U.S. Senators Announce Opposition to “Enhanced Interrogation” and “Unitary Executive”

by Michael Bérubé on December 11, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. – One month after <a href=”http://lieberman.senate.gov/newsroom/release.cfm?id=287809″>calling for a review of the video game ratings process</a> in the wake of “Manhunt 2″ receiving a “Mature” rating, Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Evan Bayh (D-IN), and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) called for a thorough review of the video game “Enhanced Interrogation 2.” In a letter to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), the Senators explained that the recent change in the game’s rating in the U.S. opened the door to widespread release of the game, which depicts acts of prolonged torture.

In their letter to ESRB president Patricia Vance, the Senators wrote:

“In October 2007 the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) again refused to rate a revised ‘Enhanced Interrogation 2’ stating that ‘the impact of the revisions on the bleakness and callousness of tone, or the essential nature of the gameplay, is clearly insufficient. There has been a reduction in the visual detail in some of the “interrogations,” but in others they retain their original visceral and casually sadistic nature.’ Other countries agreed and have also banned the game.

“As Americans, we cannot countenance the digital representation of inhumane interrogation techniques like waterboarding and long-term sleep deprivation. This is not simply a matter of our children’s entertainment; it speaks profoundly to our character as a nation, albeit only in a virtual sense.”

Senators Lieberman and Clinton added, in a separate statement, that they were also concerned about the video game “Unitary Executive,” which apparently encourages children to read Article II of the United States Constitution so as to override the separation of powers and set the President above the law. “The Presidency as envisioned in this video game is an utterly autocratic institution,” wrote Senator Lieberman. “In fact, the game teaches children to have nothing but contempt for Congress and the judiciary. ‘Unitary Executive’ is a dangerous, deeply corrosive video game that effectively allows players to establish a virtual dictatorship in America, and we must oppose its sale and distribution with all the power of the United States Senate. Our very integrity as an institution is at stake.”

Senator Clinton did not comment specifically on “Unitary Executive,” but did say, through an aide, that if she were to become President, virtual opposition to virtual torture would be among her top priorities.



Sumana Harihareswara 12.11.07 at 1:33 pm



Rich Puchalsky 12.11.07 at 1:50 pm

From the linked article: “Another disturbing aspect of this saga is that the AO version ended up being leaked on the Internet thereby circumventing the rating restrictions. News reports state that the leak came from a Sony employee, who was reportedly fired, rather than the game manufacturer.”

Low-level bad apples everywhere! Luckily the problem was solved by firing that employee.


David Wilford 12.11.07 at 1:55 pm

First I laughed, then the shame kicked in.


Sherman Dorn 12.11.07 at 2:46 pm

You’ve still got that touch. Or touché.


abb1 12.11.07 at 3:01 pm

Luckily the problem was solved by firing that employee.

Firing? You don’t protect our children by just letting him go. That would be irresponsible. Certainly he has valuable information on how these hideous games are leaked to the Internet.


Michael Bérubé 12.11.07 at 3:10 pm

I think someone should commute that employee’s sentence.


Col. Kurtz 12.11.07 at 3:36 pm

We train our young men to drop liquid fire on children. But we won’t allow them to write “fuck” on their airplanes – because it’s obscene!


Ben Alpers 12.11.07 at 4:07 pm

I used to consider myself a videogame player, but ever since Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas I’ve been outraged by Space Invaders!


mcd 12.11.07 at 4:11 pm

some of the more extreme Democrats may even demand that prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan not be forced to watch or play these games…


kth 12.11.07 at 4:24 pm

Dammit, I had a similar, though half-formed, notion over breakfast: no war this guy won’t support, but he’s got a bug up his ass about a violent video game. Nicely executed though; my rumination didn’t get past noting the anomaly.

But you forgot the first-person shooter Blackwater: Shoot Anything That Moves.


jre 12.11.07 at 4:46 pm

Didn’t Paul Ford get to this three years ago?


jre 12.11.07 at 4:47 pm


Adam Smith 12.11.07 at 6:30 pm

I hate it when they attempt to interfere with the invisible hand of the market for torture.



stet 12.11.07 at 6:39 pm


The “we cannot countenance the digital representation of” part is for you. The bad thing is the “digital representation of”. If it’s not digital, it’s fine. And if it’s no representation at all, much better.


lemuel pitkin 12.11.07 at 7:24 pm

Next up: Paul Berman’s 14,000-word New York Times Magazine essay on how playing “Contra” in the 1980s gave him the moral clarity and hand-eye coordination to beat “Islamofascism 2”.


Michael Bérubé 12.11.07 at 8:28 pm

I used to consider myself a videogame player, but ever since Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas I’ve been outraged by Space Invaders!

Ah, Roger Simon himself couldn’t have said it better. Also, Ben, I didn’t leave Nintendo GameCube — Nintendo GameCube left me.

But you forgot the first-person shooter Blackwater: Shoot Anything That Moves.

Actually, I heard that the Blackwater series just got an upgrade. I don’t know whether Lieberman and Clinton have reviewed it yet.


Hattie 12.11.07 at 9:00 pm

I want a video game that has a lot of kissing and hugging in it.


Thomas Allen 12.11.07 at 9:36 pm



duus 12.11.07 at 9:41 pm

well said.


Walt 12.11.07 at 11:07 pm

Doesn’t Bérubé sound like a movie villain’s name? I can just imagine our hero standing at the scene of the dastardly crime, shaking his fist and shouting Bérubé!


JP Yoda 12.12.07 at 12:08 am

I think someone should commute that employee’s sentence.

Commute that employee’s sentence I think someone should.


Roy Belmont 12.12.07 at 1:05 am

Silly as it may appear there’s a consistent processional aspect to this semi-nonsense that goes way back. Evil acts done by one generation kept invisible to the next by suppression and denial and other obfuscating technologies. Keeping the real torture dungeons humming with activity – while forbidding or restricting access to video games that represent the same activities to children and childish adults – runs parallel to the acts of evil committed against African and American indigenes by players who kept the decent folk back home comfortably in the dark about how it was, and at the same time provided them with the material benefits of accruing empire. Kids grow up within that with a sense of their own innocence in regard to what may have happened, and that’s the bigger motivation.
This is not about what is, it’s about what’s coming, or what’s trying to bring itself into being.
Lieberman’s and Clinton’s disgusting hypocrisy and amoral political fluff are personal, small and insignificant. What matters is raising, and maintaining once raised, a generation that gains the world through manifold evil, but emerges with clean hands and a clear conscience – or thinks it does, which is nearly the same thing.
“We’ll torture these awful subhumans, so you kids don’t have to even think about it.”


BiggerBill 12.12.07 at 1:07 am

Sadly, no to coin a phrase; if anyone would develop “Enhanced Interrogation 2” Joementum would be lined up in front of Best Buy overnight, so he could be among the first to get in home–where he could hump his controller and stain his undershorts.


c.l. ball 12.12.07 at 1:22 am


I want a video game that has a lot of kissing and hugging in it.

The market got there first.

God bless Madison Avenue and God bless me. I’m Mickey… the capitalist aviator.

Alternatively, there’s myonlinesexgames.com No just hug’n and a kiss’n but a lick’n and a stick’n.


Bérubé the Movie Villain 12.12.07 at 1:30 am

The market got there first.

The market always gets there first! Bwah hah hah! Bwah hah hah hah hah hah hah!


David W. 12.12.07 at 2:55 am



JP Stormcrow 12.12.07 at 5:50 am

Shares of Moneycon Inc. fell earlier this week on news that the latest expansion of their blockbuster MMORPG, World of Real Warcraft (WoRW), has run into a snag. Although the two prior versions of WORW, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, continue to have millions of daily participants, the group was hoping to have Operation Enduring Profits rolled out in time for next year’s election. Rumors were that the latest expansion plans might include some extremely enhanced weaponry over the prior two versions. Moneycon chairman Dick Cheney released a very brief statement: “We aim to squelch this outbreak of rationality and emerge as unhinged as ever. Operation Enduring Profits will become a reality one way or another. What are you staring at homo?”


JP Stormcrow 12.12.07 at 6:07 am

FPS Doug:

Sometimes I think maybe I want to join the Army. I mean it’s almost like FPS but with better graphics. But what happens if I get lag out there, I’m dead. I even hear that there are no respawn points in RL.


SaleemSinai 12.13.07 at 7:54 pm

Maybe Sad-Eyed Joe and the Triangulator should oppose actual torture on the grounds that impressionable children who see torture discussed ad nauseam (doesn’t take much “ad” to get to “nauseam,” of course) on the news will be impelled to seek out violent videogames to satisfy their twitching synapses. Gotta keep the kids away from the videogames!

Comments on this entry are closed.