The Senate report on the useless brutality and deception involved in the CIA’s interrogation program tends to support what those of us who opposed torture from the start have been saying all along:
In January 2003, 10 months into the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret prison program, the agency’s chief of interrogations sent an email to colleagues saying that the relentlessly brutal treatment of prisoners was a train wreck “waiting to happen and I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens.” He said he had told his bosses he had “serious reservations” about the program and no longer wanted to be associated with it “in any way.”
The bitter infighting in the C.I.A. interrogation program was only one symptom of the dysfunction, disorganization, incompetence, greed and deception described in a summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report. In more than 500 pages, the summary, released on Tuesday, paints a devastating picture of an agency that was ill equipped to take on the task of questioning Al Qaeda suspects, bungled the job and then misrepresented the results….
The report said the agency had evidently forgotten its own conclusion, sent to Congress in 1989, that “inhumane physical or psychological techniques are counterproductive because they do not produce intelligence and will probably result in false answers.” The Democratic Senate staff members who studied the post-Sept. 11 program came up with an identical assessment: that waterboarding, wall-slamming, nudity, cold and other ill treatment produced little information of value in preventing terrorism.
The report spends little time condemning torture on moral or legal grounds. Instead, it addresses mainly a practical question: Did torture accomplish anything of value? Looking at case after case, the report answers with an unqualified no.
I’m not exactly surprised. You may recall I wrote the following on WND back in 2006:
Consider the words of Winston Churchill, a man not well-known for shirking confrontation or combat, written after World War I while he was secretary of state for war:
All the horrors of all the ages were brought together, and not only armies but whole populations were thrust into the midst of them. The mighty educated States involved conceived – not without reason – that their very existence was at stake. Neither peoples nor rulers drew the line at any deed which they thought could help them to win. Germany, having let hell loose, kept well in the van of terror; but she was followed step by step by the desperate and ultimately avenging nations she had assailed. … When it was all over, Torture and Cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilized, scientific, Christian States had been able to deny themselves: and they were of doubtful utility.
It is those last words that most completely damn the Bush administration as barbarians unfit for leadership of the free world. Few would find appeals to national security very compelling if the president insisted that victory in the War That Dare Not Speak Its Name required feeding the armed forces on the flesh of fallen Iraqis, and yet there is very little evidence, historic or current, that indicates torture will be of any use in turning back the forces of expansionist Islam.
Enthusiastic use of the most brutal torture did not help the French hold Algeria against Islamic rebels, nor did it bring victory to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Debates about whether “water boarding” is more acceptable than the rack or thumbscrews are meaningless; the point is that civilized societies do not indulge in such activities since they are evil and effectively useless.