Reasonable Evil

by digby

Media Bloodhound caught an excellent exchange between Mark Danner, Anderson Cooper and David Gergen on CNN. In a most unusual fashion, Danner and Cooper both take on Gergen with the facts about America's torture regime, which most of the media persists in saying was confined to a couple 'o really bad actors who deserved what they got. Here's a little piece of it:

GERGEN: At the same time, he [President Obama] made a very, very calibrated decision; we're not going to prosecute those people in the CIA who undertook this. And I think he showed some respect for the argument that Mr. Hayden and Mr. Mukasey made today in The Wall Street Journal.

That, in fact, there may have been some benefit to the United States from these interrogation techniques. And very importantly, when we sort of take this broad brush and sort of paint this as sort of villainous, that, in fact, the number of people who were interrogated with these harsh and, I think, torturous techniques was fairly limited.

It was of the thousands of people who were captured it was about some 30 or 35 whom these techniques were used. And they make the argument -- and I don't know why we should question them -- that about half of what we know about Al Qaeda came out of those interrogation techniques...

GERGEN: And I also think, Anderson, there's a temptation here to sort of lump Abu Ghraib, which was clear violations of the rules by a lot of other people with these more limited CIA techniques.

I just think that the conversations in this area have gotten so broad brush that it sort of paints a sort of villainous picture of the agency which I don't think -- I don't think is really fair to a lot of the people who were trying very hard, as Mark Danner himself said, to figure out what was legal in these very, very difficult circumstances.

As Danner jumped on this, Cooper, once again to his credit, didn't impede the flow of information with contrived balance nor did he bail out Gergen, his longtime CNN colleague. Rather, Cooper facilitated and contextualized Danner's response, closing the discussion by disproving Gergen's assertions with just the facts. read on

Danner and Cooper both pointed out that many of these techniques were used at Bagram and Guantanamo as well as Abu Ghraib and there were as many as 35 cases investigated as homicides! (Imagine how many there were that weren't investigated.) Danner rightly said that the torture of these so-called high value interrogations was even worse because it was explicitly authorized in great detail by the leadership in Washington. Gergen, being the good company man that he is, says he has no reason to doubt the Bush administration officials' good intentions or the eficacy of the torture. After all, it's not like they've ever lied before. Who are we to suspect they are now working overtime to keep from going down in history as modern Torquemadas.

I think what really makes me makes me reel about this exchange is that David Gergen, the villager who always represents the "reasonable middle" is basically endorsing torture --- if you just do it a little bit and if it "works." No word on whether you can put someone's eye out if it "works" or if you can rape their wife in front of them if it "works." Apparently, if you don't go overboard and do it too often, it's any means to an end in Gergen's world.

I hate to tell Mr Lukewarm Bucket of Spit, but torture is NOT a subject upon which "reasonable" people can disagree. If you endorse it you are endorsing evil. Period. It looks like Gergen will be joining his pal Joe Lieberman, the erstwhile "conscience of the Senate," in hell.

Update: These guys will be in the 9th circle --- fending off insects in small cramped boxed for eternity.