Friday, January 16, 2009

The Ticking Tom Bomb Again

This morning Renee Montagne begins a report on US torture with the following:
"We heard earlier that Eric Holder thinks waterboarding is torture, his view matters because Holder is Barack Obama's choice to be Attorney General. But waterboarding is just one of the techniques used by the CIA after 9/11 to extract information from suspected terrorists"
This is revealing. Seems NPR bases its moral (immoral) compass on whoever holds the reins of power. You might think a more stable point of reference would be something quaint like, say international and domestic laws on torture.

The rest of the feature is engineered by Tom Gjelten who is on to explain that - in spite of Pres. Elect Obama's campaign promises "against the use of anything like torture"- the real world is "not clear cut." Honest to God, Gjelten is always on overdrive to defend torture and degrading treatment by the CIA when it is in any way threatened. He cites outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden:
"'These techniques worked,' Hayden insisted yesterday in a meeting with reporters. 'I'm convinced,' he said, 'that the program got the maximum amount of information.'"
Gjelten closes his piece by speculating that
"Obama himself appears to be keeping his decision options open. He may be realizing that this issue, like others, is not clear-cut. John McLaughlin, a former deputy director of the CIA, says the debate over what interrogation methods should be used is abstract until the day the U.S. government finds itself holding a terrorist who really does know about an upcoming attack on the United States."
What do you know, we're back in the Dershowitz and Jack Bauer snuff-fantasy world of the ticking time bomb. It's significant that in this pro-torture piece, not only is no reference made to US obligations under law, but no description is ever given of of the sickening "enhanced" interrogation techniques, the historical record of US torture, and - of course - not a mention of the US/CIA's house of horrors record in Latin America. The reason is obvious: to detail the factual record would reveal that the real purpose of "harsh interrogation" has nothing to do with gathering intelligence. Its main purpose is to demonstrate the unrestrained and terrorizing power of the state and to let any and all resisters know that it is more than willing to violate the most intimate sanctity of the human body and psyche.


Buzztree said...

OK, but in one respect Gjelten is correct: Obama is "keeping his options open." I commend readers of this blog to Arthur Silber's outstanding and chilling essay on the subject today:

Anonymous said...

Gjelten is an ideological know-nothing and Hayden is more than a little nervous about his own skin.

A couple of real losers.

Here's what 27 year CIA veteran Ray McGovern says (won't him on NPR, that;'s for sure: too smart for Inskeep and all the other moron announcers)

What's CIA Director Hayden Hidin'?
by Ray McGovern
Hayden has loudly bragged about the crimes in which he was directly involved, and defended others, like what he has called "high-end" interrogation techniques – waterboarding, for example.

Could it be clearer? "Waterboarding is torture," said President-elect Obama last Sunday to George Stephanopoulos. Torture is a crime. Obama added, twice, that no one is "above the law," although also citing his "belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward."

Despite the President-elect's equivocations, it seems that President Bush and the current CIA director may have a problem. And apparently Hayden's palms are sweaty enough to warrant, in his view, a thinly veiled threat."

//end McGovern quote

Anonymous said...

Treaties like the Geneva Convention to which the US is a signatory make it clear that torture violates the laws of war.

The US Constitution make it clear that torture violates the laws of peace in this country, at least.

The arguments of Derschowitz and others allowed for "torture wiggle room" where there has been ZERO wiggle room in the past.

Derschowitz is a very good debater and writer, which means that he is very convincing to a large fraction of the populace. They accept what he has to say (eg, about ticking time bombs and "judicial oversight" of torture) simply because it sounds reasonable. They never ask about the ramifications of opening up the can of torture worms or even specific questions like "Who decides whether there indeed IS a ticking bomb"?