Please Help Support My Next 525 Posts on Torture

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by June 1st

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Just over two years ago, right around the time I reported that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in a month, many of you chipped into the “Marcy Wheeler fund” to support my work; that generosity paid my way until a short time ago. Here’s what that support made possible.

Between May 1, 2009 and yesterday, by my rough count, I wrote 525 posts on torture. I unpacked the torture memos, the CIA IG Report, the OPR Report, and thousands of documents released through FOIA. I showed the bureaucratic games they used to set up our torture program, early efforts to place limits on things like mock execution, followed by more bureaucratic and legal means to get away with violating even those limits. I showed how they hid documents and altered tapes to hide evidence of their torture. I showed how, after CIA and parts of DOJ tried to put limits on torture in 2004, they again used bureaucratic tricks and ridiculous legal documents to reauthorize it. I’ve tracked DOJ’s kabuki claims to investigate torture (though bmaz gets credit for forcing DOJ to admit John Durham’s torture tape investigation had run out the clock on Statutes of Limitation). And I’ve tracked the Obama Administration’s successful efforts to suppress all evidence of torture. And all the while, I’ve relentlessly pushed back against the torture apologists’ lies.

Of course, while writing about torture is a major part mapping out the decline of the rule of law, it’s not the only part. Since May 2009, I’ve written almost 200 posts on wiretapping, almost as many on our Gitmo show trials, posts about state secrets, drones, fusion centers, the forever war metastisizing around the world. I’ve written about Wikileaks and Bradley Manning’s treatment and the banksters and the auto companies.

Cataloging the decline of the rule of law has been exhausting and infuriating. The work has been challenging.

But most of all, it has been humbling. That’s because you made this happen, as much as I did.

In addition to the absolutely brilliant observations you’ve made in comments, your support, two years ago, made this work possible. I’m profoundly grateful that many of you invested your faith and financial support in my work.

And now I’m asking for your faith and financial support again, to support the next 525 posts on torture. This time that support will come in the form of an ongoing Firedoglake membership. By becoming a member of Firedoglake, you will not only give my work some stability over the long term, but support the superb work of Jane and DDay and Jon Walker, and just as importantly, the work of the people backstage who make this all technically possible. And you will become a closer part of our efforts to push our country in the right direction, to return to the rule of law.

Please join Firedoglake today.

I hope some day soon we’ll begin to make headway against our expanding national security state. I hope some day, I won’t feel the need to write a post on torture five days a week. But until then, I feel compelled to write about what is happening to our country. And I can only continue to do that with your help.

  1. bobschacht says:

    Thanks for your diligence on this subject! I’m a regular contributor to your fund, and a founding member, and consider it money well spent.

    Why not turn those 525 posts into a book? That might get your work more attention.

    Please continue the work you are doing!

    Bob in AZ

  2. Starbuck says:

    Marcy, if I find some work, this is the first place my money will go. Well, not exactly the first, but certainly after paying the basic bills. Hopefully, that will happen before long, but unlikely before June 1.

    But I have to say I am so dispirited because, yes we shine a lot of light, and you, Marcy, do it so consistently well. Yet, it doesn’t seem to matter. Take Portland, today. A school bond issue was voted yesterday, and it is hotly contested. As of midnight, the count was vacillating around the 54% point No vote, about 1 to 1.5% +or-. Now, suddenly it’s down to about 1.5% No. The percentage in favor of the bond went from 46% Yes to 57% in the remaining votes to be counted, which is around 5% of the total votes cast! Imagine that! What’s so magic about wee hours counting? Who are these last 5% or so of the voters?

    I am so troubled. Why on earth should I even try to make a difference any more?

    Coffee doesn’t help. That makes it worse.

    • emptywheel says:

      Oh Starbuck. Work on paying the bills.

      It’s frustrating, I know. But at some point they’re going to get too close to the people who believe this is only about scary brown people (I think the TSA thing almost did it). And that might open a floodgate of outrage.

  3. orionATL says:

    i’m in.

    but i wanted to give more (its only a credit card, right), but was strictly limited by the category i chose.

    this needs to be fixed;

    thar’s money being lost every hour.

  4. Starbuck says:

    What makes it even tougher is that City Council is having a session this morning taking up the Water issue of which I wrote here recently. I was counting on the No’s to prevail so that they get the message we are fed up with running taxes up with the present conditions prevailing, joblessness etc. Now it doesn’t look so good. If the votes turn around, they will carry on confidently, ignoring us. No prevailing will give them pause.

    Well maybe.

  5. orionATL says:

    oh, and how about arranging modest tuition payments for the university of emptywheel.

  6. Public says:


    I am glad you find torture deplorable, like all the rest of us. We all know that they did torture and most of the details about who was involved and how they did it. My wish is that your next 525 posts would focus more on what brought us to that low point.

    And a closer examination of the Bush Administration Official Story of 9/11, that was feed to us the day it happened, with no further evidence ever being provided by our government. We were basically just told what happened (that same day)……end of story.

    Then there was a major media blackout on anything other than what we were TOLD (very Orwellian).

    Remember Powell promising us a complete report and all the evidence. How exactly is that coming along?

    • Public says:


      Do not for a minute think that I do not fully appreciate the incredible record you and others here have built regarding torture. But as you well know, I am most interested in getting at what I believe is the root cause of most of our problems today…….that being what really happened on that very, very strange day.

      Note: I did mean FEED above @ 11……as in feed given to actors on a stage (the American people after 9/11)

  7. Jeff Kaye says:

    Please support Emptywheel and the work of FDL. Marcy is writing not just about torture, but by extension, about the soul of this country. Isn’t that worth 14 cents a day to support?

    Great work, Marcy. Reading the summary of your work is remind us of your prodigious work and analytic skills.

  8. selise says:

    I hope some day soon we’ll begin to make headway against our expanding national security state. I hope some day, I won’t feel the need to write a post on torture five days a week. But until then, I feel compelled to write about what is happening to our country.

    thank you for all you do and have done, marcy. you bear witness as no one else has… and you provide a space for others join in that effort.

  9. JohnLopresti says:

    The original contribution mode had a thermometer graphic as the first donation campaign progressed. That thermometer rose quickly over a few months passing 1,700 contributions. That is when the campaign graphic should have disappeared from the ewDotFdl locus. Instead it remained, painting some static condition. FDL wisely launched another, new synchronized fundraising mechanism, which is looking good now. Congratulations. Besides direct contributions, I hope Fdl is looking at other forms of helping finance its writers who are involved in current-events research and news analysis. The emptywheel site, as the leading post above aptly states, is much more than taking on difficult topics that the ordinary media struggle to shape into their own voices. I am accustomed, now, to reading in the NYT subsidiary in the local 300,000 population town, what emptywheel had spent the prior 1-2 weeks meticulously developing, teasing facts from the bafflegab in the mainstream media. I still appreciate the wonderful investigative journalists in some of the principal news entities, however; I believe there is a strong and conscious symbiosis which the best oldtime papers value, even if sub rosa. I have learned to muffle my own amaze in web word searches these days, when emptywheel*s current commentaries rank page one on the principal searchengine.

    On the torture topic, I noticed when reading of the nexus among some of the interrogations and captures reported in an emptywheel post yesterday, that to me it seemed the first time I could quantify, as if on a timeline with precision, prisoner by prisoner, which government assigned entity had custody of each important detainee, when; and the finite span of time each individual had their own torture; followed, apparently, by *siimple* confinement without the hot pursuit varieties of torture. Reading that post, I thought it could be instructive to review some of the IG profiles of the most evasive nonreporting by those government agencies. Maybe that would be redundant compared to other correlated and integrated timelines. Just an idea. Still, for some reason, I continue to remember some of Bushco*s cavalier official*s comments about how to torture, their euphemisms; and the more starched allusions from attendees at the cabinet or *principals* meetings which devised custom tortures from a lawyer-driven smorgasbord of best practices.

    Still, I think there is lots more than torture to look at; in fact, I believe institutionally the government has not reached a ripeness phase for parsing how far the government has entered into setting in carved sculpted monumental rock the shape of its preferred circumventions of constitutional process, which are the best tortures with respect to outcomes informationally and timely. I doubt the agencies involved have a solid credible analysis confidentially yet, either.

    However, emptywheel*s presence and energy have led into and past many of the unseemly enterprises like those, into much that benefits media and societal discourse.

    Further, if FDL is inclined to evaluate an array of outcomes quite disparate from what huFfPo opted to do; some grantwriting might prove germane to FdL*s goals. Perhaps this, too, is a duplicative suggestion and already is a part of the fDL economic *businessModel*, as well; maybe as an option it is too fraught with politics, even for a blog whose baseline is political.

  10. mattcarmody says:

    You’re right, Marcy. My leaking, collapsing roof and flooded furnace can wait. Besides $45 won’t go very far in fixing either one.

    I completely appreciate the work you and bmaz produce and I have learned a great amount through your efforts. My membership starts today.

  11. curlydan says:

    I almost signed up to become a member until I saw FDL would bill my credit card every 12 months. Sorry, but I can’t stand that practice. If you want me as a member, 11 months later send me an email. Don’t make a $45 charge pop up unannounced on my credit card–save that for the AMEX dining club folks. Instead, I gave $50 in a one-time donation because I do love FDL.

  12. Brian Silver says:

    Hi Marcy. Back again I responded to your tweet earlier and made a starting donation. Now I’ve added some more. Since I didn’t go through the general FDL membership page, I’m not sure the two (small) donations will be added together or counted in your “new member” count. I hope they will be.

  13. kurish says:

    @curlydan / #19:

    How’d you do the one-time donation? I’m not into membership and I agree with your sentiments on auto-renewal, but I would like to support the work done here…

  14. mzchief says:

    OT– With respect to “It’s all my fault…” (by twolf1, May 13, 2011), I had an unexpected verbal exchange that unofficial photos where taken and went out of OBL as proof of his death similar to the cell photo footage aired of Saddam’s hanging (buddies taking trophy pictures and showing them to buddies across the public telecomm network).

  15. mr5roses says:

    I’m a founding member and a contributor to the writing fund, and part of the reason is the way FDL writers plod through pages and pages of memos and leaks and FOI requests to produce stories conventional media don’t cover about torture, espionage, illegal imprisonment, etc. Thx for your work and if I have a chance to throw money your way I’ll take it.

  16. bluewombat says:

    Between May 1, 2009 and yesterday, by my rough count, I wrote 525 posts on torture.

    God bless you for this (and I’m agnostic).

    I was one of the first 100 people to snarf up a membership. I think of myself as a Centurion.

  17. tzbloom says:

    For me, Marcy is not only blogger of the year, but journalist of the year. Not bad for a dirty hippie in pajamas! Keep it up. Donation made.