[digg-reddit-me]As a preview to this Keith Olberman video, here’s quick review of the background on this: Andrew Sullivan wrote a post comparing the adopted hero of the right-wing, Winston Churchill, and current creature of the right-wing, Dick Cheney – specifically on the issue of torture. Sullivan explained that Churchill refused to torture German prisoners even with Britain being bombed daily by the Germans. He cited one of Britain’s chief interrogators during World War II on torture:
[He] did not eschew torture out of mercy. This was no squishy liberal: the eye was made of tin, and the rest of him out of tungsten. (Indeed, he was disappointed that only 16 spies were executed during the war.) His motives were strictly practical. “Never strike a man. It is unintelligent, for the spy will give an answer to please, an answer to escape punishment. And having given a false answer, all else depends upon the false premise.”…
Barack Obama then cited Churchill’s refusal to torture during a press conference – and aides later confirmed he reads Andrew Sullivan’s blog and had come across this information shortly before he brought it up at the press conference.
Immediately, the right-wing press began to try to reclaim Churchill as their hero re-branding him as a torturer and war criminal.
Take it away, Keith…
30 replies on “Fox News uses Nazi propaganda to defend torture, attack Obama”
Wow. Thank god for such an unbiased and objective source as Keith Olbermann…the man who was fired, for essentially being a paranoid maniac, from ESPN.
I always find it hilarious when liberals whine about how one side Fox is and how partisan they ane Oreilly are…and then cite Olbermann or someone like him. The irony is overwhelming…and they don’t even realize it.
Before you begin with your self soothing “well he’s just a republican/conservative, I don’t have to listen to crticism from him”…nice try, but way wrong on both accounts.
Face it, criticizing a conservative loudmouth editorialist with ammo from your own belief system re-enforcing liberal version of him is ridiculous and moronic…at BEST….
You partisan fucking drones need to wake the fuck up and use a *few* percentages of your brain…
Yes Keith speaks very fast cites rouces. Keep watching it a few more times, maybe ask your mum for help with the hard words.
What I find enlightening about Olbermann is that he criticizes a loudmouth editorialist with from a thoughtful consideration and thorough presentation of historical fact, in a manner informed by his belief system.
I love watching Keith fight lies and distortions with historical documents. His style is 180 degrees from Billo’s
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Oh no, lookout bob, he presented facts!
Quick, try to divert attention from these literally impossible to fight facts to attacks on credibility and dramatize his reasons for criticizing your own pundits!
That’ll show ’em!
And then at the end, declare everyone who disagrees with you sheeple and/or drones who need to “wake up” because they aren’t listening to your insipid ranting and instead are studying the actual historical facts!
Look out, it’s Spider-Man!
Well, like Colbert said….”We all know reality has a liberal bias”
Last night Olbermann made their case for them. Churchill wasn’t for torture–he was for WORSE than torture. And nowhere did he rule torture out should it be necessary. Was the firebombing of Dresden somehow less immorall than waterboarding THREE top Al Qaeda operatives? Come on, this is a silly argument the left is making.
i am a “liberal” and what bobdobbs said is 100% true. olbermann actually may have presented facts, in this one case, but the idea that dems can condone him while skewering o’reilly is laughable at best, and frankly, i see dems becoming more and more hypocritical by the day. basically, becoming what republicans were for 8 years except from the other side of the political spectrum. dems, by far, are actually more intolerant of differing views, and you will be condemned if you dont tow the party line you simply cannot be considered part of the party. anything with a hint of republican in it, or anything that is not 100% PC (read:the actual truth that may offend some but is just reality) and you are tarred and feathered. i am sure my fellow liberals will prove me correct with their comments on this.
TC, I know I’ll be called a troll or be accused of lying, but I’m a “libera” too. I voted for Obama–not without misgivings–and am generally supportive of the liberal agenda (national healthcare, gay marriage, pro-choice etc.). But I have read a number of biographies on Churchill and nowhere did I ever get the impression that Churchill was anti-torture. I’d be interested to hear how some lefty historians parse this one without making Obama look foolish.
I’m not sure your characterization of liberals is correct. I’ve talked to wingnuts on both sides – and been screamed at by both sides for taking certain positions they disagreed with. I think perhaps – as you are a liberal, you may both get more crap by disagreeing with liberals while agreeing mostly – as well as the fact that you probably take their opinions more seriously.
Groups generally are harsher towards heretics than towards infidels. Heretics are a threat to group cohesion – while infidels aren’t. In other words – I would wager that conservatives are just as harsh towards their own – and there are plenty of examples in the press today to demonstrate this.
and though Olbermann mainly presented facts in this i thought he was a bit disingenuous in how he neglected to go into the details of the London Cage in which there do seem to have been substantiated claims of torture – which were revealed in 2005. but i thought his overall argument was effective.
Churchill at several points in his life condemned torture by outside groups – most publicly he tried to get people outraged at the Nazis by accurately stating they tortured and calling the concentration camps and other facilities “torture camps.”
As Ben McIntyre a journalist who covered this issue wrote:
Churchill presided over a military machine that generally regarded torture as unnecessary, unethical, unproductive and un-British. He never exactly said “we don’t torture”, but he did not need to.
Churchill’s position was never: torture–this is a line the British Empire SHALL NEVER CROSS! That’s the argument that’s relevant here. And as I pointed out above, Churchill demonstrated again and again a willingness to slaughter innocent women and children, even toward the end of the war when England’s homeland security was no longer under threat. Can we agree that it’s idiotic and ahistorical for Obama (and his psychophants in the media like Olbermann) to try to make Churchill the poster child for anti-torture? Do you honestly think Churchill would have any moral qualms about waterboarding the likes of Khalid Sheik Mohammed when he didn’t hesitate to melt the skin off German children? We can talk about Coventry too. Obama misused Churchill, that’s all.
I should point out quicky that I don’t condemn Churchil for permitting Coventry to be bombed. I think it was one of the most courageous acts of leadership in history.
I don’t honestly think anyone should have any qualms about torturing some of these sorry excuses for humans. In my view, they aren’t and their treatment can reflect such facts. I think most of these dems are anti torture for no other reason then you “have” to be as a democrat. When I personally talk to many democrats, their tune changes a bit. Why are these political parties scaring people in to agreeing with their very black and white beliefs?
TC, I agree again. Everyone is against torture except for when they’re not. It is the rare person who can honestly say they would NEVER be for torture (and I regard waterboarding as we practiced it as torture-lite) under any circumstances. Most of this great torture debate is phony moral and political posturing.
Oh, EDIT, I misspelled sychophants.
@John Smith –
Neither Obama nor Olbermann are making Churchill the poster-child for “anti-torture.” (Ronald Reagan fits that mold better – as in facing off against the evil empire, he pushed forward the UN Convention Against Torture.)
What Obama did was make the point that even this conservative icon – a great man by most standards – faced with the destruction of his country did not condone or order torture. Mentioning an individual in response to a question is not making someone a “poster-child.” Why did Churchill not order torture – and perhaps consider it “un-British”? We don’t know for sure – as he seemed to think the matter was self-evident enough to talk about it.
As you suggest – it probably wasn’t because he had qualms about hurting the enemy – even innocents who supported the enemy. (Well – actually as Olbermann pointed out, he did have qualms about hurting innocents in Dresden.) So – why then didn’t he order the torture of the German spies and soldiers, etc who were captured while his country was facing an existential threat – and people were dying every day?
I don’t know – but I would guess it had something to do with Churchill’s understanding of the Rule of Law. As he said of arbitrary imprisonment:
“The power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious, and the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist.”
The power of the executive to torture would seem to undermine the same foundations of government as this – only to a potentially greater degree.
By making the point that Churchill was willing to order some awful measures as justified by war – you don’t undermine the case for him as an historical precedent for not torturing – but make it stronger.
Obama used Churchill correctly – though perhaps he mis attributed a policy to Churchill which was not merely Churchill’s, but Britain’s.
I didn’t say Churchill never expressed moral qualms about Dresden after the fact; I said he didn’t hesitate to use those measures against non-combatant women and children when he deemed it fit. As for what Churchill’s personal policy was regarding German spies and POW’s, I doubt we know for sure what he approved of, what he knew of, and what he willfully turned a blind eye to during the war.
I doubt he would ever have advocated the systematic torture of German POW’s (of the kind practiced by the Japanese), which Churchill most likely would have condemned as sadism and barbarism. But I also doubt that Churchill would equate uniformed German soldiers with top Al Qaeda operatives actively engaged in a war against British civilians.
@John Smith –
I didn’t say you said Churchill had never expressed such qualms. I just pointed out that he did have such qualms.
And you’re probably right that we cannot know exactly what was approved of, silently assented to, etc. in any individual case. But we can demonstrate that there was not a policy of torture.
And while Churchill may not have equated terrorists with Nazis – there were also German spies. I also doubt that Churchill would have had more moral qualms about going after someone who wanted to kill his people if they were wearing a uniform then if they were not.
I agree that we shouldn’t worry overmuch about moral qualms about “torturing some of these sorry excuses for humans.” But, to quote an old senator – “It’s not about them. It’s about us.”
But here is my attempt to answer the exact question you’re asking:
Why Should I Care If a Terrorist Was Tortured?
And this might help account for some of the exceptions you might think of:
When Obama Should Torture Osama
[…] lose frame […]
This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that someone tries to rewrite history for their benefit. But even if we had enough proof that Churchill was a bad man and tortured anyone and everyone, does that make it right? People also used to be sacrificied for the good of the community to whichever god they wished, does that make it right to do it now?
Here’s a link to help clear up the facts about Reagan’s conservative strategy that worked so well in his efforts to cut taxes.
[…] @zaibatsu: Fox News uses Nazi propaganda to defend torture, attack Obama http://2parse.com//?p=28573 minutes ago from Seesmic Desktop RT @msaleem: Here it is, the first “tweet from space” – […]
Churchill’s ethical morals did note drop to those of the enemy.Indeed he held Britain’s moral head high and lead by this moral example.
[…] administration’s anti-torture stance, a battle has broken out over torture in World War II. Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly engaged in a skirmish earlier this week – but at the same time, two academics have written pieces about the broader […]
John Smith, even if you are right that Churchill had no issues before with bombing Dresden, you are still using the “if he did it before me then it’s okay” argument which come sstraight out of grade school. I’m even sure many people’s mothers even said two wrongs don’t make a right. Why is this an exception?
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Thank you for adding this. Sadly there are comments by those that are simply “sticking up for the team they chose” instead of going on a long list of facts. (Someone even tried to put in, (of Olbermann) “a guy who was fired from espn for being paranoid”. (Rupert Murdoch was the head of getting Olbermann fired- as Olbermann stuck up for himself and refused to “play ball” the rupert murdoch/fox new$ way. (Good for him!). Legally his firing was deemed unjustified and only out of hatred (or not playing ball)- so rupert had to pay Olbermann a ton of money inleiu of keeping him.
How many times must fox stick up for the Nazi’s b4 people see what’s going on?
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