Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sorta like mowin your lawn

Today in the Washington Post, almost five years to the day since the front-page article there that introduced torture as a debatable subject, Walter Pincus appears to be working comfortably within the new norms: 'Waterboarding Historically Controversial'.

Remember back in the old days, when torture was controversial, period?

And back before that, in the quaint twentieth century -- when it wasn't even controversial, but was considered a settled, closed question, like slavery?

Good times, good times.

Update: 9:45 am 6 Oct - Thomas Nephew has persuaded me in comments that I was unfairly blaming the messenger.

Update: 6:00 pm 29 Apr 2014 - On the other hand, Pincus is a blame-able messenger: He has faithfully conveyed CIA thinking over a long career, and his torture talk piece came right after Bush signed the "gloves come off" Memorandum of Notification spotlighted by Marcy Wheeler). __ Find link for Pincus' article (in which David Cole took the bait and discussed torture, instead of refusing to address it as anything but the crime it is).



At 9:49 PM, October 05, 2006, Blogger Thomas Nephew said...

I hesitate to disagree with you, but when I read the article, I felt it was simply reporting (and perhaps even quietly condemning) the new acceptability/discussability of the practice and the changed mores in DC -- not agreeing with either. Even the title arguably uses "historically" as a synonym for "was once". If I had to guess, I'd say Pincus is on your and my side, or he wouldn't have bothered reporting about Yukio Asano (15 years hard labor for WW2 waterboarding) in the first place.

At 9:44 AM, October 06, 2006, Blogger Nell said...

It's a fine line.

You're probably right about where Pincus stands, and I imagine he wishes the torture bill hadn't passed. So I shouldn't have said 'comfortably', and will edit (visibly).

Maybe the article should be taken as a cry from Pincus: 'My God, here we are discussing whether to do something that was an outrageous crime sixty years ago.'

But even to do so, to focus on one kind of torture, means that the conversation has moved from torture vs. no torture to what kinds of torture. No matter how it was intended, the article becomes part of the normalization of torture by its very existence.

Which is a tough spot for a reporter to be in.

You're right, Thomas, thank you. Seeing the normalization happen before our eyes made me so sick that I blamed Pincus.

Whereas my usual refrain would have served perfectly: I blame Dick Cheney.

At 3:21 PM, October 10, 2006, Blogger Gary Farber said...

I don't know how to state how much respect I have for Pincus, but it's than for more than me and thee and thee and thee.

He, unlike bloggers, works under restraints.

But we're all better for his work, I think.

Whereas a dick is a dick.

At 12:43 PM, October 12, 2006, Blogger janinsanfran said...

I assume we've all read the account of the torture of Jose Padilla available via Glenn Greenwald. Will we become inured to knowing this too?

At 7:08 AM, October 19, 2006, Blogger Gary Farber said...


Aside from not being sure if you get my mail (which I'd never mention a thank you thing from, were it not for history), I am unsure if I should mention that my absolute minimum for blogrolling a blog is that it posts at least once a month.

I probably shouldn't mention it.

I tend to figure that daily posts are good, though I certainly don't always manage it, myself.

Weekly tends to be my actual minimum.

And none of this am I actually mentioning!

I'll only mention that you are so very capable of bringing great stuff to all of our attention every week, that seeing you fulfill what I bet your teachers told you was your potential, would be a joy to us all.

Or something like that.

Alternatively: you are brilliant and attentive! Tell us about what you care about! We're listening! Here! On your blog! (Where else?)

At 3:30 PM, October 21, 2006, Blogger Nell said...

Well, Gary, now that you mention it, there has been a lot of talk in my life about the gap between potential and results. ;)

Your once-a-month minimum requirement is quite lenient. My longest gap so far is three weeks, back in August, but I'm closing in on that record now.

I still find it much easier to comment on other blogs than post on my own, but will make an effort to buckle down here.


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