If you click the link below, you’ll be able to hear my “Pat Political Point” from Sunday’s edition of WSGW’s First Day with Pat Johnston show. I’ve added some dissents I received after the show via email and on Twitter.
In my political point, I mentioned how both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln established rules prohibiting torture. I found this information from an NPR article dated back in 2005. The article also goes through the brief history of who, exactly, is an “enemy combatant,” and what constitutes “torture” in both U.S. law and worldwide treaties. It also shows how the Bush administration made sure the CIA (which is not considered a military arm of government) would expose loopholes in both U.S. and world law regarding torture.
President Kennedy’s “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces” quote I used in my rant was featured in the book, The Brothers, by Stephen Kinzer about Eisenhower Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and former CIA Chief Allan Dulles.
Some vehemently disagree with everything I said on Sunday, including this email:
Pat how could the CIA know in advance if their methods would work? That is a crazy argument. During George Washington’s time there was no A bomb or planes to kill three thousand people at a shot—that makes Washington’s opinion irrelevant. AND a number of prior secretaries of defense and CIA directors AND the current CIA director all maintain that we DID get valuable information from the Enhanced interrogation. Interesting that you stand with Lincoln and Washington on this but not on supporting the American Constitution, progressive that you are.
The CIA knows their
torture interrogation methods didn’t work. If those techniques provided solid results, trust me, the agency would reveal it. Our legislative branch dropped the ball by refusing to perform any kind of meaningful oversight to ensure how we treated prisoners followed international law. As with anything else that happens in Washington, not one person will pay a price for performing anal feedings on prisoners. That’s not what we used to be about, or so I thought.
In a side note, I find the argument that Washington’s opinion on torture is “irrelevant” since “there was no A bomb or planes to kill three thousand people.” That’s an interesting stance, because I’ve been arguing that our Founders could never dream of semi-automatic weapons when they discussed “the right to bear arms” amendment in our Constitution. So, does that make their opinion on that subject outdated and moot as well?
I received this tweet:
How can you say your more worried about the treatment of people who kill innocent civilians? Than our civilians lives
Of course, I’m worried about those who kill or threaten to kill innocent civilians. Yet, we have laws in-place in this country to protect both innocent people and those suspected of causing (or to have caused) harm. That’s what separates us from many other countries throughout the world. Washington and Lincoln ordered protection for enemy combatants to illustrate how our humanity makes us unique amongst the world. By giving the CIA control of interrogating suspected terrorists (20% of which were completely innocent, according to the Senate Intel report), we played right into the hands of the very people we are fighting against.
And yet no one has been held accountable for either ordering or allowing these grotesque acts to take place.