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The CIA’s Slipshod Path to Torturing Its ‘Forever Prisoner’

·4-min read
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/AP
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/AP

It’s a jam-packed new episode of The New Abnormal, starting with Molly and Joyce talking about Texas’ dystopian new abortion law, and what that suggests about where the Supreme Court is going with the Mississippi case poised to kill Roe.

“It's really concerning that they've let that situation linger,” explains Vance. “In the Texas case—and this is how these abortion cases present—a state passes a law that's clearly in violation of Roe vs Wade and abortion providers or proponents go to court and they seek to enjoin the law from going into effect while they litigate its constitutionality. And because the laws are clearly unconstitutional, they get enjoined. So it's not a final decision on their merits, but the law doesn't get to stay in effect while that litigation, which can take years, is ongoing. It is deeply concerning that the court has permitted that reprehensible Texas statute to stay in effect and I think that's why we're all reading the tea leaves in such a negative way. If the court had good intentions here, that Texas law would be enjoined right now.”

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“That law has a bounty system,” notes Molly. “We've never had a law in America that had a bounty system, except for when it came to slavery. I mean, this is something that is right out of Handmaid's Tale meets, you know, more than a hundred years ago.”

Turning to the Mississippi law, Vance says “the whole issue here (is) Is this politics or is it law? If it's law, you have to give great weight to 48 years of precedent and this analysis that there is a substantive due process liberty interest under the 14th Amendment that a woman's right to an abortion is encompassed within. You can only reverse this sort of precedent in a very limited, very extraordinary sort of situation. And the state of Mississippi here has raised no new extraordinary changes in the facts. All that Mississippi argues is the same arguments that the court heard and rejected in Casey. So for the court to take this action in Mississippi would look extremely political.

“At the end of the day, this country works because people believe that the courts, while imperfect, do follow the law. If the legacy of the Roberts courts is that it's political, not legal, we are in really serious institutional trouble.”

Plus Alex Gibney goes deep on the CIA, why it just can’t quit torture and why they nonetheless let him get the materials he needed to make his new film about Abu Zubaydah, the first “high-value detainee” to be subjected to “enhanced interrogation” who’s now Guantanamo Bay’s “Forever Prisoner.”

“It was just so embarrassing what they had done that I don't think they really wanted to go before a court,” he says to account for how a guy “who had no experience in interrogation whatsoever was put in charge of this new interrogation program—and has no apologies for it, doesn't consider it to have been torture and considers it to have been his patriotic duty. And I believe him in that, but that leads to the question of Do the ends always justify the means? As long as you say you're a Patriot, can you do anything?

“One of the things I was gobsmacked by” while putting together material for the film, Gibney continues, is “how careless it was. On the one hand, they were tremendously careful about erecting this legal scaffolding that would protect them from prosecution, but the recklessness with which they went into a new program of interrogation techniques was really jaw-dropping to me. There wasn't some kind of worldwide study and what they might do there, there weren't a lot of different people who are considered for the job. No, it was just, on a Friday afternoon, the wife of (interrogation program boss) Jose Rodriguez says, ‘Yeah, I know a guy” and they hired him.”

Finally, Tim Mak of NPR (and a former Beast!) looks at how much work the NRA put in to get Trump elected and, “ironically, how that kind of set the stage for a lot of the corruption that would take down the organization in the Trump years” since with him in power “they weren't able to sell and package that fear as well, so money and membership go off a cliff. And that's when all these problems begin to bubble off to the surface.”

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