Tuesday, April 1, 2014

CIA Use Of Torture: A Very Troubling Report

The March 31, 2014 Washington Post reports that a Senate Intelligence Committee report says several very troubling things:

1. The CIA misrepresented how much and the importance of the information that it obtained by "enhanced interrogation techniques," claiming that much of it was obtained without practices that are repugnant.

2. Some of the techniques used are clearly over the line into what I would consider torture.

I am generally prepared to tolerate pretty severe methods, especially in the ticking bomb scenario, but waterboarding is sufficiently close to torture that it makes me cringe.  Some of the techniques described in the article are beyond waterboarding.  But it would appear that even when there was no clear advantage to use of these techniques, CIA senior management was prepared to use them.    Extraordinary situations may require extraordinary techniques, but this just looks like CIA had some sadists on board.

Of course, the article points out that CIA says that there are substantial errors in the report.  I will be curious to hear the details.


  1. I'm not sure I have a big problem with torture to extract information, especially something that doesn't cause permanent damage/injury. Torture for torture's sake should be forbidden and the perpetrators punished severely.

  2. I think we should see what the CIA has to say. Keep in mind that this investigation is being pushed by Democrats who were briefed on, and approved of the CIA interrogation methods. It is strongly in their political interests to scapegoat the CIA to deflect blame from themselves. For example, from released information, we can't tell if the repeated beating-like behavior was with sham weapons (as we know were used in some instances - for psychological effect) or not. We also don't know if the reported bad instances were policy or an over-zealous or sadistic individual. The US is far better than most nations in stopping such folks, but they get through, as shown by the nasty National Guard troops at Abu Ghraib.

    Given who is publishing the information, I'd give the CIA the benefit of the doubt. We also known, from the over-politicization of this issue in the past, that the FBI has long had a grudge against the CIA on this issue. FBI "trained interrogators" are on record as claiming that coercive interrogations are worthless, and that only softer interrogations by experts (implication, FBI) work. Anyone who has followed the history of interrogation, including torture, knows this to be self serving BS!

    As to "torture" - torture by sadists always involves inflicting real injury. Our enemies (other than. ironically, Nazi Germany) have been happy to do so. There is only one allegation of real harm, and it is from the lawyer of a Jihadist. Hardly convincing.

    I went through Navy SERE school, where many of these techniques originated. Many thousands of American soldiers have been water-boarded. Many of us were beaten (I saw a number of my classmates knocked unconscious).

    We knew that this would be nothing compared to what the North Vietnamese would and did use. I have little sympathy for the few Jihadists who had some serious discomfort.