a person to confess to a crime of which he has already been convicted (that's obvious to even a second grader) or one of wihich he has been acquitted because the same Constitution prohibits double jeapordy (not so obvious to perhaps even a high school senior).

In the case of the EIT referenced in the Senate Committee report, none of the subjects of interrogation had been charged or convicted. Hence, bail was not an issue. In fact, the Supreme Court stated in the Hamdan (?) case that enemy combatants could be confined for the duration of the conflict. Nor was there any fine. Obviously there was no conviction for which punishment was being imposed. Nowhere does the Senate Committee state that the EIT was applied simply as a punishment for what the detainee had done or for his refusal to cooprate or talk.

OK? When you graduate from third grade, ask a fourth grade question. Meanwhile, read the amendment again.
+5 # 2014-12-17 11:30
The 8th ammendment does prohibit torture, if you know the history of its inclusion in the constitution.
-15 # BostonPundit 2014-12-16 22:16
8th amendment to the constitution:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The word "torture" does not appear in it.
+6 # wrknight 2014-12-17 07:21
Quoting BostonPundit:
8th amendment to the constitution:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The word "torture" does not appear in it.
But the word torture does appear in Webster's New World Dictionary, and I quote, "torture: the infliction of intense pain to punish, coerce or afford sadistic pleasure."

Now, since 9/11, I have to admit that we can no longer call the atrocities committed at Guantanamo and other U.S. military hosted "resorts" unusual. However, I would hazard a guess that you are the only reader of RSN who believes those atrocities are not cruel and that they are not committed to coerce, punish and/or afford sadistic pleasure, all of which fit the dictionary definition of torture.

So I don't want to hear any more bullshit about how it's Constitutionall y OK to torture people and only international agreements and laws forbid it.

And besides that, I don't need laws to tell me that it's just plain morally wrong and anyone who believes otherwise is morally bankrupt.
+1 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-12-17 10:43
So what, then is 'cruel & unusual'? Or do you consider torture to be 'usual'?
+1 # Doubter 2014-12-17 19:24
"The word "torture" does not appear in it."

But one of its definitions does.
+20 # progressiveguy 2014-12-16 20:21
Thank you Glenn Greenwald for another great article. To most Americans that approve of torture the victims don't exist. They don't care about victims of torture anymore than they care about 5000 American deaths in Iraq or the hundreds of thousands killed by Americans in the unnecessary war Bush and his thugs lied us into.
+17 # dyannne 2014-12-16 21:12
and they don't give a damn about the 22 veterans per day committing suicide now.
-20 # BKnowswhitt 2014-12-16 20:46
Hey Greenwald last story you wrote about killing of innocent U.K. Soldier in UK by two Muslim Extremists .. you seemed to give credence for their act via some "UK involvement in wars and some how we are supposed to see that it was a result of policy rather than a cold blooded murder like it actually was. That tells me that you don't have the stomach for what's really going on. Now many people do not i get that. However you like many others on the 'USA is war criminal torture weilding evil doers .. well you have your day' .. you know what about those tortured .. 'How many died?' How egregious was it? Just to keep you in tune .. How about the slaughter today in Pakistan? Even the Taliban in Afghan condemned what happened there. Killing school children gets these people off? And the idiot in Australia .. do you honestly think that putting no pressure what so ever on captives and granted many may be innocent .... hey all they have to do is cooperate and spill the beans ... even if it's only about their society .. be cooperative .. others many not so .. so you throw up your arms while more people innocent civilians in the west will die? Something very wrong with your view ....
-10 # BostonPundit 2014-12-16 22:07

correct. you know.
+12 # John Escher 2014-12-16 21:31
Quoting BostonPundit:
Actually the 8th Amendment has nothing to do with torture. Read it.

I read it.

The Eighth Amendment prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishments "including torture."
-8 # arquebus 2014-12-16 21:39
How odd. Where did you get your copy of the Eighth Amendment? I've read my copy three times now and nowhere does it mention torture...not even between the lines.
+14 # dyannne 2014-12-16 22:21
Torture is cruel and unusual punishment and visa versa. Get it?
-10 # BKnowswhitt 2014-12-16 22:26
Correct. Are the Taliban or ISIS American Citizens? So if not are they under the laws of lawful Law Abiding America? I doubt it very much. this is a war .. did the Nazi's come under the American Constitution when they fried 6 Million Jews? So our enemies are awarded the same tenets of freedom that many generations of americans had to EARN? Think man Think ...
-6 # HenryS1 2014-12-16 21:38
BostonPundit makes intelligent points. He constructively adds to a careful examination of the torture report and the situation in back of it.

Greenwald's article is excellent at pointing out how one the public can dismiss the torture report if the victims are kept invisible. But the left is just as capable of groupthink and echo-chamber self-reinforcem ent of pre-conceived interpretations.

RSN is moat useful when I can get facts that aren't available elsewhere. While the hypocrisy of the US on torture is unquestioned, it's not clear ANY goverment that had the means has every showed more restraint.

We probaby are somewhat unique in allowing the level of self-disclosure in this report, even if the disclosure from partisan politics as much as desire for transparency.

Which "side" am I on? I want to understand what is going on. I assume the torture we commit is worse than we know, but probably less than it could be. The public is complicit in not wanting to look at this closely unless wrapped in a comfortable cocoon of self-righteousn ess on one extreme side or another. That is part of why these problems are hard to solve. There are hard choices being made in situations few of us have ever been in, for all the TV and movies we have seen.
-5 # BostonPundit 2014-12-16 22:04

Thanks for at least reading what I wrote. For the most part, I was reporting what Morell said. As I pointed out, he does have an agenda —to protect "his" CIA agents who were doing what they were directed to do and ordered to do.

One of the points I didn't mention is the obligation (said to arise under natural law and the law of war) to disobey illegal orders. That begs the question what is an illegal order. Morell's legalistic approach is one way of looking the subject. This doesn't mean that he is right because there are many instances in which the common meaning of a word informs its legal definition.

What Morell also said is that he is concerned about the CIA directors and senior officers whose choices might be chilled in the future. The short answer to that is that current law should provide that chill.

On two occasions, Morell's answers provided an interesting perspective: he refused to say that he would have made the same choice as George Tenet did. He also said that Brennan's characterizatio n of the cause-effect relationship as being "unknowable" was essentially a cop out, a politically expedient way to punt on the point.

As for ReamerPacific's comments, I seem to recall months ago, telling him/her to go stuff himself and not bother me. Some fools can't resist coming back to the same salt lick to lick the salt off self inflicted wounds.

No, the 8th amendment does not concern torture but punishment of those convicted of crimes.
0 # BostonPundit 2014-12-18 04:57
For those interested in Morell's parsing of the morality issue and a dismissal of his arguments, see
-9 # arquebus 2014-12-16 22:05
In 1942, President Roosevelt authorized the internment of thousands of Japanese Americans or legal residents. Why did he do it? Shock at the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fear on an invasion the enemy couldn't mount. Panic. And, the Japanese were visible--Japan was a locale that could be attacked. The Japanese Army and Navy could be attacked. Even so...panic and unreasoning fear caused the internments.

In 2002, President Bush's administration used methods including forms of torture. Fear...fear that there would be more attacks. Frustration because the enemy, unlike the Japanese, lived in the shadows...unkno wn and/or certainly hard to find. Fear often generates panic of the stressors are intense enough.

If anyone really wants to understand, try to imagine what your reactions would be with 3,000 people dead, destruction of an iconic building, an attack on the home of your defense bureaucracy don't know that a similar attack or several similar attacks are not imminent. What would you do?

I would like to think that I would be cool and calm, that I wouldn't panic, but truth be told....I don't know that. What I do know is that I would not have wanted to be responsible for the safety of the American people in the early years of that decade...or even now.It's no wonder Presidents leave office with a lot more grey hair.
+2 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-12-17 10:45
An excuse for feeblemindednes s.
+3 # 2014-12-17 11:47
What I would do, if I was responsible for the security of this country, is try to find out why someone would commit such an act as 9/11, instead of mindlessly invading other countries, shooting up the globe, and using it as an excuse for curtailing civil and human rights.

There is a reason that some people would go to the extremes they did, of flying airplanes into buildings. We have not examined the reasons for it, though we know what they are. They told us why, and we could have taken action that would prevented so much of the misery that followed. Bush and his ilk reacted as irresponsibly as they possibly could have because they see the would through a materialist, capitalist lens, with no tolerance for other ways of life.

There is a political solution to the unrest in the middle east, one that has been festering since colonialist times. The US has just made it worse, for those who live there, and better for their corporate military cronies. The problems in the middle east are rooted in the lack of freedom of the autocratic, authoritarian governments that control the lives of those who live there, and of US support for those tyrants in order to assure a supply of oil to western consumers. If we want to reduce terrorism and the continued suffering of those who live on that region of the world, we can start by getting our asses out of there and lending our support to rebuilding their fractured lives, and applying political pressure to their oppressive governments.
+13 # jstick 2014-12-16 21:40
For an in-depth analysis of just how the U.S. government made torture legal, read: Torture Team by Philippe Sands, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, hardcover, 254 pp.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, recommends this book:
“… read it to learn how, under George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney, America abandoned its strongest pillar of power – its own integrity.”
+7 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-12-17 00:43
THANK YOU Glenn. It couldn't have been said better. Sad, but true.
+7 # Rockster 2014-12-17 01:24
Is there any more transparent and shameful indictment of our "leadership " than wrongfully kidnapping, torturing , and then stealing these men's identity . It is so much The Big Lie multiplied that Glenn's very correct in pointing out how effectively it's all hidden in plain sight!
+7 # John S. Browne 2014-12-17 01:31

This is why we are truly in Orwell's "1984" come true. The victims of the terrorist state "don't exist". The true history of the past is thrown down the "memory hole" and destroyed, and history is rewritten to be whatever the terrorist state wants it to be. It's the "Ministry of 'Love'" ("democracy", "liberty" and "freedom") that tortures people, often to death. It is the "Ministry of 'Truth'" (falsehood, lies and propaganda represented as their opposites) that rewrites the history and makes all of the victims of the terrorist state disappear, as if they never existed before. It is a sanitizing of everything evil, making it look "good", "just" and "righteous", while millions are tortured and mass-murdered by that "righteous" terrorist state. They might as well have followed "1984" like a script, because that is certainly what it appears that they have done. Rather than learn from "1984" that such a government is evil, to be completely avoided, and to not allow it to come into existence, they have done the antithesis and created it with "pride", making all of that evil come true.

Literally, thank God that some of us still have a conscience, get the real truth from the periphery of the majority of lies, face the real truth about what is really going on, refuse to stand on the side of the increasing evil that most "Amerikans" are being brainwashed into believing is "righteous", "just" and "good", and choose to only stand on the side that is against it.

+6 # tpmco 2014-12-17 03:06
The following is a comment posted by Delia on The Intercept, which I found relevant and poignant:

"That is a beautiful photo of Maher Arar, but you should have seen the thin, ashen-faced man that stepped off the plane from his ordeal in Syria. He could have slunk away, into oblivion to heal — no one would have blamed him. Instead, he took the Canadian government to court, i.e., he forced a lengthy Royal Commission in which the government’s culpability in effectively turning him over to the Americans because he was a guy who knew a guy who knew someone on the terrorist watchlist.

"We couldn’t make him whole again — after 9 months of torture and incarceration in a coffin-sized cell, how can anybody be whole ever again — but the Commission did award him several million dollars, which was the least Canadian taxpayers could do for him.

" Arar tried his best to get the US government to acknowledge his innocence, but it gave him the finger. He’s still not allowed to accept speaking engagements in the US. So, really, it’s not surprising that Americans haven’t heard from any of the other victims. But there are documentary films — at least 3 good ones from a few years back. Maybe there should be a new one, one that specifically focuses on inmates of the black sites."

There were other good comments and suggestions made there.
+7 # tpmco 2014-12-17 03:34
It seems that the USA government torture regime is now at an intersection with the American police-state terrorists in terms of news events.

What will the media barons decide?

Oh, I know, let's go with A-Rod getting fired as Yankees' third baseman. Or some cookie monster loose in a chocolate shop in Sydney?

Sometimes, Glenn, I think you're brilliant.
+4 # 2014-12-17 11:33
Let's ask some of those who were tortured if they believe they were tortured.
+3 # Starheart 2014-12-17 14:21

There is more truth behind the Storefront Titled "White House Black Market" than People Really Know...... And it is not just Drug Trafficking either....


The burglaries of targeted individuals by Homeland Security Personnel who are Protected from Prosecution, just like the Torturers, and the IRS personnel involved in targeting Politically Incorrect Organizations --- ONLY THE BURGLARIES OF WATCH LIST TARGETED AND Hi-Tech MONITORED ACTIVISTS AND INDIVIDUALS ARE MUCH MORE WIDESPREAD THAN ANYONE REALIZES.

One man that came up to me, at the Interurban Tukwila Starbucks, told me that they had done this to THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
+1 # moonrigger 2014-12-18 08:51
Every time I hear the media, and especially McCain, try to justify our use of torture and war, and wrap themselves in the supposed flag of moral righteousness, it makes me want to vomit. Greenwald is so right. Until we insist upon being confronted with the truth, we as a nation are continuing to willingly descend into the same moral decrepitude as Nazi Germany or any other degenerate regime. When will our leaders figure this out? We keep allowing congress to pass legislation designed to permit an even greater takeover by the monied powers. We should all be in the streets over this. Where is our moral outrage? Yes, true defenders of freedom have been buried by the Patriot Act and similar legislation, and saddled with so much debt we're all suffocating, with only a few representative souls speaking on our behalf. Somehow, though, we need to be doing much more.

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