Better than Stalin!

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Andrew Sullivan says the obvious about Dick Durbin. Kudos. Really, all the carping here reeks of disingenuousness. One can only assume that when Hugh Hewitt, Bill Kristol, and others whine and moan about Durbin’s “treasonous statements,” it means that they read this description by an FBI agent—

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food, or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold… On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.”

—and immediately thought that hey, this was the work of Americans! Not only that, but that this was as it should be, that this was the American way, rather than something that you might find in a gulag or elsewhere. Well that’s charming, kids.

Meanwhile, right-wingers around the internet, in a lockstep fit of indignation, have all taken to look for one single Democrat who will denounce Durbin. Well, fine. I certainly have no brief for a senator from Illinois. I’d happily denounce him and say he shouldn’t have used Nazi references if—oh yes, there’s an “if” here—if conservatives will agree to start speaking out against torture. But so long as they refuse that, so long as they insist on being more “outraged by the outrage” rather than, you know, outraged by the up to 28 “confirmed or suspected homicides of detainees” that have occurred under American watch, there’s no reason to take any of them seriously.

UPDATE: And oh yes, the insurgents in Iraq are far worse than we are. Yes, that should be pointed out. But it’s still no excuse. (It’s also worth noting that, as far as torture is concerned, the Sunni insurgents and foreign fighters don’t seem all that much different from our ostensible allies in Baghdad.)


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend