On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released its 528-page executive summary on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. The report is scathing, noting that the program was harsh and ineffective. The summary reveals that individuals who were subjected to torture (euphemistically referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques”), often yielded no intelligence, or they provided false intelligence to their captors. Furthermore, the study finds that the CIA frequently lied about the program’s effectiveness. In addition, the agency routinely downplayed the brutality of the program.
The enhanced interrogation techniques amounted to torture, plain and simple. Detainees were slammed into walls, deprived of sleep for periods as long as a week at a time, and subjected to ritual humiliations like “rectal feedings.” At times, CIA officers threatened to harm detainee’s children or to sexually abuse or murder their mothers. Some detainees were waterboarded until they nearly drowned.
The CIA detained at least 119 individuals. At least 39 of the detainees were victims of CIA torture techniques. Of the 119 detainees, at least 26 were “wrongfully held” and should not have been subjected to detention. The program was counterproductive, damaging America’s reputation in the world, while yielding little, if any, useful intelligence about terrorist operations overseas.
The report details a program that was nothing short of barbaric in its treatment of detainees. Many members of Congress do not want the details of the program to be publicized because they fear an international backlash. However, there is no reason violations of human rights committed by the United States should be exempt from scrutiny. The best way to prevent future atrocities in our name is to shine the light on past abuses and to resolve not to commit similar crimes against humanity ever again.
The shameful conduct of The CIA during the immediate post 9-11 era, further underscores the failure of the Bush administration to promote an effective foreign policy response to terrorism. Bush’s legacy is that he will be remembered for falsifying intelligence to launch war on Iraq and that he presided over a CIA that committed flagrant abuses of human rights in our name.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.