Now, as Obsidian Wings notes, we learn that the administration had very little knowledge of the history of the SERE program, and seemed to have no interest in learning. They simply wanted a program that would give them what they already believed. That is right, according to other reports, the torture was used to get proof of the connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda to justify the war. Hmm. Using a technique designed to produce false confessions? To get proof that didn't exist?
TPM interviewed a sleep expert who was very surprised to find his work on sleep deprivation quoted in some of these torture justifying memos. The guy was pretty saddened that his work on sleep deprivation became a justification for torture. And further, he noted, that sleep-deprived people have very reduced mental abilities.
"I don't understand what you're going to get out of it," he said. "You can no longer think rationally, you just become more of an automaton ... These people will just be spewing nonsense anyway."Meanwhile Dick Cheney is on a full court press to prove that their tactics saved us from an attack. Republicans everywhere are scrambling to defend torture and call it "policy differences." See? Reasonable people can disagree. Some say it is torture and that is ok, and others disagree. Everything is ok.
Yet, when they were in power, they certainly did not appear to see those who said it was torture, or those who said it was wrong as "agreeing to disagree." According to former Bush State Dept lawyer, and Condi Rice advisor, Philip Zelikow, he wrote a memo criticizing the techniques and arguing that it was "unlikely that any federal court would agree (that the approval of harsh interrogation techniques) ... was a reasonable interpretation of the Constitution." He was told by colleagues that the White House ordered all copies of that memo destroyed.
As I have said, I am most disappointed in the large number of Americans and conservatives who really don't have a problem with torture. Oh, they may not want to call it torture, but they have no problem with those techniques. All of it is framed in the moral equivalency of applying these techniques to people who are evil. As if, as we keep saying, our moral standard is now set by the terrorists who hate us. It is utterly baffling, and especially disappointing when Tony reports that SBC ministers have defended torture as consistent with Christianity.
Lawrence O'Donnell was in rare form last night on Olbermann. He said that people like Sean Hannity believe that torture works because it would work on Hannity. He didn't have a very good explanation why these people are so morally challenged that they then endorse torture.
I have no idea what we should do now. I think a good start would be to impeach Jay Bybee, under the idea that we don't appoint war criminals to a lifetime bench seat. I don't know if prosecutions will actually work or ever happen. But I would like for those who defended torture to feel a modicum of shame.
We shall see.