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The GOP Is Getting Even More Extreme

By The Reverend Published: April 24, 2009

I shouldn't be surprised, really. I mean, W. came out of Texas, so I shouldn't be surprised to find that one half of Texas Republicans polled now think the state should secede from the United States.

"Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Rick Perry's suggestion that Texas may need to leave the United States?"

....among Texas Republicans, it's 51% approval to 44% disapproval.

Call me crazy...but that seems a bit extreme to me. Just because Texas GOP'ers lost the last election, now they want to take their statehood ball and go home?

Perry's crazy call for Texas to secede, however, is like the cartoon before the feature film.

The Republican Party has now become, from all observable data, the party of torture. It's the damnest thing. For the longest time, because Bush/Cheney and Co. kept a pretty tight totalitarian house, the Republican response to accusations of torture by the Bush administration was simply, and repeatedly, "America doesn't torture."

Simple denial. No one could prove otherwise without the threat of a one way trip to Guantanomo, so the "America doesn't torture" mantra was all we ever heard when the topic arose.

Now that it is clear that, yes, America did torture and the Bush administration ordered that torture....Republicans are throwing around some really crazy sh*t, I guess, in the hope that America will adopt the practice of torture...or something.

Here's what I mean.....

I'm hearing two basic "arguments" from rightwing conservatives in defense of Bush/Cheney savagery.

1) It's effective. Torture works. Not only does it work, these extremist Republicans say, but Bush's use of it saved American lives.

I blogged yesterday about there being no evidence that torture worked. There's no evidence that torturing Mohammed or Zubaida produced any actionable intelligence. None. In addition, experts in the field unanimously hold that torture produces unreliable information. It's not effective in producing good intel. FBI Director, Robert Mueller, to his great credit, yanked his agents out of those interrogations because he knew torture did not produce reliable intel and that it was illegal.

But consider: The information released in the last week informs us that Bush-ordered, Condi-approved torture tactics were used in sequence on detainees. What that means is that when Khalid Shaik Mohammed was being waterboarded 6 times a between those waterworks sessions....other torture tactics were used on him too. Mull that over.

Sleep deprivation, stress positioning, slapping, and (my favorite) walling were all, most likely, worked in, in between KSM's every-six-hours of near-death-by-drowning experiences. All that sadistic punishment.....and still no reliable intelligence.

I have no misgivings about KSM. He should spend the rest of his life rotting in a federal prison......but I don't want him tortured in my name.

2) "We did it to our own troops, so it can't be torture."

The SERE program. Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. A U.S military program that trains military personnel and private contractors on how to cope with "enemy" torture tactics, should they ever be captured. SERE officials were contacted by Rumsfeld in December, 2001, asking them to train military personnel and private contractors on how to conduct the torture tactics we've now learned about.

The even-more-extreme-since-the-election Republicans have been spouting off, repeatedly, that if what we did to Mohammed and Zubaida was torture, then what we did to our own trainees in the SERE program was also torture. The "argument" goes that we wouldn't torture our own guys, and since the SERE program includes training for the waterboard, sleep deprivation, etc.,....that means those tactics are not torture.

Do you think that U.S soldiers being trained by SERE were waterboarded 6 times a day for 30 days?

As breathtakingly ignorant as the SERE "argument" seems.....I heard it many times from crazy conservative types yesterday. That's why I'm saying.....Republicans are getting more extreme, not less.

Let's tackle this stupidity head on, whattya' say?

We hire SERE people to train our soldiers to cope with our enemies' potential use of torture tactics against them, should they be captured and detained. What the enemies do, according to the training, is considered to be torture, fully outside of all internationally accepted behavior. The SERE training is not meant to strengthen our soldiers to resist breaking down under torture....everyone breaks down, ask John McCain,'s meant to prepare them for what could happen, so that panic doesn't set in when it does happen, and they can cope, they know what to expect.

So, the intent of the SERE training is to prepare our guys so they can cope with illegal torture tactics used against them, should they ever be captured by torturers.

What was the objective for using SERE torture tactics on Khalid Mohammed and Abu Zubaida? Were CIA contractors helping KSM and Zubaida by preparing them for potential torture tactics being used against them in the future? Were they preparing them for, say, Egyptian torture tactics? Was that the goal of using those SERE torture tactics down in Gitmo?

Of course not. The "interrogators" who used reverse-engineered SERE tactics down in Gitmo were not training anyone. The "interrogators" were, in real life, standing in for our enemies. Our CIA representatives, our Pentagon representatives, became the enemy, the torturers. Not training.....torturing.

Republican crazees need to back away from the cliff. Americans rejected the GOP because the GOP has been out of touch with the American people on numerous policy issues. Do Republicans, conservatives, think that these even-more-extreme notions about torture will win over more American voter hearts and minds?


Will the future Republican Party actually campaign on the proposition that torture is a valuable "tool" for our military? Will the GOP tell us, as opposed to lily-livered, appeasing Democrats, that if they are elected they will keep us keeping torture on the table?

Update: Atrios explains the extremism like only he can....

"The United States doesn't torture, but anyone who opposes torture is un-American."

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