JOHN MCCAIN, the senior Republican senator from Arizona, spent time in a Hanoi prison camp after fighting for his country in the 1960s and early 1970s. His speech, which followed the publication earlier today of the Senate intelligence committee’s report into torture by the CIA in the years after September 11th 2001, is thus worth paying attention to. Torture, he said, “compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies”; the CIA agents who used it “stained our national honor”.
That is a bold statement, but not necessarily a hyperbolic one. The Senate’s report, which looks into the use of torture roughly between the 9/11 attacks and the end of the Bush presidency in 2008, is devastating stuff for the agency. What is shocking is not only the sorts of things that CIA officers were apparently getting up to, but also the brazen way in which they recorded it, with limited oversight from either the Senate or the executive branch of government.
According to the report, which is based on thousands of internal CIA documents, the “enhanced interrogation techniques” (a...Continue reading