Aftermath: The Torture Apologist tour and other Un-pleasantries

I talked to Bostonboomer last night about the time John King–sober this time–was on the air. Piers Morgan is a cup of tea that I don’t want to know exists, but I did go back to look for a pattern during the Anderson Cooper show.  I even checked out Fox News a bit.  There it was.  The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld torture policy apologist tour.  It was inevitable that a few Bushies would show up to offer the ‘balance’ to the Osama story. I’m not sure if Dubya wants to be able to visit the South of France without fear of being arrested for crimes against humanity or it’s just a bunch of guilty consciences trying to find equilibrium, I just see the meme and it’s appalling.

The Bushies have jumped on the Bin Laden courier narrative as a way to justify their treatment of Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed and other detainees from the War on Terror. I must’ve not been the only one that saw this unfolding because today’s RealClearPolitics has a pretty good set of videos up with both the meme mongers–like NY’s Congressional Ninny Peter King— and the ones that say this isn’t so.  I’d say John Brennan’s word on the matter is a pretty authoritative one.  SOS Clinton speaks on this too. Brennan was on Morning Joe this morning try to  kill the meme among other things.

Here’s a taste from TPM on what I sensed during last night’s news cycle.

Like so many memes that persist in politics, this one started on the Internet. The morning after President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan, conservatives started crowing that credit should be given to President George W. Bush — specifically, for having the foresight and courage to torture the people who provided the initial scraps of intel that ultimately led the CIA to a giant compound just north of Islamabad.

The most prominent of these conservatives was Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who took to Twitter to ask sardonically, “Wonder what President Obama thinks of water boarding now?

About two hours later, the Associated Press published a brief story claiming that the CIA obtained the initial intelligence it needed to find bin Laden from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — the so-called mastermind of 9/11 — and his successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi at CIA black sites in Poland and Romania.

Those secret prisons, which the Obama administration contends to have abandoned, were the facilities where Mohammed and al-Libi were waterboarded. There, the detainees supposedly identified by nom de guerre a courier who would years later be located by American intelligence officials, and lead them to bin Laden’s compound.

“The news is sure to reignite debate over whether the now-closed interrogation and detention program was successful,” the AP wrote. “Former president George W. Bush authorized the CIA to use the harshest interrogation tactics in U.S. history. President Barack Obama closed the prison system.”

There’s just one problem. The key bit of intel wasn’t acquired via torture, according to a more fleshed out version of the same report.

The morning after the day after the ghoulish Booyah Death celebrations just reminds me that there are parts of being an American that really dismay me because there are things about American Society that are just over the top.  It’s our inability to separate our modern reality from spaghetti westerns and other Hollywood genres.  This entire thing is unfolding like a series of badly written, thinly plotted Hollywood movies.  Don’t even get me started on the actors.

I’d like to think that we could take this time to reflect on the last ten years of blowback rather than join a mosh pit of grave dancers.  We now have trillions of dollars sunk in two seemingly endless wars.  Many Americans and others have died as a result.  This adds to the already too high death toll of the Cole and the World Trade Centers.  We got a second Bush term because of all this.   We have made flying commercial airlines a complete exercise in fascist humiliation right down to bullies in uniform doing unspeakable things to the elderly and young.  Bin Laden’s death gives us reason to recheck our reactions and values, not create a set of worse ones.

First, before we go any further down Conspiracy Lane, the President will release the graphic photos of the dead Osama Bin Laden.   I suppose that my hope is that we don’t see this abused to the point that it puts people serving in countries with religionists that are offended by this sort of thing in danger.  This will probably set off a series of extremist sites debunking the photo but if this puts some people’s minds at rest, so be it. Maybe Donald Trump will get another poll boost by calling for more evidence than is rationally necessary.  Part of the problem with the photos release seems to be that Bin Laden’s skull was blown apart which makes this a particularly gruesome set of photos. They’re not sure what reaction folks will have to it.

I suppose it’s got to be released eventually, but count me lucky that I’m going to be sitting in my house for awhile and not traveling about or serving anywhere dangerous.  This is not me being an Obama apologist either, this is me being a realist.  Pope Dark Ages just canonized a barely dead pope who supposedly did miracles.  We’ve seen martyr’s funerals turn into all kinds of unpleasant things recently. We can’t even get a bunch of nuts from Kansas to stop harassing people at funerals and one nut in particular to quit grandstanding by burning Qurans.  Rational behavior is not exactly a hallmark of religion. We’ve seen the nuttiness from humanity BC forward.  It’s not going to stop, unfortunately.

A second question will come from the Wag-the-Dog plot.  Will the poll bounce that Obama has gotten from this be enough to get people’s minds away from the myriad of problems that are not solved?   Again, I think that depends on the size of those lesser,  shallow spaghetti western angels that comprise our society.   Torture, wars, Gitmo, and the TSA can only bring on so much false sense of security.  I think we’ve learned some of that over the past decade.  Hopefully, I’m not just being optimistic.  Most of us know that  Osama Bin Laden’s death will not get us out of Afghanistan and Iraq any quicker.  It will not solve our unemployment problem and it’s not going to stop the finance sector from draining every penny it can out of businesses and households.  It certainly is not going to solve our problem with Pakistan or hopefully, define our policy on the nations undergoing the Arab Spring.

You can gleefully dance on a watery grave for only so long before you have to go back to chopping wood, carrying water, and cooking dinner.  Eventually, you have to come back from the adrenaline rush and face the problems that are not dead.   Osama Bin Laden has been one very small problem recently. It’s nice he’s out of the way, still …

The Corps of Engineers is blowing up a levee on the Mississippi River as we speak. It will flood parts of Missouri.   You remember those guys, they are the ones that brought us the Katrina aftermath.  Canada just had an election with some astounding results.  The UK is considering completely changing the way they vote and achieve majorities.  They’re not getting a consensus on governance any more than we’ve been able to find bi-partisanship.  What does this mean for democracy?   Their parliamentary system is at the root of as many governments as our republic. Governments are being overthrown in a part of the world where we get most of our oil.  When will that impact Saudi Arabia?  Is Japan’s nuclear reactor any closer to safe?   Are you eating Gulf seafood yet?  Does it bother you that two ecosystems have been utterly destroyed by the energy industry with a year?  What have we learned about these things over the last two days?

Unfortunately, the public forum to work out all these issues is going to be our very corporate, very broken media and the nether reaches of the internet where hopefully some less-captured voices prevail.  I think we all have the duty to get beyond the hooplah and search out the facts because these things have a tendency to shape policy as well as conversations.  I’m concerned that our two second attention span–which fixates on personalities and symbolic events–will take our eyes away from the real deal.  Does it matter if Bin Laden is dead or alive?  What problem does that really solve?

55 Comments on “Aftermath: The Torture Apologist tour and other Un-pleasantries”

  1. Moko Jono says:

    Excellent. While we have all been through quite a lot together these past few years, it is a proud moment for me to know there are people like myself that I can rely on for words of reason and outrage, in an unreasonable and outrageous world. As many of us are quoting these last two days, and will continue to for a time going forward:

    ” I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

    – Martin Luther King, Jr.


    To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, ” Our country, right or wrong,” and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation.
    Mark Twain – “Glances at History,” 1906

    and my own I will add as well… paraphrasing some, adding some:

    Might Will NEVER make right, and fighting evil, by becoming evil, is how you lose your soul. So…was your heart ever there? What is there to be proud of, with hundreds of thousands displaced, destroyed, murdered? These were people who did us no harm, and could never harm us, and we joined the Coliseum, and we turned out thumbs down on them. Children. The Aged. The infirm. The Brown skin made it easy. Shame on us all.

  2. janicen says:

    I’ve been annoyed with the fact that the people who are using this as a justification for torture have gone unchallenged. Just because a shred of information which lead to the location of OBL was obtained by torturing someone, does not mean that’s the only way we could have obtained the info. One can successfully get a loaf of bread by stealing it, but there are other ways that are more in keeping with our morals.

    • dakinikat says:

      One of the things that really bothered me about Obama dropping the torture thing is that we needed to re-assert our commitment to the Geneva convention by airing everything. I think that this says we really didn’t solve anything by ignoring it.

  3. seagirl says:

    Hi Dakinikat,

    I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog and have learned a lot from your posts on the economy and highly appreciate your insights. I think there is a typographical error in your last statement though as you must have meant to refer to “Osama”.

  4. Peggy Sue says:

    I hear you, Dak. I was disgusted to see Dick Cheney being interviewed last night, spinning the old myth–see, torture [excuse me, enhanced interrogation] works. Particularly, since we now know from other sources that the name of the courier our special ops people tracked down wasn’t given up until 4 years after the waterboarding stopped, and the name came not from Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed but lesser valued detainees.

    When will these people stop lying and spinning the propaganda??? If we cannot, at the very least, condemn torture as completely unAmerican, shredding every ideal we presumably hold dear then I think we’re doomed.

    We indicted the Japanese for war crimes during WWII, and waterboarding was on the list. We understood then that Japanese tactics towards POW’s were inhumane and indecent. They still are.

    Somewhere along the line, our leadership forgot what was known before: You cannot fight evil by becoming evil.

    We only destroy ourselves with these lame excuses and apologies. Cheney, King and the rest of them should be ashamed of themselves. They make a mockery of our dead and fallen.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Excellent post, Dak. I loved this article by Mona Eltahawy in the Guardian.

    • dakinikat says:

      thx, Eltahawy’s piece is great. Why do people insist on thinks being so black and white? Why don’t they see the connections and the subtleties? Good thing she points them out.

    • Moko Jono says:

      excellent piece, I am a big fan of Mona Eltahaway, and she certainly articulates thoughts not only of many Arab Americans, many of them who happen to be Christians, but also many of us who are outraged at the celebration of a single death, and yet, not a thought in the world for the tens and hundreds of thousands, slaughtered in the named of 3 thousand.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Robert Fisk on why bin Laden couldn’t be allowed to stand trial.

    Of course, there is one more obvious question unanswered: couldn’t they have captured Bin Laden? Didn’t the CIA or the Navy Seals or the US Special Forces or whatever American outfit killed him have the means to throw a net over the tiger? “Justice,” Barack Obama called his death. In the old days, of course, “justice” meant due process, a court, a hearing, a defence, a trial. Like the sons of Saddam, Bin Laden was gunned down. Sure, he never wanted to be taken alive – and there were buckets of blood in the room in which he died.

    But a court would have worried more people than Bin Laden. After all, he might have talked about his contacts with the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, or about his cosy meetings in Islamabad with Prince Turki, Saudi Arabia’s head of intelligence. Just as Saddam – who was tried for the murder of a mere 153 people rather than thousands of gassed Kurds – was hanged before he had the chance to tell us about the gas components that came from America, his friendship with Donald Rumsfeld, the US military assistance he received when he invaded Iran in 1980.

  7. mjames says:

    Well, I for one am certainly being tortured by all of this. What crap. It’s election time, that’s what this is all about. Lookie here, the Dems can be just as murderous as the Repubs. Whoopee!

    Why in hell is anyone taking credit for catching OBL 10 years after the fact? Credit? Appalling ineptness or intentional avoidance are more realistic explanations. In Pakistan? Say what? Then what the hell are we doing in Afghanistan and Iraq? Chasing rainbows? What incompetent, lying bastards.

    Obama used the OBL card precisely when he had to. (Though, ultimately, it won’t mean a whit as Goldman Sachs continues to cause gas prices to skyrocket and nobody can afford to do anything, much less drive.)

    As for Cheney, let’s waterboard him. Seriously. He should happily volunteer actually, since he says it works. Let’s get him to admit he has no heart. Ha ha ha. Maybe the autopsy will prove him right. Ha ha ha. Or, for some grand waterboarding fun, let’s get him to admit he likes to dress up in his wife’s clothes and really likes being spanked. Then, when he tries to deny it, well, we have his word that waterboarding works.

    Remember, during all this diversion, our wunderkind Obama appointed Petraeus to head the CIA – that little fact is conveniently lost in all the tumultuous (and pre-planned and coordinated, I’m sure) celebrations that some dude who supposedly masterminded 911 got his head blown off.

    Go, Amerika! Rah rah. This is absolute torture. More contrived Dem-Repub infighting, as if they aren’t all on the same side. Is it too early for a shot of Vodka?

    Also, why did they dispose of the body again? Can someone fill me in on that? I’m supposed to be satisfied with less than the body? What really happened?

  8. TheRock says:

    COMPLETELY OFF TOPIC (didn’t know where else to post this) –

    Just got this letter from Donna Brazille…

    TheRock —

    As you may have heard, President Obama has nominated Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to be the next chair of the Democratic Party.

    Debbie is going to be a great champion for our party and our President. For more than 20 years, she has stood out as a proven leader, doing all she can to protect Medicare for America’s seniors and create good jobs for Florida’s workers.

    And guided by her experiences battling cancer, teaching at Broward Community College, and raising three young children, she understands the struggles Americans of every background confront each and every day.

    Now that she’s bringing that energy to Democratic headquarters, she wants to hear from you. The next election will be unlike any we’ve ever known before, and in order to win, we’ll need new and creative approaches. So we’re putting together ideas for her about our plans for the future — and we want to include yours.

    Please share your suggestions with our next chair.

    There’s no denying it: We Democrats have our work cut out for us. Over the next year and a half, we need to re-elect the President, take back the House, and continue to fight for policies that help Americans in their daily lives.

    President Obama is right — Debbie is the right leader for these challenges. She has the sharp mind we need in a chair — and more importantly, she recognizes good ideas when she sees them.

    What issues do you think this party needs to tackle? What will it take for us to win new majorities in Congress? What do we need to do to give President Obama a second term? How can we make an impact in your state?

    Take a minute to send us your suggestions now so our new chair can read them on her first day:



    Donna Brazile
    Interim Chair
    Democratic National Committee

    • TheRock says:

      My response (the actually amount is $300. Bad economy)-

      I am a Democrat that was kicked out of the party because I was unimpressed by the Obama ’08 campaign. He has been a disappointment to the party as well as the country. His only real achievement from his campaign has been the death of Bin Laden. That is not enough to go forward with. Uncommonly high unemployment, gas prices that can be controlled by controlling energy speculators (which he is not), a lack of transparency in government, ongoing wars in two countries we should not be in, a health insurance bill that does not include the public option, a stimulus package that did not stimulate, continued tax cuts for the upper 5% of earners in this country, a diminished standing worldwide, an announcement by the IMF that by 2016 we will not be the world’s largest economy, and a host of other promises that were broken are the reasons I will not support this president going forward.

      Since the DNC deemed that the best democrat for the highest office did not merit party support, then the only possible way that the DNC will get my money, time, effort, and energy will be for a TRUE democrat to make a primary challenge. And so that the DNC doesn’t fall into the trap of the fake ‘racist’ claims that come as a result of disagreeing with the president, that candidate must be a minority.

      If I see that, then I will take the money I have set aside for the pursuit of my political leanings (by 2012 it will be about $30,000 designated for local and national campaigns, and PACS), my energy, and my intelligence, and put it towards the DNC. If not, then consider me a registered independent with a soft spot for the GOP.


      • pdgrey says:

        I can’t think of any “spot in the GOP” that would not make it worse. The democrats are scared, the republicans are trying to starve us to death. I’m ready to vote for Alger Hiss, Ha. But the one thing I do know, if you are a woman and can’t see what the GOP thinks of our equality, your eyes are closed way to shut.

      • TheRock says:

        That part was to open the DNC’s eyes. I’m writing in Hillary whether she runs or not…

        Hillary 2012

      • TheRock says:

        And I’m not a woman. I’m a black man….

      • pdgrey says:

        I really get the “open their eyes” thing, Rock. I personally could not do it. I wasn’t attacking you.

      • WomanVoter says:


        And a pretty one too 😉 ! See the benefits of being a granny are you can say that and smile.

      • TheRock says:


        YOU can say that anytime you want! And if you aren’t smiling when you say it, I’ll do my best to make you smile afterwards!! 😀

      • TheRock says:


        I didn’t think you were. What is happening in this country is making everybody hyper-sensitive. My hope is that 2012 will give us new leadership. Real leadership.

        Hillary 2012

      • WomanVoter says:


        I forgot, you are a ‘naughty’ one. 😆 Off to dinner, thanks for the laugh.

  9. pdgrey says:

    I have been quite in a corner watching , again what the msm does. I also saw the “bush war team come out from under the rock” last night and the media including AC, It made me sick. Here is what I wished was done and said. And knowing this country is so far beyond having true justice and never again will their be a “true trial” of honor. Just look at the Supreme Court. At first I thought Osama should be on trial, then I realized it couldn’t, and won’t happen in this country (thank you media). But just to be clear, the democrats helped this course, by not stopping the injustice done before. I have nothing less than disgust for the lies to the American people. I wish Robert Jackson was here today.

  10. fiscalliberal says:

    Great Post Dak – I would add the following to your list of things to ponder

    Just think our wars are being promoted by people who do not want to pay for them. We are reticent to have photo’ of dead soldier’s being returned to Delaware. We are unwilling to show the photo of Bin Laden.

    In short the country is not being told the negatives of war.

    What is different from Vietnam? I think the absence of a draft is a big factor.

    1% if the population is conducting the war, and the congress is unwilling to send the bill to the population.

    All of this is unsustainable. Now the OBL excuse is no longer there. So – how long will it take for us to get out of the middle east.

    • mjames says:

      “So – how long will it take for us to get out of the middle east.”

      Is that a rhetorical question? I’m assuming it is. Cuz we ain’t never getting out of there. As Karen Carpenter (I think) sang, “We’ve only just begun.”

      • fiscalliberal says:

        We will get out when our economy collapses. The Military Indutrial Complex and the Financial indusstry, own congresss and we can not get our Democracy to deal with the real issuess.

    • bostonboomer says:

      A lot more American deaths in Vietnam too.

  11. fiscalliberal says:

    A friend of mine asked me about the Trump candidacy. I do not see him being a viable candidate.

    However given the issues described in this post, Trump could serve as a non of the above candidate. Obama discounted 1/2 of my Michigan Primary vote. He has not been a credible leader.

    I will vote in the election, maybe it will be a protest vote. It will not be for Obama.

    • dakinikat says:

      I couldn’t vote for Trump under any circumstances. Same with all the Republicans. I’m actually contemplating sitting this one out. I can’t see the point of voting any more.

  12. Linda C says:

    If the Bushies are wanting to take the credit now, then why did all of their torture fail to get Bin Laden when they were in office. To say that the torture committed 6 -8 years ago was able to pinpoint Bin Laden in the middle of Pakistan is simply outrageous. While we are at it, let’s give LBJ credit for what Reagan did since their convoluted logic seems to work that way.

  13. bostonboomer says:

    Condoleeza Rice says that Bush’s bullhorn speech at ground zero was maybe the most important moment in American history.

    LOL She must still have a crush on Dubya.

  14. bostonboomer says:

    From Twitter:

    Order the bin Laden Cocktail – two shots and splash of water……. Sorry, just had to share that one. #OBL

  15. Seriously says:

    Amazing post. It was clear from the second they reported that Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed was the source of the intell what the prevailing narrative would be. The fact that that doesn’t actually appear to be true means nothing, there’s no profit in correcting convenient disinformation. I really question their motives for releasing the photos. They’re not going to change anyone’s mind, and is there really this huge groundswell of people who don’t believe that he’s dead? They may question the exact circumstances, but overall they seem to believe he’s dead all right. It just
    seems like one more attempt to gin up a controversy where there isn’t any, as a distraction and for political gain. Transporting bin laden’s body or bringing it back to the US would probably have been A Very Bad, Very Stupid Move. I’ll give them credit for not going there, but IMO releasing horrible photos accomplishes nothing except reenforce the worst images of cowboy diplomacy, how we mistreated the Gitmo prisoners, our contempt for the Geneva Conventions, etc. It just feels really unnecessary.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I think he should have been taken alive, and since he wasn’t armed, why couldn’t they do that?

      But since they killed him, I think they should have brought the body back to be examined by independent forensic experts.

      Throwing him in the ocean makes no sense whatsoever and just stokes conspiracy theories.

      Suddenly after torturing and murdering muslims for ten years in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc., our government is worried about following Islamic burial rules? Sorry, I don’t buy it.

      • dakinikat says:

        Shooting an unarmed man isn’t very sporting is it? Nic Robertson is over there for CNN. He’s a good reporter. He’ll ferret stuff out.

      • Seriously says:

        I doubt it was concern with Islamic burial rules so much as, I don’t know, it just seems like dragging the body around would create a massive target. And bringing it back to the US, god knows what could have happened, especially if certain elements prevailed and it was treated as a trophy or something. I totally get not taking it on faith and wanting forensic testing done, but I can also see the whole thing devolving into a nightmarish circus atmosphere, complete with a massive security crackdown.

        • dakinikat says:

          Rumsfeld is changing his story now … check this out.

          First, Rumsfeld said it didn’t go into the information. He said it was normal treatment, not harsh treatment and NOT waterboarding in his first interview with NewsMax.

      • Branjor says:

        Shooting an unarmed man isn’t very sporting is it?

        Neither is masterminding a plot to crash jet planes into skyscrapers filled with innocent people.
        That said, I would like to have seen him taken alive and put on trial. I initially imagined he would be tried in NYC like the ones who did the 1993 WTC bombing. It would involve a lot of expense and extra security, but at least the people could have seen justice done via due process.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Neither is masterminding a plot to crash jet planes into skyscrapers filled with innocent people.

        There was a time when Americans saw value in holding to our principles rather than imitating those of our enemies.

        But then perhaps our government wasn’t sure of being able to prove their case against bin Laden. Maybe a dead boogieman was better for their purposes that living by the rule of law.

      • Branjor says:

        The word “sporting” rubs me the wrong way. It’s not a game.

        • dakinikat says:

          It’s a British colliquialism. I used it sarcastically. I think we should be held to a higher standard that includes justice and fairplay. Not just unadulterated vengeance. Then you don’t have to use a measuring tape for size of monsters.

  16. paper doll says:

    Maybe a dead boogieman was better for their purposes that living by the rule of law.

    That certainly is the trend from the government generally. Rule of law is a joke to them …they don’t want to bother gathering evidence ( which is why I’m not too worried about their wall to wall computer snooping. A: they don’t bother with evidence and B: if they did, and they wanted your ass, they’ would just make something up. See, as always, end of Empire laziness plays a huge part here )

    Another reason for getting rid of even show trials is you never know what a jury might say , but mostly you might be asked about your part in the crimes oops!….soooo much better to cut trials out of the loop altogether …cost cutting too! /snark.

  17. paper doll says:

    A great post and a hugly important one. I thank you for it . But I would call them torture advocatesThere’s little apology there. And of coure the media just nods sagely as this swill is tossed