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Glenn Greenwald on Torture

The incomparable Glenn Greenwald absolutely eviscerates the Republicans on torture. I encourage you to click through and read the whole story. Here some choice excerpts:

The "conservative base" in the last GOP presidential debate reserved their cheers for Mitt Romeny's moronic call to "double Guantanamo," and for Tom Tancredo's yearning for Jack Bauer. The more enthusiastically a candidate defended torture and lawless detentions, the louder the cheers were. The "conservative base" favors torture, and arbitrary detention powers, and oversight-less surveillance -- even beyond what the Bush administration has embraced.

We have become a country that justifies whatever we do -- no matter how far it transgresses moral, ethical and legal limits -- by resorting to the third-grader mentality that "Al Qaeda does it, too."

The reason that it is news that the U.S. tortures, but not news that Al Qaeda does, is because Al Qaeda is a barbaric and savage terrorist group which operates with no limits, whereas the U.S. is supposed to be something different than that. Isn't it amazing that one even needs to point that out?

But neoconservatives and other Bush followers do not recognize that distinction and do not believe in it. They see an equivalency between the U.S. and Al Qaeda -- since they do it, we are justified in doing it. And thus, based on that equivalency, they demand that the media treat stories of torture from the U.S. and Al Qaeda exactly the same, as though they are equally newsworthy.

And with that twisted equivalency bolted into place, they have dragged our country on a path where that premise is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our own interrogation methods are reverse-engineered from the most brutal and barbaric countries and groups on the planet. And the policies and practices we have adopted over the last six years embody everything which this country, for decades, vocally deplored. But all of that happened because of this "belief" -- which is really just a self-justifying rationalization -- that we not only have the right to be, but that we must be, exactly like Al Qaeda, do what they do, in order to defeat them.

That is what leads to such indescribably inane though revealing protests: "Hey, you reported that the U.S. tortures, so why aren't you reporting that Al Qaeda does? Whose side are you on?" That is the rancid depth to which our public discourse and our national standards have descended, and those who brought it to that point have designs on dragging it far lower still.


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Comments (19)

Right on! It's remarkable how this New York Times best-selling author so consistently nails the Republicans' hides to the wall!

You said it, Rick! Everyone should be reading Glenn Greenwald every day! Why, that's where he broke that story about wiretapping that ended up on the front page of almost every newspaper! Glenn Greenwald is a national treasure!

Heck, he's even had Russ Feingold read portions of his blog into the Congressional Record! I don't know how anyone could criticize him!

Ryan:

I'm sure a lot of right-wingers would argue that the point that they're trying to make is that what the US does falls far short of "torture," and that to call US interrogation techniques torture cheapens the value of the term. Whereas the Al Qaeda torture house story shows just what torture really is, involving permanent maiming and disfigurement and scarring.

But that's just trying to change the subject. I know that if I had to decide which was "torture" and which was not, I'd cheerfully pass on waterboarding and loud music and sign up for having my hand drilled through or my eye gouged out.

And I'd rather die than have panties put on my head or menstrual blood smeared on my face. That is truly and utterly inhumane.

Greenwald is once again showing just how brilliant he is.

Wow! The first three comments are so similar -- similar names, closely spaced times, and all three linking to the same anti-Greenwald site. It must be a prankster at work - let's check under the hood down in the Wizbang Blue engine room...

Yep -- it's all the same person, apparently spoofing Greenwalds' alleged own sockpuppetry. Wait a minute... that email address looks very familiar - where have I seen it before? Ah! It's Jay Tea from our sister site Wizbang! Yuk Yuk, he's such a card...

John in CA:

That's good Jay Tea. I was wondering who the Wizbang Blues guys were paying to puff up their dismal commenting community.

John in CA:

That one about your headache was really great by the way Jay. How are you feeling today? A little tummy ache maybe???

No, just nauseous when reading wizbang blues.

I noticed the fourth comment was yours as well, Jay, after I outed the first three - just didn't feel that childish, immature antics like this was really something that you'd want credit for, but if the sock fits, wear it proudly. I guess if you don't have the intellectual capacity to argue with the position Greenwald takes on the torture, your silliness is a good distraction from that fact, Jay.

A wise man once said you know you're over the target when you start taking flak -- looks like Greenwald and Larkin nailed the conservative "third-grade mentality" to a "Tea"...

and no, John in Ca. -- we didn't pay Jay Tea to come in here and prove Greenwald's point about conservatives and their immature, "third-grade mentalities", but maybe now Jay will go back and read what Greenwald said and respond to it -- or not. Maybe his Mom has him busy washing his socks instead.

Greenwald:

We have become a country that justifies whatever we do -- no matter how far it transgresses moral, ethical and legal limits -- by resorting to the third-grader mentality that "Al Qaeda does it, too."

And Jay responds with sockpuppets - cause "Greenwald does it too", right on cue. Talking about nailing the conservative mentality -- wow, Greenwald is good.

Read the Greenwald piece Larkin linked to if you haven't already.

scrapiron[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Reading Greenwald for truth is like listening to Hanoi John Kerry for direction to Cambodia. Not something they would know anything about.

Brian:

I'm sure a lot of right-wingers would argue that the point that they're trying to make is that what the US does falls far short of "torture," and that to call US interrogation techniques torture cheapens the value of the term.

Except that we already have a historical determination of what qualifies as torture. And "what the US does" was already designated torture once before. (Must have been by an "activist judge", eh?)

gattsuru:

If the excuse actually was "Al Q does it too", one might expect us to actually, I don't know, horribly maim terrorists. I mean, even ignoring the, you'd expect baby-killing murderers to enjoy that sort of thing.

But, wait, we're using methods leaving no lasting physiologically or psychological harm? We haven't even been using these 'tortures' to extract confessions -- and, in fact, can't use that sort of data in a tribunal {nice for the fascists to bother with trials that can be appealed to the Washington DC district court) but instead find useful information?

It's like there's actually a significant difference between using 'torture' that leaves no lasting significant physical damage in order to get information to that could save American lives, and forms of torture known to reliably lead to death or mutilation in order to terrorize the opposing side.

I mean, being an evil conservative soulless animal I'm not great at this whole nuanced-shades-of-grey thing, but one might theorize that there's some sort of moral distinction here, or even that knowledge of what Al Q does after a successful kidnapping might justify splashing them with water.

Steve Crickmore:

gattsuru; that leaves no lasting significant physical damage in order to get information to that could save American lives Perhaps you should read this article

A group of experts advising the intelligence agencies are arguing that the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable....interrogation methods -- possibly the most important source of information on groups like Al Qaeda -- are a hodgepodge that date from the 1950s, or are modeled on old Soviet practices.
Great model. brings to mind 'Darkness at Noon' by Arthur Koestler and 'the Gulag Archipelago' by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The latter is still living in the US at the age of 88. No one could question his conservative or religious credentials. Perhaps someone should question Solzhenitsyn about the rightness and efficacy about the US Gulag/ Guantanamo Bay and their interrogation programs.?


Greenwald demagogues this issue of equivalence as do so many on the left.

I'm presently reading "My Father's Secret War" by NYT Pulitzer Prize winner Lucinda Franks. It's really an interesting book, in spite of the fact that the author's life view is so marinated in the 60's mindset.

If you want to see the tension between the Greenwalds of our world and those who seek to protect us as it relates to the torture issue you might want to read the book. It's a revealing view into the liberal mindset as a 1960's rebel confronts on a very personal basis a real war hero (who happens to be the author's father) who engaged in torture and assassination during WWII. I'll give the author credit...she presents his side of the story also.

In short, the left simply doesn't "get it" when it comes to war. For all the contorted philosophy and affected "reason", there is no sense of a desire for self preservation.

gattsuru:

Steve, traditionally, the point of quoting another poster in a thread is to. Excluding for now the issues with using the New York Time's viewpoint on a report by psychologists as your primary source (I don't trust the Texas Star's reporting of the NRA's viewpoint on crime control, and equally you should take the APA's brainwashed drones with a small grain or two of salt).

Has the administration-accepted American 'torture' caused significant lasting physical harm? Has it not lead to important information such as the arrests of known terrorists? Has it

As an aside, I'd strongly suggest reading a basic essay or two on conversational debate -- in particular the fallacy selections should be entertaining. Specific issues so far are an appeal to authority, association fallacy (Soviet Russia occasionally fed or watered prisoners, albeit not often, but that doesn't mean we should forget about feeding prisoners), and chronological snobbery (Skinner's model of behaviorism is from roughly the same time or earlier than the older 'torture' methods, but few mainstream psychologists would call it wrong as a result). I'm waiting for the bulverism, although Mr. Greenwald already hit that pretty heavily.

gattsuru
This is satire..right?

"I'd strongly suggest reading a basic essay or two on conversational debate -- in particular the fallacy selections should be entertaining."

"(Soviet Russia occasionally fed or watered prisoners, albeit not often,"

Have you read any of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's descriptions of the Soviet state? Dostoyevsky? Pasternak? Sakarov? I would "strongly suggest" that any of these Russians would have begged their captors to read a "a basic essay or two on conversational debate ".

DJ Drummond:

Waterboarding = pulling out eyes?

Loud rock music = cutting off limbs?

Not granting terrorists the same rights as US citizens = chaining children to a wall and drilling holes in tgheir heads on videos sent to their parents?


Somehow, your argument seems ... inadequate ... to me.

Lee Ward:

No comments were deleted. Jay's childish attempt to divert attention away from what Greenwald had to say about the gross hypocrisy and immature attitudes of the Republicans regarding torture are still right there - the first four comments on this thread, Hoggy.

Lee Ward:

"Yeah, I should never have used Greenwald's own tactics and aliases, and instead answered his piece seriously."

You could not have demonstrated the precise conservative mindset described by Greenwald any better, Jay - just reread the portion of Greenwald's article quoted above. Here, let me save you the scroll:

The "conservative base" in the last GOP presidential debate reserved their cheers for Mitt Romeny's moronic call to "double Guantanamo," and for Tom Tancredo's yearning for Jack Bauer. The more enthusiastically a candidate defended torture and lawless detentions, the louder the cheers were. The "conservative base" favors torture, and arbitrary detention powers, and oversight-less surveillance -- even beyond what the Bush administration has embraced.

We have become a country that justifies whatever we do -- no matter how far it transgresses moral, ethical and legal limits -- by resorting to the third-grader mentality that "Al Qaeda does it, too."

The reason that it is news that the U.S. tortures, but not news that Al Qaeda does, is because Al Qaeda is a barbaric and savage terrorist group which operates with no limits, whereas the U.S. is supposed to be something different than that. Isn't it amazing that one even needs to point that out?

But neoconservatives and other Bush followers do not recognize that distinction and do not believe in it. They see an equivalency between the U.S. and Al Qaeda -- since they do it, we are justified in doing it. And thus, based on that equivalency, they demand that the media treat stories of torture from the U.S. and Al Qaeda exactly the same, as though they are equally newsworthy.

And with that twisted equivalency bolted into place, they have dragged our country on a path where that premise is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our own interrogation methods are reverse-engineered from the most brutal and barbaric countries and groups on the planet. And the policies and practices we have adopted over the last six years embody everything which this country, for decades, vocally deplored. But all of that happened because of this "belief" -- which is really just a self-justifying rationalization -- that we not only have the right to be, but that we must be, exactly like Al Qaeda, do what they do, in order to defeat them.

That is what leads to such indescribably inane though revealing protests: "Hey, you reported that the U.S. tortures, so why aren't you reporting that Al Qaeda does? Whose side are you on?" That is the rancid depth to which our public discourse and our national standards have descended, and those who brought it to that point have designs on dragging it far lower still.

Thanks for stepping up to the plate and hitting a home run -- for the blue team, Jay.

Lee Ward:

Waterboarding has indeed been used by the CIA, I believe that's been confirmed by a number of sources.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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