Republican representative Peter King of New York is exceptional, even among Republicans, possessing a rare facility: name any subject off the top of your head and he has a fully cooked lie all ready to go. It’s as if he took it from storage in the refrigerator, popped it into the microwave, and voila: a seven course whopper. He has been among the most prominent voices peddling the new “torture snagged bin Laden” lie.
Republicans, looking for the edge after being put back on their heels by the bin Laden hit, believe they have made a fabulous save with the counter-factual insistence that their beloved torture was responsible for the information leading to the demise of Osama. Though the timeline, the averred insistence of intelligence and national security operatives familiar with American interrogation and intelligence gathering over the last decade, and the accounts of those specifically involved that no such “say uncle” moment ever occurred, and that torture did not play a part; and though in fact, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed did not identify the critical courier during one hundred and eighty-plus sessions of waterboarding, and later claimed to have no knowledge whatsoever of the courier’s identity when it was presented to him, like many a Republican lie, this one was off and sprinting, dashing through media land like a brave new streaker.
Liz Cheney, an always reliable fantasist was quick to venture that Daddy’s policy of inhumane treatment put the nail in Osama’s coffin. Why the Cheney family hopes to solidify the Cheney legacy as the family that devoted itself to making torture respectable in the red, white and blue, I for one have no remote clue. For them, the patriotic ridding from American foreign policy and security operations the naughty encumbrance of any peep of morality or scrap of basic human decency is a majestic quest. The Cheneys are just odd.
As for the rest of the conservative “whatever it takes” crowd, they have the advantage that American minds have been shaped by television and film versions of military and spy derring-do, bad dudes tossed into a concrete room for several minutes with a couple of tough monkeys wearing heavy stubble, and after several whacks, titty-twisters and atomic wedgies the baddie is coughing up the prize that will save America’s life.
Yes, it’s preposterous, but since when was preposterousness not a viable modus operandi for successful Republican propaganda? And then there’s Alan Dershowitz, law professor, World Famous Lawyer and civil libertarian gone to seed, last seen telling Piers Morgan on CNN that if we do not engage in torture we will be the only nation in the world that doesn’t do so, as if that were a bad thing. It’s more of the “caring about human rights is for saps” bravado, which despite the fact that professional interrogators often and emphatically remind the rest of us that torture is manifestly unsuccessful, and has a proven record of failure when it comes to eliciting accurate information, the myths persist. For this America is the Greatest contingent American exceptionalism pertains only to wealth, power and military leverage, any moral component unmissed, and the notion of exceptional conscience or superior moral grounding only fodder for mocking.
The public posture of conservatives when it comes to war, security or military matters has always been rooted in play acting, enacting stereotypes of strength, toughness and bravado as opposed to any demonstrable instances of actual strength, courage or formidability. So as we humor their faux-machismo again, from an anthropological point of view their effort to change the subject in their favor from Obama’s triumph to “torture is as American as apple pie,” has all the fascination and comedy we’ve come to expect from our current species of reactionary.