Cable news is nothing if not predictable, and whenever there's a major news story about terrorism or the Global War on Terror, the segment producers at CNN and MSNBC speed-dial Rep. Pete King (R-NY) and helicopter him in to say terrifying things about the evildoers and why we should sell out our national values in order to catch them. It always happens in spite of the fact that he comes off as a marble-mouthed dilettante who can't be bothered to skim through the news he's been invited to discuss.
Naturally it happened again this week with the release of the torture report. This time, while downplaying the national security disaster which the Bush-era CIA created for the U.S. as well as shrugging off the moral calamity that is "enhanced interrogation," he not only blurted out widely disproven memes about the efficacy of torture but he also contradicted himself.
Here's Pete King speaking to Newsmax about the report:
We’re not talking about anyone being burned or stabbed or cut or anything like that. We’re talking about people being made to stand in awkward positions, have water put into their nose and into their mouth. Nobody suffered any lasting injuries from this.
One day later, here's Pete King on MSNBC:
First of all, on the person who would die from hypothermia, that was investigated and all of them said there was no criminal intent. That was early on in Afghanistan and after that happened.
First of all, no criminal intent? They chained the man to the floor naked and left him there in freezing temperatures. What else did they expect would happen? It's like saying we shoved a guy off a cliff, but what happened from there was totally an accident.
More importantly, King said yesterday that "nobody suffered any lasting injuries" and today he admitted that someone died. Death is pretty much the worst form of "lasting injury." The fact that an internal CIA investigation exonerated those involved proves nothing. Clearly, the CIA was engaged in a very thorough cover-our-asses operation -- one that continues even today.
King went on to say:
As far as the waterboarding, I don't consider that torture in the way it was carried out. I will say this clearly that if you are faced with 2,000 or 3,000 dying, hold his head under water. Save the 3,000 people that burned to death and jumped out of window, do it.
So, is it torture or isn't it? If holding a detainee's head underwater isn't torturous, then why are you doing it in the face of the impending attack? But that's beside the point. An entire roster of interrogators and other experts have repeated ad nauseum that waterboarding results in false intelligence. Therefore, if thousands of civilian lives are on the line, the last thing you want to do is to waterboard the guy who might or might not know where they'll be killed because he'll probably give up the wrong information.
Does King even listen to himself? Come to think of it, maybe it's not such a bad idea. Maybe we should all stop listening, too.
(Thanks to Tommy Christopher for the transcript and the video.)