Senator Richard Burr: a Longtime Fan of Torture

Newly released declassified documents prove once and for all that CIA Director Gina Haspel oversaw torture in Thailand, which the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee knew all along, as Ray McGovern explains.

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

Newly released official documents obtained by the National Security Archive showing that CIA Director Gina Haspel directly supervised waterboarding at the first CIA “Black Site” simply confirm what Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) already knew as he orchestrated the charade that was Haspel’s confirmation hearing.  Burr allowed her to “classify” her own direct role in waterboarding and other torture techniques so that it could be kept from the public and secure her confirmation—-further proof that this Senate oversight committee has instead become an overlook committee.

That Haspel supervised the torture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at the first CIA “black site” for interrogation was already clear to those who had followed Haspel’s career, but she was able to do a song and dance when Sen. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) asked her about it.  Haspel declined to reply on grounds that the information was classified. It was of course because Haspel herself had classified it. All the senators knew that only too well. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) had strongly objected to this bizarre practice only minutes before. 

Witnessing this charade from the audience prompted me to stand up, excuse myself for interrupting, and suggest that the committee members were entitled to an honest answer since this was a public hearing with thousands watching on TV.  The American people were also entitled to know whether or not Haspel was directly involved in torture. As I was calmly pointing out that any Senate Intelligence Committee member who prepared for the hearing already knew the answer, I was “escorted out,” manhandled and charged with disrupting Congress and resisting arrest.

McGovern after he made a comment at Haspel’s confirmation hearing.

Jeremy Scahill later did a good job on Democracy Now! in putting needed context around the free pass and encouragement CIA torturers continue to enjoy at the hands of co-conspirators like Sen. Burr.

I have now had time to read through the documents obtained by the National Security Archive via Freedom of Information Act requests.  Suffice it to say they are so sad and sickening that I had to stop reading.

Corruption on Steroids

Burr was on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Porter Goss (R-FL) and later by Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), that winked at torture (not to mention blindly accepting the faux intelligence used to “justify” war on Iraq).  Might the CIA remind Burr of his condoning of torture, were he to chose not to play along with the Haspel nomination?

Burr’s record on the Senate Intelligence Committee is equally dubious. In January 2015, as soon as he took the Senate Intelligence Committee chair from Feinstein, he recalled all copies of the four-year committee study based on official CIA documents, which not only exposed unimaginably heinous forms of torture but found no evidence that any actionable intelligence was obtained from them.  To her credit, Feinstein had faced down both President Barack Obama and CIA Director John Brennan and got a long Executive Summary of the committee investigation published just before she had to relinquish the chair. 

Truth, Conscience, and Consequences

As an act of conscience, on March 2, 2006 I returned the Intelligence Commendation Medallion given me at retirement for “especially meritorious service,” explaining, “I do not want to be associated, however remotely, with an agency engaged in torture.”  I returned the medallion to Hoekstra (R, Michigan), who was then-Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with a statement explaining my reasons.  

Hoekstra then secretly added to the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY’07 (HR5020) a provision enabling the government to strip intelligence veterans of their government pensions. HR5020 passed the full House, but Congress opted instead for a continuing resolution.

On December 11, 2014, I had an opportunity to tell Hoekstra exactly what I thought of his underhanded, Lone-Ranger attempt (he did not inform his House Intelligence Committee colleagues) to make it possible to revoke the government pensions of people like me.  I confronted the former Congressman in person off-air, after we two were interviewed live on CCTV’s “The Heat” about the Senate Intelligence Committee findings regarding CIA torture.  It was an uncommon chance to hold Hoekstra publicly accountable for condoning torture, and the Michigan congressman rose to the occasion. (See minutes 8:15 to 10:41) 

The bottom line?  The foxes have been guarding the chicken coop for many years now.  Haspel will fit right in. O Tempora, O Mores.

If you enjoyed this original article please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for a total of 30 years, and was a Presidential briefer from 1981 to 1985.

65 comments for “Senator Richard Burr: a Longtime Fan of Torture

  1. August 13, 2018 at 17:51

    Nonsense Factory, your comment is good, but I see no reason to malign Ray McGovern nor to impute motive to him regarding the issue of “actionable intelligence” from torture, vs real motives to the bureaucrats at top of command chain. I don’t see any desire to cover up CIA image on Ray’s part, that term “actionable intelligence” simply became the buzz term particularly since 9/11 and the sinister Cheney led the US to the dark side. These people just spout the term with no real thought, indeed they are very empty people who have no moral center but only desire for advancement. Burr is the son of a clergyman, and certainly unlearned his childhood lessons of morality. As for Haspel, she is like too many women who trade their humanity to get ahead.

  2. Bart
    August 13, 2018 at 16:50

    Depriving someone in their 60s of a government pension is a form of torture, but sadly that happens to many in the private sector whose company has been a victim of a leveraged take-over. I can see such actions resulting in a Second Ammendment solution.

  3. Antiwar7
    August 13, 2018 at 13:43

    A giveaway was when Haspel and several members of the Senate Intelligence Committee visibly salivated while Ray was being tortured…

  4. nonsense factory
    August 13, 2018 at 12:19

    “. . . he recalled all copies of the four-year committee study based on official CIA documents, which not only exposed unimaginably heinous forms of torture but found no evidence that any actionable intelligence was obtained from them.”

    I’m always surprised when people who bring up the torture issue don’t seem to understand the rationale behind torture. It has never had ANYTHING to do with getting “actionable intelligence” – the real goals of torture are (1) generation of propaganda, such as preparing prisoners for show trials where they will confess to anything the state desires them to confess to, and (2) terrorizing domestic populations into obedience to authoritarian control.

    Gina Haspel’s CIA black site program was an attempt to torture Al Qaeda prisoners into confessing to having ties to Saddam Hussain so that GW Bush and Dick Cheney could use 9/11 as an excuse to invade Iraq. The anthrax attacks of 9/18/2001 and 10/9/2001, most plausibly linked to the CIA and Dick Cheney’s office, were also done with this goal in mind. The Al Qaeda link to Saddam didn’t pan out to well, but the biological terrorism one sold fairly well, and that’s what Bush and Blair went with to sell the Iraq War. That was torture goal #1.

    Torture goal #2 was seen at Abu Ghraib, when widespread torture was implemented in an effort to terrify the Iraqi population into accepting the rule of Paul Bremer and his 100 Neoliberal Orders, including the oil privatization law, which drove mass resistance across Iraq. The more the insurgency grew, the more mass torture was committed in an effort to break it.

    So that’s you CIA torturer, no different from those who worked for Stalin and Beria, carrying out their duties for the same reason. McGovern’s refusal to directly acknowledge this must be due to some lingering desire to protect the image of his old alma mater, I can’t see any reason other for perpetuating the ‘actionable intelligence’ myth. It was never about that, and the CIA people all know it.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 13, 2018 at 14:06

      Nice comment nonsense factory. I see torture as it being a tool for a regime/administration to cover up their lies. How else could a evil regime get captives to confirm their lies, but to torture their prisoners with coerced confessions under duress. Torture, and it’s purposes, are as old as mankind and war. Once again nonsense factory, I just wanted to state this under your excellent comment. Joe

    • Al Pinto
      August 13, 2018 at 17:44

      @nonsense factory…

      “McGovern’s refusal to directly acknowledge this must be due to some lingering desire to protect the image of his old alma mater, I can’t see any reason other for perpetuating the ‘actionable intelligence’ myth. It was never about that, and the CIA people all know it.”

      There might be some other reason…

      It’s one thing to throw current, or former CIA employees under the bus, and it’s an entirely other to throw current and/or former high level officials under the bus. The latter on includes GW Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Romsfeld, etc. As a current, and or former CIA employee, that’s way above your pay-grade, or in some cases, above your pension…

    • Robert Cook
      August 16, 2018 at 13:40

      I take McGovern’s comment about their obtaining no “actionable intelligence” to be his oblique means of pointing out that the CIA’s torture program had no real productive intent or purpose, but was always intended only to terrify, intimidate, and generate “confessions” whose only “value” was in justifying the torture that produced them, (as torture is always intended, everywhere). This is implicit in the CIA’s continued defense of their “enhanced interrogation” program despite it never producing anything of worth.

  5. Mrs. Debra L Carr de Legorreta
    August 12, 2018 at 23:10

    Princeton professor of Political Science, Melvin P. Leffler in a recent Foreign Affairs article argues for the need not to have “moral clarity, ” as Reagan used to toot; that’s it’s necessary to “make trade offs.”

    We’ve been doing just that, so much so, we’ve hit bottom of that slippery slope to the point that once again there is no “moral ambiguity”‘; except now, in the negative sense of the term. Everyone knows we don’t stand for what is good and decent, but for evil.

    We have all along.

    How’s that for “Safeguarding Democratic Capitalism,” professor?

  6. Rong Cao
    August 12, 2018 at 22:04

    I myself enjoy very much many different perspectives of the panelists from “Heat”. CCTV is a Washington branch of China state-owned News agency. It provides a chance for scholars or advocates who might otherwise not be US mainstream thinkers to voice their opinions. The US has always enshrined the first amendment, but under the current political climate of witch hunt on Chinese students and scholars from Trump administration, CCTV might be required to register with DOJ as foreign proxy agency. So you got to watch yourself for red-baiting manufactured from those intelligence communities as well as from the Congress. Because Hoekstra was held accountable for condoning torture on CCTV’s political talk show.

  7. Jan Chastain
    August 12, 2018 at 17:49

    Thank you Ray McGovern, for shining the light along the nasty secret halls of the US Congress. I have long wondered about the lack of … masculinity on the Senate Intelligence Over–oops–Undersight Committee.

  8. Mark F. McCarty
    August 12, 2018 at 16:19

    Ray – you should know that you Wikipedia entry has just recently been maliciously edited, likely by the “Philip Cross” group which Craig Murray had outed:

    This paragraph in particular is interesting:

    “McGovern was persuaded by a pro-Kremlin disinformant that the theft of the DNC emails was an inside job, and not the work of Russian agents (contrary to the findings of the US intelligence community). The disinformation agent manipulated metadata in the files released by Guccifer 2.0 (whom the US intelligence community identifies as a Russian military intelligence operation) to prove that the documents came from a computer in the Eastern United States, not Russia. McGovern subsequently released a VIPS report, which many VIPS members did not sign, that said that the DNC email hack was an inside job.[26]”

    The “pro-Kremlin disinformant” which this bilge refers to appears to be The Forensicator. This is the precise language used in Duncan Campbell’s recent essay doxxing Adam Carter:

    The claim that the Forensicator “manipulated metadata” is the sheerest BS. Forensicator used clever deductive logic to show that, with respect to the July 5th data transfer, the metadata only makes sense if you assume that the computer (or thumb drive) receiving the data was in the East Coast time zone. To illustrate his logic, the Forensicator does a “for instance” – which Campbell maliciously misinterprets as “manipulating data”. Although VIPS has received lots of slings and arrows for the initial assumption that a DNC server was the source of the data (which Occam’s razor suggests, but can’t prove), this does not alter the conclusion that the data was sent to a computer in the Eastern time zone. Pretty nifty trick for a Russian hacker!

    Your bowdlerized Wikipedia page also charges that you have referred to Assange as both “a journalist” and “a hero”. Be still me heart!

    This might make for a nice anecdote to add to your wonderful lectures!

    • August 13, 2018 at 00:00

      Mark – thanks for posting this important info. Wikipedia’s sleaze level is off the charts. Murry’s article on the “Philip Cross” editing is truly excellent.

    • August 13, 2018 at 01:05

      Thanks, Mark.

      Please see this, just posted on my website….AND please keep an eye out for Patrick Lawrence’s article on tomorrow.

      Does anyone know how I get Wikipedia to delete the drivel?

      Best to all,


      • David G
        August 13, 2018 at 05:57

        Good news that Patrick Lawrence’s work will appear at CN: he is (was?) pretty much the only regular contributor at Salon worth reading, but there hasn’t been anything new from him in a month.

        As for Wikipedia, good luck. From what Craig Murray wrote, it looks like you’ll need it.

      • Curious
        August 13, 2018 at 22:51

        Hi Ray,

        I may not have the best answer to how to properly correct the drivel on Wiki, but here is at least a suggestion, and those who know more can help you out further.

        When you call up the home page of Wiki you’ll see three lines to the left of their logo. One of these lines will let you log into Wiki if you so desire, although they do stipulate one doesn’t have to log in to make modifications. They have a group of volunteers who supposedly proof some of the additions, but I don’t hold much stock in that approach.

        My suggestion: if you do log in you will have a direct line of communication by email to the ‘powers that be’ and since the material in question is in your name they should give you a considerate reply, and a suggestion of how to correct the bogus info. They may not tell you who made the alterations, but if I were you I would lean on them to let you know who is manipulating the page, as it is your page after all and you are still alive and can give them heck.

        I hope someone else can help you out a bit more with better specifics. Thanks for your work Ray on the behalf of so many Americans.

      • Deborah
        August 14, 2018 at 07:56

        Hi Ray,
        You could join, create an account with Wikipedia and edit your own page. You can do this all at your own Wiki entry. You have to provide sources/references for any information you add too. Also within your Wiki entry there is a section where they discuss/debate edits.

    • Informed Citizen
      August 13, 2018 at 10:08

      I hope we have a team of people keeping an eye on & immediately correcting this type of underhanded, right-wing, clandestine, however-many-other-disgusting-type-words-you-can-fathom, bad-guy operations. This is how the foundations of Fascism are solidified.

  9. Dunderhead
    August 12, 2018 at 16:08
  10. August 12, 2018 at 15:39

    Our soldiers have been tortured by our enemies in every conflict we have ever engaged in. To assume otherwise is naive at best. It’s even more naive to believe that anyone has the high moral ground once the shooting starts.

    • Gregory Herr
      August 12, 2018 at 19:30

      North Korea– napalm, carpet bombing, 20% of civilian population killed

      Vietnam– napalm, agent orange, civilian massacre, the Phoenix program

      Afghanistan– carpet bombing, cluster bombs, extrajudicial “sweeps” leading to Bagram or Guantanamo

      Iraq– depleted uranium, white phosphphorus, wholesale destruction of civilian infrastructure, Abu Ghraib, massacres in Fallujah and Mosul, corrupt occupation and terrorisation of civilian population, enabling of ISIS

      Libya– carpet bombing, wholesale destruction, no longer exists as a functioning state with competing militant factions, slave-trading, arms-running and terrorism

      Syria– the use of vile terrorist mercenaries inflicting a war of aggression upon the Syrian people to sow chaos and effect “regime change”

      It’s naive (at best) to think there was any “moral ground” whatsoever involved in the planning (before the shooting starts) of any of these conflicts. Moral depravity is the hallmark of the execution of all these “conflicts”.

      Yes, yes, Mr. Wickersham– the world is a hard place. But shouldn’t we evaluate our contribution to that “hardness” and rethink the term “enemy” and how it should be applied. After all, children riding a school bus in Yemen should be safe from our interference–I don’t give a damn how many so-called terrorists Nicki Haley thinks might have been on that bus. And by the way, why does the “website” associated with your name come with a “phishing” warning?

      • Realist
        August 12, 2018 at 21:35

        Good response. Actual facts are usually relevant to any argument, philosophy or interpretation of events.

      • Attentive Citizen
        August 13, 2018 at 10:16

        Because you’ve definitely been catphished?

    • August 13, 2018 at 00:09

      RW, the USA hasn’t had a “moral high ground’ in any of it’s numerous illegal actions since WWII. They just say they are invading to ‘bring democracy’ and ‘humanitarianism’ to those poor stupid people who can’t possibly run their own countries. Both the US and Israel present themselves as being moral democracies. Nothing could be further from the truth. Neither has ever been a democracy and they think to torture others is their god-given right. Haspel is representative not the exception.

    • August 13, 2018 at 00:17

      Rodney Wickersham – the fact is that we in the U.S. have been training dictators and death squads in torture tactics decade after decade throughout my entire 66 year lifetime, and we have been engaged in torture ourselves at least since our colonial slaughters in the Philippines, though no doubt also in our genocide campaigns against Native peoples prior.

      A simple review of the historical record clearly shows that we surrendered any “high moral ground” long long ago, and it didn’t require any “shooting” wars to accomplish this – just our usual neocolonial policy decisions to overthrow democratic regimes not to our liking, followed by our installation of our chosen death squad democracy leaders or dictators. What is “naive” is to believe that the U.S. has been anything but at the forefront in teaching and using torture to maintain our empire since WWII. The notion our post-9/11 torture program was/is some new soiling of America’s noble soul is simply a ludicrous fantasy.

      • Imperiled Citizen
        August 13, 2018 at 10:22

        It bears repeating ad infinitum:


  11. August 12, 2018 at 14:51

    Good article by Mr. McGovern
    Torture is an atrocity, as are other hellish acts by our perverted rulers.
    August 12, 2018
    What Kind Of?

    What kind of “people” slaughters children in a school bus in Yemen?
    What kind of army guides the missiles into the school bus?
    What kind of “democratic governments” supports this slaughter?
    What kind of governments sells weapons to the killers of children?
    What kind of politicians call selling weapons: “creating jobs”?
    What kinds of politicians vote for illegal wars?
    What kind of government shoots unarmed protesters in Gaza?
    What kind of “moral army” participates in blatant murder?
    What kind of corporate cannibals makes these hellish weapons?
    What kind of “free enterprise” companies profits from death and destruction?
    What kind of media covers up the treachery of war criminals?
    What kind of governments train terrorists they say they are fighting?
    What kinds of armies obey orders from war criminals?
    What kind of society tolerates these atrocities?…
    [much more info at link below]

    • nonsense factory
      August 13, 2018 at 12:29

      Any society that puts profitability and return on investment before anything else will happily embrace every single item on your list, as long as it means that for every $1,000,000 in ‘investment capital’ they control, they get a nice steady return of 10% per year. One can live quite nicely, without having to work, as long as that investment is protected, as long as the global Empire is sustained – and if that means slaughtering and killing children in Yemen, because if the Saudi dictatorship collapses, the flow of oil money into Wall Street might end, well, slaughter away!

      It’s not just the uber-wealthy, either, it’s everyone looking forward to that nice 401k retirement package paying off, and no, they don’t want to know where the money comes from, they have it in ‘mutual funds’, and if their fund manager has a lot of Lockheed Martin stock, no, they don’t want to know the details.

      The loot of Empire, it’s all stained with bood and gore. This is just like all the empires in history – the Soviet empire, the French and British empires, the Spanish empire, the Roman empire, that’s the operational program.

  12. delia ruhe
    August 12, 2018 at 13:52

    Well, she fits right in, doesn’t she.

    • August 12, 2018 at 15:43

      She’s a hard woman in a very hard world, we are lucky to have her serve.

      • alley cat
        August 12, 2018 at 23:20

        we are lucky to have her serve

        Rodney, I take it by “we” you mean neocons and by “serve” you mean terrorize political enemies.

        • August 14, 2018 at 20:36

          There’s only one boat you can row or swim and that’s a personal choice. To assume our shared national destiny is separate from each other is childish.

      • Ed
        August 13, 2018 at 12:39

        I’m happy to report that I am not a part of any “we” that you’re referring to.

        • August 15, 2018 at 11:32

          Not everyone on Animal Planet is blessed with USA citizenship. If you’re not part of we then you are not a citizen of the United States.

  13. August 12, 2018 at 13:52

    The Bush II-Cheney regime took the US about as far to the edge of the abyss as we could go, to the dark side, and now we’re “dancing on the edge, looking down in denial”, which I quote from an excellent Counterpunch interview published today with Morris Berman, historian who since 2000 has published three books about the decline of America. This from the nation claiming to be the greatest force for good in the world! It’s the “land of bilk and money” (think it was Finian Cunningham thought up that one, not sure, so many articles to read). Hope you have healed by now, Ray, thanks for your courage.

  14. Dorsey Gardner
    August 12, 2018 at 12:40

    If we torture them, won’t they be justified in torturing our troops?
    Is that what we want for our sons and daughters in the military?
    McGovern deserves a medal but from an honorable government, not the US.

  15. Andrew Dabrowski
    August 12, 2018 at 12:08

    But Trump needs strong people like Haspel to fight the Deep State!

    • August 12, 2018 at 16:56

      Why would Trump trust anyone who would torture? Someone capable of using torture is capable of anything.

    • Realist
      August 12, 2018 at 21:39

      So why does he keep picking starters from THEIR bench?

      • Andrew Dabrowski
        August 13, 2018 at 12:34

        I was being snarky. Glad to know that not everyone here believes that crap about Trump fighting the Deep State. As McGovern says, “Haspel will fit right in,” i.e. Trump likes torture, it’s a tool he lacked as a private citizen, I’m sure he’s anxious for an opportunity to try it out.

  16. Joe Tedesky
    August 11, 2018 at 19:14

    Read what former CIA agent Melvin A Goodman has to say.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 11, 2018 at 22:48

      David Sobel, filed under the FOIA, with help from Peter Karanjia and Lisa Zycherman of the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, to dig into Gina Haspel’s CIA past. Read this, also see files received under theFOIA.

      • Bob Van Noy
        August 12, 2018 at 09:32

        Many thanks for those two links Joe, by reading both links one can get a well documented sense of the background to Ray’s frustration. The bottom line for us Citizens is that there is plenty of push back among the more professional public servants but so far the suppression is winning out. It’s important that we All educate ourselves. As Ray McGovern says: “The foxes have been guarding the chicken coop for many years now.  Haspel will fit right in. O Tempora, O Mores.”

        • Joe Tedesky
          August 12, 2018 at 10:23

          Hey Bob, glad you took away something from the links I provided. I think that both links proved one thing, in addition to Ray’s article here, and that is how it takes a lot of work to undercover what our spy agencies are up to. To any agent who should wish to come forward with information on the agencies illegal doings, there’s always a sealed door there for a whistleblower to try an unlock. Also, as the article on getting information through FOIA filings proves it is frustrating, and time consuming, to get to the truth.

          Guarded secrets, and hurried appointments, of torture advocates is the norm as America seems it is preparing itself for something big. Only a wartime government would put into place so many with so much ugly baggage, as these types of appointees are truly well representative of a warmonger society.

          It’s a shame that the U.S. continues to administer its foreign policies at the end of a gun. What makes it even more confounding, is we are supposedly a society built on higher education…. so what went wrong?

          • Bob Van Noy
            August 12, 2018 at 11:23

            Many things have gone wrong but the basis, I think, Joe is that a Democracy cannot self-reset from a coup d’état (President Kennedy) then the forces that were responsible working with the power of bureaucratic government with all its associated perks, have invaded All aspects of Civil Life and control the dialogue. The only adequate counter are honest bureaucrats suffering brutal response like Ray’s takedown and Fighting For A Free Press like we do here daily…

  17. jaycee
    August 11, 2018 at 16:10

    The reprehensible sadism exhibited by members of CIA and Congress was compounded by the fact that information sought by the torturers was already known by members of those organizations. Previous to the torture sessions in 2002/03, persons in the CIA and State Department actively disrupted an FBI investigation into the USS Cole attack, serving to shield perpetrators who had already been identified. This was also true in the case of the shielding of future 9/11 “hijackers” by the CIA.

    Related claims by the CIA that it had to, effectively, start from scratch in 2002 developing “enhanced interrogation” techniques is also nonsense. The CIA institutionalized torture within its Phoenix program in the late 1960s, and these institutionalized programs had continuity through the Latin American repressions – sponsored by the CIA – in the 1970s and 80s, and on into Iraq in the 2000s.

  18. BilCrandal
    August 11, 2018 at 15:42

    Might a message to insiders within the CIA not be delivered by bringing a Haskell home?

  19. August 11, 2018 at 14:41

    Truth Rules………always.

  20. Dunderhead
    August 11, 2018 at 13:22

    Ray you’re my fucking hero!!! I don’t really have anything intelligent to say just wanted to mention that, thanks for everything.

  21. Hugh Beaumont
    August 11, 2018 at 12:06

    I remember O’Reilly defending torture based on “the ticking bomb” scenario. Can you believe an intelligent man would try to propagate such an absurdity? A ticking bomb? So you can only torture for 60 minutes after capture? Of course not. We tortured every day, anywhere, any time – to get confessions – true or false, it didn’t matter – we knew they made up lies just so the torture would stop. But it didn’t matter – bs or true, it was all good – mission accomplished. We’ll stash it away until we need it.

    • Dunderhead
      August 11, 2018 at 13:29

      I don’t believe in God or anything but it would be nice if there could be some just reward for all the neocons as well as all the other lunatics of Empire.

      • caseyf5
        August 12, 2018 at 09:21

        Hello Dunderhead, It would be nice for the imbeciles (apologies to people that are real imbeciles as it was unfortunate for me to classify you with the scum of the planet)!in three letter agencies and the rest of our traitorous government whom are promoters of evil. Their fate has been sealed a long time ago and when they get to their final location I hope that they serve proudly as the equivalent of the crash test dummies (crash test dummies are infinitely smarter than them) repeatedly experience any and all forms of torture.

    • Ed
      August 13, 2018 at 12:43

      Hugh, I don’t count Bill O’Reilly among the ranks of intelligent people. He always struck me as being the dimmest bulb on Fox after Alan Colmes bumbled off the stage there.

  22. alley cat
    August 11, 2018 at 11:28

    “I have now had time to read through the documents obtained by the National Security Archive via Freedom of Information Act requests. Suffice it to say they are so sad and sickening that I had to stop reading.”

    Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon might share your sentiments, Ray. Here’s his press release of May 17 on the Haspel nomination:

    “A thorough review of Gina Haspel’s record makes it clear that she was not only involved in the torture program, she was a passionate advocate and defender of the program. That is deeply disturbing and makes her profoundly unfit to run the CIA.”

    “Torture is morally reprehensible and goes against everything America stands for as a nation. Employing torture also puts our troops at greater risk, inflaming anti-American sentiments abroad and increasing the chances that our troops could be tortured if captured.”

    “Deputy Director Haspel failed important tests of judgment, and I am profoundly disappointed that the Senate confirmed her today.”

    Mike Pompeo, ex-Director of the CIA, recently vetoed President Trump’s offer to talk with Iranian President Rouhani without pre-conditions. Any pre-conditions that don’t include the surrender of Iran’s elected leaders and its armed forces would probably be unacceptable to (acting President?) Pompeo. He has said that he thinks Ed Snowden should be executed, so imagine what fate might await Iranian leaders at the hands of Pompeo and Haspel. Sodomy with a rusty bayonet might seem merciful before they were done.

  23. alley cat
    August 11, 2018 at 11:25

    Hmmm….interesting. Never had difficulty posting before, but I see a few others are having problems.

    Tried twice to post a comment, both times got a message that my comment had been posted, but it hadn’t.

    Tried a third time and got a message that my comment was a duplicate and had been deleted.

    No messages about my comment being in moderation.

  24. mike k
    August 11, 2018 at 08:42

    Torture is the epitome of the powerful aristocrat’s contempt and hatred for anyone other than their small clique. They take sadistic delight in causing others to suffer. Torturing affirms that they have absolute power over anyone they choose to abuse. They use torture to terrorize everyone and force them to obey their demands. Their willingness to torture declares to the world that no atrocity is too evil for them to commit it. They exult in their freedom from all constraints of conscience and morality, celebrating their unlimited power to coerce others.

    Torture is the essence of Evil.

    • August 11, 2018 at 11:01

      Mike K – excellent observations. I have often thought about the impact of public torture during century after century of the Holy Inquisition, and how this must have impacted Western society in profound ways. In trying to understand how a Columbus and the conquistadors could show up in the “new world” and engage in the most inhumane brutal treatment of Native Americans who posed no threat of violence – “with 50 men we could enslave them all” – what stands out is that Columbus and others who followed were the result of 20+ generations of Europeans watching their friends, family & neighbors tortured and often burned alive as essentially a public demonstration of the power and brutality of “mother church” – always of course posing this brutality as an example of her unbound love for the masses.

      In other words the “medium” was also the “message,” as you point out in your post (torture is about “absolute power” and “terrorizing” others). It is unfathomable that such intergeneration public violence all directed essentially against those accused of “thought crimes” (heresy – invisible & impossible to defend oneself from) – didn’t play a huge role in creating docile European populaces frightened into to both obeying commands from on high, but also act out brutal violence on the rest of humanity under the same commands and rationals of “saving souls” and “spreading Christianity.” This history of public torture seems quite tied to the heart of darkness that the West has been for the 500+ years we’ve been dominating the planet with mass violence.

      When the U.S. engages in the torture of “suspected terrorists” and then begins publicly using the word “terrorist” to describe those engaged in domestic social movements like radical environmental activism or Black Lives Matter, a powerful message is being delivered to all of us, if only subliminally for most (as who could imagine our own government would torture us?). Torture by elites is always about “controlling” the viewing populations through fear – never about extracting worthless information from hapless victims.

    • August 11, 2018 at 17:08

      Torture and the threat of torture is also a good way to keep dissenting opinions in line.

      • OlyaPola
        August 12, 2018 at 05:25

        “Torture and the threat of torture is also a good way to keep dissenting opinions in line.”

        Torture is often “evangelised” as having as “target audiences” restricted to those being tortured and their associates.

        This representation is also used in respect of capital punishment.

        Your assessment of the “target audience” has validity but perhaps would benefit from expansion.

        One of the techniques of deflection is to encourage schadenfreude – taking comfort/pleasure in the pain of others – a resort with wide application within the misnamed “United States of America” – the reinforcement of not-me-ness and atomisation.

        Coercive “societies” are facilitated through many mechanisms, and included in “torture and threat of torture” are the intensity and nature of work to achieve even the minimum of “participation”.

        Coercive “societies” such as the misnamed “United States of America” are facilitated by the infliction of pain, and hence “torture and threats of torture” are projected and practiced throughout the society.

        Consequently Ms. Gina Haspel is not a lateral aberration of “her society” but a linear projection of a certain intensity and scope of “her society”.

    • rosemerry
      August 12, 2018 at 15:14

      Correct, but I really wonder about the perpetual use of punishment of any kind, and “sanctions” ad infinitum, based on false or no genuine reason, seem to me to be the pits. The original accusations from the 2016 election, based on NO evidence, allowed Obama to expel Russian diplomats and steal their property in the USA. All the accusations, right up to the recent indictments, are NOT cause for punishment and assumption of guilt. The USA overthrew the Ukrainian govt in 2014, but it is Russia’s “illegal annexing of Crimea” that is sanctioned. All the “Russian athletes cheating” over 6 Olympics later were shown to be false, but that did not help those punished. Theresa May’s accusation of “poisoning by novichok by Russia-highly likely” was never allowed to be refuted or even explained to be patently false- hundreds of diplomats were fired, “allies” were brought in and no evidence was even presented, let alone tested or proved. Syria was bombed for a “chemical attack” which witnesses testified did not even occur. All of this happens with the media encouraging the punishments. No wonder a few suspects tortured is considered quite a small matter by the PTB.

    • August 13, 2018 at 12:14

      It is not entirely correct. A petty nobleman would order flogging of the peasants as a matter of economic common sense. Some forms of torture were so normalized in feudal culture that they did not signify any additional contempt of the lower classes — people trying to treat peasants differently were viewed as (rare) eccentrics at best.

      But toward the end of 18th century such eccentrics had lamentable influence on writing Constitution etc.

      Seriously, I agree with you, but I want to add that there is also a huge degree of “normalcy” in the phenomenon that seeps into “depraved freedom”. Domestically, treating the accused, jailed and imprisoned “roughly” seems widespread, hardly secret and popular.

  25. Realist
    August 11, 2018 at 04:32

    Back in the 50’s they used to air a network TV program hosted by Walter Cronkite called “The 20th Century” which chronicled historical events using old newsreel footage. One of their topics was the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany. One of the scenes depicted people being picked out of crowds at assemblies and dragged away by the Gestapo the way Ray McGovern was at that Congressional hearing. The first image has stuck with me all my life, now the second will as well.

    Actions like that, perpetrated by government law officers, were supposed by Americans to be possible only elsewhere, in tyrannical countries like Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Now the practice, and undoubtedly the underlying beliefs and values, have come to America, along with kidnapping, torture, extreme rendition (combining the two), indefinite incarceration without charges or trial (loss of habeas corpus), execution without judge or jury let alone due process (droning), full spectrum espionage against the entire population by DARPA and probably numerous other outrages against our rights and freedoms we are not even aware of. People probably forget the law passed without a lot of fanfare sometime after the onerous “Patriot” Act that empowers the government to seize all your assets and property for aiding and abetting any of America’s “enemies” through mere speech–merely posting on this blog or recommending others read it could qualify!

    We have lost essentially every character that once really did make America exceptional, yet most are totally oblivious to this. Remember the first “enemy combatants” who were just American kids caught up in circumstances? Whatever happened to John Walker Lindh and Jose Padilla? Does anyone care?

    • Skip Scott
      August 11, 2018 at 08:05

      I am reminded of the flight 800 press conference during which a person was removed by asking what the Navy was doing investigating an incident for which they were a suspect. The Flight 800 investigation was a complete whitewash. I told this story once before, but I was working for Sun Transport (a division of Sunoco) when one of their tankers was hit off Virginia by a heat seeking missile. They were doing war games in a shipping traffic lane and one of their missiles struck the SS Western Sun just below the stack, and penetrated the hospital bulkhead. The Captain of the tanker was a retired navy submarine commander, and he radioed the Navy and told them they struck his ship. They tried to deny it until our captain told them that the missile was sticking out of the bulkhead and here were the tail fin numbers. Then the Navy said “Oh…..that missile”, “we’ll be right over”. They came aboard, got their missile, and left.
      The missile that struck flight 800 penetrated the center fuel tank which is in the middle of a line of the four engines (heat source) of a 747. The entire NTSB report was a government whitewash and the family of those who died deserve to know the truth.

  26. August 11, 2018 at 04:31

    Good summary of events.

    This is important because it displays the template used over and over again in Washington to drive the agenda of America’s imperialist establishment while offering the appearances of constitutional procedures.

    Just as American elections offer a display of some kind of choice while actually offering the same bundle of goods from two parties – the Pentagon, the CIA, big lobbies, imperial wars, and America;’s plutocrats.

    Much of the government process in Washington is political theater.

    The real power behind the stage show marches right on while all this distracts and entertains.

  27. Paul b
    August 11, 2018 at 01:57

    On the other hand, apparently Burr and Sen. Warner want to arrange for testimony by Julian Assange at a mutually agreed time and place. Be interesting to hear Mr. McGovern’s take on that.

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