Torture report

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday issued a 600-page executive summary of its long-awaited 6,000-page report on torture used between by the Central Intelligence Agency in the years following the 9/11 attacks. The intro to the executive summary was written by the committee’s chair Sen. Diane Feinstein and signed by seven other Democrats who sit on the committee. There are still thousands of pages that the White House refuses to release to the Committee.

In the summary, Feinstein warns readers to put things in historical context. “I can understand the CIA’s impulse to consider the use of every possible tool to gather intelligence and remove terrorists from the battlefield, and CIA was encouraged by political leaders and the public to do whatever it could to prevent another attack,” Feinstein wrote. However, she said that such pressure and fear does not “excuse improper actions.”

Improper actions is one way to put it. Another way: Revolting and immoral.

A handful of Republican senators and members of the intelligence community lambasted the release of the report. Sen. John McCain broke ranks and thanked the Senate Democrats for releasing it. “The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow,” he said. “But the American people are entitled to it nonetheless.”

So far, our own congressional delegation has been silent, including GOP Sen.-elect Dan Sullivan, who worked for the White House and the State Department under Condoleezza Rice when the torture transpired, though it’s unclear what Rice or President George W. Bush knew about the extent of the torture. Sullivan was also an active Marine between 2004-2006, where he was stationed in the Middle East. I’ve asked his spokesman to what extent, if any. Sullivan knew about the program.  I’ll post when I hear back.

Here are some excerpts from the summary and some reactions. Warning: Some of it is deeply disturbing:

torture screen shot

torture screen shot II     From the London Telegraph:

The report also claims that the Bush White House tried to make sure Colin Powell, the secretary of state, was not fully briefed. A CIA email from 2003 said the White House was “extremely concerned Powell would blow his stack if he were to be briefed about what’s been going on.” The CIA briefed two senior senators about some aspects of the programme in 2002 but refused to tell other members of the Senate intelligence committee about it until September 6, 2006 – the same day Mr Bush acknowledged the programme in a public speech. Yet during that period the CIA tried to reassure other agencies that the Senate was fully informed on the programme and it “misrepresented the views of members of Congress on a number of occasions,” according to the report.


torture III

These tweets are from John Schindler, a former National Security Agency official and US Naval war college professor, who is a strong defender of the intelligence world.


12 thoughts on “Torture report

  1. meg

    Under this reasoning, there are no bounds to retribution if morally justified? So ISIS tactics of beheading those they view as enemies would be fine. To argue that ideals and principals are meaningless or lost in the face of unimaginable brutality is to forfeit our humanity. Humanity, joe blow, is what separates us from those who perpetrate these acts. It is those principles and ideals they targeted on 911. We are not and cannot become our enemies.

  2. Semper

    Go see Ground Zero, and if it makes you think we’re entitled to take any and all action on captives we hold, go live in those parts of the world that endorse such action.
    If you’d like to be part of humanity that can build such buildings, expand what we know and understand, and perhaps one day live in peace, drop your violent rhetoric and go find some standards of decency to uphold.
    We do not seek to ban torture because of what was done to us by others. We ban it because of what it does to us.

  3. joe blow

    I’ve been to Ground Zero. I suggest you make the trip and take a look at the names inscribed there, pause and ponder at the falling waters. Once you’ve done that, come back and we’ll talk about ideals and principles.

  4. joe blow

    NoahPollak: Not sure I’m going to be able to sleep tonight knowing we poured water on the face of the 9/11 mastermind

  5. Anonymous

    “The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of [this] Convention. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

    The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called ‘universal jurisdiction.’ Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution,” – Ronald Reagan’s signing statement on the ratification of the UN Convention on Torture.

  6. AH HA

    I believe I am keeping in mind the ‘historical context’ when I recall that our country was founded by by men of the certain belief that there were some things that an honorable person should not stoop to. It’s historically been one of the hallmarks of our country and used to be a hallmark of democracy.

    I am a American. In the past I answered my country’s call to arms and did so with a sense of honor and pride knowing that my country valued above all things the certitude of being morally correct and honorable.

    What has been revealed today is nothing less than a terrible stain upon the honor and dignity of our country and no right thinking person should either condone or defend it.

    Today, I am ashamed for my country.

  7. cheech

    Wow, after wading through that executive summary this afternoon, I now have the firm belief that a simple beheading captured on social media and shown to the world is a much more appropriate, open, transparent and humane strategy.

    I think we should appropriate it from ISIS.

    Because in the world of cultural relativism, beheading is no less morally superior than water boarding.

Comments are closed.