Bush Thanks the CIA Torturers

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate publicly released a report concerning the mistreatment and harassment of prisoners held by the Central Intelligence Agency in prosecuting its war on terror. The excitement in the run-up to the release of the report reached near-hysterical proportions. Republican politicians demonized the report’s release, calling it gross negligence, irresponsible and unconscionable. Senators Marco Rubio and Jim Risch even claimed that without any backup evidence the report was neither “serious or constructive.” President Obama issued an advisory to all U.S. military and diplomatic facilities in foreign countries to increase security measures due to the “increased risk” probable in the wake of the report’s release.

The referenced report is a very condensed and heavily censored item ordered by the Senate Intelligence Committee; 6,200 pages were melted down to a mere 480. What was left is already widely known, but is nonetheless highly explosive and deals with torture “techniques,” such as systematic sleep deprivation, beatings, forcible dislocation of body joints, imprisonment in very confined spaces, simulated drowning — waterboarding — and many other forms of mental and physical cruelty. Neoconservative broadcaster Fox News — also an opponent of making the report public — stated on Monday that even in abstract form, it contained graphic descriptions of sexual torture, involving, among other things, broomsticks and electric drills.

Those mainly responsible for this crime, former President George W. Bush and his vice-president, Dick Cheney — have consistently defended the torture they approved. In a Sunday CNN interview, Bush said he knew many CIA agents personally, calling them “good people” and adding that “whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country it is way off base. I knew the directors, the deputy directors, I knew a lot of the operators. These are good people. Really good people. And we’re lucky as a nation to have them.” Cheney told The New York Times the methods used were “absolutely, totally justified,” and that those involved “ought to be decorated, not criticized.” He also said that they were “effective at preventing another mass casualty attack on the U.S.”

That claim, however, is highly doubtful. A majority in the media have come to the conclusion that torturing produced no significant successes. Fox News disagrees with that assessment, citing un-named CIA officials involved in torturing captives who maintain that the intelligence gained had been publicly downplayed. Besides that, the same anonymous sources claim the Senate majority leader and speaker of the House had been informed of the practices used on more than three dozen separate occasions.

The day after his inauguration, President Obama proclaimed the end of CIA torture and the closing of secret CIA prisons in foreign countries. On the downside, his promise to introduce more transparency into methods used by the CIA remains yet to be demonstrated.

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