Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., whose district includes Long Island, expresses his anger and disappointment during a cable TV interview, on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Jan. 2, 2013.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Peter King defends torture as prisoners ‘in awkward positions’

Even among House Republicans, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)’ has never exactly been a meek wallflower. But just over the last few months, the New York Republican seems to have taken an alarming turn.
 
When Americans were concerned about Ebola, King suggested the public should no longer trust public-health officials. When Americans were concerned about ISIS, he made up a story about an attempted 2011 attack that didn’t exist. After the Ferguson grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, King complained that President Obama hadn’t shown enough support for Michael Brown’s killer. Last week, King blamed Eric Garner’s death, not on the chokehold, but on his weight.
 
And just when it seemed the Republican congressman couldn’t possibly make matters any worse, Andrew Kaczynski uncovers KIng’s most gut-wrenching comments to date.
Rep. Peter King says the 525-page Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention techniques does not detail torture, but instead just procedures which create what King described as “tremendous discomfort.”
 
Speaking with both local radio and NewsMaxTV’s America’s Forum Wednesday, the New York Republican added it would be a crime if we didn’t take these actions and that those who support the release of the Senate’s scathing report have an attitude of “hate America first,” “self-loathing,” and “self-hatred.”
In one of the interviews, King said of waterboarding and related abuses, “I don’t believe these are torture at all… We’re not talking about anyone being burned or stabbed or cut or anything like that. We’re talking about people being made to stand in awkward positions, have water put into their nose and into their mouth. Nobody suffered any lasting injuries from this.”
 
I’ve seen a lot of Republicans this week express support for torture. Pete King’s absurdities are arguably the most depressing.
 
If we were talking about forcing detainees to “stand in awkward positions,” it’d be a very different conversation than the discussion we’re actually having.
Rectal feeding and hydration were forced on detainees without medical need.
 
According to the CIA’s own records, the report found, one detainee’s lunch tray, “consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused.”
Now, either Peter King knows about this and doesn’t consider it torture, or Peter King is popping off from a position of profound ignorance. Either way, perhaps he can spare us the “hate America first” garbage.
 
As for whether or not detainees “suffered any lasting injuries” from U.S. policies, I’m reminded of a story Rachel highlighted on last night’s show:
“According from today’s report, in November 2002, CIA Officer One ordered that the prisoner be shackled to the wall of his cell in a position that required the detainee to rest on the bare concrete floor. The man was wearing only a sweatshirt as the CIA officer had ordered that the rest of his clothing be removed when he had been judged to be uncooperative during an earlier interrogation.
 
“The next day, the guards found the man’s dead body. An internal CIA review and autopsy assessed that he likely died from hyperthermia. They must found the dead body still shackled to the wall – still mostly naked.”
Peter King and I probably disagree on quite a bit, but I’m going to hope we can agree that death constitutes a “lasting injury.”
 
Given his recent antics, it’s probably too much to hope that Congressman King will take a long look in the mirror, coming to terms with his own standards of decency and morality, but given his reaction to the torture report, it would appear such reflection is both necessary and overdue.
 
The Rachel Maddow Show, 12/9/14, 11:13 PM ET

Report exposes ineptitude of Bush-era torture program

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Peter King and Torture

Peter King defends torture as prisoners 'in awkward positions'