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After five years in which Congress abdicated its Constitutional duties of oversight–with the most disastrous consequences, and nowhere more sorely missed than in the field of intelligence–we witness the first stirrings towards Congressional action now. Scott Shane offers a good report on the first moves in today’s New York Times.
I’m just starting to look through these developments now, but I note an important interim assessment by Marty Lederman here, which should mark a good starting point. What’s going on behind the scenes? The Administration is pressing ahead for continuation of the “program,” including the four criminal techniques of waterboarding, hypothermia, long-time standing, and sleep deprivation over two days. The force behind this move is, as always, the Vice President for Torture, Dick Cheney. The senior-most echelon of intelligence professionals–I am told and believe–are nearly unanimous in opposing these moves on both moral and utilitarian grounds. Their advice and analysis is, as usual, ignored by the White House, with its heartfelt conviction that brutality works. The initial moves coming out of Congress are certainly less than the robust confrontation one would have wished for, but we are, it appears, still in the midst of a battle.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Amount paid last fall for a Ford Escort driven by Pope John Paul II:
92 percent of Mexicans are relaxed by a pleasant-smelling bedroom.
Swedish biologists studying coercive mating in mosquitofish discovered that females’ brains get larger as males’ genitals get longer, and male Madagascar hissing cockroaches were found to attract mates with either their enlarged testicles or their enlarged horns.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."