Q: What is simultaneously nonexistent, no big deal, vital to national security, worth doing because the victims were evil, and all in the past anyway so who cares?
A: Why, the CIA torture report, of course!
It was released yesterday to the sound of too many Americans making excuses, from the usual bleatings of the above to simply “THE USA IS AWESOME!” (Even on MetaFilter, which is usually better than this, there’s someone yelling about the “ticking bomb scenario” which (a) has never actually happened and (b) is possibly the case where torture would be the least effective.)
The same GOP which felt the public needed to have endless investigations into Whitewater and Benghazi is outraged that anyone would waste the public’s time on whether or not a bunch of brown people were tortured. They can’t believe that anyone would think this is something worth looking into and it may put CIA assets at risk or spur violence. Unlike, say, exposing Valerie Plame, drone striking innocents, or torturing people.
Sadly, the revelations have come as no surprise to a lot of us, and shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone. Bush and Cheney both admitted to it years ago. The weird thing about having this discussion now is that we already had it before. The exact same one. In fact, if you count Abu Ghraib (in which the right wing gladly served up Lynndie England — a woman — as certified Angus scapegoat, having her represent the “bad apples” that we now know were actually approved policy) we’ve had this exact same discussion at least three times. Why even talk about the fact that the CIA hasn’t had its hands clean for decades when we’re (some of us, at least) ready to feign shock and outrage by literally the exact same story three times?
“Feign shock and outrage”, who am I kidding? The American public not only knew the CIA was torturing people, they were all for it! They’d pay PPV prices to watch. Whatever the excuse of the moment pretended to be, the reality was, the majority of Americans wanted that torture to be happening and wanted it to be as awful as possible, because the majority of Americans are hateful ghouls with the empathy levels of five-year-olds. And honestly, the ones who relish the news simply because of their bloodlust are still above those who are all for it because at least this means it’s not them being frozen to death or “rectally infused”.
One of these water-carriers is a guy you might remember from a Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony, Barack Obama. His outrage at the findings (once they were revealed against his administration’s wishes) was so weak that cricket pee rejoiced in finally getting out of last place.
Responding to the report, Barack Obama said the US owed a “profound debt” to the CIA but accepted that some of its techniques were “contrary to our values”.
“These harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests. Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners. That is why I will continue to use my authority as president to make sure we never resort to those methods again.”
You’d think a lame-duck, nothing-to-lose president would have more to say than that, but this is Obama we’re talking about, who every morning wakes up and thinks that today will be the day when the GOP finally loves him. Besides, he and Holder already agreed in 2008 not to prosecute anyone except for a Lynndie England here and there. Between not prosecuting torture by the CIA or the near-destruction of the world economy by US banks, one might wonder what exactly we have a Justice Department for.
So there you go. We found out that yes, the CIA tortured people, and it was even more brutal than anyone imagined, especially considering that many of the victims shouldn’t have been in our gulag to begin with. However, one of our major parties doesn’t care, the majority of the population is proud of this, the highest official in the opposing party can’t be roused to any meaningful action, and, best of all, the gulag is still open with no plans to change that in the future.
It’s been a banner year for the land of the free and the home of the brave, the greatest nation on Earth. I can’t wait to see what fresh horrors 2015 has in store.