The CIA Torture Report: We Did It, and We Won’t Do it Again

In 2008, I was delighted to know that, regardless of who won the presidency, my country would no longer be a state sponsor of torture. I’d been writing angrily against torture for years. To me it was a shameful, shameful chapter in our history. My country was better than that. I was glad to see torture end.

Jane Mayer’s excellent book “The Dark Side” told about the FBI’s effectiveness in questioning al-Qaeda detainees after we invaded Afghanistan. The Bad Guys were talking quite freely, and the FBI was following all the legal rules. But then the Bush administration, pushed by Cheney, turned everything over to the CIA. FBI agents stood aside as CIA operatives swooped in, took their prisoners, and sent them off to secret bases, or “rendered” them to countries like Egypt and Syria to be tortured. Suddenly, the prisoners all clammed up.

Even if we did gain valuable information from torture–and it’s highly questionable that we did–we were already getting it without using torture. It was totally gratuitous–even barbaric–on our part. A collapse of our moral authority as a nation.

Mayer pointed out that the FBI was interested in prosecutions, so they followed all the rules to build a case that would stand up in court. But the CIA had no interest in prosecution. All they cared about was gathering intelligence. As a result, we’re in a pickle, with some truly evil prisoners whom we can’t prosecute. Our very own laws, developed with great wisdom over 250 years, tie our hands.

As a Christian, I mourn that so many of my fellow evangelical Christians fully support torture of prisoners. Right now, I’m listening to FoxNews, and I want to vomit at how vigorously they are defending torture. I’m sad knowing that many Christians watching are shaking their heads in unquestioning agreement.

As a country, we are better than that. And as Christians, with the command to be Christ-like, we MUST be better than that.

The information in the CIA Torture Report has been in the public domain for years. I’ve read it all before in the many other reports which have bee done. But this one definitely carries more weight, and I’m glad it has been released.

I agree with John McCain, who said today, “I believe the American people have a right–indeed, a responsibility–to know what was done in their name.”

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