Squatting on the Flag

Squatting on the Flag
Image by Flickr user Mike Mozart

By Will Durst

If you believe the recently released Senate Intelligence Committee torture report, you might be tempted to conclude that the CIA lied to the press and the public and to Congress about the extent and effectiveness of its torture campaign. And that conclusion would be correct, sir. And the amazing thing is people are amazed.

Yes. The CIA lies. Lying, cheating and stealing are its total and complete job description; their civil service careers web site reads: “fluid interpretation of situational morality required.” That’s why when old CIA guys retire they go to work as oil industry lobbyists or Hollywood publicists. What’s the next big revelation: Fire is hot? The New York Philharmonic is musically inclined? Contracting dysentery is a lousy career move? Tiramisu is tasty?

One thing you got to hand to the CIA; they are on the cutting edge in the use of creative euphemisms. In their world, “sleep management” means refusing to let someone sleep, possibly for more than a week, and “special rendition” means kidnapping people right off the street. Like an involuntary Uber ride. If Uber made passengers wear ankle manacles and black bags over their heads.

The cute term for torture itself, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” is borrowed from the Nazis, who preferred:“refined interrogation techniques.” And whenever you hear someone stealing tactics from the Nazis, that’s not good.

The report even gives us new and original verbal obfuscations. The phrase “rectal feeding” means to stick a tube up someone’s butt with actual food not necessarily involved and a consistent pattern of lying is now referred to as “imprecise representations.”

That’s what current CIA chief John Brennan says occurred. He went on to stress “we did some things right.” Yeah. And the husband who poisoned his wife’s breakfast did a great job on the toast. During the same press conference, Brennan assured us “Congressional oversight is crucial.” Must be why he authorized the hacking of Congress’s computers: Make sure they were properly supervising the CIA.

Reliable sources contend that’s the reason why Dianne Feinstein went to such great lengths to make sure this report was released before her chairmanship wraps up in January. Spying on Americans is one thing. Spying on Congress: now them’s fighting words.

Conservatives are busy doing what they do best: attacking the attackers. Squatting on the flag. Brennan and former President Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney have all called the perpetrators of these atrocities “patriots” meaning anybody who questions their actions is giving the terrorists a foot rub.

You know whom we should trust on this issue? The senator with first-hand experience in the torture biz, John McCain, who adamantly insists that torture doesn’t work. Short term, because people will tell you whatever they think you want to hear to make it end. “She’s in the attic. Please stop playing ABBA.”

And it doesn’t work long term because it permanently blurs the distinction between the good guys, which is supposed to be us, and the bad guys, which is supposed to be them. Here’s a helpful primer designed to highlight the differences: Snowboarding, good guys, waterboarding, bad guys.


Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Visit www.willdurst.com to find out more about his new one-man show.


  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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