Getting Away With Torture

Regular Americans are held accountable for their actions. Why aren't government officials?


Now we have it straight from the chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Dianne Feinstein:

Under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured. I also believe that the conditions of confinement and the use of authorized and unauthorized interrogation and conditioning techniques were cruel, inhuman, and degrading. I believe the evidence of this is overwhelming and incontrovertible.

She should have added "sadistic." Your tax money went to employ sadists. Perhaps this is nothing new.

Feinstein writes this in introducing the recently declassified, but heavily redacted 525-pageexecutive summary of the committee's 6,000-page report on the CIA's post-9/11 use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" (EIT). It portrays a dishonest and brutal agency determined to use whatever methods it wished regardless of legality.

In her introduction, Feinstein put the CIA's actions into context:

I can understand the CIA's impulse to consider the use of every possible tool to gather intelligence and remove terrorists from the battlefield, and CIA was encouraged by political leaders and the public to do whatever it could to prevent another attack….

Nevertheless, such pressure, fear, and expectation of further terrorist plots do not justify, temper, or excuse improper actions taken by individuals or organizations in the name of national security.

Amen. No excuse for torture is acceptable. Apologists for the CIA, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and former CIA Director Michael Hayden, may use all the convoluted arguments they can muster to claim that EITs do not constitute torture. But they cannot change the facts. Any government unfriendly to the American empire that had used these techniques would have been condemned by the U.S. government as barbaric.

What will happen now? In a word, nothing. Yes, we will have some fresh window dressing: the CIA has already been removed from doing detention and interrogation. But the CIA has been far from the only problem. The entire national-security state and the global empire it supports are the problems. The U.S. military detained and tortured more people than the CIA did, and despite appearances, President Obama has not ruled that out for the future.

As Jeffrey Kaye reported in the Guardian,

The United States Army Field Manual (AFM) on interrogation has been sold to the American public and the world as a replacement for the brutal torture tactics used by the CIA and the Department of Defense during the Bush/Cheney administration.

On 22 January 2009, President Obama released an executive order stating that any individual held by any US government agency "shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2 22.3."

But a close reading of Department of Defense documents and investigations by numerous human rights agencies have shown that the current Army Field Manual itself uses techniques that are abusive and can even amount to torture.…

Labeled Appendix M, and propounding an additional, special "technique" called "Separation," human rights and legal group have recognized that Appendix M includes numerous abusive techniques, including use of solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation.

Aside from some PR stunts, the government will observe standard operating procedure. What we know for certain is that no one will be prosecuted. Top officials in the George W. Bush administration, and operatives all along the chain of command, broke American and international law. The U.S. government is a party to antitorture treaties, under which suspected transgressors are to be prosecuted. So Obama is flouting the law by not pressing for legal action, and torture victims have been denied redress in court.

Moreover, the U.S. government never joined the International Criminal Court, so it obviously will not cooperate in any effort to bring American torturers to justice.

About the only hint of consequences for the torturers is that henceforth they will be afraid to travel to Europe, where they might be charged with crimes against humanity under the "universal jurisdiction" doctrine. It's small comfort that torturers will be deprived of the ability to vacation abroad.

Regular Americans are held accountable for their actions. Why are not government officials?

As long as the American people overlook government's criminal acts, the state will continue to commit crimes.

This article originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

NEXT: Four Thoughts on North Korea, Hollywood, Free Speech, and Terrorist Threats

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  1. My give-a-fuck-o-meter is at minus Graham's number.

  2. Your tax money went to employ sadists.

    No shit. And not just a handful at the CIA, either. Why, this very site reports on a daily basis the antics of various sadists who have managed to turn their hobby into a nice job courtesy of the taxpayer.

  3. What's in it for Feinstein? She's never said a fucking thing I agreed with in the past.

    Maybe losing everything in the last election has some impact after all.

    1. What's in it for Feinstein is that the democrats no longer control the Senate so Feinstein can pretend she cares but now has the excuse that she is the minority party and can't do anything to stop it. Those evil republicans are stopping her.

      Which does not explain why nothing was done when her party was in charge.

    2. Maybe losing everything in the last election has some impact after all.

      Not to Feinstein. She has no POTUS ambitions and she is safely ensconced as a member of the California delegation. North Korea looks at California with envy because California has crafted a one-party dictatorship that the Norks couldn't hope to rival.

  4. Your tax money went to employ sadists.

    You money is going to employ them now. They work at jails and prisons all over the US and for police departments. The Chicago cop who tortured and obtained erroneous confessions from dozens or maybe hundreds of innocent people was never prosecuted due to the statute of limitations and lives quietly collecting his pension to this day.

    That is the kind of story that will get people angry about torture. Rightly or wrongly no one gives a shit that the US government tortured a bunch of Muslims after 911. They just don't. This story is never going to result in anything or any change.

    1. KR at NRO has a great article about it today:

      That dude is smart. And writes well.

      1. He is by far the best writer they have these days. Thanks for the link. I hadn't seen that.

        1. Steyn does the occasional good guest piece. And when they still had Derb, he was a top notch writer.

          1. I friggin love Steyn too. One of the few guys that could get me to read (wait for it).....A WHOLE BOOK!!!

          2. I still think National Review was a bunch of punk bitches when they pushed Derb away - Jonah Goldberg in particular.

            1. Meh, I don't think they were bitches for it. I understand what Derb was saying in that article, but frankly it was so inflammatory that our current environment would never allow them to do anything meaningful for their mission if they had kept him on. It was business, and I can't fault them for that.

              On the other hand, I stopped going there in the run-up to the 2012 election. The RAH RAH RAAAAHMNY cheerleading was just dreadful. Not only were the majority of their columnists completely in the tank for Romney, but they were willing to bash any idea another guy in the pool had, regardless of its merits, just because it could have hurt Romney. And that, sadly, was the biggest cost. In their run up to the nomination, they sold out many core economic principles to better sell a guy who spent his life perpetuating the crony capitalism that permeates Massachusetts.

              Ramesh at that site has been pushing his Tax Reform package for years which basically shifts significant amounts of our tax welfare from unfavored (in his eyes) classes to ones he does favor, such as people willing to have many kids. His is a perfect example of how they have completely lost their economic foundations- they have internalized the Dem ethos that government is there to use money to Perfect us, he just has a different vision of perfection than they do.

  5. If that dude has nothing to hide, then why is he wearing a hood?

    1. Solidarity with Trayvon

  6. "solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation."

    So basically like being in any prison in the US.

    1. ^^THIS^^

      That is the part of Abu Garhib that the media never mentions; the people who did it were prison guards in civilian life. I doubt they even thought what they were doing was wrong. Why would they? This is what they did in their civilian jobs at a prison.

      1. And yet people never seem to mind these realities in our own prisons. Many of the people who are wailing and gnashing teeth over this report are the same people who will gleefully celebrate the fact that a convicted criminal will be forcibly sodomized in prison.

        1. You are correct. It is fucking appalling.

    2. The way we treat inmates in this country is atrocious -- and cruel and unusual under and reasonable standard -- and not unrelated to the abuses mentioned in Feinstein's report.

      1. It is by both degree and quantity a hundred times worse than anything that went on with the CIA. I would be more willing to take people in the media who claim to be outraged by this seriously if they ever once showed they give a fuck about what is going on in our prisons. Reason is about the only publication who gets a pass on that since they actually do talk about our prisons. But the rest of these assholes? As far as I can tell, they only give a shit about torture if it is happening to someone other than an American.

      2. The way we treat inmates in this country is atrocious

        And yet it's light-years beyond how inmates* are treated in other countries.

        Isn't that sad?

        *Though, I forget exactly which South American country it is, but in one of them their constitution specifically grants the right of prisoners to have regular conjugal visits. I wonder if that cuts down on the prison rape or not.

        1. France. France is the worst of any Western Country.

  7. Sheldon Richman demonstrates anew the concept of confirmation bias.

  8. Let's have a rousing refrain from our Utilitarian Bipartisan Consensus Choir of, The End Justifies the Means.

  9. What's in it for Feinstein?

    One last chance to say, "I BLAME BOOOOOOOOOOSH."

    1. This time it is legitimate because none of the Democrats...Biden, Clinton, Pelosi, Kerry, Reid, Feinstein herself...knew about this at the time or approved of it. Since they are totally blameless for the torture, hell for the Iraq war itself, then it is cool for them to blame Bush for everything.

      1. I hope you just forgot the [ / sarc] tag.

        Otherwise, when were they all hit on the head resulting in memory loss?

      2. Is there a sarc tag missing here?

  10. Wow. Let's relive the early 2000's ONE MORE TIME!

    No thanks. None of this is news, except to derps who weren't/aren't paying attention and will go back to sleep in a week or so, till the next OUTRAGE! comes along.

    Hey, great they got those VA hospitals all whipped into shape and all those patients taken care of, right?! Least we can do for our Fallen Heroes?.

    1. Christ, what is with the hating on vets? You act like they're cops or something!

      1. HATING on vets? I'm so glad we've taken care of them after that fucking SHITSTORM of criticism about the hospitals! The way America changed and we fixed the VA and everything! So we took care of our vets because WE CARE SO MUCH...

        Oh, wait...

        /see, if I have to explain the sarcasm...this was about 'murcans' short attention span..

        1. Duly noted. I guess I agree. The fuck were we talking about again?

          1. LOOK! KIM KARDASHIAN!!!!!

            *runs back to couch*

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  16. Regular Americans are held accountable for their actions. Why aren't government officials?

    Too easy.


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