Sunday, December 14, 2014

Truest statement of the week

One may argue that Mr. Obama has advanced the cause of health care, provided significant support for gay rights, and reduced the amount that the U.S. tortures political prisoners (we must not forget Guantanamo, the Cuban-based U.S. torture chamber, which Mr. Obama promised to close six years ago). However, the fact that the U.S. still doesn’t have universal health care, gay rights are still limited and the U.S. still tortures political prisoners is the result of political realities. In the real world, it is recognized that everyone is entitled to health care, that sexual orientation is no one’s concern and that torture is simply not acceptable; these are all ‘no brainers’. 

--  Robert Fantina, "The Dark Side of the Liberals' Darling Reality, Politics and Elizabeth Warren" (ICH).

Truest statement of the week II

We will return to Mrs. Warren, the new savior of the people, who hammers away at bank regulators in speeches that are widely distributed on Facebook, but don’t have much real-world impact. One must admire her preparation, since she obviously is not at her best speaking extemporaneously. For example, during Israel’s most recent slaughter of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, when Mrs. Warren was asked her opinion of Israel bombing families, she literally ran away from the reporter! Later, apparently after consulting with her handlers, who no doubt reminded her of the $87,838.00 that various Israeli lobbies donated to her election campaign, she chanted the mantra of Israel’s ‘right’ to defend itself from Palestine’s nearly-harmless fireworks. This works in the political world; say whatever is required by the people controlling the purse strings and do nothing to offend them. In the real world, people know that Israel is a powerful country, an apartheid regime that occupies Palestine in violation of international law, and commits unspeakable acts of brutality against men, women and children. But in the bizarre world of what passes for governance in the U.S., politics always trumps reality.

--  Robert Fantina, "The Dark Side of the Liberals' Darling Reality, Politics and Elizabeth Warren" (ICH).

A note to our readers

Hey --


First, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?

Robert Fantina got both truests -- and more than earned them.
The Senate still hasn't confirmed Barack's new DoD Secretary nominee.  If John Kerry's so miserable as Secretary of State, maybe he could go out for that post.

The torture report.  Ava and C.I. were working on a piece about a sitcom.  We asked them if there was any way they could set that aside and somehow cover torture?  We had a big piece on it that fell apart.  They spitballed for about 15 minutes before deciding they could open with Whoopi Goldberg's torture remarks, move over to the hideous Peter Pan Live! and then end with the torture.  They make it work as only they can.
Parody piece.  Thomas Ricks feels your pain. 
Short feature. 
Really, how stupid?
What we listened to while writing.

From Senator Dianne Feinstein's office. 
From Senator Patrick Leahy's office.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: John Kerry still thinks he's Secretary of Defense

Maybe it's the botox, maybe it's the advanced age (71-years-old), but John Kerry seems really mixed up.

The office he holds is Secretary of State, not Secretary of Defense.

Last week, he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  The next day, his underling Brett McGurk appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Guess who at least made a stab at talking about diplomatic efforts?

That's right, Brett McGurk.

Kerry was much more interested in discussing bombings and military actions.

McGurk, by contrast, repeatedly noted when asked about military issues that those were questions better put to "my DoD colleagues."

When he wasn't confusing himself with the Secretary of Defense, he was just confusing.

From Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot:"

This afternoon, Senator Robert Menendez declared, "I know some may see this as limiting but at the end of the day, Americans will not be supportive of an authorization of an endless war."
He was speaking at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee  hearing on the Islamic State and the administration's lack of authorization of force, from Congress, to conduct the current bombings taking place in Iraq.  Secretary of State John Kerry was appearing before the Committee "to provide the administration's views," as Committee Chair Robert Mendendez explained.
But he appeared to believe he was elsewhere -- possibly on a parade float?
Kerry was looking around, grinning and waving.

Kerry was there to press for a Congressional authorization for Barack's ongoing war.

And, generous fellow that he is, he offered that the White House would back the ending of the 2002 AUMF if the Congress got the new AUMF.

What a trade?

And many may remember that the White House already backed ending the 2020 AUMF . . . only to change their minds.

Who's to say they'll stick to their word this time?

After all, Barack promised the American people that no US troops would be involved in on the ground combat but when Kerry appeared before the Committee last week, what did he ask for?

That's right, he wants the new AUMF to put in writing that Barack can deploy combat troops onto the ground in Iraq?

Why anyone would trust the nonsense out of the mouths of this administration is beyond us.

TV: Gross Obscenity from Torture to Peter Pan

In a nation of gross obscenity, Whoopi Goldberg still manages to leave behind key skidmarks.

This is the woman who, remember, explained on The View that a 45-year-old man drugging a 13-year-old girl and then anally entering her didn't qualify as rape or, as she infamously put it, "rape-rape."

Yes, as she gets fatter, she gets dumber -- and tubby was no genius to start with.

So there she was, obstructing The View as usual last week, when she decided to weigh in on the Senate Intelligence Committee's release of the report on torture.

"I think, for me," she began rasping, making sure the whole world knew it was about her personally, "with all of the things we have to think about --  in terms of, you know, being conscious of this and that --  holiday season seems an awkward time to me. I don't mind if you do it in January, but I really -- I think you guys made a big mistake to do it now when folks are vulnerable anyway to increase that vulnerability."

It was a strange argument for anyone.

Especially someone on ABC which elected to 'celebrate' the holiday on Saturday with a very special episode of 20/20 detailing how to hire a hitman to kill your spouse.

As Whoopi's never ending babble continued, it was left to Rosie O'Donnell to ask the question everyone was thinking, "Was there a conversation about when to do it?  Was that an argument or is that . . ."

Cutting her off, Whoopi offered her only honest moment in 2014, "I don't know."

For some, that admission would be the end of the matter.

Not Whoopi.

She continued to derail the discussion -- as she does day after day on that show with intense stupidity -- and prevent any real conversation.

And while that makes her a lousy citizen in a democracy, it makes her the perfect example of all that's wrong in today's society.

Saturday, NBC re-aired Peter Pan Live -- a recording of their previous live broadcast.

We'd ignored the original airing and maybe that's a mistake on our part, maybe we avoided truth telling?

So here's some truth telling.

Allison Williams is a nobody.

She's been on HBO for how long now and she's still a nobody.

She's 26-years-old and more Americans saw her play Peter Pan (badly) than have ever seen her in anything else.

If she had any leading lady in her, it would have emerged long before the age of 26.

Yes, Sharon Stone became a star at the age of 34 with Basic Instinct and Sandra Bullock at 30 with Speed but those are considered exceptions.

More importantly, if you dig into their work prior to those breakthrough roles, you find charming moments and real acting.  The foundation for a film career is there even before the stardom.

Allison Williams has nothing to attest to her talent.

Some like to point out that Carrie Underwood had no acting chops but NBC still cast her in the lead of last year's Sound of Music.

True enough.

But Carrie is a singer, a critically applauded singer, with a huge following.

And she wasn't cast to play the lead in The Elephant Man, she was hired to play a lead in a musical.

Whether she crashed or burned in terms of acting, NBC knew she could sing and knew she had fans who would tune in.

Allison Williams had nothing.

A fan base?

One million viewers is huge for the HBO show she acts on.

And, sorry, but a lot of people consider her show 'smutty.'  That's due to the language and the nudity so casting her as the lead in a family musical was huge, huge mistake.


She had no experience and she had no following.

She had no business starring in anything.

Because of who she is, there were suck ups.  (She's NBC News anchor Brian Williams' daughter.)

The elderly Mia Farrow Tweeted that she wanted Allison, as Peter Pan, to take her gay virginity.

No, that doesn't make sense.

But neither does Mia sexualizing Peter Pan.

Isn't this the woman who claims to be against pedophilia but here she is sexualizing one of the most infamous child characters?

Mia played Peter Pan years ago on TV.

She was a disaster as well.

Mia was a mouse.

Under Woody Allen's direction in the 80s, she blossomed.  But her entire body of work prior is a dull, drab country mouse.  She's an overpaid actress in one flop after another because the studios were unable to get their initial choices -- Ali MacGraw, Jane Fonda, Faye Dunaway, etc.

When Peter Pan works, it works because the actress playing Pan sparkles with life, not with sexuality: Maude Adams, Mary Martin, Sandy Duncan, etc.

There were other problems.

Who thought Peter Pan was a family musical?

It's a musical for small children, to be sure.

Will small children stay up for a three hour prime time broadcast?

Probably not.

Interesting sidebar here, we've noted some actresses who said yes to playing the role.

Who said no?

Katharine Hepburn.

She consulted with George Cukor about taking the role when it was offered.  The two had  alienated audiences in Sylvia Scarlett where  Kate played a young girl who cuts her hair and pretends to be a boy while causing various men to be attracted to her/him. It was felt, by Cukor and Hepburn, that Kate's charisma would sexualize the role and underscore a few details that might make older audiences uncomfortable.


Even in the closeted 30s, Peter Pan the musical read gay.

This was only more true when you cast Christopher Walken as Captain Hook.

Camp had its TV hey-day in the sixties with Batman and Paul Lynde.

A too long production, with an unknown (and untalented) lead and littered with gay subtext would always be a hard sale as a family musical for anything but the single-digit age set.

It was a bust in the ratings.

Critically, people tried to spin the C-minus grades Williams received for acting, for dancing and for singing.

'See, she was okay!'


Not with the money and time NBC wasted on the production.  To justify what was put into the production, Williams needed to get more than average grades.

Maybe next year, they try something different?

The Sound of Music started life as a Broadway musical, true.  But it's lived on as a movie and NBC knew it was popular because they air the movie every year during the Christmas season.

With the exception of Mary Martin's Peter Pan special, sponsored by Pepsi-Cola with a holiday message from Joan Crawford, the musical's never brought in numbers on TV.

Maybe the answer for NBC is to look at popular holiday fair and turn them into musicals:  It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street,  etc.

Or maybe they just sidestep the family aspect and produce popular Broadway musicals?

Rent, Hairspray, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Phantom of the Opera, Cabaret, Pippin, The Producers, Thoroughly Modern Millie, My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Wicked, The Wiz, Mame, Annie Get Your Gun, etc.

Some of the above have gay subtext.

That's not a problem.  Gay or straight sexuality isn't a problem unless you're dealing with children's fare which shouldn't be sexualized -- no matter how much a pervert like Mia Farrow pretends otherwise.

NBC airing Peter Pan Live once was sad.  Airing it again on Saturday qualified as torture.

Torture.  Above is the criticism we should have offered last week on Peter Pan Live!

Updating Edmund Burke, we'd note that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing or, worse, to derail the conversation.

The Whoopi nonsense of turning the torture report into a discussion of the timing of the report is nothing but an effort to derail the issue.

The issue includes rectal feeding of prisoners, being chained naked on concrete and dying from hypothermia as a result.  The report offers examples of prisoners being threatened, told they would never see a day in court, that they'd leave only in a coffin, their families being threatened and so much more.

While Whoopi was acting the fool yet again, Senator Patrick Leahy was declaring, "As Americans, we cannot sweep our mistakes under the rug and pretend they did not happen.   We must acknowledge our mistakes.  We must learn from our mistakes.  And in this case, we as Americans must and will do everything we can to ensure that our government never tortures again."

The report indicts the government and various officials.

But the current president, Barack Obama, insists we all just 'move on.'

Sara Fischer (CNN) reports today:

A defiant former Vice President Dick Cheney doubled-down on his defense of the extreme interrogation techniques used by the CIA on detainees in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Sunday, saying, "I would do it again in a minute."

A leading criminal goes on live television to brag, "I would do it again in a minute."

Maybe if there was accountability, he'd crawl under a rock.

Instead, he walks free and he feels no shame over his action.

The torture report was not accountability.

It was an accounting, to be sure.

But there has been no accountability.

And there won't be because Barack isn't anti-torture.

As Angus Stickler (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism) reported:

President Barack Obama’s government handed over thousands of detainees to the Iraqi authorities, despite knowing there were hundreds of reports of alleged torture in Iraqi government facilities.
Washington was warned by the United Nations and many human rights organisations that torture was widespread in Iraqi detention centres. But the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal the US’s own troops informed their commanders of more than 1,300 claims of torture by Iraqi Security forces between 2005 and 2009.
In July 2010, the US completed the handover of 9,250 detainees to the Iraqi authorities.
It would be a clear violation of international law, drawn up by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, ratified by the US in 1994, for any government to transfer detainees to a regime at whose hands they face torture or other serious human rights violations.
However, the 1,365 cases of alleged torture by the Iraqi authorities found by the Bureau, raise questions as to why the US government handed over detainees to these authorities.

And there's the Guantanamo prison Barack has refused to close.  Alpha Winston (ICH) notes the torture and the 'shock' by some in the media:

And yet the nation’s political debate on the CIA report only serves to contrast against the overwhelming silence regarding the human rights debacle that is Guantanamo Bay. We pretend as if we’re shocked and awed by the crimes catalogued in the CIA report, while at the same time ignoring the indefinite detention of those at Guantanamo, many of whom were simply guilty—and I’m not joking—of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Keep in mind these men are still detained there, and in some cases have been held for over a decade.

The report documents crimes -- in many cases known crimes.  When you break the law, you're supposed to be prosecuted.

Barack had to stick his big news into Ferguson.  Why?  Because he thinks his opinion is needed on every issue.  His opinion, for those who've forgotten, is that the grand jury examined the evidence and found no reason to level charges.  He stated we were a nation of laws and laws must be respected.

So why isn't he demanding prosecution for torture?

Because he embraces torture.

Because he's a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do creep.

The wrong people keep going on trial while the guilty never see the inside of a courtroom, that's the gross obscenity of the United States today.

Thomas E. Ricks I Feel Your Pain

Here at The Third Estate Sunday Review we were slipped an early draft of former journalist Thomas E. Ricks' upcoming book I Feel Your Pain (he dedicates it to President Bill Clinton).  In the book, Thomas E. Ricks makes himself the star in a variety of adventures.

Our favorite chapter isn't the one where proclaims himself a Post-Traumatic Stress sufferer like some of the US troops he covered.  

No, our favorite is when Thomas and his man boobs join a breast feeding group.

Fair Play For Old Men

That's Ricks posing for Isaiah's "Fair Play For Old Men" in 2009.

When I first attempted to join the La Leche League in my area, they refused me admission.

It was voiced that my massive cans intimidated the women and I believed that opinion mainly because the one voicing it was me.

After an intense self-reflection/jack off session, I decided to call my attorney who specializes in personal injury lawsuits but agreed to take this one on.

This move forced La Leche to let me in.

I showed up for sessions wearing a nursing blouse with boob flaps open and carrying baby oil to apply to my nipples.

The head of the group, whom I dubbed Cow, told me I was distracting everyone with my erotic moans as I twisted my oiled up nipples but I countered that I was the best motivating factor the group had.

It was on my third visit that I began using a breast pump and along with providing me with intense tingles, it also served the purpose of drowning out the objections from some of my less advanced co-group members.

Like a number of women, I was not actually able to get pregnant.

So what I did instead was put peanut butter on my nipples and call Prince Olaf, my terrier, and coaxed him into licking the peanut butter.

He did not, however, attempt to suckle at my nipples.

The closest to success I got was when I forced open Prince Olaf's jaw, placed it over my left nipple and let it snap shut.

It was at that moment that I understood how hard it could be to breast feed after your infant began teething.

La Leche League taught me very little but, as usual, I was able to teach them a great deal.

(For any confused, yes, this was parody.)

Disease captured on camera

Yes, that is a lot of food for one person.

But when you have an eating disorder, you consume a lot of food even if you don't keep it down.

Barack -- putting the "B" in bulimia.

How Stupid is Perez Hilton?

In a ridiculous post, Perez offered:

no title
This is truly a matter of national security.
The most reputable news source in the land, The National Enquirer, has made a lot of crazy assertions in the past.
However, one such claim that they DIDN'T make was asserting that our President Barack Obama had sex with Harry Styles (despite our deepest wishes that this tryst DID happen).
The now viral front page that claims our commander in chief banged this One Direction heartthrob is (regrettably) a hoax.

He prattles on.

If there's ever a film made of Perez's life, let's hope it's animated so Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons can play him.

We noted the undoctored tabloid cover November 16th and were smart enough to get the title correct  -- National Examiner.

Perez can't even get the publication correct.

He mocks it but grasp that he doesn't even get that right.

Poor Perez.

This edition's playlist

Melanie's Crazy Love

1) Melanie's Crazy Love.

2) Harry Belafonte's Belafonte Sings The Blues.

3) Joni Mitchell's Shine.

4) Odetta's Odetta Sings.

5)  Neil Young's Storytone.

6) Aretha Franklin's Aretha Sings The Great Diva Classics.

7)  Tori Amos' Unrepentant Geraldines.

8) Prince's Art Official Age.

9) Chrissie Hynde's Stockholm.

10) Cara Dillon's A Thousand Hearts.

Fact Check: CIA’s Use of Rectal Rehydration, Feeding Not Medical Procedures

Friday, US Senator Dianne Feinstein's office issued the following:

Washington—As documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, coercive interrogation techniques included the use of rectal rehydration and rectal feeding of CIA detainees.

Contrary to some claims, this is not a medical procedure, nor was it ever approved by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel as an authorized interrogation technique. On December 10, 2014, the New York-based Physicians for Human Rights stated that “Contrary to the CIA’s assertions, there is no clinical indication to use rectal rehydration and feeding over oral or intravenous administration of fluids and nutrients.”

The report includes ample information about the uses of these procedures, including:

  • Page 73: One detainee, al-Nashiri, launched a short lived hunger strike that resulted in the CIA force feeding him rectally. (Source: CIA cable, May 23, 2004.)
  • Page 82: CIA’s chief of interrogations ordered the rectal rehydration of Khalid Shaykh Mohammed without a determination of medical need, a procedure that the chief of interrogations would later characterize as illustrative of the interrogator’s “total control over the detainee.” (Source: CIA cable, March 5, 2003; interview by the CIA inspector general, March 27, 2003.)
  • Page 83: In March 2003, Khalid Shaykh Mohammed was also subjected to additional rectal rehydration (Source: CIA cable, date redacted), which a CIA officer from the Office of Medical Services “described as helping to ‘clear a person’s head’ and effective in getting KSM to talk.” (Source: CIA email, March 6, 2003, names of sender and recipients redacted.)
  • Page 100, footnote 584: According to CIA records, listed in this footnote, the CIA rectally rehydrated and/or rectally fed al-Nashiri, Khalid Shaykh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Marwan al-Jabbur. Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Khallad bin Attash and Adnan al-Libi were threatened with rectal rehydration. CIA medical officers discussed rectal rehydration as a means of behavior control. As one officer wrote, “[w]hile IV infusion is safe and effective, we were impressed with the ancillary effectiveness of rectal infusion on ending the water refusal in a similar case.” (Source: multiple CIA cables, dates redacted; CIA email, February 2004, names of sender and recipients redacted.)
  • Page 100, footnote 584: The CIA’s June 2013 response to the study does not address the use of rectal feeding with CIA detainees, but defends the use of rectal rehydration as a “well acknowledged medical technique.” CIA leadership, including General Counsel Scott Muller and DDO James Pavitt, was also alerted to allegations that rectal exams were conducted with “excessive force” on two detainees at DETENTION SITE COBALT. A CIA attorney was asked to follow up, although CIA records do not indicate any resolution of the inquiry. (Source: multiple CIA emails, dates and names of sender and recipients redacted.)
  • Pages 114-115: Although Majid Khan cooperated with the nasogastric tube and the provision of intravenous fluids, he was subjected to rectal feeding and rectal rehydration without any evidence he was resisting other feeding methods. The rectal feeding included the rectal infusion of the “pureed” contents of Majid Khan’s “lunch tray,” including hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins. (Source: two CIA cables on September 23, 2004.)


More than a decade ago, the Central Intelligence Agency began detaining and torturing human beings

Last week, Senator Patrick Leahy's office issued the following:

# # # # #
Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On the Release of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the CIA’s Torture Program
December 9, 2014

More than a decade ago, the Central Intelligence Agency began detaining and torturing human beings in the name of the war on terrorism.  Employees and contractors of the United States government – paid by taxpayer dollars – abused, degraded, and dehumanized people.  They stripped them of their basic humanity.  And they stripped America of its standing in the world as a leader in promoting and protecting human rights.
President Obama banned torture and cruel treatment when he took office.  But only now, as a result of the courage and conviction of Senator Feinstein and other members of the Intelligence Committee, and their staffs, do we have the full and public accounting of the CIA’s actions that the American people deserve.
The decision to release this historic report has been difficult.  But it was the right and moral thing to do.  Releasing this report demonstrates that America is different.  As Americans, we cannot sweep our mistakes under the rug and pretend they did not happen.  We must acknowledge our mistakes.  We must learn from our mistakes.  And in this case, we as Americans must and will do everything we can to ensure that our government never tortures again.

In 2009, I called for a Commission of Inquiry to review the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation program and other sweeping claims of executive power.  I believed that, in order to restore America’s moral leadership, we must acknowledge what was done in our name.  Our nation needed a full accounting of the CIA’s treatment of detainees.  With this report, at last we have it.

This is not the first report to record and condemn the detention and interrogation policies and practices that were used during the Bush administration.  But it is the first to fully chronicle the actions of the most secretive of government agencies:  the Central Intelligence Agency.

This report finally lays bare the dark truth about the CIA’s program. And that truth is far worse, far more brutal, than most Americans ever imagined.  We all have seen the shocking pictures from Abu Ghraib, and we have read the cold, clinical descriptions of “harsh” or “enhanced” techniques written by Department of Justice attorneys to justify such treatment.  This report makes clear one fundamental truth:  the CIA tortured people – plain and simple.  And no euphemistic description or legal obfuscation can hide that fact any longer.

The Intelligence Committee report shows that techniques like waterboarding and sleep deprivation were used in ways far more frequent, cruel, and physically harmful than previously known.  It also shows that gross mismanagement at the CIA and a shocking indifference to human dignity led to horrendous treatment and conditions of confinement that went far beyond what had been approved.  Senior CIA leadership did not even know that enhanced techniques were being used at one CIA detention facility. In one instance, a CIA prisoner died as a result – left shackled on a concrete floor in a dungeon room to die, likely of hypothermia.

So-called “enhanced” interrogation techniques were not just used on the “worst of the worst,” either.  In some instances, the CIA did not even know who it was holding.  CIA records show that at least 26 of the people detained by the CIA did not meet the CIA’s own standard for detention.  And some individuals subjected to “enhanced” techniques were determined not even to be members of Al Qaeda.
Moreover, the CIA relied on contractors who had no experience as interrogators to develop this program.  The CIA eventually outsourced all aspects of the program to the company these contractors set up – to the tune of 80 million taxpayer dollars. This was a program out of control, and this is yet another reason why Congress must exercise its oversight responsibilities.

This report also disproves CIA claims that the torture program was necessary to protect our nation and that it thwarted attacks.  This program did not make us safer.  As is laid out in meticulous detail in the report, the use of these techniques did not generate uniquely valuable intelligence.  This report thoroughly repudiates each of the most commonly cited examples of plots thwarted and terrorists captured.

This should not come as a surprise.  The Senate Judiciary Committee held numerous hearings on the Bush administration’s interrogation policies and practices.  What we heard time and again, from witness after witness, is that torture and other cruel treatment do not work.

Still there are those who continue to argue, even in the face of overwhelming testimony and now hard evidence to the contrary, that this program thwarted attacks and saved lives.  They defend the CIA’s actions and argue that the report does not tell the full story.

But these are often the same people who participated in the rampant misrepresentations detailed in this report.  The report shows that CIA officials consistently misled virtually everyone outside the Agency about what was actually going on, and about the results of CIA interrogations.  That includes members of Congress, White House officials, and even Justice Department lawyers being asked to review the legality of CIA techniques.

In the coming weeks, as we head into a new Congress with new leadership, we will hear a lot about the need for oversight.  This report and its revelations should be at the top of the list. So too should the unprecedented spying by the CIA on the congressional staff investigating this program, and the troubling pattern of intimidation that included the CIA referring its own congressional overseers to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution.  This report and those actions show a CIA out of control, and it is incumbent upon Congress to hold the agency accountable.

The Judiciary Committee in particular needs to take a hard look at the role of the Department of Justice and its legal justifications for this program.  Much ink has been spilled criticizing the OLC opinions written during the Bush administration by John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury.  Those opinions sullied the reputation of that office and have been rightly repudiated.  But this report also demonstrates that even those opinions were the result of key misrepresentations by the CIA about the seniority of the people subjected to these techniques, the implementation of the techniques, and the intelligence resulting from them.  As an institution, we have a responsibility to examine the systemic failure that allowed this to happen – and to ensure that it does not happen again.

Those who attack the credibility of this report are wrong.  This report is not based on conjecture or theory or insinuation.  Anyone who reads it can see that this careful, thorough report was meticulously researched and written.  It is based on more than 6 million pages of CIA cables, emails, and other documents containing descriptions that CIA employees and contractors themselves recorded.  Senator Feinstein and the other members of the Intelligence Committee who worked on this deserve our respect and appreciation.
Intelligence Committee staffers, too, have dedicated years of their lives to this report.  They have demonstrated courage and dedication in the face of enormous challenges.  This past year, they were even threatened with criminal prosecution – simply for doing their jobs.  But they would not be intimidated.  They have served their country well.  They have my deepest appreciation for bringing us this truly historic study.  Their families, too, deserve our thanks.

I am disappointed that those same honorable staffers had to spend so many months arguing with this White House about redactions to this report – a White House that is supposed to be dedicated to transparency.

This report should have been issued months ago, and it still contains more redactions than it should.  But I am gratified that we are finally able to shine light on this dark chapter.  Among the many lessons we can take from this report is that Americans deserve more government transparency, and that it is essential to a strong democracy.  Just yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that significantly improves the Freedom of Information Act.  Today’s release of this report is another important victory for greater government transparency.

To those who argue that this report should not come out and who have tried to pressure and silence Senator Feinstein, let me be clear.  The blame should be placed squarely where it belongs:  on those who authorized and carried out a systematic program of torture and secret detention, in violation of domestic law, in violation of international law, and in violation of the principles on which this nation was founded.

In trying times, like those we faced after September 11, and those we face now, we look to our intelligence, military and law enforcement professionals to keep us safe.  We are lucky to have so many talented individuals willing to take on that responsibility.  But one of the lessons of this report is that we cannot become so blinded by fear that we are willing to sacrifice our own principles, laws, and humanity.  No matter what, our enemies are human beings.  And no matter how hardened and evil they are, no matter how repulsive their actions, no matter how horribly they have treated their own victims, we do not torture them.  

We do not join them on the dark side of history.

Generations of men and women have given their lives, and even endured torture themselves, in order to protect this nation.  They did so not to protect our way of life, but to protect our principles.  Our understanding of right and wrong.  Of humanity and of evil. The shameful actions uncovered by this report dishonored those men and women, as well as the men and women who continue to put their lives at risk for this country.

Americans know that we are better than this and that we will never let this happen again.  The world must know that too.
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This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

 "That 'antiwar' movement, where are they now?" -- most requested highlight by readers of this site.

"Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Aging"" -- Isaiah on Hillary's never-ending campaign.

 "Con artist Al Sharpton" -- Marcia on Al.

"He's Triesnasty" -- Isaiah dips into the archives.

"Evette Dionne has an important post" -- Ann steers you to strong work.

"Barack the torturer" -- Mike calls it.

"Joni," "Joni," "Diana Ross sang it" -- Elaine, Kat and Marcia note music.

"Losers of the week" -- Mike calls it.

"Top Five (Chris Rock can't act)" and "Shampoo" -- Stan and Trina go to the movies.

"The commenting constraints" -- Ann offers some thoughts.

"Warren's an argument for Hillary" -- Elaine breaks it down.

"Love is all around, even at the White House" and  "THIS JUST IN! BARRY GOT A BRITISH LAD!" -- Cedric and Wally on the latest White House romance. 

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