Congressional Torture Report
I think that to some extent the Congressional torture report is much ado about nothing. I haven’t read the report, but based on TV and press discussions of it, I don’t think that there is much new in it. It may just be official verification of allegations already made by journalists. It does accuse the CIA of torture, but I think torture is a vague term. When I was in Brazil, the military government used to do much worse things to Brazilian dissidents than waterboarding. I had one American prisoner who was sort of my responsibility since he was a fellow Vietnam veteran, and I went to visit him frequently to discourage the Brazilians from doing anything bad to him. He was held in the basement of an unmarked house in a very nice neighborhood with other “political prisoners.”
But whether something is torture or not, it is probably good for the US to debate whether we want (or should) do it or not. We are debating this for us, to maintain our integrity, not to coddle the prisoners.
One thing that seems to have come out is that career CIA officers did not want to do these things, waterboarding, etc. So, the CIA hired some contractors to do it. The fact that career officers did not want to do it seems to speak well of the CIA, and seems to call into question whether it should have been done. The other question is whether these tactics worked, whether they got information. There seems to be a split of opinion on whether they did or not. It seems to me that this is a question that additional information should help clear up. How did we learn about Osama bin Laden’s courier? Somebody must know the correct answer. But it seems like all we get are political answers.