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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:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”