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Senate report on U.S. torture: What’s new, and what’s missing

REUTERS/Michelle Shephard
A Guantanamo detainee's feet are shackled to the floor inside the Camp 6 high-security detention facility at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base.

Gen. Colin Powell told the future. Perfectly. On Jan. 26, 2002, then Secretary of State Powell watched as President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were moving to adopt torture to interrogate prisoners. He wrote a distressed memo [PDF], making numerous points, including these: 

  • It will reverse over a century of US policy and practice in supporting the Geneva conventions and undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops …
  • It has a high cost in terms of negative international reaction, with immediate adverse consequences …
  • It will undermine public support among crucial allies …
  • It may provoke some individual foreign prosecutors to investigate and prosecute our officials and troops …
  • We will be challenged in international fora (UN Commission on Human Rights, World Court, etc.)

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has released a summary of its investigation of a CIA program of interrogation by torture [PDF]. The 500-page summary is less than 10 percent of the 7,000-page report that, in turn, is based on 6 million pages of classified documents. It is a few drops of truth distilled from an ocean of lies.

What is new? Previous reports of U.S. torture have focused on the Defense Department. The CIA is immune to the Freedom of Information Act. The new report details an enormous abuse of prisoners that is a radical departure from the U.S. laws, international commitments and practices over the last 50 years.

The Senate Report shows that torture does not work, as predicted by CIA and Defense Department studies that began after World War II and continued to a report commissioned by President George W. Bush’s own Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. The Senate is blunt: “Therefore, zero intelligence reports were disseminated based on information provided by … detainees known to have been subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques” [p. 18]. The CIA kept and tortured prisoners who had no information. It used torture as a first approach — psychologically destroying them so that they could not talk when the abuse ended.

The program was inept. The government paid $80 million to a consulting firm led by two executive psychologists who had never previously conducted interrogations, had no cultural or political expertise [p. 32]. They designed the torture and ignored all the expert interrogational science. The interrogators were untrained. Abusive interrogators were not screened out. Employees were not held accountable for crossing the line even when the prisoner died.

The report shows the costs of this program. Financial costs were about $600 million. CIA personnel protested; some were emotionally damaged by the abuse. Our relations in counterterrorism with allies became strained as the torture came to light. Countries stopped cooperating with us. Insanity ruled. The report says that in one instance, citing international law, the secretary of state demanded that a country allow the Red Cross to see the political prisoners in that  country. “At the time, however, the detainees [the] Country was holding included detainees being held in secret at the CIA’s behest [p. 16].” The prisoners, most of whom were innocent or dupes, were destroyed psychically.

Vague about executive responsibility

What is missing? The report is vague about who had the executive responsibility. It is not believable to state that a CIA director could get $500 million, build a network of international secret prisons, and manage brutal interrogation techniques in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values. The idea that this was a rogue CIA operating independently is a “the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions” fairy tale.

umn.edu
Dr. Steve Miles

Condoleezza Rice, in her capacity of national security advisor, authorizes specific brutal CIA interrogations. At one point, for example, “after the CIA’s presentation, Vice President Cheney stated, and National Security Advisor Rice agreed, that the CIA was executing Administration policy in carrying out its interrogation program. The National Security Council principals at the July 2003 briefing initially concluded it was “not necessary or advisable to have a full Principals Committee meeting to review and reaffirm the Program.” “A CIA email noted that the official reason for not having a full briefing was to avoid press disclosures, but added that: ‘it is clear to us from some of the runup meetings we had with [White House] Counsel that the [White House] is extremely concerned [Secretary of State] Powell would blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on [p. 70].’ ” 

What else is missing? There are thousands of missing CIA documents that the White House has stonewalled the Senate for six years of President Barack Obama’s administration. There are missing emails and videotapes and missing bodies of deceased prisoners.

***

The report is fascinating. It stands with the Pentagon Papers and the Church Report on CIA abuses of the mid-1970s.

The report is stomach-turning. There is new information about gruesome techniques for our war against terror. Prisoners were given “rectal feedings” that painfully expand their colons with liquid. CIA personnel told prisoners that “their loved ones would be harmed or even raped [p. 487].”  People were kept shackled and sometimes hanging from a bar for 22 hours per day and naked and hooded in cold cells with buckets. We doused people with refrigerated water and putting them naked in cool rooms [p. 105]. At least one prisoner was kept in a box 21 inches by 30 inches by 30 inches. We used beatings and mock executions.

Lies, and more lies

The report is frightening. The CIA’s Office of Public Affairs constructed a complete program of domestic propaganda. It used leaks and background briefings to claim that brutal interrogations produced invaluable intelligence that saved countless lives. It led and misled journalists and authors, who were told of countless terrorists who were caught and of specific bombings and dirty bombs, germ warfare, hijackings, locating terrorists that were achieved. The media insiders were stroked and told to cite the CIA person as an “official knowledgeable” rather than as CIA. The agency never went after people who were authorized leaks for its propaganda. It did, however, lean on the real journalists who dug up truth.

The CIA lied to the Department of Justice that was trying to find out if lines were crossed. It lied to Congress. It refused to allow congressmen on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to visit its secret prisons be told about the nature and scope of the interrogation. It lied about the number of prisoners. It lied about the deaths of persons who underwent torture. Faced with subpoenas, documents disappeared and videotapes were destroyed.

CIA Director Peter Goss, one of several CIA directors to oversee the torture program, testified to Congress in 2006.

“This program has brought us incredible information. It’s a program that could continue to bring us incredible information. It’s a program that could continue to operate in a very professional way. It’s a program that I think if you saw how it’s operated you would agree that you would be proud that it’s done right and well, with proper safeguards.” Contrasting the CIA program to the abuse of prisoners in U.S. military detention at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Goss stated that the CIA program “is a professionally-operated program that we operate uniquely … . We are not talking military, and I’m not talking about anything that a contractor might have done … in a prison somewhere or beat somebody or hit somebody with a stick or something. That’s not what this is about.”

It was all lies — the CIA, our government, was lying to us.

What now?

What should be done now? The full Committee Study of CIA abuses of prisoners during the war on terror should be released. A similar study of the Department of Defense torture program should be commissioned.

The United States has done irreparable harm to the Convention Against Torture (which we ratified under President Ronald Reagan) and the Geneva Conventions, which we helped write and then ratified under President Dwight Eisenhower. We must restore the rule of law by joining the other nations of the world in ratifying the Treaty of Rome and the International Criminal Court. 

Steven H. Miles, MD, a professor at the Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota, is the author of “Oath Betrayed: America’s Torture Doctors.” He serves on the Center for Victims of Torture‘s board of directors.

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Comments (33)

  1. Submitted by richard owens on 12/10/2014 - 10:33 am.

    BRAVO and THANK YOU, Dr. Miles

    Readers may not know that you have fought for so many years to stop the use of medical doctors in the use of torture.

    Recent revelations of the two psychologists with no interrogation training and no experience were paid $81 million to conduct Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (Cheney’s “gloves off sanitization”).

    They even invented the torture and used waterboarding for which we hanged Japanese who had done that to POWs.

    Dr. Miles is an American HERO who makes Minnesota PROUD.

    His web sites are worth every minute of your time.

    http://www.doctorswhotorture.com/

    http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/OathBetrayed/index.html

  2. Submitted by Pat Thompson on 12/10/2014 - 11:06 am.

    That final quote

    “It’s a program that I think if you saw how it’s operated you would agree that you would be proud that it’s done right and well, with proper safeguards”… it’s “a professionally-operated program… I’m not talking about [past examples where they] beat somebody or hit somebody with a stick or something. That’s not what this is about.”

    Thank you, Dr. Miles.

  3. Submitted by Alan Muller on 12/10/2014 - 12:05 pm.

    Try the war criminals

    The only real remedy that I can see for this is for Bush, Rice, Cheney, and many others to be tried as war criminals in an international forum such as the International Criminal Court.

    Obviously, all torturers should lose all “professional” credentials in psychology, medicine, etc.

    And what about the people still being held and tortured?

    The shame and dishonor of this is beyond words.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/10/2014 - 12:22 pm.

      War Criminals

      It would be nice if Bush and Cheney were indeed brought up on war crimes, but we all know it’ll never happen. While the Bush administration did things that are horrendous, all administrations, no matter what the political stripe, also have skeletons in their closet. If we went after one administration, then we would have to go after all of them.

  4. Submitted by jody rooney on 12/10/2014 - 12:11 pm.

    This report makes me sick,

    and all of you folks who are proud to call yourselves conservative do you want to own this?

    Do you think this lack of integrity doesn’t filter into other areas of leadership?

    I am a firm believer in experimental policy but you need to understand that you probably aren’t inventing a new wheel and evaluate whether the old wheel was successful or not successful and what you are going to do this time to make it more successful. Here you have the whole world (Geneva convention) including one of the most respected military commanders of the last 20 years and history (doesn’t work) saying bad idea and this leadership team was either so arrogant, adolescent aggressive (bullies) or ignorant that they went ahead and did it anyway.

    And some of you may wonder at the rise in bullying in school.

  5. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 12/10/2014 - 12:36 pm.

    Bring the criminals to justice.

    There are those cases immediately obvious, on the face of it: e.g., former CIA Director Goss for openly falsifying his testimony to Congress – but he could be joined by all the other CIA Directors over the last 20 years or so.

    These folks, up to and including our President, ALL subscribe to a new standard of integrity most eloquently evoked by James Clapper as giving “the least untruthful” testimony. In other words, tell the smallest lie you can – but be certain that part of your responsibility is to lie to the public and lie to the Congress.

    Then there are the masters of those in roles like CIA Director – the past and present administration officials who ordered and coordinated these activities through policy and power. They deserve a defendant’s opportunity to explain how their actions were not crimes against humanity, nor war crimes – because they WILL be remembered by history as war criminals.

    Finally, even while realizing a gut-wrenching disgust at the perverse practices of torture by our government, have we forgotten how many human beings the United States has killed on the foundation of a fraudulent causis belli of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction ?? Or maybe we never faced it in the first place ?? For some reasonable estimates, see http://costsofwar.org/

  6. Submitted by Dan Kaufman on 12/10/2014 - 12:42 pm.

    Agree 100%

    Proud to have Dr. Miles as fellow faculty member at University of Minnesota.

    One question now is if the psychologists who set this up (for $80 million) will be prosecuted, or at least lose their licenses.

    More info about these “american Mengeles” here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/12/09/1350587/-Properly-Recognizing-The-Crimes-of-Drs-Bruce-Jessen-and-James-Mitchell

  7. Submitted by David Frenkel on 12/10/2014 - 01:10 pm.

    nobody can claim the moral high ground in war

    There is certainly no excuse for it but in every major armed conflict there are atrocities by all sides. Certainly some combatants are worst than others but it happens. The Japanese still deny their WWII atrocities as well as the Russians. The west Germans were so afraid of the Red Army at the end of WWII they erected one of the largest war memorials in Berlin to the Red Army for ‘saving’ Germany even though the Red Army raped and killed millions of civilians mainly women and children as they invaded Germany.
    We have not learned from the past even as you look at the current US Congress. The only strong proponent of publishing this report is US Senator John McCain himself a victim of torture in Vietnam.
    You have the former VP Chaney who was the architect of all this torture he calls this report ‘all a bunch of whooey’, whooey loosely translated means nonsense. So from the same party you have a a respected US Senator making logical comments against torture and a former VP calling the report nonsense.

    • Submitted by Steve Miles on 12/10/2014 - 02:48 pm.

      War has evolved.

      That is a somewhat unfair assessment. There are atrocities in every war but we have made progress in decreasing torture over the last two hundred years. For the last decade or so, I have studied torture around the world. There is excellent evidence that torture has dramatically fallen even if we count the experiences of World War II. For a good review see, Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature for an entry into this complex literature. The demise of slavery freed many people from the risk of torture. The end of ecclesiastical torture has relegated torture to highly prominent and condemned relgious punishments. The brutality of many police stations around the world is horrendous but smaller than it has been. And so on.
      The US has committed torture before although Washington and Eisenhower actively opposed it. Neglect of prisoners was common in the Civil War. Certainly the US practiced torture by proxy in Operation Condor and Operation Phoenix. Even so, those last two operations were torture through proxy governments. We have not built an entire secret prison system in the CIA and DOD for torture. We have not repudiated the very nature of the Convention Against Torture (ratified under Reagan) or the Geneva Conventions (Eisenhower era) before. We should be willing to admit what is new and not simply let it blend in with the horror of war.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 12/10/2014 - 03:01 pm.

      That former VP, Cheney ?? If he’s not a war criminal, then…

      …there is no such thing. It is quite disturbing to hear a former high official abuse the language and common sense of the audience in this way.

      Methinks Cheney protests too much.

      There is nothing he says that is worth listening to – unless you listen for the absurdity in his response, the yammering of a criminal who says the whole world is wrong about him.

      The many-thousands-of-pages of documentation of actual witnesses and facts (I’m not talking about the “Executive Summary” here, i.e., its conclusions) – most of which STILL remain hidden – speaks of a vicious, perverse, evil program.

      Does it mean the people who planned it and carried it out are evil ?? Sadly, we have learned that the most ordinary of men can be manipulated to do these evil things, all the while thinking it’s their patriotic duty – in large part due to the river of propaganda which is unquestioningly distributed and repeated by our channels of mass information distribution.

      These programs & this entire war have HARMED the vital interests of the United States. There is no patriotism in carrying them out nor in defending them.

    • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 12/11/2014 - 04:59 am.

      And…

      revisionist historians still try to hide the fact that FDR ordered the imprisonment of US citizens of Japanese descent after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/12/2014 - 03:59 pm.

        What?!

        Who are these revisionist historians of whom you speak? The only “revisionism” I have ever heard on this matter tries to hide the fact that the internment decision was made on false information from a bigoted military commander.

    • Submitted by Ken Bearman on 12/11/2014 - 12:38 pm.

      Facts, pesky facts

      Mr. Frenkel’s description of the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin is wrong. Actually, there are several of them, and they were built by the Soviet Union as memorials to their soldiers who died in the battle for Berlin in 1945.

      I’ve been at the one in Tiergarten, and it’s in the former EAST Berlin.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_War_Memorial_%28Tiergarten%29

      I haven’t seen the one at Treptower Park, also in the former EAST.
      http://www.aviewoncities.com/berlin/sovietmemorialtreptow.htm
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_War_Memorial_%28Treptower_Park%29

      The (West) Germans didn’t honor the Soviet Army in any way I’ve ever seen.

  8. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/10/2014 - 10:18 pm.

    The other side

    First thing first: This is not a Senate report – this is a Senate Democrats report: All Republicans voted against it. In addition, this report did not include the CIA opinion so the accused did not have a voice in this court. So is this a fair trial? And by the way, CIA is saying that they did get valuable intelligence… Where is the proof that they are lying? Back to this report? What if the report is wrong?

    Second, those “tortured” did not fall under the Geneva Convention – they were not foreign soldiers.

    Third, this (just like Guantanamo) has nothing to do with protection of our troops – does anyone believe that ISIS cut the heads of Americans because of our minimal use of torture? And why did 9/11 happen at all since it was before torture, Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib scandal?

    Forth, almost all countries did this so they cannot accuse America for that (and those who did not were using American cover).

    Fifth, can everyone commenting here swear that, if they are ever hired by the CIA and manage to catch a guy who is saying that a nuclear bomb will go off in Manhatten in an hour and laughs that they can’t find out where the bomb is, they will not use torture to get that information? And if they do not, what would they say in two hours after the bomb goes off? And do not say that it is an impossible situation – there were reports that terrorists are getting materials for dirty bomb…

    And finally, if Cheney, Bush, and Rice should be tried for this, how about trying Obama for use of drones and killing multiple civilians?

    It is all nice to claim a high moral ground when you are in the safety of your home and are not responsible for the security of the entire country.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 12/11/2014 - 08:22 am.

      No way does Obama get a pass for his use of drones.

      See http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/22/amnesty-us-officials-war-crimes-drones

      It’s necessary to note that the most powerful people on earth never get prosecuted at the height of their power. It’s only after they’re out of power that they can be reached. The world at large, though, in general ignores the pleas of organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – and looks the other way.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 12/11/2014 - 12:39 pm.

      We’ll try again

      1. You’d rather we’d just take the perpetrators of these atrocities word for it when they say all is A Ok.
      2. The rest of the world disagrees, take up your argument with them.
      3. Hey we agree, it was for the pleasure of an incompetent administration as a kneejerk reaction to fact that their complacency enabled the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. That and to satisfy the sick proclivities of those commiting the acts.
      4. The Soviets loved their gulags, so its ok that we’ve constructed our own?
      5. Beyond the fact that allowing fear to compromise our morals is cowardly, do you really think torture would convince someone, who has already set in motion the death of millions,to spill the beans?
      6. Go for it, let the chips fall where they may.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/11/2014 - 08:30 pm.

        Me too

        1. Senate Democrats had a reason to make and release this report – political reasons. And I think justice requires that all accused be given an opportunity to defend themselves. It is the jury that decides. In this case the Senate Democrats are prosecutors, judges and jurors. Nice kangaroo trial.
        2. Geneva Convention is very specific and terrorists are not covered by it.
        3. 9/11 happened less than 9 months after Bush became a president. So do you mean the Clinton Administration when you talk about incompetence?
        4. A lot of countries were a part of this system of “torture” and my wild guess is that many more knew about that (I mean governments, of course). And comparing this to GULAG is ridiculous – read Solzhenitsyn and Shalamov.
        5. Torture is not supposed to “convince” anyone, it is supposed to force. In real life, very few people are capable of withstanding the real torture (which of course, was not what the CIA was using) so yes, there is a very big chance that the terrorist will spill the beans under real torture. And you may not allow your own fear to compromise your morals but when you are responsible for millions of lives, it is a different matter; cowardliness has nothing to do with that. So will you refuse the last possible chance to save millions?
        6. I do not think that any of those people should be tried for those actions but since you insist on trying Bush and Cheney, please add Obama to your list.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/11/2014 - 11:26 pm.

        Let’s do it

        1. Senate Democrats had a reason to make and release this report – political reasons. And I think justice requires that all accused be given an opportunity to defend themselves. It is the jury that decides. In this case the Senate Democrats are prosecutors, judges and jurors. Nice kangaroo trial.
        2. Geneva Convention is very specific and terrorists are not covered by it.
        3. 9/11 happened less than 9 months after Bush became a president. So do you mean the Clinton Administration when you talk about incompetence?
        4. A lot of countries were a part of this system of “torture” and my wild guess is that many more knew about that (I mean governments, of course). And comparing this to GULAG is ridiculous – read Solzhenitsyn and Shalamov.
        5. Torture is not supposed to “convince” anyone, it is supposed to force. In real life, very few people are capable of withstanding the real torture (which of course, was not what the CIA was using) so yes, there is a very big chance that the terrorist will spill the beans under real torture. And you may not allow your own fear to compromise your morals but when you are responsible for millions of lives, it is a different matter; cowardliness has nothing to do with that. So will you refuse the last possible chance to save millions?
        6. I do not think that any of those people should be tried for those actions but since you insist on trying Bush and Cheney, please add Obama to your list.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/12/2014 - 03:14 pm.

          Geneva Convention

          The Geneva Convention may or may not apply (and, according to the explicit language of the Convention, if there is any doubt a detainee must be treated in accordance with the Convention until his status is clarified). There is, however, also the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, signed by the US in 1988 and ratified in 1994. One looks in vain for an exception to that treaty for terrorists.

          Lest we forget, the Federal Torture Act makes “an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering . . . upon another person within his custody or physical control” punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

          The US court-martialed Major Edwin Glenn for waterboarding suspected terrorists in 1902. After World War II, Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American prisoners were executed or put in prison. It’s torture, however the CIA cares to spin it. So is rectal hydration, suspending a prisoner from the ceiling, and slep deprivation (this last one came to us courtesy our former allies in Moscow).

          If Bush and Cheney are prosecuted, why should Obama be “added to the list?” Is that how far our search for “balance” has gone?

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 12/14/2014 - 09:19 am.

            “Is that how far our search for “balance” has gone?”

            Some crimes against humanity are more equal than others, right, RB?

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 12/12/2014 - 03:13 pm.

      McConnell’s Law in effect

      Certainly for your #1, McConnell’s Law is in effect:
      “At any given moment in the life of a bill or policy initiative (in this case, Senate Investigation), Republicans stop participating and criticize the process.”

      The rest seem to just be unsupported obfuscations, especially since #2 means they’re partisans, if not soldiers, #3 is directly contravened by military experts who say it DOES endanger (captured) troops, #4 falls under “they did it, so so can we!” and #5 is the same doomsday scenario that Dick Cheney proposes whenever asked this question, like it’s some sort of Jack Bauer situation.

      As to #6, I’d like to see it, but won’t hold my breath.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 12/12/2014 - 03:15 pm.

      To be clear

      #6 is also a false equivalence.

  9. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 12/11/2014 - 09:22 am.

    The unknown was already known except for the ‘finer’ details

    How can anyone be shocked at the paper trained CIA sponsored and actively initiating torture revealed so belatedly, officially…where was the outrage when black sites, Gitmo, Abu Graib established their dungeons beyond our borders? How can anyone pretend to not know what we have done for so long?

    Any papers now exposed we already knew or should have known unless we accept our position as mummified followers of a media that never really prints all of a story; never investigates but gives us half-truths to satisfy our latent curiosity?

    My question is, how long before our public outrage mellows to acceptance after this latest revelation that is no revelation at all but mainly more plus bloody details we should have known already?

    So what do we do now? Who or what party do we blame for our forgetfulness or denial as we hang tinsel over the nose of our ugly and terrifying acts;done in our name. Wrap it all up with red and blue wrappings and sing God bless America and feel good about ourselves for exposing the ‘bastards’ who made us feel so bad in the wrong season…way to go.

  10. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 12/12/2014 - 01:24 pm.

    Minnesota connections?

    Is there any direct or indirect participants in the torture programs with ties to Minnesota…was there one Mn law professor once upon a time working as legal counsel for Bush administration’s under JohnYoo?

    … possibly trying to establish a way out for those so involved in or supporting torture methods etc?

  11. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 12/12/2014 - 01:33 pm.

    Sorry about that…

    I see Delahunty has been covered earlier in a report that I missed …my apologies.

  12. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 12/12/2014 - 01:58 pm.

    Change happens so slowly we fail to notice?

    The sad story here is that we have soft minds maybe that will read a little,and then go back to life as is and still believe our nation did bad things for honorable reasons?

    But then what happens when security fears up the ante and torture becomes so commonplace among any of our home organizations of authority – be it local or state or something warm and fuzzy like Homeland Security…how long before we accept that as ‘normal’ and justified? Then again, actually we do that now with ‘others’…until it happens to us for the wrong reasons and nobody speaks out anymore?

  13. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/12/2014 - 08:46 pm.

    Let’s be specific

    Mr. Holbrook, if you noticed I did not get into discussion on what torture is – my points were unrelated to this and they should be answered. And if you support justice, you should support prosecuting Obama – why are you questioning that? What is wrong with being fair and balanced?

    Mr. Ecklund, if I remember correctly, Democrats were against impeaching Clinton – what does it tell us? Actually nothing except that it is quite possible that Republicans were wrong that time. Same thing here – if all Republicans are against, it means that most likely it’s wrong. Soldiers are defined in Geneva Convention so there is no dispute: Terrorists are not soldiers. I am sure there are experts who may say anything but logic and time frame tells us otherwise: terrorists tried to kill Americans way before any torture was even contemplated. I did not say that since they did it, so can we; I said that they cannot condemn us for that – that’s it. And if my doomsday scenario is the same as Cheney’s, it doesn’t make this question less reasonable – will you or will you not? As for false equivalence, people were killed by Obama’s order – why is it better than torturing?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 12/13/2014 - 01:46 am.

      Let’s make this easier

      Is there any argument, from any source, that will dissuade you from your opinion that torture is good foreign policy? There are none that will dissuade me that it is, I suspect the same is true for others. What is the point of the debate when the fundamental disagreement is irresolvable?

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/13/2014 - 10:14 am.

        Is it easier?

        Mr. Haas, I never made any connection between torture and foreign policy (and actually I may agree with you that it may have negative effect on foreign policy sometimes – if we forget about hypocrisy issue). All I was saying was that under certain circumstance (rare, in my mind) and applied to some people (very few) it may be beneficial to the country’s security and may save some (or many) innocent lives. Therefore, absolute blanket ban on it is unreasonable. I also said that this report is political and therefore cannot be fully trusted. And I said that taking a high moral ground from the safety of one’s house and no responsibility for security of millions is not a good moral stand – that is why I asked my main question that no one answered.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/15/2014 - 12:11 pm.

      What is wrong with being fair and balanced?

      Absolutely nothing, unless it leads to moral blindness. Holding President Obama to account for the use of drones is entirely independent from holding the Bush-Cheney crowd accountable for torture. Saying that the latter should not be prosecuted until the former is prosecuted means the search for “fairness and balance” have crowded out justice.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 12/17/2014 - 03:12 pm.

      ?

      Indeed, *most* Americans were against impeaching Clinton, not just Democrats. The guy left office with a 66% approval rate, according to Gallup at least. His highest polling ever, 73%, was DURING his impeachment trial. As many of us remember, there were a great many years of manufactured scandal and legal chasing to even get to the point where Clinton lied about his affair. I don’t really know why you brought this up anyways, unless it’s to illustrate the Republican fascination with pointless and counterproductive grandstanding over the last 20+ years. But hey, if blind hatred will lead a party to spend an entire presidency fruitlessly attacking the Commander-in-Chief for his full 8 year term, it’ll probably lead those same people to do things like sanction torture.

      And I’ll answer your hypothetical: No, I would not torture. To do so disgraces my country and our common humanity, and is offensive to what the United States SHOULD stand for.

  14. Submitted by Shehla Kamal on 12/13/2014 - 07:22 pm.

    thankyou Dr miles for your expert opinion. Why have not more physicians commented on the national stage specifically about the medical invalidity of ‘rectal rehydration’? Aside from the political ramifications of speaking against torture and the CIA, one would think that the medical community atleast would be unanimous in agreement agianst and outraged at Hayden’s claim that rectal rehydration is a medical procedure.

  15. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 12/14/2014 - 09:09 am.

    It’s lies all the way down.

    How can a group of people who argue every day in support of the necessity to grow government into a crypto clastic monster find the intestinal fortitude to declare themselves shocked to find it running amok?

    Here’s a clue people: there are agents of the federal government killing Americans every day. The are spying on us, they are stealing from us, they use fear of financial ruin and imprisonment to keep us in line.

    The federal government has grown so big, there is a very reasonable chance someone is being paid to read and record this comment thread!

    I read a quote once that seems particularly right for this issue. “You made the weather, and now you’re standing there crying ‘damn, it’s raining'”

    Think about it.

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