Cliff May, Jon Stewart & Torture

Part 1

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis First 100 Days

Last night, Jon Stewart did a really smart thing with in his interview with Cliff May. May is the head of the neocon-ish Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a vigorous and noisy defender of America’s torture policies. Stewart’s conversation with May was far, far longer than he showed on air, but he let the conversation keep going and Comedy Central posted the unedited version, which I have here in three parts..

By the way, in Part I May says that the only people who were tortured
were three “high value” prisoners who were the really, really bad guys.

This isn’t true. We may not have water-boarded anyone but those guys. (At least not that we know of so far.) But there is plenty of evidence that we’ve tortured people in the hundreds, many of whom were not charged with any crimes, and gave us nothing of value—because they had nothing to give.

Or sometimes instead we handed people over to others to be tortured.

We must have Congressional hearings. As a country, we really need for the truth of the torture policy to come out in the open—all of it, in it’s complexity—so that as a nation we can make an informed decision about who we want to be.

Part 2

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis First 100 Days

It think I mentioned earlier that I am just now reading Jane Mayer’s
The Dark Side. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. It is really the book to read right this minute to put all these policies into a comprehensive, meticulously researched context.

Part 3

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 3
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis First 100 Days


  • Celeste, you’ve dropped even below quoting the NY Times. Now, you rely on Comedy Channel for information. You laid out a lot of interesting “facts.” Rather than hearings, why don’t you share your facts with Congress. Maybe they missed Comedy Channel and your unconfirmed sources.

    BTW, I’m so tired of this “neo-con” business. By using that term, you try to smear “all” conservatives. Liberals pick up phrases and terms from the herd and use them without a lot of thought. Come to think of it, liberals don’t use much thought. Nothing personal, mind you.

  • AC, I’m glad that Swiss researchers had time to do that study, assuming that we’ve already cured cancer and the swine flu.

  • We should torture Lou Dobbs, Walter (my car radio is speaking to me in Spanish), Moore, The Minutemen, English only nabobs, and all the fearful of Latino power, lying sanganabeetches.

    Oh I almost forgot let’s torture the Robber Barons, xenophobes and anybody associated with the draconian prison industrial complex and xenophobes.

    Oh wait a minute, we can’t forget Mary Cummins !!!

    Opps wait one more minute, let’s also torture anybody who disrespects my abuelita.

  • That was a powerful response, Woody. “Powerful!”

    You’re standing here buck-fucking-naked, squealing like a stuck pig, defending the indefensible with your monstrous stupidity and weasel whines. Keep those great comments coming. We need to be reminded steadily of just how debased – and utterly stupid – so much of “conservatism” has become. You’re a gift and an important reminder to this blog and to decent people everywhere.

  • Cliff May is, incidentally, repeating lies about the interrogation of Abu Zabeydah – if the guy who really did the original and effective interrogation of Zabeydah is to be believed.

  • reg, comments from you – terribly uneducated, crude (although standing up for decent people?!), and filled with envy – don’t bother me in the least.

    Neither you nor Celeste has defined conservatism correctly, with your selective and inappropriate linking of an issue to traditional conservative philosophy. Your response is what I would expect from a liberal, dope smoking, hate-America, spread-the-wealth baby killer.

    However, I did appreciate a line from someone that I heard in passing yesterday. He was against waterboarding 99% of the time, such as for parking tickets and drug possession, but he was for it the 1% of the time that it was necessary to defend American lives.

    You, on the other hand, think that Islamic terrorists will tell you what we must know if we’re only nice to them. Now, that’s powerful!

  • For a rancid little deviant who gets his definition of “liberalism” from far-right crackpots like Brent Bozell, your comments on our inability to define “conservatism” are hilarious. Frankly, I don’t consider you a conservative – I consider you a minor wingnut moron who belches talking points from the Hate-America Right.

    “filled with envy” – I generally don’t find you even remotely humorous, but that was very, very funny. Your inflation of an obviously battered ego – not to mention your analytical incompetence and ignorance disproportionate to even run-of-the-mill reactionary morons – is beyond belief.

  • It’s interesting that Woody’s response to this interview has been to start a pissing match. Not a very effective tactic for someone waist-deep in his own crap.

  • Walter Moore’s car radio, his sub woofer more specifically, has just informed him to leave Texas and turn his head toward Mexico. Walter is Facebook friends with the Dalai Lama, who is the 10th reincarnation of Avalokishvara, the Tibetan God of Compassion. The Dali Lama and Walter describe their “voices” as being a positive influence in their lives. They like hanging out together at Starbucks, using the free Wi-Fi to try to communicate with these “voices”, voices being beamed into their heads by satellite, innocent and unwilling victims of the CIA, sacrificially enduring ritual abuse by these men in black.

  • Hey, how stupid are you, Woody?
    Your stupidity is like earth – no one knows its origins. Your brain has been subject of great debate for generations. None of the most brilliant of todays thinkers can understand how you could get so stupid in such a short time. Now, it is up to you in the interest of science to put an end to this debate. You must wander to the ends of the earth in search of the answer as to why you are so stupid. You need time also, with the Dali Lama, to play rock paper scissors and then the Dali Lama will dance for you.

  • Woody, I’m not using the Daily Show as a reference. I’m showing a lively conversation between two men who come at the subject very differently, shall we say.

    (Although, I would never hesitate to use the Daily Show as a reference, should the situation call for it, since Jon Stewart is smarter and more solidly analytical than most policy makers from either party, but that isn’t the point here.)

    Reg, this is why I believe we need Congressional hearings. If all the details of the policy are laid out in their horrific glory, within a timeline, piece by piece, with testimony from people from the FBI, CIA, and those in the Bush administration, and those around them, then the American people can look at an assess the entire picture, based on the actual facts on the ground.

    When all those hard and fast facts are laid out—I mean, all of them, in days and days of televised hearings—then the Cliff Mays of the world can’t get on CNN and spout entirely mendacious crap like, “Oh, it was only when Khalid Sheik Mohammad wasn’t talking, that we realized that Muslims are different from you and me and we needed stronger methods to give them an excuse to talk, that we resorted—to save lives, doncha know—to some of those torture-y things that we really, really didn’t like and hardly used on anybody, and when we did, only with great trepidation.”

    Because the actual facts say indisputably otherwise.

  • Eyes Wide Shut

    Imagine the X-VP being dragged before a congressional committee and compelled to testify under sworn oath.

    Cheney would be compelled to tell the truth, the truth about a device that was smuggled into Washington DC, the truth about the terrorists who planned to kill millions of men women and children including the senate and all of congress.

    Imagine the look on the committee members faces as they are told the truth about how their lives were saved from incineration or deadly pathogen along with a million other Americans thru covert rendition and harsh interrogation methods which many call torture.

    Just as many Christians believe that an innocent un-born child should NEVER be killed, even if the case of rape, incest or the health of the mother. You may choose that we should NEVER torture, we should NEVER use rendition, and we should ALWAYS respect the rights of a human being no matter what the consequences.

    If you can honestly say that you would risk the death of thousands on principal, if only in your imagination, then I honestly applaud your determination and courage to stand for what you believe in.

    But if you can’t
    ……… if you say that couldn’t happen
    …… if you deny the possibility
    ………. if refuse to face the moral dilemma
    …. your eyes are wide shut

  • Pokey,

    Torture is illegal under all circumstances, abortion is not under certian circumstances.

    If you can honestly say that you would risk the death of thousands on principal, if only in your imagination, then I honestly applaud your determination and courage to stand for what you believe in.

    Abu Musab Al Zarqawi was taken down through intelligence gatehred without torture,

    I have a suggestion: go make your patronizing argument to those being treated at the NYU Program for Survivors of Torture or the Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis.

    Professional interrogators don’t believe that torture works. The FBI Director said that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” did not prevent any attacks, as did the CIA IG.

    Stop watching 24 and start living in the real world.

  • Pokey – you’re pretty much batshit insane if you believe what you wrote above makes any sense to normal people. You’re hallucinating. Darth Cheney did NOT save mankind. That scenario is pure fantasy – or so generically hyperbolic as to be meaningless. I know you guys have a crush on X-Veep Dick’s manliness, but this shit is getting ridiculous.

    Meanwhile, say goodbye to the imaginary “America” you “love” and say hello to the rapidly changing real one:

    “Forty-two percent of Americans now say same sex couples should be allowed to legally marry, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds. That’s up nine points from last month, when 33 percent supported legalizing same sex marriage.”

  • Arlen Spector escaped from the Crazy House just in time…

    Will Olympia Snowe join him, or will she stay put and succumb to the Swine Flu that seems to have infected contemporary “conservatism.”

  • “More strawman”

    In this case, we’re being treated to classic Scarecrow. I can barely believe I’m reading this nonsense.

  • reg,

    If you are standing on moral values they need to stand in all cases.

    For example, If OBL is seen on the streets in Sudan, what should Obama do? Will it comply to international law?

  • I’m sorry but I think you’re pretty much a crazy person incapable of dealing with what’s being presented here. Playing hypotheticals with you is a waste of time. I’ll watch 24 if I want to kick back and get off on childish bullshit.

    Also, the case against torture isn’t simply “moral values” – it’s the experience of expert interrogators and the question of what we’re willing to put our own people through. Dick Cheney was a cowardly old man, peeing in his pants and he turned his own paranoia and absolute ignorance and evasion of the moral parameters of military service into National Security Directives codified by a bunch of warped intellectuals. The fact that he and Rumsfeld used waterboarding to troll for an “Iraq/al Qaeda connection” they knew was fabricated ought to score them a place at the dock. If Cheney wants America to face up to the “truth” of his deviance and cowardice, I’m good with that. The notion of this old fart, who spent his entire adult life on the government dole, holed up in some bunker fantasizing about getting one of these al Qaeda pricks to “confess” to working with Saddam Hussein if we only waterboarded him enough is enough to make me retch. Dick Cheney wouldn’t last one hour as “Jack Bauer”, much less 24.

  • Eric Holder says:

    One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located; under the Geneva Convention that you are really limited in the amount of information that you can elicit from people.

    It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war. If, for instance, Mohamed Atta had survived the attack on the World Trade Center, would we now be calling him a prisoner of war? I think not. Should Zacarias Moussaoui be called a prisoner of war? Again, I think not.

  • The “Torture memo(s)” full text describes where they drew the line and why.

    The methods at issue in Ireland were:

    (1) Wall Standing. The prisoner stands spread eagle against the wall, with fingers high above his head, and feet back so that he is standing on his toes such that his all of his weight falls on his fingers.
    (2) Hooding. A black or navy hood is placed over the prisoner’s head and kept there except during the interrogation.
    (3) Subjection to Noise. Pending interrogation, the prisoner is kept in a room with a loud and continuous hissing noise.
    (4) Sleep Deprivation. Prisoners are deprived of sleep pending interrogation.
    (5) Deprivation of Food and Drink. Prisoners receive a reduced diet during detention and pending interrogation.

    The European Court of Human Rights concluded that these techniques used in combination, and applied for hours at a time, were inhuman and degrading but did not amount to torture. – page 28-29

  • “Rough Men” who saved America from Possible Extinction:

    Dick Cheney: “When Cheney became eligible for the draft, during the Vietnam War, he was a supporter of the U.S. involvement in the war but did not serve in the military. Instead, he applied for and received five draft deferments. In 1989, The Washington Post writer George C. Wilson interviewed Cheney as the next Secretary of Defense; when asked about his deferments, Cheney reportedly said, “I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.” Cheney testified during his confirmation hearings in 1989 that he received deferments to finish a college career that lasted six years rather than four, owing to sub par academic performance and the need to work to pay for his education.”

  • The very idea that there are people in this country who try to defend and excuse torture is really quite disturbing. On another blog I read a comment from someone who said that the only way to look at these wingnuts is to think of the GOP as not so much a political party as a religious cult. The more I see comments from people like Woody and Pokey, the more I think that is the right way to look at them.

  • It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention.

    So what? Article 2 Paragraph 2 of the Convention Against Torture, i.e., the law:

    No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

    You’re out of your league, Pokey.

  • Randy,
    I do not disagree with you on what the Geneva convention says. I am not for toture at all under any circumstances.

    But that may be why Obama/Eric Holder refuses to include anyone they don’t want to under the convention.

  • Celeste: Jon Stewart is smarter and more solidly analytical than most policy makers from either party

    Really now, Celeste. The guy has a staff of twenty or thirty writers, asks scripted questions, and gets to edit the interviews. He’s an actor. In a serious debate in which he would have to present his views on national issues and defend them, he would be shot down by policy makers from either party who disagreed with him. Making cute or funny faces at the end of a response gives him no points.

  • Kevin: …the only way to look at these wingnuts is to think of the GOP as not so much a political party as a religious cult.

    Kevin, what do you think of terrorists whose “religon of peace” tells them to kill all non-believers, and that it is an honor to sacrifice themselves in the process? If there is a political party with which they can identify and that defends them, it’s the Democratic Party. Didn’t you like Obama’s “non-bow” to the Saudi King?

  • First, while Jon Stewart is a performer rather than a true journalist or political guru, he still provides better interviews than 95% of the hacks on cable news.

    Second, Cliff May came across as charming and full of moral conviction. He’s still wrong though. The only correct path in this instance is for a full investigation of all the hidden actions within the CIA, Justice Dept, OLC, and Cheney’s crew. If indeed their actions were proven to be reasonable, necessary, and legal, they can and should be exonerated. If not, prosecutions will go forward.

    But let’s not forget who we’re dealing with here. The same people who said the “smoking gun may be a mushroom cloud”, who said “the insurgency is in its last throes”, the same people who claimed indisputable evidence of ties between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, the same people who claimed flat-out “We Do Not Torture”, the same people who had all kinds of incriminating tapes of interrogations destroyed, the same people who either ignored or *destroyed* memos that said their methods were illegal. These guys have no credibility AT THIS TIME. In the unlikely event that all this bullshit turns out to be for the greater good they will be vindicated.

    BUT — I wouldn’t count on it. The Cheney Alliance is busily trying to ward off any investigation because they know it will unveil a hornet’s nest of illegal and immoral activities.

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