Law & Order v. John Yoo

As we’ve been discussing the threads (and as Glenn Greenwald discussed here), Law & Order last night took on torture and, specifically, the role of John Yoo and others in justifying torture. If you didn’t see it, check your local listings, because it may be on again at 8PM.

The episode was a TV show. But (as someone who wrote a 400-page dissertation on some "fictional narratives" that used factual details to intervene in current events), I particularly liked the way they used actual details from our history of torture–integrated within a narrative structure–to appeal to the emotions of viewers.

The Law & Order folks originally get the torture issue because the John Yoo figure (named Franklin in the show–he differs from Yoo in that he’s white and he’s still trying to get tenure) kills a former Abu Ghraib guard suffering from PTSD, Greg Tanner, who tried to get Franklin to help him get money and/or VA treatment for his PTSD. The implication, ultimately, is that the Franklin killed Tanner to try to prevent Tanner from revealing his role in torture. After Franklin escapes manslaughter charges through some cynical lawyering, the Law & Order team indict him for conspiracy to torture, based on his role in writing the torture memos.

Stop Now to Avoid Spoilers

The show uses the details of Manadel al-Jamadi’s murder to elicit horror about torture Americans committed. Here, Greg Tanner describes serving as a guard assisting what ended up being the murder of someone killed as al-Jamadi was.

GREG (ON MONITOR) We walked the detainee into the shower room. He was handcuffed and wearing a hood over his head. The interrogator told us to hang him by his wrists from the bars of a window. Like this, with his hands behind his back. 


Up high, so the guy can’t kneel or sit, all his weight’s on his arms and chest. The ‘gator said the guy was an unlawful combatant and under the rules we could do whatever we want to him…We hooked him up and left him with the ‘gator. An hour later, the ‘gator called us back in, he wanted us to reposition the detainee. The detainee was slumped forward, his arms were almost out of their sockets, he wasn’t responsive. We took the hood off his head and all this blood poured out of his mouth. He was dead…those rules. Those damn rules were wrong. We had to live by them and it messed us up…I found one of the guys who wrote the rules, right here, at the college…I got to get right with this. I didn’t join the service to murder people.

I’ll need to check, but I believe these details–down to the blood pouring from al-Jamadi’s mouth when his hood was taken off–come out of the trial of the Navy Seals who were tried for this death.[Update: Garrett notes the description of al-Jamadi’s death comes from an MP’s statement included in the CID investigation of his death.]

Later, in a court room scene, the show has a Matthew Alexander or Ali Soufan figure contextualize such treatment (technically, the use of this position was not sanctioned as a stress position by Yoo’s memos, though it was sanctioned in the guise of sleep deprivation).

GARDNER: It’s called a Palestinian Hanging. It’s how the North Vietnamese tortured Senator John McCain when he was a POW. It’s one of the stress positions sanctioned by Mr. Franklin’s memo.

CUTTER: As an expert in interrogations, would it surprise you that, according to medical testimony, the prisoner described by Mr. Tanner died of suffocation from being hung in this position while being interrogated by American personnel.

GARDNER: It doesn’t surprise me, sir. It disturbs me.

After describing the horror of the al-Jamadi-type killing, the show then traces it back to language taken nearly verbatim from the Bybee One Memo. Here’s the original language:

A defendant could negate a showing of specific intent to cause severe mental pain or suffering by showing that he had acted in good faith that his conduct would not amount to the acts prohibited by the statute. Thus, if a defendant has a good faith belief that his actions will not result in prolonged mental harm, he lacks the mental state necessary for his actions to constitute torture. A defendant could show that he acted in good faith by taking such steps as surveying professional literature, consulting with experts, or reviewing evidence gained from past experience. 


Because the presence of good faith would negate the specific intent element of torture, it is a complete defense to such a charge.

And here’s how they introduce that in the show.

MC COY: Read his advice to anyone worried about being charged with torture.

CUTTER: “If a defendant has a good faith belief that his actions will not result in prolonged mental harm, he lacks the specific intent necessary for his actions to constitute torture. A defendant could show that he acted in good faith by surveying the professional literature or consulting with experts. Good faith is a complete defense to a charge of torture.”

RUBIROSA: He’s telling interrogators how to circumvent the law.

MC COY: Just remember kids, if you’re going to torture, read a book first! In our name. This was done in our name.

It’s the Matthew Alexander/Ali Soufan figure who has the job of rebutting the "24" Ticking Timebomb scenario (Granick is Franklin’s lawyer).

GRANICK: I want to be clear, Mr. Gardner — if you had a terrorist who you believed had information about a dirty bomb set to go off in this city within twenty-four hours, you wouldn’t avail yourself of every technique possible to extract that information from him?

GARDNER: In my experience, sir, that ticking clock scenario you describe happens
only in TV shows.

GRANICK: Nevertheless, indulge me.

GARDNER: A man in severe pain or mental anguish will say anything to make it stop. If you only have twenty-four hours, the last thing you want to do is waste time chasing down false leads. As for real life
scenarios, the Israelis have had more success stopping suicide bombers on their way to their targets by using
non-coercive techniques. Torture just doesn’t work.

GRANICK: No one here’s advocating torture, Mr. Gardner. We were talking about harsh techniques —

GARDNER: I know what we’re talking about, sir. I don’t need a memo to tell me what torture is.

And then, some of the last words the Yoo-figure speaks in the show echo Yoo’s statement that the president might legally order an interrogator to crush the testicles of a terrorist’s child.

CUTTER: So if he deems that he’s got to torture somebody, for example by crushing the testicles of that person’s child, your memo says there is no law, no treaty that can stop him?

FRANKLIN: Well, it would depend on why the President thinks he needs to do that.

Narratively, this is the climax of Franklin’s trial. By using so much of John Yoo’s work to make the case, though, it serves as an indictment of Yoo’s own actions.

Which is why the episode’s ending–which some people did not like–was so useful. Literally as the Judge begins to read the verdict–which we know would find Franklin guilty–a Federal Marshall runs in with an order to halt the case. The Attorney General from the  subsequent Administration–one that wants to look forward, not backward–has successfully won a court judgment that the DA cannot properly try this case.

Which of course leaves viewers hanging, understanding that a jury found Franklin guilty and, if the narrative worked, believing him to be guilty themselves. Yet, at the same time, knowing that the fictional Franklin and the real Yoo have thus far avoided justice, largely through the intervention of the subsequent Administration. 

I’m not a regular TV viewer (except for football, of course), so I can’t measure whether the narrative worked or not. But if it did, it would have left viewers with no closure, with a sense of injustice. It’s just one TV program, and it’s got years and years of "24" to rebut. But it’s a start.

91 replies
  1. BoxTurtle says:

    Even money says 24 will have a rebuttal on the air shortly, where brutal torture of a scary brown moslim prevents a horrible attack that would have killed hundreds of white protestant children.

    Oh, wait. This is Fox. The 24 team will be prevented from brutally torturing a scary brown moslem by a well dressed black ivy league lawyer. Hundreds of protestant children will be killed. The episode ends with the scary brown moslem laughing as he meets with his court appointed lawyer.

    Boxturtle (Attn FOX: If you use my ideas, I want a cut. Just so’s you know)

    • bmaz says:

      My wife commented “so, do they just now feel free to do this episode now that Obama is President?” In light of how the Bush Administration threatened and leaned on networks (remember the Rather deal?), I think that is about right; GE would have never done that episode with Bush in office.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Your wife raises an interesting point. Does ObamaCo not care enough to stop something like this, not know how to stop something like this, not have the connections to stop something like this, or not have the spy network to warn them that something like this is coming?

        Boxturtle (The above are not mutually exclusive)

  2. dakine01 says:

    The show has years of 24 to rebut but this is Law & Order after all. A long established TV franchise with a history of pulling shows from the headlines with viewers aware of this. A good first step is my thought.

  3. klynn says:

    Thanks for the clip. We are taping it tonight.

    “I don’t need a memo to tell me what torture is.”

    Pretty good writing there. Anyone notice any lines taken from our dear EW in this episode? I’ll have to listen closely.

  4. TheOrA says:

    Thanks for touching on this EW, what I saw of the show I thought was poignant, but I didn’t quite follow the events at the end of the trial. Your read cleared that up for me.

    Maybe another headline would be that a DFB (dirty fukin’ blogger), not The New York Times or The Washington Post*, was offered the lede on this. Because that is seemingly the only place where this topic is in the Acceptable Sphere of Discourse.…..index.html

    When I was asked to consider writing about this and interviewing the show’s Executive Producer and lead writer, the former journalist and Emmy Award-winning René Balcer, I was very skeptical that doing so would be worthwhile — for all the obvious reasons. But I then read the script for the episode and was genuinely impressed:

    Kudos for the writers of L&O for trying to bring this into the mainstream of discourse.

    *Or maybe they were offered the lede…

  5. Leen says:

    “that hypocrisy is the best recruiting tool you can give the terrorist”

    Plenty of hypocrisy in our congress etc to spread around

  6. bmaz says:

    And two things. First, in some regards, it is not hard to believe that a Federal court, upon strident application by the DOJ, might enjoin a common state level court from trying these charges (how did a state court get jurisdiction of the torture case to start with?).

    Secondly, why didn’t Cutler and Rubriosa run at top speed to talk to the jurors to see what their verdict was?? It is the first thing I would have done.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      IIR, a lot of the mistreatment of Padilla occured at a naval brig in South Carolina. Would that not give South Carolina jurisdiction in that case?

      And I think your first reaction if the DOJ had just pulled a sure win case out from under you would be to blow lava out your ears.

      Boxturtle (Especially if the Feds did not charge?)

    • dakine01 says:

      Secondly, why didn’t Cutler and Rubriosa run at top speed to talk to the jurors to see what their verdict was?? It is the first thing I would have done.

      Yeah, that piece bothered me as it was such an obvious point. At this point the case would be pretty much over so it just seemed as if it were a logical step for at least one of the attorneys to go and speak with the foreman (or some juror).

      • bmaz says:

        I have it Tivoed, guess I better watch it again; I watched last night but was distracted at several junctures and that explanation must have been one of them.

        • Teddy Partridge says:

          Franklin worked in downtown NY; the memo was timestamped with the federal building he worked in. Was it SDNY? Not sure if that was made clear.

          Anyway, I thought the casting of Franklin was magnificent; the actor captured exactly the arrogance and legal servility of the Bush DoJ.

          • emptywheel says:

            He was very well cast, though I was interested that they made him white. I would imagine they vetted this with lawyers about a million times to make sure Yoo couldn’t go after them, since so much of this comes straight from Yoo and by suggesting it was Yoo they were suggesting he would murder to cover this up.

            • bmaz says:

              Naw, Yoo has made himself a “public figure” for defamation purposes by all of his blathering and opining on his crap that he has done in the press. Not to mention there would be that pesky discovery thingy if he brought suit.

            • kindGSL says:

              The answer to that is it was an obvious and deliberate attempt to make it fictional.

              Or, that is what I would argue if Yoo was going after them. Isn’t it a normal practice in TV dramas to try to change those sorts of details in order to fictionalize the characters?

          • dakine01 says:

            IIRC at the end when the state judge is given the restraining order, she ID’s it as having come from SDNY

            And (unfortunately) we had full commercials throughout the show here in Tampa Bay.

          • skdadl says:

            Anyway, I thought the casting of Franklin was magnificent; the actor captured exactly the arrogance and legal servility of the Bush DoJ.

            All I’ve seen is that brief clip above, but in just a couple of shots the actor playing Franklin does a perfect Jim Haynes chin raise-and-jut.

        • emptywheel says:

          Here’s the jurisdictional argument.

          MC COY
          This memo he wrote for the Department
          of Justice laid out the legal
          architecture permitting the abuse of
          prisoners. Abuse that led directly to
          this death in Iraq. You could argue
          this memo is an element in a conspiracy
          to commit assault and depraved
          indifference murder.

          Someone could try to argue it — if
          they had jurisdiction.

          McCoy hands the memo to Cutter.

          MC COY
          Have you looked at the time stamp on

          April 10, 2003, One St-Andrews Plaza.

          Franklin was working out of the US
          Attorney’s office downtown when he
          wrote it.

          MC COY
          Right under our noses. That’s the
          jurisdictional nexus we need to
          prosecute him.

          I think I may actually have the charge wrong–from this is appears they charged conspiracy to murder, using the al-Jamabi death as the murder.

          • Teddy Partridge says:

            I’m pretty sure it was conspiracy to murder; aren’t there lots of others still charged? Joint Chiefs, Cheney, etc? Or would the district court order dismissing Franklin’s charges also cover these cases against the chain-of-command?

      • Mary says:

        I still don’t see how that would give them state court jurisdiction over advice being given to actors overseas with reapset to acts overseas, where the victim was not a US citizen. I can see where a federal court, under CAT and related, could assert that kind of jurisdiction, but a state prosecutor can’t avail themselves of that jurisdiction (which, I guess, is part of what they were getting at in the end with the federal pre-emption ruling, although I kind of question what the pre-emption issue was based upon as well).

    • Teddy Partridge says:

      It is possible that this episode is the start of a story arc. There’s still time to interview the jurors. And remember what Jack McCoy says at the end about his opponents coming at him? I think this case may eventually underpin McCoy’s electoral defeat — there’s certainly precedent for the “look forward” Administration intervening in local elections now.

      Was anyone else’s programming uninterrupted by commercials the second half? Do you suppose they couldn’t get sponsors, or was this a local decision by my cable company to run it this way?

      • dakine01 says:

        I think this case may eventually underpin McCoy’s electoral defeat

        Jack McCoy pretty much has to win or Waterston’s character will no longer have a reason to be there opining on all things.

        • Teddy Partridge says:

          I always expect him to start talking about TDWaterhouse anyway; those commercials featuring Waterston are ubiquitous out here. Dick Wolf can’t be pleased.

      • covered says:

        I think you may be right. EW speculates in the blog post the jury had a guilty verdict. My speculation is that it would have had to have been not guilty (despite McCoy’s teevee record) simply based on the short time frame of the “trial” alone. A trial like that would take at least a year to litigate. Hint: The plethora of thick, bound volumes of briefs and motions the “DoJ lawyers” tossed on McCoy’s conference table. I also am willing to speculate a hung jury or two or three in real life, should this administration ever decide to go up the chain of command in a real prosecution. All it takes is one holdout. I have relatives to this day who still think waterboarding is not torture. Then there was the asst. DA who was hesitant to prosecute the case and made a reference to “we all sat in that office and watched the towers burn.” There is a hard-core right wing in this country. They vote and they show up for jury duty and would never convict a bushie, regardless of the evidence. As much as I would love for the guilty who shamed us all to face real justice, I’m afraid we may only see it on tee vee. And knowing the Wolf operation, don’t be real sure it’s forthcoming. They could actually do an entire season on this.

        • tjbs says:

          Nuremburg em or full cooperation with the ICC.
          I don’t know were we would be if this were the prevailing attitude after WW2 there would no justice at Nuremburg no Geneva conventions.
          Let em walk…Non-starter, no can do and where there’s a will there’s a way.

          • covered says:

            Greenwald over at salon has written extensively about this. I think letting em walk undermines the rule of law in this country and just asks for it to happen again. Just like Iran-Contra paved the way for this. I was making the Nuremberg argument to a neo-con of the WWII era recently and she just belligerently yelled out, “I don’t know anything about any Nuremberg!” which, of course, was a complete lie (surprise!) For you and me, it may be a non-starter, but the will you speak of is called political will. Judging by what my eyes and ears tell me, the country doesn’t have that political will right now. That doesn’t mean it can’t change. What might force the issue is for Rummy, Condi or one of the Office of Special Plans types to get arrested for war crimes in say, Spain.

    • Mary says:

      I came in part way through, so the description of the begninning was helpful, but this “how did a state court get jurisdiction of the torture case to start with” is what I wondered about too. This possiblity, though, is IMO the real reason to the resistance against bringing GITMO detainees to the states, more so than the handwringing about a bunch of Yemenis who’ve been detained in depravity for years on the say so of a crazy guy being too much for our prison system to handle.

      The jurisdiction issue is still pretty cloudy to me. I would like to see a one of the soldiers charged in the Abu Ghraib court martials file a bar complaint – that he, as a part of the DOJ, deliberately and maliciously withheld and conspired to withhold critical evidence in their court martials.

      I don’t necessarily think it is that there is less ‘fear’ than there was of Bush, though. I think an episode like this comes from a combination of the actual release of some of the information giving writers a little different footing, combined with a real sense of disgust by a lot of lawyers (even Republican lawyers) at the failed promise of the Obama administration. Law and Order is not a radical left wing franchise – it’s taken imo a real overwhelming sense that the calvary is never coming to end up with an episode like this one.

      The only thing I’d quibble with is that there was any certainty that the jury would be coming in with a guilty verdict.

      • bmaz says:

        Re: the verdict, Marcy seemed to get that impression; I certainly did not. Of course, I am more than a little jaded in this regard, I have argued cases to somewhere north of a hundred juries and they are absolutely loopy and unpredictable. They are actually very good at finding the right verdict in most cases, but I long, long ago stopped talking to them after trials because listening to them explain at how they arrived at their verdicts, even if it was the right one, was freaking disturbing. It is usually better to leave that box unopened for general attorney sanity. And on a case like the one in the show, you have no idea where their emotions will go so I don’t think you can know about the verdict.

  7. newtonusr says:

    The minutiae of polling the jury and intervention of the federal courts, while cramming a nuanced case into 43 minutes of dramatic network television aside, bravo Dick Wolf and company for going where literally no one in their business would dare.
    Calling out real criminals of Yoo’s magnitude is not the usual fare.

  8. JThomason says:

    Glad to see the commitment and follow through here. Haven’t had much time to be around lately. I have been playing Capt. Isaac Whitaker, the Pentagon in a production of A Few Good Men in Taos. It seems there is a persistent public interest in the nature of illegal orders and Constitutional principles within a military context. Shameful indeed how the politicians treat a commitment to decency as not only negligible but also expendable in the name of expediency. Why constitute a rule of law tyrannical brutality remains unchecked?

  9. JThomason says:

    I wondered whether he would. Have not caught wind of this yet. Its a good a question and I will double check.

    • JThomason says:

      If he stops by here to soak up the insight and hasn’t heard what we were doing over in Taos, there is still time for him to make the 8pm show at the TCA this evening from ABQ. Its our last night.

  10. Garrett says:

    The hyper-realistic style of Law and Order is interesting.

    I wonder how defense attorneys can stand to watch the show.

    The description of the blood gushing from Jamadi’s mouth is in an MP statement in the CID investigation, at page 27. His arrival at Abu Ghraib is in a statement at page 47.

    To be Uncle Toby on the hobby horse about it, I suspect the earlier treatment by SEALs and CIA killed him, as much as the back-hanging stress position with just CIA did.

  11. tejanarusa says:

    Wish I had known this was on last night. Was it a new season ep?
    Rats, I’m going to be out tonight. Recording is tricky for various reasons (having to do with old outdated recorders; no DVR here).

    I would like to say, though, this may be the first full-on tv ep on the subject, but I have been noticing lots of more oblique references the last few years. Some on L&O, too. There’ve certainly been a few where the murder came as the result of soldiers needing to cover up Iraq murders on L&O and elsewhere.

    Burn Notice has had a few episodes where, in the course of getting info out of a bad guy, the ex-CIA protag mentions how torture just produces false information, and I think I’ve heard similar passing references on other shows. I always give a small thumbs-up to the writers/producers when I hear one. Hope it will seep into the brains of viewers who believe in “24.”

    • dakine01 says:

      I would like to say, though, this may be the first full-on tv ep on the subject, but I have been noticing lots of more oblique references the last few years.

      Yeah, I was watching an old NCIS the other day and they used the line about “$8 Billion in cash in hundreds was sent to Iraq and lost.” A buddy turned to me with a quizzical look wondering if that was true and was shocked when he was told that it was actually supposed to be more than $9 billion.

    • kindGSL says:

      ALL of the TV shows should be held liable for what they say.

      You may be noticing a change in our social climate, please keep documenting it.

      I try to argue to the media that they are responsible for what they say because it teaches people. Responsability is a hard sell but I have been at it for a while, I think the concept is breaking through.

      Some of the media voices hear me and act accordingly. Some of them deliberately block their ears and speak their evil words even more vociferously. It is our job to sort them out, who is who.

  12. tejanarusa says:

    epu’d already? Just went to the tvlistings – this episode is scheduled for 7:00 pm Central – I should be able to start a tape before leaving. *g*

    It gives the title: ready? “Memo from the Dark Side.” heh. Someone’s been reading Jane Mayer, too….

    • Knoxville says:

      I am very proud to say that I donated to the ad telling Lincoln and Ross to ACT LIKE DEMOCRATS.

      Can anyone confirm that it’s aired during the game?

    • Knoxville says:

      Does anyone know about the ad telling Lincoln and Ross to ACT LIKE DEMOCRATS and what network it will run on?

      I have the Troy ASU game on CSS right now. It looks to me like this network serves the entire South East, including Tennessee. Is it possible that the ad, which is supposed to run during this game, will be shown here in Knoxville on CSS?

  13. fatster says:

    O/T: Iraq, Contractors, The Fed and markets manipulation, KBR, BushCo, Corruption, use of qui tam, and so on. Something to read and watch while you’re waiting for Law & Order reruns or for your game to begin. The Cat is on the prowl, as the linked video amply shows .

    Go here.

  14. bobschacht says:

    bmaz # 46

    we kind of have this First Amendment thing you know…

    But the first amendment doesn’t give you the right to yell, “Fire!” in a crowded theater, does it?

    Aren’t there two issues here?
    1. Your first amendment rights to say stuff.
    2. Being held responsible for your actions?

    BOb in AZ

  15. bmaz says:

    How is the presentation of fictionalized content, whether in novels, magazine pieces, movies or television programming the equivalent of “yelling fire in a theater”? Why is it not protected expression? How can it not be?

    • Knoxville says:

      How is the presentation of fictionalized content, whether in novels, magazine pieces, movies or television programming the equivalent of “yelling fire in a theater”?
      I don’t think they’re the same thing at all. If the producers of a tv show want to offend or glorify excessive violence and a network airs it, all people can do is call on advertisers to pull their ads from the show or network. That’s the extent to which fictional content can be held accountable. I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure yelling “fire” in a theater is totally different and is not speech protected by constitutional rights.

      • cinnamonape says:

        I think that this is more analagous to “Yelling “Theater” in a Fire”.

        The criminal charge would not be “incitement”, but libel.

        But by dramatizing real events but changing the circumstances enough so that they are not directly parallel they likely won’t face a “MacNamara Charge”.

    • bobschacht says:

      How is the presentation of fictionalized content, whether in novels, magazine pieces, movies or television programming the equivalent of “yelling fire in a theater”? Why is it not protected expression? How can it not be?

      OK, let me clarify– and I know this is an argument that I will lose.
      I am dead tired of mainstream media who peddle sex and violence in TV shows and movies with saturation intensity, and then who look all innocent and everything when the primary method of dispute resolution in this country in general and Arizona in particular seems to involve guns, or at least beating each other up a la Chuck Norris?

      Oh, and have you ever noticed in all those games where “heroes” fight each other with swords, axes and spears, most of the time no one ever bleeds?

      And all in the name of First Amendment Freedom of Speech.

      Yes, I believe that our country’s monstrous rates of gun violence when compared to every other country is in part the responsibility of irresponsible media.

      So does “free speech” that includes racist commentaries about Obama that fans the flames of hate, with perilous consequences. Did King Henry have a right to say, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” Sure, but his free speech had consequences, and the only people who suffered for it were Thomas a Beckett and the thug who offed Beckett on the stairs of his church.

      Does the phrase “incitement to riot” ring a bell? What about free speech in that context? What about the right wing commentators in our media advocating violence against the president, causing Nancy Pelosi to tear up reflecting on the days leading up to Harvey Milk’s murder?

      And I know that the First Amendment protects the producers of Jack Bauer’s “24,” which has created a public climate of acceptance for torture, leaving them free to reap big profits while at the same time polluting public discourse by fanning the flames of fear.

      So, yes, these things are a bit like yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded movie theater: Free speech has consequences. IMHO, every “Freedom” carries with it a responsibility, and every freedom should also carry with it penalties for irresponsible use.

      I am not advocating getting rid of the First Amendment. What I am advocating is legislation along the lines of “incitement to riot” that spells out consequences for the irresponsible use of freedom of speech, especially where the public media are concerned.

      Does this clarify where I am “coming from”?

      End of rant. Soapbox now available for others.

      Bob in AZ

  16. Frank33 says:

    Great Post even if it is about teevee fiction. But we have seen this already. Scooter libby’s civil and criminal cases. The most important documentation was “classified” so it could not be evidence. I do not think Fitzgerald was all that great. No one paid any penalties. The %*^)%)& Yoo is a coward. He could not sue because the stuff that would come out may be worse than we would believe.

    • PJEvans says:

      No one paid any penalties.

      Libby was found guilty; he was fined; I think he lost his law license.
      That isn’t paying penalties?
      It isn’t Fitz’s fault that Bush pardoned Scooter (even though Scooter wasn’t really eligible for a pardon).

      • newtonusr says:

        Actually IIRC, Bush commuted Libby’s sentence, as a pardon would have made Libby available to testify. It is not clear to me, but Cheney’s alleged attempts to get him a pardon at the end seem a bit thin.

        • PJEvans says:

          But, essentially, Libby didn’t get off because of anything that was done by the court – he was set free by orders from higher up. It was the idea that he got off scot-free that I was objecting to: he didn’t.

          • newtonusr says:

            He walked into court the day the $250.000 fine was levied and paid by check. He did not do one day in jail for outing a CIA spy, lying to the FBI about it, lying to a grand jury about it, and obstructing the prosecution of his co-conspirators.

            Scott-free is in the eye of the beholders I guess, and while loss of his bar privileges isn’t nothing, he walked away a hero to Bush’s base, forever a folklore hero in their eyes. And they will pay him handsomely for it.

            As for his professional reputation, he flushed that himself. No court or prosecutor or media outlet assisted. You can’t blame the justice system for a self-inflicted wound.

      • Frank33 says:

        Nope. Where is he now, getting his corporate payoffs, aei, DLA Piper, Black/Xe. No the liar has not suffered, but there have been hundreds of thousands who have. Even if they survived they have lost a lot.

        Meet Navy Lt. Dan Cnossen, a Kansas native and triathlete. He served two tours in Iraq one in the Philippines before arriving in Afghanistan to support the Joint Special Operations Command on September 6. Within 36 hours, while hunting the Taliban in Kandahar, he activated a landmine and lost both of his legs. He’s at the Bethesda Naval Hospital today recuperating. And he needs our help.

        Please read his story. And, if you can, contribute to his recovery. This country should not ever contemplate sending men like Lt. Cnossen to war without a solemn commitment to provide for their recovery should their sacrifice be as great as his. But we are where we are. Please help Lt. Cnossen. I just gave $50. Can you match my total? Or surpass it?

  17. eCAHNomics says:

    Gratuitous comment, having read only the ‘before the spoiler,’ I luv me some L&O despite it’s heavily mysogynist bent.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled program while I finish reading a biography of Adenaur.

  18. frandor55 says:

    I saw the show. I couldn’t believe I was seeing and hearing the dialogue when Cheney was indicted.

    Simply superb. A must see. 4 chiles–(it’s a New Mexico thing).

  19. rhode says:

    Thanks for the heads-up. I just caught the rebroadcast.

    I almost died when they brought up the famous crushed testicles.

  20. fatster says:

    Obama Administration Frees Three More Gitmo Detainees
    September 26, 2009 8:22 PM

    “The Department of Justice Saturday evening announced that two detainees had been transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Ireland, and one had been transferred to Yemen.

    “There are more than 220 detainees remaining at the prison. . . .

    “Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, a native of Yemen, was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and returned to Yemen today.

    . . .

    “The Obama administration did not name the detainees released to Ireland. “Pursuant to a request from the government of Ireland, the identities of these detainees are being withheld for security and privacy reasons,” read a statement from the Justice Department. Amnesty International has been lobbying Ireland to accept Uzbek national Oybek Jamoldinivich Jabbarov, and another Uzbekh.”


  21. TheOtherWA says:

    Thank you for posting this. I didn’t see it last night, but it is being rerun so it will be recorded tonight. I didn’t read the entire post or comments so I could avoid any spoilers.

  22. artmur says:

    If it hasn’t been pointed out – “Law & Order” did a show a couple of years ago that involved a doctor who played a professional role in the process of torture. It was done with the same brilliance and boldness that they showed in this latest episode. They were one of the very few in that community who dared to speak up to the Bush criminals while they were still in office. They should be commended.

    • newtonusr says:

      Damn, now I recall that episode. IIRC, the female doctor in question was guilt-stricken to the point of near suicide.

      Good pickup.

      • cinnamonape says:

        “IRC, the female doctor in question was guilt-stricken to the point of near suicide.”

        The incidents and persons in this program have no resemblance to any real events or persons, living or dead.

        • skdadl says:

          Oh, yes, it would. I don’t have a terriblevision at the moment, so if it isn’t on YouTube (and so much is), I don’t see it. I’m srsly considering never having a tv again, but every once in a while I’m sorry not to have one.

  23. mlmc says:

    I did wonder why this story line hadn’t appeared earlier. Two other tv shows directly addressed the unreliability of torture, one during Bush’s reign. That one was the first season of Criminal Minds where the team tricked a terrorist into divulging information while the “interrogators” got nothing. Another was last season’s Burn Notice where Westen’s mother gets a prisoner to talk, telling two of that team that she knows the prisoners type – rough him up and he is clams up. Her gentle technique got the info easily. These are tiny counterbalances to 24.

    Since Law and Order seemed so Republican during the Bush years, it’s interesting to see the shift now.

  24. tjbs says:

    May I beg to differ, if you please.
    First the under 35 crowd understands little about Nuremburg and a good part of the over 35 crowd couldn’t concern themselves with that stuff.
    I divide the country into 28% hard left, 28% hard right and the 44% malleable middle make up the rest. Those people don’t have a clue about what’s happened in their name. If they were required to study EW cliff notes about the torture, my bet is close to 40% out of the 44% would strongly object to crime without the time. That’s why if you did a study group showing the pictures, President Obama is extra legally with holding, about 30% would not object to those methods. The path to the court house goes though the public school house, so school those who don’t know the extremes of the torture.
    I don’t speak of the public will rather the truth will out…

  25. knowbuddhau says:

    Thanks for the review, much appreciated. An excellent explication of the importance and power of narrative, which itself reminds me of one of my all-time favorite articles.

    PETER HERSHOCK: Granted the Buddha’s unequivocal injunction to see ‘is’ and ‘is-not’ as the “twin barbs” on which all humankind is impaled, the pursuit of freedom so defined cannot but institute the root conditions for conflict and a preoccupation with security. The valorization of anonymity and autonomy institutionalizes ignorance and thus at once shadows and ensures the continued possibility of authoritarianism and coercion. Because the world of autonomy is, at bottom, an Hegelian one in which all masters of their circumstances are the antitheses of ‘others’ who are thereby enslaved, the most carefully wrought legal institutions — the products of successful social activism — may effectively soften the modalities of our bondage, but will never entirely dissolve them. Secure borders not only keep threats from coming in, they prohibit free expression or movement outward.

    There is no disputing that social activist movements have led to dismantling such degrading and highly partial institutions as slavery, segregated schooling, and sex-specific hiring practices. But because many of the teleological and strategic building blocks — that is, the foundational concepts — of these institutions have been salvaged in the process of legally managing our ‘fair’ and ‘just’ co-existence, our progress has been in the direction of more complex, global, and invisible institutions for our regulated mediation. New powers certainly reign, but it is still a reign of power in which every instance of factual independence is purchased at the cost of increasing dependence on those (largely legal, but also technological and cultural) institutions that generically insure our collective right to be left alone and to dictate the tenor of our circumstances. Degradation has not been abolished. Instead, by virtue of our bias for dealing with conflicts or social malaise through control, degradation has been woven ever more finely and essentially into the fabric of our shared narration. The locus of structurally compromised dignity is, however, not primarily ‘you’ and ‘me’ as individuals, but our relationships as such — the interpersonal body of our conduct. Thus, although each one of us is on average better off and freer than ever before, we — our marriages, our families, our communities — are not.

    From a Buddhist perspective, this “unexpected” consequence of social activist success — like the broken promises of technological salvation — pivots on our critical inattention to the karmic nature of the world in which we live. By wrongly assuming that relationships are logically and ontologically posterior to whatever ‘is’ related, and by asserting the “natural” existence of persons as individuals possessing transcendent rights to autonomy in an essentially impersonal and objective world, we have tacitly granted an invisible and highly valorized status to a critical blind spot. Hence the impossibility of mounting a discussion of freedom without invoking determinism and the perennial divergence of what is good for ‘me’ and what is good for ‘us’.[1] At the same time, since placing too weighty an emphasis on either ‘good’ necessarily upsets the ground of our co-existence, and since the control of any situation can never be truly shared, such existential upsets are from the outset guaranteed. Blind to our karmic or dramatically interdependent nature and firmly holding to the either/or logic of the excluded middle, we have developed a notion of freedom that is contradictory and self-defeating. The very ‘freedom’ that legally instituted human rights are intended to secure and preserve is what makes these rights necessary in the first place.[2]

    It was insight into precisely this auto-generative pattern of upset or trouble (dukkha) that occasioned the Buddha’s injunction to see all things as empty of any essential self-nature [all holding or carrying is essentially self-emptying] — to relinquish not only our individual habits of self-identification, but also the security of our cultural inheritance of axiomatic “facts” about the way things really are and should be. Attending to the [self-emptying] of all things — ourselves included — promises nothing short of a new “Copernican” revolution by means of which the self-other and freedom-determinism dichotomies are effectively undermined and concrete avenues opened for the practice of a truly social activism aimed at dissolving the dramatic conditions of (especially chronic) suffering. [Emphasis added.] Changing the Way Society Changes: transposing social activism into a dramatic key.

    It’s the mythic narrative of dominance by kinetic activity, even in social activism, dammit!

    We are not artifacts, mechanisms created by a celestial creator absolutely and eternally apart from our selves; we are growing from within by the power of kenosis, self-emptying, by which mundane miracle, for example, these unspoken words self-empty simply by passing your eyes over them.

    Even as I pour my heart out into these words, and like cups of tea, pass them over to you, where, without forcing it, you hear this unspoken voice, just so our shared narrative will deliver us precisely as we load it with our intentions.

    I hope this will be the high-water mark for the application of Newtonian mechanics to human social problems. Are we going to continue pretending to be fully-automatic mechanisms, susceptible to malicious hacking like mere voting-machines on two legs? Then torture is only an extreme, no different than threatening whole nations with nuclear-powered annihilation.

    Torture is the nuclear option on the personal scale, the ultimate mistaking of another human being for an object susceptible to mechanical manipulation.

    But that’s the way we still think the world works, so what’s so surprising that people who believe life is an eternal holy war should turn society into a perpetual motion holy war cash machine? And even we who reject holy war still think the cosmos is some king of mechanism governed by Newton’s laws; and, as we are the masters of those laws, we are also the masters of the universe.

    If we never check our most fundamental assumptions, if we build into our solutions the assumptions that created the problems to begin with, we won’t advance our shared narrative one more jot.

    We can’t continue to treat organic systems as if they were mechanisms and get anywhere we haven’t already been, we’ll just keep repeating on ever larger scales the horrors of history generated by runaway mechanism.

    • radiofreewill says:

      “We can’t continue to treat organic systems as if they were mechanisms and get anywhere we haven’t already been, we’ll just keep repeating on ever larger scales the horrors of history generated by runaway mechanism.”

      Greetings, knowbuddhau!

      I like what you say, but I don’t think that very many people actually understand the extent to which they – themselves – have become ‘mechanistic’ through repetitive conditioning by ‘industrial strength’ Corporate products – food, news, sports, entertainment, etc.

      I’m fortunate in that I get to regularly enjoy lengthy periods of solitude in a natural setting with healthy organic food.

      Just looking at food – our bodies crave salt, sugar and fat. In nature, you just can’t get those three in any kind of big quantities, but small sources are abundant.

      When I’m getting a nice balance of salt, sugar and fat mixed-in with in my diet – I have energy with staying power, my body processes run clean and I sleep like a baby.

      To find a natural, real-time, balanced and harmonious – organic – relationship with my experience is then not all that difficult, because I’m actually living in a balanced and harmonious relationship with nature.

      However, for instance, when I have a Coke – I’m dumping massive amounts of caffeine and sugar into my body – overwhelming my senses with a rush of stuff that my body craves.

      And my body wants a Coke every day at that same time from then on.

      The fat in McDonald’s hamburgers, chocolate ice cream, candy, etc, etc – it’s all available – on the shelf, so to speak – at every hour of every day.

      Industrial Strength sensory overload that puts its stamp on us so firmly that, afterwards, we crave having it regularly. Essentially, we are letting ourselves be ‘Mechanistically’ programmed into habits that usually aren’t good for our health, but do happen to keep the money-wheel going around for the Corporations.

      Most people that I know – not all, but most – are living lives that are shot-thru from morning till night with conditioned consumption of ‘industrial strength’ products. Products that keep bringing them back for another jolt of something their body and/or mind then craves.

      Most people in America are No Where Near the rhythms of nature’s harmony and balance.

      And, I just don’t ’see’ any hope for meaningful Social Activism, unless we – for ourselves – are first willing to be Personally Active in throwing-off the yoke of Corporate Addiction-by-Design Products that are killing US.

      Imvho, we have to free ourselves from the un-natural mechanistic forces of Coporations – that drive immoral profit – before we can effectively settle-in to a truly organic relationship with our experience.

      We’ve got to stop dumping that trash into ourselves!

      Getting the word out is always good – you can count on my support – thanks for your efforts!

  26. tbau says:

    LOL, none of that is going to keep obama from being the firewall against torture prosecutions. his life for them. yeah, he’s THAT guy. spit.

  27. TheOtherWA says:

    The show was quite good. But at the end I wanted them to question the jurors about the verdict. I suppose it was best to leave that hanging.

  28. pdaly says:

    I liked the show, too.

    One quibble with the Cutter character prosecuting Franklin–Cutter’s admission of a post 9/11 ‘understanding’ why our government would do whatever it takes to defend America from these terrorists.

    I know it is a dramatic device to represent the thoughts/arguments of some Americans, but McCoy (and Law and Order) could have done more to disabuse Cutter of his unspoken assumption that only ‘terrorists’ are in detention. In fact, McCoy could have appealed to Cutter’s love of the law to make that point that because the rule of law was ignored (no habeas corpus) innocent people collected and turned over to US forces for a profit by warlords are being detained and tortured, too.

    Torture does not work. And torturing innocents is pure blind rage, not blind justice.

    • cinnamonape says:

      That would be a good follow-up program. Air Cutter’s comments in the “re-cap” they have…and then discover that the victim was not likely to have been a “terrorist” at all…or that others tortured definitely were not. This could lead to the “in order to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs” comment. Flashback to a scene where the “suspect” was apprehended…after a drone strike on a wedding convoy that killed women and children.

  29. thedeanpeople says:

    Just to “bottom line” this for everyone.

    Torture is a viral, radioactive toxin that continues to ravage our society.

    Obama has re-founded our once-great country as a Torture Nation — through his willful, active refusal to simply abide by and enforce the laws and treaty obligations our Greater Generations fought and died to forge.

    Those like Garrison Keillor, who want to wish it away as “bygones,” — or who’d rather selfishly improve our own economic or healthcare situations than meet or moral duty — are simply aiding and abetting torturers and torture after-(and almost certainly before)-the-fact.

    No, there is no middle ground. No, you can’t “multitask.” No, you are not helpless to act. No, there is no excuse for not interjecting our torture shame into every other less-important conversation you have.

    That’s all rationalization. You’re either on the Torture Team or not.

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