It is painful to watch television news on any regular day, but a day like yesterday was really hard. It was a horror show. But I couldn't look away completely. I watched CNN for a few moments, and saw a CIA lawyer who was instrumental in approving torture techniques tearing up a bit. He put on an emotional and very artful act for the cameras to draw sympathy from the viewers.
The only words I got out of his conversation with Wolf Blitzer were "rectal feeding." That shocked the hell out of me. Is this how low America has stooped? The Mullah regime in Iran is famous for anal rape, so to see America drop to that level is just sad to see.
The fact that the CIA tortures isn't surprising. Torture has been at the center of the CIA since its founding. The CIA has tortured for decades, and has taught others how to torture. It brought on Nazi officials to its payroll after WWII. Presumably, apart from their scientific knowledge, they were interested in prying valuable torture knowledge out of them.
I understand regular torture. Sometimes torture is necessary in war, but in a real war, not a propaganda-driven war like the War on Terror. Torturing high-level kidnapped Nazi officers in the heat of a battle on the outskirts of Paris to save your men's lives makes sense, but snatching up young Afghan villagers and dragging them to the other side of the world to rape and demean them is just plain foolishness. This is frat boy warfare, not real men warfare. Real men don't rape.
We must remember that most of the detainees in dungeons like Gitmo were innocent villagers from Afghanistan and elsewhere, and that there was a lot of financial incentive for ambitious hustlers to kidnap and hand over such victims to the CIA and U.S. military. American officials took these guys in, knowing they were clueless and innocent, in order to stack the numbers and brag to the world about how many terrorists they snatched up. It bolstered the shoddy War on Terror narrative.
Why would they do this?
A lot of people use the language of demonology when describing U.S. officials and leaders who were involved in the torture program. But such a view is wrong.
The great mystery which is observable throughout history, no matter the era or political regime, is that evil is done by good people. Evil abuses like torture are done by very religiously and patriotically motivated individuals.
So there should be no trouble believing the most committed CIA torturers and their defenders when they say they are the greatest patriots. This is true. Otherwise, they wouldn't be able to live with themselves.
The same is true in countries run by ideological regimes like Iran and North Korea. The individuals in the Islamic Republic who anally rape dissidents and protestors tend to view themselves as the most passionate of Muslims and patriots, and believe in the ultimate goodness of their actions.
Of course, there are sadists in every system. And the CIA probably employs quite a few. But they're in the minority and are not well liked by their colleagues.
It sometimes appears that sadists run the CIA and the U.S. government as a whole, especially given this week's new torture revelations, but the scarier thing to believe is that the people who work at the CIA are indeed patriots.
They are good people who believed in the political necessity of torture at that particular point in time. Sadly, history is full of torturers who believed they were torturing for the right reasons, whether they be religious, ideological, or any other kind.