Getting “Emotional” About Post-9/11 CIA Torture Tactics

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) came under attack this weekend from former CIA Director Michael Hayden for the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11. Hayden said that Feinstein, who heads up the committee, “wanted a report so scathing that it would ensure that an un-American brutal program of detention interrogation would never again be considered or permitted.”

“That motivation for the report may show deep emotional feeling on the part of the senator, but I don’t think it leads you to an objective report,” Hayden said. Following those comments, Feinstein defended herself saying that the only direction she gave her staff “was to let the facts speak for themselves.” She added that the intelligence committee voted 11-3 to declassify the report, which has yet to be released.

In an op-ed, WaPo’s Eugene Robinson called Hayden’s comments “sexist smoke” that detract from what appear to be “appalling” facts on the nature of America’s torture program. He goes on to explain why the release of the report is critical:

Forgive me for getting emotional, but this is an outrage.

It was Justice Louis D. Brandeis who remarked that “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” Torture is a stain on this nation’s honor that can be bleached away only by full exposure. Feinstein’s committee spent years finding out what really happened. I should have a right to know what my government did in my name.

The Post last week cited unnamed sources as saying the Senate report concludes that the CIA “misled the government and the public” about the torture program. According to The Post, the agency downplayed the “severity” of its interrogation methods, overstated the significance of some prisoners and took credit for information that detainees had actually surrendered under legal, non-coercive questioning.

If America’s torture program turns out to be worse than we knew, as Robinson suggests, then we would expect — and should hope — to see more “emotional” responses in the future.

Video Clip: Reckoning With Torture
Perhaps a bit of emotional outrage would have led more people to question the “new, enhanced interrogation techniques” that we already know were used against detainees. Author and activist Larry Siems described the treatment of terror suspect Abu Zubaidah to Bill in an interview last year on Moyers & Company.

The Washington Post reported that an official who read the Senate Intelligence Committee’s document said that almost all of the critical threat-related information from Zubaidah was obtained when he was questioned at a hospital in Pakistan — that is, before he was interrogated by the CIA and waterboarded 83 times.

In fact, several officials who read the report said the CIA’s most valuable intelligence against al-Qaeda had little, if anything, to do with “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Anger, outrage and sadness would seem to be an appropriate response to that.

Karin Kamp is a multimedia journalist and producer. She has produced content for BillMoyers.com, NOW on PBS and WNYC public radio and worked as a reporter for Swiss Radio International. She also helped launch The Story Exchange, a site dedicated to women’s entrepreneurship.

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