2:00PM Water Cooler 12/9/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Torture Report

“We are what we repeatedly do.” –Aristotle

NOTE: Remember that the “Torture Report” is only an executive summmary, it’s been heavily censored, and the main report is still secret. So you should assume that we’re hearing about those aspects of our global dirty war on terra that elites believe can be discussed “in front of the children.” So, kidz, that stuff you heard Mommy and Daddy doing in the living room after they sent you to bed? The screaming? That was very bad. So imagine what was going on out in the garage and down in the basement. (Sorry for the household metaphor; I’m trying to get into the elite’s collective head, here.) You might also recall the concept of “plausible denial,” and note the consistent theme that both the White House and Congress weren’t really told what was going on. Mission accomplished!

“They knew it was torture, knew it was illegal” [Emptywheel]. Yep.

Statement by the President, shorter: Torturers have retroactive immunity from prosecution, just like bankers [White House]. Also, parse that “formally ended on one of my first days in office.” Hmm.

The 54 countries involved [Independent]:


If I were, say, Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, I would have been looking very carefully at a map much like this one.

Key findings [BBC]. No collection on imminent threats, all claimed successes are bogus, 26 of 119 “known detainees” wrongly held, lies, flaws, lies, flaws, lies, flaws…

“Does Torture Work?” [Times]. In shocker, no, but fast work for an embargoed report…

CIA paid two psychologists $80 million to (mis-)apply SERE techniques to “develop, operate and assess” the torture program [MarketWatch]. Their pseudonyms in the report: “Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar.” Are these Nazi doctors the psychologists members of the American Psychological Association, and, if so, will the APA censure them? Probably not, given that the APA investigation was headed by an “independent reviewer” who used to work for George Tenet.

Torturers launch website to defend themselves [Foreign Policy]. They’ve even got a hash tag! I wonder who’s doing their PR?

“Only the most cynical….” [Guardian].

Only the most cynical could have guessed back then that it would take six years even for a limited official account of what happened to emerge, that it would be Obama’s own administration that stood in the way of its publication and that no one would end up taking personal responsibility for the crimes or the cover-up.

They don’t mean “cynical.” They mean realistic.

“The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution is full of prohibitions on torture, as part of a general 18th century Enlightenment turn against the practice” [Juan Cole]. Stupid or evil? More, much more of both. Both agnotology and — coinage alert — atroxology (the science of cruelty). Readers, a better coinage?

Live blogs: Greenwald [The Intercept], [Financial Times, “CIA Torture Report”], [Times, “C.I.A. Torture Report Live Blog”], [NPR], [BBC], [Telegraph]. Greenwald: “None of this has been in any plausible doubt for years,” citing Taguba and McCaffrey.

Online copies: [Senate], [New York Times]. This [response to Greenwald].

Whither Markets

The S&P 500 down 0.9 percent at 11:03 a.m. in New York. DJIA down 1 percent. Trading in S&P 500 companies up 29 percent. Theory: Triggered by selloff in Asia after China says “lower-rated bonds can no longer be used as collateral for some short-term loans.” Also, Grexit angst with possibility of new government [Bloomberg].

Theory: China, Grexit angst, and “oil, oil, more oil” as “Brent crude LCOc1 touched a fresh five-year low of $65.29 on Tuesday” [Reuters].

Best headline: “Markets Everywhere Are Tanking” [Business Insider]. Theories as above, plus fear Fed may soon abandon “considerable time,” because no more free money for the right sort of person.

Theory: Greed shifts to fear [FT, “Risk aversion rises on growth fears”]. “The damage to sentiment has been done.”

Shanghai Composite Index dropped 5.4%, the biggest daily percentage decline in over five years [Wall Street Journal].

Grexit angst: Anti-“bailout” Syriza might win snap election [Financial Times, “Greek shares tumble 11% on snap election.”

Gentlemen prefer bonds [Business Insider].


Of Obama’s base in the black communities: “disappointment appears to be palpable” [Los Angeles]. So the foreclosure crisis didn’t do it, massive disemployment didn’t do it, mass incarceration didn’t do it, Mike Brown did it. Low baseline, and that goes for all of us.

Cops whack black women too [Bustle].

UPDATE Feds release their own Brown autopsy, no significant differences. However, transcript of two-hour FBI interview with Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, is nowhere to be found [AP].


MoveOn nudges Warren, whose Sherman statement has been conspiculously absent [New York Times]. If only MoveOn had not been so grotesquely ineffective on Obama adminsitration policy.

Neil Bush: Jebbie should run now that “Mom’s on board” [Bloomberg].

Should Democrats give up on the South? Links pro and con [PoliticalWire]. Obviously, if identity politics are their permanently preferred strategy.


The full scale of Mexico’s disapperances: far more than 43 [Independent].


Gruber speaks: “Translation: You got the wrong guy. I’m the consultant, man” [WaPo]. And he’s right! And he worked for RomneyCare, too! (Fun use of the “Translation” trope.)

Stats Watch

Redbook, week of December 6: Slowing, but typical after November rush [Bloomberg].

JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey), October 2014: Little changed from September [Bloomberg].

Wholesale inventories: Little changed [Bloomberg].

News of the Wired

  • Another shutdown fight as Republican tries to attach a Dodd-Frank gutting regulatory exemption for derivates to a terrorism insurance bill [The Hill], assuming, arguendo, that Dodd-Frank has guts. Schumer, to his credit, is against it.
  • “The Echo Chamber”: Cognitive legal capture by the money power at SCOTUS [Reuters]. Important!
  • Bouncy gait improves mood [Scientific American].
  • Delta to make Cattle Coach so awful that people will pay premium for higher-priced segments [Businessweek]. I’d actually pay for a “quiet car;” no kids, no beeping games. But n-o-o-o-o-o!!!
  • Peru top culinary destination for third year in a row [Bloomberg].

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Eric Borling):

Erick Borling Maple Bonsai 2013a


Talk amongst yourselves!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. wade wander

    Of Obama’s base in the black communities: “disappointment appears to be palpable” [Los Angeles]. So the foreclosure crisis didn’t do it, massive disemployment didn’t do it, mass incarceration didn’t do it, Mike Brown did it. Low baseline, and that goes for all of us.

    until the last, america has an answer for each of those things which provides a distasteful but plausible deniability. the promise in each case is that there’s something the individual can do – behave right, invest right, school right – to avoid the punishment. the premise of america is that you absolutely must strive to exist, and if you have to strive harder than others, that is not anyone’s fault, and it does not require anyone’s redress. but the murder of black people by cops strips this veil. there’s nothing the black american can do to avoid getting shot at by racist cops, which means the problem is racism, not individual behavior. you cannot strive out of being black fast enough to avoid a bullet.

    the problem isnt that the bar was low, it’s that all the other bars were never counted as bars in the first place. i disliked the tenor of this comment, which seemed to suggest that black people have been just too slow to take offense. i would like to point that finger back at the american culture which so heavily penalizes “whining” and anything which could ever possibly be taken as shirking work.

    1. James

      Agreed. The whole we must “work” for our “living” is mostly a product of the whole Protestant work ethic mantra that ran this place into the ground in such short order in the first place. Ask any of the fat cats on Wall Street in an honest moment (is there such a thing?) how hard they’re actually “working” for their “daily bread” and they’d tell you not at all.

      In actuality, blacks, minorities, and all the rest of the working (or otherwise) poor know what everyone else in our corrupt society knows. EVERYONE who’s anyone is “on the take,” and that the only “suckers” are the dimwits who don’t realize that. That’s a state of affairs that can’t persist for long, and I’m guessing that its realization is dawning on a critical mass as we speak.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        As my father once said, and how as kids we hated it: “The work doesn’t do itself, you know.”

        You’re recommending, I take it, a “lilies of the field” approach for everyone? How does that, er, work? (I’m all for edible forests, for example; I really do think it would be great to go into a public garden and eat the free food from the trees. It can be done! But the garden still needs to be planted, pruned, managed, etc. By whom?)

        1. John Zelnicker

          By the workers employed under the Job Guarantee, of course.

          ( I know you know, Lambert, but there’s been a lot of whining here at NC lately that the JG jobs would be useless make-work and counterfactuals need to be pointed out.)

      2. Ben Johannson

        80 to 100 hours per week is standard for investment banking. Turnover is high due to rapid burnout.

    2. Will

      Well said. I’m in Ecuador now studying Spanish around a bunch of other Americans and Europeans. I’ve had conversations about Ferguson with middle-income white Americans where they believed black people didn’t know how badly or in how many ways they were being screwed – as if they were merely slow to figure it out, or not ‘educated’ enough to understand the systemic obstacles to equality.

      I think it has to do largely with how protests and protesters are portrayed in mass media: ‘journalists’ choose the least-aware, least-well-spoken people to interview and then paint the movement with that brush. I saw the same thing personally in Occupy Wall Street. Peter Schiff went down to the protests personally with a camera crew, picked someone ‘at random’, made a bunch of points that I could have refuted easily but which the person he selected to interview couldn’t, and then walked away victoriously, having shown Occupy was full of nincompoops.

      On a personal note – propaganda’s effectiveness really sucks. I try to share some ideas with people who are otherwise very kind and loving, and who’d want no part of the system they live in if they really understood it. But the narratives created for us are so powerful, and we’re so unable to communicate effectively about the big 3 (politics, money, religion), it can be quite disheartening.

  2. Vatch

    The map of the countries participating in the extraordinary rendition program of the CIA seems to be based on this report by the Open Society Foundation. I was surprised by this, since just a few days ago this foundation was vilified here in some NC comments. Perhaps the foundation isn’t all bad.


    The PDF file:


        1. optimader

          btw , just had a big slab of BG Feta on toasted dark Russian bread, w/ local honey drizzled ontop for dinner., good shit.

          1. OIFVet

            Sounds tasty. If you go to one of the many BG stores in the suburbs around O’Hare, make sure to ask for “sharena sol” — it’s a salt/pepper/paprika/herbs mix that goes great with feta too, and is great on buttered toast as well.

  3. Garrett Pace

    Obama statement:

    “But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better.”

    “Facing our imperfections” is the thing Americans never willingly do. On top of that, note the sophistry of diffusing responsibility. “It’s everyone’s fault” is the same as saying it’s no one’s fault, because you can’t put everyone in jail.

    That is why I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again.

    “Never” is a long time. Promises into the future. That’s on par with “balance the budget by 2022.”

    “As Commander in Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the safety and security of the American people.”

    Never mind the Constitution. “Safety and security” aren’t ideals to energize the human spirit, they’re sleeping potions.

    I think Lambert should give the whole statement his traditional formatting.

    1. Adam S.

      At this point, even after a cursory reading, it doesn’t matter if agents were ‘only following orders’ or ‘weren’t actively supporting these actions.’ If you were a CIA operative, manager, or contractor and you did not immediately whistle-blow or resign after discovering these tactics were in use, you deserve no better than those who received punishment after the Nuremburg trials. And if that means everyone within the organization, then everyone goes.

      I can understand hesitancy for fear of starting witch trials, but Jesus. I mean, if the evidence is right there in writing, why not direct the Justice Department to begin doing its job?

      And if Obama keeps with this nonsense of “oh we shouldn’t look backwards” or “we can’t blame these people” or “never again” bull, I’m sorry, but he is as culpable as Dick Cheney. Law enforcement exists precisely because the mechanism of enforcement that the public has is post facto; and to deny that the government, nay, the executive branch has the duty and responsibility to execute and enforce the laws of this country and the Constitution of all things is madness.

      If nothing comes of this other than bloviation, we might as pack up and rebrand the USA as something else, as this is a country that is no longer recognizable for the things it says it stands for.

      1. different clue

        Nancy Pelosi is also as culpable as Dick Cheney. Nancy Pelosi took impeachment “off the table” in order to keep the torture going. And her constituents re-elected her in praise and thanks for “Impeachment is off the table.”

        1. hunkerdown

          The Congresswoman from Wells Fargo, which (lest we forget) started out in security before they dealt in securities. And let’s not forget her precious managerial deflection, “Gruber who?”

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          My guess is the gang of 8 knew everything besides specifics/names/whatnot, but even the Senate committee blaming underlings at the CIA is an attempt to protect politicians from both parties.

        3. MikeNY

          OT, but interesting nonetheless, make of it what you will:

          I volunteer at a soup kitchen in SF. Over the last year, both “I spy” Di Fi and Pelosi have shown up to deliver meals. Di Fi delivered one tray, and then held a 45 minute presser for the cameras. And then left. Pelosi brought her grand-kids, and they all delivered trays for about 2 hours. No presser.

          1. Garrett Pace

            That these are not monsters but human beings, with strengths, weaknesses, virtues, dreams and all the luggage of humanity – that fact makes the horrible things they abet & perpetrate worse, not better.

            1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

              Feinstein is pretty awful. Even after the way she was treated by the spooks, she’ll still carry water for them they probably have loads of blackmail on her equally noxious husband. A little Deep State action there.

          2. different clue

            It is good that Pelosi was kind enough to serve meals for 2 hours without a press conference. Unfortunately, that doesn’t retro-put impeachment back on the table.
            It doesn’t un-torture the people she supported torturing ( support clearly demonstrated by “Impeachment is off the table.”)
            Some subjects are too big to be easily changed.

      2. McMike

        we might as pack up and rebrand the USA as something else, as this is a country that is no longer recognizable for the things it says it stands for.

        I had already sorta given up on that back when Iran-Contra passed without anyone being hung from a yardarm for selling missiles to terrorists and giving the proceeds to drug running death squads.

          1. RWood

            Yes, a unified political effort that gave the Rethugs stones to put up that arbusto and arbustito, and slick willie to come out smiling. Whatever the organization is, Cheney is CEO.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Grim – very grim – reality: by refusing to prosecute, Obama preserves the usurped powers (torture, in this case) for himself and all his successors, of whatever brand.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Article Two, Section One, Clause 8:

      Before he [sic] enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:— “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

      Article Two, Section One, Clause 3:

      He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

      Obama’s full of it, as usual. Professor of Constutional law — remember that one? — my sweet Aunt Fanny.

      1. Garrett Pace

        Notice Obama’s “safety and security” is couched in a sophistry that doesn’t make it any less pernicious, but does give it a different technical meaning. It starts, “as Commander in Chief” – i.e., “in my capacity as the leader of the armed forces” as opposed to “the entire portfolio of powers and responsibility of the presidential office”.

        He is a constitutional scholar after all; perhaps he did the research and discovered the President has to do all that wonderful constitutional stuff, while the commander in chief does not.

        Or maybe I’m making too much of it and the “as commander in chief” only serves to remind us of the massive power he controls.

        1. sleepy

          “He is a constitutional scholar after all”

          I understand you were being facetious with the use of that term, but others it seems are genuinely impressed that he taught con law, and somehow equate that with being a constitutional scholar. And yes, I understand Chicago is a prestigious university, etc.

          I have a law degree and con law is a basic gen ed type of law school course. I could teach it as could most who have a law degree. It’s not a particularly difficult course. Did he publish articles on constitutional law? engage in public academic debates? That would be scholarship.

          1. ambrit

            Good Sir;
            Would you be implying that the Gentleman in question were, perhaps, a Pettifogging Lawyer? Zounds!
            Yr Obed Srvt,

          2. FederalismForever

            @sleepy. Exactly! I am a lawyer as well, and looked into Obama’s legal scholarship bona fides when I became dismayed at his lack of leadership in various areas that would seem tailor-made for his background and supposed expertise in Con Law. I was amazed how little of substance I found. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems President Obama has never published a single original work of legal scholarship. He may be the only former President of Harvard Law Review of which this is the case. (And how did he manage that? I was on law review at another top law school and there was a requirement to publish.) I couldn’t find anything from his 14 years at Chicago either. He just taught the same three courses in a relatively narrow (but important) area of Con Law the whole time, and used course materials drawn from other authors. Nothing wrong with that, but, again, it is unusual, and it’s rather amazing they extended a tenure offer to him. I posit that there are very few tenured professors at top ten law schools who have never once published an original work of legal scholarship.

            Comparing President Obama’s meager publishing history prior to taking office with, say, that of John Quincy Adams, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Jefferson, Madison, etc., well, it’s just sad how far we’ve fallen.

            1. Bridget

              “And how did he manage that?”
              He was elected.

              “and it’s rather amazing they extended a tenure offer to him.”
              It’s my impression that he was never anything but a part time lecturer…..

              1. FederalismForever

                @Bridget. Yes, he was elected President of Law Review, but, as far as I can tell, once he made Law Review he didn’t write or publish a single law review article, which is extremely unusual, if not unprecedented for Harvard Law Review. (Hillary Clinton, by contrast, has published several law review articles on legal issues relating to children. In fact, I’d guess that pretty much every lawyer who has graduated from a top flight law school and practiced law for, say, ten or so years has managed to publish something in some obscure law review or bar association publication – but not Obama, apparently.)

                Also, Chicago apparently extended an offer for tenure to him, which he declined, choosing instead to remain a lecturer while serving in local politics at the same time. I find it incredible that he would even be offered tenure without having published a single work of original scholarship.

                1. lambert strether

                  That’s true. He never published an article. Guy left amazingly few fingerprints on his way up.

                  1. OIFVet

                    Why take any position when it’s so much better to let people see in you what they want to see? In that vein, add his voting “present” on divisive bills during his time in the IL legislature.

                    1. optimader

                      “Why take any position when it’s so much better to let people see in you what they want to see? ”
                      Because, conventionally you would not advance in your chosen field if you show no distinctive competence . It is indeed very enigmatic. Kinda like an MD being appointed Chief of Surgery w/ w/ no distinction in the field Surgery in the CV.

                      No less, his lack of scholarship was never a curiosity vetted in the media as far as I know? Don’t recall him ever been called on it for explanation. Too “wonky” for real journalists, right.

            2. Montanamaven

              Thank you. Saved me from writing about one of my pet peeves. I.e. Obama is a constitutional scholar. You have to publish original ideas to be a scholar. He has neither published or come up with in his term of office anything original.

              1. EconCCX

                He has neither published or come up with in his term of office anything original. @Montanamaven

                “Look forward, not backwards” as a targeted philosophy of jurisprudence. Should be his Bartlett’s entry.

            3. psychohistorian

              This is just more grist for the grooming postulate about Obama. Shinny on the surface but no personal depth as a human.
              I wonder how he lives with knowing what a tool he is for the sick elite that rule our world.

              The perversion that is coming out from today’s release of the torture report is truth to the LIE that our species is civilized. What wasn’t torture was brutal bullying. And this by a country that will now not allow those in charge to be tried for their crimes. I can only hope the rest of the world stands up to us soon to end our ongoing inhumanity in support of social control by the global elite and their family trust funds.

            4. different clue

              Its clear that Obama’s whole career has been based on being someone’s curling stone, with someone’s sweepers sweeping the ice ahead of curling-stone Obama
              to whatever target his arrival was desired at.
              So . . . whose curling stone is Obama?

      2. hunkerdown

        As much as I hate cheesy dualisms, may I suggest the concept of white-hat vs. black-hat from information security? U Chicago is pretty much a black-hat institution. MIT’s clearly vying for the same.

      3. Jeff W

        You nailed it.

        Last week President Obama was telling people that, as President of the United States, he is “absolutely committed…to making sure that we have a country in which everybody believes in the core principle that we are equal under the law” when his job is to, you know, just enforce the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution (what is he—the “Belief-Ensurer-in-Chief”?) and now he’s referring to his “authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again,” which, somehow, does not include adhering to the mandatory provision in the Convention against Torture to prosecute. He likes to make sure of a lot of stuff, pointing to his authority as President, but it seems like ensuring that the laws are faithfully executed—which is kind of the point of the job—isn’t one of them.

        1. lambert strether

          All crystal clear from July 2008, when Obama the presumptive Democratic nominee flip flopped on FISA reform, after promising to filibuster it, thereby giving retroactive immunity to the telcos for felonies committed under Bush’s warrantless surveillance program.

    3. HopeLB

      Bravo! Kudos! Spot On! Every damn Mainstream News channel attempts to inculcate this PERVASIVE FEAR into the American psyche. What are Americans? Pusillanimous Cowards wanting only comfort without liberty or justice?
      Perhaps (due to extenuating societal/economic/educational circumstances). But how many Revolutionary Founding Fathers did it take (to educate and inform (with pamphlets no less!)) to upend monarchy? 3 to 4 %?

      1. James Levy

        Ah, but that monarchy was weak and relatively speaking very far away. It could never mobilize an army of more than 35,000 men to put down a rebellion among 2 million plus colonists. It couldn’t keep France, Spain, and Holland from helping us out with money, guns, and later an army, a siege train (kinda useful at Yorktown) and a fleet (which won the campaign for us). Obama and the men behind him command resources and powers that make George III look like Barney Fife.

  4. wbgonne

    Should Democrats give up on the South? Links pro and con [PoliticalWire]. Obviously, if identity politics are their permanently preferred strategy.

    Or they could run as economic populists a la Huey Long, which they won’t. Of they could align with local anti-fracking movements in Texas and Louisiana. which they won’t. The Democrats’ rallying cry:

    We’ll try anything as long as its the same thing we’re already doing!

    1. DJG

      Depends what you mean by ‘identity politics,’ given that the South has spent an inordinate amount of time and any moral authority it has ever had on defining race (the 3/5s of a person thingamabobo, eh) and on the Look Away Dixieland endless victim soliloquy. All of which lead to the Southern project of defining the U.S.A. as a white, Christian nation from its very foundation.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        In the context of Team Blue strategy, “identity politics” refers to a last ditch panic when they realize likely team blue voters aren’t interested in voting for a softer version of the GOP which spent most of the cycle trying to win the country club vote.

        After all, a long term tactic of the Obots and Hillary was to label dissent as racist or anti-woman.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        See Dark Bargain; Southern slaves were transported in Yankee ships, which is where a lot of the financing came from. (Finance and insurance also played key parts in the slave trade.) Very few of our ancestors have clean hands in this matter, though I grant the “lost cause” nonsense does grate. Not so sure about “Southern,” for much the same reason I’m opposed to the term “Boomers”; the edges are just too fuzzy, and there are too many people who live in the South fighting the good fight. I liked “The Slave Power” from pre-Civil War Days; perhaps “former Slave Power” might do….

        1. DJG

          As someone born in Illinois, which makes me a child of Lincoln and Jane Addams, I like The Slave Power (as a term that might be used). It is more direct than Right to Work State. Yet I will still insist that the Slave Power spent much time defining American identity, the occasional Creole Catholic slave owner notwithstanding. Hence, the KKK.

      3. ambrit

        I must quibble here about the origins of the White Anglo Saxon Protestant America Project. If my reading serves me right, weren’t WASPs a prominent fixture of New England social and financial elites? All us Sothrons seem to have done is to make the WASP phenomena a populist movement. (Which hasn’t worked out very well for the 99% of the white folks here Down South. You know us, the ones with the beat up pickup trucks and cheap house trailers.)
        Every Man a King.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          “white, Christian nation” does not mean the same as WASP. To begin with, the canonical WASP sect, bless their hearts, is Episcopalianism, which is more or less Catholic Lite, and therefore (to a true Christian) nigh unto idolatry, and hardly Christian at all.

          1. ambrit

            Time to go find my copy of Jonathan Edwards and re read “Banksters in the Hands of an Angry God.”
            (Being the child of Presbyterians and Trotskyites and married to a Roman Catholic, you could say that my theology is somewhat, Esoteric.) (You, I gather, would be an upright example of Cosmopolitanism.)

      4. sleepy

        It wasn’t the southern slaveholders who wanted slaves counted as 3/5 persons.

        They wanted slaves counted as full persons. It was the abolitionists who wanted slaves counted as zero persons. The fractional value was a compromise and the context was congressional apportionment and redistricting. If slaves were counted as full persons for redistricting purposes, that increased the number of southern congressmen. If not, that increased the relative number of northern congressmen.

    2. different clue

      They could indeed run as economic populists. But would they mean it? How can we be sure anymore?

  5. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA Torture Report

    When they say ‘detainee’ they’re trying to avoid the word ‘prisoner of war’ because torturing a prisoner of war is against the Geneva Convention. It’s definitely not in the spirit of the United Nations Convention against Torture either. Under the Committee’s findings #18:

    “Examples of these concerns include CIA officers questioning the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, interrogators disagreeing with the use of such techniques against detainees whom they determined were not withholding information, psychologists recommending less isolated conditions, and Office of Medical Services personnel questioning both the effectiveness and safety of the techniques. These concerns were regularly overridden by CIA management”

    Hah. I already kinda figured they tortured already cooperative prisoners. When trying to predict what the CIA is going to do just think of the stupidest f—ing thing you can and run with it. This usually includes underfunding and ignoring the analysts at the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) too.

      1. psychohistorian

        The evil part is what America needs to internalize. America has allowed (and continues to allow) its country to be used for evil.

        The evil must stop.

        1. Kevin Hall

          And yet I keep seeing here and there immunity or pardoning being floated or even demanded.

          Without punishment for these crimes it is WE the United States of America that are criminals as opposed to THEY the administrations and government that are criminals.

          We need a new Nuremberg.

          1. Andrew Watts

            I don’t know about you but I’m unable to digest all this at once. Acting impulsively isn’t going to help matters in the slightest degree. We don’t even know the full extent of the damage and there’s other issues at stake too.

            I kinda trapped myself into a corner with this response. Looks like I’ll have to do some more posting on today’s water cooler topic.

  6. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA Torture Report (Part 2)

    I thought I’d post a few relevant quotes w/ minimum commentary by James Angleton according to ‘The Secret History of the CIA’ (2001) by Joseph Trento. When Angleton starts making sense you know the US is in deep trouble.

    The real problem with US intelligence/CIA was that “there was no accountability. And without real accountability everything turned to shit.”

    The very same thing could be said about other problems this country faces.

    “Fundamentally, the founding fathers of US intelligence were liars. The better you lied and the more you betrayed, the more likely you would be promoted. These people attracted and promoted each other. Outside of their duplicity, the only thing they had in common was a desire for absolute power.”

    This observation was put to the test quite recently wasn’t it? Ironically, we actually owe Angleton a debt of gratitude for this insight. Continuing onward.

    “…Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, Carmel Offie, and Frank Wisner were the grand masters. If you were in a room with them you were in a room full of people that you had to believe would deservedly end up in hell… I guess I will see them there soon.”

    When Helms was CIA Director he was held in contempt of Congress… he later waved his indictment around a room full of CIA agents like it was a trophy and proudly wore this experience as a badge of honor. Everything old is new again… except Congress actually doing something about the illegal war crimes committed by the CIA.

    1. Glenn Condell

      Smells a bit Deep-Statish to me. Ellroy and De Lillo got there early by intuition, but get there they did. Artists tend to hear the horsemen before the rest of us, particularly those with the ‘power of facing unpleasant facts’, however thin on the ground they may be.

  7. McMike

    What is there about the torture to hide from us? Aside confirming what we suspected, adding details to general information, etc, what revelations of activities might be buried that would make us say: “wow, I didn’t think they’d done that.”

  8. DJG

    My favorite squib, taken from the Guardian site, about the ultra-talented mayor of Chicago: “Obama’s first chief of staff and Chicago confidant Rahm Emmanuel reportedly dressed down former defense secretary Leon Panetta for agreeing to co-operate with the Senate inquiry.
    “I was summoned to a meeting in the Situation Room, where I was told I would have to ‘explain’ this deal to Rahm … It did not take long to get ugly,” Panetta claimed in his memoir, Worthy Fights. “’The president wants to know who the f**k authorized this to the committees,’ Rahm said, slamming his hand down on the table. “I have a president with his hair on fire and I want to know what the f**k you did to f**k this up so bad.”
    [Now why would the Commander in Chief (a military term, not a civilian one, by the way) be all burnt-y haired if he wasn’t up to his eyeballs in torture?]

  9. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA Torture Report (Part 3)

    I’m about a hundred pages into the summary and it’s quite a disappointment in a number of ways. The idea that the CIA is a rogue agency not under the control of the executive branch is false and an area of agreement where I wholeheartedly side with Dick Cheney. Everything from the Bay of Pigs to Operation Mongoose and the current torture regime to other activities of the Directorate of Operations is under the direct supervision of the executive branch.

    The report also deliberately tries to conceal the identities of previous CIA torturers. One of the first things I did was search for the name ‘Yuri Nosenko’. Nosenko was a Soviet defector who James Angleton had tortured. Why? Well, Angleton thought that the Soviets were behind the Kennedy assassionation. I’m pretty sure I warned everybody already that Angleton was crazy, right? The following was pulled from the footnotes…

    “According to public records, in the mid-1960s, the CIA imprisoned and interrogated Yuri Nosenko, a Soviet KGB officer who defected to the U.S. in early 1964, for three years (April 1964 to September 1967). Senior CIA officers [Read: Angleton] at the time did not believe Nosenko was an actual defector and ordered his imprisonment and interrogation. Nosenko was confined in a specially constructed “jail,” with nothing but a cot, and was subjected to a series of sensory deprivation techniques and forced standing.”

    The fact the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report deliberately tried to conceal this well-known case of torture in CIA history was an epic fail. The question is… why bother? This is all information that has long been declassified and in the public domain for years. I do appreciate the irony of using KGB methods on a Soviet defector though.

  10. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA Torture Report (Part 4)

    Just in case anybody had any doubts about the War on Terror…

    During the questioning Abu Zubaydah denied any knowledge related to specific targets for a pending attack and “advised that many of the brothers on the front lines (nfi) [no further information] talked about all types of attacks against America but that for the most part this was usually just talk and that
    [the United States] should not be concerned about this type of talk, -Pg 55

    It should be obvious that the “ticking timebomb” scenario that apparently justifies torture is a fantasy scenario lifted from some lame television show.

  11. Andrew Watts

    This is how I imagine all this going down…

    CIA Operative #1: “I think he’s telling us the truth. He (Abu Zubaydah) hasn’t given us anything new.”

    CIA Operative #2: “Hey! Let’s torture him anyway.”

    CIA Operative #1: “Okay!”

    CIA Operative #3: “I don’t want to do this before lunch we can always torture him after lunch!”

    After the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques ended, CIA personnel at the detention site concluded that Abu Zubaydah had been truthful and that he did not possess any new terrorist threat information. -Pg 71

    Well they had to make sure, right?

    1. Andrew Watts

      Or not.

      CIA records indicate that Abu Zubaydah maintained that he always intended to talk and never believed he could withhold information from interrogators. In February 2003, Abu Zubaydah told a CIA psychologist thathe believed prior to his capture that every captured “brother” would talk in detention and that he told individuals at a terrorist training camp that “brothers should be able to expect that the organization will make adjustments to protect people and plans when someone with knowledge is captured. -Pg 74

      1. Ian

        I stole your critiques and posted them through my FB account on a related article. I referenced you as the author though.

        1. Andrew Watts

          You’re quite able to do with these ideas what you will. That includes anybody else as a matter of fact. With or without proper attribution.

          I think it’s more important these ideas are out in the open and being contemplated.

  12. Now dress up like Sally Hemmings

    I really underestimated Obama’s capacity to submit to Massa Brennan’s humiliation. But evidently there is no practical limit to the quantity of shit he’ll eat. Talk about degradation. Now that our designated enemies and rivals have watched Obama open wide for this golden shower, his international appearances are going to be a treasury of cruel comedy.

  13. Oregoncharles

    Is there another source for the Greek snap election and Syriza’s chances? This could be the beginning of the end of the Euro, and I don’t have an account at FT – nor am I going to get one.

    1. wbgonne

      Don’t bet the house. The plutocrats haven’t lost one yet. OTOH:

      Don’t think it won’t happen just because it hasn’t happened yet.

      — Jackson Browne

      Keep hope alive!

    2. lambert strether

      The headline to the article is in quotes inside the brackets. Google it. If that doens’t work, clear your cookies.

  14. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA Torture Report (Part 6 ~ because I forgot to label 5)

    The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report goes out of it’s way to tell us who isn’t responsible and who the CIA has deliberately misinformed. Do they really expect us to believe that the National Security Council wasn’t aware of any of this? I think the correct response to this situation is “Never believe anything until it is officially denied”. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to point a few fingers.

    “Contrary to statements later made by CIA Director Michael Hayden and other CIA officials that “[a]ll those involved in the questioning of detainees are carefully chosen and screened for demonstrated professional judgment and maturity, CIA records suggest that the vetting sought by *redacted* did not take place.


    This group of officers included individuals who, among other issues, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault.” -Pg. 85

    Scapegoating? Check. Selective outrage? Check. I really hate to say this but given the sheer amount of horror this report has revealed thus far and the massive amount of individuals potentially involved with this, imprisoning Hayden and/or a few CIA officials would be an incredible miscarriage of justice.

    1. Jackrabbit

      My understanding is that the CIA is saying that they had full authorization from DOJ and the highest levels of Govt. Further, they insist that hey kept everyone (WH, top congressional leaders, etc.) fully informed.

      Just saw an interview with a former CIA Head of Counter-terrorism in which he emphasized the same.

      Maybe we will get more info in the coming weeks as people involved feel more free to talk.

      H O P

      1. Andrew Watts

        I’ll have somewhat of a response for you later today. What the CIA and Bush administration officials are doing is a bit more complicated and involves a lot of history.

  15. dearieme

    The thing that strikes me about all the torture is that it was part of the USA’s hysterical reaction to 9/11. That was a success for a daring, and lucky, terrorist group, but it did not remotely endanger the existence of the USA, and would probably prove very hard to repeat. So instead of coolly assessing what to do next, your government and nation had a fit of the vapours, and then started lashing out against the innocent and guilty alike. No; that’s wrong – mainly against the innocent; producing mountains of dead in Iraq, for instance, who had nothing whatever to do with 9/11. Really, the American reaction was appallingly stupid and wicked. After the passage of years, and the exit from office of W, one might hope for better. It’s not obvious that “better” has occurred: O seems to be just another odious fellow.

    And recently the USA seems to have decided to try to restart the Cold War. Dear God, is there to be no end to the folly?

      1. optimader

        Well, I wasn’t going to go here, but I’m guessin the Rendition aircraft N-number spotters clubs are a bit quaint in the sense that it may be something of a headfake anyway.
        A friend of mine, non-American, english as a first language, seriously good Boeing 7** pilot(**=anything) fly’s for a charter entity transporting troops around the globe. He was recruited to fly unmarked 7** aircraft “you know, the ones w/ no N-numbers/no flight plans” — Suffice it to say he declined. What he does now is already way out on a ledge IMO. –flights w/ ATC by AWACS to places where he may have to pay $$ cash for fuel to leave? Seems crazy to me..
        So the point is, we probably don’t even have a grasp of how deep/wide the river is relative to guesstimating rendition flights. Who the heck knows — presumably if there are traceable flights and untraceable flights the latter exist for a reason? It would be interesting to hear a justification for why the latter are necessary??

  16. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA Torture Report (Part 7 ~ Final)

    I am far too angry to read or analyze any more of this with any degree of impartiality. In the first hundred and twenty five pages the CIA has murdered a prisoner through hypothermia, driven another to the brink of insanity, and recruited a bunch of “unqualified” professionals to carry these actions out.

    There is a few claims in the report that Langley was unaware that torture was taking place in certain cases. In some instances this sounds plausible as the Mothership would not be aware of the extent of the prisoner’s injuries or other factors like who authorized the “enhanced interrogations”. Other general and unspecified individual cases are not so convincing. Although I cannot say for sure one way or another.

    I hope everybody enjoyed my mini-review of the first 125 pages of the torture report. I’m not sure if I will post anything more on the subject even though I plan on finishing reading it asap.

    Final note: The page numbers I posted correspond with the pdf file downloaded from the Senate.gov source. Not the page numbers of the actual report itself.

    1. DJG

      Thanks, Andrew Watts. Highly informative. And it is good that you are angry about what you have read. My hypothesis all along (based on years of involvement, somewhat tangentially, in human-rights work) has been that capital crimes were committed. There is no statute of limitations for murder. Not even for cold-blooded murder of one’s so-called enemies. So that is what all the panic is about. That is what Obama is covering up. The crap about this not being what we are as a nation is just crap, from the Commander in Chief (too bad that I’m a civilian), in that the USA was involved in the torture regimes in El Salvador (eyewitnesses who heard English spoken), Guatemala (likewise), Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Time for us all to demand indictments. Otherwise, it’s all over. We become Honduras with fewer palm trees.

      1. psychohistorian

        If you noticed, all of South America is missing from countries that participated in helping with American torture.

        Being such recent victims of both physical and economic torture, South America knows better than to support America the bully.

      2. Andrew Watts

        You’re welcome and you’re also right about there being no statue on limitations on murder… or war crimes. It’s nice to have some encouragement for doing something that might get me made a political prisoner someday.

        Oh well.

    2. ChrisPacific

      I’m not sure I would say I enjoyed it, but I definitely found it eye-opening. It’s quite revealing to contrast your findings with the media reports and speculate on why the difference. I’m surprised that the hypothermia death hasn’t received more coverage (and I don’t think murder is too strong a word on your part).

      1. Andrew Watts

        Probably because there really isn’t any way to spin this incident. Think about it. We’re torturing these people because they have information that we need for “national security” reasons. Annnnd we accidentally let these high value detainees die in the process of this?

        Yeah, I don’t think even Goebbels could spin that one.

  17. Blackjack

    Torture Report
    Jesus… Canada is on the list. What have we come to?
    It’s that bloody Prime Minister of ours… He has got it into his head that to ‘play with big dogs’ he has to suck up to the US.
    God help us.

    1. Roland

      Arar was rendered while Paul Martin was PM.

      Canada’s participation in the secret worldwide jails programme began under Chretien.

      Harper is just less shamefaced about it all.

      The whole secular rational humanistic modern West got the wind up after 9/11. Such a disgrace. But what do you expect from a Western world ruled by a bourgeois class not exactly known for their courage or sense of honour?

      1. JEHR

        Canada is no longer the “innocent” bystander. I am sick at heart to think that our government is so base and cruel. I fear there is more to come.

        1. Glenn Condell

          Australia too, though that is no shocker. I’m in NZ right now, and it’s no surprise given it’s history of ignoring US bullying that it’s not on the list. Nice to be in a country that retains the capacity to say no.

  18. Jay M

    Well the message is either, I’m stupid, you are smart, I knew better MIT Prof. . .
    or, we were really bloody, no fault, no claim, it was war
    will the bloody war be used against the intransigent masses in USA?

  19. Prosecute the torture cowards

    Meanwhile special rapporteur Ben Emmerson cuts through all the CIA-scriped horseshit about how grateful you are to the Patriots keeping you safe with some fucking binding law.

  20. Jackrabbit

    Obama Administration seeks new AUMF

    Despite insisting that the Administration has all the authorization that it needs to strike ISIL – and having ruled out ‘boots on the ground’ – the Administration is requesting a broad new authorization that would:

    – have no geographical limits

    – place no limits on forces (‘boots on the ground’ would be OK)

    – allow for extensions of the AUMF

    – be directed at ISIL “and associated forces” (how is that defined?)


    Wait, can’t we defeat ISIL simply with sanctions and other actions against countries and groups that support them directly or indirectly?

    H O P

    1. James

      Hard to “defeat” ISIL when they’re an “enemy” of your own creation and funding meant only to serve your own “purpose” of having an enemy to “fight” in the first place, don’t you think?

      Wag the dog? No, wag the dog, who wags the tail, who wags the dog. Yes, it’s come to that.

      The simulacron RULES!

  21. Howard Beale IV

    Korean Air Executive Resigns Post After Halting Flight Over Snack Service: New York Times.

    Another case of oligarchs (in this case, members of the South Korean chaebols) behaving badly-but the FAA will be none too pleased: there was no real emergency that required the aircraft to return to JFK. It’s blown up big time in South Korea.

Comments are closed.