The CIA Lost Its Soul and Took Ours With It


Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

This past week’s news reports of the Senate report on the CIA Torture program were both distressing and enlightening.   I was dismayed to not only read what the full extent of the CIA’s Torture program was, but also when I read pundits and former CIA officials claim that rectal rehydration was merely a medical procedure! I was further discouraged when commenters on this blog made claims that waterboarding and other torture tactics were either necessary or what the devils deserved.

Very few pundits or commenters seem to care if the so-called Enhanced Interrogation techniques were legal or ethical when the CIA resorted to them shortly after 9/11.  This “debate” over the actions taken in our name by the CIA has gone from a report based on the CIA’s own words to denials that the techniques were torture, to claims that great intelligence value was gained using the torture and claims that it was a biased report written by Democrats.

When we were attacked on September 11, 2001, most of the world was supporting the United States in its hours of grief and anger.  What happened after the attacks quickly turned the tide of world opinion against us and created new enemies.  When the CIA delved into its historical “playbook” to devise black sites and brutal interrogation techniques, the result, in my opinion, was a loss of our ethical and legal bearings that are still out of whack today.

When our greatest generation fought enemies stronger and just as brutal as what we face today, our forces were held to a higher standard than the enemy we were fighting.  The idea that America does not torture or mistreat its prisoners or enemies is not a new one.  It dates back at least to when General George Washington decided that British regulars and paid mercenaries fighting for the British were not to be mistreated in our detention facilities.

He made that decision knowing what too many of our soldiers had experienced under the hands of the British forces.  We were supposed to be better than our enemies.

When the CIA delved into the black sites and torture techniques, another US agency, the FBI balked and questioned the tactics being practiced by the CIA.  The FBI was gaining valuable information from al Qaeda operative, Abu Zubaydah, after his capture in March of 2002, but that all changed when he was put into isolation for 47 days.

“The Senate report describes the F.B.I. questioning — both in the hospital and later at the black site — as successful. Intelligence reports indicate he provided valuable information, but denied knowing anything about plots against America. But agency officials believed he was holding out. In response, Mr. Mitchell offered a menu of interrogation options.

While C.I.A. and Justice Department lawyers debated the legality of the tactics, the report reveals, Mr. Zubaydah was left alone in a cell in Thailand for 47 days. The Senate report asserts that isolation, not resistance, was the reason he stopped talking in June. Mr. Soufan said he was livid when he read that. “What kind of ticking-bomb scenario is this if you can leave him in isolation for 47 days?” he said.

For three weeks in August 2002, Mr. Zubaydah was questioned using the harshest measures available, including waterboarding. But the Senate report says he never revealed information about a plot against the United States. The C.I.A. concluded he had no such information.” New York Times

The CIA has used harsh interrogation and torture during past wars and conflicts and eventually the agency was brought under control.  Waterboarding is torture, no matter what name it is given.  Isolation, rectal rehydration, sleep deprivation, to name a few, are torture.  We have prosecuted past enemies for waterboarding and even some of our soldiers who crossed the legal and moral line.

Why is it now only a crime if our enemies do it to us?  Will we regain the soul of America again and finally get past partisan grievances to retake the moral standing of our nation?

We talk often on this blog about the rule of law.  Whether it is a President who is grabbing more power for the Executive Branch or citizens of color who seemingly are undervalued by our Justice system.  An argument can be made that ever since money starting taking control of our government, we have lost our rule of law because the wealthy and powerful seem to be immune to prosecution. Does the CIA stand above the rule of law?

Will the CIA be brought under control?  Will government officials who authorized the torture and those that carried it out and those that refused to prosecute it be brought to justice?  I submit that if we do not get control over the CIA our collective souls will continue to suffer in our eyes and in the eyes of the world.  As Ali H. Soufan, the former FBI interrogator mentioned earlier says, our actions have consequences.

“‘We played into the enemy’s hand,” said Ali H. Soufan, a former F.B.I. agent who clashed with the C.I.A. over its interrogation tactics. “Now we have American hostages in orange jumpsuits because we put people in orange jumpsuits.”’ New York Times  It is an overused phrase, but it fits here:

“The whole world is watching.”

Only we can resurrect the soul of America. We are better than torture.  At least we used to be.

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463 thoughts on “The CIA Lost Its Soul and Took Ours With It”

  1. War, declared or undeclared, is ugly. What ethics would stop you from killing someone about to cut someone’s head off? Or to stop someone being burned alive?

    We have lost our greatness to the world because our President wants to change the way we do business. He’s doing it with little, if any, coordination with our allies. What other democracy is crying out for Iran to be allowed to do what they have been doing secretly for decades?

    There is an horrific element in the Middle East that wants to kill. They love it. They celebrate it. They watch a man burn whooping and hollering. Personal ethics are between human beings, these animals don’t deserve our ethics.

    What would you, individually, have done on 9/11? And no nonsense that Bush, Cheney, and the CIA planned it all! If they had to go around some of our, perhaps foolish, laws, I could care less! I see a 4-year-old little girl, who knows nothing about everybody’s religions, have her head chopped off because she wouldn’t convert to Islam! For God’s sake, if that isn’t unacceptable, what is?

    We tell people “protect the United States.” Then we criticize them and hang our heads in shame. Not me! I’m proud that from 9/11 to 1/20/2009 they did everything possible to do just that.

    Then Obama came in and tossed every life shattered out, by doing a great job of losing a war we had won. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Other countries don’t know what the hell he’s doing. So they are going their way. Cameron has committed to help Ukraine. France has had a shattering day and upped their attacks on ISIS. Bush/Cheney could have stopped ISIS before anyone knew what they were. Obama does 200 sorties a day where Schwartzkoff did 2,000 a day.

    The greatest country ever known in this world stood by watching towns destroyed, people forced out of their homes, unlimited killing. And did? Does anyone know? Other countries finally got weapons to the Kurds while Obama was flying around on AF-1 to fundraisers or golf.

    The world used to turn to us because we were the good guys, the white hats. We didn’t want anyone’s land or treasure. We just wanted people to stop killing each other.

    Now we have a wimp in the White House who really doesn’t know the guts of the American people. He’s decreasing the strength of our military. Walking on top of a shredded and burned Constitution.

    He should be impeached. Failure to do that will haunt this country for decades. The American people gave Obama our “shining city on a hill” and he’s turned it into a refugee camp, with no work available to get out of that camp because he doesn’t understand how to run a business.

    I wish I could read the history books a hundred years from now. Will the titles be “What happened to America?” Or “where did the USA go?” Or “how the people reclaimed their country.”

    You know which one I prefer! And don’t bother sending me your notes. I know what they are going to say, I could write them for you. Consider them already read and don’t waste your time. Because nothing, absolutely nothing, will change the way I feel about my country!

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