A bombshell report regarding enhanced interrogation tactics conducted by the CIA was released this week by California Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the intelligence committee in the United States senate. This “CIA Torture Report” revealed the brutal tactics used against alleged terrorists that were held in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorists attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and eventually Iraq. Waterboarding was already revealed as a tactic and has been publicly known about for years. Along those lines, however, the report revealed that guidelines for waterboarding were not followed and that prisoners were waterboarded many times per day.
Other CIA torture tactics included sleep deprivation, stripping prisoners of their clothing and making them stand in cold temperatures, and a very bizarre and disturbing tactic known as rectal rehydration. The forcing of prisoners to stand almost naked in freezing cold temperatures caused hypothermia in many cases and in one case, a prisoner died – essentially frozen to death. Rectal rehydration was another surprise coming out of the report. Many, including former CIA director, Michael Hayden, defended rectal rehydration as a medical procedure, claiming that a few prisoners refused to eat and they needed a way to make sure they were fed. However, Hayden later claimed that he was not a medical expert and thus could not adequately explain the purpose of that particular tactic.
Another interesting claim presented in the report was about the CIA intentionally misleading many in the White House and the American people about the complete nature of their tactics against prisoners. The report indicates that then-President George W. Bush did not know. Senator Feinstein claims that she believes that the former president did not order the enhanced interrogation torture tactics the way they were portrayed in the report. The current CIA Director, John Brennan defended the interrogation tactics in the context of the immediate post-9/11 time period but did acknowledge that some operatives went too far. But he did not go as far as calling anything torture.
Many people, including Secretary of State John Kerry tried to pleaded for the release of the report to be postponed. However, Senator Feinstein felt that the truth needed to be released and that there would never be a perfect time to release it. It was released and now details that many suspected have been confirmed – America tortured.
Now, the Real Talk…
While I, and many other people, knew that the CIA probably tortured war prisoners, it was a big shock to hear the brutality that was done to people who never stood trial for their alleged crimes. In an attempt to defend the CIA, many have claimed that psychologists, medical doctors, and lawyers were all involved in the development, facilitation, and implementation of these torturous tactics. That, to me, is even more disturbing that so many people in professions meant to protect and enhance human life was serving as torturers, feeding into the fear-mongering after the horrific terrorist attacks.
While many Republicans opposed the release of this report, and defend the enhanced interrogation tactics, Senator Feinstein has had an unlikely ally. Senator John McCain supported the release of the report and has agreed with its findings. McCain has long been an ardent and outspoken opponent of torture, being a prisoner of war for over 5 years during the Vietnam War. While I don’t agree with Senator McCain on most issues, I’m glad that he is able to use his unfortunately and tragic personal history as a prisoner of war who was tortured in a way that can hopefully can help change the way the United States handles prisoners of war. Torture is not the way.
I don’t understand what they were thinking when they were developing and conducting these forms of torture. Who in the world thought of rectal feeding and rehydration? Really? Sticking food up prisoners’ rectums is a medical procedure? I truly hope that Michael Hayden went back after saying that ignorant statement on CNN, rewatched the interview, and saw how stupid he looked trying to defend that. What Hayden should have done was apologize for the CIA sexually assaulting these prisoners, which is essentially what this rectal feeding is. It’s a shame that Hayden and everyone involved in these forms of torture isn’t going to be held accountable. Other gruesome tactics are outlined in this Daily Beast article: The Most Gruesome Moments in the CIA ‘Torture Report’.
Another thing that John Brennan stated was that the effectiveness of the tactics was “unknowable”. We all know that that was not true. Nobody has given conclusive evidence that any of these tactics were directly responsible for the capture or killing of a terrorist that committed grave actions to American and other countries around the world. Therefore, the torture was ineffective and unnecessary.
But let’s face it, torture wasn’t about gathering information information. I think that it was more so about revenge. During a time when most Americans were afraid of another terrorist attack in the wake of 9/11, many people wanted revenge. Isn’t that why America went to war in Afghanistan, to get the terrorists who attacked our country? If that is the case, then it is very likely that these prisoners were captured and made to suffer for their alleged involvement in the terrorist attacks against America.
This country cannot engage in torture if America wants to be the nation that supports human rights. When this happens, the “greatest nation on earth” gets criticized, rightfully so, as hypocrites by the likes of North Korea, Iran, Russia and other nations that the United States lectures about their human rights abuses. I will not go as far to say that these prisoners were not bad men, I don’t know. Many of them are quite possibly very bad terrorists and may have something to do with some of the terrorism around the world. However, we cannot classify them as terrorists for years and years and then torture them continuously solely out of anger, which appears to be what happened since there is no proof of “valuable” information obtained because of the torture. America is supposed to be better than that.
Other Headlines… In the News
Washington Post – CIA interrogation report sparks deep divide on Capitol Hill
Yahoo News / AP – CIA chief challenges Senate torture report
The Daily Beast – The Most Gruesome Moments in the CIA ‘Torture Report’