First, let’s dispense with the semantic games over “torture” or “enhanced interrogations.” Torture is defined as the “infliction of severe physical pain or anguish as a means of punishment or coercion.” The 119 individuals swept up in the CIA’s program in the wake of 9/11 were not “punished.” The purpose of the techniques used was to coerce information out of the subjects. It was “torture.” And who cares?
Second, some have questioned the legality of the techniques used, but two administrations with vastly different visions have come to the same conclusion- it was legal. The Left’s next best argument is that even though legal, it was unethical or immoral. In fact, the UN, the International Red Cross and several other international organizations have said the same. Yet these organizations are not responsible for protecting American lives and are often silent about the unethical and immoral highjacking of airplanes and flying them into skyscrapers, the systematic kidnapping of foreign aid workers, televised beheading, forced religious conversion, systematic rape and the slave trade of non-Muslims. There is a serious moral disconnect at play here. Some have attacked this hypocrisy by equating drone attacks with torture. I don’t because I believe every means at our disposal should be used to thwart terrorism attacks and if taking out a terrorist at the end of a Hellfire missile is what it takes, then go for it!
Where I somewhat disagree with my conservative brethren is that the unnecessary release of this report will cause retaliation in the Muslim world. Terrorists do not need the excuse of a Senate report to commit their atrocities against innocent people. News flash: they hate us anyway. Where I do agree with my conservative brethren is that this report puts at risk friendly nations that helped us in that dangerous time after 9/11. Already, Thailand has been identified as one of those countries. What incentive is there for any country in the future to help us in the war on terrorism if they are going to be swept into some American moral passion play?
The report calls into question the efficacy of the techniques used by stating that any intelligence of importance gleaned could have been obtained through other means. That may be so, but one also has to look at the times during which these actions were taken when there was a very real and justifiable belief that “time was of the essence.” From 2001 to 2004, there were eight major terrorist attempts thwarted- (1) Richard Reid, (2) Jose Padilla, (3) the Lackawanna Six, (4) the Brooklyn Bridge plot, (5) the Virginia Jihad Group, (6) the NYSE plot, (7) the New York subway plot during the Republican convention and (8) the Albany plot to kill a Pakistani official. These were just attempts on American soil and do not count the attempts overseas. It is simply inconceivable to believe that the 50 plots identified by the Heritage Foundation as of 2009 were solely attributable to dumb luck or more traditional methods of detection. The program led directly to the capture of Khalid Sheik-Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11. That single capture alone justifies the program.
Finally there is the Left’s complaint that if America acts like this then we are no different and no better than the terrorists. The Left does not understand this basic concept: terrorists hate us. They have no concept of due process, criminal rights, or the Geneva Convention. While we put ourselves unnecessarily in a moral wringer, they behead and rape people in the name of Allah.
Its great to be an armchair quarterback like Diane Feinstein and [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’U000038′ ] and question these tactics and techniques. In the interest of transparency, they have indicted and besmirched a valuable tool in the fight against terrorism- the CIA. Some on the Left have claimed these actions to be criminal. What is truly criminal is that this Senate report has, in the name of transparency, made the world a less safe place and has shed light on an agency where light should not be shed.
Like the moral hand wringing over slavery, this too shall pass, but not without consequences.