Recounting a conversation in 2001, an author in The New York Times recalled
'I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it and this movie is not pornography'?''
''Of course,'' I answered. ''That is Justice Potter Stewart, although I don't remember the case.''
The case was Jacobellis v. Ohio and it was 1964 when Justice Stewart uttered "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it . . . “
Still, for the benefit of Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-TX), we will define "torture" as the UN Convention Against Torture in 1984 defined it, as
...any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.
In 2008, right-wing shock-jock Mancow Muller denied waterboarding is torture and then was instantly converted after he underwent the "enhanced interrogation" technique, in his case reportedly lasting six seconds.The late Christopher Hitchens, waterboarded in 2008, admitted "I find I don’t want to tell you how little time I lasted" (video below from Vanity Fair). In 2009, Sean Hannity vowed to undergo waterboarding to prove it wasn't torture but when challenged by Keith Olbermann and Jesse Ventura, opted out.
Yet, Politico reports, "The term torture is being used by the critics of the program. I think that term is going to be disputed," Chambliss said, adding that waterboarding was investigated by the Justice Department and "is not torture."
"Critics of the program"is the term of art, as Marcy Wheeler points out, by journalists afraid to acknowledge the term "torture" except in quotes, suggesting there is doubt where there is none. Once it was found to have authorized waterboarding, the Bush 43 Justice Department conducted what it sold as an investigation, wisely concluding torture was not torture, which is strictly prohibited by the (UN) Torture Convention, the Geneva Convention, and United States federal code.
Waterboarding, we read, generally" involves choking the victim by filling their throat with a steady stream of water — a sort of "slow-motion drowning" that was perfected by Dutch traders in the 17th century. They used it against their British rivals in the East Indies." It was torture when the USA prosecuted Japanese for imposing it upon American soldiers in World War II, and when
used by the Japanese in World War II, by U.S. troops in the Philippines and by the French in Algeria. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rogue used waterboarding against its own people. The British used it against both Arabs and Jews in occupied Palestine in the 1930s. In the 1970s, it was widely used in Latin America, particularly under the military dictatorships in Chile and Argentina (where it was known as "Asian torture.")
But the Texas Senator may have been at his most ridiculous when
"I think John has done a really good job," Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
When Brennan initially denied the agency was snooping on Senate computers and first briefed the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the issue, "he didn't have all the facts," Chambliss said. Five CIA employees involved in the operation should be fired, he added.
"Once he got all the facts, he came back and he did apologize. He was wrong. Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein was right," Chambliss said. "If I thought John Brennan knew about this then ... certainly we'd be calling for his resignation. ... But I will tell you that these five staffers that did this — if they worked for me, they'd be gone now. But the accountability board has been convened, and they will be looking into this, and they will be dealt with accordingly."
Let's see if we understand this. In March, C.I.A. Director Brennan had claimed
As far as the allegations of, you know, the CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s—that’s—that’s just beyond the—you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we would do. ... When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.
Now that it has turned out CIA staff members did spy on members of the Senate and their staffs, Senator Chambliss says he would fire the employees, were they only his to fire. Brennan has fired no one and the Senator says "I think John has done a really good job." Either Chambliss is proud Brennan is a lousy administrator or he 's pulling our collective legs, playing the tough guy when he says "if they worked for me, they'd be gone now." More likely, if they worked for Chambliss and were not discovered, he would promote them.
One definition has "fool" as "a person who behaves in a silly way, or someone who lacks judgment:" John Brennan already has told Chambliss and Feinstein something they interpret as an "apology" and apparently has survived being demonstrably incompetent or dishonest. That leaves the likes of Chambliss- and us the public, and if we let the CIA Director and the Enabler In Chief get away with this, we're the ones wearing dunce caps.