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Torture, Joe Six-Pack, and the Iraq Thing

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I have one question which has been missing regarding Dick Cheney's strenuous assertions that torturing prisoners has saved thousands, "perhaps hundreds of thousands" of lives. (Hey, how about millions, Dick? No no, how about billions?) Cheney's remarks point to a steady, gruesome routine of torture which has "kept us safe," but which now Obama has abolished. But if Obama has abolished it, now five months into his administration, and it was uncovering plot after plot, then where are all the attacks it was preventing?

The NeoCons have always held to their ultimate, Rush Limbaugh-Sean Hannity fallback position: final proof of the Bush administration's rightness is there have been no further attacks. It establishes a causal link between everything which was done, and what didn't happen. It is a fallacy referred to by philosophers as "post hoc ergo propter hoc," the "false cause." This is illustrated by one philosopher as "the savage's claim that beating his drums is the cause of the sun reappearing after an eclipse." It links two things that have nothing to do with each other.

Could it be that Cheney is lying? That no attacks were prevented? (Please no laughter here, bear with me.) Could it be that torture is just another part of the effort to estrange us from our core values? Like the invasion of Iraq? Let's put the word of the tough-talking draft-dodger, Cheney, who had his first child nine months and a day (no kidding) after the only exemption from Vietnam became that of having children, against the word of a growing number of military men and former CIA officers who say, flat-out, that torture doesn't work, and prevents nothing. You can include former CIA operatives Bob Baer and Jack Rice, and former Air Force Interrogator Matthew Alexander. And oh yes, legendary CIA Director William Colby. Almost forgot him. (see these interview links on Youtube.)

The common thread seems to be that, when you torture, you get either, a) what you want to hear so it will stop or, b.) a dead guy whose heart finally stops or he drowns. The other point of agreement among the true tough guys is that torture makes many more enemies.

Let's remember Cheney is the man who said "we don't know if bin Laden was at Tora Bora" and was basically called a liar by the top CIA commander on the ground at the time, Gary Berntsen, by a Delta Forces kill team leader, and by CIA field commander Gary Schroen who said "I have no doubt he was there." Let's put his word against the word of his own FBI director, Robert Mueller, who said torture never prevented any attacks. It's kind of starting to line up, the fake tough guys against the real tough guys. Mueller was the leader of a rifle platoon in Vietnam while Cheney had "better things to do."

We are talking about Dick Cheney, the man who said Saddam was ready to launch an attack on US soil "in as little as 45 minutes," who used the testimony of a thoroughly discredited Iraqi National Congress operative, "Curveball," to prove that Saddam had biological weapons labs ("Curveball" claimed that he had been at the site of an accident in which a number of technicians died, proven false by German intelligence, one of whom told reporters he said "Mein Gott!" when he heard Powell using Curveball in his UN speech on television.)

Come to think of it, this same rationale was the be-all-end-all of discussion on the rightness of invading Iraq: the proof that Bush was right is that we have not been attacked again. Could it be that all we did when we invaded Iraq was...invade Iraq?

Could it be that the nearly 5,000 young men and women who are now in their graves, or struggling with prostheses or deformities from blasts from roadside bombs, were not preventing an imminent attack on the US, because Saddam had finally given weapons inspectors the run of the country, according to Hans Blix three weeks before the invasion? Blix said "at this juncture we are able to perform professional, no-notice inspections all over Iraq and to increase [our] aerial surveillance." Blix said Saddam's cooperation was "active, even pro-active." Which is why on March 17, 2002, Bush's ultimatum for avoidance of war was changed from Saddam giving up all his weapons, to "Saddam and his sons must leave the Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict." Tough words from another draft-dodger.

Bush was itching for war. Wanting it. Needing it. He needed to land on that aircraft carrier in his Village People outfit

Somewhere on or near the main gate of every American base in Iraq is an image of the Twin Towers, testimony to the firm link Bush made in the minds of his soldiers between Saddam and 9/11. "You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror. They're equally as bad. They work in concert," September 25, 2002. "Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases."

We were talking about torture. But like my-brother-in-law says, OK, if we're going to get it out, let's get it ALL out.  We haven't even begun to discuss the NeoCon burial of Valerie Plame's betrayal.

Those soldiers did not die protecting America anymore than torture prevented attacks. Lies. Lies. All lies. Former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi likes to say: Let's get one thing straight, those fine men and women did not die for "nothing." Put that out of your heads. Those young men and women died for George W. Bush.

Bugliosi is the author of the New York Times bestseller "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder," which makes the case that Bush and Cheney can be tried under U.S. law, now that they are ordinary citizens, under a legal foundation which treats a war started on false premises as tantamount to a conspiracy to commit murder. Bugliosi debates all-comers on the merits of his legal theory. Chances are if you call him to challenge him on a point of law, he'll call you back. This is the L.A. prosecutor who has tried and won 105 out of 106 felony cases, who put away Charles Manson. He is the expert on establishing guilt of those who never themselves pulled a trigger.

After 9/11 they were telling us to "be vigilant" and "be aware," at the same time as they were telling us to "go shopping" and go to MacDonald's with our families. As Congressman Jim McDermott said "it was like telling a dog to roll over and sit up at the same time." One campaign which began to make headway and then quickly dropped off the radar after 9/11 was the "I am not afraid" campaign, one of whose websites,, stated: "Regardless of the causes behind 9/11, the government's cure - destroying a thousand-year Western tradition of individual liberty - is worse than the terror threat itself."

The consensus of US intelligence, the one Congress didn't see, was that Saddam kept and produced weapons of mass destruction in the past because he believed they had already saved his regime more than once, as when nerve gas broke the "human wave" attacks by Iran during that war. Of course we knew he had the gas. We helped him get it. US intelligence, the report Congress didn't see, concluded that he kept them for self-defense, just like most of the other 20-something countries which possess WMD.

 The evidence we have now, from the formerly classified 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, the one Congress did not see, is that Saddam would not have attacked the US with WMD or given it to someone who would, because it would have been traced and subjected him to devastating attack, possibly nuclear. Saddam was a brutal dictator who didn't care how many people he killed. We knew that when we were his ally in the 80s. But he was not a madman. He was found in a spider hole begging "don't shoot." Even a moderately hardcore jihadist would have pulled the cord.

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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on (more...)

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