Water Torture, the Spanish Inquisition and President Kennedy

Making Light has a great post on the "interrogation methods" of the US intelligence community. New props in the same old play.

It really leads one to ask the question*: how far removed from your own physical body, and your ability for empathy does one have to be to think that these are ok, that these are just fine and dandy for the not-yet-convicted-or-indeed-prosecuted-with-anything terrorist scum.

The Bush White House has really worked hard turning Arabs into pseudohumans in the public awareness, and establishing the idea of the administration having access to some great arcane intelligence stash that puts them in the right. But honestly, we ought to just acknowledge the fact that the CIA has mostly been just flat wrong. It has completely misjudged the situation, and made the wrong moves almost consistently throughout the past fifty years. There's an old joke: know why the CIA was not involved with the Kennedy assasination? Because they managed to kill Kennedy, and only a single innocent bystander. Have a look at CIA history. And remember that most of these are historically confirmed facts. Isn't it just bone-chilling? These are the people doing the Spanish Inquisition thing down in Guantanamo and around the world in the secret prisons that Bush has now finally admitted to having. Do you really want them holding the switch to the electrical cables the day you get dragged in because your best friend the Middle-East researcher happened to know someone crazy in a mosque somewhere?

* As a complete aside here, the phrase begging the question came into my head while I was writing this phrase. Begging the question is one of those blank holes in my brain. I have a few words I somehow manage to never learn the definition of despite having looked them up five or ten times. The term "begging the question" is one of them. Also, the names of some people that I know fairly well remain elusive much longer than they should. I wonder if I have a faulty synapse or something.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The CIA may have a dismal history, but they're far more reality-based than the Bush people. The Valerie Plame affair was part of a larger fight between Bush and the CIA, early in his first administration. He didn't want intelligence from them; he wanted them to back up decisions he'd already made, and accede to the methods he wanted to use. It's hard to be sure when you're on the outside, but it looks like he won that war. Of course, it helps in a fight like that if you're willing to out career undercover officers, and burn intelligence assets on a wholesale basis.


September 12, 2006 3:57 pm  
Blogger mrtn said...

Well sure, they did have something going on for a while in the mid to late 90s, but that seems to have ended now. I still remain skeptical of any concentration of unaccountable and secret power, no matter how reality-based or useful it is for a shorter period, longer periods of bad staffing or interdepartmental cooperation problems, and the world pays. This is the basic problem of operations like the CIA: so much depends on the staff policies of one agency.

Anyway, It's interesting that what previously for a while seemed to be a shadow government of sorts has wound up being more or less a part of the public relations division of the white house. Times change.

Incidentally, you probably heard this but the latest news is that Valerie Plame was in charge of the operations group of the Joint Task Force on Iraq researching - not unsurprisingly - WMDs in Iraq.

September 12, 2006 4:24 pm  

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