Bob Kerrey, the CIA, and the Truth About Torture

This is from the former Democratic Senator’s editorial in USA Today:

I will wait until I have fully read and considered Tuesday’s report to enter the debate over whether the CIA handled interrogation of detainees in an appropriate manner. Thanks to the 2005 and 2006 efforts of Senator John McCain I do not have to wait to be certain our interrogation policies and procedures are aligned with our core values.

I also do not have to wait to know we are fighting a war that is different than any in our country’s past. The enemy does not have an easy to identify and analyze military. In the war against global jihadism, human intelligence and interrogation have become more important, and I worry that the partisan nature of this report could make this kind of collection more difficult.

I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it. The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.


I have doubts about the efficacy of what we’ve come to call “enhanced interrogation.” I also have doubts that it meets the historical measure of torture — we’re not binding feet with the kia quen, breaking backs on the wheel, or forcing prisoners to sit on the Judas cradle. (If you’re unfamiliar with any of these, an unpleasant visit to Wikipedia will provide more education than you might want.) What we have done, and continue to do despite promises from Senator and later President Obama, is engage in psychological torture — sleep deprivation, waterboarding, and the like. Let’s be honest with ourselves though and admit that while these “enhanced” techniques might not measure up to what many or most people would call torture, they certainly count as abuse.

Do these methods work? It’s impossible to tell from the “report” issued yesterday, but fair-minded opinions differ fairly.

I don’t worry about the so-called “rights” of those who have set aside the rules of war, and even their own humanity, pursuing the nihilistic slaughter of innocents. If it’s destruction they want, it’s destruction we should bring them.


There is however a legitimate complaint with the longterm abuse of captured jihadis, although it has nothing to do with the jihadis themselves. I worry instead about the corrosive effects such acts have on the honorable American men and women we have tasked with fighting this war. If a jihadi is in possession of actionable intelligence, it likely won’t remain actionable for long. I would find it preferable, if still distasteful, to get whatever information he has — or not to get it — followed by a quick execution. If there’s doubt as to whether the captive is actually a jihadi, let him go. If he’s captured a second time, all doubt should be removed — followed by a quick execution.

If a firing squad seems to good for them, it’s still in line with our values, and in line with our treaty commitments under the Geneva Conventions.

The rest frankly, I don’t lose any sleep over. I see little need however to continue a policy which might on occasion produce actionable intelligence, but more often seems to provide little other than propaganda coups for jihadis, Progressives, and others who despise American power.



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