Quite. Torture Is Right Out!

A friend mentioned this item on Steve Clemons’ blog citing The Guardian’s correction of President Obama’s claim last night that the Brits didn’t torture. Next we will learn that Mother Theresa coached Bernie Madoff.

You must be referring to another establishment.

Still an interesting historical footnote The Guardian explores.

The London Cage was used partly as a torture centre, inside which large numbers of German officers and soldiers were subjected to systematic ill-treatment. In total 3,573 men passed through the Cage, and more than 1,000 were persuaded to give statements about war crimes. The brutality did not end with the war, moreover: a number of German civilians joined the servicemen who were interrogated there up to 1948 . . .The Cage had space for 60 prisoners at any time, and five interrogation rooms. [Lt. Col.] Scotland had around 10 officers serving under him, plus a dozen NCOs who served as interrogators and interpreters. Security was provided by soldiers from the Guards regiments, selected, one archived document asserts, “for their height rather than their brains”.

A journalist alleging it was easier in a Gestapo prison that under British custody does seem self serving. But then again, if anyone had heard of the Boer War it shouldn’t be surprising that some SS captives had a hard time of it in The Cage.

None of this affects the validity of President Obama’s decision to stop American torture. A Movement friend of ours predicted recently that the President’s decision would backfire. America, according to this view, is in the same frame of mind as post 1975. And Americans will rise up in resistance to unpatriotic attacks on CIA, assorted Neocons, hack attorneys and institutional fluffers like Tenet.

We have a hard time seeing it play out that way. A factual inquiry by DoJ with the Administration indemnification of CIA officers and contractors is hardly akin to the Fall of Saigon. The Left will want more visceral action taken without a doubt. Last night’s 100 Day presser makes it clear that the President isn’t going to go there. In fact, we see the Movement doubly screwed: Bush (Movement/Republicans) tarred with torture *and* no faux innocent officers/contractors/victims/patriots as a wedge issue. Politically, if the Movement wants to embrace discredited Neocons once more that is, as Axlerod might say, more cheese on the pizza.

Torture In The Movement's Imagination


  1. Hunter says

    @ Comment:
    “But Pat’s probably thinking along different lines – the dialectic, if you will – will create a Movement anew to respond to these usurpers of American normalcy (Obama nation).”

    In that case, Pat’s just a giant douchebag. Explanation (hilarious) here:

  2. Comment says

    Krauthammer’s torture fetish is really something – He has discarded the old ticking nuke thing and now just wants to beat people.
    That guy definately projects his anger onto the world.

  3. Comment says

    “I remember going to the famous Basra air base to ask how a poor Iraqi boy, a hotel receptionist called Bahr Moussa, had died. He was kicked to death in British military custody. His father was an Iraqi policeman. I talked to him in the company of a young Muslim woman. The British public relations man at the airport was laughing. “I don’t believe this,” my Muslim companion said. “He doesn’t care.” She did. So did I. I had reported from Northern Ireland. I had heard this laughter before.”
    ~Robert Fisk
    (Clemons would be surprised)

  4. Comment says

    – LOL – Just a thought – Pat watching Joe Louis v Max Schmelling on tape – in his mind he is just thinking about how his hypothetical rooting for Schmelling is different than that favorite anecdote of his of Mexicans in LA rooting for Mexicans in soccer.
    Pat has used that anecdote – some say an overexaggerated if not mostly hyped anecdote – so often. It’s pretty funny, because ten years have passed or more and he can’t come up with new anecdotes to match.
    So it’s funny to see Pat compared to many Mexican American church going families with lots of kids in the military and working class jobs – You can see why they
    are NOT a good foil for Pat.

  5. Comment says

    re Steele – Notice his flight to Orthodoxy as he became a blame target? He started firming up his pro life stance etc – But all someone has to do is look at some stuff he said when running statewide in Md. to see the moderate lurking underneath.

    Now Steele is using his status as an ex-seminarian the way Brian Williams uses his part time summer job in the Fire Dept in Jersey – as a definitional thing for branding. But he left the seminary. He left.

  6. Comment says

    OTOH – playing the un-American card in the age of Obama and multi-cultural America is trick business for someone like Pat.
    Afterall, it’s not clear if Pat would have rooted for Joe Louis over Max Schmelling. Indeed, we recall some old timers telling us that the then highly German area of Yorktown in Manhattan was pro Schmelling, thus anti American.
    This is sort of like neocons suddenly finding themselves to be sincerely anti CIA after years in college being pro CIA because it was the right wing thing to be.

  7. Comment says

    re Obama the cartoon – we had cnbc on in the backround and suddenly we hear Dennie Kneal (sp?) shreiking and having a winger hissy fit. We know they must be discussing something that bails out not economic elites – sure enough they are discussing bankruptcy protection for the lower class people that the other cnbc guy called “losers.”
    Then thee cartoon Obama looms as Dennis pouts about having a President Obama being a President that begins a press conference telling Americans to washing their hands.

    It was a funny moment – to seize on Obama’s rather mild reply to a question about pig flu.
    But to Dennis it played into some Thatcher-esqe script he was weaned on – so he gave it no thought and just reacted to the cartoon.

    re Pat and Goldberg – not only is Goldberg a foil for Pat – He is probably the only foil – Pat’s record of racial comments and his suspicious attitudes and his Dr. Strangelove reactionary instinct to defend the most unlikely people (Pat is not otherwise given to defend people at the wrong end of the law – He ain’t Ron Kuby) and that bizarre comparison to Jesus – Pat is too far gone to be mainstream except as Maddows crazy uncle (at this point Pat is wondering why he is the crazy one and Maddow is the new normal).
    But Goldberg fits the bill as a foil – mostly for his comments about the uSA, which can be spun as those of an ingrate at best and un-american at worst.

  8. Dr Leo Strauss says

    re Steele, from what we hear his woes are just beginning; more shoes will be dropping in the next week or so. Many in the Newt solar system are asking questions — at least privately — about his Steele comments it seems to us.

    re Pat, you’e right. Goldberg is a perfect foil.

    Obama in the Movement’s imagination is a huge disconnect. On the one hand he looms like a giant. All of their fears, anger, rejection are projected onto a cartoon figure called Obama. Yet Obama the reality doesn’t exist. By that we mean that what 2006 and 2008 meant in empirical on the ground developments is ignored. Obama is McGovern. Or a foreign Muslim agent. But what does it mean to have a 1/2 black 47 year old man with the words ‘Barack’ and ‘Obama’ in the White House? In terms of generational changes in attitudes and prejudicial blinkers on old wedge issues? Nothing.

    It’s weird. Dan Bartlett back in the day by comparison is Mr. Empiricism.

  9. Comment says

    re Clemons blog – he sounds so surprised Brits tortured – Though that particular example has also been cited by others to make the opposite claim – since there were complaints and investigations etc.

    But doesn’t Clemons know that Brits tortured Irish for 800 years? Not always officially, and not including the terror campaigns like the black and tans.

    They used to mistreat relatives of suspected IRB members and then spread the word those relatives were snitches, so they would face reprisals from Irish nationalists of various stripes etc.

    Clemons innocense of this – partly feigned for diplomatic and political positioning – is partly an example of the success of Brit soft power – everything from BBC to the Beatles.

  10. Comment says

    re Pat and the counter-enlightenment – we think there is much to that – But it’s so over the head of the prevailing narrative of the media – They can only go back to the hippies. That far and no further, a Canute would say.
    The Young America that Obama presents is multi-cultural and multi-racial and post partisan in mentality – They do not see themselves as anti-bourgeois in the main, and certainly not un-American and anti-patriotic.
    Pat – seeing the Vandee in the teaf bag parties and seeing Pat Marx in those shaking their heads at their ‘false consciousness’ misses part of of the equation.
    But Pat’s probably thinking along different lines – the dialectic, if you will – will create a Movement anew to respond to these usurpers of American normalcy (Obama nation).

  11. Comment says

    We think Pat would be pleased to be attacked by Goldberg – Pat’s comparison of the Nazi Guard to Jesus is so weird and obnoxious and foul sounding that it could have unraveled his shakey grip he has walking the fine line between Birchers and Racialists – and being Rachel Maddow’s crazy conservative uncle.

    But Goldberg is probably the one person Pat can legitimately point to as someone pushing the US into war – via propaganda in the New Yorker.

    Pat is never convincing when he says the neocons started the war because there are too many non-neocons who wanted war. But Goldberg is not a neocon, strictly speaking.

    How might Pat respond?

    A Tale of Two Prison Guards

    It was the best of times for Jeffery Goldberg, and it was the worst of times for Ivan Demanjuk.

    Both Goldberg and Demanujuk were prison guards …While Ivan chose to move to land of the free, Goldberg chose to leave the land of his birth – a country he detested …

    Martin Luther King once said …

  12. Comment says

    Leo, was Newt really named after Canute the Dane?
    “Give me the head of one of my enemies, and I will you like a brother” – one of Canutes famous quotes.

    Btw, it really grates many that Obama won South Bend – plus he won the majority white Tuscaloosa, Alabama – a city Bill Maher used as a punch line for place Obama would never win.

  13. Comment says

    Pajamas Media wants to welcome it’s new write, Joseph de Maestra. Mr. de Maestra will write about his historical feud with liberals like Chateaubriand …

  14. Dr Leo Strauss says

    @ Comment re Pat B., Wehner and Death Camp Guards

    Pat’s comparison of a Nazi Death Camp Guard to Jesus resonates very strongly among the Movement. Pat seemingly is stridently out of control. There is, however, a dog whistle in the cacophony.

    Pat’s not really defending the guard. Remember, his and the Movement’s ultimate goal is the destruction of modernity. They wish to roll back and repeal of 1789, 1776 and the Enlightenment generally.

    Most of Pat’s life has been re-assertion of Counter-Enlightenment tropes in various guises. He lifts liberally from a long line of Continental pamphleteers and agitators (and war criminals of genocidal scope) and passes it all off as erudition to pathetically ignorant American chattering classes. In the 1980s the same dog whistle was buried in dragooning Reagan to Bitburg. There the Counter-Enlightenment message was carefully masked by more palatable anti-Soviet arguments.

    But make no mistake: the hard core Movement has always felt an affinity to the German regime’s bloody contempt for liberal democracy, ‘decadence’, and cosmopolitanism. They also embrace the subordination of the individual to the collective community – always sold as freedom, naturally. When LaNoonan talks about embracing the mysterious, just think how appropriate those words would be at a festival of lights 70 years ago. Or a book burning.

    We’ve splashed alot of words here and at STSOZ 1.0. We can’t underscore this enough. To understand the Movement one must internalize its fundamental nihilism and its implications. Easy to say, hard to do.

    A major problem in America is that most Americans are ahistorical, as well as politically and philosophically illiterate. Thus it is hard to recognize when Counter-Enlightenment agendas leer out from various familiar institutions. For example, it’s no accident that many hard core Movement pontificators are either Catholic, turning to Catholicism or parroting associated memes. One of the tragedies we have watched the past couple of decades is how the Movement made inroads into U.S. Catholicism iwith the goal of hijacking the institution.

    It’s a wise tactical choice. Catholicism is a proven multi-centuries institutional survivor. The Church still has a very healthy meme-immune defense. And its institutional channels for generational indoctrination are compared to other vehicles relatively robust. So it would make a perfect host for a Counter-Enlightenment cause.

    Another reason Catholicism is important to the Movement (although distinct from Evangelical recruitment) is a corollary to the Movement’s nihilism: their belief that Diocletian was right — so as were your parents, so shall be the next generation after you. In other words, if the Movement captures say one’s parents, they believe this means they have gotten you. And so on.

    It’s an ethereal conviction up there with La Noonan’s ‘mysteries’. We just had an exchange with a television personality on this point today. The personality said on the evening of April 30, 2009, that not much has changed in America in the last generation. That people are pretty much where their parents were. And this proves the Movement will prevail, etc.

    The obvious reply? Two words: President Obama. But remember, empirical evidence is meaningless (that is the point, of course, in rolling back the Enlightenment). Oh, it will be flaunted as a talking point when convenient. But the Truths animating the Movement are sacrosanct and impervious to rational debate or analysis.

    Pat discredited himself long ago by refusing the sanctity of the Movement’s ‘Community’ and required obeisance to rules and hierarchy when he ran as an independent. He’ll never be trusted or welcomed back again. Plus he’s on MSNBC. But he’s still useful now and then as this column shows.

    He at least has a good gig playing the avuncular Right Wing Uncle on cable. Even granting that Pat is a recycler of more clever and original nihilism from the Continent, he at least does that. Who does any original content programming at a comparable scale? It looks bleak. It’s hard to imagine Pajamas Media or their peers filling in.

  15. DrLeoStrauss says

    Torture reveals the Movement’s anger for their governing (leading) role being stolen by an illegitimate Obama Administration and people like the Mac Guy in the Apple TV commercials. They truly do believe that Obama is a transient blip and that the Terry Schiavo Nation is again just around the corner.

    To the extent Obama denies them traction by falling for their bait it will twist the Movement into further knots. We’re all for it. If it takes torture to take down Condi, by all means, let’s go. Although that would be an Al Capone and taxes thing. We’d prefer her trial to be on crimes against sapient species.

    The formulation of post left-right and instead modernity versus primitivism is spot on. La Noonan can cluck around searching for mystery while we take the future. Good riddance.

  16. Comment says

    We have not really dipped into this Goldberg-Buchanan flap, and we leave the Wehner – (a little man) -out of it – Wehner is a just plot device for Goldberg – righteous/ wtf?
    Pat’s defense of German prison guards seems odd too us and weird, and sometimes very off base.
    But Goldberg is a phoney who left the US and decried his own country as an anti semetic hell hole and then moved to Israel and served as a jailer of Palestinians in their own land. Then he comes back and palms a memoir as a some sort of liberal jailer who had some sort of radical chic admiration for some of the guys he was oppressing.
    Then Goldberg spews out lies to help Cheney sell a war to liberals and then suddenly finds his inner liberal again and makes peace with Obama.
    We knew people who groaned when Obama kissed his ass, but Obama is a politician and the groaners don’t win elections, much less primaries.
    In any event – Pat should have no problem responding to Goldberg in the apppropriate outrageous way.

  17. Comment says

    We think the Nixon comparison falls apart – with respect to Condi. Condi is just saying stuff – There is not much reflection, it seems – Nixon was a far more complicated person. He seems that way. People make plays and novels about Nixon, but they would never do that with Condi –

  18. Comment says

    The conservative Movement is in position now somewhat similar – in some respects – to the right wing in Spain following their meltdown pre Zapetero – Recall the bombing the right tried to pin on ETA etc – then discredited. But it’s even worse for them here in the US – In Spain the right just saw the future slippinng away and they became seen as reactionary and angry and a bit slow – But the right here has a far tougher opponenent than the socialist opponents in Spain who helped Bush go into Iraq – Try as they might, they will find it impossible to tar Obama as a socialist (oddly socialism has benefitted as meme while Obama has been unscathed) – Obama will be so ensconsed with the power bases of the country that he will re-center things around his
    form of pragmatism.

  19. Comment says

    “BIDEN !!!”
    Obama even benefits from the gaffe-prone VP because
    our sitcom trained contextualized media-sphere.
    He is playing George Costanza to Obama’s Jerry Seinfeld.

    It’s only a matter of time before The New Criterion chaps host a panel lamenting this particular sign of decline of The West

  20. Comment says

    “we see the Movement doubly screwed: Bush (Movement/Republicans) tarred with torture *and* no faux innocent officers/contractors/victims/patriots as a wedge issue.”

    Yes – that concern stood out thru all of Andy McCarthy’s blinkered rants at The Corner – Obama, in referring to the facts in passing, was convicting the Agency –

    But most people do not see it that way – They see Obama sticking his neck out a bit to defend Agency people.

    But the nature of ideology is such that McCarthy’s logic sees that defense as an offfense – There is a logic there, but it is too weird for most people to grok – Unlike the Fall of Saigon.

    McCarthy and others were hoping to defend Jack Bauer against Jesse Jackson, but instead they are stuck defending Dick Cheney against Barack Obama – a hopeless political stance.

  21. Comment says

    In addition – the less Obama ‘does’ against the previous torture regime, the more he does — His very inactivity – legally wise (he is not a prosecutor) and politically wise – catalyses others to do what they want to do.

    Obama speaks up for the employees who followed orders – cue the Nuremberg cliche – The MSM establishment does not care a whiff about these people – They would be content to let “bad apples” and “rednecks” take the hit for Addington and Cheney etc.

    The whole decadent idea of looking to scapegoat the little people and protect higher ups is something we think Obama is mindfull about – He will let those who should know better twist in the wing and the Beltway’s collective CW will sweat while Spaniards start arresting people and issuing warrents.

    So less is more – Obama can be passive aggressive on this issue – Tie up rightists and neocons – let them spend the next few years worrying about the Pinochet prescedent than stopping Obama’s programs.

    Bill Clinton was too caught up in the boomer wars to be so deft early in his term – So even though he was brilliant and clever he never would have been able to manuever like Obama – Obama is also blessed with discredited enemies – people like De Mint and Inhofe and others who seem absurd to large swaths of influential people.

  22. Comment says

    re unpatriotic attacks on CIA – we think Agency is too unpopular with many rightist opionion leaders – Recall the confused right wing/neocon response to the Plame/Joe Wilson thing? The libs cheering wildly for Plame’s lovely lost secrecy and the right left playing Clintonia word games with Toensing.
    It was all politically jambled and screwed up the traditional right wing embrace of all things secret and Nixonian and they still have not recovered.

  23. Comment says

    As an aside – your friend’s allusion to 1975 seems a bit off and somewhat nostalgia influenced – The younger liberal movement today and the related Obama faction is different in political character than the more leftist influenced young people of 1975 – It’s less of left-right divide that can be tied to foreign enemies in a politically fine way. It’s more of a modernist-worldly type liberalism that will provoke a reaction that is more traditionally populist than revanchist-patriotic.

    Then again – who knows?

    Obama was pretty cool last night – The GOP has no one who can come close to responding in a meaningful way. For an obama supporter it is a bit uneasy – because it can’t last.

  24. Comment says

    Obama dropping the C-bomb – Churchill – against torture was a crafty political move, nonetheless – Let the neocons choke on their pretzels and ‘defend’ Churchill by saying he (and Atlee) did use it – Let the left oriented UK press correct the record. Etc. Just responding to Obama is a challange to the speaker anyway –

    Next step is to invoke Reagan’s siging of the Torture Convention as the shining apple The Reagan Legacy –

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