A Slight Air Of Unreality

Today we will have the Senate’s report on the use of harsh interrogation methods by the CIA. There will be a great spasm of hand-wringing — indeed, there already has been — and no doubt the report will be further confirmation, for those who scarcely need it, of the fundamental vileness of the United States (at least, that is, when under Republican/white/male/cis-hetero-normative/etc. control).

Following on our previous post, which touched upon the “armchair-quarterbacking” of police methods by those soft and sheltered souls who, in Orwell’s words “sleep comfortably in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf”, here is a brief item, written by Andrew Roberts for The Daily Beast, that offers some historical perspective.

Addendum: Six former CIA directors, who were not consulted during the investigation that led to today’s report, respond to it here.

Second Addendum: Bob Kerrey’s not thrilled either.

Third Addendum: Here’s another firm response, from Charles Krauthammer.

Related content from Sphere


  1. ol coyote says

    how can torture which serves no interest other than financial oligarchs in the takeover of third world resources be justified? the mental gymnastics involved in the creation of a world matrix in which zionists control and fund both sides of the supposed ‘war on terror’, and the previous world wars, are frankly beyond the comprehension of any sane red pill person. White europeans are totally in thrall to the zionist narrative, wars against white europe (and now their american offspring) have been ongoing since the french revolution. The complete subjugation of Christian whites to their own genocide speaks only of the total control of anything related to “anti-semitism” or “holocaust denial”, etc… and now, the belief that mooslims pose some threat to “our way of life” based on false flags of the most transparent sort. george orwell’s were indeed so prescient: and ignorance is indeed the strength of the state. Voltaire spoke it well: “to know who is your enemy, you only must know who you cannot criticize.” hmmm. Mr. Albert Pike, the most illuminated Mason of the 19th century laid out the zionist plans for three world wars to achieve the dominance of the “illuminated ones.” Several noted rabbinical scholars have noted that “Masonry is a wholy Jewish organization”. Congress obediently follows the path to war with Russia; don’t worry: they will only publicly shame those who were involved “fighting terrorists” (whom we funded, armed, and sent into battle against our armed forces) and reassure the public it never happens again (until the next war). When terrorists come ashore here, when russians are infiltrated here, when martial law is imposed here- we will have torture here, too; and our neighbors will cheer it on. Might even be a “reality” show.

    Posted December 9, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  2. ol coyote says

    correction: “george orwell’s words from 1984”

    Posted December 9, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Our readers thank you, no doubt, for the correction. I actually hadn’t noticed the error, somehow.

    Posted December 9, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink
  4. the one eyed man says

    It’s not “harsh interrogation methods.” It’s torture. Let’s not obscure reality with euphemisms.

    “Vile” is as appropriate a term as any for a program which used torture methods borrowed from the Inquisition to inflict inconceivable horrors on those who were very guilty, somewhat guilty, or not guilty at all. Not only did the torture produce little or no useful information, but it handed a gift of incalculable value to any terrorist group seeking recruits, not to mention the disgust felt by our allies at the complete disregard of American values.

    I’m not sure what “Republican/white/male/cis-hetero-normative” leadership” has to do with a program which was run by a Latino and overseen by a black Secretary of State who votes for Democrats and a black lesbian National Security Advisor.

    Translation of Orwell: because violence may be necessary to keep citizens safe, therefore anything and everything which is done by those who are entrusted with our security is justified, and those who are protected have no legitimacy to question even the most egregious abuses of state power, whether it is choking a man to death for selling cigarettes or sending Maher Arar to Syria to be tortured.

    Andrew Roberts presents speculation, but no actual evidence, that the British employed torture against the Nazis, as well as an isolated example of Indian soldiers mistreating Japanese POW’s. He then declares torture to be normative.

    Tellingly, he fails to cite a single instance when Americans used torture until Bush and Cheney authorized it. The axis powers posed a far greater existential threat than Al Qaeda, and we never tortured Nazi prisoners of war. This is because disgust with torture is a core American value, and we would rightly condemn the acts done in our name if they were done by Islamic radicals or Honduran gangs.

    Anyone who condones our torture of enemy detainees has no basis to complain when our soldiers are captured and tortured.

    Roberts is probably correct regarding Winston Churchill, who was an enthusiastic proponent of using state-sponsored terror when England used mustard gas against civilian populations in Iraq in 1919 and Russia in 1920, in the first known instance in modern times when WMD were used against civilians – although some historians believe that the Iraqi were spared mustard gas because of technical problems with delivery. (Oddly, he changed his tune when British citizens were subject to state sponsored terror from German warplanes.) If there is a distinction between England gassing Iraqis fighting for self-rule and Saddam Hussein gassing Kurds fighting for self-rule, it eludes me. Someone who lacks the moral scruples to oppose gassing innocents is unlikely to object to torturing enemy detainees.

    As for the WSJ piece: these men have lied repeatedly to the Bush administration, Congress, and the American people. They have no credibility, especially when trying to exculpate themselves from the inevitably harsh judgment of history.

    Posted December 10, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Your objections are noted. As much as I’d love to have one of our brief and always-productive chats about this report, I must demur for now.

    Posted December 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm | Permalink
  6. Loki says

    …and we never tortured Nazi prisoners of war.


    Some of U-546 ’​s survivors were harshly treated in an attempt to force them to divulge whether the submarines bound for the U.S. east coast were carrying missiles. After brief interviews on board Bogue, the survivors were transferred to the U.S. base at Argentia. Upon arrival on 27 April, the prisoners were screened for interrogation, with eight specialists being separated from the other 25 survivors, who were then sent to prisoner of war camps. The specialists were held in solitary confinement and subjected to “shock interrogation” techniques, exhausting physical exercise and beatings.

    If you think that prisoners haven’t been treated harshly by every side in every war that ever happened, you must be living in some kind of fantasyland.

    Oh, sorry, forgot it was you, One-eye.

    Posted December 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink
  7. Hoberman says

    What I have to wonder is why, if a stupid little *video* made so much trouble for us a couple years ago, it’s such a great idea to put this out now. Why not fix it in private?

    Also, it isn’t like all these Senators who are acting so shocked didn’t sign off on all this stuff when it was happening.

    And WHY didn’t they interview all those CIA directors?

    Lotta fishy stuff here.

    Posted December 10, 2014 at 5:30 pm | Permalink