Only Question Remaining About Torture: Why Would Anyone Defend It?

The recent Washington Post article reporting some of the details of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the use of torture by the CIA tells us more of what we already have known for a long time: it never worked to produce any good intelligence in the War on Terror.

“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one U.S. official briefed on the report. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”…

“The CIA conflated what was gotten when, which led them to misrepresent the effectiveness of the program,” said a second U.S. official who has reviewed the report. The official described the persistence of such misstatements as among “the most damaging” of the committee’s conclusions.

The lies by the CIA to protect the program of torturing suspects was clearly consistent.  Much like the use of imaginary heroics to boost support for the war effort by the Bush administration (see their manipulation of the Jessica Lynch story), the CIA also propagandized their efforts to keep things moving in the wrong direction on torture tactics:

Detainees’ credentials also were exaggerated, officials said. Agency officials described Abu Zubaida as a senior al-Qaeda operative — and, therefore, someone who warranted coercive techniques — although experts later determined that he was essentially a facilitator who helped guide recruits to al-Qaeda training camps.

But the question remains: why would anyone, such as torture advocate and former CIA official Jose Rodriguez, continue to claim the program worked and, in essence, should be kept as a possible tactic to use in the future?

It’s clear that part of the reason is that some of these folks want to believe that their work and efforts were useful and made an impact on the intelligence effort.  No one wants to hear that their years of hard work, no matter how despicable, was useless or, even worse, counterproductive to the overall goal of minimizing terrorism.

There could, however, be another rather dubious reason: staying away from any possible penalty for their actions.  As the article points out very briefly:

The report also does not recommend new administrative punishment or further criminal inquiry into a program that the Justice Department has investigated repeatedly. (Emphasis added)

If we consider the lies and distortions the CIA dealt to their overseers, we have to question why they continued to use the program because, at this point, it almost seems as if they were just downright sadistic and wanted to hurt people.  And if that was the only logical reason to continue a program they knew was ineffective, they would certainly put themselves in a position to face criminal prosecution at some point.

Which now begs the question, will the Senate report ever be released to the public?  A portion of it may come out but it’s rather doubtful the whole report will be released since the embarrassment of the torture program’s ineffectiveness would be damaging to the entire government, not just the CIA.  The Senate has a reason to keep the whole of that report under wraps and it is likely they will do just that.

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