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Monday, May 18, 2009

Gimme Love, Scofflaw

Robert Parry

At a Senate hearing this past week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, rallied to the defense of ex-President George W. Bush's torture techniques by implicitly endorsing the Spanish Inquisition's brutal treatment of Jews, Muslims, Protestants and other alleged heretics from the 15th to 17th centuries.

"One of the reasons these techniques have been used for about 500 years is that they work," Graham said on May 13 in the latest Republican justification of Bush's authorization of tactics such as forced nudity, sleep deprivation, painful stress positions and the near-drowning of waterboarding.

In a normal world, one might have expected national outrage over a prominent U.S. senator speaking favorably of the Spanish Inquisition, which pioneered innovations in torture that encompass many of the techniques's including the water torture now known as waterboarding ' that Bush used against "war on terror" detainees at the start of the 21st Century.

Beyond the inhumanity of the Inquisition, there is the troubling fact that the torture tactics did "work" only in the sense that they extracted many false confessions and got victims to implicate other individuals who were, in turn, persecuted, tortured and put to death for their religious beliefs.

But Graham's praise for the efficacy of the Inquisition's torture tactics passed largely unnoticed -- and without any perceptible criticism -- in the American news media. The Washington Post article on the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing didn't even mention Graham's extraordinary remark; a brief New York Times article about the hearing mentioned it only in passing.

Remarkably, too, Graham is still considered a Republican "moderate" regarding Bush's "war on terror" policies, who was cited favorably by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on May 15 in connection with Graham's sponsorship of a less draconian version of the Military Commissions designed to try and punish detainees held at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Plus, in contrast to the quiet acceptance of Graham's views on the Inquisition's torture tactics, the Washington news media flew into near hysteria over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's tortured explanations of what she knew about Bush's torture policies.

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Favorite Scofflaw Movies

  • The Godfather
  • The Usual Suspects
  • Dirty Harry
  • The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
  • The Treasure of The Sierra Madre
  • The Long Good Friday
  • Pacific Heights
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Highway61
  • Duel
  • Catch Me if You Can
  • Glengarry Glenn Ross