Subscribe via RSS Feed

Inside the Torture Regime

[ 161 ] March 29, 2016 |

bushimpeachment33_01

I wish I could say this was surprising:

The CIA took naked photographs of people it sent to its foreign partners for torture, the Guardian can reveal.

A former US official who had seen some of the photographs described them as “very gruesome”.

The naked imagery of CIA captives raises new questions about the seeming willingness of the US to use what one medical and human rights expert called “sexual humiliation” in its post-9/11 captivity of terrorism suspects. Some human rights campaigners described the act of naked photography on unwilling detainees as a potential war crime.

Unlike video evidence of CIA torture at its undocumented “black site” prisons that were destroyed in 2005 by a senior official, the CIA is said to retain the photographs.

In some of the photos, which remain classified, CIA captives are blindfolded, bound and show visible bruises. Some photographs also show people believed to be CIA officials or contractors alongside the naked detainees.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

Comments (161)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. BiloSagdiyev says:

    Now, I’m not going to personalize this and say this is about something that happened to Dick Cheney at a young age…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivy_League_nude_posture_photos

    But for some reason, this post made me think of Dick Cheney.

    But on a larger, institutional level, a lot of members of our elite went through that weird ritual, and I’m sure that includes the intel agencies.

    • BiloSagdiyev says:

      P.S. Now that I think about it a little more, frat hazing, too.

      PPS Or, as put to song, “Come on down, and show us what you’re made of, George!” https://youtube.com/watch?v=aBMJ5uZ-Zf8

    • MattF says:

      I found a set of these books in the stacks of the Yale library when I was grad student. Various oddities… one was that subjects’ reproductive organs were edited out of the photos, but the editing coverup was precisely the shape of the edited features, so it was not terrifically effective.

    • Hogan says:

      P. J. O’Rourke once described the CIA as “a bunch of Yalies who couldn’t get into law schoool.”

      • It’s funny how the security agencies developed ethnic characters.

        CIA = WASPs

        FBI = Irish

        Secret Service = Mormons

        • LeeEsq says:

          Its not really that surprising when you think about. The FBI is functionally the federal police force and the police have been dominated by Irish-Americans since the mid-19th century in the United States for a variety of reasons. The CIA is kind of related to diplomacy in a dark way and the State Department remained the domain of WASPs for much longer than any other branch of government. I can’t explain the link between the Secret Service and Mormons though.

        • Jordan says:

          Huh. I thought Mormons were more CIA and FBI than secret service.

          • Neddie Jingo says:

            I was a Foreign Service brat, and I can attest that the heads of the Mormon mission in both Stockholm (1974) and Santiago de Chile (1977) were also the CIA Station Chiefs. I know his because a) my pop was deeply contemptuous of the Spooks and their cloak-and-dagger games, and told me this on the QT; and b) I went to school with their kids.

  2. Murc says:

    The fact that the men responsible for this, and their predecessors in the Reagan/GHWB and Nixon Administrations, continue to walk free under the open sky should be a mark of deep shame to every President and Attorney General since then.

    • calling all toasters says:

      “This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let’s not bicker and argue about who tortured who.” — overheard at the Inauguration Ball, 2009.

    • Judas Peckerwood says:

      Don’t be shy. Failure to prosecute this particular set of crimes sits squarely in the laps of Obama and Holder. This is why I will never truly like or respect either of them, despite the inarguably good, even great, things that both have done. They are accomplices after the fact.

      • Murc says:

        It’s a bigger problem than Obama and Holder, so blaming them and only them specifically misses the bigger picture. It extends all the way back to Carter, if not further.

        • Malaclypse says:

          I’d say it goes back to Truman and the normalization of the national security state during the Cold War.

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          It, like with the banksters, is also hugely challenging.

          For one, it’s a huge political fight, that we might not win. For another, the prosecutable illegality is not typically clear. (The monstrous immorally is crystal clear.) Finally, the Republican party weaponises all such actions. Now maybe they will no matter what, but at the moment we don’t have Republican administrations spending a ton of time trying to prosecute their predecessors. (Cf how the republicans controlled special prosecutors.)

          The last, alas, is not a good reason, but when you add it to the others, it seems motivating.

          This makes me deeply sad.

          • Crusty says:

            Not only will future republican administrations spend time trying to prosecute their predecessors, but prosecuting the previous administration is a hallmark of corrupt banana republics and is soon followed up with general prosecution of political enemies while in office as well as efforts to change the rules so that nobody ever faces prosecution, e.g., every official gets a pardon on the last day (so that nobody need ever fear prosecution) or worse, dictatorship. Its terrible, but I think that for the sake of democracy it is important that we not go down this rabbit hole. Blanket immunity for all? Hopefully not, but there are situations where big picture concerns might prevail. This is why I think Ford’s pardon of Nixon was somewhat wise.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              One reason to go for truth and reconciliation style approaches is to prevent such spirals while still at least providing some exposure and censure of wrongdoing.

              It’s sad, though.

              • ThrottleJockey says:

                We’re not South Africa or Cambodia. These bastards deserve to be in jail. Full fucking stop.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Desert isn’t the issue. The guilty parties in South Africa or Camobida deserve worse punishment than any of our folks.

                  It’s about what’s possible that’s what’s better than what we have now.

                • so-in-so says:

                  Wait, you want Bush and Cheney in jail, but down thread you complain that the Belgians DIDN’T torture their prisoner to find out about the Brussels bombing before it happened?

                • Lee Rudolph says:

                  Wait, you want Bush and Cheney in jail, but down thread you complain that the Belgians DIDN’T torture their prisoner to find out about the Brussels bombing before it happened?

                  To be scrupulously fair to TJ, he didn’t say that we couldn’t torture Bush and Cheney a bit on their way to jail!

                • I understand where ThrottleJockey is coming from there.

                  With his focus on “ticking bomb” scenarios, he’s talking about an exception to the general rule against torture, justified by an imminent threat to human life, sort of like we have in our homicide laws.

                  The Bush regime tortured people as part of ordinary intel investigations.

                  Haven’t you seen people attempt to carve out emergency exceptions?

                  I’m not saying it’s a good argument, but that’s where the apparent inconsistency comes from.

                • DrS says:

                  Venn diagram of people who support “ticking bomb” exemption carve outs and those who think “24” is real may not be two perfectly overlapping circles but it’s close.

                  But hey, TJ supports violence against his perceived threats as a matter of policy. Who could have foreseen this, that an authoritarian with a love of violence would support authoritarian violence?

                • Oh, sure he’s authoritarian with this.

                  What he’s not, necessarily, is inconsistent for wanting to see Bush and Cheney jailed while also supporting torture in so-called ticking bomb scenarios.

                • DrS says:

                  Fair enough. I find torture even under the ‘ticking bomb’ scenario to be immoral and likely ineffective to boot, but I’ll grant there’s at least a difference from the point of view of it’s advocates.

                  I still find it repellent, and I also think that most people who hold that view are highly susceptible to seeing ticking bombs everywhere, such that the torture regime they actually support is much more expansive than they claim.

                • I also think that most people who hold that view are highly susceptible to seeing ticking bombs everywhere, such that the torture regime they actually support is much more expansive than they claim.

                  Yes indeed. “At what point are we allowed to start defending ourselves? Do we have to wait until someone’s finger is on the detonator? There are people building bomb vests right now!”

                • so-in-so says:

                  But his evidence for the “ticking time bomb” is an official saying “sure, we expect there will be reprisals”. No evidence of anything specific known, just that we arrested a guy and expect the others will do something soon.

                  So, it is ALWAYS ticking time bomb time.

                  Sorta like when the fact that Japanese Americans hadn’t done anything against the U.S. government was used as a justification for their internment – they are obviously waiting for the time when they can do the most damage…

              • Joe_JP says:

                I preferred the truth and reconciliation style approach as a whole though selective use of other approaches, including civil damages (not wrongly blocked by immunity or state secrecy doctrines) would be appropriate.

          • Snarki, child of Loki says:

            Known, notorious, objectively guilty of crimes against humanity, yet effectively impossible to prosecute?

            Isn’t that what DRONE STRIKES are for?1??

            • Hold on now, Snarki – drone strikes are only used in areas (FATAs in Pakistan, Somalia, rural parts of Yemen) in which the relevant national government can’t or won’t extend its writ to bring law enforcement powers to bear because the evil-doers have sufficient local strength to deny that government the ability to operate.

              Which is to say: Yes, this is exactly the sort of case that drone strikes are for.

          • Murc says:

            For another, the prosecutable illegality is not typically clear.

            I disagree with this strongly. The prosecutable illegality of the Bush years is without question, as are the Reagan years, as is Henry fuckin’ Kissinger, who openly admits to committing treason.

            The banksters are murkier but if a competent prosecutor can’t find plausible racketeering and fraud charges, at the very least, then they’re pretty bad at their jobs.

            but at the moment we don’t have Republican administrations spending a ton of time trying to prosecute their predecessors.

            The only reason this hasn’t happened is because there’s only been one Republican Administration since they became batshit enough to start doing that. I guarantee you a hypothetical Romney Administration would have found some sacrifices from the Obama Administration. Possibly even people who’d done things legitimately wrong, it’s an enormous government and people such.

            But they’ve been prosecuting the Clintons for twenty years and only the fact that there’s no “there” there has even slowed’em down.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              (Oy. Comment eated. Grr.)

              I disagree with this strongly. The prosecutable illegality of the Bush years is without question,

              Charges and people, please? Even a rough guess?

              as are the Reagan years,

              Beyond what happened for Iran-Contra? Such as?

              And those did fairly little good overall. The fact that the next Republican pres can pardon everyone is a real downer.

              as is Henry fuckin’ Kissinger, who openly admits to committing treason.

              What? You mean leaking peace talk stuff to the Nixon campaign? Even the Nixon actions seem more violation of Logan Act than treason per se. (I mean, they are all fucking insanely horrible, natch.)

              The banksters are murkier but if a competent prosecutor can’t find plausible racketeering and fraud charges, at the very least, then they’re pretty bad at their jobs.

              But no prosecutor (even State AGs) have tried. Is it all political?

              I guarantee you a hypothetical Romney Administration would have found some sacrifices from the Obama Administration. Possibly even people who’d done things legitimately wrong, it’s an enormous government and people such.

              Well, maybe. I agree that there’s no strong constraint, and that not going first doesn’t mean they won’t go first. And yet, we aren’t there yet.

              But they’ve been prosecuting the Clintons for twenty years and only the fact that there’s no “there” there has even slowed’em down.

              In congress and in the press. Not by prosecutors. There is a difference.

              ETA: You may have missed my comment about the Overton Window.

              • djw says:

                In congress and in the press. Not by prosecutors. There is a difference.

                Well, the Special Prosecutor, of course. But, perhaps tellingly, the unchecked power wielded by Starr kind of freaked them out, and they quietly let the authorizing legislation expire, which rather cuts against Murc’s hypothesis here.

                • Murc says:

                  How so?

                  A hypothetical future Republican Administration won’t need a Special Prosecutor to go after Democrats if it so chooses, because they’ll have staffed the actual Justice Department with their own hacks, like you do.

                • djw says:

                  Well, we have an N of 1, and the Bush justice department left Clinton officials alone as far as I can recall.

                  Things could certainly change, but it looks to me like there was a real shift in Republican opposition strategy post-Gingrich/post-impeachment. With Clinton, they went all-out kitchen-sink anti-Clinton in the legal arena, while engaging in something vaguely resembling normal politics legislatively. This wasn’t terribly successful; they lost seats in year six and Clinton left office as a pretty popular president (and but for a bunch of improbable stuff happening simultaneously, they would have retained the White House). Now they’ve flipped the strategy–confine the lawlessness charge mostly to a rhetoric and a few congressional hearings, but maximally oppose politically. This is looking a little better–they’re probably not going to win the White House, but they’ll blame that on their voters. They made some nice gains in 2014 and Obama isn’t limping out but it’s hard to imagine he’ll reach Clinton’s mid-60’s approval ratings at the end of his second term. If they’d managed to retain another couple of senate seats in 2008, the maximum political opposition strategy would have probably been a hugely successful in political terms.

                  So I don’t take it as a given they’ll abandon the new strategy for the old one the first chance they get. It’s certainly possible, but I’d need some arguments.

                • so-in-so says:

                  I suppose the argument would be that the Tea Party elects more “true believers” who force the issue even if it doesn’t make political sense.

                  ‘Peak Wingnut’ doesn’t appear to exist, after all.

              • Crusty says:

                “But no prosecutor (even State AGs) have tried. Is it all political?”

                Quite possibly. Those campaigns aren’t going to fund themselves.

                But perhaps more important, taking down a large financial institution does not make for a soft landing once one’s stint in public service is over.

              • Arouet says:

                Haven’t looked into this issue in depth, but some good candidate laws are probably 18 U.S.C. 242 (deprivation of rights under color of law) and definitely 18 U.S.C. 2441 (war crimes), specious claims that the Geneva Conventions didn’t apply notwithstanding. Some good candidate people include the Bush Administration OLC whackjobs from John Yoo (who certainly can’t claim an advice of counsel defense) on down, and just about anyone named in this letter: http://hrp.law.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/CAT-Shadow-Report-Advocates-for-US-Torture-Prosecutions.pdf

            • Murc says:

              Charges and people, please? Even a rough guess?

              Sure. George Bush and Dick Cheney, among others, are, by their own admission, guilty of violations of the Convention Against Torture. That seems pretty cut and dried, since they authorized stuff that we’ve prosecuted others for torture for in the past.

              Beyond what happened for Iran-Contra? Such as?

              Iran-Contra involved a lot of slaps on the wrist and didn’t sweep up nearly everyone involved. Reagan and GHWB walked away scott free, for example.

              What? You mean leaking peace talk stuff to the Nixon campaign?

              Leaking it to the Nixon campaign with the specific intention that they then use that information to sabotage peace negotiations that Kissinger, a member of the Johnson Administration, was part of.

              If a member of a Presidential Administration leaking information with the specific intention it be passed along to a foreign power in order to torpedo delicate peace negotiations isn’t treasonous, I don’t know what is.

              But no prosecutor (even State AGs) have tried. Is it all political?

              Yes. Or rank cowardice. One of the two. My understanding is that the DoJ has made it real clear to the states they can expect jack shit in the way of support when it comes to going after those clowns.

              ETA: You may have missed my comment about the Overton Window.

              I did, yes. I can only say that I don’t usually see the term used in such a technical way. When I say “Overton Window” I’m using it as shorthand for “the window of potential policy and political proposals that will be regarded as serious and worthy of consideration, as opposed to laughably risible.” Like, a minimum wage of 15$ is currently within the Overton Window; it’s regarded as a serious policy proposal. A guaranteed basic income is currently not in that window; a politician proposing that on the national stage is going to be regarded as kind of a hippie freak.

              Most of the time when I see it used by others, it is also being used that way.

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                I did, yes. I can only say that I don’t usually see the term used in such a technical way. When I say “Overton Window” I’m using it as shorthand for “the window of potential policy and political proposals that will be regarded as serious and worthy of consideration, as opposed to laughably risible.”

                But..why a “window”?

                And, is this even a thing? There are lots of different groups. What’s laughable to one is fine to another.

                Like, a minimum wage of 15$ is currently within the Overton Window; it’s regarded as a serious policy proposal. A guaranteed basic income is currently not in that window; a politician proposing that on the national stage is going to be regarded as kind of a hippie freak.

                But again, why a *window* as opposed to “thinks which are taken seriously” and “things which aren’t taken seriously”. Even then, what’s the “hippie freak” aspect of it? I mean, Republicans take *everything* said by Democrats as “hippie freedom”, including $15 minimum wage.

                Most of the time when I see it used by others, it is also being used that way.

                Again, even on the minimal terms, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. The cluster of acceptable topics don’t form any sort of window (i.e., something that slides along an axis of like clustered policies). Shifts aren’t slidings: Things change in rapid, complex ways, often independent of similar things. Cf gay marriage. Partisan aspects tend to dominate. Etc.

                And look at Trump and Sanders. A lot of what they’ve said were considered verbatim before they came on the scene.

                • T.E. Shaw says:

                  “And look at Trump and Sanders. A lot of what they’ve said were considered verbatim before they came on the scene”

                  Verbatim, or verboten?

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  Autocorrect sigh.

                  I meant “verboten”.

                • liberalrob says:

                  But again, why a *window* as opposed to “thinks which are taken seriously” and “things which aren’t taken seriously”.

                  You know what “window” means in this context, right? There is a spectrum of ideological policy that ranges from the “far right” of absolute dictatorship to the “far left” of absolute communism; within that broad spectrum there is a subset of ideas that are considered “mainstream”, also ranging from right to left but not reaching to the extremes. That is the “window” of the Overton Window.

                  Another way to think of it is like a microfilm viewer. What lies within the viewer’s display is only a subset of what is contained on the sheet of microfilm. You can move the microfilm around to change what is seen in the display, which is kind of like looking out of a window. “Window” has become a technical term to refer to this concept of viewing a subset of a whole.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  You know what “window” means in this context, right?

                  Yes. (Please read the first comment I wrote.)

                  There is a spectrum of ideological policy that ranges from the “far right” of absolute dictatorship to the “far left” of absolute communism; within that broad spectrum there is a subset of ideas that are considered “mainstream”, also ranging from right to left but not reaching to the extremes. That is the “window” of the Overton Window.

                  Yes, I know. My point is that policies don’t form that sort of continuum and that if you did make them fall on that sort of continuum, acceptability wouldn’t map into a window (that is, a continuous region). In point of fact, acceptability doesn’t track that way. Read my original comment for more detail.

                  Another way to think of it is like a microfilm viewer. What lies within the viewer’s display is only a subset of what is contained on the sheet of microfilm. You can move the microfilm around to change what is seen in the display, which is kind of like looking out of a window. “Window” has become a technical term to refer to this concept of viewing a subset of a whole.

                  I appreciate the attempt to explain the concept, but you misunderstood my question. I’m not asking what a “window” in this context is, I’m asking why Murc would think that acceptability has *that shape* (with respect to an intervention/non-intervention axis). If “Overton Window” is to mean *anything at all*, even in a reduced form, it has to refer to acceptability having a window shape on the policy continuum of non-govt-interventionist to interventionist. I dispute that acceptability has that shape. Thus, if all you take from the Overton Window idea is that policies have different levels of acceptability, then you aren’t using OW at all.

                • liberalrob says:

                  I appreciate the attempt to explain the concept, but you misunderstood my question. I’m not asking what a “window” in this context is, I’m asking why Murc would think that acceptability has *that shape* (with respect to an intervention/non-intervention axis). If “Overton Window” is to mean *anything at all*, even in a reduced form, it has to refer to acceptability having a window shape on the policy continuum of non-govt-interventionist to interventionist. I dispute that acceptability has that shape.

                  Ah, OK. You are disputing the shape of a metaphorical device. Good enough.

                  “And that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped!”

            • Bruce B. says:

              With the banisters I’d start with mortgage auto signing, where you have a clear-cut conspiracy to bypass mortgage regulations and fees. It’s not dramatic, but it’s important in ways a good prosecutor could make clear.

              • Lurking Canadian says:

                I think there’s a lot that determined prosecutors could do with RICO. “Having shown that HSBC is complicit in money laundering, we are seizing all their assets until they can prove which specific dollars are not tainted with this criminality”. Substitute “Koch Industries” and “illegal hazardous waste disposal” as needed.

              • so-in-so says:

                My banisters never did anything but hold up the stair railing!

        • ThrottleJockey says:

          Why do you say it’s a bigger problem than Obama and holder? I don’t follow that at all.

          • Murc says:

            It isn’t just Obama and Holder, though. Narrowing it to purely them is misleading.

            Because Bill Clinton and his AGs, and Carter and his AGs, are also complicit, as will be Hillary Clinton (or Sanders) and their AGs.

            I mean, I love me some Bernie, but do you actually think he’d prosecute him some war criminals?

            • ThrottleJockey says:

              I see your point. For the politician it’s always easier, and arguably better, to move forward rather than reach backwards. And that’s because they have practical tangible things they wish to accomplish. Even Lincoln did this) I happen to think that morality is a practical tangible object but most people weren’t raised like me.

              • If the morally correct action will create a politically damaging clusterfuck, most (all?) ambitious politicians will take the politically expedient way out. Morally, Obama should have prosecuted bankers and war criminals but if he had done so, the backlash would have been huge and it would have crippled his presidency. We in the LGM comments would have cheered him on but most Americans would not have.

                • mds says:

                  We in the LGM comments would have cheered him on but most Americans would not have.

                  Yeah, I’m still torn on whether it’s better to maintain the illusion that we’re better than this as a nation, or to just get it over with and have Bush and/or Cheney tried and subsequently acquitted, because too many Americans consider torturing “terrorists” to be much less of a big deal than, say, letting trans people use the goddamned restroom.

                  And yes, going after Bush/Cheney or the other top people would have ruined the Obama presidency. It doesn’t matter that they wouldn’t actually be “purely political” prosecutions; they’d be called that by the GOP, the media, and some pro-torture Democrats. The cheat codes to the US government have been discovered, and it turns out all you need is maximal partisanship and zero shame.

                • Thirtyish says:

                  I’m with you, mds. Unfortunately, we are a nation with a strong authoritarian streak, and I don’t think we really are better than torture. We should be, but we maybe aren’t.

                • so-in-so says:

                  Not fully sure he would be cheered even here if the down side is no ACA, the economy sliding into a depression, Cuba still estranged; but hey, he tried to start proceedings against Bush and Cheney before the impeachment and assassination…

                • TroubleMaker13 says:

                  A crippling backlash against Obama? Like the opposition party uniting to declare his administration illegitimate and mounting an historic obstinacy to anything and everything he would attempt to accomplish?

                  Thank God that didn’t happen.

  3. AMK says:

    This is pretty weak beer when you consider that these people made “rectal feeding” an instrument of American policy.

  4. jeer9 says:

    Presidents interested in preserving their own personal security probably think it prudent not to be prosecuting the CIA and NSA, even if the law supports such a case.

    Things got out of hand. It was a scary time. Everyone regrets what they did. It’ll never happen again (until the next Republican ascends the throne). It’s kind of ancient history now.

    Wonder if either of the Dem candidates might think of opening that can of worms. Sort of doubt it.

    • efgoldman says:

      Everyone regrets what they did.

      Facts not in evidence.
      Statute of limitations on war crimes is forever, right? That’s how prosecutions against 90 y.o. concentration camp guards still go on.

      • LosGatosCA says:

        Cheney would be at the diametric opposite of ‘regrets it’

        Addington, Yoo, et al should all be in jail.

        • MattF says:

          Including WaPo op-ed columnist Marc Thiessen, who, in today‘s column offers us pearls of wisdom about how to interrogate terrorists. No link from me.

          • ThrottleJockey says:

            That’s a completely different situation. Brussels faced a ticking bomb. Those 30 people who died in Belgium are a direct result of of Belgium failure to strongly interrogate their prisoner. I don’t know how those security officials live with the shame that their fecklessness lead to a massacre.

            Astonishingly, officials did not question Abdeslam at all for his first 24 hours in custody. He spent Friday night in the hospital recovering from a leg wound sustained in the raid. When he was finally returned to the police on Saturday, he was questioned by authorities for a grand total of . . . two hours — and then was not questioned again until after the attacks. Why? “He seemed very tired and he had been operated on the day before,” a senior Belgian security official told Politico.

            He seemed tired? That’s precisely when they should be interrogating him. The CIA used sleep deprivation as one of its most effective interrogation tools. But for Belgians, a terrorist’s exhaustion is a reason to stop questioning, not intensify it.

            • Hogan says:

              Brussels faced a ticking bomb.

              And the police knew that?

              • wjts says:

                Oh, Hogan. There’s always a ticking bomb out there somewhere.

                • ThrottleJockey says:

                  Belgiums foreign minister publicly said 48 hours after they arrested Abdeslam that the Belgians expected reprisals. Paris demonstrated what the cell was capable of .

                  In such a situation you have to do whatever is necessary to save people’s lives. Leave no stone unturned.

            • jim, some guy in iowa says:

              eh, this is the kind of dramatic overstatement that operates on the level of a comic book. they could have worked him over for days, and he wouldn’t say anything, or anything that would have prevented it. For a guy who just claimed elsewhere in the thread that morality was a definable object, yours is more like silly putty than anything else

              • sonamib says:

                they could have worked him over for days, and he wouldn’t say anything, or anything that would have prevented it

                It’s even worse than that : Abdeslam said that he intended to fully cooperate with the police. There’s no reason to be an asshole to your prisoner if he’s cooperating. And they did interrogate him for two hours. They might have realised that he didn’t have much up to date information, because he was on the run since November.

                • Warren Terra says:

                  Yeah, this. I’f I’m some terrorist plotter the very last guy I’m going to tell anything (or anything accurate) is a failed suicide bomber (hence: unreliable) that every police force and intelligence service on the continent is looking for and itching to interrogate.

                • ThrottleJockey says:

                  Except that we know that the plotters worked closely with Abdeslam. They hadn’t cut him loose. I think he said that he was going to cooperate just to string along the authorities.

                • wjts says:

                  I think he said that he was going to cooperate just to string along the authorities.

                  Oh, well, case closed then. Break out the thumbscrews.

                • ThrottleJockey says:

                  There were lives at stake.

                  As Malcolm said, “By any means necessary.”

                • sonamib says:

                  Let me get this straight, TJ : you think that every time a terrorist suspect is in custody, we should have no qualms about torturing them, even if they’re cooperating, because there might be a ticking time bomb and the suspect might know something about it?

                  What if there’s no ticking time bomb, and you just pissed off your prisoner for no reason? How can you tell beforehand? Hindsight is always 20/20.

                  Edit: And that’s on top of all the usual reasons for why the ticking time bomb scenario is stupid.

                • wjts says:

                  And if there’s one thing Malcolm X was known for, it was his enthusiastic endorsement of police torture of Muslims in defense of public safety.

                • There were lives at stake.

                  – Dick Cheney

                • Warren Terra says:

                  I think we should leave TJ in peace, he needs to go seek medical attention for that sick burn from wjts.

                • ThrottleJockey says:

                  No I don’t think there’s always a ticking bomb. In fact I think ticking bomb scenarios are extremely rare. But in this case we know for a fact based on the foreign Minister’s own words that they expected reprisals.

                  I don’t think that two hours of conversation is actual cooperation. But why would you take his willingness to cooperate at face value anyway? Does he exhibit genuine remorse for his actions? If so wouldn’t he want to talk more than just 2 hours? In general you have to be skeptical the someone who has killed as many people as he has is just suddenly going to cooperate.

                  One way to prevent ticking bombs in situations such as this is to keep the arrest Secret. Had the Belgians done that they might have been able to roll up the cell without further incident.

                • ThrottleJockey says:

                  Puhleeze, Malcolm had nothing in common with these bozos and hoodlums. Least of all, when he made that statement, Islam.

                  What Malcolm did recognize is that we’re not simple sheep to be preyed upon by wolves. We’re allowed to fight back.

                • sonamib says:

                  Yes, keep the arrest secret. An arrest in the middle of the afternoon, with a police siege and some gun fire, in the middle of a very densely populated neighborhood. We’re well into the smartphone age, every neighbor was filming this.

                  You know, I’m beginning to think that I’ve got a better handle of the situation than you.

                • ThrottleJockey says:

                  All you have to do is announce that the arrest is not related to Paris. And is related to a different cell. Or do like the authorities did yesterday and say you arrested the wrong guy and you’ve released him.

                • Warren Terra says:

                  You will perhaps note that under TJ’s theory Abdeslam was in close contact with the terrorist bombers, knew of their identities and plans – but a massive firefight right at his hiding place could happen, and the bombers would not make the connection and could be fobbed off with some story about it being a fight with some other terrorist cell at that address.

                  Maybe the authorities could have kept mum or even lied about whether there were any survivors – but either Abdeslam was isolated from the bombers or they knew he was involved in the firefight and didn’t get away.

                • ThrottleJockey says:

                  I’m not assuming that he was in close hourly or even daily contact with the terrorist. I’m just assuming that he had enough information to provide authorities that they might have been able to track down and roll up the rest of the cell before they struck again. More importantly why theorize at all about what information he might have had when you can just, you know, interrogate him.

                  One of the terrorists themselves sad they felt like the authorities were closing in and arrest was imminent. So clearly the people involved in the plot felt like Abdeslam had enough information to capture them.

              • ThrottleJockey says:

                No Jim my morality is not like Silly Putty. We’ve had over 30 people killed, scores more critically injured, and hundreds hurt. According to my moral code it’s the victims that I sympathize with. The difference between this situation and what happened under the Bush Administration is that Brussels faced a ticking bomb whereas Bush just did it to get his jollies.

                The lives of the casualties are worth many times more than the life Abedslam.

                • liberalrob says:

                  Certainly. That’s why they were killed. And in response to their killing you argue in defense of validating the reason they were killed: to expose the West as just as bloodthirsty and barbaric as the Islamists, for all our fancy talk about “rights” and “justice”. All that goes out the window when it’s our people dying.

            • sonamib says:

              Yes, you can always count on exhausted people to give reliable intel. CIA’s torture worked so well!

              And there’s no reason to think that Abdeslam knew about the attacks. It looks like the terrorists were in a hurry to do anything before they were caught. They probably improvised the timing of their attacks.

              • ThrottleJockey says:

                They certainly improvised the timing of their attacks. (One terrorist wrote that he felt like the police were closing in at any moment.) But it is their identities, whereabouts and preferred targets that would have been of Interest.

                • sonamib says:

                  Their identities were already known. There was an Interpol arrest warrant for at least two of them.

                  Hey, the Belgian police fucked up by not managing to arrest them sooner. But the way they interrogated Abdeslam has nothing to do with it.

                • ThrottleJockey says:

                  You think two hours was sufficient interrogation time? You’re going to trust a guy who’s killed scores of people in Paris without compunction when he tells you that he’s going to cooperate?

                  Do you think he’s credible and trustworthy?

                • wjts says:

                  You think two hours was sufficient interrogation time?

                  I don’t know – I didn’t talk to the guy. But in this case, I’m more inclined to agree with the professional investigators who spoke with him than the Internet Tough Guy pontificating from a position of near total ignorance.

                • sonamib says:

                  He drove people to Paris who then proceeded to kill loads of people. He didn’t kill anyone directly, even though he was (apparently) supposed to. There’s no need to inflate his evilness, there’s already plenty you can fairly assign him.

                  He’s still an awful person, since he participated in the attacks, but it looks like he “betrayed” his terrorist cell by not doing everything he was told to. After November, he was hiding with friends and it’s unclear that he still maintained contact with the other terrorists.

                  It’s very probable that he didn’t have any time-critical information, because he was on the run since November. Two hours might have been enough to confirm that. Maybe he was getting very tired and his answers stopped being useful. You know, I wasn’t present at the interrogation, neither were you.

                • ThrottleJockey says:

                  What, wjts, About Belgium Security Services has given you any reason to trust their competence? The French sure as hell don’t. The interior minister tendered his resignation for a reason.

                • ThrottleJockey says:

                  People say it’s probable that he didn’t know much because of x y and z. But to me you can’t leave any stone unturned. Investigation, like invention, is 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration.

                  You can’t really know what he knows until you do the hard work of interrogating him. They needed to make Abedslam perspire.

                • wjts says:

                  All I know about Belgian detectives I learned from old comic books, so, yeah, I guess you’re right – it must be nothing but Duponds and Duponts* from top to bottom. Maybe we can work out an officer exchange program with the League of Internet Tough Guys? (I’d volunteer, but I can’t remember how to say vacuous platitudes like “Leave no stone unturned” and “By any means necessary” in French.)

                  *English-language readers will know them as Thomson and Thompson.

                • Thirtyish says:

                  wjts, you need a blog if you don’t already have one. Also, you owe me a new screen cover.

                • liberalrob says:

                  That Poirot guy was a pretty good detective…

                • TroubleMaker13 says:

                  What, wjts, About Belgium Security Services has given you any reason to trust their competence?

                  So you want them to use torture because they’re incompetent?

                • TroubleMaker13 says:

                  Do you think he’s credible and trustworthy?

                  He is or he isn’t. Do you think information magically becomes more credible and trustworthy when it’s literally tortured out of a subject?

            • Rob in CT says:

              Did you seriously just cite Marc Thiessen as backup for your argument?

              Wow.

            • Philip says:

              Those 30 people who died in Belgium are a direct result of of Belgium failure to strongly interrogate their prisoner

              No, they died because some idiot blabbed that they’d caught a guy and he was cooperating.

            • Procopius says:

              I hate that “ticking bomb” scenario. It assumes several things that are virtually impossible in the real world. (1) It assumes there is a real bomb. (2) It assumes that the person being interrogated really knows where the bomb is. (3)It assumes that we knew which person to interrogate.

              It ignores the fact that even if (1) and (2) hold the person being interrogated might lie many times before he gives up the truth, and you have to check out each and every lie to make sure it’s not the truth. It ignores the fact that there may very well be no bomb, but if you torture the suspect he will make up a story about a bomb. It ignores the fact that if you really knew which person to interrogate you could have intercepted them before they planted the bomb.

              There’s an alternative “ticking bomb” scenario. You’ve captured a guy who knows where a nuclear device is planted in the middle of your crowded city. He’s known to be fanatically honest about keeping his word; once he promises to do something he can be relied on completely. You know he has been well trained to resist interrogation, and even under torture it may take days to break him. He is a vicious, sadistic pedophile. He says that if you allow him to rape your seven year old daughter for one hour he will tell you where the bomb is. It will save at least one million lives. Would you allow him to rape your daughter?

          • BlueLoom says:

            I’ll occasionally read Gerson (especially when he’s in anti-Trump mode), Will (especially when he’s in baseball mode), or (very rarely) Krauthammer. I will NOT read Thiessen. Ever.

            Makes you wonder why the RWNJs consider the WaPo a liberal-leaning rag. It’s not (see: support for TPP, also–like MattF–no link from me). It has more conservative op-ed columnists than liberal. Makes ya wonder if this is the Bezos Effect at work.

    • C.V. Danes says:

      Oh, really? How do you know it’s not happening right now? Oh wait. Because they say so.

      • addicted44 says:

        You should go right ahead and make a YouTube video explaining yor theory about this conspiracy.

        I am not saying it’s impossible but your argument boils down to “the evidence we have its happening is that there is no evidence it’s happening”.

        • alex284 says:

          Back to the days when saying that the government tortures people is crazy-talk? Then it gets discovered and people like you say “that’s old news, of course the government is torturing people, how can you be so naive as to think this is shocking?”

          And round and round we go.

          When people say we don’t know whether it stopped or not, it’s not an epistemological question on the level of “what does it mean to know?” but instead a real, practical question about how little we do know, how often we’ve been lied to, how there doesn’t seem to be anything in place safeguarding against torture, and even a fundamental disagreement about what constitutes torture.

          So the argument is more “the evidence we have it’s happening is that there is plenty of evidence that it happened and too little evidence that it stopped.”

        • FridayNext says:

          I am not saying it’s impossible but your argument boils down to “the evidence we have its happening is that there is no evidence it’s happening”.

          C.V. Danes made no argument that torture is indeed happening. They merely pointed out that the ONLY evidence we have that it is NOT happening is that the government is telling us it is NOT happening. As with the case of dealing with any known liar, trusting the government’s word is foolish. When confronted with a known liar, your best course is to never trust what they have to say without some level of oversight and accountability. There is no such trustworthy system in place to provide such verification now.

      • Oh, really? How do you know it’s not happening right now?

        Because, as we learned during the Bush administration, torture doesn’t stay secret. Pictures leak out, people talk to the press, abused bodies get dumped. There’s no such thing as secret torture.

        The U.N. Commission against Torture issued one of its regular reports about the United States in November 2014. This was the same body that blew the whistle on the Bush administration, and documented instance after instance of torture by the CIA and military in the black sites, the Salt Pit, and Abu Ghraib.

        They had a number of criticisms of the United States, including the use of solitary confinement and a tolerance of violence in the prison system; the absence of prosecution for the torture conducted by the Bush regime; and a technical dispute about some language in the current administration’s policy directives about the treatment of detainees which, the committee was concerned, could be cited by some future government to authorize abuse practices.

        But what they didn’t find was any ongoing torture. It is not simply a matter of trusting the government, or of “they say so,” or a practical analysis based on there being too little evidence that it’s stopped. It is the practical outcome of a reality-based, honest consideration of the question.

  5. Robespierre says:

    But think of all the ticking bombs they stopped!

  6. C.V. Danes says:

    Add it to the list. But, hey: water under the bridge, right? After all, these are just good people doing a hard job.

    • Lee Rudolph says:

      It’s all water under the bridge, until it’s blood over the levee.

    • gratuitous says:

      Exactly. And besides, it’s not like anyone else is getting all bent out of shape about it (Shut up – you know what I mean). Now, let’s all turn our attention to those bloodthirsty motherfuckers in Paris and Brussels, whose unreasoning hatred for the West and its freedoms are a complete mystery to our political and media overlords. It’s like these terrorists just sprang whole out of the ground, like that Greek myth about the dragon’s teeth.

      We didn’t do nothin’ to nobody!

  7. Peterr says:

    “No taking pictures is just political correctness. I’d not only take the pictures, but publish them — and charge the detainees for the camera!”

    /Trump

    • alex284 says:

      Of course I’ll institute forced feeding! And only of the finest Trump pork chops! We’ll charge them for it and include an obligatory 20% gratuity!

      God I hate Trump.

  8. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    There just has to be a connection to the suspicious fire in Dick Cheney’s “man-size safe”, that destroyed its entire contents.

    Too bad he wasn’t locked inside it at the time.

  9. mds says:

    Mere hijinks. I’ve had worse. I thought liberals were supporters of the BDSM lifestyle, and what is this word “consent” that you keep using?

    Anyway, since it’s primary season, it’s useful to remember that, unlike Donald Trump, Ted Cruz is against torture … by declaring that anything the government does to detainees isn’t torture by definition, and attacking the authors of the CIA torture report. If asked to comment on this revelation, I’m sure he will blame The Guardian for making us less safe.

  10. so-in-so says:

    The photograph should be the basis for all official portraits and portrayals of “Dick” Cheney. Of course, there should not be any, except on wanted posters, but lacking that, show the real man.

    • Murc says:

      All “photographs” of Richard Cheney are actually painstakingly crafted digital manipulations. When you try and take an actual photograph of him you just get this kind of black haze with a red glow in the center.

  11. Joe_JP says:

    I’m pretty liberal as things go in that department but that’s a pretty screwed up taste in pornography.

  12. cleek says:

    isn’t this old news?

    pictures of naked prisoners have been going around since the Abu Ghraib story broke.

    • Warren Terra says:

      Given that the narrative of Abu Ghraib was that the abuse was all a bunch of high-spirited hijinks by a bunch of West Virginia redneck National Guard privates and NCOs, that detainees were as a matter of policy photographed naked by their official interrogators would indeed be news.

      Mind you, the story about the abuse and especially the specific forms of abuse at Abu Ghraib being spontaneous and undirected never made a lot of sense; it seemed likely the Guardsmen and women were at the least aping torture they’d seen done by professionals. But it is the story that we’re usually told.

      • Murc says:

        I could absolutely buy that it was spontaneous and undirected, but the problem with that is that it isn’t like Abu Ghraib was staffed purely by enlisted men and some low-level NCOs. There were officers there, some of them high-ranking enough to, if not be brass, at least be brass-adjacent.

        Officers can be real shit-stupid, but they generally know precisely the sort of shenanigans their men are getting up to, especially in a controlled environment like a prison. If that stuff was happening, it was happening with their knowledge, consent, and possibly enthusiasm.

        It’s like when civilian prison wardens profess to be shocked, shocked! that their guards are pushing people down stairs or gang-raping them in secluded closets. They know damn well it’s happening. It’s just deniable.

        • BiloSagdiyev says:

          Officers can be real shit-stupid, but they generally know precisely the sort of shenanigans their men are getting up to, especially in a controlled environment like a prison. If that stuff was happening, it was happening with their knowledge, consent, and possibly enthusiasm.

          And that’s why they got promotions!

      • Hogan says:

        torture they’d seen done by professionals

        Too right you are
        .

  13. DrDick says:

    I am pretty sure Dick Cheney has a complete set in his porn atash.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.