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The Bush Administration’s swan song consists of a series of increasingly absurd claims designed to cover its crimes and failings. The most persistent of these is the claim that torture was necessary to save lives, and that attacks were in fact averted through the use of torture techniques. Vice President Cheney continued his crusade for torture yesterday insisting that torture is the “moral” thing to do (helping to explain the origins of Cheney’s Washington nickname, “vice”). Vanity Fair’s David Rose takes a look at the administration’s case for torture, and specifically its claims that torture averted attacks or at least produced actionable intelligence of some sort. He walks us through all the claims, one by one, and finds that they are all contradicted by the facts. Some of the sources did produce useful intelligence, but in no case was the application of torture the reason why, nor did it even contribute to the result. In the final lines of his article, he has this exchange with FBI director Robert Mueller:
I ask Mueller: So far as he is aware, have any attacks on America been
disrupted thanks to intelligence obtained through what the administration still calls “enhanced techniques”?
“I’m really reluctant to answer that,” Mueller says. He pauses, looks at an aide, and then says quietly, declining to elaborate: “I don’t believe that has been the case.”
Mueller is “reluctant to answer” because he knows that Cheney and other administration spokespersons have repeatedly made that claim. And he knows that it is a lie which has been advanced for a specific reason: to cloak their criminal conduct.
More from Scott Horton:
No Comment — March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm
On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers
No Comment — November 4, 2013, 5:17 pm
An expert panel concludes that the Pentagon and the CIA ordered physicians to violate the Hippocratic Oath
No Comment — August 12, 2013, 7:55 am
How will the Obama Administration handle Edward Snowden’s case in the long term?
Discussed in this essay:
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. Henry Holt. 352 pages. $28.
The extinction symbol is a spare graphic that began to appear on London walls and sidewalks a couple of years ago. It has since become popular enough as an emblem of protest that people display it at environmental rallies. Others tattoo it on their arms. The symbol consists of two triangles inscribed within a circle, like so:
“The triangles represent an hourglass; the circle represents Earth; the symbol as a whole represents, according to a popular Twitter feed devoted to its dissemination (@extinctsymbol, 19.2K followers), “the rapidly accelerating collapse of global biodiversity” — what scientists refer to alternately as the Holocene extinction, the Anthropocene extinction, and (with somewhat more circumspection) the sixth mass extinction.
Ratio of husbands who say they fell in love with their spouse at first sight to wives who say this:
Mathematicians announced the discovery of the perfect method of cutting a cake.
Indian prime-ministerial contender Narendra Modi, who advertises his bachelorhood as a mark of his incorruptibility, confessed to having a wife.
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Science’s crisis of faith