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Hullabaloo


Friday, April 18, 2014

 
Torquemada was not a whiner

by digby

What ever happened to the old saying "never complain, never explain?" Today manly men who believe they need to be sadists for the greater good whine like little babies because nobody understands them:

The psychologist regarded as the architect of the CIA's “enhanced interrogation” program has broken a seven-year silence to defend the use of torture techniques against al-Qaida terror suspects in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

In an uncompromising and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, his first public remarks since he was linked to the program in 2007, James Mitchell was dismissive of a Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture in which he features, and which is currently at the heart of an intense row between legislators and the agency.

The committee’s report found that the interrogation techniques devised by Mitchell, a retired air force psychologist, were far more brutal than disclosed at the time, and did not yield useful intelligence. These included waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation for days at a time, confinement in a box and being slammed into walls.

But Mitchell, who was reported to have personally waterboarded accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, remains unrepentant. “The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time,” he said. “You can't ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later.”

The 6,600-page, $40m Senate report is still secret, but a summary of its 20 conclusions and findings, obtained by McClatchy News, alluded to the role Mitchell and another psychologist under contract to the CIA, Bruce Jessen, played in the torture program.

The committee's chair, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, has said the report “exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation”. She added: "It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.”

Mitchell said: “I’m skeptical about the Senate report, because I do not believe that every analyst whose jobs and promotions depended upon it, who were professional intelligence experts, all them lied to protect a program? All of them were wrong? All of these [CIA] directors were wrong? All of the people who were using the intel to go get people were wrong? And 10 years later a Senate staffer was able to put it together and finally there’s clarity? I am just highly skeptical that that’s the truth.”

They were all wrong. Sorry. Just because they followed the directives of their superiors who told them torture was legal doesn't absolve them of their crimes. We had a process a long time ago and came to a conclusion about this issue. It was called the Nuremburg Trials. And one of the guiding principles was this:

Principle IV states: "The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him".

This principle could be paraphrased as follows: "It is not an acceptable excuse to say 'I was just following my superior's orders'".

A moral choice was available to all of these people. They could have said no and they would not have been put before a firing squad. I'm not sure they even would have lost their jobs. They could have easily walked away.

So yes, I'm sorry that they failed to listen to some top members of the FBI and others who were clear about the inefficacy of torture and walked away rather than participate. And it's a shame that they are people who have a dearth of basic human decency, but they are. There is no excuse for torture. We didn't excuse it in WWII when the entire world seemed to have gone mad and we certainly can't condone it in this situation. In fact, it's insulting that these people are even trying. 9/11 was a terrible thing but it wasn't a license cast off all civilized norms. It wasn't War of the Worlds.

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