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December 09, 2007

Sorry About Electrocuting Your Balls—But You Have To Understand, I Was Scared!

Here's more from the Washington Post's story that key Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, were briefed on CIA interrogation techniques during 2002. Some of the article's many unnamed sources offer up this defense of them for not objecting strenuously:

Several officials familiar with the briefings recalled that the meetings were marked by an atmosphere of deep concern about the possibility of an imminent terrorist attack.

"In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic," said one U.S. official present during the early briefings.

Atrios rightfully wonders:
I'm wondering where the not "thinking clearly" exception to law, constitution, and international treaty exists.

The joke here, of course, is that not only is there no such exception, there's the opposite of an exception. Here's Article 2.1 of the international Convention against Torture:

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

There's a reason for this provision, which is: 7,000 years of human history. Torture is always justified as being in response to some threat, real or imagined. If you allow torture when the perpetrators say they're "in a panic," you're going to get lots and lots of torture.

The Washington Post article may be unfair to Pelosi et al in some way, particularly since the sources are likely terrified of prosecution and want to threaten to bring everyone down with them if they're investigated. Or the article may not be unfair. In any case, for any of them, the "we were scared!" defense is no defense at all.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at December 9, 2007 05:47 PM

Why would you think they'd object? There is, as Arthur Silber has been at pains lately to irrebuttably demonstrate, no difference between the aims and goals of either party, especially on the issue of "national security." The USofA initiated a program of torture and disappearance in Vietnam 40 years ago. Nobody said shit, mainly cuz the victims were "slopes" and "gooks." There is a story, which I am pretty sure is not apocryphal, about CIA/Intel guys taking two prisoners from whom they wanted information up a couple of hundre3d feet over the jungle in a Huey. They'd throw one of the prisoners out the hatch, and machine-gun the poor fucker "attempting to escape." Then they'd ask the other one the questions they wanted confessions for. It usually "worked," according to the folks who did it. And if it didn't, wtf, it's just another dead gook.

Land of the free, you fuckin betcha!

Posted by: konopelli/wgg at December 9, 2007 09:10 PM

Just cuz it was done in Viet Nam (If it's even proveable) and no one said anything, doesn't make it all OK today and since WE have the net, I'm absolutely sure someone WILL say something.
(I'd like to say FORCE CONGRESS TO IMPEACH, Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 say IMPEACH)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 9, 2007 09:25 PM

can't we just impeach the prez and the veep and pelosi, and maybe have a game show where ordinary people win prizes if they choose a slate of 40 or fifty extra senators and congressfolks to impeach, maybe in teams pressing there case before a studio audience with buzzers to choose the best slate of pols to impeach? Would the FCC object, maybe claiming it was a rigged game show?

I think it should be hosted by Richard Dawson and Tyra Banks and it would have awesome ratings.

Posted by: Jonathan "I like teevee" Versen at December 9, 2007 11:13 PM

Impeach away, but how about a people's impeachment for all the good folks who keep voting for impeachable fellows, whether they're schmucks like Clinton or criminals like Bush?
(And for the folks who vote for their opponents as well. De-dumbification requires broader strokes than De-Nazification did. There you had the perps, the victims and the bystanders. Only the first category got processed.)

Posted by: donescobar at December 10, 2007 12:01 AM

"schmucks like Clinton"

Oh, go ahead -- you can call Clinton a criminal as well. "Schmuck" lets him off the hook.

Posted by: keefer at December 10, 2007 07:25 AM

The situation could still be ameliorated and the country returned to the dream of Kurt Vonnegut's generation - of someday being a humane and reasonable nation - if we just had a different Congress.

Of course, to elect a different Congress, we would need different voters - citizens, instead of consumers, conformists, and cowards.

I guess we, the American people, haved the MICFiC* we deserve. Or rather, they have us.

May the Creative Forces of the Universe have mercy on our souls, if any, especially during this holiday season, when obviously fictional stories [miraculously unexhausted oil? a baby with only one biological parent? maybe you can believe it, if it helps you to sleep] metaphorically encourage us to hope that there are Higher Powers who might Stand Beside Us, and Guide Us, Through the Night with the Light from Above.

*MICFiC is an acronym for

M ilitary
I ndustrial
C ongressional
Fi nancial
C orporate Media Complex

a conspiracy to "milk, shear, and slaughter the sheeple", in a figurative sense - except the "slaughter" is literal.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at December 10, 2007 10:28 AM

Here's a thought that came to me when Pelosi's Briefinggate became known:

Is there going to be any Democrat in the most Democratic of cities to run against her in 2008? Is there any wing of the local party apparatus willing to risk alienating itself in order to show her to the curb? Is there one person willing to step forward and run against her?

San Francisco is maybe the most liberal city in the country. Pelosi's district is compact, you can travel across it by public transportation in a half hour. While Pelosi is in D.C. in secret meetings getting the waterboard demonstration, a candidate and his campaign staff can personally work every street corner in the city over and over.

Let's see democracy work there. For my next trick I'll need a volunteer.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at December 10, 2007 10:42 AM

IMPEACHMENT IS JUST TO GET RID OF GEORGE AND DICK. It won't bring JUSTICE or much TRUTH to AMERICA, won't bring Peace On Earth, or stop the war in Iraq or slow down the bleeding of our treasury in Iraq. It'll stop an invasion of Iran, but the NIE probably does more than IMPEACHMENT WOULD TO THAT END. No, if you want ALL that, it will have to come from the bottom up, grassroots, from YOU and your neighbors, OUR FELLOW TAXPAYERS. (go outside and look around you then look in the mirror. Good Luck on the world peace thing)
IMPEACHMENT IS JUST TO GET RID OF GEORGE AND DICK,and MAYBE shine a little light on the way, means, and persons who have royally screwed this country. (1-202-225-0100)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 10, 2007 11:58 AM

If a Catholic priest had refused to blow the whistle on pedophilia that he knew about, he would be considered at best a moral coward and (more likely) an accomplice after the fact.

Posted by: Jelperman at December 11, 2007 10:48 AM

Hard to top that post title!

Posted by: Batocchio at December 11, 2007 04:50 PM