On Dec. 9, the U.S. Senate published the executive summary of the CIA 9/11 counterterrorism report. The report revealed that the degree of cruelty was much higher than what was originally published. Soon after, U.S. President Barack Obama issued a declaration denouncing the use of torture as a misalignment with American values: “I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong — in the past.”
Publishing the CIA torture report was the equivalent of bringing the skeletons out of the closet for investigation, which demonstrated the untrustworthiness of the CIA by the two opposing political parties. After the 9/11 terrorist tragedy, George W. Bush, the president at the time, started the war on terror. At this time, the published counterterrorism report was being conducted by the Democratic Party, which President Obama was very pleased to see.
Although there are more than 6,000 pages in the full report, not all of them were released. Only the 480-page summary report was released by the U.S. government, but it still shocked the American public and drove the rest of the world into a deep state of contemplation. The Independent, a British newspaper, also published an article denouncing the torture as “a program of cruelty, violence, secrets, and lies that did not work, and [that] has dragged the United States into a moral black hole.”
This event should be investigated from four different angles. First, each act of cruelty by the CIA is a clear violation of the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture. As a signatory, how can the U.S. not take this seriously? As a matter of fact, as early as 2006, the U.N. Committee Against Torture asked the United States to ban all forms of torture and close all secret prisons. The problem is, did the U.S. really want to change? Secondly, was it effective in the end? Because of the war on terror, they were able to justify the use of torture on legal grounds, but with little success. On the contrary, it was even counterproductive. The CIA’s use of torture to extort a confession failed to provide any major counterterrorism intelligence, which is highly faulted, but the problem is, even if forcing prisoners to provide information through the use of torture did provide answers, is this really the way to go about it? Third, what does the U.S. mean by “counterterrorism?” Terrorism is the enemy of the whole world. This means that the war on terror is necessary — there is no question about it — but in ten years of fighting terrorism the U.S. has invested a lot of manpower and financial resources, which has led to a state of confusion around the world. As a result, the more counterterrorism measures there are, the greater the fear. Isn’t this something to think about?
More importantly, how does the U.S. really view its idea of human rights? Holtermann, of Humboldt University’s international politics department, believes that this incident will cause the United States to lose credibility on the subject of human rights. The United States is facing a turning point and needs to reflect on its own ideas on human rights policies. Indeed, the U.S. has been the self-proclaimed protector of human rights and is always making a big deal of other countries’ human rights violations, which has enabled them to rise to the level of international human rights safeguard. However, this report demonstrated that America has its own human rights problems. They themselves violate human rights, but are pointing fingers at other countries, which seems like a joke. As a matter of fact, when weighed against the fundamental human desire for freedom, what they did is a shame for humankind. No matter what country, there should never be any acts of cruelty. Although the Obama administration clearly prohibits torture, in practice they are not really showing any signs of stopping. The fact that America uses human rights as a tool seems ridiculous.
Someone said, “CIA torture chambers need sunlight.” But that’s not the only place that needs more sunlight. The report the U.S. just released is not enough; truly putting an end to torture, as well as moving one step closer to a further reflection on counterterrorism policy, leading to a change in U.S. human rights practices, is still a long way off.