Thursday, December 11, 2014


The US Senate Intelligence Committee report regarding CIA interrogation "techniques" makes for unpleasant reading.  This J'accuse raises many questions while providing few unqualified answers, as the "enhanced interrogation techniques" hardly fit into the Western human rights code as we know it.

The circumstances which led to the RID (Rendition, Detention and Interrogation) program were disproportionate to existing available counter-measures.  After 9/11, the United States and all branches of government--not to mention the population at large--suffered from PTSD (post- traumatic stress disorder).  Emergency trumped any other consideration and President George W. Bush signed into law a far-reaching set of guidelines previously authorized by Congress. One could hardly find one once of sympathy for the Twin Towers executioners or for the masterminds of the operation.  The unimaginable cold-blooded fury of the perpetrators could not remain unheeded.  The hunt for the beast was (and remains) unrelenting.  In an "eye for eye" mindset, the logic overtook the moral component. John Brennan, current CIA chief, admits today that some CIA agents were not psychologically ready for the situations they were to encounter and for which there was no precedent or readiness.  Hence abuses occurred given that the trauma inflicted ran deep.  However, the benefits of what amounted in some cases to torture remain sketchy.

Now that the information has appeared, many questions remain:

--Would it not have been advisable to limit the range of "publicity"of the report (a Democratic party exercise) and examine the follow-up in a bi-partisan fashion?

--The incriminated program, which was supported by all branches of the Bush administration, is presented as some widely supported or executed rogue "coup," which is false.

 --Abuses are certain. The reasons given for the psychological unraveling of a persona are plausible. A minimum respect for human integrity should likewise remain inbred in the psyche. 

--Sins need to be left on the doorstep of the sinner and not be plagiarized.

--The issue is trivialized when it becomes a political tool.  I don't think that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein ever meant her disapproval to become a tool for inter- party warfare. Together with Senator McCain she represents a view which favors American dignity over political expediency.

--The Republicans are acting in an awkward fashion.  It would be wrong to see in this report a personal attack against President Bush. The right-wing makes the usual absurd noise, crusading for the Constitution when convenient and forgetting all about it when embarrassing. Moderate Republicans should be able to take note of abuse, remain low-key and claim the high ground for having rallied America after 9/11.

--In the end, the lifespan of evil is more precarious than the staying-power of values worth living for which, therefore, should not be endangered by overreaction.

After all, the better part of valor is discretion (Henry IV).

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