Torture, Bad Apples and Good Citizens


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“Is there something more painful than hearing that illegal CIA methods caused the deaths of dozens of detainees, inflicted pain on hundreds of others, and that this sheer brutality that had nothing to do with clear and present dangers? Yes — finding it was done to validate one of the leading lies that sent us to war. First British Intelligence’s Downing Street Memo to Tony Blair revealed, ‘the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the [Bush] policy.’…”

Author: William Loren Katz, author of 40 U.S. history books and affiliated with New York University since 1973
Published in: Huntington News Network (home page: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/) in West Virginia and Oregon PeaceWorks (home page: http://www.oregonpeaceworks.org/)
Date: May 2, 2009 and June, 2009

For the full article:
Torture, Bad Apples and Good Citizens
(400 words)
by William Loren Katz

Is there something more painful than hearing that illegal CIA methods caused the deaths of dozens of detainees, inflicted pain on hundreds of others, and that this sheer brutality that had nothing to do with clear and present dangers? Yes — finding it was done to validate one of the leading lies that sent us to war. First British Intelligence’s Downing Street Memo to Tony Blair revealed, “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the [Bush] policy.”

Now comes Senator Carl Levin’s 263-page Armed Services Committee report (unanimously approved by Senators McCain, Graham and Lieberman). Levin says our top political officials were “driven” to install this torture program. “They’d say it was to get more information. But they were desperate to find a link between Al Qa’ida and Iraq,” Levin told columnist Frank Rich. [New York Times, April 26, 2009]

Al Qa’ida seeks destruction, glorifies martyrdom, and plays by no known rules. But our authorizing torture and accepting its lies is about us. It’s about Americans who went along with “kick some ass,” bring ’em on,” and “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Under orders from top Bush officials our CIA waterboarded one man 183 times and another 83. It beat and locked a mentally ill man in a small box for 17 hours. He finally agreed to say there was a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. The CIA eventually discredited his testimony and he withdrew his confession.

But not before Secretary of State Colin Powell in February 2003 used his confession — “a senior terrorist operative” divulged “how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to Al Qa’ida” — to sell the Iraq invasion to the UN Security Council and the world.

First, we have to admit that torture worked. It produced a narrative used to frighten Americans and justify a war of aggression. It also worked in other ways. It recruited untold numbers into the ranks of al-Qaeda, made a mockery of U.S. claims to moral leadership, and may long place captured U.S. soldiers and civilians in danger.

The program’s bad apples were our top political and juridical leaders. They issued illegal orders and ignored lawyers who disagreed. Waterboarding is torture, a crime that violates international laws, U.S. military laws, and U.S. laws. No one can seriously dispute this. Since crimes are not just mere mistakes, good citizens—those who live law-abiding lives—expect trials.

William Loren Katz is the author of 40 U.S. history books, has been affiliated with New York University since 1973, and his website is www.williamlkatz.com.