In the aftermath of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report detailing CIA torture of terrorism suspects during the Bush administration, former intelligence officials and conservative commentators are already pushing back on the report's assertion that the agency's brutal "enhanced interrogation" techniques didn't actually help keep Americans safe. But Fox News' Andrea Tantaros took it one step further on the Tuesday edition of Outnumbered by having an full-scale on-air meltdown about how "awesome" America is.
Tantaros labeled the torture discussion sparked by the report's release a Democratic distraction from "Gruber or health care or the IRS." "The Bush administration did what the American public wanted, and that was do whatever it takes to keep us safe. These terror tactics have been stopped because as a country we decided we are better than this," Tantaros said. "It's not about democracy now. No, no. It's about politics. It's about Democrats being so lost as a party ... that they turn to an old playbook."
So far, this was a typical Fox News rant — insist that virtually every criticism of the national security state is about politics, not the rule of law. But then Tantaros really just lost it, repeatedly proclaiming that America is "awesome" in a rant straight out of 2004'sTeam America: World Police. (Fast forward to around 3:00.)
"The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome," Tantaros continued. "We've closed the book on it, and we've stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we're not awesome."
"They don't like this country, they want us to look bad and all this does is have our enemies laughing at us that we are having this debate again," she shouted over her co-hosts.
Wow. There are so many things wrong with this rant, but among them is the implication that Democrats are just waiting to dredge up some shade on the blameless, heroic CIA agents who are guilty of nothing but a few minor, forgivable excesses while protecting our freedoms.
In fact, the report makes clear that the CIA used tactics that were undeniably horrifying and illegal — and that resulted in little actionable intelligence. The agents of the "awesome" U.S. national security state forced hummus into a detainee's rectum as part of a way to "exert 'total control'"...
... forced men to stand on their own broken feet ...
... deliberately interrogated a man with a gunshot wound in a way that caused it to "deteriorate" ...
... kept some suspects in a state of sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours ...
... and last but not least, used mock executions, rape threats and repeat waterboardings to terrify and brutalize detainees:
This is just AWESOME. But it doesn't end there. The CIA also possibly selected interrogators on the basis of how poorly they would treat detainees.
Then it lied about it all to Congress.
As for the claim that this is some kind of Democratic distraction from America's "awesomeness," Tantaros should tell that to conservative Republican John McCain (R-Ariz.), who angrily railed against the abuses detailed in the report in a powerful speech on Tuesday. McCain was tortured by North Vietnamese guerillas after being shot down over the country in 1967 , so he knows what he's talking about.
McCain similarly trashed the argument that we were somehow less safe having released the report, reminding the nation extremists "hardly need an excuse" to attack U.S. interests abroad. He had especially harsh words for those arguing torture itself kept Americans safe:
"I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence. I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I know they will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering.... Our enemies act without conscience. We must not."
This doesn't have to be a partisan issue. But Republicans ranting about how anti-American releasing the gruesome details of the torture report is are playing politics as well, insisting the report is meant to "embarrass" former President Bush. Others are clearly trying to obscure the CIA's horrific track record after 9/11 as an excuse to play a game of cover-your-ass. Hell, ever former Bush administration spokeswoman Nicole Wallace told Morning Joe she didn't "care" about what tactics the CIA used, claiming the "notion that this somehow makes America less great is asinine and dangerous."
Tantaros just unintentionally exposed how oblivious all of these arguments are by reducing it to a single, willfully ignorant chant. Remember, the only way America can keep being so "awesome" is if we stick our heads in the sand and never question our leaders' abuses of power, ever. Unless, of course, they're a Democrat.
Repeat after me: Torture, fuck yeah!