"This is not who we are. This is not how we operate," were the words of President Barack Obama commenting on the grisly findings of a long-awaited congressional report on the use of torture by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

But what if this is exactly who we are?

The report is difficult to read, not just because it is awfully long – hundreds of pages of a summary of a nearly 6,000-page investigation, including 38,000 citations based on the review of six million pages – but because it was most disturbing. Parts of it resemble the horror of an extremely dark Hollywood movie. But it was all real: from rectal feeding (as in putting hummus in detainee’s rectums), to rape, to torturing prisoners to death, to blinding prisoners, to forcing them to stand on broken feet, for days. It is beyond ghastly.

Also, it was all useless. Worse, it strongly believed that the torture dungeons, many of which were outsourced to other countries, including 25 in Europe, including the democracy and human rights-touting Britain, have achieved little but fabricated information. What else can an innocent man say when he has nothing to say; but lie, hoping that maybe such lies would save his life?

Of course, aging accused war criminals like former Vice President, Dick Cheney were quick to dismiss the report and its detailed brutal interrogation tactics as "full of crap."

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Sony’s decision yesterday to cancel its release of The Interview after being hacked and threatened by a group that may or may not be tied with the North Korean government has been the top story in the media ever since. Decidedly less-covered, and almost completely obscured by the cancellation, is another revelation made yesterday about the movie that is actually far more important.

The Daily Beast reported yesterday on leaked emails from the Sony hack which show that the United States government was involved at high levels with the content development of The Interview, especially its controversial ending depicting the assassination of North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un. As the report’s headline states, “Sony Emails Say State Department Blessed Kim Jong-Un Assassination in ‘The Interview.’” The emails also reveal that a RAND corporation senior defense analyst who consulted on the film went beyond “blessing” and outright influenced the end of the film, encouraging the CEO of Sony Entertainment to leave the assassination scene as it was (in spite of misgivings at Sony) for the sake of encouraging North Koreans to actually assassinate Kim Jong-Un and depose his regime when the movie eventually leaks into that country. According to the Sony CEO, a senior US State Department official emphatically and personally seconded that advice and reasoning in a separate correspondence. The emails also reveal that the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human-rights issues also consulted with Sony on the film.

While a tiny nation state possibly being involved in scuppering a movie premiere by hacking and threatening a Hollywood studio by proxy may be more novel and sensational than yet another psyop by the US Regime Change Machine, the latter is far more important. The United States, as part of its “Asian Pivot,” made an explicit push for assassination and regime change in yet another foreign country under the cover of art and commerce, and the North Korean regime and its ally China are both now 100% aware of it. That has huge implications for politics in the region, for US relations with those countries, for the character and integrity of American art and media, and for the mischievous, generally havoc-wreaking way our government is secretly using our tax dollars.

Imagine how the U.S. and its CIA would respond if a major movie studio anywhere in the world were to make a film centered around the assassination of a sitting U.S. President: especially if a foreign government was involved, pushing for just such an assassination. That North Korea, or any state, might respond with speech-suppressing attacks and threats is not to be excused, but it should be no surprise either. Yet the US was more than happy to help foment a predictable crisis like this, thereby putting its own people at risk. And it did so by surreptitiously penetrating Hollywood to steer it toward using “artistic” existential threats to taunt a nation-state that is such a basket-case that it would only be dangerous to Americans if made desperate by such existential threats. That shows what little regard our “security force” has for our actual security, as compared to pursuing global power politics.

On a side note, this makes one wonder if the State Department also pushed for this other memorable dictator-detonating scene from Charlie Sheen’s 1991 comedy Hot Shots, depicting regime-enemy Saddam Hussein catching a bomb in his lap while sipping a cocktail in his poolside lounge chair.

Here are the key passages from the Daily Beast report (emphasis added):
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A message released by claimed hackers of Sony Pictures threatened to carry out “9/11-like attacks” on movie theaters in the United States if the movie “The Interview” was released.

The US has claimed the hackers may be linked to the North Korean government, although North Korea itself denies this. At any rate, the ability of anyone to carry out 9/11-style attacks on individual movie theaters nationwide seems preposterously unlikely, at best.

Despite this lack of serious threat, a number of major movie theater chains pulled out of showing the movie and Sony, in an act of flat out cowardice, bailed on the movie entirely, announcing that not only will it not be released on Christmas, but that there are “no plans” to release the movie at all now, not even on DVD, even though North Korea is clearly not going to “9/11″ individual DVD players, for Christ-sakes.

Presumably, cooler heads will prevail eventually and Sony will release the movie somehow, because they already dumped $44 million into it. President Obama is admonishing Americans to “go to the movies,” but the reality is they don’t have that option.

See also: Police officers across U.S. upset at being seen as brutal racists

On Sunday, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a shirt during pre-game introductions that read “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford.” You can probably see where this is going.

Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old killed by Cleveland police for having a toy gun. The policeman shot him just two seconds after arriving on the scene. John Crawdord was killed by police in a Beavercreek, Ohio Walmart because he was holding a toy gun of the type that Walmart sells.

We’ve learned that “justice” isn’t the sort of thing you ask for these days, at least not when the killers are police. Cleveland’s police union was livid, and demanded a public apology from the Cleveland Browns and from Hawkins. “It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law” was part of the official statement from the police union.

The notion that a football player could be not okay with police killing people and police being furious isn’t new. In St. Louis, five Rams players fueled outrage from their own police department for doing the Ferguson “hands up” display.

Following the go-to police tactic of escalation beyond all reason, St. Louis police demanded apologies from the team and the league, and “disciplinary” actions against the players. They went on to insist that “thugs” like the ones in Ferguson don’t buy the products of Rams’ advertisers, police do. The Rams expressed “regret” that the police were mad, which police took as an apology, but which the Rams reiterated was not.

Back to Cleveland, Hawkins is leaving less open to interpretation. He’s not apologizing, nor should he. Hawkins declared “a call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology,” and he’s quite right. It’s not surprising that Cleveland police are outraged, because they’re used to killing people and getting away with it, but that should not be the expectation, and it damned sure doesn’t warrant an apology.

Here’s hoping the Cleveland Browns take the high ground and simply ignore the complaints, leaving this between Hawkins and the police. He’s got things handled, and more power to him.

When you get an opportunity like this, don’t fall back – I heard my Irish grandmother telling me last Thursday as I took my place at the table to discuss torture with a former congressional committee chairman whose job it was to prevent such abuse.

Almost rubbing shoulders with me on my right was former House Intelligence Committee chair (2004-2007) Pete Hoekstra, a Republican from Michigan. Central China TV had asked both of us to address the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture. I said yes, of course, since I was highly interested in how Hoekstra, with his front seat for the saga of “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques,” would try to ‘splain it all.

Here was a unique chance to publicly confront a malleable, moral dwarf who had been in a uniquely powerful position to end the torture. The moment was also an odd one, for Hoekstra – not the brightest star in the constellation – seemed oblivious to his gross misfeasance and dereliction of duty. Or how his behavior might look to non-torture aficionados.

Hoekstra took over the House intelligence “oversight” committee in 2004 when former chair, Porter Goss, a Republican from Florida, was picked as the perfect – as in fully-briefed-and-complicit – functionary to become director of the CIA, replacing “slam-dunk” George Tenet. Tenet left in disgrace in July 2004, still seeking those notional Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” in vain.

Last week, amid the unfolding torture scandal, Hoekstra went on CCTV America’s daily talk show, “The Heat,” to offer a heated defense of what he insisted on still calling “enhanced interrogation techniques.” My opportunity for a blunt exchange with him over exactly what the House Intelligence Committee knew came near the end of the show.

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No one except John Kiriakou is being held accountable for America’s torture policy. And John Kiriakou didn’t torture anyone, he just blew the whistle on it.

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The United States sanctioned acts of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency and others. The acts took place in secret prisons (“black sites”) against persons detained indefinitely without trial. They were described in detail and explicitly authorized in a series of secret torture memos drafted by John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury, senior lawyers in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. (Office of Legal Counsel attorneys technically answer directly to the DOJ, which is supposed to be independent from the White House, but obviously was not in this case.) Not one of those men, or their Justice Department bosses, has been held accountable for their actions.

Some tortured prisoners were killed by the CIA. Attorney General Eric Holder announced recently that no one would be held accountable for those murders either. “Based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths,” he said, “the Department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Jose Rodriguez, a senior CIA official, admitted destroying videotapes of potentially admissible evidence, showing the torture of captives by operatives of the U.S. government at a secret prison thought to be located at a Vietnam-War-era airbase in Thailand. He was not held accountable for deep-sixing this evidence, nor for his role in the torture of human beings.

John Kiriakou Alone

The one man in the whole archipelago of America’s secret horrors who went to jail is former CIA officer John Kiriakou. Of the untold numbers of men and women involved in the whole nightmare show of those years, only one.

And of course, he didn’t torture anyone.

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