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Some Senators Finally Willing To Call CIA's Torture Program 'Torture'

from the good-for-them dept

We've been writing quite a bit about the supposedly devastating $40 million, 6,300 page Senate report that exposes the CIA torture program for being useless -- and (perhaps more importantly) describing in detail how the CIA lied about it to everyone, including Congress. There's been something of an ongoing fight about declassifying the document, with the general thinking being that the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee would likely support declassification, but the Republicans would not. But, as we'd pointed out, despite Intelligence Committee boss Senator Dianne Feinstein's condemnations of the CIA concerning the report, she still couldn't must up the courage to admit that what the CIA was doing was "torture." Instead, it was always the "detention and interrogation program." But, anyone who's looked at it knows exactly what it was: a torture program, almost certainly in violation of the Geneva conventions.

So it's great to see that a Republican Senator (remember, they were supposedly against declassification), Susan Collins, (along with Independent Senator Angus King) not only come out in favor of declassification but to directly call it torture:
We remain strongly opposed to the use of torture, believing that it is fundamentally contrary to American values. While we have some concerns about the process for developing the report, its findings lead us to conclude that some detainees were subjected to techniques that constituted torture. This inhumane and brutal treatment never should have occurred. Further, the report raises serious concerns about the CIA’s management of this program.

[....]

Torture is wrong, and we must make sure that the misconduct and the grave errors made in the CIA’s detention and interrogation program never happen again.
The CIA's torture program is a shameful moment in American history, and as a country, we cannot deal with it by pretending that it was anything other than what it was. We need to make it clear that it was torture and that it was wrong. Those responsible for the program should be held accountable. But they won't. Instead, the only person in jail... is the guy who blew the whistle on it. If we can't even admit that the torture program was a torture program, then we're bound to go down this road again.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 1:14pm

    Honestly

    Expecting honesty from the government seems a bit naive, but is sure is a goal that should be strived for. Better still, strive for a culture where such secrets need not be kept. This can come from a government that is not elected by money, yet that becomes more and more difficult. The Supreme Court did us another 'favor' today by eliminating campaign contribution limits. So the rich get their free speech while the rest of us cannot afford to buy a Congresscritter.

     

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    PRMan, Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    Correction...

    "Instead, the only person in jail... and being tortured is the guy who blew the whistle on it."

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    Torture by any other name...

    ... is still a war crime and abomination that deserves to have everyone involved, from those that inflicted it, to those that ordered it, tried and sentenced as such.

    Nice to see at least two politicians with the guts to call it what it is, hopefully more will follow suit.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 1:39pm

    Come on Mike, don't be so sensationalist! It's NOT torture. It's just enhanced tickling. That's not illegal last I checked, is it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 1:44pm

    Torture...

    Only ever justified by evil people. Its the same logic that justified slavery, abortion, murder, unchecked capitalism, and justified communism/socialism.

    My situation is unique, their rights/dignity do not trump my want/need to get/take something from them!

    Every time someone is willing to remove another's rights or liberties to provide for their own contrived safety or well being should be the one getting it done to them instead!

     

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  6.  
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    Roger Strong (profile), Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 2:19pm

    "A moment...?"

    > The CIA's torture program is a shameful moment in American history

    A "moment?" Let's be honest here: America is STILL a torture state.

    It's not just that the torturers and those who gave the orders have not been prosecuted. Or that there's no reason to believe that they'll ever be prosecuted, not even by the opposition party.

    Before the 2004 election, the world knew that the U.S. was kidnapping people around the world and torturing them.
    Before the 2004 election, the world already knew about the Aug. 1, 2002 Office of Legal Counsel memo on torture that advised the CIA and White House that torture was just peachy keen. Before the 2004 election, the Washington Post had already confirmed that torture, extraordinary renditions, failure to register detainees with the Red Cross and other violations of the Geneva Conventions were official policy, approved by the White House.

    And yet the folks who did it were not only re-elected, but there was no sign that it hurt them in the polls. Nor was it an issue in 2008.

    In 2012, at least three major Republican candidates, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain, called for torture to resume. (Presumably Ron Paul thought that torture is an issue that should be left to the states.) There was not the slightest hint that it hurt them in the polls, and not the slightest backlash from even the Democrats.

    The US torture program is on hiatus at best, only for as long as Democrats are in power.

     

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    Snark Knight, Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 3:18pm

    Political Correctness Gone Mad

    Just think, thanks to 'Freedom Fries' and 'Enhanced Interrogation,' political correctness is not exclusively the domain of liberal-leaning pols anymore. It now has "Bi-Partisan" support!

     

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  8.  
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    DerekCurrie (profile), Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 3:21pm

    Next Up: Calling NSA Treason 'Treason'

    Mass surveillance of US citizens on US soil without probable cause, without a warrant. That's treason. How about calling it 'treason', eh Senate?

    And how about impeaching and prosecuting all the people who participated in that treason, eh Senate?

    The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution:
    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    Benjamin Franklin's point of view:
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    Teddy Roosevelt's point of view:
    "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Next Up: Calling NSA Treason 'Treason'

    Because as disgusting as it is, as much as those that have committed such actions deserve to be stripped of their positions, tried, and thrown in jail, their actions are not treason.

    Treason, at least in the US, has a very specific definition, and goes as follows:

    'Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.'

    Now, have the NSA and other parts of the government violated the rights and privacy of the people? Very much so.

    Have they violated the Constitution to do so? That's pretty much a given, and just about anyone without a personal stake in the continuation of the spying programs will agree with that.

    Do they deserve to face charges and punishment for their actions? Absolutely.

    However, try them for what they have done(of which there is more than enough to put a lot of them behind bars for years, if someone powerful enough had the guts to charge them, and they found a judge willing to stand up to the USG), don't stretch the meanings of offenses that already have clear definitions, lest the new definitions are, sometime in the future, turned around and used against the people.

     

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    JBDragon, Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 5:12pm

    The poor Terrorists that got Waterboarded. Oh no, cry me a river. They still live and eat much better and have better medical then we do with Obamacare!!! If it was a American held by a Terrorist, well that person would end up with his head cut off. That's DEATH and real pain when it's happening. That is Torture!!!

    There's NO Geneva Convection going on! They're Terrorists. They sure don't follow it. Not even remotely. They aren't protected by it. Personally I think we should drill more over here, pull all of our troops out anywhere around those Areas, and let them go on living in the 17th century and killing each other off!!! They're not going to change.

     

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  11.  
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    Ismail, Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 5:42pm

    It's so easy to say that....but

    @JBDragon: As much as you would hate to admit it, the United States is a country bound by laws (or should be, as outlined in the Constitution), that apply to everyone, not just a few. We are often held to be the "example" of the world, and torture is exactly what it is. It makes no difference as to what arbitrary label you want to apply to anyone, torturing someone in the United States or by the US government is ILLEGAL...period. It's just so convenient to single out a certain religious group because they're unpopular here, isn't it? Imagine how the Jews of Nazi Europe felt (there really is no distinction here).

    They came for the blacks, but I did nothing because I wasn't black.
    They came for the Mexicans, but I did nothing because I wasn't Mexican.
    They came for the Orientals, but I did nothing because I wasn't Oriental.
    Then they came for me, and no one helped me because there was no one else left.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 6:11pm

    Ah the armchair 'soldier'...

    Condoning torture as long as it's used on 'terrorists', while objecting to 'torture' when it involves terrorists killing americans... double standards much?

    Here's an idea, maybe terrorists would be less likely to kill captured americans if the USG wasn't torturing captives, both making them even angrier against the US, and making it so the USG has no moral ground to object.

    Also, let's swap out a few words, shall we?

    'There's NO Geneva Convection going on! They're [scumbags torturing unarmed prisoners]. They sure don't follow it. Not even remotely. They aren't protected by it./

    So by that logic, you've got nothing to complain about. USG violates the Geneva convention, is therefor no longer protected by it, which makes killing american prisoners acceptable.

    I'd ask how you sleep at night, but given you've apparently sold your soul and morality for your 'patriotism'(and I use that word very loosely), I imagine it doesn't even cross your mind that your mindset is just as bad, if not worse, than the ones you decry so much.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Ah the armchair 'soldier'...

    I believe the politically correct term here is 'chickenhawk'

     

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    Roger Strong (profile), Apr 2nd, 2014 @ 6:56pm

    Torture! Not just for terrorists any more!

    > The poor Terrorists that got Waterboarded

    It's only terrorists in your happy fantasy land. The US was torturing people to see IF they had any connection to terrorism. There's an increasing number of people kidnapped and tortured, then released with an "er, never mind."

    And no, it's not just waterboarding. Khalid el-Masri, kidnapped in Europe, beaten, sodomized and tortured by the US, shipped to Afghanistan and held in horrific conditions. Released at night on a remote back-road in a third country, once the CIA realized they had a case of mistaken identity.

    Or Canadian telecommunications engineer Maher Arar, whose "crime" was that he knew someone who once knew someone who sort of had ties to terrorism. Kidnapped while transiting New York on his way back home to Canada, and shipped abroad for 11 months of torture. He's also been totally cleared.

    Or Binyam Mohamed. British court papers "contained details of how Mr Mohamed’s genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, “is very far down the list of things they did." This was collaborated by British intelligence officers, when the scandal over British complicity reached the court. He too was let go with a "never mind."

    The list is much longer.

     

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    TasMot (profile), Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 5:50am

    The CIA's torture program is a shameful moment in American history, and as a country, we cannot deal with it by pretending that it was anything other than what it was.


    Why call it what it was. It was just an interrogation malfunction, that's all, what's the big deal.

    In reality, the "people in power" in the US seem to have gotten it into their heads that they are the big bully on the block and can just do anything they want "because".

     

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  16.  
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    Master Chef, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 2:07pm

    Re:

    There's NO Geneva Convection going on!


    You're right. There is no oven called Geneva Convection.

     

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    Zonker, Apr 3rd, 2014 @ 5:33pm

    Re: Re:

    My Geneva Convection Oven does not torture the chicken, it gently roasts the chicken to absolute perfection!

     

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    GEMont, Apr 4th, 2014 @ 12:45am

    Extraordinary Rendition

    Correct me if I'm wrong here, but isn't the US still running a few dozen "extraordinary rendition" facilities in foreign countries around the globe, where acts of "detention and interrogation" continue to be exercised upon ..... well, who ever it is they have secretly kidnapped and spirited away to these places??

    I don't remember any official notification that mentions these US taxpayer funded torture chambers have been shut down.

     

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