CIA methods raise concerns

Molly Daly

On August 24, 2009, the Department of Justice released a report pertaining to methods certain CIA agents employed on detainees. The report has ignited many passionate debates, including criticism on governmental decisions under both Bush and Obama.

The key issue at hand consists of one central, yet intricate question: is the CIA justified in torturing detainees overseas, in order to protect our homeland?

In 2003, the Department of State issued an annual report that included their hostility against foreign authorities that deploy methods of torture. The report implied their disgust with interrogation techniques such as, “threats against family members…[being] forced [to] constantly lie on hard floors [and] deprived of sleep.” Previous reports even disparage hooding and stripping inmate of their clothing. During the same time in which this report was completed and released, certain CIA officials were utilizing “enhanced interrogation techniques,” or “EIT’s” precisely of what was described and some even more appalling tactics.

The information released by the Department of Justice verifies that CIA agents used water-boarding, deprivation of sleep for up to eleven day, threats with a handgun, power drill, threats to rape female relatives, and in one incident, consistently beat a man until he died.

One particular captive, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was water-boarded 183 times. The first 83 times al-Nashiri was already cooperating; however, some agents felt it necessary to up the ante for the last 100 times, and increase the time of restricted airflow.

A senior operations officer, who believed al-Nashiri was “withholding information.” Reportedly thrust a handgun to al-Nashiri’s head while he was shackled, and also came in revving a power drill.

The same officer had al-Nashiri stripped bare and placed a bag over his head. The officer then came in and said in Arabic, “we could bring your mother in here,” and “we can bring your family in here.”

Since al-Nashiri was “hooded” and could not see, and the officer did not say who he was, al-Nashiri was led to believe it was an Arabic intelligence officer questioning him. The officer who spoke to al-Nashiri did this intentionally to instill fear into him: Arabic interrogators are known to rape detainees’ female relatives in front of them.

In addition to these interrogation tactics, al-Nashiri was bathed using a “stiff brush”, and was scrubbed until his skin was raw. He also received two dislocated shoulders by means of an officer, and was threatened with the murder of his children.

At the Asadabad Base in Afghanistan, a paramilitary officer attempted to interrogate an Afghan detainee through kicking him and severely beating him with a large metal flashlight. The officer’s actions resulted in the death of the detainee. The next day the body was dropped off to his family-with no autopsy performed. The paramilitary officer did not possess the training or authority to interrogate the captive. In July 2003, officers raided a religious school in search of a suspect in a foreign country. The suspect was a teacher, and in front of 200 students, an officer repeatedly struck the man with the butt of his rifle, knocking him to the ground, and then continued by kicking the prone man.

The CIA currently possesses documents that contain helpful details on what information was received through which tactic, but they refuse to release them. Therefore, the agents involved are purposely withholding verification on the efficiency of conventional questioning, and “EIT’s.” If the CIA officials who support torturing information out of the detainees are certain about the techniques’ effectiveness, why will they not release the documents supporting their claims?

It just seems fishy. If I had an opinion, and I had proof, I would be sure to show everyone a hard copy of my evidence.

Using torture as an interrogation technique makes those agents as bad as those we are fighting against.

In March 2003, the Department of State released a statement specifying that, “in a world marching toward democracy and respect for human rights, the United States is a leader, a partner, and a contributor…Human rights are universal…[and] are not grounded exclusively in American or western values.” The report also says that “no country is exempt from scrutiny” if they attempt to challenge human rights.

“Universal” human rights involve what is printed in the fourth, fifth, and fourteenth amendment-not to mention habeas corpus, and the bill of attainder. The bill of attainder purposely restricts Congress from punishing a suspect for a crime without a fair and speedy trial, and habeas corpus allows the detainees to petition for such a trial.

I understand the CIA’s urgency to debrief captives as quickly as possible, but the CIA undermines those edicts with their actions. American citizens are bound to American law; no matter where there current location resides. If we suspend human rights, will we be able to handle the consequences of doing so? Furthermore, if we act according to our morals, are we ready to embrace the potential sacrifice of our safety, or even our loved ones’ safety?

Intentionally inflicting physical or emotional pain upon another human being is unethical, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or personality. Fear causes people to set aside their morals, and act in a way they think will protect the majority.

Think about it: if there were no existing threats against the United States of America, what would be our stance on the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques”? I believe that we should remain faithful to our principles, and not let fear cloud our ethical judgment. Doing so endorses a forceful ideology, and will show other countries that Americans sticks to their guns.

These events occurred in response to 9/11. Seeing as it was such a stressing period, the agents possessed all the more reason to protect our homeland, and fight terrorism. 9/11 is an extremely sensitive topic, and with the anniversary coming up soon, we will relive the memories. Afterwards, who knows what our attitudes will be on this matter? Perhaps it is best “to look forward,” as President Obama has been saying. Occasionally nothing good comes out of the past, and this is a controversial and complex issue. If nothing is resolved, and we decide to move forward, we can learn one thing: that our government is in need of improvement. But I will leave the open-ended question to the reader. Is it necessary to stoop to our enemy’s level in order to defeat them, or should we take the honorable approach and implement democracy and human rights?

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