Wednesday January 28, 2015
Archive - 2014
In the summer of 1991, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturned the conviction, for stock manipulation, of a man named John Mulheren.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's sickening report about the torture of terrorism suspects by CIA officers and contractors, with its revelations about "rectal feeding" and prolonged sleep deprivation, should trouble the conscience of every American.
The burdens of being an Informed Citizen are many. This weekend, you'll probably be going out to some holiday party or dinner where your friends will expect you to have an opinion about the monster spending bill that's been staggering through Congress.
Consider this an opinion primer.
There has been much gnashing of teeth over the Senate Intelligence Committee's report documenting use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," widely labeled as torture, that were approved in the George W. Bush presidency and then outlawed by successor Barack Obama in 2009.
The "debate" over torture is almost as grotesque as torture itself. There can be no legitimate debate about the intentional infliction of pain upon captive and defenseless human beings. The torturers and their enablers may deny it, but they know -- and knew from the beginning -- that what they did was obscenely wrong.
Can we now say with confidence that our government will not use torture again and that Americans in the future will rise up to prevent it from doing so? In light of the reaction to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report, I fear that we can't.
We've never seen anything like it. Reporters almost ran out of adjectives for the kinds of torture carried out by the CIA, as described in the Senate Intelligence Committee report released this week. Their actions were called disgusting, degrading, despicable, sick, satanic, hedonistic, horrific, evil, sadistic and sadomasochist -- all of which applied. And that was just for starters.
The medical community has been no match for the National Rifle Association for decades. By the time Congress leaves town for the holidays, we'll know if senators have shown an ounce of courage or if the NRA has bagged one more trophy. Either way, we won't get the high-stakes discussion we need about guns.
Reading the summary of the just-released report on the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation program is a deeply depressing experience. The accounts of torture in the name of national security are shaming and revolting. They are bound to incline any decent person to the view that torture is wrong, always and everywhere.
The Greek fiscal crisis erupted five years ago, and its side effects continue to inflict immense damage on Europe and the world. But I'm not talking about the side effects you may have in mind - spillovers from Greece's Great Depression-level slump or financial contagion to other debtors. No, the truly disastrous effect of the Greek crisis was the way it distorted economic policy, as supposedly serious people around the world rushed to learn the wrong lessons.