Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I don't mean to write so much about torture but Jesus, conservatives sure are covering themselves in glory with this, huh? At National Review, Deroy Murdock -- once considered a libertarian, if you can believe it, despite his history of torture advocacy -- did a yay-torture column that had so much 9/11 in it that Rudolph Giuliani filed a trademark infringement suit. (Murdock also uses the mildest descriptions of what happened -- e.g. "blowing cigarette or cigar smoke into a detainee’s face" -- rather than the killing and broken bones stuff, and omits the torture of innocents altogether, so I can't even give him Cheney points for bare-faced evil -- like most of his fellow torture fans, he wants readers to wish it into the cornfield and denounce liberals for thinking bad thoughts about Anthony.)

Speaking of Jesus, from D.C. McAllister at The Federalist here's what may be a new low:
Yes, Christians Can Support Torture
Majorities of Christians support the use of torture in some instances. And they’re not bad Christians for doing so.
I'm not even kidding. McAllister smacks down some wussy "pastor" who claims it isn't Christian to chain people to the ceiling, keep them awake for days on end, and rape them with syringes:
He states in a “PS” that he originally wrote, “You cannot be a Christian and support torture.” He took out “a” probably because he received a lot of backlash, and rightly so. So he qualified it: “You cannot be Christian and support torture. . . . Can you support torture and go to heaven? Maybe. Can you support torture and be Christlike? No.”
Zahnd can try to disingenuously snake his way out of his own wording, but it’s obvious he’s calling people’s Christianity into question, and that’s what he meant when he initially wrote the post. But even with the qualifier, he is judging 79 percent of evangelicals in America and 78 percent of Catholics (along with 68 percent of all Americans, according to a recent poll)—who say torture can be justified.
How dy'ya like that, Mr. Pastor? The overwhelming majority of Americans say "Give us Barabbas!"

I expect next we'll see Jesus paraphernalia that shows the Prince of Peace giving the Abu Ghraib thumbs-up.


  1. Well of COURSE Christians can support torture. Where would we be today if Pilate had kissed Jesus on the cheek an asked him politely to please stop being so annoying.

  2. Murdock also uses the mildest descriptions of what happened -- e.g. "blowing cigarette or cigar smoke into a detainee’s face" -- rather than
    the killing and broken bones stuff, and omits the torture of innocents altogetherAfter all those years pooh-pooh'ing waterboarding as just hijinks, they seem to have reacted to the revelation of much worse tactics by doubling down on the minimization. By the end of the month, they'll be using the term "tickle parties" unironically.but it’s obvious he’s calling people’s Christianity into questionIndeed, and such a tactic is utterly abhorrent to American conservatives.
    How dy'ya like that, Mr. Pastor? The overwhelming majority of Americans say "Give us Barrabas!"Oh, holy shit, this. You can charge me double for this month's subscription, Edroso.

  3. runsinbackground10:23 AM

    "Whatever you did to the least of these brothers of mine, the little Fulkerson probably had it coming anyway."


  5. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, freeze him to his grave; and him that taketh away thy cloak, retrieve thy property with simulated drowning.

  6. dstatton10:40 AM

    Today's conservatives: "We are not indifferent to torture. We like it!"

  7. Halloween_Jack10:45 AM

    McAllister is just amazing, in her selective use of the Bible to support torture (e.g. the parts of the Old Testament which also support slavery, and Romans, in which Paul asserts the right of authority, even though the Roman Empire not only relied on slavery, but also would strive to come up with new and creative ways to torture Christians. It's one of those times when I sincerely hope that there is an afterlife and that Jesus has a big part of it, if only to go up to this thing in a human skin and say, "OK, let's talk about this fucking thing you wrote--I mean, jeez*, where do I even start with this bullshit?"

    *yes, even he says it.

  8. Ellis_Weiner10:54 AM

    Here is McAllister's topic sentence, as it were:

    "Torture in some forms and in some circumstances—conducted by the police
    and military officials—can be morally justified because (1) torture is
    not necessarily morally worse than killing (i.e., the death
    penalty); (2) the terrorist has forfeited his right to life and his
    dignity by his own evil actions; and (3) the innocent lives that can be
    saved are of higher value than any moral claims by the terrorist who has
    committed atrocities."

    Notice what's missing? (I'll wait while you write your answer.) Ready? The possibility--read: the certainty--that some people being tortured are not guilty. They're not terrorists. They've been wrongly detained. They were fingered by spiteful rivals, or were swept up by error-prone soldiers or, God help us, cops.

    The fact that she neglects this aspect of this topic, in a fancy-schmancy article in The Federalist, is both comedy gold and utterly contemptible.

  9. cahuenga10:57 AM

    Another interesting byproduct of a pro-torture position is it puts conservative at odds with their military contingent. The armed forces are generally opposed to a pro-torture policy due to the obvious result, the torture of their own captured troops.

  10. DN Nation11:00 AM

    "Zahnd can try to disingenuously snake his way out of his own wording, but it’s obvious he’s calling people’s Christianity into question"

    Well thank goodness Six-Flags-Over-Jesus Protestants NEVER do this.

  11. "(3) the innocent lives that can be saved are of higher value than any moral claims by the terrorist who has committed atrocities."

    The apologists ALWAYS rely on either some variation of the Ticking Time Bomb Scenario, or the "Torture Does TOO Work" dodge.

  12. zencomix11:07 AM

    Rudy Giuliani and Bill O'Reilly discuss the proper meal for a rectal feeding.

  13. swkellogg11:09 AM

    Excerpt from the BBC Documentary "the Demonic Ape":

    Prof MARTIN MULLER (Michigan University): It was in August of 1988, so we were with our ten males and they were patrolling. We could hear them screaming and very excited, and we heard them pounding, it sounded like they were pounding on the ground. And we realised that, that our chimps were with a chimp from their neighbouring community that they had killed and the pounding that they were doing was on his body, they were still pounding on his chest, and it was horrific. The whole front of the, of the chimpanzee was covered with thirty or forty puncture wounds and lacerations, the, the ribs were sticking up out of the rib cage because they’d, they’d beaten on his chest so hard. They’d ripped his trachea out, they’d removed his testicles, they’d torn off toe nails and finger nails, and it was clear what had happened, was that some of the males had held him down while the others attacked.

    NARRATOR: Slowly it dawned on scientists that chimpanzees were not like us just because they could think, reason and use tools. They were like us because they could be cruel.

    Prof RICHARD WRANGHAM: There is a sense in which this looks sadistic, the, the joy, this is kind of hard to take you know because again it’s got horrible echoes of what happens with humans at times. The males who attack, they do seem to take a certain joy in the attack, their drinking of the blood sometimes, or the biting, gripping with the teeth of the skin on part of the arm and then rearing the head back and taking the skin with it and tearing it all the way around. They look as though they’re in a state of, of intense excitement and maybe joy.

    NARRATOR: Chimpanzees can be described as sadistic because they have theory of mind, they know when they’re inflicting pain. Not all animals have this ability.

    Prof FRANS DE WAAL: You can not have cruelty in creatures that don’t have empathy. Ironically enough, for example a shark can do a lot of damage, it can hurt you very terribly, but I don’t, don’t think a shark can be cruel, it doesn’t have the brains to understand what the effect is of its actions. Now chimpanzees do have that kind of understanding. Chimpanzees have empathy and sympathy and so as a result they can also inflict pain on purpose I think.

    NARRATOR: There is only one other animal on the planet that has a similarly dark side, human beings.

    We're just apes with jobs.

  14. Indeed, and such a tactic is utterly abhorrent to American conservatives.

    What's great is that, as we speak, the evangelical gatekeepers are trying to tag all the liberals among their number as "post-evangelical" so they can effectively force them out of the movement. These people hold truly heretical beliefs, such as their insistence that men and women be treated equally. Clearly, egalitarianism is far more of an insult to Christ than state-sponsored torture.

  15. The Imitation Of Christ is the sincerist form of flattery, I guess. And one thing you can say about modern christians is "they aren't flatterers."

  16. McAllister is busy qualifying her argument in the comments.

  17. Well geeze, it's not like torturing people is something truly heinous.

    E.g., gay marriage.

  18. Giant Monster Gamera11:23 AM

    The answer to the question "What would Jesus do?" is becoming increasingly horrifying.

  19. runsinbackground11:24 AM

    Hey, He was "true man and true God," I think He'd be the kind of guy to curse as he whips the money-changers.

  20. Ellis_Weiner11:35 AM

    Read or skim her article. It's something Torquemada could have written with pleasure--a hairsplitting, finely-parsed justification in which potential innocence is ignored but God and Old Testament practice are cited. Good thing, for its server's sake, that site doesn't allow comments.

  21. carolannie11:39 AM

    I suppose the Jesus that said "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." is the one that approves torture.

  22. susanoftexas11:39 AM

    You're looking backward, not forward.

  23. carolannie11:40 AM

    and abortion. and birth control. and not spanking babies. and not shooting people in the street in a frenzy of self-induced fear.

  24. Ellis_Weiner11:44 AM

    Not even qualifying. Just repeating.

  25. Brother Yam11:44 AM

    Qualifying your argument in the comments just proves how well written and well thought out her argument was.

  26. deggjr11:47 AM

    This. The government is hopelessly incompetent except when its torturers are judging the guilt of foreigners. Unlike the rest of the government, the torturers are instantaneously infallible.

    D.C. McAllister clearly believes she is infallible. Who needs God when we have D.C. McAllister's judgment?

    Tangent: I look forward to her columns once she stumbles across the year of jubilee.

  27. Helmut Monotreme11:58 AM

    I have no time for people who argue in favor of torture. Even the 'ticking time bomb scenario' is clumsily contrived implausibility with no more relevance to the everyday life of an interrogator than the equally contrived Schrodinger's cat thought experiment. There's no spin on "the prisoner's dilemma" or the "runaway trolley scenario" or any of the hundred of superficially clever thought experiments engaged in by students in a philosophy, ethics or contrary asshole course that can make torture acceptable. Arguing in favor of torture does not excuse the inexcusable but it sure tells us something, maybe even everything that is necessary to know, about whoever is advocating it.

  28. Mr. McAllister?

    I spoke to God just now, and He said that you should, and I quote, "feel free to shut your shit-stained cakehole from now until eternity".

    Of course, given that many of you guys wear symbols of a torture device around your neck, I'm sure your opinion on the subject is intelligently informed, right?

  29. Megalon12:06 PM

    Oh please. If they didn't do any thing then why'd they get arrested huh?

  30. sharculese12:10 PM

    But even with the qualifier, he is judging 79 percent of evangelicals in America and 78 percent of Catholics (along with 68 percent of all Americans, according to a recent poll)—who say torture can be justified.

    Yah. 'Cause you guys support torture.

  31. Ms. McAllister.

  32. Tehanu12:10 PM

    Even if the whole thing weren't totally heinous, even if torture weren't the most evil thing imaginable, point #2 would only apply after the "terrorist" had been CONVICTED of those "evil actions" in a court of law -- and then only if that court of law were being conducted by God and his angels, since we know all too well the kinds of pressures on prosecutors and judges in, you know, the real world. God, I hate these people.

  33. c.f. the "body counts" in Vietnam, where anyone who was dead was listed as a VC sympathizer because, of course, why would we have shot them if they weren't?

  34. Lining up her torture-supporting angels on the head of a pin.

  35. Damn straight. The way forward is too scary.

  36. Tehanu12:13 PM

    Matthew 25:40; thanks for the reminder; now I can just use that when talking to any bible-spouting fascists.

  37. Rand Paul for Preznit?

    Words fail me.

  38. Duncan12:20 PM

    Catch-22. It's the American way.

  39. Duncan12:23 PM

    Well, I'd remember the very next verse, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!" But that's okay, because 1) they're the bad guys, so they deserve it; and 2) he said it in a spirit of Christian lovingkindness.

  40. Jay B.12:34 PM

    I'm shocked that the religion of the Inquisition supports torture!

    Maybe it's in the blood, or maybe they like their tortured martyr so much they want to make more.

  41. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person12:48 PM

    Obama is torturing Republicans!

    I wonder if--and hope!--he's just gonna troll the assholes for the next two years.

    href="">Let's have a sing, then...

  42. LookWhosInTheFreezer12:48 PM

    I've seen this exact same dead=terrorist logic applied to Iraq more recently.

  43. *yes, even he says it."It's not in vain when it's my own name."

  44. KatWillow12:50 PM

    I don't mean to write so much about torture but- You're doing great. The subject should never be ignored. I bet the repugs/wingers are just hoping everyone will get tired of the subject.

  45. Chutney Barn12:51 PM

    "Last time I was in Cuba, I lost my pants. Wait...where are my pants now?"

  46. KatWillow12:52 PM

    Some history books I've read give the Catholic Inquisition credit for creating modern-day Capitalism. Really. I'd link if I could, but it was a real book. One day we WILL be able to link to real stuff. GO Cloud!

  47. susanoftexas12:52 PM

    Remember when Seymour Hersh said that children were raped at Abu Ghraib to get their parents to talk? Fortunately we know Americans would never, ever do such a thing. It just has to be a lie or a mistake or an exaggeration or some America-hater's gossip. It can't possibly be true.

    And if we never have a trial we never have give up our belief that we are special.

    Obama:"I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it’s our willingness to affirm them through our actions.

  48. BG, professional humbug12:52 PM

    Aside from the fact that I still can't believe we are even discussing this, her entire premise is based on "guilty until proven innocent", which is completely contrary to the fundamental principle our justice system is built on.

    And I am sick of the hypotheticals involving "innocent lives" while we torture innocent people. Apparently it has not occurred to idiots like McAllister that doing so just might piss a few people off and inspire them to retaliate?

  49. Is anal rape consistent with Christian theology? Does anal rape have to be consensual to be a sin? Who would Jesus anally rape and under what circumstances? These are important questions which the Pope needs to clarify in order to avoid doctrinal confusion among the laity.

  50. As smut clyde would say, "Ah, another libertarian."

  51. BG, professional humbug12:55 PM

    I was in a church recently that had the 12 stations of the cross meticulously carved on the walls, in loving, gory, life-size detail. I couldn't even look at them. If this church is typical, some Christians (I am not one --- I was in the church to attend a concert) apparently love this kind of thing. Is suffering supposed to be nobel?

  52. KatWillow12:55 PM

    I always have trouble with 'Barabbas' too. Also nausia, nasuia, naseiu... NAUSEA.

  53. tigrismus12:55 PM

    But even with the qualifier, he is judging 79 percent of evangelicals
    in America and 78 percent of Catholics (along with 68 percent of all
    Americans, according to a recent poll)—who say torture can be justified.

    NOT THE JUDGING! Dear God, why can't he be less immoderate and just pulpify some of their body parts or something.

  54. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person12:59 PM

    Is suffering supposed to be nobel?

    Well, they do seem to Prize it highly...

  55. Gromet1:02 PM

    Oof, that's heinous. I will respect that a real argument could be made on behalf of #1 and #3, but her #2 is a messy hat tip to what she really wants, plain revenge. She says the prisoner has "forfeited his dignity" -- so we are free to abuse him as cruelly as we wish, and that is morally justified? Ah yes, here it is, right in our founding document: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, although the government may change that to alienable at any time." Also, remember when Jesus said, "The greatest commandment is love thy brother, unless he has forfeited his dignity, then it's morally justified to go apeshit"? Classic Jesus.

    #2 is detached from all utility except cruelty -- it obviates all idea that punishment is to drive the "evil-doer" toward seeing the error of his ways, repenting, feeling sorry, earning redemption. The punishment exists solely to cause pain and -- eh, so be it -- end in death (and go to hell).

    From a Christian standpoint, there is nothing Christian about this. It doesn't take a preacher to know that, and I'd tell anyone who thinks he's a Christian while adhering to McAllister's point of view that he damn well better cast some doubt on himself and review his heart.

    From a policy standpoint, it's just fantastically dumb. Do we want to be the super power that people all over the world see as aspirational, so they name streets after our presidents and dream of coming here? Or do we want to be the super power that says hey, if we suspect you crossed us, that means you've checked your human dignity forever? Hmmm. Which approach makes our fun and profitable global hegemony more sustainable?

  56. Professor Fate1:02 PM

    As Mr. Gandhi noted "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

  57. Would it be sinful for a female CIA torturer to take birth control pills if she is sexually active? Another important question which the Pope needs to clarify in order to avoid doctrinal confusion among the laity.

  58. See, Christ, Passion of the.

  59. She's even trying to turn the tables. She literally said this:

    "The fact that you're not willing to use something like waterboarding to save the slaughter of more than a 100 innocent children is horrifying."

    In other words, that person is evil for NOT wanting to use torture. I can't even.

  60. Professor Fate1:05 PM

    "Majorities of Christians support the use of torture in some instances. And they’re not bad Christians for doing so."
    True they are not bad Christians - the are horrible f-king human beings period. Their stated religion not withstanding.
    As I've said before the comet can't hit us soon enough.

  61. KatWillow1:06 PM

    They don't give a shit about the military, except as another tool of oppression.

    (PS: I visited Kipling's house once when I was in England)

  62. [takes break from regular ketamine injections to turn up power on homemade comet-attracting ray to 11]

  63. glennisw1:08 PM

    Well, to be fair to today's Christian torture advocates, torture has a long and storied Christian pedigree. Our most favored methods like the interrogatorio mejorado del agua were invented by some of the most pious Christians in the medieval world.

  64. KatWillow1:09 PM

    And not one story of how torturing farmers and taxi-drivers actually DID save a hundred children's lives.

    But you know what WOULD save children's lives? Gun control, that's what.

  65. That is a great point. These people think gun control is immoral and unconstitutional. Torture? No problem.

  66. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person1:13 PM

    Every one of these fuckers, whether they state it in so many words or not, believes torture actually works. Rather than compose a whole new rant, I'll just take the lazy way out and "encore" a post of mine over at TBogg's...

    The part I've always loved about all this is that the "the ends
    justify the means" segment of out punditariat seems to be completely
    unaware that there are no "ends" with which to do the justifying. None.
    Oh, yeah, "it's all classified, they can't tell everybody, ya silly
    Libtard! Haw haw!". Um, no. Why? Human nature is why. As I've said from
    the beginning, if the CIA had a successful torture result to wave at us,
    it'd be on every English language front page. The airwaves and
    intertubes would be awash in it 24/7. They'd buy Youtube and kick
    everyone else off so they could viral-video the world into one huge CIA
    Fan Club. They'd be doing "Turture Works!!!11!™ infomercials at 3:00
    fucking AM, complete with a Ropiel Waterboard-O-Matic for your very own
    for the low-low price of CLASSIFIED*. Doubt this at your peril, because
    That's How People Are. Especially the (self)important members of what CP
    likes to call our stalwart, all-too-Human, yet curiously error-prone
    heroes of the surveillance state™.

    *Fercrapsake, they gotta classify *something*, otherwise they break out in a rash...

  67. montag21:13 PM

    Let us not forget that the minimization began almost from the instant that Hersh wrote about the goings-on at Abu Ghraib, when the Darling of the Dominica chose to characterize it all as "fraternity hazing," as boys "letting off steam."

    The perception then was that it was just the Head Mouthbreather speaking to his mouthbreathing flock, but that was going to be the meme to be pushed from then on. And, as we're seeing at this moment, it was and is an effective tactic.

    The more observant of citizens have known that torture was baked into the American cake, from the 1963 CIA KUBARK manual, to the School of the Americas, to the death squads roaming Latin America with our tacit blessings and cash, but that was all stuff in the shadows, subject to plausible deniability. What is happening now is an in-your-face-fuck-you-moralists-we-did-it-and-we're-proud-of-it routine that boggles the mind, but the first attempts to legitimize it were from the Limbaughs of the airwaves, minimizing its horrors. That alone ought to inform us as to the genuine evil of it all.

  68. tigrismus1:13 PM

    Hell, these people think wishing them a happy holidays is immoral and unconstitutional.

  69. glennisw1:16 PM

    And Afghanistan. Who would have thought all those "militants" would be having all those weddings and feasts all the time?

  70. montag21:16 PM

    "Or inactions, depending upon the political weather."

  71. Is the reverse also true: "Generally I am against decapitating western journalists, but if it saves just one Muslim's life . . . "

  72. cahuenga1:18 PM

    I'm not convinced many of them believe torture actually works.

    Feels more like retribution to me. Guilty, innocent, matters not.

  73. On a side note, Ensure is gluten free so there's that.

  74. beejeez1:20 PM

    Let he who is without sin cast the -- OW!

  75. carolannie1:21 PM

    I think he meant it in the same spirit with which he chased the money lenders from the temple.

    As in, you guys just don't get it! IT will come and get you!

  76. I'd love to see the twisting she'd have to do to answer that (the answer obviously being that it's totally different because reasons).

  77. montag21:24 PM

    You would think that being believers in the classic torture story of the last 2000 years would incline them to take a dim view of the practice.

    But, then, even the peasants found the occasional public witch-burning 500 years ago a festive event, just as beheading for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia draws a merry crowd today.

    Maybe in that regard we aren't exceptional at all, but, rather, are depressingly typical.

  78. mgmonklewis1:25 PM

    I join this comment in strewing palm branches before Roy's post.

  79. redoubtagain1:25 PM

    'Cause to people like that, Brown = Guilty

  80. Not enough upbotes in the world for this comment.

  81. mgmonklewis1:32 PM

    A brief interlude for some much needed comic relief:

  82. BG, professional humbug1:33 PM

    They get off on it.

  83. montag21:33 PM

    It was the Romans, after all, that averred that it was better to be feared than loved, because love is fickle, I suppose, while fear is forever. Well, not quite forever, as it turned out.

    The galling bit about this is that we've consistently and hypocritically portrayed ourselves as worthy of aspiration, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that we behave very, very badly. I guess we can thank George Creel and Eddie Bernays for the belief among our elite that spin is way more effective than the truth.

  84. "Thou shalt crush their balls for information."

    - The Apostle John (Yoo)

  85. BG, professional humbug1:36 PM


  86. BG, professional humbug1:36 PM

    That's my point.

  87. Christmas comes early this year as Obama negotiates the return of a US prisoner from Cuba and talks of normalizing relations between the two countries. With the help of the Vatican.

    Other than the Pope eloping with his male lover, I can't think of many things that will engender more free entertainment than this little titbit.

  88. montag21:39 PM

    Ah, well, Abu Ghraib was a military operation, as was the little torture facility on the side operated by the Ministry of the Interior with our assistance (particularly of Col. James Steele, of Latin American notoriety).

    The military is far from blameless in this, thanks to the ministrations of loonies like Gens. Jerry Boykin and William Miller.

  89. mgmonklewis1:41 PM

    It has been argued that if the symbol of Christianity were a modern means of execution — say, the electric chair — that it might be eye-opening for a lot of people. The cross as a means of torture and execution is so removed from common usage that it's a disconnected symbol to most people. A symbol like the electric chair might make them think more deeply about torture and capital punishment.

    Then again, in light of recent events, maybe not. Ugh.

  90. cahuenga1:42 PM

    Hey keta.

    FYI, cahuenga = anykey from days

  91. mgmonklewis1:43 PM

    At least s/he'd know how to Work.

  92. cahuenga1:46 PM

    Hence the qualifier 'generally".

    Torture is prohibited in the Army Field Manual.

  93. Out in the car earlier and the NPR was on; they were talking about torture, the host brought up the "we needed to get information" bullshit and the interviewee said "Yes, that's one argument", at which point I disgustedly switched it off.

    "Yes, that's an argument", like they're discussing when to change your car's oil or packing kid's lunches. Not "what the fuck, that's not the point, it's wrong whatever our justification". Assholes.

  94. I know, the Catholic Church, but the more I'm seeing from Pope Francis the better I like him. He's doing pretty well as he can with a monolithic thousand-year-plus-old conservative institution.

  95. Like I said downthread, they wear stylized torture devices on chains around their necks.

  96. montag21:53 PM

    Only later, after the practices of Abu Ghraib were revealed, was the FM rewritten to specifically preclude some of the practices that came to notoriety. And it still allows some practices that you and I would consider torture. And Guantanamo, I will remind, is a military operation, as well.

    "Prohibited" is, at best, a fungible concept.

  97. The chokehold was prohibited in the NYCPD. Just sayin'.

  98. Gromet1:54 PM

    Latter-day Italian Machiavelli said the best thing to preserve power is an appearance of virtue. If it's impossible to sustain the appearance, he said go with fear over love. But he was quite clear that's a gambit sure to cause some real desperation on all sides. So you'd best manage to appear noble and kind -- and we've been fucked on that score since the say Baghdad fell and revealed Bush Jr had absolutely no plan for the occupation beyond "How about total chaos and a parade?"

  99. cahuenga1:55 PM

    Actually, it was rewritten in 2006 to delineate proper interrogation techniques (does not include torture) while removing the old, overt language regarding torture.

  100. So when did what we did save children?

    Or are we just making another bullshit 24 reference?

  101. I don’t care if they have to shoot a thousand innocent civilians, if it saves one innocent civilian then it’s all worthwhile.

  102. That's exactly what she's doing. She claims that "ticking time bomb" scenarios exist, though she admits they are rare. She also claims that the part of the report that says that torture was ineffective is "wrong" because CIA agents say so.

    That anyone would go to these lengths, allow oneself to look this stupid, to defend torture is breathtaking.

  103. Someone's forgotten that half the CIA's goddamn job description is about lying to people.

  104. PersonaAuGratin2:11 PM

    Yes, but have you ever kippled?

  105. Chutney Live at the Barn2:11 PM


    I actually wish you and your mom well, but dude, you got more pressing matters to worry about than hiw uncomfsrtable KSM was ten years ago. Write him a letter expressing how sorry you feel for him, whatever it takes, but my God, get over it akready and move on with your life. These guys killed 3,000 people. They're not nice guys. It's not like someone pulled your car's tail and laughed about it. Seriously, focus in what's important.

  106. Helmut Monotreme2:12 PM

    You don't get to cheer for raining death from the skies on two countries for a decade and then claim to be against the slaughter of innocents.

  107. Chutney Live at the Barn2:13 PM

    "Last time I was in Cuba, I lost my pants. Wait...where are my pants now?"

  108. From Digby over at Hullabaloo:

    "Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any
    [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such
    severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may
    require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be
    disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause... for
    by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and
    their country." -- George Washington, charge to the Northern
    Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775

    He was nothing but a lily livered coward who didn't understand the
    nature of an existential threat. We should blast his face from Mt.

  109. Chutney Live at the Barn2:19 PM

    If the only tool you have is a gun, every problem looks like a target... and every solution looks like a corpse.

  110. TGuerrant2:20 PM

    If I can justify the torture of Christians who think torture can be justified, does that make me a Christian? I don't want to risk being that vile.

  111. BigHank532:22 PM

    A brief story about counting the VC dead. I'm of an age where several of my high school teachers were Vietnam vets. One related a tale he's been told by some poor grunt on body-counting duty, who had been poking through the remains of a Vietnamese village when he encountered the corpse of a pregnant woman who'd been so shredded that her pre-term child was now a complete and separate corpse of its own. So he counted 'em both as VC.

    I'm sure McAllister could come up with a justification. I really don't want to hear it.

  112. Hersh also said that the Abu photos are the tip of the iceburg. The worst ones have yet to come out.

  113. TGuerrant2:22 PM

    I want to lock and load that comment NOW.

  114. BigHank532:29 PM

    If one cares to examine slavery through the prism of torture, (for what is slavery except torture with a mission statement, production benchmarks, and double-entry bookkeeping?) it's pretty clear that torture was baked into the American cake since 1662.

  115. TGuerrant2:29 PM

    And Jesus said, Blessed are the nipple clamps for they shall recharge Dick Cheney's pacemaker.

  116. BigHank532:30 PM

    Oh, given the amount of the Bible she's currently ignoring, adding another verse won't be a problem.

  117. smut clyde2:31 PM

    The overwhelming majority of Americans say "Give us Barabbas!"

    "Crucify that other dude? It's just a stress position!"

  118. TGuerrant2:35 PM

    But it was for medical purposes.
    --The Hypocritical Oaf

  119. smut clyde2:35 PM

    conducted by the police and military officials
    The authoritarian mind at work.
    She has unaccountably omitted "private contractors".

  120. How many pins can you stick into an angel's head.

  121. TGuerrant2:36 PM

  122. As per John Brown, "Nits grow up to be lice".

  123. So THAT's how it works. Huh.

  124. smut clyde2:39 PM

    Alexei Sayle had a routine along those lines. If Christ had died in the electric chair, instead of making the Sign of the Cross, believers would be bestowing their blessings on one another by gripping imaginary hand-electrodes and going BZZZZZT!

  125. TGuerrant2:40 PM

    Eternal life without the expense of a funeral...

  126. smut clyde2:42 PM

    Another libertarian who supports state violence as long as it's conducted by men in uniforms.

  127. The "private contractors" is what makes it libertarian freedomish.

  128. TGuerrant2:45 PM

    Wired, 12/15/17:

    Even as President Obama denounces the
    “enhanced interrogation” employed by the CIA and outlined in a scathing
    Senate report, his administration continues blocking the release of some
    2,100 photographs taken in Iraq and Afghanistan depicting alleged

    Today, Justice Department attorneys will
    present to federal judge Alvin Hellerstein the government’s reasons for
    withholding the photos. The Abu Ghraib images that surfaced in 2004 are
    but a fraction of the trove, and the Obama administration has since 2009
    argued that releasing them would inflame anti-American sentiment abroad
    and place Americans at risk.

  129. I posted the above over at the Federalist place, let's see how long it stays there.

  130. TGuerrant2:50 PM

    Actually, I think...

  131. TGuerrant2:51 PM

    Yeah, just the latest instance of me wishing Hersh were wrong about something.

  132. smut clyde2:51 PM

    Speaking of which, it is instructive to use Google Ngram to compare the relative popularity of "merry christmas" vs. "happy holidays". Let's just say that the war against $mas was won a long time ago.

  133. Tom Parmenter2:54 PM

    Tormented nonsense. Jesus was tortured to death by the state to appease the mob. No way he'd approve of that. He even complained to his father, the mightiest being in the universe.

  134. TGuerrant2:55 PM

    My spidey sense tells me Ratzinger's now one of Cheney's gag writers ... and uses a real gag.

  135. Gag writing takes on a whole new meaning when waterboarding's involved.

  136. smut clyde2:56 PM

    True christianity is all about honouring the military and civil authorities who placed a swarthy Middle Easterner in a stress position after a tip-off from an informant.

  137. "Father, forgive them not, for they know exactly what they do!"

  138. montag22:56 PM

    Funny, Nixon thought the same way.

  139. Because Christians are perfect and don't need no steenkin' Jesus to tell them what to do!

  140. swkellogg2:58 PM

    That's only a problem because America-hating libtards keep discussing it.

    Truth is treason!

  141. sophronia3:02 PM

    Hey, the death penalty has probably gotten a few innocents over the years as well. But who's counting! Certainly not D.C. McAllister! She's sure Jesus understands that sometimes you just have to make an example of somebody in order to make sure everybody else knows what's considered "moral": and what isn't.
    I'm going to turn off the internet now and pretend I don't know this alleged person exists.

  142. mortimer20003:02 PM

    Y'know, I've heard that a great way to really enhance interrogations is
    to start with a good strong pillar, add a whip or "scourge" if you will,
    and then top it all off with a crown of thorns. So much for that
    ticking time bomb!

    Funny how so many of our traumatis personae were seduced away from their own religions by the Whore of Babylon:
    Newt Gingrich
    Sam Brownback
    Lawrence Kudlow
    Robert Novak
    Bobby Jindal
    Greg Abbott
    Laura Ingraham
    Ramesh Ponnuru
    Paul Weyrich
    Conrad Black
    Rod Dreher
    Maggie Gallagher

  143. swkellogg3:04 PM

    Of course if those children were all armed, they could defend themselves against the terrorists, thus eliminating the need for state intervention on their behalf.

    Problem solved.

  144. mortimer20003:12 PM

    Not to mention:
    ...a yay-torture column that had so much 9/11 in it that Rudolph Giuliani filed a trademark infringement suit.

    A spit-take a day keeps the blues away!

  145. Gromet3:18 PM

    Yes, the argument is essentially that if most people get the wrong answer on the test, we have to change the answer to what most people think it is. That barely works in the dictionary (e.g., "literally"); it's weirder to apply it to the Bible.

  146. smut clyde3:20 PM

    Parse it as "Bar-Abbas", "Son of the Father".
    In the oldest extant copies his name is spelled out as Jesus Bar-Abbas", so he's clearly a symbolic character. A shadow self, an Enkidu or a Tyler Durden. The Jesus with a beard.

  147. redoubtagain3:32 PM

    Krugerrand, I've come to call him: white supremacy backed by gold.

  148. susanoftexas3:34 PM

    They should have stuck with the fish.

  149. susanoftexas3:36 PM

    There's probably a science fiction story somewhere which had Jesus show up at a 1960s anti-war demonstration and then be beaten to death for being a dirty long-haired effeminate hippy.

  150. swkellogg3:42 PM

    If you have no integrity you do.

  151. I don’t care if they have to shoot a thousand innocent civilians, if it saves one innocent civilian puts one more dollar in Dick Cheney's pocket then it’s all worthwhile.

  152. sigyn3:45 PM

    " he's clearly a symbolic character. A shadow self..."

    Wow. Christianity suddenly got a lot more interesting.

  153. it's weirder to apply it to the Bible.Actually, in fundigelical circles, it's pretty much par for the course. We're talking about people who got so sick of being hit over the head with Exodus 21's implication that causing a woman to miscarry isn't murder, that they came out with a new translation that "fixed" it. All in support of a fundamentalist Protestant opposition to abortion that's younger than the Happy Meal (h/t Fred Clark). "Inerrant, unchanging Word of God" is pretty much code for "Whatever goddamned vicious stupid thing some church leader pulled out of his ass that I want to believe anyway."

  154. Gromet3:58 PM

    I took some classes on the bible in college and found the stories have waaaay more going on in them than was ever under discussion in CCD or church.

  155. swkellogg3:58 PM

    Oh yeah? Well what if it saved innocent prepubescent Hitler?

    I sense the potential for a matter/antimatter-like annihilation borne of the meeting of stupid and improbable hypothetical scenarios!

  156. ADHDJ3:59 PM

    The (completely batshit) book "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" posits that Barabbas was actually the son of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

  157. Gromet4:06 PM

    How do they get around "Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me"? Forget torture and innocent foetae -- every time you pass an adult male hobo and don't stop to talk or help, that's Jesus you just left cold and hungry and alone.

    Yes, being Christian is almost impossibly DIFFICULT. But that was always the deal: When asked by someone with a comfy life how to be Christian, didn't Jesus say Give away all your stuff and wander the world washing feet? Basically yes he did. How does anyone read that and pray for a new car and effective torture?

  158. Helmut Monotreme4:08 PM

    Enkidu was a symbolic shadow?

  159. Another Kiwi4:09 PM

    Right, so you've caught some guy and you know he's got the information about a school attack but you don't know which school. Rather than shut all the schools and get the troops out, you take to the guy with a 5-iron and toothpicks so that 14 hours after the school attack he spills the beans. Good plan, good plan. That hate boner cannot be allowed to go to waste as heaven knows when you'll get another.

  160. Gromet4:09 PM

    "The fact that you're not willing to use something like waterboarding to save the slaughter of more than a 100 innocent children is horrifying."

    This was hard to take So 3 hours agog I posted what any half0thinking person would consider the necessary questions to ask themselves before coming to McAllister's conclusion. I am genuinely curious show she will reply to what I wrote:

    hour IAre you prepared to accept that an enemy who believes his family to be at risk from American bombs is morally justified in waterboarding a captured US soldier? What if by using torture the enemy is able to obtain info about a pending US attack that enables him to relocate 100 children who would have been collateral damage? If you are making that case that torture is morally acceptable to save 100 children -- then it has to always be, right? And I'd be curious where you draw the line -- is torture okay to save 30 children? How about 3? Or one?

    3 hours later, still no reply.

  161. montag24:10 PM

    Breathtaking, perhaps, but also entirely predictable.

  162. satch4:13 PM

    Sure, Cheney, Rush, Hannity, Giuliani, and the rest of the wingnut menagerie are proud to support torture... it's become a tribal rite of passage for membership in the Conservative Goon Squad. But what chaps my ass even more was the rendition of detainees to black sites. THAT practice proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that at the time, these moral nematodes were at least somewhat concerned with plausible deniability, and so they outsourced these atrocities because they were too cowardly to come out THEN and own up to the techniques that they're now bragging about.

  163. Another Kiwi4:17 PM

    From a New Zealand town that has a "JFK Drive", you got it.

  164. How do they get around "Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me"?I've encountered two strategies:

    (1) Ignore it, because it doesn't involve condemning sexual behavior or overinterpreting rambling psychedelic visions.

    (2) The "my people / my children" formulation means you're supposed to help out those you know are your fellow Real True Christians, because they attend your own church, or love Franklin Graham too, or whatever. My own father performs acts of charity only for those he thinks are already Christian or for those he thinks he has a shot of proselytizing.

    Note that (2) then requires ignoring Matthew 5:46-47: "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?"** So basically, they end up at (1) eventually regardless.

    **Hmm, no wonder they hate the IRS so much. It's Biblical to do so.

  165. What's next, turning "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" into a metaphor?

  166. The Greatest Story Never Told, starring Ed Norton as Jesus of Nazareth, Brad Pitt as Barabbas, and Helena Bonham-Carter as Mary Magdalene.

  167. Gromet4:28 PM

    Oof. The Good Samaritan is another one they have to ignore, then. I was told early on it's a fairly radical story, because the people Jesus told it to really had it in for those dirty foreigners the Samaritans, and would not have thought them capable of goodness or wanted their help.

  168. Helmut Monotreme4:31 PM

    I'd watch that. Which director do you trust to handle the project with the kind of delicacy and tact the material demands? Micheal Bay?

  169. montag24:31 PM

    In hindsight, all too true. After 9/11, though, I just see this as the national security state kicking into overdrive, where over-the-top secrecy was the new normal. They weren't just hiding torture--they were hiding everything. Hell, about all we knew about what was going on was the color-coded terror alert and a few self-serving leaks from "unnamed officials."

    I mean, the very first thing they had to do was hide how badly they fucked up in the first place, i.e., turn a major intelligence screw-up into a bullhorn moment. Torture just turned out to be something else to hide in the long, long procession of major and minor fuck-ups that is the 21st century in America.

  170. Helmut Monotreme4:33 PM

    Although, for my money I think Benicio del Toro and Brad Pitt have a closer resemblance than Brad Pitt and Ed Norton.

  171. Robert M.4:34 PM

    Here's the thing for me. In order to arrive at McAllister's position, you have to believe that not only is torture effective in producing the truth, but that no other method is more effective.

    But the consensus on human psychology (rather than, say, the minority opinion of a pair of grifters with $81 million in snake oil to sell the US intelligence community), as well as the consensus among military interrogators (at least based on the Army Field Manual and the interrogator I used to know) is that almost any alternative to torture produces more reliable information more quickly.

    Or, to put it another way, McAllister arrives at a dilemma by artificially narrowing the options to just two: (a) torture guilty people or (b) let innocent people die. The universe is bigger than that.

  172. montag24:37 PM

    There's an Israeli archeologist who maintains that David was the first modern politician because everything in the Bible about him is a lie, that it's all political hagiography.

    So much for it being the literal word of Gawd. (But, then, we knew that already....)

  173. BigHank534:47 PM

    There's also the "not through works alone" verse, which more or less says that you have to feed and clothe the poor because of pure intent, and not just to impress the hot chicks, which strikes me as a fairly inoffensive qualifier. Our modern Pharisees, though, have twisted it to the point where no works are required as long as you have enough faith. Which is yet another reason why they're constantly braying about how faithful they are.

  174. mgmonklewis4:55 PM

    Yes. It's the "only help the worthy poor" qualification that they read into it.

  175. Kevin5:01 PM

    Well, as long as you let the little children come to you (or is it "come into the little children?"), it's ok, I guess; from 2004 & Abu Grhaib :

  176. And there ARE no "worthy poor", because everyone who's poor has done something to deserve it, in their eyes.

  177. mgmonklewis5:02 PM

    It's a disorienting feeling still holding a taboo while half the population not only cast aside it aside, but embraced its opposite. It's like being thrown violently into a parallel universe.

  178. mgmonklewis5:04 PM

    Yes. Neo-Puritanism FTW!

  179. GreenEagle5:15 PM

    He is not calling "people's Christianity" into question. He is calling Christianity itself into question, and it's about time.

  180. Tehanu5:35 PM

    As somebody pointed out recently (here or maybe on Balloon Juice), the Romans weren't into things like the radical equality of all humans or freedom of speech or religion. Using them as role models doesn't have quite the cachet it did in the 18th century nowadays.

  181. davdoodles5:46 PM

    ""Majorities of Christians support the use of torture in some instances. And they’re not bad Christians for doing so."
    Any part of this, if true, is something 'christians' should be thoroughly ashamed of.
    To put it mildly.

  182. Well hello, anykey. Always nice to see a fellow air-puncher from days past. Thanks for the note.

  183. smut clyde6:03 PM

    those dirty foreigners the Samaritans
    Not foreigners; more like fundamentalists. Samaritans only accept the Pentateuch as scriptural and reject the rest of the Torah.

  184. Pontius Pilate Superstar

  185. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person6:49 PM

    It's the only time I wish --in vain, I'm 99.44% sure--that judgement and the possibility of a hellish afterlife were more than just Boogiemen. An eternity in a lake of fire for a cheeseburger on Friday, though, is what started Young Meanie on his turn away from godbotherism, and once you see the utter absurdity, there ain't no turning back. But we can dream...

  186. davdoodles7:17 PM

    What galls me most about the "ticking timebomb" apology for torture is how they only felt the need to go as far as that ridiculous piffle, and did not critically examine it for even a second.
    Literally, they've just gone "that pissweak excuse-for-an-excuse will do", and reached straight for the pliers.

  187. Gromet7:22 PM

    Ha, yes, I have actually been informed by evangelical acquaintances that the whole RCC is merely a cult, in that it teaches 1) worship of the pope and 2) you can "buy" your way into heaven through good works. This super-accurate understanding of how Catholicism works proves I am misled by Satan and bound for Hell.

  188. What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
    --James 2:14-17 (NKJV)

    [Fundamentalist believer in Biblical inerrancy hastily pages forward to 1 Peter]
    Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands
    --1 Peter 3:1 (NKJV)

    [Fundamentalist beliver in Biblical inerrancy breathes sigh of relief]

  189. montag28:40 PM

    Not much at the beginning of the Common Age in the way of explosives, aircraft, machines that turn into other machines, or chainsaws.. That would definitely put a crimp in Bay's options. Maybe he could work in a subplot in which Alfred Nobel is fooling around with a time machine and gets transported back to Judea.

  190. Jeffrey_Kramer8:44 PM

    The Sermon from the Bunker

    "Love those that despitefully use you."

    OK, let's just say, "don't despitefully use those that despitefully use you."

    Look, at the very least, "don't despitefully use those whom you think have a better than 50/50 chance of despitefully using you in the future."

    Whatever. America is awesome.

  191. montag28:45 PM

    And Lenny Bruce should at least get honorable mention for figuring out the electric chair angle in the first place.

  192. montag28:59 PM

    Well, yes, but how many options are there when one is defending the indefensible? The more attempts one makes and fails, the more likely it is that most observers would say, "hmm, I believe you're flailing." This way, they keep the skepticism down to a minimum, and can simply cruise on to the next atrocity on the bucket list.

  193. John Wesley Hardin9:16 PM

    The Catholic church is a refuge for creeps who think they're too smart for Evangelical Protestantism.

  194. Chutney's In Love9:42 PM

    Maybe @AmandaMarcotte should put her writing on hold to devote herself full-time to vindicating Jackie and tracking down Haven Monahan. #UVA


  195. AGoodQuestion10:24 PM

    Cheese and rice! In his very first paragraph Murdock is already calling the torture report "borderline treasonous", I guess because we all pledge allegiance to Dick Cheney. He just can't wait to get to the self parody.

  196. AGoodQuestion10:34 PM

    By the end of the month, they'll be using the term "tickle parties" unironically.
    I wish I could say "ha ha, there goes mds exaggerating again", but history suggests this is pretty much exactly what will happen.

  197. AGoodQuestion10:44 PM

    The part about him doing in Uriah the Hittite in order to get at Bathsheba doesn't sound like great campaign literature, but maybe in some states...