Sunday, December 14, 2014

Torture Apologists Take it to the People


I have had a lot of respect for Vice President Dick Cheney over the years. I actually thought he did what he thought was necessary post-9/11 to safeguard America and Americans. I actually thought he stood for principles regardless of protecting his own ass or political future in the process. I actually thought he was reasonable and rational and well-informed and simply had a much more harsh and pragmatic approach to governing than I did.

That changed today. 

After watching his interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press regarding the Select Committee Executive Summary Report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, I realize that he is certainly not well-informed, absolutely not rational, nor reasonable.

His intentions may have been to safeguard America and Americans but at a great cost to our American values. To think that one out of four or five of those detained during war operations were found to be innocent or not to even qualify to be in the program and that some of those detainees were subjected to these Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs) is all the proof Americans should require to realize that torture is never an acceptable practice: one out of four or five. And, no apology, no admitting wrongdoing, no regret.

His motivating principles after making decisions were for political self-interest and certainly to protect his own ass and the collective asses of any of his close friends and colleagues. He was definitely more willing to throw anyone else under the bus that dare to talk against him or expose the truth and consequences of his decisions and actions. I do wonder if those that were making these decisions believed that no one would jeopardize exposing their actions at a later date as it may jeopardize Americans’ lives.

I don’t believe Cheney actually knew the true extent of the EITs that were used in the CIA’s torture program. He seemed genuinely shocked about the actual contents of the Executive Summary. I don’t believe the colleagues and close friends Cheney trusted initially knew the true extent either. They all potentially lived in the darkness of plausible deniability. In the interview, Cheney could not even admit that these EITs occurred within the program, even though there is concrete evidence.  Cheney, when pressed, drilled in his talking point that water boarding is not torture despite this list of other EITs listed in the report. 

Cheney was even prepared with names, book titles and even a couple pages in his coat pocket as a defense. However, Chuck Todd, in contrast, had on the desk the nearly 600 page Executive Summary report and respectfully did not mention that this Executive Summary was a small excerpt from a 6000 page classified report created from an investigation using quotes from over 6 million CIA documents, Inspector General interviews as well as other communications.

In watching the Chris Wallace FOX News Sunday interview with Jose Rodriquez, who oversaw this CIA clandestine program, there was a striking difference between Cheney’s and Rodriquez’s awareness and knowledge of the facts within the report, of the program and of the alleged cover-up. There are actually cables between Rodriquez and interrogators in the program troubled by their actions toward detainees. “Strongly urge that any speculative language to the legality of given activities . . . be refrained from in written traffic. Such language is not helpful.” It was the preference of Rodriquez and CIA officials to not have written reports or any evidence that challenges the programs legality or morality.

Despite the existence of a written record of video evidence of these EITs in the CIA detention and interrogation program, Rodriquez oversaw the destruction of all video evidence. This, he says, is to protect the lives of the interrogators and their families, not to safeguard his own reputation and that of the American government. Of course, we only have his word for it, and, he is the one that would know what evidence that no longer exists since he oversaw its destruction. He even goes so far as to explain the destruction of evidence was to protect the survivability of the CIA clandestine service.

Cheney, Rodriquez and others that defend the EITs and the CIA Interrogation and Detention Program seem so outraged and defensive. How could anyone ever question the use of these techniques or examine 6 million documents to determine if the program was successful or not? They seem equally appalled and self-righteous that any American public official would endanger other Americans by exposing to what extent and what extreme methods were used in the aftermath of 9/11. All of this self-righteousness wrapped around the gauze of deep wounds inflicted on us by terrorists. 

“How dare they call us out?”

This is America. If we do something, even if it’s for the right reason, we deal with the consequences. At least that’s what being held accountable for our actions and being responsible for our behavior is supposed to be about. We require from our public officials to at least be honest to Congress, to at least be honest to the President and Administration staff and to at least be honest with themselves.

How else can this system of government work when those who run it destroy evidence?  How else can this system of government work when those who do the actual Enhanced Interrogation Techniques cannot even communicate with their superiors about their reservations of questionable techniques on moral, legal and ethical grounds?

If you stand behind what you have done for the good of the nation, stop the excuses and actually stand behind it. Don’t hide behind patriotism or the dead from terrorism or the heads rolling from ISIS. Stand behind the facts. A sheet of paper saying that intent of harm matters more legally than actual harm doesn’t do it for me. Some six million documents seem to weigh a bit more heavily than that piece of flimsy paper.


  1. I find the mentality of those in the intelligence community, as well as the civilian government who are questioned and examined by the just and proper authorities, to be disturbing, as well as highly suspicious.

    As you stated, most of this report was classified, so what really is the big deal to them?
    Destroying evidence, lying under oath to congress, and spying on innocent Americans private correspondence, are all either crimes, or direct violations of our constitutionally protected rights. They say these things are done for our security, but isn't rather for the security of their powerful organizations?

    It has been over thirteen years since the 9/11 attacks, yet both Cheney, Rodriguez, and others have little modified their rhetoric, expecting others to continue buying the argument wholesale, and without question. They seem to expect Americans to lay down our civil liberties, our ideals, and our national conscious, simply because they say so, then have the gall to become indignant when their methods, and activities are questioned or brought to light.

    The American people have a right to debate these methods, and question these activities, but how is that possible when the truth is obfuscated, and denied at almost every turn in the completely arbitrary name of national security? These are questions worth asking, yet they act almost as if asking is traitorous or subversive.

    "He even goes so far as to explain the destruction of evidence was to protect the survivability of the clandestine CIA service." This statement is far more revealing than it may appear, and begs the question. Are the CIA, the NSA, and the Department of Homeland Security as valuable to the nations security as we are led to believe? That is rightfully a debate for Congress, as well as the American people, but we are denied this right because they tell us it will make us vulnerable. I hold that is this very idea makes us far more vulnerable than any individual or group of terrorists could ever do.