The Great Normalizer Normalizes Torture

He called the torturers patriots…

by digby

… and then lectured the American people that we are not to be “sanctimonious” about it because they had a tough job.

…We tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.

I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen, and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.

These “folks” are big on sending messages. What “message” do you suppose that sent? When a patriot has a tough job we can’t expect him to adhere to the law? Or norms? Or even basic morality? Looks like it. Good to know.

I remember reading somewhere during the whole torture debate that the right thing to do was to keep torture officially “illegal” for deniability but do it anyway and then throw yourself on the mercy of the people afterwards telling them that it was necessary to protect them. That way you could keep up the pretense that we were a civilized nation while being allowed  to “take the gloves off.”  For our own good, mind you. Looks like that’s the new SOP.

And you want some sanctimony? I’ve got some for you right here:

[W]hen we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line. And that needs to be — that needs to be understood and accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that, hopefully, we don’t do it again in the future.

sanc·ti·mo·ny [sangk-tuh-moh-nee]
noun
1.
pretended, affected, or hypocritical religious devotion, righteousness, etc.

What exactly is taking responsibility? Calling the torturers patriots and making excuses for them? It looks like that’s all we’re going to get from President Obama.

It’s bad enough that he can’t even find it in himself to use his vaunted oratorical skills to condemn this (beyond saying “we tortured some folks”.) But to call these people patriots and then scold anyone who finds this practice immoral and abhorrent, even suggesting that they’repretending to be appalled is, for me, the low point. There is no “nuance” when it comes to torture and being lectured that we needn’t get all upset about it is truly insulting.

Here’s a question for you: is there any doubt after all this that any president, including Obama himself, will approve the use of torture if the CIA says it needs to use it in the future? Let’s say when there is “enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this” and everybody is afraid? I didn’t think so.

We have normalized torture with this tepid, half-assed,sanctimonious admission that “we tortured some folks” and that it crossed a line and all, but they did it because people were afraid.  Heckuva job.

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