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Hullabaloo


Saturday, December 08, 2007

 
Presidential Perks

by digby


I've written so much about torture these last few years that I almost feel sick every time I broach the subject. So sometimes I avoid it.(Perhaps that's what the pro-torture sadists among us hope will happen.)

But it just keeps coming back. And this latest news that they destroyed the torture tapes brings it right back to the torturer in chief himself.

Kevin Drum draws upon some of the books that have been written these past couple of years to examine what we know about the torture of Abu Zubaydah. He quotes Spencer Ackerman's review of James Risen's "State of War:"

After the 2002 capture of Abu Zubaydah, a bin Laden deputy, failed to yield much information due to his drowsiness from medical treatment, Bush allegedly told Tenet, "Who authorized putting him on pain medication?


Kevin goes on to describe the details of Abu Zubaydah's torture as related in Ron Susskind's "One Percent Doctrine." Kevin concludes:

So here's what the tapes would have shown: not just that we had brutally tortured an al-Qaeda operative, but that we had brutally tortured an al-Qaeda operative who was (a) unimportant and low-ranking, (b) mentally unstable, (c) had no useful information, and (d) eventually spewed out an endless series of worthless, fantastical "confessions" under duress. This was all prompted by the president of the United States, implemented by the director of the CIA, and the end result was thousands of wasted man hours by intelligence and and law enforcement personnel.


The political press prides itself on the way it explores "character," passing judgment on politicians through the lens of bourgeois Village sexual mores and social hierarchy. When it isn't outright character assassination (usually informed by clever Republican PR) it's almost always useless as a guide for adults to assess the fitness of candidates for office.

But there are times, when a candidates says something so revealing that the hair on the back of your neck stands up. This was one of those times:


While driving back from the speech later that day, Bush mentions Karla Faye Tucker, a double murderer who was executed in Texas last year. In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. 'Did you meet with any of them?' I ask.

Bush whips around and stares at me. 'No, I didn't meet with any of them,' he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. 'I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions, like 'What would you say to Governor Bush?' 'What was her answer?' I wonder.

'Please,' Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, 'don't kill me.'

I must look shocked -- ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel, even for someone as militantly anticrime as Bush -- because he immediately stops smirking.

'It's tough stuff,' Bush says, suddenly somber, 'but my job is to enforce the law.'



Why should anyone be surprised that that man would demand that a mentally ill prisoner with a broken leg be denied pain medication and tortured?

The idea that he didn't know about these torture session is ludicrous. It was one of the perks.



Update: And I would suggest that there is ample evidence that the Republican candidates for president this time, in different ways, have all shown a similar penchant for a nasty, simple-minded meanness or outright sadism. But the press is ignoring that once again in favor of predigested GOP spin which explores in detail such character revelations as Clinton's "brittleness" and Obama's "aloofness" and Edwards' "inauthenticity." Never mind the people who say they want to start deporting massive numbers of people because they are all diseased criminals or those who want to "double Gitmo." As far as the press is concerned, their biggest problem is figuring out which ones are the most Christian.


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