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. Inga, Perhaps you should watch Fox occasionally. They have people from both sides discussing an event. I have never heard anyone say they were not allowed to say whatever they want. I think many from the left wouldn’t accept that.

    Why don’t you see conservatives on other stations?

  2. Inga, I question many of the things you say. They sound like personal insults, I know the ones directed at me did. You refer to Paul C’s stroke, which is incredibly personal. Let’s keep it polite.

  3. Inga, I have no idea what procedure they used if a prisoner was knocked out.They may have handled it as you say. That level of detail wasn’t discussed. I’m sure the Doctors are as aware of the options you suggest, and did what was best for the patient.

  4. Paul you do to know me. I do not know you. For you to continue to indicate you “know” me is creepy. I suggest you stop. Also I suggest you do not threaten me.

  5. Sandi there is NO reason especially if the prisoner IS sedated to do a rectal feeding OR hydration.This was done as torture pure and simple, just like the two Physician’s groups I linked to above said. I’m sure you did not bother to read their statements.

    1. Inga – I do know the ‘real’ you. And again, you are not the boss of me. I have engaged with you for some time. I know how you work. I could probably write your comments and no one would be able to tell the difference. You have a distinctive style. That is how I knew who you were when you were going through your sock puppet phase.

  6. Inga, I think Snowden could have done good here, but giving Russia confidential papers to other countries,mtraitors do that.

    I think the Senate Intelligence Committee, especially DiFi, should face whatever penalties Senators can be charged with for publishing something our government promised would always be secret. Not traitors, just unprofessional.

  7. Inga, to correct you again. I mentioned that when prisoners fight lying down for medical procedures they are sedated, obviously for their own safety. Those that cooperate get the same medication anyone would get during the procedure for pain. They are all followed up with antibiotics.

    I’m proud of our physicians treating these people. I wouldn’t want to.

  8. Sandi, did you see JT speaking of torture on a FOX news show? I just would like to get that cleared up. Was it a FOX show in which JT spoke to a FOX commentator about torture? Do you recall which show it was? I would like to see if I could find a clip from the show you speak of, IF it was on FOX.

  9. Aridog, I never said being on Megyn’s show meant agreement with her views. Professor Turley has been on discussing many legal decisions. My comment said, when he talks about torture I can see a sad man, who believes torture is wrong and wishes his country would not use it. It’s very hard to keep up with how others characterize what I said.

    Do I think he questions his views? Of course, he’s a smart man.

  10. Sandi, where do you go to “verify” what you hear on FOX? Let me guess, Breitbart? The Blaze?

  11. I bet Steve Groen is shaking in his boots, LOL! Sandi, I can deal with the big boys just fine thanks, I don’t really consider Paul one of the big boys though. 😉

    1. Inga – for being so dismissive of me, you do spend a lot of time contending with me. Because I know the ‘real’ Inga I let some of it pass by, but every so often expect heavy fire in your direction.

  12. Inga, if you’re going to play with the big boys, complaining will only make it worse.

    I believe anything you want controlled for you would have to be a direct order from JT. Don’t see that happening. I think JT would want to hear what Dr. Mitchell has to say. The descriptions of torture flying all over were not used.
    Dr. Mitchell’s information might make JT look into it further.

    I watch Fox because I can verify what they say. I got interested in politics/media when I watched a speech on C-Span one day. And then listened to Peter Jenkins mischaracterize it. There wasn’t one comment he made in the speech. I was being lied to. I don’t like that!

  13. Sandi, you’ll “be sure no one goes” to Steve Groen, because you think he was mean to PaulS, LOL! OMG, I guess you think you must have a lot of power in San Diego. 😀

  14. Actually Sandi, I was thinking the very same thing, “Why don’t these seemingly intelligent people (such as Sandi) THINK ?” Sandi, you listen to too much FOX, I think THAT might be the main issue. I’m sure you’re a very nice lady. Do you think that Professor Turley would change his mind about torture if HE watched Megyn Kelley tonight? Do you REALLY THINK so? I’m quite sure you know Professor Turley has THOUGHT deeply about the immorality and the illegality of torture for many years now, so do you think JT doesn’t THINK also? Think about THAT Sandi.

    1. Inga – you have a preset mindset. There is no reason for you to watch the show. Nothing will change for you.

  15. The Navy Seal who clipped bin Laden was on CNN this afternoon. He says he and all seals have been water boarded. He said they had many worse things done to them in training than water boarding. Hopefully no one has a problem w/ this Seal double tapping bin Laden in the head?? He didn’t read him his rights!

  16. Inga, how anyone could listen to Dr. Mitchell and call him disgusting is beyond the pale. My years at IBM didn’t teach me torture or rectal rehydration, but it did teach me to listen. The company motto is “THINK” which is what I do. I wish you would think more about everything discussed instead of attacking someone who said something you don’t like. Why are you on a blog where that happens everyday? As I read these notes I often take notes to look something up. I am not a sponge. Anybody can be a sponge. I want to truly understand the arguments. Then using my brain, thanks to my parents a good one, I “think” and go from there.

    I don’t go to the links everyone adds. I search for myself and evaluate the info and who it comes from.

    I am truly mystified that Professor Turley, so intelligent and well educated, is so convinced about climate change. That is his position and I completely disagree. I’m sure he knows it isn’t personal.

    I had a friend ask me “why don’t we send them home and live their lives with their families?” Thirteen years of this and she thinks these people have a home and families? She is an intelligent gal. She wants everybody to be happy. How does anyone get through?

    Another friend said “why don’t we give them some of what they want and end this?” I sent her Ben Franklins comment. “Anybody willing to give up any of our freedoms didn’t deserve them in the first place.” She is a bright girl. She just wants people to quit killing each other.

    They aren’t listening. They aren’t paying attention. They aren’t “thinking.”

  17. Aridog, Keep your punches above the belt. Marquess of Queensbury rules, please.

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