Prisoner torture: The hypocritical standard

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The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report, released on Dec. 9, 2014 reveals that the CIA misled Americans and government policymakers about the effectiveness of the program that was secretly put into place after the 9/11 terror attacks. (Shane T. McCoy | Tribune News Service)

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report, released on Dec. 9, 2014 reveals that the CIA misled Americans and government policymakers about the effectiveness of the program that was secretly put into place after the 9/11 terror attacks. (Shane T. McCoy | Tribune News Service)

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report on Dec. 9, 2014, regarding the “Enhanced Interrogation” techniques used by the CIA during the Bush-era. This report, championed by committee chair Dianne Feinstein, condemned the CIA for its use of torture under the guise of national security, which purportedly did not result in actionable information.

The report is, altogether, disturbing. The United States government condoned the use of torture techniques that revealed a shocking level of barbarity. According to the Senate report, at least one prisoner was subjected to more than a week without sleep, during which he was forced to stand in stress positions. Some prisoners were also repeatedly water-boarded; a series of “near drownings.”

Are we any different from our enemies if we engage in and support ineffective barbaric interrogation techniques all in the name of national security? If we use it on our prisoners, is it OK for them to use it on those of us they capture?

Torture is a complicated and controversial issue. Some argue that the CIA was justified in its use of enhanced interrogation techniques because it produced information vital to the safety of our nation —information that would otherwise remain unknown.

Hypothetically speaking, is it OK to torture an individual suspected of setting a bomb in a large metropolitan city in order to potentially prevent the event? On the surface, it seems reasonable. Countless, innocent lives could be saved.

Yet, Feinstein and members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded that torture is ineffective and violates our most basic principles as a nation. Thus, torture is never acceptable regardless of circumstance.

In sharp contrast, the Republican rebuttal to the report stated that the use of torture was an effective method for gathering information. In other words, the means justified the ends. The use of torture is now a bipartisan issue; Republicans defend it, and Democrats oppose it. How do we discern the truth? Which report is based on facts and not suppositions?

Without a doubt, trust the Senate intelligence report, spearheaded by a Democratic chairperson and supported by the majority of Democrats. The reasons are clear. Torture is wrong. Torture is barbaric. Torture violates all that makes us human.

Some might argue that the report is biased because its No. 1 champion, Feinstein, remains a vocal critic of the Bush-Cheney administration. The report does condemn those who allowed the torture to continue, namely former President George Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Though the CIA deceived the White House, those in power are ultimately responsible. And, interestingly, one of the top members of the Republican Party, John McCain, supported publishing the torture report. According to USA today, McCain was quoted saying that “the truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow.” As a former prisoner of war subjected to harsh conditions and unspeakable torture, McCain can attest that it does not work. He praised the release of this report.

Torture brings forth the true barbarity of man, and I, for one, am ashamed of those who use it, those who support it, and the government for allowing it to happen.