Monday, April 27, 2009

Torture's dumbest apologist

Yesterday's Sentinel contained a particularly repugnant editorial (un-bylined, but presumably by editor Jeff McMenemy) about torture. It requires evisceration.

The editorial has the remarkably self-unaware title of Don't 'torture' us with half-truths.

Yes, there's a pun about torture in the headline, which shows you just how casually our shitsack editor views torture. As for the "half-truths"? Well, McMenemy mostly just lies, but maybe we can pick up on some of those too.

Sigh. Here we go.
Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is right: If President Barack Obama wants transparency regarding the CIA's alleged harsh interrogation methods, he should release all the top-secret memos, including those detailing information learned that led to successful anti-terrorism efforts.
This first paragraph contains the one thing I can agree with Cheney and McMenemy about.* I want to see all the memos released too. Let's see just how much useful information really is contained within. I suspect it's a lot less than McMenemy believes, but would like to see for myself.

Now we go our separate ways.
Obama's release of the memos -- some leaked selectively to the media to embarrass the Bush administration -- has stirred considerable debate among former CIA directors and national security experts. Most believe the interests of the United States have been weakened by the disclosure. Even Leon Panetta, Obama's CIA director, questioned the motives behind the disclosures.
Shit, this is going to take awhile.

What was "leaked selectively to the media"? Not the torture memos, which are readily available to anyone who wants to look at them. So it's not selective, and since they're declassified and are available to anyone who wants them, they're not "leaked" either. **

And if these non-leaked, non-selective memos embarrass the Bush administration, who's to blame for that? They're Bush administration memos about Bush administration policies. If the Bush administration is truly embarrassed about them, then maybe they shouldn't have fucking used them in the first place.

As for "most" security experts thinking the US is "weakened" by the release of these memos about torture methods we don't even fucking use anymore, that's totally made up. I doubt there are good statistics on this, but I've certainly heard a lot more "experts" saying that this information was pretty much known anyway than pretending it will actually have an effect on the country's safety. But I don't exclusively consume right-wing news.

Concerning Panetta, who really gives a shit? Of course there were people who wanted to cover this up, and Panetta's one of them.

More lies...
At first, Obama said he would not prosecute any officials but now he is flip-flopping as Democrats seek revenge. But revenge from what? The country's safety?
First of all, you flaming asshole, it's not revenge, it's accountability. If you commit war crimes, you should fucking be held accountable. That's what it's about.

Also, Obama has been consistent in saying that the people who were "just following orders" should not be prosecuted. The people who gave those orders get no such leeway, and anyway the decision is not Obama's to make. He's not the one prosecuting anybody, it's up to the Justice Department.
The Obama administration is rapidly changing the rules on CIA procedures. Techniques that were legal just months ago are being ruled off limits while Holder develops new guidelines. But the call to prosecute CIA interrogators who were doing their jobs, legally, is absurd.
Who's calling for the prosecution of interrogators? Not Obama. There's not a lot of political support at all for prosecuting the people at the bottom of the chain. So way to argue against something that very few people are arguing for, dumbass.
The bigger question is how will the U.S. fare going forward when it comes to obtaining valuable intelligence from captured terrorists?

While we know very little about the intelligence gleaned from the CIA's efforts, one thing is perfectly clear: The Bush administration, after 9/11, kept America safe from foreign attack for seven years. Our allies also benefited from an exchange of information.
Anyone who believes that is pretty much an irredeemable idiot. So it's a standard right-wing talking point, natch.

Obviously, the fact that the US wasn't attacked on its own soil since 9/11 in no way means the Bush administration "kept America safe." It just means we weren't attacked.

You can see that as being because of the Bush administration if you're so inclined, and rather stupid. I see it as being despite the Bush administration, who in reality made America far less safe than we would have otherwise been.

To then make the jump from "we weren't attacked" to "torture is good!" requires a special kind of malicious stupidity. It's highly prevalent in this editorial.
What we find unsettling is that the administration seems bent on "correcting" America's values and character on the world stage, as if the global perception of what America did and didn't do is worth more than its national security.

This is a foolhardy agenda that can only lead to soft spots in our diplomacy and defenses.
Once again, stupid binary thinking rears its head. The worldwide perception of "America's values and character" has a significant effect on America's security. Alienating the rest of the world isn't exactly a great way to increase security, but it's a fantastic way to ensure everybody is out to get us. Artificially separating the two makes no sense.

And what's this "soft spots in our diplomacy and defenses" nonsense? Does that even mean anything? Other than that the editor wants us to torture even more brown people?
America is not a monster, and it bows to no one. While we have made mistakes -- and acknowledged them in public -- we have set a standard for human rights, charitable aid and the cause for freedom. There is little to be ashamed of in the course of our accomplished history.
Jingoistic rubbish.

Genocide of the Native Americans, slavery, internment camps, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, the My Lai massacre, the continuing shitty way anyone who's not a straight white Protestant male is treated, and the fact that we fucking torture people are just a few of the many shameful things in the course of American history.

America has much to be proud of too, of course. But ignoring the bad things benefits nobody.
The world is a dangerous place. Threats exist against America, and there is no justification for letting down our guard or coddling terrorists.
Apparently in McMenemy's mind, "not torturing" equals "coddling." Be glad you're not his kid.
If President Obama wanted to prove something to the world in disclosing the CIA's top-secret memos he has failed, largely because his selectivity has tarnished the work of dedicated agents following orders to protect America against its worst enemies.
What? How the fuck can you "tarnish" torturing people? It's pretty much as tarnished as anything can possibly get.

That's all I'm going to bother with. McMenemy is a ghoul. His "defense" of torture doesn't even attempt to offer a moral or practical justification for using it. His concern isn't whether torture is right or wrong (NB: it's wrong), this editorial is all about public relations damage control for the Bush administration. It's a bitch-fest that the truth has finally been told.

But yeah, let's release everything we can. Let's get the whole truth out there. Not that people like McMenemy will ever pay attention to it, but let's get it out for the rest of us.

Then let's hold the monsters who were in charge of it accountable for their actions. And let's let apologists for torture (like McMenemy) know that they don't speak for us.

Ghouls like these called the shots for eight years. Their time is over, and we need to make sure they never have the opportunity to practice their twisted brand of ethically-insupportable "justice" ever again.

* I don't for a second believe that Cheney really wants all the memos released. It's political wrangling, because he knows full well that most of them won't be released and as long as something remains classified he can claim that the Obama administration is just not releasing the stuff that justifies the Bush administration's actions.

** I recognize that McMenemy was likely trying to claim that the memos were selected to embarrass the Bush administration and that claiming they were "leaked selectively" was just his usual incompetent writing. It doesn't matter. Of course they were selective on what memos were declassified. They couldn't possibly release them all at once, for reasons that are obvious to everyone but McMenemy.