The Spectacle Blog

Conservatives Shouldn’t Legitimize Senate Democrats Torture Report

By on 12.10.14 | 1:06PM

I have been skeptical about the Senate Democrats aims and objectives in releasing its report on alleged CIA torture in the War on Terror.

Unfortunately, I sense that some conservatives are accepting the "findings" of the report at face value particularly in the comments from F.H. Buckley and, to a lesser extent, Emily Zanotti.

But as former Democratic Senator and 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey noted in his op-ed in U.S.A. Today, Senate Democrats did not interview any of the operatives allegedly involved in this misconduct to get their side of the story nor did they provide any recommendations. That should raise red flags. Absent that information, this report isn't worth the paper on which its printed.

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All Hail the Cromnibus

By on 12.10.14 | 11:53AM

After much hemming, hawing and belt-tightening, Congress finally unveiled their "pared-down" yearly budget, this year lovingly titled the "CRomnibus" because it is the product of the unholy union between a continuing resolution (CR) and an omnibus spending bill. The reason for the cute nickname is simple: the omnibus spending bill will keep the government funded through next September, when we have this same fight all over again. The continuing resolution will keep the Department of Homeland Security funded only until March, in the hopes that the Republicans can somehow pass an immigration bill that will keep Obama from declaring that everyone, including, but not limited to, various animals and inanimate objects, can obtain legal work permits.

While the two parties did spend much of last week cutting out unnecessary spending and negotiating the details of the bill in order to avoid a shutdown, the very best, lowest number they could come up with to keep the government rolling on is $1.1 trillion, because everything is terrible and we've lost all sense of reality.

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Kerrey Blasts Senate Democrats Over Torture Report

By on 12.10.14 | 10:17AM

Former Nebraska Democrat Governor and Senator Bob Kerrey blasted his former Democrat colleagues in the Senate over yesterday's release of the CIA torture report in an op-ed for USA Today: For many years, Kerrey sat on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and was also a member of the 9/11 Commission. So his criticisms cannot be easily dismissed:

I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it. The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.

When Congress created the intelligence committees in the 1970's, the purpose was for people's representatives to stand above the fray and render balanced judgments about this most sensitive aspect of national security. This committee departed from that high road and slipped into the same partisan mode that marks most of what happens on Capitol Hill these days.

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Waterboarding Is Torture

By on 12.10.14 | 10:13AM

The Senate Report on Torture, released yesterday, is going to divide conservatives. Some will tell us that the report and its release were motivated by partisan politics—as if there’s something that isn’t so motivated in this town. Some will tell us that the “enhanced interrogation” techniques employed by the CIA didn’t amount to torture—even though we executed as war criminals Japanese soldiers who did the same thing to our soldiers after World War II. Some will say the interrogations gave us information about the enemy that we wouldn’t have otherwise gotten, and if this energized the Islamic enemy, too bad for them. Some will tell us that things just got out of hand, that maybe we should have had better protocols, but so what? So we killed one prisoner? Too bad, the CIA doesn’t play patty cake.

I can see all that, believe me. But I have just one question. Can you think of a conservative who has done more harm to conservatism than John Yoo and his colleagues in the Bush Department of Justice who greenlighted waterboarding? I mean, since Joe McCarthy?

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Lester Signs With Cubs for 6-Yr, $155 Million

By on 12.10.14 | 9:14AM

The Jon Lester sweepstakes are over. The 30-year old southpaw signed a six-year, $155 million deal with the Chicago Cubs earlier this morning.

In his 9-year big league career, Lester is 116-67 with a 3.58 ERA and has 1,457 strikeouts. He spent the bulk of his career with the Boston Red Sox where he was named to three AL All-Star Teams and won two World Series rings. In 2014, Lester went 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA. The Red Sox dealt Lester to the Oakland A's at the trade deadline where he went 6-4 with the A's and had a 7-4 lead in the eighth inning of the AL Wild Card game against the Kansas City Royals before the Royals embarked upon an improbable comeback.

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Busy Day for Chicago at MLB Winter Meetings Plus Moss Gathers in Cleveland

By on 12.9.14 | 9:58PM

It's been a busy day for both the White Sox and the Cubs at the MLB Winter Meetings in San Diego.

The Chicago White Sox began by signing free agent closer David Robertson to a four-year, $46 million contract. In 2014, Robertson replaced Mariano Rivera as the closer of the New York Yankees saving 39 games. Robertson fanned 96 batters in only 64 1/3 innings pitched. However, rookie Dellin Bettances was even more impressive. If Robertson stayed in New York, he would be constantly looking over his shoulder. Robertson has a much longer leash on Chicago's South Side. As for the Yankees, Bettances becomes the new closer with newly signed free agent Andrew Miller, who split 2014 between the Red Sox and Orioles, becoming the eighth inning set up man. 

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Israeli Student Stabbed at Brooklyn Synagogue

By on 12.9.14 | 9:31PM

In recent weeks there have been multiple, random attacks (particularly stabbings) in Israel.

This phenomenon has now followed Israelis to the United States. Yesterday, an Israeli student was stabbed at the Chabad-Lubavitch Center in Brooklyn. Fortunately, Levi Rosenblatt is expected to survive his injuries. Rosenblatt was stabbed by a mentally ill man named Calvin Peters who screamed, "I want to kill the Jews."

A standoff ensued between NYPD and Peters. Authorities repeatedly demanded that Peters drop his knife. Eventually, he complied only to pick up a knife and lunge at the officers. Peters was then shot and killed by Officer Roberto Pagan.

The NYPD has justifiably taken a lot of heat over last summer's death of Eric Garner. However, more often than not, the NYPD gets it right and this was certainly one of those instances.

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Nothing Good Will Come of the CIA Torture Report

By on 12.9.14 | 4:58PM

Emily makes the case that the release of the so-called CIA Torture Report by Senate Democrats could be good for our soul. She writes, "As a nation, some soul-searching could do us some good."

Yet somehow I doubt soul-searching is what Senate Democrats intended with the release of the report. Indeed, Emily questions the timing of its release noting it could serve "to distract from other administration shortcomings or to serve as a parting shot by Sen. Dianne Feinstein."

I would go further than that. The release of the report gives a black eye to the CIA and, by extension, to the Bush Administration and the incoming Republican majority in the Senate. There is something very wrong when Democrats would rather weaken Republicans than weaken al Qaeda. It also says to the world, "See, we're no better than the terrorists." And what good will come of it? Does anyone honestly think this report will do anything to restore our values?

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The Torture Memos and the New War on Terror

By on 12.9.14 | 1:02PM

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report this morning detailing the CIA's detention and interrogation of suspects during the War on Terror, from the beginning until 2009. The report, compiled by staff members working for the Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is over 6,000 pages long and provides a graphic accounting of CIA torture and imprisonment, and goes into detail about how the CIA continued its global operations outside of Congressional and Bush Administration oversight.

The report details how the CIA treated detainees in its custody, suggests that the practice known as "waterboarding" was far more widespread than previously believed, and notes that while the CIA routinely justified its tactics as necessary to save lives and prevent acts of terrorism, the "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" it practiced did not provide as much information as they initially claimed. 

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Jonathan Gruber is Sorry He Called You Stupid

By on 12.9.14 | 12:54PM

Jonathan Gruber is testifying before Congress today about his role in constructing and passing the Affordable Care Act. You should know all about this, because the Administration released a memo detailing how the Bush-era CIA used Enhanced Interrogation Techniques including something I don't want to get into titled "rectal feeding" to obtain information in the War on Terror, that pretty much every news outlet is covering instead of Jonathan Gruber testifying before Congress.

Now, don't get me wrong. The Torture Memo is important. So important, in fact, it probably shouldn't have been used to detract from hearing on how the Administration and Congressional Democrats, along with their advisors, may have misled the American public on heath care reform. But I digress. Jonathan Gruber is testifying today, and he has a very special message for all of you idiots out there, who were duped into believing Obamacare was actually about improving your health care system: he's sorry.

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