The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, according to news reports, is due to release its report on the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation program that went into effect in the months following the attacks of 9/11. The imminent release has spurred the U.S. military to warn its forces worldwide to brace for any violent reactions, and the White House expects U.S. facilities worldwide to face possible violent protests.
Regarding the CIA torture report and the enhanced interrogation program, I do not believe that what the CIA did in its enhanced interrogation program was “torture.” I think it is reckless to throw that word around. Not one of the detainees in U.S. custody suffered any permanent injury or death as a result of American questioning. They were not even made to bleed or experience pain in any real way. Yes, they sometimes experienced despair, fear, discomfort, and mental anguish as a result of their detention and treatment, but is that in any way different from what the average incarcerated American in any one of America’s countless prisons feels?
I do believe, however, that justice should be allowed to run its course when it comes to these detainees. I think they should be tried in some form of tribunal – I leave that to the lawyers – and that justice should be meted out and their cases resolved. The al Qaeda detainees should not remain in indefinite detention without their cases being heard. They should face justice and the proper, legally-mandated retribution, should they be found guilty.
America’s security services had a job to do after 9/11 – finding and fixing those responsible for the terrorist attacks, and preventing further plots from coming to fruition. They accomplished those tasks, and continue to do so with aplomb and in a manner that American citizens should applaud. Those efforts culminated in the CIA-led operation to find and kill Usama Bin Ladin, but they also led to the capture and questioning of countless al Qaeda operatives. Those operatives included the mastermind of 9/11, Kalid Sheik Mohammad, as well as al Qaeda operations chief Abu Faraj al-Libi, and others. Those captures (and in some cases, kills) were absolute victories in the war on al Qaeda, and the information gleaned from the detained operatives was invaluable in many cases.