Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Republicans Revive ‘Torture Is GOOD’ Debate After Prez Eliminates Bin Laden

Maybe they’ve been secretly watching too much Chris Matthews with his love for the movies. In a recent pean to President Obama, Chris conflated Hollywood “cowboy hero” Gary Cooper with reality by saying, we Americans are “men of few words.”

Um Chris … I hate to break it to you, but Cooper was an actor reading off a Hollywood script in his heroic cowboy roles. You also featured Cooper as the fanatical “hero” of Ayn Rand’s warped imagination delivering her 60-page manifesto from the courtroom dock. Even allowing for movie editing, in this role Cooper could hardly be called a man of “few words.” But he was a hell of an actor. Only Gary Cooper could turn a fanatical objectivist and rapist into a borderline sympathetic figure.

But this is reality. That was Hollywood fiction.

Chris said we’re pretty much the same that we were as kids. He’s obviously living his fifth or sixth childhood, so he can be excused occasionally confusing Hollywood fiction for reality. But not the Bush waterboarding torture principals and their Republican allies in Congress. They actually invoked plot lines from the hit TV series ‘24’ to justify support for the use of torture against accused terrorist detainees. One GOP Senator was fond of saying we needed a Jack Bauer to take on Al-Q, and the show’s fictional scenarios were often mentioned by Republicans in national security hearings.

Jack Bauer, the hero of ‘24’, foils all sorts of terrible terrorist plots involving nuclear weapons, assassinations, etc. wihin a 24-hour time frame (not counting commercials) in which Bauer regularly uses torture, in utter disregard for our Constitution and laws, to extract critical time-sensitive information from the bad guys. Aside from Bauer’s miraculous recuperative powers, the show is fast-paced, action-packed entertainment.

One can only imagine how much President Obama has gotten the GOP ‘24’ fans’ goat. While they were wallowing in their TV-land fantasies of eliminating the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, the President actually did it. All in the space of 40 minutes! Since we cannot ever know the true identities of the elite Navy SEALS heroes who carried out the surgical operation, we might as well nickname their dashing commander … JACK BAUER.

I can see it now: When the movie/TV version of this operation is done, we cut to the actor Kiefer Sutherland playing Jack Bauer as he comes face-to-face with Osama Bin Laden. There is a flash of recognition and fear in Bin Laden’s eyes, and before he can say ‘God is great’ Bauer snarls, “DIE. MASS-MURDERING MONSTER.” Two shots ring out, and it’s over.

Cut to next scene, a split-screen. We hear the whop-whop sound of the helo blades in the background. As the SEALS carry the remains of the terrorist to the chopper, Bauer comes onscreen and speaks the clipped coded message into his transmitter: “GERONIMO. EKIA.” On the other split screen we see a closeup of President Obama, played by Denzel Washington, holding a phone to his ear. He purses his lips in that familiar look of presidential determination, turns to his assembled national security team and says, “We got him.”

The million-dollar “mansion” in which Osama Bin Laden resided with his family was completed in 2005. Rachel noted on her show that the CIA unit specifically tasked with hunting Bin Laden down was disbanded in 2005. Coincidence? President Bush, who allowed Bin Laden to slip away in Tora Bora, then invaded Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, said he didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about finding Bin Laden:

Now the Republicans are once again attempting to rewrite history. Karl Rove, whose Derby pick is undoubtedly the horse named Pants On Fire, intoned from his Fox ‘News’ perch that President Bush’s “successor” reaped the benefits of their waterboarding torture practices. But the truth, of course, is different. The New York Times reports:
Glenn L. Carle, a retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002, said in a phone interview Tuesday, that coercive techniques “didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information.” He said that while some of his colleagues defended the measures, “everyone was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.” …. “The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003,” said Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council. “It took years of collection and analysis from many different sources to develop the case that enabled us to identify this compound, and reach a judgment that Bin Laden was likely to be living there.”
According to this report in the British newspaper Daily Mail:
The former head of MI5, Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, said that U.S intelligence agencies deliberately concealed their mistreatment of terror suspects. She said she had only learnt that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been waterboarded — a total of 160 times — after retiring from the Security Service in 2007. Ex-MI5 head Lady Manningham-Buller said members of Bush's team may have been inspired by on-screen excess in the TV series '24', starring Kiefer Sutherland.

In her speech to the Mile End Group at the House of Lords, Lady Manningham-Buller also joked that members of U.S. President George W. Bush's administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, may have been inspired by on-screen excess. “One of the sad things is Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush all watched ‘24’,” Lady Manningham-Buller said, referring to the popular TV show about a counter-terrorist agent, starring Kiefer Sutherland. (Italics mine.)
Rove was defensive. He said this was “laughable,” claimed President Bush rarely watched TV apart from sports, and (interestingly, in shifting responsibility from his Master to Dick Cheney) said Cheney, while a fan of ‘24’ “is fully capable of distinguishing between fact and fiction.” Then he lied by doubling down on rejecting the internationally recognized convention (note whose John Hancock is attached) against the use of torture:
“I'm proud of using waterboarding to break terrorists. (These techniques) are appropriate, they are in conformity with our international requirements and with U.S. law.”
In reviving the torture “debate” to try and salvage some political upside and steal the spotlight and credit from our Democratic President for killing Bin Laden, Republicans are regurgitated two straw men arguments:
(1) The false claim that the multiple waterboarding of KSM somehow led us to OBL seven years later. Not only is this untrue, according to independent accounts, but it’s another way of saying it took their hero Jack Bauer 2,555 (7 x 365 24-hour days) episodes of ‘24’ to find the master terrorist; seven years to eliminate a clear and present danger to U.S. national security. At this rate of competence the spectral “mushroom cloud” Bush raised back in 2003 to spook Americans into supporting his invasion of Iraq would have long since exploded while Jack Bauer was testing and retesting his “jumper cables.” Which leads us to their favorite ‘24’ argument.
(2) This one came from leading Islamophobe Rep. Peter King of New York, who asked stupidly, “Wouldn’t we have tortured Mohammad Atta on September 10 to save 3,000 lives?” First, that’s a ridiculous question/premise once we consider our Intelligence services' catastrophic failure to detect the 9/11 terror attacks, despite a number of warnings. Had Atta been in U.S. custody on September 10, that by itself implies knowledge of the attack, and a whole series of logical preemptive measures undertaken, including the grounding of all commercial aircraft before the attack. Secondly, a guy like Atta who was prepared to die and take thousands with him wasn’t the type to break under torture. He’d provide false information and hold out for 24 hours. Maybe he'd crack under Jack Bauer's “interrogation techniques”— except that Bauer is a fictitious TV character.
Hello ... Republicans, wingnuts ... Anybody home?

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