I this this Fox News moment featuring Dick Cheney reveals a lot about the right-wing psyche:
The host, Bret Baier, asked Cheney about Bush's reported discomfort when told of a detainee's having been chained to a dungeon ceiling, clothed only in a diaper, and forced to urinate and defecate on himself. "What are we supposed to do? Kiss him on both cheeks and say 'Please, please, tell us what you know'?" Cheney said. "Of course not. We did exactly what needed to be done in order to catch those who were guilty on 9/11 and prevent a further attack, and we were successful on both parts."Let's ignore the fact that Ali Soufan, who conducted non-"enhanced" interrogations for the FBI, has asserted for years that he got Abu Zubaydah to reveal key information about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Jose Padilla without torture (some of it after Zubaydah asked him for a Coca-Cola). And let's ignore the fact that the Bush administration wasn't "successful" in its efforts to "catch those who were guilty," if success is defined to include getting Osama bin Laden.
What's revealing about this is that Cheney is asked about brutality and asserts that the only alternative is indulgence. Right-wingers can't imagine any possible middle ground.
Over the years, right-wingers have been obsessed with the notion of post-9/11 prisoner-coddling. It alternately appalls them and confirms their sense that we're being much nicer to the bad guys than we need to be. The most famous manifestation of this has been Rush's Limbaugh's portrayal of the prison facilities at Guantanamo as "Club G'itmo."
That's from a 2006 right-wing polemic titled America's Victories, written by Larry Schweikart, co-author of the conservative favorite A Patriot's History of the United States. Schweikart added:
On January 22, 2009, just after President Obama signed the executive order that was meant to close the Guantanamo facility, Jon Perr tracked some of the history of this meme:
At a press conference today, [John] Boehner rejected the notion that Guantanamo had given the United States a black eye. To Boehner, the accommodations at Gitmo are figuratively, if not literally, to die for:This never gets old. Here's an editorial cartoon from 2012:
"I don't know that there's a terrorist treated better anywhere in the world than what has happened at Guantanamo. It is - we have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build a facility that has more comforts than a lot of Americans get."... That jaw-dropping assessment [has been] standard fare from the mouthpieces of the right.... Vice President Cheney announced, "I think people there are being treated far better than they expected to be treated by any other government on Earth." Just how well was explained by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA):
"The inmates in Guantanamo have never eaten better, they've never been treated better...the idea that we are somehow torturing people in Guantanamo is absolutely not true, unless you consider eating chicken three days a week is torture."While Hunter was distributing menus from Guantanamo to reporters as proof, his Florida colleague Mel Martinez worried the U.S. detention facility had "become an icon for bad stories and at some point you wonder the cost-benefit ratio." Still, as Fox News reported:
Martinez has said, however, that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are treated better there than those in Florida's Orange County jail.The prison envy American inmates would experience was a point hammered home repeatedly by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. During the Republican presidential primaries ... Huckabee declared that prisoners in his state wished they had it so good. After announcing in June 2007 that "most of our prisoners would love to be in a facility more like Guantanamo," Huckabee that December fawned over the creature comforts at Gitmo:
"The inmates there were getting a whole lot better treatment than my prisoners in Arkansas. In fact, we left saying, 'I hope our guys don't see this. They'll all want to be transferred to Guanatanmo.' If anything, it's too nice."
This impulse even manifested itself after the Abu Ghraib revelations, which were visual and thus much harder to downplay. Here's a parody news item that made the rounds in 2004:
Contrite US Soldiers Atone for Torture by Taking Iraqi Prisoners to Disney WorldWhat a kneeslapper!
Feeling just terrible about the whole alleged torture fiasco, a group of US reservists put down their batons this week, and escorted a jubilant group of Iraqi prisoners to Disney World.
"People think we’re such monsters," said Pvt. Kenny Stepelkovich, "But we have a soft side too."
"The time I am having is good!" screamed Samir al-Mashhadani, while posing for photos in front of Cinderella's Castle. Samir kept his legs pressed tightly together as he shuffled hurriedly towards Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, barking German Shepards in tow.
"It gives me quite a kick to see him having such fun," laughed Pvt. Stepelkovich, running off after Samir and the dogs.
"Splash Mountain was more fun than Mecca during the Haj!" giggled Husam Tawfiq al-Tikriti, as he toweled water off his hood....
"Let’s go visit The Frontierland Grill for some pork sausage!" joked Staff Sergeant Carl Morse, playfully swatting Samir in the head. "Heck, I’m just having some fun with ya! You need sunscreen, big guy?"
In the same way that they believe every liberal or moderate alternative to their economic ideas constitutes hardcore socialism, right-wingers think you can either treat prisoners their way or turn their prisons into spas. If you disagree with them, pampering is what you're advocating, according to the right. Cheney's, who's Limbaugh's pal, may as well have invoked "Club G'itmo" in his remarks to Bret Baier. I strongly suspect that's what he had in mind.