Crimes Against Nature

Photo by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew

Photo by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew


I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

It started with an image of terrible beauty: a man who appeared to be falling gracefully to his death from the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Thirteen years after, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, released this month, reveals the image of a nation — our nation — fallen from grace.

Four hundred ninety-nine pages detail that fall. That’s just the executive summary; the government won’t let you read some six thousand five hundred pages more for fear you might use them to start a fire to burn down Washington.

United States Senator John McCain — whose body and mind was forged in torture in Vietnam — said CIA torture interrogations “actually damaged our security interests, as well as our reputation as a force for good in the world.”

“It’s about us,” he said, “what we were, what we are, and what we should be, and that’s a nation that does not engage in these kinds of violations of the fundamental basic human rights that we guaranteed when we declared our independence.”

These were the key findings:

  1. Torture doesn’t work.
  2. The CIA used torture because it mistakenly believed torture does work.
  3. The torture was far worse than the CIA let on.
  4. Conditions of confinement were worse than the CIA told policymakers.
  5. The CIA lied to the Department of Justice so it couldn’t properly analyze the torture program.
  6. The CIA would rather not be supervised by Congress.
  7. The CIA would rather not be supervised by the White House.
  8. The CIA would rather not cooperate with the FBI, the State Department, or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
  9. The CIA would rather not be supervised by its own Office of Inspector General.
  10. The CIA told lies to the media about what it was doing, but that was okay because they were telling the same lies to Congress, the Department of Justice, and the President..
  11. The CIA didn’t know what to do with the suspected terrorists it captured, and had no plan to ever turn them loose if it discovered it was wrong.
  12. The CIA put people in charge of torture interrogations who had no idea what they were doing.
  13. The CIA torture interrogation program was designed by two Air Force guys who had no experience in interrogation, had barely heard of al-Qa’ida, and whose knowledge of the language and culture was confined basically to belly dancers.
  14. CIA detainees were tortured by means not only unapproved by the Department of Justice, but unauthorized by the CIA.
  15. The CIA was never sure just how many people it detained, why they were detained, or what happened to them.
  16. The CIA never tried to find out if torture was actually working.
  17. The CIA rarely reprimanded or in any way held accountable torturers who might have gone a little over the top.
  18. Criticisms, critiques, and objections about the torture interrogations, even from within the CIA, were like water running off a duck.
  19. The CIA torture interrogation program essentially collapsed under its own weight when other countries tired of hosting torture sites and started blabbing about it. All but one country, whose name is still classified (but you probably wouldn’t want to live there), bailed on the program.
  20. The CIA torture program damaged U.S. standing in the world, created tensions with U.S. partners and allies, and screwed up bilateral intelligence relationships.

Well, duh.

Welcome to the rabbit hole.


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One Response to Crimes Against Nature

  1. Gary Sheehan 18 December 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    Such a complex story. Complicated by partisan politics. The report was entirely put out by the left.

    When you hear James Mitchell tell his story it’s clear that he believes in what was done. That it did get useful information that saved American lives.

    When I hear John McCain talk about it I think he has earned, more than any other politician, the right to say what he needs to say. But I also thought, later, that he has a biased point based on what he suffered. So many on the left attacked him a few short years ago, now they seem to embrace him because this report hurts the right.

    I don’t want to defend the CIA here, they can do that all they want. When the head of the CIA came out and apologized recently I thought it’s just “damage control”. It’s what they do in situations like this.

    The image of that poor soul that you put up as he jumped, that’s enough for me to defend what they did at the time. It’s a different time and world now. 100 million radical Muslims spread out all over the world killing children in the name of some religion. The so-called “good” Muslims should be the ones out front bringing them down, but you hardly hear a thing from them. Right here in Cambridge MA at their mosque there are many stories of extremists including the Marathon bombers and the head geek (computer expert) for isis among just a few. Hell bent on killing Americans.

    In a perfect world there would be no need for this conversation… If only …..

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