Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Torture Report: Learning from a Mismanaged Past


The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released an executive summary of a study into the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs. Considering this is only 10% of an over 6,000 page document, I don't think it's a ploy or some political axe to grind by Senate Democrats. This might be one of the least damaging ways to expose the realities of mismanaging a war effort so that America never goes blindly into the night looking for pounds of flesh after national tragedy at the hands of terrorists ever again.

I think it is highly important to understand how this report was created. It was created through ‘documentary material’ that included ‘more than six million pages of CIA pages.’ Also, the Committee had access to all interviews completed by officials conducted by the CIA’s Inspector General as well as the CIA Oral History program and past testimony before Congress. (p.6, Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program)

Anyone who completed these actions and who thought they were doing the just, right and humane thing should not feel any differently today than they did last week before the report was issued. It is just a report and does nothing to alter reality, past or present. If there are consequences for their actions, that is not up to this Senate Committee. If those that did these actions are ultimately held accountable, those that made the decisions that led to those actions should be held accountable as well.

Considering it took over six years for this report to be completed, I think it truly is a fairly comprehensive document, but only a report involving documents. That is an important caveat; it does not have the slant or bias of all those that want to cover their ass or wish to reason away what decisions others have made before or since.

I certainly don’t think President George W Bush should be prosecuted for torture. From this report, and the Chair of the Committee responsible for this report, he simply did not know this was happening.  If this was done to protect the President or for plausible deniability, I don’t know. I just feel as if President Bush simply did not know.

Also, it is highly important to realize the backdrop of these tactics that were used. That does not negate the consequences of using these tactics, but it does add context. Senator Feinstein makes this clear in the introduction to the 600 page Executive Summary as well. These tactics were utilized immediately following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. There was much done in the aftermath of those attacks that should be examined carefully and objectively. This process of examination should not be about blaming someone or some party. I think those questions of consequences, if any, should be left for other people to decide.

This is only a report. A report that involves over six million documents, that was condensed into over 6,000 pages which the public is only receiving 600 pages. To somehow make this into a political witch hunt would be a mistake. To somehow create the specter of a political witch hunt where there is none would be a mistake. Turning tragic mistakes from our recent past into political weapons to use against ourselves would be an even graver tragedy.

Let us learn from ourselves. Let us learn, and let us move forward, together. 

1 comment:

  1. This is my response to Dick McManus, Chief Warrant Officer-/counterintelligence special agent, and combat paramedic, Vietnam, US Army retired, BS degree in psychology and nursing - Everett, WA.

    Torture is abhorrent but even Senator Feinstein says that in the over 6 million documents that went into this report that President George W Bush was not well informed about the extent of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

    Maybe, she's covering her own ass, but I think treating this report as a political weapon is a mistake. Both sides are jockeying to do exactly that.

    If charges can be filed, that is up to prosecutors and the Attorney General to decide.

    What a Congressional Committee report should be used for is to learn from our mistakes of mismanaging a war effort, not as a political tool to destroy your adversaries from last decade or to destroy your potential adversaries of today or tomorrow.