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@DotPolitics Weekly: The real torture is reading a 525-page government report, also forced rectal feeding

You weekly dose of Internet politics.


Aaron Sankin


When the Senate Intelligence Committee finally released its long-delayed CIA torture report this week, everyone seemed to react in their own way. While that’s technically an accurate description of how everyone in the world reacts to every single thing that happens, it’s even equally true for this particular thing.

Here’s how it all went down:

  • Edward Snowden reacted by calling the CIA’s actions “inexcusable crimes.”
  • Former Vice President Dick Cheney reacted by saying exactly 11 terrible things in rapid succession.
  • Fox News reacted by arguing that it would have been “immoral” not to torture all those people.
  • Fox New reacted by arguing that the torture report doesn’t matter because “America is awesome.
  • Fox News reacted by paying moderately attractive white people to say even more crazy stuff, but there’s honestly only so much Fox News can watch before you get the uncontrollable urge to invest all your money in gold ingots and never go outside again. So we stopped watching, sorry.
  • Jon Stewart reacted by making a bunch of trenchant and insightful jokes about the report in a video that every left-leaning news site immediately featured in a story that their left-leaning readers immediately shared on Facebook because that’s how the media works in 2014.
  • Sen. John McCain reacted by giving an impassioned speech about why torture is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing. If there’s anyone whose opinion we should all be listening to on this one, it’s a guy who spent years being tortured at the Hanoi Hilton.
  • You reacted by sighing wearily and saying, “ugh” to no one in particular.
  • The detainee who died of hypothermia in U.S. custody at a secret prison while nearly naked and chained to the floor reacted by continuing to be dead. It’s possible his friends and family members reacted by supporting whatever organization in their area appeared most committed to fighting the United States—maybe through the use of terrorism, perhaps. Or maybe they went and got a Jamba Juice. Who knows?
  • The Daily Dot turned the torture report into a series of the most depressing memes imaginable because we’re from the Internet that’s basically all we know how to do.

The hideous TL;DR of the CIA torture report. Remember when Obama told the country, “We tortured some folks?” It wasn’t like that time he said “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it,” or “I was born in the United States.” Sadly, this time, he wasn’t lying.

Those not-lies—along with a long list of actual lies CIA officials told to everyone from the White House to the legislators tasked with overseeing the agency—are now being collected by indie publisher Melville House, which is putting out the CIA torture report (technically the 525-page summary rather than the 6,300-page full report, which is still classified) as a real book. Here are some tweaks the publisher could make to the book to increase sales:

  • Give former CIA Director Michael Hayden a sexy vampire love interest.
  • Switch the story’s setting from a drab Afghani torture dungeon to a magical British boarding school for witchcraft and wizardry.
  • Unredact all of that redacted stuff.
  • Put out a Kindle edition that delivers painful electric shocks every time a reader don’t say aloud it where Osama bin Laden is. The book will not accept, “He’s dead, I swear, please stop shocking me” as an answer.
  • Send audiobook version to Hell, so it can be played ad infinitum for Dick Cheney when he finally arrives.
  • Slap James Patterson’s name on it. People will read anything with James Patterson’s name on it.

Republican Maryland Rep. Andy Harris has made it his life’s mission to ensure that D.C. residents can’t smoke marijuana no matter how hard they vote for it. While D.C. voters cast ballots to legalize marijuana in November, Harris slipped a provision blocking that from happening into a spending bill that needed to pass so the government didn’t shut down. Unsurprisingly, a lot of D.C. residents, especially federal employees who look forward to the increasingly regular government shutdowns as opportunities to spend a few days getting stoned and binge watching Veep, were pissed.

So this happened:

I am @cromnibus: The story behind Twitter’s latest obsession. Other than all that torture stuff, most of the action on Capitol Hill this week swirled around the Cromnibus, a massive spending bill, which combined all of nail-biting drama of a continuing resolution extending funding for government agencies into next year with the sexy intrigue of an omnibus spending bill appropriating funds to specific government projects. Since Congress decided to combine both a continuing resolution and an omnibus bill into one 1,600-page legislative chimera, and since D.C. really is just Hollywood for ugly people, the bill was given the Brangelina-esque portmanteau Cromnibus.

Soon after people started talking about the Cromnibus, one brave soul registered the @Cromnibus Twitter account and used it to start cracking wise with This Town’s inside-the-Beltway wonky chattering class. @DotPolitics got the exclusive interview the heretofore anonymous man behind the tweets because it turned out to be Daily Dot Deputy Morning Editor Eric Geller, and we had to talk to him for work anyway.

@DotPolitics: Cromnibus was followed by both Politics Twitter and Media Twitter. Which group made better puns?

EG: I made the best puns, and don’t you forget it.

@DotPolitics: Representative democracy. But why, tho?

EG: Someone once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government—except for all the other ones.” … That’s all I got.

@DotPolitics: If your bobsled crashed, and then one of your teammates asked, “Hey, Cromnibus, you dead, mon?” would you respond with, “Yeah mon, I’m dead” or would you bravely pick up your broken bobsled and carry it across the finish line?

EG: My bobsled is made of freedom. You can’t break it. I reject the premise of the question.

Social media is changing the way law enforcement works.

But, then again, maybe it’s not changing anything.

The problem with stripping Nazis of their Social Security. Now for this week’s edition of “Sorry, But The World Is A Complicated Place And We’re All Just Doing Our Best Here, So Cut Us Some Slack”.

The unstoppable rise of the global surveillance profiteers. Turn on your TV at 2am and you’ll see this informercial: “Do you want to set up your own Orwellian security state but don’t know where to start? It’s so expensive! And hooking up all those wires to get a direct pipeline from telecommunications companies to your government data centers, who needs it? Don’t go it alone! Try one of these private companies that develop malware and covert surveillance solutions for all of your problems, from suspected terrorists to pro democracy activists. Don’t be the spy who never came in from the cold, check out our low, low prices today!”

Data journalism at its finest from one of America’s most well-respected foreign policy thinkers.

All cameras are police cameras. Much like their delicious muffins, England’s capital city is filled with nooks and crannies. Unlike their delicious muffins, the nooks and crannies of central London are filled with police surveillance cameras rather than buttery goodness. This is the story of what those cameras mean, how they got there, and what happens if you walk around taking pictures of every one you see.

The Army’s drone-only airport coming soon to U.S. soil. We know what you’re thinking and, no, it’s not a good idea to by a $100 drone at Radio Shack and try to park it here. Seriously, do we have to show more more torture memes?

The unlikely allies of the cop-watch movement. Even cops want cops to wear cop cameras now.

Sorry for all the depressing torture memes, here are some fun things: This pianist turns Nintendo themes into classical masterpieces in seconds. Model who twerked her boobs to Mozart returns with ‘Jingle Bells’. Bitcoin is a white, 77-year-old rapper—and he rules.

Are you a public radio producer who is reading this newsletter as part of your obsessive research process for making season two of Serial? If so, you’re probably going to subscribe to it by clicking here. #TeamMailChimp.


Aaron Sankin & The Daily Dot Politics Team

Illustration by J. Longo

The Daily Dot