Posted by Curt on 9 December, 2014 at 11:27 am. 1 comment.

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Noah Rothman:

There are aspects of the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s (SPSCI) reporton the CIA’s Bush-era enhanced interrogation techniques and their efficacy that are unequivocally disturbing. The report alleges wrongful deaths at the hands of CIA operators, the detention and mistreatment of innocent people, and elaborate physical punishments inflicted on terror suspects resulting in lasting ailments.

Some of these practices and certainly the allegation that the CIA intentionally misled those responsible for its oversight are deeply disturbing. War, however, is hell, and America was and remains engaged in a war in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. in which nearly 3,000 innocent civilians were killed.

It is a war that took the lives of 169 Americans, Swedes, Danes, Britons, Indonesians and Australians when Jemaah Islamiyah attacked a tourist attraction in Bali in 2002. It is a war that spread to Spain in March of 2004 when al-Qaeda operatives killed 191 and wounded 1,800 more when they detonated a series of explosives onboard a Madrid commuter train. In 2005, the war engulfed London when a terror attack on buses and subway cars killed 52 civilians and wounded 700 more. It was a war that involved tens of thousands of Western soldiers fighting on battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thousands of those troops gave their lives in the effort to ensure that those who would execute similar attacks on Western targets never had the opportunity to leave that volatile region.

Noting the realities above is not designed to either excuse or explain the excesses in which the CIA is accused of engaging, but merely to provide some of the context which has been lost in all the moral posturing over the SPSCI’s report. It is possible to be both outraged over the claim that the nation’s intelligence agency abused the public trust and damaged America’s standing abroad while simultaneously acknowledging the importance and complexities of their mission.

And while we are casting America’s intelligence professionals as wholly irresponsible in their prosecution of the clandestine aspects of the War on Terror, it is important to also give them a fair hearing. This is particularly critical given the fact that the Senate panel that compiled this report did not interview any of the senior CIA managers who conducted the post-9/11 interrogation program or the directors who oversaw it.

In a letter published in The Wall Street Journal, six former CIA leaders, including George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden, blasted the report as “one-sided and marred with errors.” These former CIA directors insisted that the report is “a poorly done and partisan attack on the agency that has done the most to protect America after the 9/11 attacks.”

ABC News noted that these CIA officials claim their actions in the last decade resulted in the saving of “thousands of lives.”

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