“Americans should assess whether Langley engaged in torture in its war against al-Qaeda. The country’s honor is at stake, not just the competence of its primary intelligence service.” So argues Reuel Marc Gerecht today in an op-ed calling for the Senate intelligence committee to release a declassified version of its report on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation methods. Gerecht, a former CIA case officer, thinks that citizens have a right to know what was done in their name and, presumably, for their benefit. Because situations in which torture is tempting will happen again.
In the comments, one thing becomes very clear: Even while this report is extremely classified, readers generally feel they already pretty much know the information nominally being kept from us.
Did the US torture prisoners? Yes. Will some of those who did the actual torturing be wracked with guilt? Probably, at least hopefully. Will those of aided and abetted, and twisted the law to allow for torture get by scot free? Yes, and that is worse. Those who abetted and urged torture for others to do should be held accountable. They are the ones who should know the International Laws and Treaties that the US signed against torture. But accountability by leaders is something that never happens. Even Obama stated he didn’t want to look back.
The report is pointless. Americans have grown up. Our military tortures, and our politicians claim it’s not their fault and it’s not torture. Okay we get that. All the lip service on both sides changes nothing. I would suggest, however, that if we claim that torture works to deliver information, there are people we could torture to find out if the WMD, Nigerian yellow cake, and the Iraq/Bin Laden ties facts were mistakes or lies.
I am in favor of releasing the report on torture. It is no secret as to the techniques we were using. Let’s see the assessment on the program and determine whether more legitimate means were available to gather information and to what extent torture can be credited with specific information. It is wrong to conclude that credit should automatically go to the torture techniques. We have too many intelligent, experienced interrogators and a variety of techniques available. The real question is; which is the best for our long-term interests? Giving up the moral high ground is costly and we should not blindly accept making torture the new normal.
Pledged to further protect American lives and to enhance security, our nation’s leaders at that time assumed war footing and did what they deemed necessary WITH THE APPROVAL of our elected representatives. In a recent interview with Dick Cheney, he states both lives were saved and acts of terrorism WERE averted through the use of [enhanced techniques]. This information should be released to the American public along with the sworn testimony of who was apprised of our methods and who voted for or against their use. Details of the terrorist acts that were thwarted, the methods used and who produced the information should be public. If one American life was saved as a result the debate should then ensue: was it worth it?
I believe that the United States intelligence services have done a very good job of interrogating the bad guys. The CIA can never do it but, I wonder what all of the do gooders would think if the CIA were able to get credit for their success. The clandestine service by nature is a dirty business. Thank God we have people who can operate at that level in order to help keep us safe. No recognition, no pats on the back, nothing that most would like for doing what they do. There are some things that most of us just don’t need to know about. It’s not called the “Clandestine Service” for nothing.
The gov recently reviewed CIA related activities and they were cleared of any wrong doing. It would be a bad decision to offer further talking points for our enemies. If the document is released then a similar document needs to be developed and released for GITMO or any other facility that engaged in similar behavior. This would include those who promoted the program including the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) from the FBI.
Yes, waterboarding worked. Today on Meet the Press Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted that information gleaned from waterboarded detainees was used to track down al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and kill him.
So! We already know, or think we know, that Americans waterboarded, and that we got some good info from it. Why else would we need to have the report released?
It’s not THAT the CIA engaged in torture, it’s more who authorized them to do so. If the report names names within the federal government and what and when did they know of the activities which can be compared against past statements and really find out who was responsible for direction and authorization, then the CIA report has merit.
Now we can decide to not do it again. But it never was a great or high crime to do so. Just dumb. And do you think we never do dumb?
Remember the rank and file members of the military that were court martialed and jailed for Abu Ghraib? No officers or members of the Bush administration were brought to trial. The people making the decisions and giving the orders need to be brought to trial, too. We also saw photos of torture. No human being should inflict that kind of degradation, terror and pain on another.
One result of the report’s secrecy is that everyone is allowed to assume that the truth — what is being concealed — is whatever conforms to his or her worldview. If all we know is that secrets are being kept from us, it invites us to make up the secrets.
Osama bin Laden died of liver failure in 2001, the whole bin Laden capture was a hoax.
PostScript would argue that is actually a really good reason to release the report.