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This Week In Tyranny

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post


Searchable versions of the OPR report and related documents are available here. They are primary sources for items like this.


Andrew Sullivan on torture. I can’t tell you how much I admire his sustained focus on the issue.


Seeing as how we can’t properly manage our hired guns it makes sense that we should stop using them altogether. This seems to be especially true considering that barring perpetual service in a war zone they will eventually come back to the good ol’ US of A to live among us civilians with whatever awesome new equipment and social mores they’ve acquired. But obviously that directly conflicts with the project to outsource our wars entirely, which I suspect is and will continue to be a higher priority.


Our image in the Muslim world would probably improve if we stopped killing Muslims. The Editors:

you shouldn’t kill people who haven’t done anything to you, because it isn’t nice. It’s considered bad manners, under most circumstances, which is why, in our day-to-day lives, most of us go out of our way to avoid “collaterally damaging” those around us, to the point of almost never firing Hellfire missiles anywhere there is even a remote chance of incinerating a baby. If one does happen to kill, say, 27 people one Sunday evening, one can expect to have to answer some fairly pointed questions, at least. Now, we are at war, and the longer it lasts the more it consumes us, but perhaps we could at least retain some small connection to our fellow humans and acknowledge that this was a mistake made by someone in uniform, but this mistake was made possible by deliberate policy. It doesn’t have to be a big song and dance, just something like “today we killed so-and-so, which we didn’t mean to do, but we did risk killing innocent civilians with our actions, which we feel is justified because so-and-so. We think it is worth killing civilians for this reason.” Acknowledgement, owning responsibility, that’s all.
UPDATE: Spencer Ackerman on the same theme, different jubject:
I tend to feel that public diplomacy divorced from substantive policy decisions is transparent, condescending, credibility-destroying bullshit.


Speaking of The Editors, this is one of those issues where Republicans inadvertently make themselves useful (see this too (via)). Eric Holder seems to be trying to finesse his way through this long enough for attention to turn elsewhere.


Pat Leahy talked tough. Which does not inspire a whole lot of confidence. He did manage to swing into action on one issue though.


One of the links in the previous item is a 2007 story on the CIA torture tapes. That issue has not died down. As long as we don’t have clarity on war crimes issues like this will keep popping up. They won’t go away, and the sooner our leaders figure out there is no escaping history’s judgment on this the better.


Remember back to last April - less than a year ago - when conservative outlets were breathlessly reporting on the Department of Homeland Security’s warning about a rise in “rightwing extremist activity” that induced a spontaneous ragegasm on the right? Me neither.


Jennifer Hardy (née Koester) was part of the torture gang. Jennifer Koester. Commit to memory.


There’s a campaign to disbar the torture lawyers: “The Disbar Torture Lawyers campaign, which is part of a consortium that boasts over 120 transparency and watchdog groups, is now working to disbar Bybee and others complicit in advocating illegal interrogation methods.” I wish them great success.


Poland confirmed as black site location: “Warsaw air control service confirms that at least six CIA flights landed at disused military air base in northern Poland in 2003.”


Congressional Democrats are shameful cowards on terrorism. You know how one of conservatives’ big fears is that the left will run against George Bush for the next generation? One of mine is that Democrats in Congress will be in a state of suspended animation circa 2005 for the next generation:

Democratic leadership in the House was in disarray last night after having to withdraw the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act, moments before it was to have been voted upon, as the result of a controversial anti-torture provision.

The amendment was added in the House Rules Committee late on Wednesday and had not previously been vetted in committee. It would have criminalized the most extreme forms of “enhanced interrogation” and provided stiff sentences for intelligence officers or medical professions who engaged in them.

Republican opposition caused the Democrats to attempt to remove the provision from the bill on Thursday by a unanimous consent agreement. When the Republicans refused to go along, the Democratic leadership was forced to pull the bill entirely.


Yves Smith on the latest news from the financial sector:

The point of this exercise was to show that the Fed’s secrecy claim was bogus. The argument was that it needed to keep this information secret to protect Maiden Lane III’s positions from “traders” to maximize value. But if non-traders, with access to neither a Bloomberg data service or specialized databases that show CDO collateral, could put this much together from public information, clearly traders could go even further. Thus it was clear that it was the public, not the trading community, who was the real object of the secrecy campaign.
On a happier note, Massachusetts eyes a public option bank. As the state was a harbinger on health care, may it be one on financial reform.


Michael Isikoff’s article is worth a read if you haven’t seen it yet. The latest evidence on how the White House cooked the books on intelligence, in this case with torture. It’s really amazing to me that we can now report a former vice president lied in order to justify torture and it is greeted in DC with a sense of ennui. Nothing’s shocking.


DougJ:

There are a lot of people out there who believe that our sorry state of affairs is caused by Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and, if they’re really deluded, they’ll add “and on the left, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann”. I know plenty of people who say things like this.

The truth is, it’s more the fault of Charlie Rose and Tom Friedman and David Brooks. Glenn Beck didn’t get us into Iraq.


Let it not be said that wingnuts never get off a good funny.

That’s Jeb fucking Bush casting doubts on other people’s intelligence. I’m fully aware that he’s supposed to be the smart one of the elder Bush’s brood, but that’s something akin to claiming Larry is the dignified one of The Three Stooges in my book.
Of course, Bush skepticism didn’t bloom on the right until he was safely out of office and eligible for purging. A little bit of this from conservatives while W. was actually taking the wrecking ball to America would have been helpful, but that ain’t how they roll. The author comes out swinging in defense of the latest unassailable darling, and will continue to do so until she becomes politically unviable, at which point she will be erased from history - except for the infrequent occasions when she is held up to ridicule.


In sports news, the Canadian women’s hockey team celebrated their gold medal victory with cigars and booze on the ice, then had to apologize and now the International Olympic Committee is investigating. Unbelievable. I’m an American and don’t think it was the slightest bit disrespectful. It may have been a once in a lifetime achievement and they had every right to live it up. They weren’t doing it in front of the other team, talking trash or otherwise being disrespectful, they were just spending a little extra time basking in the afterglow. It takes a pretty ungenerous spirit to begrudge them that. You win, you celebrate; that’s how it works. As for the underage drinking, how about this for a rule of thumb: On days when you win an Olympic gold medal the drinking age is suspended.

And by the way, the pictures at the link are completely charming.


I WISH I COULD WRITE LIKE digby:

Little Randian Paulites almost always turn into Big Business Wingnuts once they start making a paycheck, at which point their concerns about “corporatism” tend to morph into concerns about government spending money on people who aren’t wonderful producers like they are.


BONUS I WISH I COULD WRITE LIKE Adam Serwer (via):

The Senate is holding a hearing today where several current and former Blackwater employees will be testifying, but honestly the only way Congress would stop giving Blackwater money is if it started registering black people to vote.

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