CIA Destroys Tapes: Integrity Gets Caught In The Blast

This is not good.

The CIA destroyed at least two tapes showing harsh interrogation techniques being employed against alleged Al Qaida operatives.  Apparently the reason the tapes were destroyed was “because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said.”

For far too long, we’ve allowed the wrong decisions to be made in the dark.  If Bush isn’t trying to use legalistic judo to make torture legal, he covers up the techniques employed against our enemies, both interrogation and intelligence gathering, as matters of National Security.  But here’s the rub.

The way we conduct our National Security reflects upon all Americans.  Actions that the government sanctions with or without our knowledge are later laid at all of our feet.  Do you think the victims of torture, and the dozens of family members who are angered to the brink of violence as a result differentiate between the interrogators, the officials who authorized the interrogation, and everyday Americans like you and me?  Or is it far more reasonable to assume that acts of torture on our part merely reinforce the story that America is an evil monolithic entity that must be destroyed?

This might be why Senator John McCain who was himself tortured refuses to sign off on torture while so many of his Republican breathren love to play all the fun little games of equivocation that keep the practice going. 

This is only the surface of why many progressives believe that the foreign policy and national security actions we take now make us less safer, not more safer.  As a result, these are the kinds of decisions that should be made in the light of day and not, as the President insists frequently, in the cloak of darkness of National Security.

The constant insistances that the US is doing nothing wrong, the unending advertisements that torture is necessary, that illegal wiretapping is necessary.  All of it hides a simpler and more significant truth; our voice in the conversation is being removed, our chair taken from the table, our opinion stifled and ignored.

Yes, how we treat enemies and prisoners is a vital matter of national security and our safety depends upon it, just as warrantless wiretapping is.  But that means that as a self governing democracy, we are responsible for making those decisions.  We have a right to be allowed at the table.  We have a right to be heard.  We have a right to debate it and not be told sit down, shut up, and take what is good for us.

Two tapes were destroyed.  And no, it has little to do with legal troubles, and much more to do with preventing you from seeing real life versions of the following:

That last one, I don’t know, just something that gets me about the last demonstration. Like it’s all a game until they use the towel, and all of a sudden they’re knocking on the door of something far more sinister.

The point is this, real torture isn’t like the movies or television. I don’t care how desensitized you think you are, there’s something visceral and disturbing about watching the real thing, how you just seem to know when it’s real, how quickly the mind connects with the victim. Yes, I’m sure the CIA would face legal battles if those tapes got out, and they probably got a few on their hands now. But the greater danger would be found by the CIA not in the court of law, but in the court of public opinion. Remember the reaction of America at Abu Ghraib, and those were just photographs. Now multiply that by the sounds of gagging and screaming, by the glint of water as it leaps off a soaked towel, by the rapidity of covered heads shaking violently back and forth.


That bad. And it should be. It should be our right to see in no prettied up words exactly what’s going on, and to then make a decision. We should have been allowed to see those tapes, wide fucking screen in every mall, in the movie theaters, on the billboards, and then let America decide if that is what we want to be associated with. This was a decision for us, not these small, evil men.

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