Monday, September 28, 2015

The CIA's Torture Rebuttal

Seven senior CIA men -- George Tenet, Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, John McLaughlin, Michael Morell, Jose Rodriguez, John Rizzo, and Philip Mudd -- have produced a response to the Senate Committee's report on torture. Retired CIA officer Philip Giraldi read it, and he is not impressed:
The CIA rebuttal narrative goes something like this: the Senate report on torture was written by Democrats who were out to get the Agency and is therefore little more than a partisan hatchet job that targeted some senior officers. The book includes multiple assertions that the senators and their staffers willfully ignored things like “context,” which means that everyone was terrified that a bunch of bearded guys in caves were about to overthrow our Republic, justifying extreme measures.

And those Democrats, who ought to have known better, refused to accept that torturing people produced valuable information that saved “hundreds and even thousands of lives,” even arguing instead, perversely, that the sought-after intelligence was or could have been obtained without the physical coercion. Per the authors’ rebuttal that’s because information is like money—you can never have too much of it, an argument they label “corroboration.” Also, according to the authors, all of the CIA’s conduct was completely legal (even when someone was getting banged around before being hung from a wall and forced to listen to nonstop Michael Jackson tapes) because of authorization provided by Justice Department and White House lawyers, all of whom were indisputably men of great honor who would not lie or conform to political pressure under any circumstances. . . .

I also tried to find proof that the book’s contributors saved the claimed thousands of lives, but all I came up with were generic assurances based on “what if” terrorist plots, suggesting to the completely gullible that if the CIA had not been torturing terrible things might have happened somewhere and at some time. The rebuttal also did not address directly any of the scores of fully documented cases of incompetence and egregious brutality that are recorded in the Senate Intelligence Committee report.
These men belong in prison for war crimes, but instead they have cushy retirements and get to publish a book justifying those same crimes. Makes me ill.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

People don't like to believe that they did awful, terrible things without sufficient reason. It tears at the psyche to contemplate the mere possibility.

This is why countless Americans today still view the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the extended firebombing campaign of nearly a hundred other major Japanese cities, as having been "justified" or "necessary" - and this despite particularly damning evidence otherwise.

The Japanese had lost essentially their entire navy and air forces by the time we began our firebombing campaigns. Our bombers frequently flew unescorted, in broad daylight, in formations of several hundred planes, at low altitude, with most or all of their armoring removed to free up weight for more bombs. We employed incendiary bombs, one of the single most universally reviled forms of warfare in history, and we did so against buildings whose construction was known to be uniquely flammable. We targetted civilian population centers, carpet bombing indescriminately, with little to no focus on precision against military or manufacturing assets, most of which had already been desroyed. And we did all of this continuously for over a year, in a tumultuous atmosphere of racism-tinged anger and desire for "revenge".

The same old arguments get tossed out time and again. "We saved untold American lives!" is the perennial favorite, a claim espoused with a fervant certainty directly proportional to the lack of evidence to support it.

Nevermind that the Japanese were reduced to such a state that they could not possibly mount a resistance by sea or air, leaving their beleaguered ground forces trapped on their home islands with defeat and surrender and inevitability. And nevermind that torture has been repeatedly shown to be a completely counter-productive method of intelligence gathering, and that we cannot point to a single potential threat that has been exposed and neutralized due to information supposedly gleaned from torture.

But none of that's important! What's important is keeping America safe from all threats, real or imagined, by any means necessary - even those that don't work, aren't needed, or come at the cost of our integrity and morals!