Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 19, 2009

Crime Of Pleasure

by anna missed
Crossposted from anna missed

Emptywheel has a post up today on the newly released torture memos, that reveal some profoundly disturbing details. According to the documents (and in spite of the presidents denials that we torture) both Al Qaeda Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah were tortured by waterboarding. While it’s disturbing enough that the president broke both domestic and international laws in authorizing the torture in the first place, had doctors and psychologists (in violation of their hippocratic oath) assist in the procedures, and had the whole process filmed repeatedly by the CIA and delivered to the White House for viewing - these are bad enough, but, now it also comes to light that both men were not only subjected to torture, but tortured so many times repeatedly that it defies all comprehension.

In the course of a month Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded no less than 184 times, and Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 84 times during one month. That averages out to being waterboarded something like 6 and 3 times a day for 30 consecutive days. Bear in mind also that these procedures were not the so called “simulated drowning” technique (used in training), but the “real drowning” technique of actually pouring water into the respiratory system. Most experts in such matters agree that these methods are unreliable as intelligence gathering tools because the terror inspired by enduring one or two of these procedures is enough for the subject to begin confessing and admitting to what ever information they think the perpetrators are after in order to make it stop. The evidence of the intelligence received from these two, according to many accounts, would also confirm this, in that the only reliable information gathered was early in their confinement. And when the information flow began to slow to a tickle, the Bush administration then ordered that the torture increase in intensity to the astronomically absurd levels now being revealed.

There is really no other way to process or account for this information other than to view it as an act of pure sadistic sickness, hell bent, and addicted on the tactile pleasure of revenge. Is it any wonder that just a year or so after this, the Abu Ghraib debacle would also be revealed repeating the same mindset, if not in the same proportions. There’s no way any of this can be reduced to euphemism or the polite nomenclature of “what if’s” - this is pure evil, in undeniably large, unfathomable, and unwieldy quantities, that will not go away quietly, because there is a big difference between someone who commits a crime of passion and one who keeps his victim alive and locked in the cellar for his personal pleasure.

Posted by b on April 19, 2009 at 11:06 UTC | Permalink


'It is no sign of mental health to be well adjusted to a sick society.'

And would not a sick society require an antagonistic concept of mental health?

As above, so below, as abroad, so at home...

Secretive U.S. Prison Units Used to House Muslim, Animal Rights and Environmental Activists

The government is using secretive prison facilities on U.S. soil, called Communication Management Units, to house inmates accused of being tied to “terrorism” groups. They overwhelmingly include Muslim inmates, along with at least two animal rights and environmental activists.

Little information is available about the secretive facilities and the prisoners housed there. However, through interviews with attorneys, family members, and a current prisoner, it is clear that these units have been created not for violent and dangerous “terrorists,” but for political cases that the government would like to keep out of the public spotlight and out of the press.

What will they tell the children?

Lest you forget about new mental health plan called the 'New Freedom Initiative.' that JR. put into place...Never mind that it couldn't have less to do with freedom...

One word: Psikhushka.

Is psikhushka coming to America? Or is it already here?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 19 2009 12:10 utc | 1

sorry to disagree with you b, but from what I see out of this sorry ass country, is this will go down the memory hole just as everything that bush the idiot has done has gone down the memory hole. This country has lost its morality and there is nothing that anyone says or does that will get it back. Our local paper made the comment that they wished bush happiness and good health in his coming years, how depraved can one be to wish this so-called human, happiness and good health.

As far as the o man, welcome to bush, version 4.0. A poster on another web site made the statement. "Perhaps every defendant in court should use the "going forward defense." If it is good enough for the POTUS, the CIA, the US government, its good enough for me. Sorry, I won't do it again. Case dismissed."

Sorry to be so negative, but if its one thing I learned over the last eight plus years, it is that the law is for the little people, the elite can and do whatever they want with no consequence.

Posted by: cut and run, terrorist lieberal | Apr 19 2009 12:33 utc | 2

Lack of accountability is the key, people will apparently do anything for the powers that be, albeit for just two terms, without accountability it might as well be the power that be, forever. Nothing will ever change, next time more will step up to the plate and do whatever in the name of personal gain and ambition. Somehow, B.O. must be made to hold those people accountable or he and his or someone to follow will do the same thing over and over again as it has always been.

Posted by: knowdoubt | Apr 19 2009 12:36 utc | 3

Sorry for the prayer wheel b...

But, while I'm here burning up bandwidth might as well add:

Don't worry be happy.

I've posted on Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, aka the Authentic Happiness movement, before but it has since come to light that 'Mr Happy' --w/full backing of the Government and their elites-- was the second former APA President connected to CIA torturers.

Seligman and others have recently been given huge contracts to teach adolescents and pre-teens how to be happy.

Don't worry be happy.

Who Needs the Brothers Grimm When We Have Teen Screen?

The horror show continues a pace...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 19 2009 12:42 utc | 4

Nice how typepad decided to edit OUT all my links...

interestingly enough, I took screen captures of the Java script and every other one of the 19 or so redundant posts had my post with and then with out my links. I suspect code has been introduced to weed out the dissemination of spreading info. But, you know, that would classify me as crazy.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 19 2009 12:51 utc | 5


Kings Row (1941) - Final scene

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

The Gipper's Finest role?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 19 2009 13:24 utc | 6


Hunkered down in the evil empire I salute the flag, worship at the right church and hope I can live-out 75 years as a surf to the man.

Americans have been horribly desensitized to other's pain – look at what many of us think of as entertainment; Hollywood adventures that are closer to snuff films; Jerry Springer types who hold high the very worst examples of human behavior; business programs that tell us, "everything will be all right"... and then there is the news programing which is anything but news – programing yes – but much like eating a McDonald's happy meal, it leaves us empty and hungrier than before we ate.

I am full of angst and anger. I'm frustrated by my fellow citizens who behave like sheep being herded to be sheared with the sweetest lambs pulled to the side to be killed and eaten. Yeah, that's what the bible thumpers forget when they talk of being lambs of Christ; that the shepherd is raising his flock to shear and eat...

As Tom Waits sings, "I'm full of ragwater and bitters..." not much fun thinking of this shit, these shits... the foul cesspool of the american empire being flushed down the same historical toilet as all the previous empires. Those who don't remember history are forced to relive it. We're in a really bad remake of the movie Groundhog Day where the entire human race is reliving the same shitty political reality over and over.

I think we should do with the Bush/Cheney fucks the same as we should do with the banking scum... stick the bastard in small lightweight cages that they can walk around in but can't remove and take them on a spitting tour of the world.

Everyone is so angry they want to kill the bastards but I think it would be a far more effective punishment to keep these assholes alive (as much to remind to us of our stupidity, as to punish the guilty for their crimes) and let the world throw rotting fruits and expel gallons of spittle upon these creeps.

What is really sick is the people who still think the ground Bush sprouts from is hallowed and not slimed by his actions in office. The fucker was either wearing a cod-piece on the deck of that aircraft carrier or worse, he had got himself a wee erection from all the excitement... Makes me wonder which story is true.

Every fucker who supports or supported torture should enjoy the experience themselves... publicly, so we can all witness what's been done in our name and with our money.

This is about all that gives me hope these days.

71 degrees sure would be nice...

Posted by: DavidS | Apr 19 2009 13:31 utc | 7

I love you Helen Thomas.

/ \

Washed Post: Psychologists Helped Guide Interrogations

Extent of Health Professionals' Role at CIA Prisons Draws Fresh Outrage From Ethicists

By Joby Warrick and Peter Finn
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, April 18, 2009

When the CIA began what it called an "increased pressure phase" with captured terrorism suspect Abu Zubaida in the summer of 2002, its first step was to limit the detainee's human contact to just two people. One was the CIA interrogator, the other a psychologist.

During the extraordinary weeks that followed, it was the psychologist who apparently played the more critical role. According to newly released Justice Department documents, the psychologist provided ideas, practical advice and even legal justification for interrogation methods that would break Abu Zubaida, physically and mentally. Extreme sleep deprivation, waterboarding, the use of insects to provoke fear -- all were deemed acceptable, in part because the psychologist said so.

Modern man likes to pretend that his thinking is wide-awake. But this wide-awake thinking has led us into the mazes of a nightmare in which the torture chambers are endlessly repeated in the mirrors of reason.” ~Octavio Paz

˙˙˙ʎʇılɐǝɹ pǝʇɐıpǝɯ ɹnoʎ oʇ ʞɔɐq ʍou

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 19 2009 14:00 utc | 8

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

Posted by: Jerry | Apr 19 2009 15:05 utc | 9

the paradox of branding lies in its context

Posted by: annie | Apr 19 2009 15:21 utc | 10


Posted by: annie | Apr 19 2009 15:40 utc | 11

There's only one argument for torture - it's because they like doing it!
These are same folks as children tortured pets.

Posted by: phastphil | Apr 19 2009 15:41 utc | 12

...the whole process filmed repeatedly by the CIA and delivered to the White House for viewing... -- from annamissed's post

I knew there were tapes.
I did not know they were sent to the WH for viewing.

Does watching these tapes make each viewer as guilty as torturers?

Oh, yeah, right. No prosecutions. Just going forward.

To what, Mr. Dem President of Hope and Change? If past is prologue, to more of the same.

We let the pols and MCMers* say the Reagan admin's unconstitutional actions and flagrant breaking of existing laws should go unpunished. There was "scandal" fatigue. (There's always scandal fatigue about Repub administrations....) We tolerated mass pardons by Papa Bush. Then, those same law breakers, along with those who worked under Nixon, came back and did these horrible, inhu8mane, ugly things.

They will be back again when another Repub admin takes power.

Posted by: jawbone | Apr 19 2009 16:13 utc | 13

Colby King, WaPo editorial writer and pundit on PBS's Inside Washington, in today's broadcast said that if society wants clean water, some people have to work in the sewers. He was explaining why no one should be punished or prosecuted for their roles in breaking US and international laws against torture. Big Obama supporter.

Posted by: jawbone | Apr 19 2009 16:17 utc | 14

So there were tapes regularly sent to the WH. Who watched them and what creative excuses can they come up with to say that WH staff watching snuff films produced useful intelligence?

Posted by: Nematode | Apr 19 2009 16:28 utc | 15

Wow--when I first checked out this post, there were links.

I went to find something that Anna's "Lust" piece (Comment 11) reminded me of...and come back to no links!

It reminded me of the final months of an interactive unemployment map/chart at Salon.

(Wonder how long that link will stay?)

Anna, another striking and beautiful work of art

Posted by: jawbone | Apr 19 2009 17:04 utc | 16

I don't really get the surprise here. These guys always affirm the consequent in argumentation. When you say the ends justify the means that is precisely your logical construction.

I do always get tickled to see how physically inadequate these "might makes right"ers are, from the diminutive Bill Kristol to the obese Kagans. I would love to whip their ass, or pin their arms behind their backs and get them to admit though they may cry uncle, I likely wouldn't have convinced them of my case.

These runts were tortured or ever fearful of physical challenges. It only makes sense that adolescent impression holds with them today. I was a late bloomer who got to beat up my bullies which was no great revenge.

I want to caution you to on one point. Torture is a horrible means to collect intelligence. However, if we had people who were really responsible for say 9/11 and were sure of it, I would not appeal for their pity.

I oppose the death penalty simply because it is far more costly than life in prison, and irrevocable. Death penalty opponents far too often appeal for pity on the convicted. Hell, I don't oppose torturing these murderers who tortured their victims.

Nor, would I oppose torturing the architects of 9/11--I would, in fact but I'd know this is not an easy case. Let's not argue for mercy for evil doers, rather we need to clearly focus on the fact that torture is a useless intelligence tool. It doesn't deserve the credibility of being considered an intelligence tool at all.

We can then argue that govt should aspire to something that is not vindictive and illegal.

Posted by: scott | Apr 19 2009 17:05 utc | 17

@jawbone - Wow--when I first checked out this post, there were links.

There is currently a bug that sometimes leaves the links out of a page. If you reload the page (shift-reload) the links will be there.

The torture tapes, most of them deleted by now but I am sure there are still copies, were likely watched in the White House. But this has not yet been proven. I'd bet that some of the principals who watched them got off big time over the screams.

Posted by: b | Apr 19 2009 17:53 utc | 18

Abuse of a person you have under your total control is torture -- that is the bottom line and no waffles are allowed, no "ticking bombs", no "special circumstances" are allowed. Torture is torture, period, end of story.

In this special case though, with the Codpiece in Chief, there is the (slightly, not much, but slightly) the ameliorating circumstance that (perhaps, not likely, but perhaps) that Laura got the best fuck of her life after her George had seen the movies a few times while fondling Saddam Hussein's pistol...

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Apr 19 2009 18:14 utc | 19

Hell, I don't oppose torturing these murderers who tortured their victims.

Nor, would I oppose torturing the architects of 9/11--I would, in fact but I'd know this is not an easy case.

hmm. #12 has a point There's only one argument for torture - it's because they like doing it!
These are same folks as children tortured pets.

scott, who would do the torturing? you? those who represent you? as for torturing the architects of 9/11 would that be before or after they have been convicted? you mean the alleged architects? while it may be very tempting to imagine cheney strung up by his balls as someone slowly drains blood from his body (just to the point of near death! then he gets a blood infusion and gets to start all over again over and over day after day for years) don't you ever wonder about the 'what if he didn't do it' factor?

because if i was running the show it would be all the neocons at the dock, not a bunch of alleged AQer architects.

if you hate someone anyway and assume they are guilty of so many crimes whats a little undeserved torture now and again. on the other hand most people are going to say whatever it takes to get the torture to stop and viola then you have your excuse to torture them because now you have proof they are guilty.

you are what you eat. you are formed by what forms you and limited by your limits. beware of what you approve for it echos a return to the dark ages.

Posted by: annie | Apr 19 2009 18:29 utc | 20

scott, I think you miss the point. What these people have done far transcends any applicable utility as either a tool of intelligence gathering or as an expression of retribution, or even as an example of warning to consequences. It doesn't matter what, in hindsight, the the two were alleged to have done, or planned to do. These are retroactive excuses designed to justify by context the indefensible because the only other explanation left is that they ordered these acts purely to service their own personal needs or pleasure. Further more, it also doesn't matter that the pleasure we're talking might revolve around whatever their personal sense of impotence might be grounded upon. Maybe they get off watching someone squirm in pain, or beg for mercy, or maybe they like ordering someone else to do the crime so they can watch, or maybe even, they desire and relish the act of turning banal statistics and procedures into the instruments of bloody conquest. Who gives a shit why. When this filth has has permeated, informed, and guided the highest offices of the country. And so far, with impunity, I might add.

Posted by: anna missed | Apr 19 2009 18:36 utc | 21

The current state of the world and especially the US makes me think more and more of this


Posted by: Fran | Apr 19 2009 19:16 utc | 22

scott @ 17:

I oppose the death penalty simply because it is far more costly than life in prison, and irrevocable. Death penalty opponents far too often appeal for pity on the convicted. Hell, I don't oppose torturing these murderers who tortured their victims.

I oppose the death penalty because it is too often bestowed upon the innocent. Killing the innocent is murder and the discovery of dna evidence prevented a lot of it. If a court of law cannot to be relied upon to determine guilt or innocence then support for the death penalty cannot be justified without supporting killing the innocent. Pity for the convicted has nothing to do with it.

Here we are not even talking about a court of law but a round up of Muslims by CIA renditions, bounty hunters, military raids and police arrests. We are talking thousands of people tortured and at least a hundred tortured to death just for being suspects and not convicted of anything. We are talking a White House that not only condoned this debacle but voted to abolish habeas corpus, returning us from the rule of law, to the dark ages where rulers determined guilt or innocence.

I oppose torturing the architects of 9/11 not because I have pity for them or that I oppose punishing them for thier evil, but for the countless innoccent victims tortured with them. No human being on this earth should have the power to determine guilt or innoccence on thier own. That is the vestige of a dictator or mob boss. This is the very reason why the rule of law and habeas corpus was established in the first place. Man is simply not capable of being judge, jury and executioner.

Posted by: Sam | Apr 19 2009 20:31 utc | 23


Agreed! I used to support the death penalty until somebody pointed out that the death penalty gives the state more power than its citizens – the state has the right to kill its citizens but the citizens don't have the right to kill.

Since that epiphany I've grown into more and more of a peacenik. I wish we'd quit all the senseless killing in the name of some government and spend that money and effort on better things... like maybe feeding the poor and providing health care for the citizens providing all the tax money to government.

Posted by: DavidS | Apr 19 2009 21:13 utc | 24

It is useful to remind oneself that atrocities are committed by people enabled by science or technology. IG Farben manufactured some poisonous gases, Oppenheimer and Teller enabled the Hiroshima and Nagasaki catastrophes. Now psychologists are involved in torturing. Engineers and physicists and chemists devise more and more lethal weapons, physicians abort babies and all these horrors are attributed to greed or criminality or whatever legal abstraction the bien pensant blogger may decide to rest upon.

Posted by: jlcg | Apr 19 2009 21:36 utc | 25

It's torture. It was always torture. They knew it was torture. They did it anyway.

S f*ck them.

Posted by: No Blood for Hubris | Apr 20 2009 1:37 utc | 26

I am convinced that when Bush turned up with the raspberry/black eye it was due to an auto-erotic asphyxiation mishap while viewing his personal stash of CIA produced and directed torture porn.


Posted by: GSD | Apr 20 2009 5:39 utc | 27

Parviz, who has posting problems, asked me to post this:

/start Parviz/
anna_missed, thanks for a superb commentary.

As for capital punishment in general, also discussed on this thread, anyone who supports it is sick in his/her mind. How many executed prisoners have been posthumously vindicated by DNA evidence? How many were framed by cops eager for promotion? How many had 3rd rate lawyers to defend them?

I just hope those who support capital punishment end up one day in some sort of Twilight Zone, innocent but on the verge of execution ....
/end Parviz/

Posted by: b | Apr 20 2009 9:17 utc | 28

You miss my point. I am personally in complete agreement with most everyone here. I am making a point of emphasis.

The death penalty is problematic since there are people on Death row who are exonerated, especially here in Dallas TX. But, an argument against the death penalty is NOT an argument against wrongful convictions.

Wrongful convictions trouble everyone, and we should take pause before executing an irrevocable judgment. However, even given certainty the death penalty would still cost 5 times more than incarceration for life.

Don't ask law and order types to appeal to their own mercy. Appeal to their greed.

Similarly, torture is useless to extract information. But, I for one would love to cut off Henry K's penis and force him to eat it. Torture won't work on the poor and oppressed. Their lives are torture.

Torture works much more effectively on the affluent. A agree that there is no place for torture. However, I believe we should punch Bush in the jaw when we see him. Hell, any politico who's insulated himself from representing his people, any decider who'd be so cavalier with other people's children should worry about his constituents just popping him in the jaw.

Make no mistake, this is the heritage of this country. Air conditioning of all things has isolated us. Here, when a man would get rough with his wife/kids, the neighbors would come over and threaten the man. This is how order was kept before we lived in a police state.

If we would keep distinct the "joys" of torture from the utter uselessness of it for intel. collection I think we would do more to ultimately and totally discredit it.

Torture scares the hell out of me as I would tell everything I know right out. Hell, once someone is captured any intelligence is likely obsolete once that missing person is realized.

Again, trying to ask people not to feel revenge is fool-hearty. I said I wouldn't mind torturing the architects of 9/11. This is not to say I know who they are, I don't doubt at least some in our gov't knew something. I don't care if they are muslim or if it's Bush's momma, if we knew who really were the architects, I would have a hard time restraining the victims. Here again, you move off topic talking about conspiracies.

I know there are problems with our legal system, but a convicted killer is always gonna be guilty in the minds of those you are trying to convince. When we get too mired in that discussion we get off topic. Further, the law and order fellow may believe that torture would help establish guilt. When, the uselessness of torture for that end is the very point.

Posted by: scott | Apr 20 2009 13:41 utc | 29

Years ago (winter '64) when I went through basic training we were given a number of talks on the uniform code of military justice. One thing I remember the instructor stressing was our obligation not to obey an illegal order. We were told that we could be subject to court-martial for doing so. I went to the ucmj site and searched but this seems to have gone away. In a fascist society you would certainly want to make the authority of the people up the chain of command absolute. I did however find this. Also, at times of war (which Bush constantly claimed we were at) the list of people who come under the ucmj is extensive.

Posted by: Sgt Dan | Apr 20 2009 19:07 utc | 30

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