enhanced interrogation

A Quote: Steve on Dick

Former Vice President Dick Cheney (Getty Images, undated)

“It’s a curious argument: ‘We didn’t do anything wrong, but for the love of God, please don’t tell anyone what we did.'”

Steve Benen

In a separate post for msnbc, Steve Benen noted:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee’s chairwoman, summarized the four key findings of the report this way:

1. The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were not effective.

2. The CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the operation of the program and its effectiveness to policymakers and the public.

3. The CIA’s management of the program was inadequate and deeply flawed.

4. The CIA program was far more brutal than the CIA represented to policymakers and the American public.

As to Mr. Cheney, Benen writes:

Leading the charge, not surprisingly, is former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has not read the report, but is nevertheless comfortable dismissing it as “hooey.”

“What I keep hearing out there is they portray this as a rogue operation and the agency was way out of bounds and then they lied about it,” he said in a telephone interview. “I think that’s all a bunch of hooey. The program was authorized. The agency did not want to proceed without authorization, and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program.”

Referencing CIA officials responsible for executing the administration’s torture policies, Cheney told the New York Times, “They deserve a lot of praise. As far as I’m concerned, they ought to be decorated, not criticized.”

It should not require a lifetime attending politics to comprehend the differences between the two approaches.

One can certainly try arguing that the four points attributed to Feinstein are wrong, but Cheney’s argument is such that it doesn’t really matter; for God and country, anything is justified, and deserving of praise.

Sen. Feinstein, asked about the possibility that the Senate report will inspire violence around the world, responded, “I think the greatness of this country is that we can examine mistakes and remedy them, and that really is the hallmark of a great and just society.”

One wonders what Mr. Cheney is so afraid of.

____________________

Benen, Steve. “Cheney blasts torture report he hasn’t seen as ‘a bunch of hooey'”. msnbc. 9 December 2014.

—————. “Intel Committee releases report on Bush-era torture”. msnbc. 9 December 2014.

What It Comes To (Choke On It Mix)

Guantánamo Bay detention facility, undated.  (AFP/Getty)

Rule number … er … I don’t know, give it a number: Don’t fuck with the nurses!

The case of a Navy medical officer who refused to force-feed prisoners on a hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay prompted the country’s largest nursing organization on Wednesday to petition the Defense Department for leniency, citing professional ethical guidelines that support the officer’s decision.

The officer is a nurse and 18-year Navy veteran whose commander has called for an internal inquiry into the refusal, his lawyer said.

(Carey)

Okay, look, this is a problem. We have heard versions of it before, dealing with “enhanced interrogation”, but to what degree are war crimes really worth redefining the role of medical professionals in our society?

And that is the whole of the question; everything else is a matter of policy and procedure, but at the core is this fundamental question.

We are holding these prisoners for no good reason, in violation of our own principles and in dubious relationship with our own laws. To the one, they have every reason to try a hunger strike. To the other, if you’re going to force-feed them, do it your fucking selves.

Which is the other thing: We’re Americans, damn it! Get your heads out, close this atrocity of a prison, and stop trying to redefine our society for the purposes of fostering warfare.

This should not be our heritage and legacy, yet for some reason history defies American principle. Indeed, Guantánamo will become one of our shameful tales, like biological warfare and genocide in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It happens, we don’t like to talk or think or give any sort of consideration about it, so it happens again.

The military’s aggressive interrogation policy, at Guantánamo and elsewhere, has forced agonizing decisions on medical professionals. Psychologists have helped design the torturous techniques, which have included sleep deprivation and isolation; they have also monitored the interrogations. Medical doctors have advised on caring for the detainees. Details of these professionals’ roles have fueled debates within major medical associations; such debates have played a role in elections in at least one major group, the American Psychological Association.

One of the main issues is whether the medical associations should discipline members who have taken part in interrogations in any way, even as observers. The Navy case represents the flip side of the equation. It is the first known defiance of Guantánamo’s force-feeding procedure, and the nurses association is acting to defend, rather than to condemn, the medical officer’s actions.

But, seriously, do not screw with the nurses.

And, no, you don’t need a proverbial slippery slope to understand the problem; all you need is some comprehension of what medical professionals pledge their lives to, and a modicum of human decency.

____________________

Carey, Benedict. “Nurses Urge Leniency Over Refusal to Force-Feed at Guantánamo Bay”. The New York Times. 19 November 2014.