In the wake of the CIA torture report, the consensus on the agency's detention program has been: disgust and disapproval. One group, however, has voiced steadfast support for the torture program — Fox News affiliates. And one Fox reporter has even suggested continuing to use torture techniques to prevent future terrorist attacks. Fox News business reporter Charles Gasparino suggested waterboarding to prevent situations like the Sydney hostage crisis from happening stateside. Like his network colleagues, Gasparino, has missed the entire point of the torture report, and even worse, is dismissing every horrific, vile, and inhumane detail the document reveals.
On Monday morning Sydney time, a gunman held a group of people hostage in the Martin Place Lindt Chocolate Cafe for more than 16 hours before police stormed the cafe and rescued the hostages. The suspect, Man Haron Monis, was reportedly a self-proclaimed Islamic "sheikh." The Iranian-born lone gunman had also been accused of sexual assault and was linked to the murder of his ex-wife in 2013.
And just as the siege was taking place, Gasparino tweeted a question to his followers that seems to suggest that torture, including the techniques detailed in the CIA report, is justified and effective in preventing terrorism. In fact, he's essentially proposing torture techniques in order to prevent another "Sydney-like situation."
It goes without saying that this tweet is wrong, and on so many levels. First of all, the phrase "a little waterboarding" is problematic. Waterboarding is one of those things where the degree of severity cannot be diminished by breaking up into doses. While it's become colloquial to say "a little torture," it's essentially an oxymoron.
Secondly, one of the principle findings of the report was that the CIA's use of torture was not effective in acquiring usable intelligence from detainees. But conservatives have disregarded this revelation and continued to support the use of torture.
Gasparino's tweet naturally sparked a Twitter feud, in which opponents — or perhaps just people with tact and common sense — fired back at the reporter.
Rather than present any kind of explanation for his provocative tweet, Gasparino just drops it, courts objections, and then responds to them with immature jabs.
I'm pretty sure Justin Bieber has handled Twitter beef with more grace.
Gasparino then tries to clarify his position, claiming that he does not support torture and that his quotes were taken out of context.
He points to a Fox News segment in which he plays devil's advocate when his fellow Fox pundits cry anti-Americanism in discussion of the report. Gasparino asks, "John McCain is pro-American and he's against these torture tactics." OK, but if anything, that's just an endorsement of John McCain, not necessarily your denouncement of torture. And just saying you don't support torture is not fooling anyone.
Gasparino is not alone in his views. Since the torture report was earlier this month, numerous Fox News correspondents and affiliates have lashed out at the document.
Conservative political commentator and Fox co-host Andrea Tantaros went on an especially eloquent rant on Outnumbered that sounded like it could have been about Tostino's Pizza Rolls:
The United States of America is awesome. We are awesome. But we've had this discussion, 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.
Donald Trump, whose political comments are of interest to very few, said on Fox & Friends as the Sydney hostage crisis was unfolding:
We go for sleep deprivation and [terrorists] go for chopping off people’s heads, and then we’re horrible people, because sleep deprivation is a horrible form of torture, and waterboarding and all.... As soon as the next attack happens, everyone’s going to want to go back to the torture.
Co-host Brian Kilmeade criticized Vice President Joe Biden's speech about America admitting our mistakes, saying on Fox & Friends:
The Vice President says, ‘Well, look how great a country we are. We admit we made mistakes, and then we think we’re so much better because we tell everyone we made mistakes.’ I don’t agree with that. For one thing, I’m not sure they made any mistakes. We didn’t act out of fear — we did whatever we did to stop the next attack. That’s why we hired these guys.
Cashin' In host Eric Bolling has perhaps the most fervent position on the CIA torture report.
[Waterboarding, sleep deprivation, etc.] are all not torture when you compare it to what these animals did to innocent Americans and our families [on 9/11]. I have zero sympathy for the terrorists. Let me repeat — zero sympathy.
Images: Charles Gasparino/Twitter, Getty Images (4)