Thursday, November 08, 2007

What a sick, sick world I live in

Gee, let's see what's in the papers today. First, we've got Alan Dershowitz writing, in all seriousness, that if torture was good enough for the Nazis, it's good enough for him![1]
There are some who claim that torture is a nonissue because it never works--it only produces false information. This is simply not true, as evidenced by the many decent members of the French Resistance who, under Nazi torture, disclosed the locations of their closest friends and relatives.
Who claims this Alan? The fictional straw men in your head? Look at what actual experts say, and they'll tell you that torture never produces reliable, actionable intelligence -- and using it is the mark of a corrupt, doomed regime. The Nazis are not a modern, contemporary example of successful political organization. And there's a reason for that, except you wouldn't know it by looking at the modern GOP:
"Several days before his first meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Michael Mukasey's Justice Department handlers arranged a private meeting for him with a number of 'movement conservatives.'... They pushed aggressively on the torture question. They wanted Mukasey to pledge that he would toe the administration's line" by not criticizing the administration's approval of waterboarding and similar interrogation techniques, and they wanted him to "protect those who authored the [interrogation] program" by issuing opinions that would keep those responsible for the program from facing criminal prosecution.
Rosa Brooks writes that "torture is the new abortion", in that the conservative movement is demanding unflinching loyalty from its public servants on this issue. Unbelievable.

It's really quite amazing how drenched in their own fear these people are. They're clamoring, begging to have the US government descend on the path trodden before by the worst regimes in human history -- torture, illegal surveillance, and legal black holes for anyone with dark skin or a funny name. It seems to never occur to them that these regimes were consigned to the ashbin of history for a reason -- Nazi torture didn't substantially restrict the actions of the French resistance, much less guarantee victory in a global war. Soviet torture didn't root out class enemies because the Soviet government was the class enemy. And these were regimes that actually could pose an existential threat to the United States -- and yet the US never tortured Nazis, but insists that half-witted terrorists who're already past their best before date need to be tortured.

[1] There's the added irony that Dershowitz is reliably the first voice to smear critics of Israel as anti-semites, but here he is literally comparing US and Israeli policies to Nazi Germany. The difference, of course, is that Dershowitz is comparing the Nazis to the US favourably -- their torture worked! Fucking amazing.


Anonymous said...

Well said.

I thought Dershowitz's weasly qualifier "Although I am personally opposed to the use of torture..." gave a good measure of the man.

JHMB said...

utter lunacy. i hope we can shake this ridiculous fearmongering before it's too late.

thanks again, although you do take shavings of hope away from me as the days pass.

Chet Scoville said...

We live in evil times.

Alison said...

Damn, you're smart, John.
When I read it, all I got was this terrible roaring sound in my head...

Dave said...

Bang. On.

Dershowitz's comparison of the US to the Nazis, and the so-called favourable results obtained through torture can also be extended in another direction ....

The durability of the empire they sought to achieve.

I do believe Nazi Germany was defeated, despite their use of torture to acquire information.

ThinkingManNeil said...

I believe the Jewish inmates of the Nazi death camps had a word for men like Dershowitz who turned a blind eye or gave quiet, nodding support to the the kind of moral equivocation for similarly wretched and repugnant acts that they witnessed some 60-odd years ago; the word was "Kapo".


LanceThruster said...

Douchewiz often chafes at the comparison of the tactics of Israeli Zionists to that of the Nazis...but if the ball gag fits...

imsmall said...


You tie some wrapping on his face and then you tie him down,
So fixed immobile he has no recourse,
Then when you pour the water it is like to make him drown--
As blind he neither understands the source

Nor can resist the awful press about to suffocate,
Controlled upon the incline to prolong,
Though in my vast experience it´s not too long a wait
If sometimes though the answers may be wrong.