“In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks," deadpanned President Barack Obama from the podium as he referred to a forthcoming Senate investigation report critical of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) interrogation practices under the Bush administration after the infamous 9/11 terror attack.
“It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks [CIA personnel] had,” said the President.
We tortured some folks?
We shouldn’t feel too sanctimonious about it now because of the tough job the CIA had?
Gee, that doesn’t sound too bad.
Yeah, the U.S. government shouldn’t have tortured any of the “folks.” It was wrong. It was against the law. It’s too bad. But sometimes the circumstances call for a few of the “folks” to be tortured a little bit like when it’s the expedient thing to do.
We can torture some of the “folks” and say we’re sorry later. Then we can forget about it and move on. We shouldn’t be too sanctimonious about it though.
But some government goons just don’t want to say they’re sorry. They’ll tell you that the federal government using torture methods to interrogate terrorist suspects is justified. They maintain that government torture practices are defensible.
That’s exactly what John Rizzo, a former senior CIA lawyer who was intimately involved in the agency’s so-called “enhanced” interrogation program argues. He thinks that the Senate investigation is a “kangaroo court,” and its conclusions unfair to the CIA torturers.
He defends government torture. He claims it’s justified. He believes he and his fellow government goons did nothing wrong. Government torture is defensible, he still declares.
But torture is indefensible.
The United States Constitution plainly sets forth the limits on what the government can do to persons it has accused, or suspects are guilty of, crime. Every accused suspect is entitled to due process of law. No accused shall be compelled to testify. They are entitled to, among other things, an attorney; notice of the charges; a hearing; and a speedy trial.
The government is not allowed to punish the accused before trial and conviction, and even if found guilty no punishment shall be cruel or unusual. In short, the Constitution in no way shape or form allows torture under any circumstances.
As far as I know, the United States government did not torture German and Japanese prisoners of war during WWII, even though the Germans and the Japanese committed unspeakable atrocities against some American POW’s. They did it to us but our Constitution and laws forbade us doing the same to them – regardless of the circumstances.
Rizzo correctly points out the craven hypocrisy of some in Congress who were briefed early on about the torture but are now criticizing it, including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. “In the early years of the program there was absolutely no push back, no criticism from any of the members of Congress," he observes.
“Few months after 9/11, everyone, the American people, the Congress, were unanimous in saying to the CIA and other agencies, ‘do whatever you have to do to prevent the next attack,’ and everyone assumed, there wasn't a question of if we were, the homeland, was going be attacked again, but when,” said Rizzo.
“This program was extraordinary, but unprecedented, and it was developed in that kind of atmosphere of fear and dread, and it was a program none of us had ever contemplated before.… It was the fact that we had to do the best we could to protect the country, to put together a program we had never come close to doing before of time in a time of crisis.”
“They [Congress] wonder how they're [the CIA] supposed to take risks on some of these covert missions they're supposed to undertake now, with this as an example, that when the political winds shift, what they're doing now may be subject to all sorts of scrutiny and criticism and public exposure.”
Rizzo says that the constant criticism of the CIA, over a program that was publicly and officially shuttered in 2009, is having a negative and demoralizing impact on the CIA workforce, some of who worked the original interrogation program and remain engaged in covert operations
Oh, I see. I get it.
If Congress was briefed on the torture practices early on, then the torture was justified. If Congress said to go ahead with it, then the torture was justified. If Congress told them the CIA to do whatever they had to do to prevent another attack, then the torture was justified. If the situation is extraordinary, unprecedented, and conducted in an atmosphere of fear and dread, then the torture was justified. If the CIA is acting covertly and taking risks, then torture is defensible.
To Hell with the Constitution – That’s lawyer Rizzo’s defense of torture.
Rizzo and his fellow squad of CIA goons are criminals. They, if anyone should know that ...
Torture is indefensible.