Congratulations, America. Torture Has Led You On a Wild Goose Chase, Destroyed the Rule of Law and Made You Less Safe

George Washington's picture

Washington’s Blog

There are numerous headlines this week about torture:

But these headlines make no sense unless they are put in context and given historical background:

  • Everyone claiming waterboarding is not torture has changed their tune as soon as they were exposed to even a small dose of it themselves. See this, this and this

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blindman's picture

torture is dehumanizing to both the victim and instigator.

it is debatable as to which party is "spiritually" violated. 

and no one knows exatly what that cost will be in the fullness

of time.  so,  torture is just manifest stupidity generally speaking,

as is mechanical weaponry.  here, a warrior who knows a weapon

when he sees one and how to use it.

blunderdog's picture

It's all just so fucking incredibly SIMPLE, and people argue like there's a real "debate" or a real issue to quibble over.

If you want to live in a world in which you may someday be tortured or get the opportunity to torture someone, well DUH, yes of course you support torture.  In this situation, that situation, whatever.

If you want to live in a world in which you'll never be tortured and you'll never get the chance to torture someone, well then DUH, yes you OPPOSE torture.

This ain't rocket science.  It's an irresolvable debate.  Some people want to torture folks, primarily because they're motivated by the fear that someone might someday torture them.  There's no rational argument to make.  Some folks want no one to torture anyone ever, because they're so fearful of torture they can't really come to terms with the events we know occur on a daily basis.

Pick your side and forget trying to "win" any argument.  There's no winning.  There are torturers--there always have been.  You can be one of them or not.

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Canaduh's picture

Taxi to the Dark Side. Watch it. Amongst other interviews, a friendly man from the FBI describes very succinctly why torture is not as effective as some would have you believe. An elderly gentleman, an interrogator for the Navy in the Pacific in WW2, explains how strongly he and his comrades felt about holding the 'moral upper hand'and how disgusted he was that his country no longer fought along those lines.

goodrich4bk's picture

Both sides of this debate miss the point.  Should the President authorize torture if in his judgment it might get actionable information that could save hundreds, if not thousands of lives?  Of course he should.  If it turns out his information was wrong, should he be prosecuted?  Of course he should.  

These are not conflicting ideas.  They are two sides of the same coin: the right of self defense.  You obviously can do anything to defend yourself.  But if it turns out you were not defending yourself because the person you harmed was entirely innocent, your state of mind is irrelevant.

I have never understood why we expect ordinary soldiers to make these kinds of decisions in the heat of battle (and prosecute them for their mistakes) but our civilian leaders, who make similar mistakes in an entirely calm, reflective setting with reams of expert advice to fall back on (my lawyers told me it was okay), get a free pass.  Not only that, conservatives who wrap themselves in the Flag and support all things military ALWAYS want to give civilian judgments a free pass.

loup garou's picture

Congratulations, America.” ?  (Apparently, “George Washington” has seceded from America.)

Well, it may be a disgrace, but at least torture isn't continuing under the Obama administration, right?
In fact, many reporters have said that the Bagram prison facility in Afghanistan is worse than Guantanamo ever was. Moreover, abuse is apparently still occurring there.


"There is absolutely no difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration's position with respect to Bagram detainees' rights,"  [New York-based attorney Tina Foster, who has argued several cases on behalf of detainee rights in US courts] says during an interview with SPIEGEL in her office in the New York borough of Queens.


Moreover, Obama is still apparently allowing "rendition flights" - where prisoners are flown to countries which freely torture - to continue.


Finally, Jeremy Scahill - the reporter who broke most of the stories on Blackwater - says that some forms of torture at Guantanamo have continued under Obama, and may even have gotten worse. For example, Scahill points out that:
“The Center for Constitutional Rights released a report titled ‘Conditions of Confinement at Guantánamo: Still In Violation of the Law,’ which found that abuses continued. In fact, one Guantanamo lawyer, Ahmed Ghappour, said that his clients were reporting "a ramping up in abuse" since Obama was elected.”


Following this link from “George Washington’s blog“:


In a new article, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill writes the Obama administration is continuing to use a notorious military police unit at Guantanamo that regularly brutalizes unarmed prisoners, including gang-beating them, breaking their bones, gouging their eyes, dousing them with chemicals. This force, officially known as the Immediate Reaction Force, has been labeled the “Extreme Repression Force” by Guantanamo prisoners, and human rights lawyers call their actions illegal…


And, of course, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats were briefed on this program, despite what they’re saying right now...




…And while Barack Obama, almost immediately upon taking office, issued an executive order saying he was going to close down Guantanamo within a year and that he was going to respect the Geneva Convention while his administration reviewed Guantanamo, this force has continued to operate and torture prisoners under the Obama administration.


In fact, in February of this year, about a month after Obama was inaugurated, there were sixteen prisoners on a hunger strike at Guantanamo. The Immediate Response—or Immediate Reaction Force was used to go in and violently shove massive tubes down their noses into their stomachs. And what the IRF teams, as they’re called—when they beat someone, it’s called IRF-ing, or to be IRF-ed up by these teams. They would use no anesthetics or any painkillers, shove this massive tube by force down their nose into their stomach and then yank it out. Some prisoners have described this as torture, torture, torture. And many have passed out from the sheer pain of this operation.


This force has received almost no scrutiny in the US Congress or the US media and operates at this moment.


And from the same link, this:


AMY GOODMAN: Why do you say Nancy Pelosi knew about the torture?


JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. I mean, the fact is that Nancy Pelosi was fumbling in her press conference through a statement that someone else clearly wrote for her. This is not some secret that Nancy Pelosi was briefed on this. In fact, the Washington Post reported on this in 2007, that she had been briefed and that other Democrats that were senior figures in the Democratic leadership, particularly on the Intelligence Committee, had received briefings about the tactics that were being used at Guantanamo.


I think what’s going to be important is that we know that some of the members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, who were briefed actually pushed for stronger tactics to be used during these briefings. I think one of the reasons why the Democrats are—the Democratic leadership is not pushing for a special independent prosecutor in this case is because if you actually examine the record, you will find that the Democrats funded these programs, supported these programs, and refused to speak up when it actually mattered.


Perhaps reading his own blog (and the links therein) might snap “George Washington” out of his Bush/Cheney obsession…

Augustus's picture

"A current CIA official says that KSM actually told interrogators the only reason he confessed was because of the water-boarding."

They dunked him once and he started talking and did not quit.  His info allowed the roll up of several hundred AQ "workers".  To continue to claim that it did not work is to continue to lie.

Fraud-Esq's picture

Torture is just ANOTHER EXAMPLE of the SOME of the new Americans (like some comments above) having absolutely NO RESPECT for the values and virtues which made America an "exceptional" nation for so many years.

The shitty part is, people like this can DESTROY hundreds of years of reputation in ONE YEAR.  

Neocons and torture advocates are THREATS to this nation. 

Advocating torture is like advocating the 08 bailouts without strings attached. It's doing wild things outside of all norm of behavior, all the norms that made us a strong nation and having no explanation for it other than, "so what, it works". Neocons and torture advocates are reactionaries with weak character. 

The whole point of the "strong American character" is the ability to not play on their playing field and still succeed. To not react, but to ACT. Neocons want to turn the U.S. into Israel and look to them as guidance for our future. It's disturbing. They curse the Cairo speech while it might be the difference between a light and dark future.

Well done G. Washington! 

George Washington's picture

Thanks, FraudEsq.  I added this:

Former Navy Judge Advocate General Admiral John Hutson said that "Torture is the technique of choice of the lazy, stupid and pseudo-tough"

Cistercian's picture


 Absolutely spot on!

sub Z's picture

It's ok because everyone else is doing it, agree to disagree. Torture doesn't work. Seems a lot of people need to work on their EQs.  The biggest threat to our national security is is the weakening economy. The government is here to provide a service, which it fails miserably at and all the medling makes matters worse and robs us of our freedom.

Meanwhile we have to be strip searched and finger printed at airports within the country by a bunch of incompetent sub Zs with a badge. Airports outside the country, no worries. The government lies, politicians and those with power act in their own selfish interests -- not for the common good of the people. Capitalism takes the fall. Notice all the places we "help" are loaded with precious rare earth elements and other valuable resources that benefit those at the top again.  Nice intel. Using your brain might help.

How to Spot a Terrorist on the Fly


Philip Zimbardo: Why ordinary people do evil ... or do good

tony bonn's picture

this is further evidence of the barbarity and cruelty of american leaders...their moral depravity will not go unpunished. even though the usa promotes torture as a way of warefare i assure you that judgment day will not look so favorably this outrage.

the real outrage is that these scum fabricated al qaeda, 9/11, and a host of other imaginary boogey men to justify their ravenous carnivorous evil....we need to destroy the wtc so we can impose more totalitarian nazi repression on the people. they are so fucktarded that they will buy this moronic crap about perma war terrorism. shame on america for this reprehensible evil. shame shame shame!!!

god bless you george....god bless you god bless you god bless you.

realitybiter's picture

Maybe W should have used waterboarding during the '08 meltdown:


W: "Hank!  Tell me where the money is going!!!  The whole system is not going to the stone age if we don't give you this $700b, right!  What?  Tell me the truth!  (more water on the cloth)....okay, okay, stop!


Hank: (sobbing)"It is just a big scam to get my banker buddies bailed out.  I am so sorry.  Please don't do that to me again.  In fact, if you won't do it, I will personally help my buddies out with my own money.  Hell, I didn't even pay taxes on my GS gains, it is the least I could do.


Now that would be protecting Americans, dumass

JohnG's picture

A Vietnam vet here, and I can write a few things about torture.

No, it does not produce anything of value.

Yes, it's a bitch.

We made fun of our captors, which pissed them off, which was fun.

Trapped in a bamboo cage with one inch of air, for weeks, is not fun.  I don't know how long really.  Doesn't matter.

Discussing with your pet rat who gets to eat this bug kept me somewhat sane.

Make all efforts to escape.  Those were my orders.

Going back with Marines, and shooting the fucking bastards in the head, FUN.

Never been captured and tortured? Shut the fuck up.

That is all.

onlooker's picture

George, I am a huge fan of yours. This torture thing is over; at least that is what Obama said. It is over for our side, let’s see if the other side quits with the torture. I think you are spending our time here on ---- to quote you--- a moot point.


Yes the Japanese were big torture fans and if they were captured by a 17 year old Marine who had a friend murdered by the Japanese, there was a problem. The VC were big torture fans but US troops overall handled the captured “fairly” well. As you know a US fighter is trained to “close with and destroy the enemy”. It is unfortunate that in all wars innocent people are destroyed. When a battle is fought where the fighters are not easily distinguished with uniforms, it is more problematic that innocents will be killed. When deception by the enemy is most of the game, making good calls is far more difficult.


A case in point is the war on the Mexican border of Texas. Thousands of people are being killed by the drug cartels. Birthday parties are attacked and children and adults are killed by the score. They all dress the same and when the military or police get involved, how do you know? There are more people killed there than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined times x. Do we know, do we care, is it important, is it real, why the cover?


The rules of fighting will never return to a civilized form, that is history. If you don’t want bad stuff, don’t go to war. If you go to war, go to win anyway you can. That is where we are at. If you want to see worse than you have discussed, watch the war coming across the border, cutoff rolling heads and all.

Mark Noonan's picture

First off, if President Bush hadn't authorized waterboard three (3) times and if a terrorist attack had happened because we didn't find some information via waterboarding, then the same people harping on this would have attacked Bush for not being tough enough on the terrorists.  In this debate, President Bush can win with his critics - they'll hate and attack him, no matter what he chooses.

As for the events, themselves, what the critics are working from are two absurd assumptions - that we wanted the captives to confess, and to confess to a false statement.  We weren't trying to build a criminal case for prosecution but trying to unravel terrorist networks - networks which are shadowy and extraordinarily hard to nail down.  Just one missing piece can prevent you from unravelling a whole series of terrorist cells.  The men waterboarded at Gitmo were with holding that sort of info - the vital, connecting clues which prevented us from rolling up networks.

When you hear someone like the boneheaded former governor of Minnesota opine that he could waterboard Cheney in to confessing to the Tate murders, you wonder just what plaent the critics are living on.  Who in heck would want to do that?  Who the heck thinks the CIA and Defense Department wants to obtain false and worthless information?  Do you think the people in the intelligence agencies and Department of Defense are just idiots?  We're fighting against wicked men who literally will stop at nothing to get their way - of course we don't want to use rough stuff against them, and that shows by the fact we used waterboarding three (3) times in all those years.  But there comes a time when push comes to shove - and terrorists have no right to remain silent.  Period.

Just thank God, you critics, that you have never had the responsibility for the lives and liberty of 300 million Americans on your conscience.  Pray you'll never have to be the intelligence officer or battallion commander who has to decide how far to go to get the information on men so wicked they'll behead people.  Keep your worthless, pathetic moralizing on this to yourselves and be happy others are willing to bear a burden you aren't.

realitybiter's picture

Couple of points:


1) I am about as right winger as it gets.

2)  If you read what happened on 9-11 and what happened leading up to it you must believe one of two things.  Either they intentionally pulled the goalie and "let" it happen or 2) They are totally incompetent.  Do you know the name of the FBI folks involved that completely ignored the memo stating great concern over the arabs that wanted to learn to take off but not land?  These are people the f-d up big time.  There has to be 8 layers of fuck up on that day that any of us would not accept.

3)  I have a hard time reconciling W's need for waterboarding and then TOTALLY ignoring Mexico's border.  You know, that fuzzy boundary between two countries.  I mean if you are going to that length to torture you better keep your GD borders ricky tick.  He could not have gven a shit less about America's safety and the Mexican border.

Whats that smell's picture


I'm not of the right but your points are very valid.

Also what Mercury said in #714806 would have been the way to go if we really didn't want to put up with anymore of the 9-11 bullshit. The way we went was all about making loot for the Military Industrial Complex.


imapopulistnow's picture

Washington, you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that progressivism is a genetic defect.

George Washington's picture

Fake left-right divide-and-conquer dog-and-pony trick.  In fact, most of the experts on interrogation - virtually 100% are against torture - are CONSERVATIVES. 

PierreLegrand's picture

The ones who are against it are lying and they know it buffoon. No one wants to stand on top of the fucking roof and say YEA BABY I CANNOT WAIT TO PULL SOME MOTHERFUCKERS FINGER NAILS OUT! Because NO ONE does want to...but what you want to do and what you will do, you goddamn child, are TWO entirely different things.

HCSKnight's picture

As someone who is retired military and because of my specialty had to go to a school that taught us the various responsibilities and realities of being a POW, as well as the "coercion" techniques {good cop/bad cop, p.s. the latter is a euphamism for the abuse & torture used throughout the world} I can tell you one thing unequivocally.... Mr "Washington" and all the self-righteous who rail against Bush, Chaney, the CIA, etc., are gravely ignorant, selfish, and very morally lost children whose lives are owed to the only people who ever fought and died for the freedom of others .... the US military soldier, and the people who supported them.


None of you are acting worthy of that which was given for your life.

Sean7k's picture

My life has never been in danger by anyone but the leaders of our country. If people sacrificed their lives, they gave them to keep terrible murderers in power , people who would make debt slaves of their children and grandchildren. They are the accomplices of the most evil men on the planet.

Knowingly? No. Were they lied to? Yes. So were the Nazi's. So were the Soviet secret police. So were the Turkish soldiers who slaughtered the Armenians. 

As long as we make excuses for these terrible crimes, they will be committed. Unfortunately, the American soldier is nothing but a murdering tool, incapable of seeing how they are being used and abused. This is what rationalization does- it allows for the continued genocide of other classes. 

There is no honor in that.

PierreLegrand's picture

Buffoon there are 3,000 dead who show the folly of your idiocy that your life has never been in danger. That isn't counting the nearly hundred million who died because of communism...and the 11 million deliberately murdered by socialism/fascists in WW2. Between you and that nightmare has always stood the US Soldier.

Now we have a bunch of islamic fools who are again rising up to murder you or to make you submit. These latest clowns have been murdering and forcing fools like you to submit for 1,400 years. Again between you and those throat cutting maniacs stands the US Soldier...though I don't have any fucking clue why he would bother.

Ron Paul is a fool when it comes to what is a threat and what isn't.

Sean7k's picture

Get a clue. The US soldier didn't stand between- the 3,000 are dead. Worse, our government killed them, the muslims were just a convenient scape goat. 

Those socialists and communists were put in power by the banking elite and funded as well. The US soldier was just fodder in a good propaganda ploy to earn interest on debt financing. 

We haven't needed a US soldier since 1812. Stop buying the BS and do some homework. The US soldier is just a collection of good people manipulated to kill and torture for the benefit of a corporation. I don't want the US soldier to stand between me and your ficticious enemy. I want the US soldier to stand down and stop being killed for no reason.

Mercury's picture

For the record, I'm pretty sure torture would work on me

I have a good enough imagination and like Galileo they (The Church in his case) would probably just have to show me the implements and I'd start spilling the beans....

In any case, these stupid missionary wars the U.S. goes in for these days are counter-productive, expensive and ultimately pointless. To the extent that the U.S. feels compelled by moral or national interest to kick foreign ass, Clinton's (NATO's officially) prosecution of the Yugoslav war against Milosevic should be the model: precision bomb until the right people cry 'uncle', declare victory and fly home without ever having set boots on the ground.

Gangster government hosting the terrorist group that just pulled off a major attack on Stateside civilians?   Who ya gonna call?  - Bunker Busters!!  

But keep everybody else at home. 

If instead you go in there with tens and hundreds of thousands of troops, lawyer laden combat units, soccer field construction teams and nation building do-gooders...the whole thing turns into a fucking terrorist Superbowl that never ends....along with all the bullshit (like this torture business) that goes with it.

Yes folks, rubble don't make trouble. I know it sounds crass but given the decision to make war, it's really the best way in terms of minimizing casualties and really, the record speaks for itself at this point.  Whether the Americans are the good guys or the bad guys I can't think of a better way to incentivize others not to mess with the USA...or commit genocide or whatever the cause celebre of the day is (I'm playing the part of turnaround artist here not moral hand-wringer).

Oh, and the beauty part? - no torture necessary.

PierreLegrand's picture

Nation Building is pure unadulterated bullshit...the folks we are trying to build into nations have been here MUCH longer than we have. They haven't become a "nation" because a. too fucking stupid b. don't want to (see a) c. don't know how (see b&a)

Doesn't mean they draw a bye if someone uses their nation to attack us. Probably would have to insert Special Forces for a moment or two to find out where to bomb but absolutely no need to insert hundreds of thousands of troops.

honestann's picture

Everyone who practiced, encouraged, authorized, justified, supported or condoned torture must be tried, convicted and executed (in a way that causes little or no pain).  Also, add everyone who simply claimed or defined acts of torture to be "not torture".

DOT's picture

Rather extreme don't you think? Anti-fear and pro-death.

honestann's picture

Sure, and when someone commits endless, unspeakable acts upon yourself, we'll be sure to remember you don't want us to care, help you, or hold anyone responsible.

Jake3463's picture

This thread just shows how far morally this country has fallen over the past 60 years.

During the Spanish-American War it was a major scandal that prisoners were waterboarded.  We hung Japanese for waterboarding our troops.

Today we celebrate it like it was almost a noble thing to do.

Of course prior to WWII this country had to be false flagged into war with some kind of actual attack.  Now all it takes is the idea there might be a threat and we are rearing and ready to go.

We are morally bankrupt as a nation, and our Military adventures will ensure in the next 10 years we will be literally bankrupt.  We would rather kill people in Afghanistan than take care of our older generation.  That is how low we have fallen as a country.  we deserve whatever we get.

Eyes on the World's picture


I don't disagree with your assessment of our moral condition - at base I believe that's the root of our problems. 

However, you must also consider in your analysis the type of combatant we are facing today versus the theatres you mention above.  Just as we consider the musket-to-musket "fire and fall back" form of line warfare seen during the 1700s as a ridiculous waste of humanity, Vietnam taught us the guerilla requires a completely different mindset.

Not saying it's right, just that comparisons to the "honor" found in past wars may not necessarily apply in the urban street fights of today.  It's a nasty business for sure, and we may debate the political reasoning behind such actions, at length, but once you're in the fight (and I mean personally) I can't condemn you for much of what you'll find yourself capable of.  Why?  Because mostly the guys in the shit are just trying to do one thing - come home alive.

Sean7k's picture

No one kills more innocent people than the USA. No one destroys more economies than the USA. No one kills more women and children than the USA. Our veterans are mentally abused and brainwashed into doing the bidding of pansy Bushes and Cheneys of the world. Then left to die in the gutters of America without jobs, healthcare or therapy. 

Why are we arguing with each other? The enemy is hiding in plain sight. If you unwrap yourself from the flag long enough to take a look around- you just might see the same world everyone out in the world sees. We are monsters. Yes, monsters have children, but if they are going to grow up to be monsters, perhaps the best thing the world of terrorists can do, is kill them before they kill anymore people in the world.


One more thing, GW- I love the piece, but remember, Nmewn has to reconcile some very disturbing possibilities. Possibilities that effect your entire value system. We see it in 9/11 exposes or Assassination stories or financial predatory behavior that puts our entire nation at risk. It is not easy to accept these things no matter the proof or the reasoning. We rationalise the horrors, because ultimately, it is the only way we can live in any semblance of peace.

Eyes on the World's picture

You're a fool.  The largest majority of people in America are perhaps better termed "sheeple," or perhaps "locusts" based on our addtiction to consumption.  But monsters?  No. 

You write as if we are a collective group of killers bent on the destruction of the rest of the world.  Americans, and I am speaking of the Citizenry of this nation, are some of the most peace-loving, caring and giving people to have ever lived.

Our government is absolutely out of hand and the people do bear guilt in having let it get to this point, yet, I would say to you if you're so unhappy living amongst the monsters - then get the fuck out.

Sean7k's picture

We fail to pay attention. We fail to investigate, We give legitimacy to our government and our leaders. We are at fault. 

We send our sons and daughters to kill innocent people and call them heroes. We ship poisonous baby formula to foreign countries because we won't allow it to be sold here- because their babies aren't as important as ours. We take over countries to steal their natural resources and brag about our executive positions.

If the people of other countries can figure it out, we can- and do, but we rationalize it as someone else's fault. We needed the job. Someone was going to do it anyway. 

There is just this small evil cabal that does all the dirty work. Lt Calley didn't kill those children. Our soldiers didn't torture at Abu Gharib. Funny, when the Nazi's did it, we made them war criminals. 

You are the fool. I recognize the dangers of our leaders and work against them. I care enough about the country to work towards a country we can be proud of. 

barkingbill's picture

most people are good people, but throw young people into a foreign country and train them to hate and guess what? you got some animal killers looking for some victims. 

the nazis were also good family men. 



honestann's picture

The "problem" with your argument is this.  Your characterization was largely true of americans 2~3 generations ago, but applies to fewer and fewer americans every year.

None of us has accurate statistics, but from my observations a large majority of americans now condone torture and other egregious actions by "officials", "authorities" and their "agents" (military, police, etc).  Even worse, I estimate a majority would comit these actions if so ordered by some "official" or "authority" [or any of their agents].

So some degree of pride in americans of generations past might be appropriate, and pride in a small minority of young americans today might be appropriate, any generalized pride in americans per-se is quite outdated.

digalert's picture

So GW we have it your way. The enemy combatants chop someones head off and send us the video. While evil America has these enemy combatants sitting in Gitmo watching videos.

barkingbill's picture

we do plenty of evil trust me. open up a book on the subject instead of your mouth and you will find out. 

Jake3463's picture

Yes and the Japanese tortured our guys and we didn't torture the ones we captured.


Who won World War II.

Cistercian's picture

 A glitch in the Matrix

Cistercian's picture

 An article on the television show 24 and it's effective propagandizing of the use of torture would be good too George.

 And it was so popular....what a disgusting piece of filth!And when the task was accomplished, off the air it went.Goebbels could not have done it better.

numbers's picture


You need to get back on your meds. KSM was innocent?????? Good God, you are clueless.

Cistercian's picture

 Thank you George!The use of torture by the US as a matter of policy is evil, and a blot on the national character.Thank you for this piece very, very much.

  The torture has to stop now, and the responsible parties punished severely.

 "I was following orders" is no excuse and neither is "the lawyer said it was ok"

 Lame excuses...for serious crimes.