Today President Obama said “A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals, and that is why these methods of interrogation are already a thing of the past.” The President released five “torture memos” compiled during the Bush administration and he vowed never to use these techniques again. Many news reports are now claiming our nation used torture and that it was not effective.
The techniques were brutal, but they did not fall under the definition of torture and they clearly saved lives. The U.S. violated no anti-torture laws. The use of these techniques does not inflict either physical or psychological damage. As former CIA Director Hayden says, “”The (harsh) techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA … as late as 2006 fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of Al Qaeda came from those interrogations.” Former CIA Director George Tenet maintains, “I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than [what] the FBI, the [CIA], and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.” Former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has said, “We have people walking around in this country that are alive today because this process happened.”
The most important legacy from the administration of former President George W. Bush is that the nation remained safe from attacks after September 11, 2001. The terrorist plots directed at America all failed, while they were successful in Spain, London, Indonesia and India. There appears to be little appreciation of this accomplishment while considerable sympathy is being expressed for the enemy combatants being held at Guantanamo Bay.
The United States has always been far more conservative than any other country or entity in our military doctrines. We don’t behead innocent people as examples. We don’t hold troops for years and subject them to beatings, torture and starvation. America does not train its children to kill, and we don’t use mentally challenged individuals as suicide bombers.
If the CIA or our military is guilty of torture those individuals should be prosecuted. However, President Obama has already told us this is not going to happen. I have read the memos and they prove to me we did not torture.
Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage both worked from day one on the Guantanamo situation. For example, Ambassador Pierre Prosper, the U.S. envoy for war crimes issues, was under a barrage of questions and directions almost daily from Powell or Armitage to repatriate every detainee who could be repatriated. As early as 2004, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England was calling for Guantanamo to be shut down. President Bush also said he wanted the facility closed.
Finally, the United States has been waterboarding its own special forces troops for years to prep them for being captured, and that’s mild compared to other things they are subjected too in training.