President Obama: ‘We Tortured Some Folks’… And We Still Do

Last Friday, President Obama informed a White House press conference that the U.S. government has engaged in torture as a matter of policy. Not that he plans to do anything about that. In fact, he hasn’t even banned every torture technique in use by the CIA and the military.

“We tortured some folks,” he said. “We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the twin towers fell, and the Pentagon had been hit, and a plane in Pennsylvania had fallen, and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law-enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this.”

The fallacy here, whether or not it’s intentional, lies in the fact that torture (in addition to being a crime under federal law) is not an intelligence interrogation technique. The experts will all tell you that torture is good for one thing only: extracting false confessions. The Bush administration employed torture to get some detainees to say what they wanted to hear, namely that Saddam Hussein’s regime was tied in with al-Qaeda. For example the torture of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan national captured in Afghanistan in November 2001, provided false information regarding chemical weapons training between Iraq and al-Qaeda that was used by the Bush Administration in their efforts to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq. Al-Libi recanted in January 2004. This sort of thing is what they now call “faulty intelligence” instead of lies.

President Obama is getting credit simply for using the dreaded “T” word that the media usually avoid by talking about American “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Of course reporters are not afraid say “torture” to describe what China does to prisoners, for example, even if it’s the exact same thing the CIA did.

On FDL, Jeff Kaye picks up on something important. Here’s what else the president said, referring to the still-secret Senate Select Committee torture report (emphasis added):

And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.

But having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects. And that’s the reason why, after I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.

Kaye notes:

Only “some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques”? Not all? Was this merely a slip of the tongue by the President? No one in the press corp seemed to notice, and no one took him up on the issue… though it is very much worth noting that Jeremy Scahill reported in July 2011 on the CIA’s continuing use of black sites and torture in an important article in The Nation. Others had surmised as much even earlier.

Apparently President Obama, whether he meant to or not, has confirmed for the record that torture is still practiced by the U.S. government.

More info:
Obama Admits He Banned Only “Some” of the CIA’s Torture Techniques


Fox Gives Liz Cheney A Platform To Attack Obama For Mentioning Torture
White House To Make Torture Report ‘Impossible To Understand’

  1. #1 by Nathan Erkkila on August 5, 2014 - 2:39 am

    Well at least he isn’t bullshitting us about it.

  2. #2 by Anonymous on August 5, 2014 - 3:23 am

    Yeah, and he’s still doin it. Brazen. The man is a psychopath.

  3. #3 by Larry Bergan on August 5, 2014 - 8:26 pm

    Wait a minute…

    Would “extraordinary interrogation techniques” even have to be associated with “extraordinary rendition techniques”.

    Was Obama, simply, saying he got rid of the illegal stuff, but still uses other interrogation techniques?

    • #4 by Nathan Erkkila on August 5, 2014 - 9:34 pm

      If he were using interrogation techniques that were not torturous, then how would this be a problem?

    • #5 by Richard Warnick on August 6, 2014 - 7:48 am

      When China does it, the NYT calls it “torture.”

      The police and prison guards are pushed to extract admissions of guilt and are rarely punished for using electric shock, sleep deprivation and submersion in water or sewage, among other techniques the Commission on Human Rights considers torture, to obtain them…

      Contrary to Obama’s promises, the US military still permits torture

      On 22 January 2009, President Obama released an executive order stating that any individual held by any US government agency “shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2 22.3.”

      …Disturbingly, the latest version of the AFM mimicked the Bush administration in separating out “war on terror” prisoners as not subject to the same protections and rights as regular prisoners of war. Military authorities then added an appendix to the AFM that included techniques that could only be used on such “detainees”, ie, prisoners without POW status.

      Labeled Appendix M, and propounding an additional, special “technique” called “Separation”, human rights and legal groups have recognized that Appendix M includes numerous abusive techniques, including use of solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation.

      According to Appendix M, sleep can be limited to four hours per day for up to 30 days, and even more with approval. The same is true for use of isolation. Theoretically, sleep deprivation and solitary confinement could be extended indefinitely.

      • #6 by Nathan Erkkila on August 6, 2014 - 7:24 pm

        The it’s torture and it’s a problem

  4. #7 by brewski on August 5, 2014 - 9:57 pm

    Waterboarding three terrorists hardly belongs in the same sentence as beheading aid workers and journalists. Let’s keep in in perspective.

    • #8 by Nathan Erkkila on August 6, 2014 - 7:26 pm

      Just because one side is evil, doesn’t mean the opposing side is good. Otherwise Stalin would be just one swell guy.

    • #9 by Richard Warnick on August 6, 2014 - 10:01 pm

      First of all, U.S. torturers killed at least 100 detainees – probably more. Second, torture goes way beyond water-boarding.

  5. #10 by clear! on August 5, 2014 - 11:17 pm

    Wow! You could work for the obama press corps Nathan. Answer softball questions..censor people like this site does.

    Obama signed on to the NDAA provisions which state that merely being suspected of “terror” gets you incarcerated indefinitely without charges. Rendition is still happening under this bum. He is doing end runs around the Constitution left and right.

    He uses Nazi terror weapons under his signed orders, that would be droning for those confused, defined as terror weapons after WW2.

    Yeah, and we’re not torturing under this bum. Get a clue. False imprisonment is TORTURE!! Hello? Gitmo anyone? The man is fuckin’ LIAR!!

    • #11 by Nathan Erkkila on August 7, 2014 - 2:32 pm

      You’re acting as if I like his actions.

  6. #12 by piss poor website on August 11, 2014 - 2:09 pm

    Ode to Shane..

    Things are just dandy in gangstaland…

  7. #13 by Anonymous on August 12, 2014 - 3:22 pm

    It has come to this as well. All communities are activated against Obama’s dogshit, um horseshit policies.

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