Only Question Remaining About Torture: Why Would Anyone Defend It?

The recent Washington Post article reporting some of the details of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the use of torture by the CIA tells us more of what we already have known for a long time: it never worked to produce any good intelligence in the War on Terror.

“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one U.S. official briefed on the report. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”…

“The CIA conflated what was gotten when, which led them to misrepresent the effectiveness of the program,” said a second U.S. official who has reviewed the report. The official described the persistence of such misstatements as among “the most damaging” of the committee’s conclusions.

The lies by the CIA to protect the program of torturing suspects was clearly consistent.  Much like the use of imaginary heroics to boost support for the war effort by the Bush administration (see their manipulation of the Jessica Lynch story), the CIA also propagandized their efforts to keep things moving in the wrong direction on torture tactics:

Detainees’ credentials also were exaggerated, officials said. Agency officials described Abu Zubaida as a senior al-Qaeda operative — and, therefore, someone who warranted coercive techniques — although experts later determined that he was essentially a facilitator who helped guide recruits to al-Qaeda training camps.

But the question remains: why would anyone, such as torture advocate and former CIA official Jose Rodriguez, continue to claim the program worked and, in essence, should be kept as a possible tactic to use in the future?

It’s clear that part of the reason is that some of these folks want to believe that their work and efforts were useful and made an impact on the intelligence effort.  No one wants to hear that their years of hard work, no matter how despicable, was useless or, even worse, counterproductive to the overall goal of minimizing terrorism.

There could, however, be another rather dubious reason: staying away from any possible penalty for their actions.  As the article points out very briefly:

The report also does not recommend new administrative punishment or further criminal inquiry into a program that the Justice Department has investigated repeatedly. (Emphasis added)

If we consider the lies and distortions the CIA dealt to their overseers, we have to question why they continued to use the program because, at this point, it almost seems as if they were just downright sadistic and wanted to hurt people.  And if that was the only logical reason to continue a program they knew was ineffective, they would certainly put themselves in a position to face criminal prosecution at some point.

Which now begs the question, will the Senate report ever be released to the public?  A portion of it may come out but it’s rather doubtful the whole report will be released since the embarrassment of the torture program’s ineffectiveness would be damaging to the entire government, not just the CIA.  The Senate has a reason to keep the whole of that report under wraps and it is likely they will do just that.

’16 GOP Hopefuls Sucking Adelson’s Teat, Torture Never Worked, Wormhole Travel!?, and Other Tidbits for the Day

GOP Presidential Candidates Puckering Their Lips for Adelson

The GOP hopefuls for the 2016 presidential slot are headed to Las Vegas this week in order to try to get as much of mega-donor Sheldon Adelson’s money…excuse me, I meant “speech” (since that what money equals to the Supreme Court), as they can for a possible run.  Strange, though.  I know some GOP voters and I don’t recall the candidates being as interested in their speech as they are Adelson’s “speech”.  I wonder why…

Put a dark cloak on Sheldon Adelson and all Star Wars fans will know who this really is.

He donated more than $90 million to political candidates and super PACs in the last election cycle. His total donations may never be quantified publicly because various politically active groups that operate as nonprofit organizations don’t have to report the sources of their funds.

Remind me again why money is considered speech and why this isn’t an obvious corruption of the idea of democracy?

Brazil’s Internet Neutrality

Many may not be familiar with the idea of Internet neutrality but it is far more important than most think.  Brazil’s government is taking action to make sure access remains equal to all and the potential for inequality is highlighted in the article:

“Without neutrality, the Internet looks more like cable TV, where providers can offer different service packages,” Brazilian law professor Ronaldo Lemo told TechCrunch. “Basic service would include email and the social networks. ‘Premium’ would let you watch videos and listen to music. ‘Super Premium’ would let you download. Today that sounds like an aberration, but without Net neutrality, it’s a possibility.”

Still No Evidence Torture Worked

People are allowed their personal opinions about whether the U.S. was justified in torturing terrorism suspects for information (we weren’t) and how moral that is (it’s not) but there is still one fact that has yet to be proven wrong: it never actually worked in fighting terrorism and, in all likelihood, inspired more terrorism against American targets.

The CIA misled the Justice Department. They told the OLC that it was only after subjecting Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah to “enhanced” techniques that he “identified KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] as the mastermind of the September 11 attacks” and provided information that led to the detention of José Padilla in May 2003. As detailed in the task force’s report, this chronology is false. Abu Zubaydah identified Mohammed as the Sept. 11 mastermind during FBI interrogation long before the CIA was authorized to torture him in late 2002 — and Padilla was actually detained in May 2002, before the CIA tortured Abu Zubaydah. Public record evidence also contradicts the CIA’s claim that its “enhanced” interrogation of Mohammed and several other detainees led to the discovery of a plot to fly hijacked airliners into a skyscraper in Los Angeles and the capture of a 17-member terrorist cell tasked with carrying out the attack.

“Too-Big-to-Fail” Bank’s Advantage Over Smaller Competition

You know how smaller government capitalists like to rave about alleged competition in the market being the key to any and all economic success?  They probably aren’t saying much about this:

The series of research papers, published on Tuesday by the U.S. central bank’s influential New York branch, suggests the biggest banks benefited even after the financial crisis from lower funding and operating costs compared with smaller ones...While the study did not pinpoint the reason big banks can borrow more cheaply, Wall Street critics say it is because investors believe the U.S. government would again rescue them in a panic...Fed economists estimated the funding advantage for the five largest banks over smaller peers to be about 0.31 percent, which they said was statistically significant.

In short, the big banks can still take bigger risks because they are confident taxpayers will save them.  Taxpayers will have to save them because they have no choice and the alternative is far worse.  This is simply another form of the upper echelon being propped up by government at the expense of both smaller competitors and taxpayers.

Travel Through Wormholes

An interesting science article from the BBC appeared on the possibility of traveling through wormholes in space.  Fascinating stuff but it might be just a little difficult for now:

As a very rough approximation, you would need the energy the sun produces over 100 million years to make a wormhole about the size of a grapefruit.

Worthwhile for the imagination, I suppose.  Maybe someone can figure out how to shrink us down to smaller than grapefruits to solve part of the problem.  Where’s Rick Moranis when we need him?