CIA, Torture, and You
By SGT Awesome
The other day the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (no, they aren’t aware of the irony of their name) released what is known commonly as the “CIA torture report” to rave reviews from themselves.
I am here to explain to you why it should receive no better than a 1 star rating.
It starts out referencing the September 11th attacks and how it initially sparked the Detention and Interrogation Program that would be so scrutinized. Very shortly after however Chairman Feinstein states,
“Nevertheless, such pressure, fear, and expectation of further terrorist plots do not justify, temper, or excuse improper actions taken by individuals or organizations in the name of national security.”
Given the revelations about what the NSA has been up to in our own country, I am hard pressed to disagree with the sentiment. However, in context this statement is in reference to the CIA and what they did to terrorists and people who actively wished to do America harm. It is here that I must disagree with the Chairman most vehemently.
When a country commits to war (Congressional approval aside) it is making a commitment to killing. It is placing the lives of its own citizens above those with whom it is engaging in battle. It is an evolutionary trait given to us from our ancestors that guaranteed our survival in the past and while it is arguably unnecessary to today’s modern society, when we go to war we are actively and deliberately reverting back to the tribal mentality.
The lives of our tribesmen are worth more than the lives of yours.
There are fantastic arguments about why this mentality is detrimental to modern society and they are impossible to argue against. The only problem with them is that they can only exist in the hypothetical until 100% of the 7 billion+ people on Earth agree to live as a single group. Until that point violence will occur and if you don’t want your tribe wiped out, the most efficient way of ending the aggression is with wiping out the enemy.
How does this all relate to “torture?” Torture is but a tool that allows a person to use physical and mental means to break down another person. A problem does arise when you look up the actual definition of torture however as it insists that “severe pain” must be inflicted upon someone.
Surely with modern medical technology we can begin to quantify pain somewhat, but it will always remain subjective to the individual receiving it. Yet we seem ready to allow for the subjective opinions of those who merely read about it to define it for us. Why?
More importantly however is why should it matter? Recall that we are committed to killing the enemy. They are no longer valued as human to us. Why are we allowing their feelings to impact how we destroy them? When encountered upon a battle field we have zero issue trying to infect them with high velocity lead poisoning. But if we pour some water down their throat or keep them standing for too long we’re now going “too far”?
Allow me to digress and address the findings of the committee as stated in the declassified Executive Summary.
They found that the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques (sleep deprivation, manhandling, forced nudity, “water boarding,” etc…) were not the most efficient or the most effective. Without access to the 6 million CIA documents they studied I can’t disagree, though I feel no compulsion to assume its validity either.
The committee found that the interrogations were “brutal” and the confinement conditions were harsher than the CIA had represented prior. Essentially the committee is claiming moral high ground here against the very people who put their lives on the line to give them the freedom to stand tall upon said high ground without fear of attack. I don’t believe it is possible to morally judge these actions without acknowledging the reasons that they were done for.
Many more of the findings were simply the CIA doing its best to keep secret its actions by lying or avoiding oversight by Congress or the White House. I can see many reasons for them to do so: the safety of their operatives, the safety of the troops overseas, and the ability to continue to what is needed to be done to protect America. I’ve read too many news articles and seen an anonymous source commenting on something classified to trust our government to not leak information. Of course the NSA really puts a thorn in this argument as it proves that oversight is absolutely necessary.
Possibly my favorite quote:
“The CIA also used abdominal slaps and cold water dousing on several detainees during that
period. None of these techniques had been approved by the Department of Justice.”
Yes, the DoJ did not sign off on pink-bellies.
From what I can tell by skimming the 525 page summary of the 6,700 page finding about the 6 million+ CIA documents is that it is simply a way for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to publicly stick their nose up at the CIA. It feels entirely political and not necessarily Democrat-Republican political, but more like “this is Washington, I have the power and you jump when I say so” type politics.
The CIA was sent to do a thankless job in terrible places and when they were done the government they were sworn to protect turned their back upon them and cast them to the wind.
At least they don’t have to deal with the VA though.