Monday, January 7, 2013

America, Fuck Yeah!!!: torture edition

Jose Rodriguez, formerly of the CIA, tries to come up with some bullshit justification for torture, saying that they just had to talk and the "techniques" would stop. That prompts Paul Waldman to ask people like Rodriguez to give a definition of torture that wouldn't include the "techniques" we used. And that prompts Kevin Drum to ask:

...if you think the CIA torture program was OK, presumably that means you wouldn't be outraged if the same techniques were used on U.S. soldiers in order to extract information from them. Right? It can't possibly be the case that it's OK for us to do this stuff, but not for anyone else, can it? Given that, the only sensible interpretation of Rodriguez's position is that the CIA program wasn't torture and therefore should be thought of as the new baseline for treatment of enemy combatants throughout the world.

Presumably Kevin is right. But that's not the way these people work. To them it is ok for the US to do this stuff while at the same time saying the rest of the world can't. The right, and it appears a significant portion of defense agencies/industry, has internalized this belief in American exceptionalism that means we can do what we want and dictate to everyone else what they can do.

I can easily see Republicans freaking out if one of our soldiers or a pretty white girl was subjected to the same torture techniques we applied to people. I could easily see most Democrats, including Obama, freaking out in a similar manner. In fact, just today, Obama announced he is nominating John Brennan for CIA director. This is a guy who, as Glenn Greenwald points out, has endorsed torture and lied about whether drone strikes have killed civilians.

The public either doesn't care or agrees with Obama and Republicans on these issues. Chris Hayes had polling on his show yesterday showing that pretty big majorities of both parties think we should keep Gitmo open and support Obama's drone policies. I'll chalk some of this up to people just not knowing what those policies really entail. But even if everyone knew I think it would only change their opinions slightly. That's because just like most politicians, the public has this America, Fuck Yeah!!! attitude in which we are always right and can do whatever we want and the rest of the world should act how we want them to.

This thinking is only exacerbated by Obama's refusal to prosecute anyone involved in torture and his continued horrible policies like drones, indefinite detention, warrantless spying, etc. If we actually prosecuted people who broke the law maybe people would start to realize that the law means something and just because you have power or are the most powerful country in the world doesn't mean you are above the law.

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