Editorial: CIA's actions morally reprehensible


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On Dec. 1, the Daily Iowan Editorial Board urged the CIA to release an internal report on “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the conduct of its agents. On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released said document. Before diving into the report, one must acknowledge the progress shown by the fact that this information came to light without a Snowden-esque insider leaking information in droves. It is a step in the right direction toward a responsible federal government.

Unfortunately, the report not only confirms the many allegations of systematic torture at the hands of the CIA but expands upon them in disturbing directions.

Waterboarding, sleep deprivation, “rectal hydration and feeding,” and hypothermia are just the beginning of how untried prisoners abroad and domestically were treated, according to Reuters.

This brutalism was in the name of one thing; intelligence. American lives were supposed to be saved by the CIA, while the United States turned a blind eye.

But it gets much worse.

It appears that no information was gleaned from CIA detainees that helped to prevent or pursue any terrorist activity. Frivolous barbarity, is that what America wants to be? One is reminded of the infamous Stanford Experiment, and what can go wrong when some are given unbridled, unattended authority.

To add insult to injury is the miscommunication between CIA officials and Congress. As more details are being pulled from the report by the New York Times, it is becoming increasingly clear that the CIA lied to congressional oversight committees on a number of occasions. 

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, put it best when speaking with CNN. "We did things that we tried Japanese soldiers for war crimes for after World War II. This is not America. This is not who we are. What was done has diminished our stature and inflamed terrorists around the world.”

Indeed, the global standing of the United States is hurt by its handling of those who are suspected of terrorism (though in many cases no charges were ever brought). Whether these detainees were suspected as being directly involved, associated with, or an accessory to a terrorist plot is unknown.

The CIA conducts itself on behalf of the American people; how disturbing to have no political will or information when some are being tortured in our name. When the CIA lies to Congress, the elected voice of America, they lie to every American. 

Few have defended the nature of this report and its declassification. The argument of national security has come up, but is hard to stand by as little or none of the torture (depending on whom you ask) was beneficial in pursuit of national security. 

The United States is not granted any power to act in such barbaric ways, even in the pursuit of security. As transparency increases, the public is being made aware of increasingly disturbing methods used by its federal agencies. Accountability is essential to a democracy, as the people are an inherent check and balance to tyranny and injustice in the executive branch. Ignorance will not lead to bliss.

It is the belief of the Daily Iowan Editorial Board that further investigation is necessary and that this new transparency is vital for a morally responsible America to engage on the global stage. Further, the intelligence agencies cannot be allowed to operate outside the scrutiny of Congress, the constituents of America, and the Constitution itself.

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