“CIA MISLED THE NATION ABOUT FUTILE CRUELTY”
Thus screamed the headline on the front page of today’s Star & Tribune newspaper- above the fold- in ‘Pearl Harbor Attacked!’ fashion. Notice the absence of any qualifier, modifier or caution. This is absolutism. No gray area here. No journalistic skepticism. No allegedly misled, allegedly futile, or alleged cruelty. Things aren’t usually so black and white at the esteemed bastion of journalistic integrity.
We know the newspapers are always utterly transparent with their readers, just by a careful, skeptical reading of this vey headline, in fact. Surely nothing misleading ever appears in newsprint. (And even if it did, what are the consequences? Congressional hearings and dismissals?).
This alleged ‘mother of all scandals’ kind of falls a bit flat to me. Torture is not something that should be countenanced lightly, if at all. On that we can all agree. We can certainly debate the issues raised by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report. We do not want to be known as a nation that conducts or condones real torture.
That said, we can’t strip away or banish or completely neuter a vital piece of our nation’s security apparatus. We have the aftermath of the Church Committee hearings of the 1970’s to remind us of that. The simple, hard truth is, all nations need some sort of clandestine service. The more nations know about each other and potential adversaries intentions the less likely one is to make a tragic miscalculation.
This report was commissioned and led by Democrats. The CIA contested most of the report’s findings, as one would expect. Former CIA officials who were actually involved in the program wrote that the Senate report, “represents the single worst example of congressional oversight in our many years of government service.” Todd Ebitz, a CIA spokesman, issued a statement late Tuesday saying the report was, “like doing a crossword puzzle on Tuesday with Wednesday’s answer key” and did not reflect “how counterterrorism operations work in the real world.” I don't know, I wasn't there.
We have to define what is ‘cruel’ and ‘futile’ against thousands of dead men, women and children in attacks such as 9/11. And also at our embassies and in malls, on trains, etc., around the world.
Remember that in the days and weeks after 9/11 we didn’t know what was coming. It is easy to criticize now that we think we are relatively safe. We literally thought there could be a dirty- or suitcase- bomb. Nuclear material was unaccounted for. Then there was the anthrax scare and the hideous thought of biological or chemical weapons being used against us.
If solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, water-boarding and/or forcing a terrorist mastermind to listen to Barbara Streisand songs 24-hours a day were honestly thought necessary to protect thousands of innocent lives, I’m okay with that.Moreover, the report states that a total of three detainees were water-boarded! There has been so much talk about the controversial procedure for years and so many demonstrations and portrayals on television that I was given the impression (misleading?) that we were randomly water-boarding anyone with an olive-complexion and a beard.