This post is based on this Headlines from the NY Times following the recent release of the SSCI CIA Torture report and fallout since:
I begin with these two reminders: LIES work, and FEAR sells.
This is especially true when lies and exaggerations are coupled to and linked to peddling FEAR. That is constantly selling the myth that: “Torture works. We have to continue it because it keeps us safe.”
Recall Hitler’s definition of the Big Lie (which appeared in his infamous Mein Kampf (in 1925) book. He referred to a lie which is “…so colossal that no-one would believe anyone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously and which would therefore, paradoxically, be accepted as true.” Ergo: a big lie sticks as truth.
Then Joseph Goebbels put forth a slightly different theory which has come to be more commonly associated with the expression “Big Lie.” He wrote the following paragraph in an article dated
12, 1941, some 16 years after Hitler first used that phrase. The
article, titled Aus Churchills
Lügenfabrik (English: “From Churchill's
Lie Factory”) was published in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel.
“The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”
Back to the headlines story: Americans, on balance, think the CIA was justified in its aggressive interrogation of terrorism suspects after the September 11 attacks, according to three national polls conducted in the wake of the release last week of a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The polls, conducted by CBS News; the Pew Research Center; and ABC News/Washington Post. They all found agreement among most Americans that the interrogation and detention techniques were successful in gaining information from terrorism suspects. The Senate report reached the opposite conclusion.
Deep partisan divides were seen in all three polls on the issue of whether torture was justified, with strong majorities of Republicans and fewer than half of Democrats saying it was. The wording of the questions varied slightly between the polls, producing somewhat different results. The CBS News question, which referred to water boarding, found fewer Americans saying the methods were justified. CBS News also asked about several of the specific interrogation methods that were detailed in the Senate report, including water boarding, sleep deprivation and threats against family members.