CIA Torture

January 6, 2015

Torture.

One of the excuses to go to war in Iraq was that Saddam tortured his own people. Remember?

Then, in response to 9/11, America began to detain human beings and torturing them to get “information.”

The Bush-Cheney administration approved methods of “interrogating,” including: waterboarding, rectal re-hydration, shock treatment, sleep deprivation, confined movement, beatings, threats, forced nudity, and the list goes on. This is torture, no matter how you spin it.

The Bushies referred to these methods of torture as “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Mr. Cheney recently said he would do them again “in a minute.”

What has happened to our country?

I understand that September 11th 2001 will never be forgotten and that it will never be right – but to engage in torture in response does nothing to honor the lives lost on that terrible day, or protect us.

In fact, many detainees were only being held in Guantanamo because people in the Bush administration “thought” that they had intelligence. It turned out, they didn’t. And now, we don’t know what to do with these people.

And let’s not forget the fact that this truly was George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s doing. The only thing that stopped the torture was Obama signing an executive order upon taking office, banning it.

Although the recent senate report says that the Bush Administration was “misled” about the extent of the torture, Darth Cheney actually admits that he and George knew about the torture and approved it.

One person who did have something to do with Al-Qaeda was captured in Pakistan in 2002, and before ever being tortured, he confessed through legal interrogation techniques. After he confessed, he was tortured: waterboarded 83 times.

Waterboarding, for those that don’t know, is when someone is placed on a board nearly upside down. A cloth is put over there face and water gets poured down there throat, simulating drowning. It makes people think they are dying and induces panic. “Torturers” would continue pouring water for up to 45 seconds, give the detainee a break, and then, start again.

When U.S. soldiers were waterboarded by the Japanese during World War II, the Japanese were tried and executed as war criminals – by the U.S.

Like I said, what this country endured, what the people in the twin towers went through –is unforgivable, it’s sickening and wrong. But this country is supposed to be a paragon of enlightenment when it comes to human rights. When we torture people, what moral ground can we possibly stand on now?

In my America, this would have never happened. But in Bush and Cheney’s America (and in the Republican Party’s America) this is what America should be.

God help us.

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The Terrorists Won

July 31, 2014

The U.S. is about to release the Senate report on the use of torture on prisoners during the Bush Administration. Although previously classified, the redacted report is expected to conclude that no significant intelligence was obtained through brutally torturing prisoners. I am sure some Americans who saw “Zero Dark Thirty” will insist that torture was effective, and war criminals such as Dick Cheney will insist that torture was not only effective – it was fun!

The reality is that the moment we began to torture prisoners was the day the terrorists won. They beat us. They accomplished their mission of transforming America and destroying whatever moral argument we retained. The moment we began to torture prisoners, we became no better than the terrorists.

The fear of terrorists was exactly what they wanted … fear so blinding that we ignored international laws, our own laws and began to willingly forfeit our Constitutional rights. They didn’t take our rights or our character – we gave it away. When we should have been less afraid of another 9/11 than of our response to that fear, we lost our perspective and lost the “war.”

The Senate report on torture is just another reminder of that defeat.


Snowden and Snow Jobs

January 9, 2014

People have very diverse opinions on Eric Snowden, ranging from hero to traitor. However it is undeniable that he revealed extensive abuses by the NSA and those revelations are causing us to look hard at the kind of country we want to live in. A cascade of Congressional hearings, an Executive Review and even more revelations of abuses by our security agencies has created some momentum to challenge what we have been told since 9/11: we need to forfeit freedom for security.

The NSA has reported that no terrorist operation has ever been disrupted as the result of the widespread monitoring of every American citizen and their electronic and phone contacts. In other words, the massive amount of personal data that the NSA collected from secretly (and probably illegally) spying on you and me has proven irrelevant to the so-called “War on Terror.”

Meanwhile the Snowden incident has proven how easily anyone with access to the data can use it for whatever purpose they want.  Even though the massive, multi-billion dollar spying on us has not prevented one terrorist attack, Senators such as Diane Feinstein and Carl Levin defend the illegal spying as necessary to protect us (proving that there is really no degree of difference from Bush/Cheney).

The CIA is also being rocked by revelations of employees contracting with freelance spies without authorization and lying to Congress about those operations. Another report on an internal review of the CIA reveals that no meaningful information was ever gathered by their torturing (i.e. harsh interrogations) of captured human beings. Torture was another violation of our laws and values that was justified by the need to stop terrorism.

I have been talking with you all for years now about the use of fear to erode our liberties. I guess the other foot has dropped insofar as it looks like we sold our freedom for a false security.