Opinion

Home of the fearful

An editorial from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It is difficult to find words potent enough to capture the horror, disgust and shame induced by a report that the CIA held terror suspects standing for 17 days at a time. Or that CIA operatives forced pureed food rectally into the bodies of captives. Or that the CIA, acting in the name of the American people, threatened to injure or kill family members of detainees.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11 who confessed to beheading journalist Daniel Pearl, was waterboarded 183 times, according to a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Decent Americans find these revelations tragic, not out of sympathy for a terrorist, but out of grief for their country, for what fellow Americans have become, for what cruel and unusual punishments have been perpetrated in their name, and out of sympathy for the innocent.

The standard excuse for torture for a decade has been that the world is tough and someone has to pry loose information needed to keep people safe. That much is true. But after examining millions of pages of CIA records, the Senate Intelligence Committee found that torturing people mentally and physically did not produce the needed information to keep the world safe. The CIA obtained information that was not true, ignored information gained without torture that was true and even tortured their own informants and innocent people.

Most Republicans have dismissed the report as a partisan attack. The stellar exception is Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who survived torture himself during the Vietnam War…

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