Tortured Truths

EditorialBy Gregory J. Welborn

buy times;”>America is owed the truth from its political leaders, rx and the importance of that entitlement is directly related to the significance of the issue in question. Sadly, story we’ve all grown accustomed, maybe even accepting, of politicians lying, evading, denying and covering up. To the extent this is true, we deserve what we get. But on the “big” issues, most Americans still expect that our leaders will rise to the occasion and do what’s right – level with the people. Sadly, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA interrogations is anything but a truthful analysis; its sole purpose seems to be the furthering of some incomprehensible political agenda.

There is no mistaking the intent of this report. The Democratic members of the Senate committee released a report which attempts to hold members of the CIA CIA.Sealaccountable to accusations of “torture” in the aftermath of 9/11. In doing so, they very conveniently ignore the history of those days, weeks and months.

9/11 was the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil, in the wake of which President Bush signed a congressional authorization for the use of military force. It was a bipartisan authorization which specifically granted the President the authority to “use all necessary and appropriate force against [those] he determines [were involved in] the terrorist attacks”. The point of the authorization was very specific: “to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States”.

In a similarly bipartisan method, the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program was designed with the participation of the Congress and the President. Full disclosure of this program, which included the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, was made to the chairmen and ranking members of both the Senate and House intelligence committees.

The Democratic report released this week attempts to paint a much different picture. Among its central claims are the assertions that the programs were developed without oversight and without the knowledge and approval of the Congress. That is just a lie! It’s not even a good lie since the report doesn’t offer any evidence to suggest that any member of the intelligence committees were unaware of, or even later shocked by, the programs. In fact, the reactions at the time of the congressional briefings ranged from no objection to approval to some calling for a more aggressive approach.

Further incriminating of the lie in this Democratic report is the fact that President Obama’s Justice Department investigated the CIA program and in 2012 found no basis whatsoever for criminal prosecution. They found – albeit reluctantly – that the CIA had lawfully carried out the lawful instructions of the President and the Congress.

With hindsight, we should have known such a shameful political attack was coming. The Senate committee didn’t bother to interview President Bush, Vice President Cheney, their advisors, the heads of the CIA or any of those involved in the programs. Doing your research and interviewing all the witnesses is something I trust they teach early in law school, although I’m sure it’s viewed as just a nuisance in our universities’ political science departments. Why strive for the truth when a more convenient political narrative can simply be invented?

Part of that convenient Democratic political narrative is the assertion by the Democratic report that the enhanced interrogation techniques were actually “torture”. Simply calling something torture doesn’t make it so. Americans are by and large good people, possessing a more-than-ample quotient of common sense. Torture is inflicting significant physical pain; a slap in the face is not significant. Nor is creating a sensation of drowning where there is no drowning. Waterboarding tricks the human system into thinking it is drowning. There’s no real physical harm. American service men and women are exposed to it during training, because with training you can teach yourself to ignore the sensation. The human mind can be taught to recognize that the “feeling” of drowning is not really drowning. Real torture can’t simply be ignored.

This, and a host of other psychological techniques, have been wonderfully successful in convincing terrorists (without real damage to themselves) to give up valuable information which has saved lives. But this fact is also denied by the Democratic report. In their narrative, not only did the U.S. torture people, but it did so just knowing that no “actionable intelligence” would be obtained. That narrative couldn’t be further from the truth. As several CIA heads and military leaders make clear in the 12/10/14 Wall Street Journal, the interrogations exposed and prevented a second wave of attacks which were being planned by Al Qaeda. The truth is that real lives were saved while no real harm was done to terrorists.

As for the political calculation behind this piece of partisan fiction masquerading as serious investigation, I can’t begin to imagine what benefits could outweigh the serious damage that this Democratic report will cause. At the very least, Al Qaeda, ISIS and others will use this to recruit and to justify their truly torturous treatment of prisoners. Who could object to beheading a few Americans when Americans themselves torture? America needs our friends to trust us and our enemies to fear us. Exercises in self immolation, like this report, embolden enemies and drive away friends.

It is my firm belief there is a special place in hell for those terrorists who torture, maim and kill with abandon. I’m beginning to believe – or at least hope – there is a place also reserved for those who would make such false and damaging accusations against those who put their lives on the line to protect our country.

Gregory J. Welborn is a freelance writer and has spoken to several civic and religious organizations on cultural and moral issues. He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 3 children and is active in the community. He can be reached [email protected]/5l.com

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Phil Erwin

Well spoken, sir. I would argue only that “America is owed the truth from its political leaders” ALWAYS, not only when it is deemed “important.” We don’t hire (elect) and pay those people to lie to us. The only exception to that rule should be when the truth would jeopardize national security, in which case, SILENCE is the appropriate comment.

But this report is quite the reverse: A case of a deliberately contrived lie which can ONLY jeopardize our national security, and will do so for months and years to come. So: We hired people and payed them to lie to us in such a way as to put us all at risk.

I’d say our hiring practices need some improvement.