TORTURE OF DETAINEES BY CIA OPERATIVES AND THEIR CONTRACTORS CONFIRMED BY SENATE REPORT: BUT DID THE GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON THE CIA?
The Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Dianne Feinstein (Dem) released (declassified) 524 pages of the 6,000-page report they compiled today. The investigation of the CIA, and the methods they employed to extract information from detainees (alleged terrorists), while being housed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other parts of the world, was the primary focus of the report which was assembled in large part by staff members of Democratic senators serving on the committee. Numerous aspects of the story clearly describe ruthless and chilling tactics used by CIA operatives and “contractors” including psychologists and medical doctors, to get information, at virtually any cost, from suspected (some of the detainees had no real contacts with terrorists) enemies of the U.S. Psychologists were apparently employed to design psychological ploys to get detainees to talk, medical doctors were sometimes used to provide advice or assistance in “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” procedures so as to “exert total control” over the detainee. Numerous other brutal techniques were used such as water-boarding and threats concerning possible sexual assault or physical harm to family members on the outside; according to the report, some sessions became so intense and extensive, that some CIA assistants were to the “point of tears and choking up.” There were examples where the prisoners were forced to stand on broken legs, go 180 hours in a row without sleep, and the prison was so cold at times one man essentially froze- to- death. Much of the brutal torture took place during the reign of CIA directors George Tenet, Porter G. Gross and Michael Hayden. It is undisputed that President George W. Bush was kept abreast of many of the details at the detention facilities, but exact details of his knowledge are not clear. It is clear that CIA officials tried hard to suppress leaks or information pertaining to the “Rendition Detention and Interrogation Program” from reaching elected officials in the U.S. Inquiries made by concerned workers about specific methodologies being employed to the CIA front office were virtually banned; Concerned workers were told not to email or cable information about the program since the legality of the methods had already been “vetted at the most senior levels of the agency” according to the then head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center”, Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr.
Feinstein said the CIA’s actions are a stain on U.S. history. Republican leaders have defended the CIA. Senators Mitch McConnell and Saxby Chambliss (Reps) jointly stated “. .claims included in this report that assert the contrary [that the methods used by the CIA helped in the capture of important suspects and the killing of Osama bin Laden] are simply wrong”. Senators Marco Rubio and Jim Risch (Reps) called the release of the report “reckless and irresponsible.” However, Senator John McCain (Rep), himself a victim of torture during the Viet Nam era, said the methods employed damaged America.
Security was increased by President Obama at U.S. facilities around the world ahead of the publication of the report. Armed police can be seen at U.S. Embassies, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he had ordered all top U.S. military commanders to “be on high alert.”
Meanwhile, the Mission Statement on the CIA website states: “Preempt threats and further U.S. National Security objectives by collecting intelligence that matters, producing, producing objective all-source analysis, conducting effective covert action as directed by the President, and safeguarding the secrets that keep our nation safe.”
COMMENT: After the horrific attack on U.S. soil on September 11th, 2001, most Americans were ready for quick and total retaliation against the enemy who did this to us. We were not only outraged, but many of us were also fearful- who was this enemy who cut through our security blankets liked a skilled surgeon and wreaked havoc on New York City killing so many. Americans joined together once again as they did during World War II with the objective to fight back. Mistakes were made; we attacked a country that didn’t have weapons of mass destruction; many American soldiers were killed during our operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other regions. But the greatest nemesis of the time, Osama bin Laden was at fault and on the loose. To be fair, the CIA was under extreme pressure to capture or eliminate this guy. The methods they chose to employ at places like Guantanamo Bay, to extract information from perceived enemies of the state, although harsh and subject to criticism, came to be because of the combative and frightened demeanor of the public and the government. Although the CIA has ample experience in clandestine and troubling antics, including assassinations of all types, participation in the overthrow of unfriendly governments and other “dirty tricks,” 9/11 presented a course of uncharted waters- an attack on American soil- which required quick solutions. Against this backdrop, they took action. The CIA’s operations were clearly wrong and should not be repeated, and to the highest possible extent, full disclosure should be made. At the same time, we must be mindful of the brutal and unchecked actions of terrorists today (beheadings, for example) and not take any action which would undermine our efforts to combat terrorism.