Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 16, 2014

Torture And Exceptionalism

New poll finds majority of Americans believe torture justified after 9/11 attacks

By an almost 2-1 margin, or 59-to-31 percent, those interviewed support the CIA’s brutal methods, with the vast majority of supporters saying they produced valuable intelligence.

In general, 58 percent say the torture of suspected terrorists can be justified “often” or “sometimes.”

Is any European politician still talking about the "common values" Europe and the U.S. are alleged to have?

Do the people of the United States understand the logic of their thinking?


Or is it just the usual "exceptionalism" Obama professes to believe in?


Cordesman warns of the Strategic Cost of Torture, Racism, and Bigotry but he only points to Asia and the Middle East as areas where the view of the U.S. is in trouble. I believe (or maybe just hope?) that the U.S. support for torture, support only as long as the U.S. does it, will move it further away from Europe.

Torture And Exceptionalism

Posted by b on December 16, 2014 at 14:55 UTC | Permalink


Yep, let the brainwashing of the sheeple begin. What sad mean little country Amerika has become. We don't even try to hide it any more.

Posted by: jo6pac | Dec 16 2014 15:04 utc | 1

"Although the war may be endless, a great victory has already been won: the victory over democracy by the “imperial executive” and the forces of the “deep state,” a new form of soft totalitarianism more cleverly disguised than the older and more obvious ones. A democratic government is supposed to operate with the consent of the governed. When the governed are conditioned by fear, bathed in paranoid propaganda and offered only one choice – trust us to keep you safe, or face the wrath of a world that hates you – consent becomes a matter of instinct, or pathological compulsion."

Posted by: heath | Dec 16 2014 15:12 utc | 2

Death penalty is supposed to punish a criminal that has killed innocents. Torture saves a criminal from death by obliging him/her to reveal plans to kill innocents.
If death penalty is allowed, so should torture be.

Posted by: Virgile | Dec 16 2014 15:17 utc | 3

torture isn't about attempting to get information about stopping some ticking time bomb, its about making an example of somebody to terrorize others The Gestapo and KGB could tell you that.

Posted by: heath | Dec 16 2014 15:22 utc | 4

"If death penalty is allowed, so should torture be".

Do you wan't to be part of the race to the bottom of the darkest pit in the Human mind?

Posted by: BillyBoy | Dec 16 2014 15:54 utc | 5

Torture is about exploitation and gaining false confessions.
As Marcy Wheeler, at Emptywheel, makes clear, it was all about the exploitation of the prisoners to provide intel justifying the invasion of Iraq.

"As the Senate Armed Services Committee Report on torture (released over 5 years ago, in far less redacted form than tomorrow’s summary will be) makes clear, the Bush regime embraced torture not for “intelligence” but for exploitation.”

Posted by: camelotkidd | Dec 16 2014 16:02 utc | 6

What can one say? America is truly over-populated by idiots>

Posted by: ben | Dec 16 2014 16:03 utc | 7

heath @ 2: Absolutely right on point.

Posted by: ben | Dec 16 2014 16:08 utc | 8

b - the poll was done by Washington Post-ABC News... what do you expect?

polls are a joke.. did they tell us the specific questions asked? they just tell us who is responsible for the poll - wapo and abc - 2 channels for the exceptional nation. polls have always be about influencing people and very little about how people actually think.. reveal the questions asked and how many polls were taken before they got the results they did... but this never is revealed.. it is only this is what the poll found.. just another load of bs.. was it a poll taken within the us military? it could be for all we know..

Posted by: james | Dec 16 2014 16:33 utc | 9

I didn’t read the report, it would turn my stomach. Also I reckon there weren’t many unknowns revealed. Poland a rendition/torture hub? It was even in the Swiss press at the time.. (if couched in gingerly terms with ‘allegedly’ etc.) Atta didn’t meet Saddam in Prague? (I read this was in the report?) - Completely laughable, plus this news snippet was a blatant fabrication.

I loathe the US discussions about torture, then (03) and now. So I won’t enter it, if only to spare myself and readers from white hot rage.

I will say this though. The US habit of VERY partial confession, often years, here a decade down the road (though of course the US used torture before..), with ‘reports’, or ‘leaks’, etc. has the effect of normalizing, smoothing over, rendering acceptable past actions, as if (as might be the case on a personal level) confession automatically implies repentance and change for the better.

!! That was Cheney! Now we have Obama!! Which of course is an empty argument.

In this way, the bar for what can or must be accepted, what is normal part of life, is lowered again and again, e.g. I doubt very much that polls about the legitimacy of torture in say 1990 would have given the same results.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 16 2014 16:35 utc | 10

Technically - punishment is intended to be a deterrent.
The Death penalty is only justifiable in the sense that it either serves as a deterrent or prevents future criminal acts from being performed.
The deterrent aspects are questionable - at least in part because of the massive effort devoted by death penalty opponents to fighting it.
The prevention of future acts, however, is undeniable. This is balanced by the very nature of the death penalty with regard to convicted innocents.
The situation in the US - outside of Texas - is simply ludicrous: a death penalty which serves little or no deterrent, is extremely expensive even compared to lifetime imprisonment, and fails to actually work both in systemic and operational terms (i.e. doesn't get used much because of its expense and political freight and when is used, is often horrific and a failure).

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 16 2014 17:14 utc | 11

Heres a guy that would like to torture some more

Jeb Bush makes first step in launching presidential campaign

Posted by: Anonymous | Dec 16 2014 17:17 utc | 12

I agree with James #9

See: Americans Are Deeply Divided About Torture. (ht Note: the headline is misleading. The article discusses an academic study which reveals that:

The [US] public has seldom been supportive of torture, even when presented with “ticking time bomb” scenarios where the intelligence is described as vital to stopping an impending terrorist attack. When asked about actual torture practices such as waterboarding or sexual humiliation, public support mostly collapses.

Saying "Everybody agrees . . ." is a classic advertising/propaganda ploy. Lets not blame the US public, which is its victimized in many ways.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 16 2014 18:05 utc | 13

Per #9, consider the source of the poll. Then doubt that the questions were posed in a way to actually get real opinions. Even righteous liberals have been flummoxed by leading questions and pointless hypotheticals of "ticking-time-bombs" and "holding your family hostage" and bull-chit Talmudic arguments presented to confuse and shake moral certitude. Have no fear chickadees -- they are loosing the marketing war. Because -- anecdotally -- I'm hearing a VERY different tone from family members in college. Young men who didn't want to hear or face the truth -- are now questioning EVERYTHING the MSM spouts. One of them mentioned that a fraternity brother -- major public university -- was being "called-up" by his National Guard ROTC unit to go to Syria. Think about that. A typical American 20 YO college student -- with fraternity brothers -- is being sent to DIE for fucking oligarchs. And to kill innocent Syrians. For the ZOGs. And my family member is FINALLY beginning to connect the dots. And is increasingly pissed-off at what he sees. For the record, he can't understand what Assad has done to warrant US military invasion. His phrase. INVASION!!! So you see, the MSM is loosing their audience. In droves. The tired little goyem are rubbing their sleepy little eyes and recognize evil for WHAT and WHO it is.

Fasten your seatbelts -- its gonna be a bumpy ride. The Bolshevik-Zionist-Cabal is about to experience blow-back that will make 1938 seem like a cake-walk.

Posted by: giddy | Dec 16 2014 18:18 utc | 14

In poll methodology any idea why select youngest male or female present in the landline households on a Sunday?

75% were male.

Posted by: rjj | Dec 16 2014 18:38 utc | 15

In my opinion the “poll” is rather dubious and obviously meant to be exculpatory for the CIA so let me explain why:

Manipulative, deceptive language

In the article, the WaPo talks about “the CIA’s brutal methods” but in the poll the cruel, inhumane and degrading procedures are always called “treatment of suspected terrorists”. The word “treatment” sounds very neutral and harmless but (given the post “9/11” psychological context) in connection with “suspected terrorists” it encourages an emotional reaction rather than a reflective consideration. Had they used words like “detainees”, human beings (let alone) “torture victims” the response would have been different.

Here are some concrete examples:

Question No.1 Do you consider the Senate report to be fair or unfair (in describing what the CIA really did)?

The introductory remarks to the question are intended to goad the respondents in the right direction: phrases like “accusing the CIA”, mentioning the CIA’s view of the report: “one-sided and incomplete” (again in connection with “suspected terrorists”) tend to create the impression that it actually is unfair (if one swallows the “necessary to-protect-lives-scam”).

Answer: 47% say Unfair, 36% say Fair (17% undecided)

But another question should have been asked first: Did you actually read the report yourself or just hear about it in the media (most likely on TV)?

Besides, the question itself is kind of absurd since we cannot possibly know what the CIA really did, as long as the high level of secrecy is maintained. Encouraging people to wonder if the CIA has been treated fairly seems to me extremely Machiavellian in view of the immense suffering of the torture victims. Most of them will be mentally scarred for life, their “Urvertrauen” in other humans damaged for ever.

Appealing to Americans’ sense of “fairness” in this context shows that the poll has a hidden agenda.

What is also baffling is that the answers contradict one another (if one applies semantic logic):

Q: “Do you think the CIA “misled” [practically everybody] intentionally?
A: 54% answered YES (they did it on purpose) and the majority of this group found this behaviour not justified.

Q: “Do you personally think the CIA’s treatment of suspected terrorists amounted to torture, or not?”

A: 49% replied YES, it was torture and 38% said NO (the rest had no opinion, so 56% of those who had thought about it, saw it as torture)

Q: (In your opinion) Did the “treatment” produce important information (that could not be obtained in any other way), or not?

A: 53% YES, it did. 31% No it did not, (16% no opinion) of responding registered voters; if one looks at the “details” it emerges that in the “Non-white” respondents group the answers were almost evenly split: 41% to 38%, but if you check the results according to party affiliation the difference of opinion is staggering: Dems: 40% to 48% Reps: 70% to 13%

So although the majority of respondents think the CIA lied on purpose (thus evading any notion of “oversight”) and tortured innocent people (inflicting extreme physical and / or mental pain), they fall for the implicit argument that the “treatment” was “necessary” and suitable to extract “important information”? How stupid can you get?

Again, the question itself was manipulative: not only by (constantly) using the word “terrorist” but by adding “could not be obtained in any other way” thus suggesting the “necessity” of being cruel (after 9/11) in order to get required “intelligence”. The report cites numerous officials who confirm that the claims of the CIA, “EITs” saved lives, can be easily refuted.

But the real revelation comes with the following question:

Was it wrong to release the report because it may increase the risk of terrorism (by increasing Anti-American sentiment)? Or was it right to expose “what happened” to prevent it in the future?

Here it is obvious that this wording plays with the fear of further “terrorist attacks” and thus demands of every “patriot” to support everything which might reduce this risk (hence support torture as mentioned above) resp. condemn any measures which might increase it. So the result comes as no big surprise:

A: 52% say it was wrong, 43% consider it right (5% no opinion)

Q: Do you think there should or should not be criminal charges filed against officials who were responsible for the CIA’s interrogation activities?

A: “57% say No, 34% demand accountability and say Yes.

Again, after the groundwork has been laid for encouraging the “patriotic” (dumb) view that harsh interrogations “protect us” from further attacks and the CIA has been treated “unfairly”, talking about criminal charges does not elicit much enthusiasm and it disturbs the positive self-image of America (“… a brilliant act of hypnosis” …”it never happened” see Pinter’s Nobel address) so a natural resistance against such shattering insights (confirmation bias) can be exploited in many people …

Q: “All in all do you think the CIA’s treatment of suspected terrorists” was justified or not?

A: 59% justified, 31 not justified (10% no opinion)

Here the combined numbers are misleading since 40% said “the treatment” was sometimes justified while 39% answered they were rarely / never justified. So by adding up the “rarely” and “sometimes” votes you get more “positive” answers and ignore the context.

Again, the use of expressions like “suspected terrorists” has a tendency to gain approval given the campaign of fear and loathing after 9/11 (against an invented enemy …)

Posted by: Karin Ehrlinger | Dec 16 2014 18:40 utc | 16

Did you guys see former CIA Director Mike Morell on Charlie Rose last night? I was dozing off but it woke me right the fck up. Absolutely horrifying. When he wasn't Crispin Glover, he was The Simpson's Monty Burns, practically clawing his way across the table and dropping little gems along the lines of; "...(insert made-up 'terrorist' name here) told us that 'enhanced interrogation' actually freed him to tell the truth; like it was ok, as long as he'd endured an appropriate amount of discomfort or whatever, he would be absolved ".

This is like a bad Star Trek script or something. Claiming your victims are actually verbally grateful for their torture, in hindsight(were they having tea or something?). That those you tortured are actually in most cases thankful, for having saved their 'pride' or some such shit. With a straight face. Well, as straight as these guys can manage anyway.

Posted by: L Bean | Dec 16 2014 19:03 utc | 17

Just two days ago, Russian far-right organized a large xenophobic march in St Petersburg. The view of black swastikas on red and white flags proudly waving in the center of former Russian capital while anti-war demonstrations are being disrupted by police says a lot about the government's preferences...

Posted by: Ulster | Dec 16 2014 19:19 utc | 18


That is why Europe has got rid of the death penalty and it's a requirement for admission to the EU. Even Russia has indefinitely suspended it and there are so-called liberal Americans who suggest that Russia is barbaric.

Am I looking at the same youtube video - the one I saw had no more than a hundred fascists and the red and black flags did not feature a swastika although I will admit the black and white ones appeared to have swastikas camouflaged with a cross. And I saw no anti-war protesters being disrupted by the police or are you referring to anti-war protests elsewhere? BTW, if Putin banned fascist marches in Russia, you can be certain that he would be condemned at the UNSC by the usual suspects.

Posted by: blowback | Dec 16 2014 19:58 utc | 19

The minutia of the poll aside, I'm not surprised that large numbers of people support torture, the same way they support drone strikes. One needs to actually sit down, put aside all other thoughts and actually think about the practices, implications, morality, and so on. It wouldn't hurt to understand some degree of international law, or perhaps read a bit from time to time.

Perspective in America seems overwhelmingly driven by gut instincts and affiliation with the democratic/republic, or liberal/conservative ideologies (despite these two sides being borderline indecipherable from one another). What bothers me the most, is that within the circles I roll, there is very little, if any, talk about these events. I interpret this several ways:
-People are irresponsible and somewhat incapable of critically thinking about events which do not touch them.
-Life in America has become unnecessarily distracting and busy to the point that the news becomes dispensable.
-People rationally understand that they have no influence on foreign policy, and thus choose to look away. It is difficult to maintain ones sanity when you are aware of families being exploded by hellfire missiles, or of some guy who took offense to an occupying force ending up in a hell hole being tortured by psychopaths.

These are very disappointing times, but I sense some clamoring. As the middle class continues to be squeezed, and the lower classes straight out abused, it will take one good recession (which we are all but promised) for people to come out in force and demand representation by purging the influence of big money on our politicians. Drone strikes, torture, economic warfare, proxy wars are not compatible with a healthy democracy.

Posted by: IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 16 2014 20:07 utc | 20

I am not sure what is more sickening – the description of the “interrogation techniques” or the lawyers of the DOJ falling over themselves to justify this inhuman cruelty … e.g. in the famous “torture memo” we find the following legal argument:

“Certain acts may be cruel, inhuman or degrading, but still NOT PRODUCE PAIN AND SUFFERING OF THE REQUISITE INTENSITY to fall within section 2340A’s proscription against torture”

(Is this what Hannah Arendt meant with “the banality of evil”?)

“[So] there is a wide range of techniques that will not rise to the level of torture” (because they are not painful or degrading enough to call it a crime) … “the treaty prohibits only “extreme acts” but who defines what “extreme” means?

I have a suggestion: to find out whether the applied “techniques” produce pain and suffering “of the requisite intensity” let’s try them out on those who endorsed them with great enthusiasm:

Cheney: perhaps a candidate for “rectal feeding”?
Bush: how long would he endure being shackled naked, in a stress position, to the wall?
Rumsfeld: We could try the “coffin”, given how many people he sent to their grave …

The lawyers who worked so hard to legitimize hideous cruelty as “defensive” measures? The CIA- director? The two psychologists who made 80 million dollars with the torture program? Any ideas?

By the way, have you heard the political joke of the millennium?

“Human rights is the soul of American foreign policy”
(President Carter, Dec. 1978)

Posted by: Karin Ehrlinger | Dec 16 2014 20:13 utc | 21

To #17: Morell is a whiny little weasel. Actually gave Brennan some cred that he rid CIA of that little prick. Not that Brennan is a good guy. They're ALL evil. The alphabets are having trouble recruiting anything but dual-citizen Talmudic whiners and casuistry-indoctrinated Jesuits. What a fucking hornets nest. Who in their right-mind would WANT to be associated with such lying, scheming, back-stabbing, mendacious pieces of excrement. Requisite qualifications to work for US Intel. At least in the old days they didn't bore us with their fuckery. No wonder the Russians shake their heads. Just a bunch of ZIO-thugs.

Morell was on Charlie Rose about a month ago and it was impossible to watch. Two liars lying. And a partridge in a pear tree. Ho, ho, ho.

Posted by: giddy | Dec 16 2014 20:30 utc | 22

in re 18

Not gonna let this whole "Russian Fascist Danger" riff go, I see. Let try to put this in perspective.

How about these fascists, as the Ukraine underplays role of far right in conflict (BBC via NewColdWar)? There are a few more than 100, and the get a little more support from the junta than police indifference.

Readers of my recent posts on the activities of the "volunteer battalion commanders" and their subordinates will recall their wholesome pursuits including assaulting and killing elderly demonstrators, seizing factories and deposing politicians.

Good to see the BBC getting a little closer to reality, even as they underplay the fascists political influence. But they elide the real issue -- the government owes its existence to these gunmen. Their strength lies not in their parliamentary representation, but in their willingness to use violence. The far-right is weakly represented in the Rada only because Poroshenko and National Front took on their message. And I think Lyashko & the Radicals qualify as far-right.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 16 2014 20:59 utc | 23

Posted by: IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 16, 2014 3:07:06 PM | 20

Well, things will not change if you dismiss the propaganda, dissembling, and looting as "minutia". Instead you 'fall for' it and blame the people. WTF?

This "poll" was clearly designed to blunt the impact of outrage over the government's decision to not hold anyone accountable.

News flash: Propaganda works. Oh and people feel powerless because for the most part, they are - as demonstrated by the fact that no one is held accountable for wrong-doing.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 16 2014 21:14 utc | 24

I believe the poll is essentially correct about American attitudes toward torture. That's not because they are sadists, but because the whole business is so remote from daily life, it doesn't matter. Americans are exceptional only in their lack of self-inspection.

Posted by: Knut | Dec 16 2014 21:19 utc | 25

b. I think your hopes for Europe are misplaced. It sounds like almost all of NATO as well as our Gulf state allies were complicit in torture.
The people of Europe will have to change their governments before they can move away from the US.

Posted by: Dan | Dec 16 2014 22:06 utc | 26

I nearly forgot -- let me add to b's funny pages, with this from Tom Tomorrow. My favorite panel is the one on positive spin -- "It's American Exceptionalism for the win!"

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 16 2014 22:43 utc | 27


Thanks for the analysis



U.S. TV Provides Ample Platform for American Torturers, But None to Their Victims

Friedman, who himself unleashed one of the most (literally) psychotic defenses of the Iraq War, ended his torture discussion by approvingly quoting John McCain on America’s enduring moral superiority: “Even in the worst of times, ‘we are always Americans, and different, stronger, and better than those who would destroy us.’”

This self-glorifying ritual can be sustained only by completely suppressing America’s victims. If you don’t hear from the human beings who are tortured, it’s easy to pretend nothing truly terrible happened. That’s how the War on Terror generally has been “reported” for 13 years and counting: by completely silencing those whose lives are destroyed or ended by U.S. crimes. That’s how the illusion gets sustained.

Thus, we sometimes hear about drones (usually to celebrate the Great Kills) but almost never hear from their victims: the surviving family members of innocents whom the U.S. kills or those forced to live under the traumatizing regime of permanently circling death robots. We periodically hear about the vile regimes the U.S. props up for decades, but almost never from the dissidents and activists imprisoned, tortured and killed by those allied tyrants. Most Americans have heard the words “rendition” and “Guantanamo” but could not name a single person victimized by them, let alone recount what happened to them, because they almost never appear on American television.

It would be incredibly easy, and incredibly effective, for U.S. television outlets to interview America’s torture victims. There is certainly no shortage of them.

Isolated as we are in ethnically-cleansed and racially-ordered North America we have sub- un- or consciously come to regard the inhabitants of the world outside North America as of another species (Mexico is only 'technically' in North America, not Anglophile North America, the one where the humans live).

At times we treat the outlanders less well than we 'ought', but they have not the right to make the same claims on life as we do.

It's regrettable that we cannot always treat them 'as though they were human', but in many cases we do, and for that we deserve praise and recognition.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 16 2014 23:00 utc | 28

No doubt poor chioice of words on my part. I was trying to avoid engaging the disagreements about the true findings of the poll based on wording. I don't underestimate the influence of propaganda one bit.

But yes, to a certain extent, I do not let the populace at large off the hook. The momentum is accelerating in favor of the rich and powerful. Saying that those who turn away are not responsible at least partially for these losses is to not be honest. There will be no power dispersed back to the masses without sacrifice and from my vantage no one is doing a damn thing. Did you expect power and money to play nice?

Posted by: IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 16 2014 23:15 utc | 29

Karen Ehrlinger @16

Thanks for your thoughtful post. I was thinking along the same lines of polls-as-propaganda as you were, and was looking for some background when I ran across a link to your post here while at

If nothing else, the sole fact that it was a WashPo poll should raise a healthy dose of skepticism.

Posted by: sleepy | Dec 16 2014 23:21 utc | 30

Europe under the regime of global finance capitalism has moved CLOSER to the US position, not away from it. The people of Europe have mixed responses as do Americans but the people of Europe, like Americans are being massively lied to and are living in a universe of controlled information - propaganda.

Posted by: nomas | Dec 16 2014 23:38 utc | 31

@ Ulster @ 18

At least the Russians don't rationalize torture as legal, like the US and its stooges in NATO.

Posted by: nomas | Dec 16 2014 23:40 utc | 32


I sympathize with your frustration but blaming your fellow citizens is self-defeating. Even to say that they partly to blame is wrong-headed because many think that change can't happen until the time is right and few are willing to stick their necks out. Others don't have time, feel disenfranchised, or want to believe so they can fit in. Contrast those faults with the mercenary, mendacious, mean-spirited wealthy elites and political lackeys that actively try to undermine good government.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 17 2014 0:49 utc | 33

Interesting that Sen. McCain (who seems to have been tortured while a POW in the hands of the N Vietnamese forces) appears to be very sceptical about the "value" of information gleaned from torture sessions. Especially striking since McCain presumably knows whereof he speaks on this issue. Maybe the chickenhawks who are so gung ho on this subject should witness their child or significant other being "waterboarded" before spouting forth...?

Posted by: Cortes | Dec 17 2014 1:28 utc | 34

I see your point wholly. The forces in our society are strong and scary as all hell. I just want the balance to reverse course and all I sense is more slipping away with very little resistance.

Our country perpetuates heinous violence abroad and is infected with institutional and structural violence domestically. If you have no means, you have no voice. If you have some means, you turn away from the horror that stares at you everyday as not to have what little privilege you have taken away for disrupting inertia. This is no way to live. The American population is a chimera of delusion and unhappiness. We export our way of life, with the military at the vanguard, yet who would want to live like us? We have no culture. Our communities have dissolved in the acid of material jealousy and the atomization rote by fomented suspicion. Look, I'm not a radical or anarchist, but people need to start talking and educating each other, we need to position ourselves to stand behind the actions of our government, and through tangible effort mold that posture into something other than an excercise in perpetually apologizing for miscarriages of power by changing how that power is wielded.

Posted by: IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 17 2014 1:38 utc | 35

okay - definitely last post for 5 or so days from me.

@3 virgile.. that is whacked out logic. maybe you are trying to convey the logic on the bush and every usa admin since. - haha, may as well push it back further too.. it is just complete b.s. any way you slice it.. capital punishment is the murder of innocent people too, but i suppose when a society has gotten so far removed from the idea of compassion, rubber stamping torture is just another step in the same direction. that is what every leader in the usa is doing at this point by not insisting on any accountability from these losers - yes - american leaders are losers. that is why ulster likes them so much - they are A okay with torture - which makes sense when one has a torturous mindset. i am not sure where you fit in all of this.

polls are propaganda packaged as some form on objective truth. only problem is generally one never is told who paid for the poll, how many were taken before they got the desired answers and what the specific questions were to get the specific results they were looking for.. anyone who pays attention to a poll is an idiot as i see it. see karin's post @16 for a well spoken description of the process..

@25 dan.. i think you are right about that.. it is an illusion to think europe is all that different.. is it willing to confront just what the usa has become? i would say no and i base this on their complicity in following the usa in their hostility towards russia for all the wrong reasons, including the bogus justification they have given to sanction and have a war they believe is justified on these same false conclusions they rubber stamped a week or so ago in the resolution against russia.. the usa is drunk with it's sense of self and power.. sure a big man who is drunk is dangerous, but he is as much a danger to those he is leading as he is those he is going after. the fact europe has gone along with the usa's torture agenda, or sanction b.s. suggests anyone with an idealistic attitude that europe is different is mistaken. guess i could have said that in fewer words, lol.

Posted by: james | Dec 17 2014 2:23 utc | 36

Noirette @10

it's ugly beyond words here, the ho-hum of it.

Posted by: lizard | Dec 17 2014 2:26 utc | 37

@35 The big issue in Europe right now is immigration. It's about the only thing people still get worked up about. Torture? Not so much. Makes one wonder what they are going to do with a lot of new Ukrainian citizens.

Posted by: dh | Dec 17 2014 2:51 utc | 38

Americans don't seem to care much about, or even understand, liberty anymore. The fact that there are people in this country who favor gun control is sad. The fact that it doesn't bother most people the NSA is Hoovering up everyone's data is sad. The fact that most Americans don't care that the CIA tortured people, in many cases almost killed them, lied about it, hacked Senate computers to prevent Congress from getting in their way, and continue to constantly lie, manipulate, and deceive is beyond depressing.

Posted by: A5 | Dec 17 2014 3:37 utc | 39

Death penalty is still practiced and supported in the USA. It is justified as a protection from potential criminal acts. Torture is supposed to serve the same purpose.

" Six in 10 Americans favor the death penalty for convicted murderers, generally consistent with attitudes since 2008. "

I guess the same numbers are in favor of torture.

Posted by: Virgile | Dec 17 2014 4:03 utc | 40

Run Jeb, run!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 17 2014 4:24 utc | 41

Hersh: Children sodomized at Abu Ghraib, on tape somehow, this got left out of my last post...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Dec 17 2014 4:30 utc | 42

The only torture and exceptionalism is the torture of the American psyche by Western exceptionally venal journalists and commentators on the eve of a modern-day seige of stalingrad by the House of Saud and the International Bankster Wehrmacht, as if billions of humans in harms way from this collosal armageddon give a flying frack about Abu Ghraib.

Posted by: Chip Nihk | Dec 17 2014 7:47 utc | 43


Giddy is an appropriate handle for you. Not 1 in 5 American youth of military servitude age are in college, and not 1 in 3 are employed, the Pentagon is turning them away in drovrs, and can field 100,000s, with more 100,000s of mercs, in a moment's whim by der OberHaupReichFuehrer.

Posted by: Chip Nihk | Dec 17 2014 8:07 utc | 44

Here we go again

Obama set to back new sanctions against Russia

Posted by: Anonymous | Dec 17 2014 8:26 utc | 45

So the corporate media produced a poll, and the results were fixed to show approval of U.S. policy.

Posted by: madisolation | Dec 17 2014 12:43 utc | 46

Cubans are a bit naive?

Soon we will see a protest "maidan" in Cuba.

Posted by: Anonymous | Dec 17 2014 15:05 utc | 47


Late at night I tend to get emotional and concoct strings of words with little underlying meaning, so I'm going to go at this again.

My perspective is that the entrenched wielders of power will continue their fleecing of the lesser classes in the US and abroad through neoliberal policy. These efforts, as you say, are no doubt supported by massive levels of propaganda This will not stop. If you disagree with this point please let me know as this is foundational and should be discussed.

The information required to reason and make informed decisions is more abundant than ever through means such as the internet, however at the same time the ability to hear only want you want has expanded in parallel. Americans have, in my perspective, fully embraced the later option. I often find myself unable to engage people because they have no basis to discuss complex issues beyond, "do you think Obama is projecting enough power, or too little power?" People cling to the idea of black and white, good and evil because it is comforting. Complexity and ambiguity are not comforting, but they are our reality. I believe there is a choice therein, and that's why the public is not off the hook in my mind. The propaganda is a comforting storyline that all too many have chosen rather than pursuing curiosity, discussion, and engagement. The other side of the coin, is that many of these practices are simply wrong, one does not need an advanced degree to feel at odds with torture, or killing American citizens abroad without a trial.

Posted by: IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 17 2014 15:25 utc | 48

@ 47: "The information required to reason and make informed decisions is more abundant than ever through means such as the internet, however at the same time the ability to hear only want you want has expanded in parallel. Americans have, in my perspective, fully embraced the later option".

BINGO! Therein lies the crux of the great American paradox. Introspection has taken a back seat to the bread and circucs mentality. 24/7 imput, no time given to self-reflection. Thank you MSM. Most Americans are shallow morons. Sad.

Posted by: ben | Dec 17 2014 16:39 utc | 49

@46 This is Obama's low hanging legacy shopping. The head of U.S.AID resigned abruptly. Much like Southeast Asia and China and the Ukraine and Russia, there are too many benefits available to Cuba. Obama is desperate for a foreign policy win. Giving "aid" to the Ukraine is unpopular especially among the types who know the world is round. Even Obama's portrayal of a new Cold War isn't working, and a kind of normalization will give Obama a diplomatic "accomplishment" which could have been done on his first day on the job. His supporters will have a feather in their camp.

Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Dec 17 2014 16:44 utc | 50

The poll is terrible for sure. (See previous posts.)

Amongst the US citizens I know and keep in touch with I have noted a definite shift towards tolerance of torture, particularly amongst 15-30 yr. olds. A few older ppl (60+) have not come on board.

The attitude seems to be: “Torture is bad, torture is horrific, in an ideal world it would be banned, anyway other countries torture too; but if a terrorist can give information the individual must be sacrificed for the greater good.”

This argument is nuts, and only shows how effective the propaganda and brainwashing is.

The poll itself (questions and answers given) shows that the issue is strongly tied to the ‘terrorist threat’, it is very hard to counter-argue, as moral/ethical criteria are trumped by functionalist ones, and denying the ‘terrorist threat’ is tantamount to subversion, a desire to bash the USA, a sign of belonging to conspiracy circles, etc.

These ppl feel that in dire circumstances (which they themselves cannot judge, and don’t even claim to!) torture is permissible, even necessary, as a last-ditch measure — to protect innocent Americans! They refute the functionalist, pragmatic, counter-arguments of a *low* level - torture doesn’t throw up solid info, false confessions arise, etc. - as being perhaps correct in part, but that isn’t proven, and you never know, valuable information about terror attacks has to be rooted out, investigators can check what is ‘false.’ !!

Moving further forward in discourse makes them belligerent and extremely anxious, and, huh, how would I feel if my country was being attacked!

-- Propaganda rests on perceptions and feelings concerning personal issues, personal life, how ppl feel and act in their daily spheres — they would not give up their ‘ugly’ secrets to a policeman or judge but under even mild torture they would immediately.

-- Punitive US impulses are very strong (see prisons, slave labor, judicial system, schools, punishment of children, abuse of elders, forced medication, etc.), torture is only a step away, in fact a kind of staple domestically, which is not acknowledged

All fascist systems, or so called neo-nazi impulses, are dependent on framing of calling up these kind of ‘personal’ issues, view-points and analysis, which are turned into national preoccupations.

In this way the State (its Republican, democratic, or benevolent Monarch, etc. trappings) dissolves, and the ppl at the top accrue more power. Ppl sometimes see this as an ex. of divide-to-rule, but that isn’t correct. What is being bartered is the power of the individual, his aspirations, desires, beliefs, plus individual comfort and competitiveness (being part of the power structure even if extremely low on the pole) in return for submission to like-minded authority. Through the ‘justified’ oppression of low-lifes, whomever they might be, at home or abroad…

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 17 2014 17:07 utc | 51

It's all about fear. Since 911 Americans have felt vulnerable. They want the government to protect them. They don't much care how.

Posted by: dh | Dec 17 2014 17:38 utc | 52


Lets focus on the clear example of this "poll". Why go through the exercise of creating such a bogus poll if Americans are just shallow, selfish morons who care so little about other people?

Your line of reasoning ultimately leads to the falsehood that propaganda doesN'T work. If your theses was correct, then a certain number of people would be breaking free of it every day. But pervasive propaganda is designed to be culturally orienting, not informational. Even this "poll" plays on modes of thinking that have been encouraged like narcissism and fear.

There ARE people who are like what you describe but they are only one 'type' among many types, and they are 'played' like the rest of us. And its not just propaganda. There are other devices like controlled opposition and identity politics that pit people against each other instead of against the system.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 17 2014 18:09 utc | 53

Look at this dumbass!

Why doesn't he free himself of his bovine conditioning? He deserves his fate.

If he was smarter, maybe we'd have more choices! (but would they lead to the same place?)

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 17 2014 18:29 utc | 54

I'm not sure we are arguing entirely different perspectives here.

I'm not characterizing people as moronic. I know well a great number of highly educated, bright, and cognizant people who are completely oblivious to the deeper complexities of most worldly events. As in, they couldn't describe the rough outer edges of the crisis in Ukraine, ISIS, the true purpose of Russian sanctions, etc. The poll in question fits the narrative people want to hear. They don't want to hear that we butchered the minds and bodies of human beings, many innocent, to extract false confessions and dubious information. That is the take. The give is that entrenched power goes unquestioned. I'm simply insinuating that there is culpability on both sides; the people are not off the hook. Modern propaganda is pure marketing. Power does what it wants, but it tells the people granting it it's power what we want to hear. And that is precisely what we get. If people begin to reject it, the product goes away the same way a consumer product disappears when demand plummets.

Posted by: IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 17 2014 18:51 utc | 55

Well, the "poll" seems to have had its intended effect.

MSM has blasted it out and few have looked into the details like Karin Ehrlinger (above). In fact, 'smart' Americans are eager to lend credence to this flawed "poll" by attacking their fellow Americans instead of directing their ire at government officials and political leaders who:

a) knew the policy was, morally wrong, violated human rights, and ineffective;

b) tried to cover up what happened;

c) refuse to hold anyone accountable;

d) refuse to renounce torture as a tool of state.

The (cleverly manipulated) consensus: Bush, Cheney, Obama, Hayden, Brennan, the neocons, and others did what Americans wanted of them so they have nothing to answer for.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 17 2014 19:11 utc | 56

To 44: Thanks. Always learn so much from this site. Particularly from people who are short on experience -- but long on opinion. The takeaway is goys better hide their gun-toting-age kids. Cause sure as shit they'll be cannon fodder for the neo-kikes. Good times. Eh, Chippy?

Posted by: giddy | Dec 17 2014 23:31 utc | 57

So what's next? Each time I visit this site I witness, and on occasion take part, in what can only be referred to as a perpetual and predictable dance of intellectual impotence. B kicks it off. Then a couple sporadic comments are followed by a surge of input as the discussion reaches a critical mass, but soon it inevitably wanes, thereafter all progress made relegated to bits on a server somewhere in the ether. In the end the comments distill to a fairly homogenous agreement that power in the end corrupts. What exactly do we take away from these intellectual victories. We have the key but decide not to use it. How do we bridge this understanding to a political solution to the crimes and malevolence that we discuss here on a daily basis. There are very bright individuals posting here, perhaps leaders. What do we do? Rather than take comfort in talk, how do we affect change?

Posted by: IhaveLittleToAdd | Dec 18 2014 0:29 utc | 58


Well, now you are changing the subject. But I'll take a stab at it.

IMO, first comes awareness of the devices used by TPTB to shape change to their liking. Then comes sharing that by: a)making others aware of alternative views (I find that people are usually more receptive when you approach the discussion in terms of economics rather than politics); and b) supporting efforts for real change (sign a petition, go to a march). These don't make you a radical - or much of threat to the system but they help to keep the truth alive.

This also important in that it gives TPTB an opportunity to change. If they can reform and cut out the corruption that would be preferable. But you don't want them to have the 'easy out' of saying: 'no one cared / no one objected / etc.' They are sort of 'on notice'. And, to the extent that they carry on, they are digging the hole deeper and people become more and more aware of the evil as greater evil is done to cover lesser evil.

Its important to recognize that the control mechanizisms (like propaganda) are too strong for any real change until people become discontented enough to seek that change. So patience is required. Too many think of change as 'the people' answering a 'call' from some 'leader'. That kind of change isn't likely. Most 'leaders' today are compromised or could easily be compromised. Case in point: Turning Ferguson into a racial issue (ala Sharpton) instead of an issue of militarized police and harsh treatment of ALL poor people (who are generally treated like they are guilty until proven innocent).

When 'the people' start looking for WHY things are off the rails, THAT is when change can happen IF there are people that trust of good conscience that can connect the dots and explain the bigger picture. For example, in 2008 people really, really wanted change but couldn't see how fake Obama was.

If the current system is unsustainable (as many believe), then opportunities for change will occur. Probably with increasing frequency.

People are ALREADY discontented and distrustful of government. But there is no magic bullet. No one person or group force change. A corrupt system will either reform itself (preferable) or collapse.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 18 2014 2:08 utc | 59

WaPo should ask Americans whether they think pornography is more, or less, obscene than torturing innocent people and lying about it ... after asking them how Christian they think they are.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 18 2014 15:42 utc | 60


Thats a tough question for the americans I guess, I mean rectal feeding, is that porn or is that torture?

Posted by: Anonymous | Dec 18 2014 15:49 utc | 61

To 60/61: That's because reading WaPo is similar to rectal-feeding. Particularly the Op-Ed section. Ignatius specifically.

When "Christian" church's in the US didn't take a moral stand for Gaza -- it was game-set-match. They've been infiltrated and co-opted by Zionists for years. Lots of Episcopal rectors have jewish surnames. Not the Presbyterians. They're Calvinists. And don't give a fuck what Abe Foxman thinks.

Posted by: giddy | Dec 18 2014 16:41 utc | 62

I thought about adding to what I wrote in 59, but then it occurred to me that it can all be summarized as: BE A GOOD CITIZEN. Keep an open mind, care about others, take an enlightened point of view - build bridges not walls - because we're all in this together. Its easy to be frustrated and point fingers and stop paying attention (we all have better things to do). I don't fault others - they will come around because a corrupt system is unsustainable. But I cheer those who are aware and do what they can.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 18 2014 18:12 utc | 63

Thierry Meyssan's Dec 15 perspective on the Torture Report written, he says, after reading all 500+ pages.

The Congressional report on torture confirms that Al Qaeda was not involved in the attacks of September 11

His article ends with an observation and some excellent questions, especially the last.
President Barack Obama announced that he would not pursue any of the perpetrators of these crimes, while defenders of human rights are fighting to have the perpetrators brought to justice. It’s the least we can do.

However, the real issues are elsewhere: Why did the CIA committed such crimes? Why did it fabricate confessions to link al-Qaeda artificially to the attacks of September 11? And therefore, al-Qaeda being unrelated to the attacks of Sept. 11, who has the CIA therefore sought to protect?

Finally, the CIA program involved only 119 human guinea pigs, what do we know about the 80,000 secret prisoners of the US Navy?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 19 2014 4:13 utc | 64

To 63: You have outlined "the Golden Rule". The basic tenant of "Do Unto Others..." is to act humanely and to be worthy. It's not complicated. And its not based on ANY religion or ethnicity.

To ignore the obvious FACTS that those who live by DIFFERENT rules... who believe in CHOSEN-NESS... or EXCEPTIONALISM... or that double-dealing and deceit and mendacity and greed waged against others NOT in their tribe is EVER acceptable, particularly if hidden and obscured through the veil of hubris, then this tribe should be exposed and separated from the rest of humanity. Imprisoned in their own self-created gilded-cages.

Evil is not person, place or thing. It's a set of qualities. Of characteristics. Of CHOICES. Avoid them. Boycott. Divest. Sanction. Each and every one can do this within their own consciousness. Consciousness = Sanctuary. And that's where the REAL battle is waged.

Posted by: giddy | Dec 19 2014 17:09 utc | 65

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