Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016

by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
Dummerston, Vt.
December 11, 2014
On Native Ground

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DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- A cursory glance at the executive summary of a heavily-censored, 6,700-page report of a U.S. Senate investigation into the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program leads one to an inescapable conclusion: The use of torture in the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks is as bad as we imagined.

Most of the report's conclusions have been evident to anyone paying attention for the last 13 years.

  • The "enhanced interrogation techniques" - otherwise known as torture - used by the CIA were ineffective at acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.

  • The CIA exaggerated the effectiveness of torture on detainees, and used the fabricated data to justify its use.

  • The torture the CIA used against detainees was more brutal than they had represented to policy-makers and others.

    Every established standard of international law considers waterboarding and some of the other things that the CIA did during interrogations to be torture.

    Put more simply, if an American prisoner of war was subjected to the treatment that terrorism suspects received under the Bush Administration's policies, the outcry would be deafening. Indeed, the beheading by ISIS of American journalist James Foley in Iraq was sufficient to galvanize Congress to take action against the group.

    The report was completed two years ago, and its release has been held up by the CIA and various apologists for the use of torture as U.S. policy during the Bush Administration.

    Remember how we got to this point?

    Former President George W. Bush and other members of his Administration came up with the legal justifications after 9/11. They classified suspects as "enemy combatants" and stripped them of the protections of the Geneva Conventions so that they could be interrogated, and then set up for torture.

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney was the supposed mastermind of this policy. He long maintained that torture works and that it has prevented terrorist attacks from occurring since 2001.

    From the Patriot Act to the creation of a gulag at Guantanamo Bay to illegal spying on Americans to the suspension of habeas corpus, 9/11 became the justification for some of the worst infringements on our civil liberties in our nation's history. In short, in seeking revenge for 9/11. we punished ourselves by taking away our own rights.

    And even though there is a different President, the policies inaugurated by Presidentr George W. Bush and Vice Dick Cheney have mostly survived under Barack Obama.

    President Obama talked a good game at the start of his tenure, but not only have the people who violated the Constitution and international law in the previous Administration gone unpunished, but many of their abuses have continue under his Administration.

    Obama has refused to investigate its predecessors because this President wanted the executive branch to keep the powers that the Bush Administration carved out for themselves.

    And the next President will likely do the same, even though most Americans reject the conservative argument that civil liberties and the Constitution must take a back seat to protecting the nation.

    The standard that was created during the Nuremberg tribunals after World War II is that there are some things that, even in wartime, are beyond the pale. Torture is one of those things. Yet our nation betrayed that standard after 9/11, and we are a less moral nation as a result.

    I firmly believe that the arrogance, the abuse of power, the lies and deceit of our leaders past and present are an outgrowth of the all-encompassing "Global War on Terror." All of this must be investigated and questioned, and those who have violated international law must be brought to justice and punished.

    Anything less keeps our nation on the path of perpetual war. Anything less is a failure.

    AR's Chief of Correspondents, Randolph T. Holhut, holds an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and is an award-winning journalist in New England for more than 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at randyholhut@yahoo.com.

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