Torture Report Sickens Me
Read Chris Freind’s defense of “enhanced interrogations” here.
I am sickened by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s extensive use of torture during the War on Terror after the attacks of 9/11.
I didn’t expect to be. I thought those decrying waterboarding and other methods of enhanced interrogation were dangerously blinded by their own naivete in a world where our enemies behead Americans and fly planes into buildings. I thought it too easy to look back from a time of peace and judge the methods used at a time when our country was reeling in the wake of 9/11.
And then I read the report.
Some of the more shocking revelations include the torturing of innocent people.
“Of the 119 known detainees that were in CIA custody during the life of the program, at least 26 were wrongfully held. Detainees often remained in custody for months after the CIA determined they should not have been detained….Other KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] fabrications led the CIA to capture and detain suspected terrorists who were later found to be innocent.” [Page 485]
That CIA interrogators told detainees that they would kill their children and rape their mothers.
“CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families—to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to “cut [a detainee’s] mother’s throat.” [Page 4]
One method of torture was to force-feed the detainees rectally.
“At least five CIA detainees were subjected to ‘rectal rehydration’ or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity. …Majid Khan’s “lunch tray” consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused. [Page 4]
At least once, a CIA interrogator played Russian Roulette with a detainee. Many CIA agents were sickened by the use of torture and objected to higher-ups. They were ordered to continue.
“The non-stop use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was disturbing to CIA personnel at DETENTION SITE GREEN. These CIA personnel objected to the continued use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques against Abu Zubaydah, but were instructed by CIA Headquarters to continue using the techniques…”Several on the team profoundly affected.. .some to the point of tears and choking up. [Page 473]
And the report details how a detainee died while being subjected to such methods, but the interrogator was given immunity from prosecution by the CIA.
“On two occasions in which the CIA inspector general identified wrongdoing, accountability recommendations were overruled by senior CIA leadership. In one instance, involving the death of a CIA detainee at COBALT, CIA Headquarters decided not to take disciplinary action against an officer involved because, at the time, CIA… In another instance related to a wrongful detention, no action was taken against a CIA officer because, “[t]he Director strongly believes that mistakes should be expected in a business filled with uncertainty,” and “the Director believes the scale tips decisively in favor of accepting mistakes that over connect the dots against those that under connect them.” In neither case was administrative action taken against CIA management personnel.” [Page 14]
And, of course, we were lied to with help from the CIA’s friends in the media.
“The CIA’s Office of Public Affairs and senior CIA officials coordinated to share classified information on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program to select members of the media to counter public criticism, shape public opinion, and avoid potential congressional action to restrict the CIA’s detention and interrogation authorities and budget.” [Page 8]
Colin Powell was purposely kept in the dark about the advanced interrogation techniques, because they knew he “would hit the roof.”
The report details how CIA used secret prisons with dungeons to hold the detainees and carry out their interrogations. It all cost at least $300 million dollars in tax payers money. Another $81 million was paid to two psychologists who came up with the techniques that go far beyond just water boarding and include mock burials.
“(1) the attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap, (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) waterboard, (10) use of diapers, (11) use of insects, and (12) mock burial.” [Page 32]
I know it doesn’t rise to the level of a beheading, but is not what we aspire to be in America.
Democrats in the Senate presented the report, to the objections of most Republicans, who found the report one-sided and harmful to America’s continued fight against terrorists. An exception among Republicans is John McCain, who was tortured to the point of near-death in a Vietnamese prison camp. He spoke eloquently on the Senate floor that he understands from “personal experience” that prison abuse is ineffective and harmful to the United States.
On all things related to torture and interrogation, I yield to John McCain, an American hero.
He said, “The use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies — our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights which are protected by international conventions the United State not only joined, but for the most part authored.”
It is time to start acting the way we believe ourselves to be.
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