Reading the Washington Post this morning, I had to re-read the story twice. The first paragraph talked about "harsh interrogation technques." The second graf referred to "enhanced interrogation practices." What are they talking about? The third graf mentioned "the possibility of legal jeopardy for those who formulated the interrogaton policy." Which policy is that? The one "which critics say amounted to torture."
This is how a newspaper concocts its neutrality. By cloaking reality in bloodless bureaucratic euphemisms. Nobody will accuse the Washington Post of taking sides on the "torture question." The Post won't even call it "torture." Since that is still a matter in dispute. Some say 'waterboarding" is torture, some say not. The CIA has been very careful on this point. So were the Justice Department lawyers who wrote the rules saying it's okay to induce artificial drowning to get someone to talk. The newly released documents reveal that the CIA guys scrupulously followed the rules as they repeated this medieval method of torture 266 times on one or two suspects. Besides, they had a doctor or psychologist present to advise them if they went over the line. How clinical is that? We could see for ourselves the great care was taken in "enhanced interrogation" from the many films the CIA made of this practice. Only the CIA destroyed the films.
Inside the Post, columnist David Ignatius took up the case for the torturers. He worried that the disclosure of these sickening documents might be "costly to CIA morale and effectiveness." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/21/AR2009042102969.htmlA CIA officer confided to him that some of those nameless patriots who had accepted the torture assignment felt "broken and bewildered" now that the political climate has turned against them. Ignatius fears this will discourage cooperation from allies who do torture projects with the CIA. Or it will make the CIA overly cautious. "Meanwhile, the country is fighting a war," Ignatius wrote, "and it needs to take care that the sunlight of exposure doesn't blind its shadow warriors."
The lifeless tone of the Post's discussion prompted me to wonder about those "shadow warriors" and whether another line might have been crossed. At one point in the repetition of torture does an interrogator qualify as a sadist? After 100 times? After 200 times? Surely, doing this to another human being, they must feel something.