Jon Stewart Explains the CIA Torture Report: "We Are a Moral People, in Hindsight"

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New details emerged last week outlining the CIA's use of torture during the Bush Administration, after the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify a comprehensive report. But don't ask the government officials behind the program to actually call it torture. As Jon Stewart explained on last night's The Daily Show, it was more along the lines of "super-aggressive, terrorist suspect spa treatments."

Senator Dianne Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, denounced the revelations in the new report, saying that "This is not what Americans do." Only, we did do it. "Like with your internment camps, or your, what do you call it, slavery, America has a history of doing a tremendous amount of stuff that we 'don't do.' We are a moral people ... in hindsight," Stewart said. 

So what do the people behind the torture program, aka "freedom quizzes," have to say for themselves? 

Dick Cheney: "I was a strong advocate and helped put together the enhanced interrogation program. Some people call it torture, it wasn't torture." OK, so that's flat-out denial. Stewart's verdict: "I know Mr. Cheney said it wasn't torture, but this report made it seem awful torture-ish." 

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"The ice water acts as an anti-inflammatory to help the beatings heal," Stewart-as-Cheney explained. Not torture, they were just helping. And, of course, Cheney is adamant he would do it again – "He's like the Wilfred Brimley of torture." 

But maybe we should just take Cheney's word that the torture program a) wasn't torture and b) was effective (even if the report said it wasn't). "If you can't trust a man who shot his own friend in the face because he thought he was a bird, I don't know who you can," Stewart said.

Then you have Donald Rumsfeld, who instead of denying the torture charge, just talks in circles. He deflected the issue, you see, by "having put a lot of different words in between 'Bush administration' and 'torture' while not in any explicit way changing the meaning of those words or refuting the charge," as Stewart pointed out.  

And what is our old friend George W. Bush doing while these new torture charges come to light? Oh right, portraiture

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.