Thursday, December 11, 2014

Acknowledging faults in the Senate torture report the right thing to do

Repairing our global image will take time, but it will require being honest about what we did as well

We know that Bush administration officials used torture tactics to obtain information from suspected terrorists. And we also know that the information obtained didn’t help us to defeat terrorists abroad or at home.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture helps the nation find closure in this dark chapter of American history. And it’s important that we acknowledge these mistakes so that we don’t repeat them again in the future.

There are, of course, people who still defend the methods that were used. Among them is former Vice President Dick Cheney, who said the report is “full of crap.”

“What are you supposed to do?” Cheney asked rhetorically. “Kiss him on both cheeks and say, ‘please, please, tell us what you know?’ Of course not.”

No one is suggesting we use such carefree methods, and I challenge Cheney or his defenders to find someone who is. What IS being criticized, however, are the harsh methods we used and how little information we got from them.

From the Guardian:
Prisoners were subjected to “rectal feeding” without medical necessity. Rectal exams were conducted with “excessive force”. The report highlights one prisoner later diagnosed with anal fissures, chronic hemorrhoids and “symptomatic rectal prolapse”.

The report mentions mock executions, Russian roulette. US agents threatened to slit the throat of a detainee’s mother, sexually abuse another and threatened prisoners’ children. One prisoner died of hypothermia brought on in part by being forced to sit on a bare concrete floor without pants.
And from Mother Jones:
The torture was far more brutal than we thought, and the CIA lied about that. It didn't work, and they lied about that too. It produced so much bad intel that it most likely impaired our national security, and of course they lied about that as well.
(All emphases in bold mine.)

Our stature in the world is diminished because of these actions. But to hear how others put it, namely the Cheney-apologists, our stature is diminished because of the report, not because of what we did. If we don’t talk about it, if we don’t make it public, then we don’t endanger lives of Americans overseas, according to their arguments.

That’s a lot like a child coming home with a bad report card and blaming the teacher for writing it. It wasn’t the teacher’s fault he’s failing Math -- it’s his own failure, and he should own it.

We should own our failures, too, and strive to live up to the higher ideals of an America we once were, before Cheney and Bush were running things. We should never treat prisoners of war, no matter who the enemies may be, like this again. We’re better than that.

It will take years before our image is repaired. But the first step towards fixing how the world perceives America is to admit our faults. Releasing this report was the right thing to do -- and maintaining an ethical treatment of prisoners of war is a continuation towards a path of righteousness, one that should not go unacknowledged by the global community.

1 comment:

  1. ISIS at least has the decency to admit they torture and murder people, so that makes them better than out bunch.