John Oliver Gets Helen Mirren To Read CIA Torture Report As An eBook To Get People To Read It

from the would-be-helpful dept

Another week, another John Oliver report that covers topics we talk about on Techdirt. This time, it’s the CIA torture report, put together by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The 6,000+ page document is still classified, but the 500+ page executive summary (still with lots of redactions) was released last December as you may recall. There were plenty of interesting revelations in it — and we’re sure the full report has many more. The “true believers” in torture took the fingers-in-ears-“we’re-not-listening” approach to dealing with it. The DOJ announced that it had not opened the report. Apparently, the former CIA boss Porter Goss claimed he hadn’t read the executive summary either — even though he mocked John McCain for not having read it either.

Either way, John Oliver decided to do something about this, and asked famed actor Helen Mirren to create an audio book version of the work (which, you know, he can do because it’s in the public domain), clips of which were played on the show.

The segment highlights that torture doesn’t work and that people ridiculously think it does because it works in TV shows even if basically every actual study shows it doesn’t. And then it makes the more important point: even if it did work (which it doesn’t), it shouldn’t matter because it’s the wrong thing to do.

I’ve been searching around trying to find a link to the full audiobook, which Oliver insists was recorded, but so far can’t find anything other than the snippets in the show itself. Hopefully it really does exist.

Either way, kudos to Oliver for taking topics that we tend to talk about in our small corner of the world here and exposing them to a much wider audience — and including Helen Mirren in the process.

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Comments on “John Oliver Gets Helen Mirren To Read CIA Torture Report As An eBook To Get People To Read It”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I love listening to audio books while driving the car, but I’m afraid the CIA torture book will be too disturbing and might cause me to lose control and crash.

Kind of like how the CIA lost control after 9/11, crashing all our moral values as a nation and burning international law down to the ground.

I still can’t believe not a single person has been arrested for torturing people, or aiding and abetting the torturers. Not a single one.

Nation of the rule of law my ass. We’re a lawless nation of torturers.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“We’re a lawless nation of torturers.”

Sorry, I don’t accept that. I, personally, have never, ever tortured anyone or thing (well maybe a phrase or two). That our government has tortured in our name is an aberration that I despise with my entire being. Blame the government all you want, but don’t slough it off on the rest of us. We are working to depose those responsible, but there is a process, a very messy process, but a process none the less.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Plus, as some often forget, a great many of the victims of the concentration camps and other Nazi actions were German. If Germans are responsible for the atrocities, it’s because their vote allowed Hitler to be democratically elected and thus give some pause to trying to stop him later. Most Germans were not Nazis, but for most it was too late to speak up by the time the true horror became apparent (if it ever did before the end of the war and Allied footage was available)

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Dangerous radical nutjobs. I understand it was a crime to criticize Der Fuhrer, so trying to do anything about the Nazis could have landed you in a concentration camp.

Here’s the thing, though; under cover of “The Devil made me do it,” authoritarians, bullies, and thugs of every stripe can do pretty much what they like at the time, then afterwards claim they were just doing their jobs.

We’re seeing this now in the militarization of our law enforcement, etc. Claiming to stand for the rule of law and appealing to respect for authority can make a lot of people turn a blind eye to some very nasty things.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“most Germans are not guilty of war crimes, nor are they to blame for them”

Of course. They were only following orders.

I am sorry, but all the Germans living in that time were part of this. They voted for NSDAP, which got 107/444 MEPs in 1930 and 288/444 MEPs in 1933 (which made Hitler the Chancellor). While you might argue they were stupid enough not to anticipate the consequences, it is not like they had no warning – Sturmabteilung have been established in 1921. In November 1923 they tried to take over Munich. The Völkischer Beobachter have been spreading hatred since 1920. Germans had plenty of warning.

So yes, the WW II contemporary Germans are to blame for the war crimes.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So your solution to those who break the law is to encourage others to break the law? Because that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re saying that due process and justice should be ignored just to get those bad guys.

Beware the rode that you walk down for it leads to the same place you claim to oppose.

David says:

Re: Re:

I still can’t believe not a single person has been arrested for torturing people, or aiding and abetting the torturers. Not a single one.

If I remember correctly, Obama has emphatically called the torturers heroes and patriots. That’s way above not arresting them. Apart from being really sick and pointing to a total lack of the moral qualities required for leading a group of more than three people, it is also torturing language.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values… And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If anyone in the room when he said that revolting line had even a shred of humanity or decency, they would have immediately walked out, ideally right after noting that he was defending torture and spitting on the names and sacrifices of real patriots with his speech.

Torturing people doesn’t make someone a ‘patriot’, it exposes them to be sociopaths and/or sadistic scum, that either need to be locked up for the rest of their lives to protect those around them, or executed, for the same reason.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: "The uploader has not made this video available in your country"

(0) AbsenceOfMalice /home/keeling_ cd /scratch/tunes/
(0) AbsenceOfMalice /scratch/tunes_ youtube-dl
[youtube] zmeF2rzsZSU: Downloading webpage
[youtube] zmeF2rzsZSU: Extracting video information
[youtube] zmeF2rzsZSU: Downloading DASH manifest
[download] Destination: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Torture (HBO)-zmeF2rzsZSU.mp4
[download] 100% of 167.60MiB in 02:02
(0) AbsenceOfMalice /scratch/tunes_

I’m in Canada. Comedy Central usually spits at me, but no complaints anywhere here.

David says:

Re: Obama (and Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan)

Carter was one of the best former presidents the U.S. had had. Heck, Obama was a good future president.

But the Oval Office is something else. Carter fought it and was not able to wield power. Obama let “his” power be wielded like most of his predecessors.

The last president actually being on control of both himself and the office was probably Eisenhower. Kennedy tried too hard to survive.

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