Dame Helen Mirren, Oscar-winning queen, brings a comforting gravitas and a timeless sexiness to every project she undertakes, and always deploys them as the job requires. You might say she’s extremely effective at what she does. Know what’s not very effective, though? That’s correct: torture.
John Oliver, revisiting the Senate’s blockbuster CIA torture report from last December, talked Mirren into narrating crucial lines from the document. The revelation that detainees were force-fed hummus through their rectums sounds so much more pleasant when she reads it.
There are lots of gruesome specifics in the document, but the biggest general takeaway is that torture just doesn’t work as a means of extracting actionable intelligence from prisoners. Although 57 percent of Americans think torture sometimes results in information that prevents terror attacks, the report showed that none of the 20 cases where the CIA claimed it got important leads through torture actually held up.
Why is Last Week Tonight bringing this up now, six months after the report was first released? Well, it’s an excuse to hear Dame Helen say “puréed and rectally infused.” But also: John Oliver wanted you to know that the torture restrictions President Obama imposed by executive order in 2009 are at risk of expiration if the Senate doesn’t pass a bill before he leaves office or the next president doesn’t keep them in place.