The CIA Torture Report

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Simon_Jester
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Simon_Jester » 2014-12-15 10:55am

I fully agree.

There's this... bizarre combination of idiocy, arrogance, and cruelty that permeates the CIA's handling of detainees. It's like, they're all afraid that if they admit to a mistake even once, or if they ever actually talk about what they're doing, or in general do anything other than act like a particularly inept and bungling cut-rate imitation Stasi, their balls will fall off.

I just cannot fathom it. I just want to take these people and shake them and say something like:

"Hello, you are supposed to be the security organ of a state, which means people's safety depends on you doing your job correctly and not fucking up, this is not about your image, this is not about appearances, this is about you being capable of actually reviewing your own actions and holding your own ranks accountable for fuckups, rather than turning yourself into a cartoon villain for every anti-American propaganda piece from Alma Ata to Zanzibar!"

Because honestly, their actions don't make sense even in the context of a brutal secret police force. Even if you concede their basic opinion that no foreigner has rights and all brown people are foreigners, and that any foreigner is a probablyterrorist who hates our FREEDOM and wants to destroy us and whose every waking moment is occupied with thoughts of how to do that...

Their actions are stupid. They waste their time on random bozos who have nothing to tell them, they abuse and torment these bozos long after it has ceased to make sense to do so, wasting their own time and energy, and then they turn these poor people into poster children for why you should NEVER trust or want to work with the CIA in any capacity.
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Adamskywalker007 wrote:I hate to take this discussion even further off topic, but I would say it is more than arguable. Loki is tough and the Chitari are numerous, but the Avengers have a stronger demigod, a man with a nearly invincible suit of armor, an invincible force of nature, and a super soldier. They are backed up by an organization with seemingly unlimited resources. The only threat in the second Captain America movie is that organization being turned inwards.
Although that turns into a pretty damn convincing David versus Goliath that takes up about two thirds of the movie, now that you mention it.

So there you have a superhero movie that is, insofar as a superhero movie is ever about anything other than glorious special effects, all about the dangers of a big oppressive technologically overwhelming military-security complex, and about a handful of individuals with relatively little special power going up against that organization.
This is another trend in modern espionage/government thrillers, that of the internal enemy, generally from the same nation as the hero. Classically there was generally an external enemy rather than the internal one. Look at the Bourne novels versus the films. In the books the threat was not the CIA chasing him, it was his current enemy finding him while he was amnesiac.
It's post-Cold War confusion. During the Cold War you could depict 'honorable enemies' on the Soviet side who were at least interesting. And the Soviets were a threat. But now, the only real enemies the US has are too weak to be a real threat except to very small and isolated groups (i.e. a bunch of American private citizens stranded in sub-Saharan Africa) And said enemies have been otherized to the point where you can't really give them redeeming characteristics without some ass on Fox News accusing you of trying to make the enemy look good.

So if you want a compelling adversary, powerful enough to be a Goliath that our hero has to play David to, and yet one who all your audience is capable of seeing as human, you're basically stuck with a situation where our only viable enemy is... ourselves.
Simon_Jester wrote:So it's more like "root for good Goliath against bad Goliath." Or possibly "root for Achilles against Hector."

[Although Achilles was arguably the bad guy. ;) ]
That is a rather apt example given that Achilles was all but guaranteed to win.
True, although this had more to do with the fact that Achilles was hyped up on quasi-divine homicidal rage than it did with the fact that Achilles was fundamentally beyond all the other Greeks. Achilles may have been the deadliest of the Greek champions but he wasn't the only one. And Hector had never hesitated to face people like Ajax (who'd make a pretty good stand-in for Goliath himself).

So whereas David versus Goliath is all about this tiny little boy with a slingshot up against this massive armored veteran giant, Achilles versus Hector is about a confrontation between two men who are at least nominally, more or less, equal, with broadly comparable equipment, except that Achilles had a major advantage in terms of divine support and ancestry, whereas Hector was purely mortal.
Simon_Jester wrote:Also, antiterrorism stories are arguably a new twist on the old "hunt for the criminal" storyline, which is time-honored. The main difference is that the criminals are more likely than normal to be irredeemable mass murderers, while the 'detectives' are replaced by state antiterrorism agents. If you view antiterrorism stories as an outgrowth of detective stories, then the detective is nearly always the side of Goliath.
This is an interesting angle that I hadn't really though of much, but even this is actually still something of an example. In classical mystery novels, from Sherlock Holmes to Sam Spade, the hero was almost always a private detective of some sort with limited resources and no real authority. It is only more recently that the heroes became police officers the majority of the time.
Oh, I wouldn't say that; there were more than a few older stories depicting the police as the protagonists. Or soldiers in the army going after primitive enemies, or things of that nature. Granted that most of them didn't withstand the test of time very well- but who's to say that most of the stuff being produced now will?

A 19th century police procedural contemporary with Sherlock Holmes probably wouldn't be remembered today.
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Thanas
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Thanas » 2014-12-15 12:01pm

Simon_Jester wrote:I fully agree.
So you agree with the claim that the CIA is stupid or the claim that Obama is a worthless coward for not even making the slightest attempt at restitution? Just for clarity's sake.
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Simon_Jester
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Simon_Jester » 2014-12-15 12:20pm

1.9 out of two.

The CIA is stupid.

Obama is worthless and cowardly.

Part of his worthless cowardice on this issue seems to have resulted from just falling into the snake pit that is the modern, 'professional' long-service national security complex. He inherited a lot of the Bush-era programs and techniques, plus the same bureaucratic weasels who were running them all. Changing who's director of the CIA is not the same as actually changing the CIA, and it doesn't stop them from methodically slanting their reports in a self-serving manner.

Almost anyone in that position, unless they have truly impressive righteousness and moral courage, would end up compromising themselves to some degree.

Obama, however, managed to compromise himself to a degree that suggests an... almost impressively meretricious personality, a profound lack of character, at the same time that he seems not to actually want to commit any atrocities.

A mix of banal evil and political opportunism, rather than malign evil.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Dartzap » 2014-12-15 03:04pm

MP's are suspicious about the lack of any mention of MI6
Theresa May has said she did not ask for any details about the UK security services to be redacted from a report about alleged torture by the CIA.

The home secretary told MPs that "some work" had been done to ensure material was not included in the report which could damage national security.

But she said claims she discussed it with US officials were "inaccurate".

She said was not aware of "any evidence" the UK had been involved in torture, which she said was abhorrent.

The US Senate report, which alleged the "brutal" interrogation and treatment of al-Qaeda suspects in the wake of 9/11, contained no reference to UK agencies.

After it was published last week, Downing Street initially said no requests for redactions had been made but later stated that requests were made by British intelligence agencies to the CIA for reasons of national security.

'Not tainted'
The government has insisted none of the details blacked out were related to British involvement in the mistreatment of prisoners.

Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee, Mrs May said suggestions that she or her officials had met Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chaired the inquiry, on multiple occasions in recent years to discuss the report were "wrong and inaccurate".

She added: "I have not asked for any redactions. Any such request will only have been in relation to the need to ensure that nothing damages our national security."

Asked about the case for a public inquiry into any UK complicity in illegal activities, Mrs May said the US inquiry had been conducted by the US Senate and it was appropriate for Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee to continue its work.

The security services, she stressed, would co-operate fully with the investigation, adding that the committee was "not tainted by party political issues in the way it does its job" and acted "with integrity and thoroughness".

Keith Vaz, the Labour MP who chairs the cross-party Home Affairs committee, said he would be asking Mrs Feinstein to appear before MPs herself next year.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Zinegata » 2014-12-16 08:47pm

There's this... bizarre combination of idiocy, arrogance, and cruelty that permeates the CIA's handling of detainees. It's like, they're all afraid that if they admit to a mistake even once, or if they ever actually talk about what they're doing, or in general do anything other than act like a particularly inept and bungling cut-rate imitation Stasi, their balls will fall off.
It's the culture of impunity brought upon by a lack of oversight; and the constant moral cowardice of refusing to question decisions because of "national security" or worse "you weren't there so you can't judge us" arguments.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Adam Reynolds » 2014-12-18 03:37am

Obama's problem on nearly everything is that he is too willing to compromise. In this respect he is actually much like Bill Clinton, who gave the voters what they wanted, not what they needed. Clinton after all is the one who virtually invented proto-drone strikes, instead using Tomahawks as a means to be "tough" without political risk. His supposedly liberal treasury secretary was instrumental in repealing the Glass-Stegal act, which allowed Citigroup to form and paved the way for the financial crisis.

Regarding the stupidity of the CIA, it's not that they are stupid, it's that they have no backbone and will do whatever they are told. Like the US military, one doesn't do well in the agency by questioning orders.
Zinegata wrote:It's the culture of impunity brought upon by a lack of oversight; and the constant moral cowardice of refusing to question decisions because of "national security" or worse "you weren't there so you can't judge us" arguments.
While the FBI's policy of entrapment against potential terrorists hardly gives them the absolute moral high ground, they were there and did judge them, with more than one FBI agent resigning over the issue.

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Simon_Jester wrote:Although that turns into a pretty damn convincing David versus Goliath that takes up about two thirds of the movie, now that you mention it.
That does rather torpedo my point.
Simon_Jester wrote:Oh, I wouldn't say that; there were more than a few older stories depicting the police as the protagonists. Or soldiers in the army going after primitive enemies, or things of that nature. Granted that most of them didn't withstand the test of time very well- but who's to say that most of the stuff being produced now will?

A 19th century police procedural contemporary with Sherlock Holmes probably wouldn't be remembered today.
But that is the point, that the ones that were popular enough to remember are classic David and Goliath stories. It is actually listed as a rule of screenwriting that you need to put your main character at a power disadvantage early in the story in order to make him or her sympathetic. Though most Goliath stories also do this: Iron Man starts with Tony Stark captured by terrorists, Captain America starts an asthmatic weakling, and Zero Dark Thirty features Maya in conflict with her bosses at the CIA who never seem to know anything*.

* As a side note, I love Elfdart's post (of an article from the HuffPost) during the original discussion about about the movie, on it being Erin Brochivich for fascists. It actually followed all of the tropes of girl goes to work films: the workplace rival turned best friend, being stuck with the crappy desk in the corner, ect. "I'm not saying these things didn't happen, but they also happened in Legally Blonde II"

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by jwl » 2014-12-18 12:41pm

If we're going into stories in general, not just movies, you have the culture novels, where the Culture have such a ridiculously overwhelming advantage that you have a single culture GSV dismantling an entire fleet.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Thanas » 2014-12-18 12:49pm

While I agree that badly written wank might be commonly referred to as torture, I fail to grasp the meaning here.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by jwl » 2014-12-18 02:33pm

We were talking about stories where the "goliath" was the "good" group. In bank's novels the culture are generally perceived in that way, whilst also being far technologically superior to everyone else.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Adam Reynolds » 2014-12-18 04:14pm

The Culture novels aren't culturally relevant he way The Avengers is, which was what my point was about.

From what I've heard about it on the board, it also throws science so far under the bridge, it makes the tech of Star Wars look realistic by comparison.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by jwl » 2014-12-18 05:14pm

Adamskywalker007 wrote:The Culture novels aren't culturally relevant he way The Avengers is, which was what my point was about.

From what I've heard about it on the board, it also throws science so far under the bridge, it makes the tech of Star Wars look realistic by comparison.
Well, I dunno about that (I'd say they are comparable), but I certainly wouldn't say it is hard sci fi, which is what some people seem to think of it.
EDIT: this is getting off-topic but I can't work out how to delete my post on this board.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by General Brock » 2014-12-20 10:00pm

One CIA officer appears to have been singled out to take the fall; Alfreda Bikowski. Its hard to imagine one officer had that much negative influence. Even if she did do everything they said she did, she seems more like one of those 'useful idiot' types kept around for fall-taking.

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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Elfdart » 2014-12-21 11:32pm

Grumman wrote:
Adamskywalker007 wrote:As for Zero Dark Thirty, I wasn't saying that it was good, I was merely stating that it was somewhat more ambiguous than many other portrayals in terms of the results shown. It was one of the few stories to actually show realistically negative results...
The original Star Wars? Torture fails to make Princess Leia talk, and when they threaten her loved ones she sends them on a wild goose chase to Dantooine, resulting in Tarkin throwing a tantrum and ordering her execution.
As for Bigelow directing Wonder Woman, it is probably because she is one of the few female directors in Hollywood.
It was, explicitly so. But at least picking her for her ovaries is less offensive than picking her because they thought Zero Dark Thirty made her well suited for a movie featuring a "Lasso of Truth".
She might be, since Wonder Woman was created by the inventor of the polygraph, another bullshit technique used to extract false "confessions".
* As a side note, I love Elfdart's post (of an article from the HuffPost) during the original discussion about about the movie, on it being Erin Brochivich for fascists. It actually followed all of the tropes of girl goes to work films: the workplace rival turned best friend, being stuck with the crappy desk in the corner, ect. "I'm not saying these things didn't happen, but they also happened in Legally Blonde II"
Here's the original.

Funny thing is, we now know who Bigelow based her "heroine" on, and I'm thinking some kind of CGI ogress would've been better for the part after reading just what a racist, sadistic moron ALFREDA BIKOWSKY is.

From Crooks and Liars:
She's no stranger to movie audiences around the world as she was the inspiration for Zero Dark Thirty's heroine. The movie painted her as a Bin Laden expert and the only person dogged enough to find him, but that is more fiction than anything else as we now learn. As her blood lust for torture grew, she sent U.S. operatives on a wild goose chase in Montana to find African American Muslim AQ terrorists that was nothing more than confirmed lies told by KSM so she would stop torturing him. You have to read this to believe it.
Searching Montana for black Muslim fanatics is almost comically absurd.

This would be funny were it not for the fact that there's pretty good evidence Khalid Sheik Mohammed's kids (ages 7-9) were tortured to get info about him and later, out of him: (Page 25)
A press
report on March 10, 2003 confirmed that
CIA interrogators had detained the children
and that one official explained that:

“We are handling them with kid gloves. After all, they are only little
children...but we need to know as much about their father's recent
activities as possible. We have child psychologists on hand at all
times and they are given the best of care.”
We now know what CIA-employed psychologists were up to: Devising torture methods for fun and profit.

Glennzilla has more about this lunatic's track record.
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Re: The CIA Torture Report

Post by Thanas » 2014-12-21 11:57pm

I find it very hard to believe that one woman got so much power that she was both responsible for the torture and all those failures.
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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
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