America must never torture again

Today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the executive summary of its findings of its comprehensive, five-year investigation into CIA interrogation practices. By doing so, the committee rendered a considerable service to our country, and deserves our thanks. Particular credit goes to the Chairman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who steered the process with grit, steady and effective leadership, and a clear vision of the national interest.

So we now know more – if not yet quite all – about the program of official brutality that was cynically and deceptively sold as “enhanced interrogation.” We now know that the only “enhanced” aspect of the program was the quantum of its cruelty; we know that the cruelty was applied at much higher levels of intensity than previously admitted; and we know that the degree of torment deliberately inflicted crossed the threshold of torture under any reasonable definition of the term.

Here are a few examples: Each of the 183 times we subjected Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to waterboarding, we tortured. When we forced Mohammed al-Qahtani to endure beatings, stress positions, sleep deprivation, abnormally low body temperatures, and numerous other abusive techniques for 49 days of up to 20 hours-per-day interrogation sessions, we tortured. When we shipped Maher Arar – an innocent Canadian – to Syria for interrogation and he was beaten with shredded cables and held in a three-foot by six-foot “grave” for ten months, we tortured. When the CIA kidnapped Khaled El-Masri – an innocent German – from a hotel in Macedonia and flew him to Afghanistan for four months of brutal interrogations, we tortured. And when we rendered the Libyan dissident Sami al-Saadi (along with his wife and four children) to Gaddafi’s Libya, where our proxies tortured him, it is we who bear the responsibility.


Published on December 18, 2014


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