Judging the Torture Report


Let me get this straight.

We’re supposed to believe CIA director John Brennan when he says the 6000 page  document is wrong when it indicts him and his organization for lying, brutality, torture, head slamming, crimes against humanity, and sadistic practices such as “rectal hydration,” “rectal feeding” (?), “threatened” rape and execution?

This is the same John Brennan who before his own Inspector General proved him a liar, claimed that the Senate Intelligence Committee Chair, Dianne Feinstein, was wrong about him last July. That’s when she charged that Brennan’s agency tried to undermine her Committee’s investigation of the CIA torture program by breaking into the investigators’ computers.

At that time Brennan contradicted Feinstein with feigned offense and a straight face saying, “Nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that.”

Oh, but now I guess he’s changed.  Now we can trust him.  He’s telling the truth this time – as head of an organization whose very job description is to dissimulate, equivocate and outright lie.

But that’s not the half of it. In fact it’s less than 10% of it.

You see, Brennan is treating the heavily redacted 600 page executive summary of the Torture Report as if it were the whole thing. However more than 90% of what the Senate Committee found (the worst 90%, we’re told!) will never see the light of day. That’s because our public servants are convinced that if U.S. citizens and the world knew “the rest of the story,” general outrage would know no bounds.

Imagine what that might mean. That is, if we’re all outraged by the “rectal feeding,” “threats” of rape, and by untold numbers actually killed under torture, what do you suppose is contained in the 90% of the report that’s too gruesome to reveal?

Let me offer some suggestions: actual rape, sodomy, burnings, electric shock, routine killings and systemic sadism beyond any practiced in Abu Ghraib.

No wonder Mr. Brennan (like all criminals) claims innocence.  No wonder he would rather forget about the past and “look to the future.” Criminal trials and jail time aren’t attractive to any “perps.”

By the way, here’s how to evaluate the torture report and Brennan’s denials. Ask yourself, what if an identical document were published about the “enhanced interrogation” techniques (EITs) of Cuba, Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, or ISIS ? What would we think of such practices then? Would we wonder whether they constitute torture or not? What would the Fox News pundits and politicians say about Russia’s (EITs)?

What value would we give to the official denials of John Brennan’s counterparts among our designated enemies? And why should we believe that their crimes are any greater than those of the CIA – or that our official culture is somehow superior to theirs?

Oh, I forgot, it’s because the CIA tells us so.

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 45 years. Three grown children. Six grandchildren.

2 thoughts on “Judging the Torture Report”

  1. The primary sickness of humankind is abuse of power. Unless this is deeply understood all attempts to correct our fatal course are doomed to failure. Real love is a complex of inner states of mind that result in behaviors which lead to using power only to enhance the wellbeing of all members of humanity. Learning to transition away from the abusive use of power to it’s constructive use is the challenge now facing us. Paths of practice leading to this transformation of power relationships have been developed since ancient times, and need to be further developed and widely promoted. Failure to pursue this possibility will result in our demise as a species. Perverted and pretended paths to transformation are of course worse than useless – they are part of the problem. Implementing authentic paths is our only remaining hope. Time is short, we must begin now to create the means for our continuation.


  2. This is an excellent article Mike. A lot of Chomsky in the direct, nail-on-the head style.
    Thank you.
    I often wonder why so many, more than the average, Irish Catholics find themselves in the fascist-inclined US institutions whether it be CIA FBI DHS or police force. My guess is that they are more inclined to seek security within the Establishment, have a slightly warped view of love/respect for one’s fellowman and an innate tendency to keeping firmly in step as soon as they decide to join the line..which of course the enforcers of the Line are attracted to.
    Sad really.


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