February 05, 2013
Torture Mainstreamed

Here’s your monthly reminder to go immediately to New York Magazine and read Frank Rich’s new column. An excerpt:

My own issues with Zero Dark Thirty (a slack second hour, a two-dimensional heroine) have nothing to do with its opaque position (if any) on the usefulness (or not) of torture in pursuing leads to bin Laden. Where the film really stands on that point may never be conclusively adjudicated. But its success does resolve the far more serious question of where most Americans stand on torture four years after George W. Bush disappeared into the witness-protection program: They don’t mind it.

The anguish Zero Dark Thirty has aroused on op-ed pages simply has not spread to the broader public. Moviegoers cheer bin Laden’s death (who wouldn’t?) without asking too many questions about how we got there. This is hardly the movie’s fault. The public reaction to Zero Dark Thirty is consistent with the quiet acquiescence of most Americans, Democrats included, to the Obama administration’s embrace of drone warfare (civilian casualties notwithstanding) and domestic surveillance…

The movie’s popularity offers confirmation, if any is needed, that, for the first time since the Vietnam War, it’s a Democratic president who is presiding over — and countenancing — a national shift to the right on national security.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at February 05, 2013 03:30 PM
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It's one thing to hit the nail on the head, but it is an entirely different thing to make a perfect nail - you did both.

Posted by: knowdoubt on February 5, 2013 11:40 PM

Oddly, Obama's "shift to the right" may get a hefty part of its opposition from the paranoid far right, which may see this as an excuse to take them out in their farmhouse bunkers as part of a "gun grab."

Personally, I'm of two minds on the matter. Execution without trial sounds about as un-American as we can get. The founding fathers must be rolling over in their graves. On the other hand, so far I find it hard to shed a tear for Al Queda operatives who clearly (and openly) threatened the lives of their "fellow" Americans.

The problem comes when some less responsible administration decides that the decision to kill applies to any American, anywhere, so long as somebody in the administration perceives them as a threat. Remember the red scares of the 1950s? Or maybe the Whiskey Rebellion?

Crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Posted by: The New York Crank on February 6, 2013 11:01 AM

I remember the 50s very well. Like any well-brought up young lad, I steered clear of joining anything except a college fraternity the political involvement of which was limited to concerns about Vermont's underage drinking laws. I did have a subscription to Copeia, though — the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. This prudence served me well in 1956 when I was a private being interrogated by two counterintelligence agents for having published in the Ft. McNair newspaper a reenlistment ad whose first letters spelled out Fuck the Army. By the time I had spelled out ichthyologist for the stenographer in the corner of sound-proof interrogation room (with a color photo of President Eisenhower on the wall), the spooks seemed to lose interest in my political leanings.

Actually the worst period for this kind of paranoid garbage came just after WWI, under the despicable Woodrow Wilson and his despicable attorney A. Mitchell Palmer, and carried out by Palmer's even more despicable boy toy, the then-youthful J. Edgar Hoover. Two out of the three, you will notice, parted their names on the left. Always a bad sign.

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on February 6, 2013 11:40 AM
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