UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

CIA torture report exposes failings of the organization

Just when the multiple killings of unarmed African Americans by police officers seemed to throw the United States back into the 1950s, the CIA releases its torture reports and throws us back all the way into the Medieval era.

The report is about 500 pages long, detailing the CIA’s various torture methods on “terrorist” detainees in Guantanamo Bay and various other prison camps around the world. While the CIA claims that what it did was “justified” and crucial to getting useful information out of the detainees, everyone with even a shred of moral conscience knew otherwise.

Forms of torture used on detainees were repetitive water-boarding, threatening to ssexually abuse the detainees’ families, forcing them to stand on broken feet, and even rectal feeding. The CIA paid psychologists nearly $100 million to devise torture tactics to use against the detainees.  And that’s only a small sliver of what it did. Out of the 119 known detainees, 26 were wrongfully held. Innocent people were being tortured by the CIA. If that isn’t enough to make you angry then I don’t know what is.

The worst part is that these torture methods mainly didn’t work. President Obama stated that these torture methods “were not only inconsistent with our values as a nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests.” Supposed “terrorists” were tortured endlessly for nearly a decade for almost nothing. What sort of world do we live in where this is OK to do?

Ever since the CIA’s formation after World War II, it has been allowed to operate outside of the law.

Created as an intelligence gathering operation, you would think that it would have better ways of doing so than torture. The report states that the CIA had secret prisons all over the world and had even lied to the president about how effective the information it was getting out of the detainees was.

Not content, the CIA has put forward claims that there were too many flaws in the report for it to stand as an official account of what happened. The CIA was the one that released it, and it is flawed. What does that say about what the agency is doing?

Clearly if it felt comfortable releasing that gruesome information, there are things it’s still hiding. What it released was not even the full report. The CIA even said that we should be prepared for “retaliation” from groups angered by this report. So not only did the CIA have a torture program that did not work, it put American lives in danger.

How are we supposed to feel comfortable in this country when things like this keep happening at an ever-growing frequency? The NSA openly spies on us with an almost unregulated agenda, police officers are getting away with murders of unarmed people, and the CIA is mirroring the unnecessary violence of the Spanish Inquisition.  It does not matter that 9/11 had just happened. Though it was a seriously tragic event and the lives lost will never be forgotten, what America did in retaliation was much worse.

While America lost nearly 3,000 civilian lives during the 9/11 attacks, Iraq lost nearly 135,000 civilian lives during the war. One hundred and thirty-five thousand. Nothing can justify this in my book. The killing of 3,000 innocent people does not justify the killing of 135,000, nor the gruesome torture methods used by the CIA.

We need to take a long hard look at our system as a whole and question the ethics we go by. We preach freedom and equality, but at what cost? Is the torture of innocent people the price we pay for “safety,” safety that’s ensured by spying on civilians? There is something seriously wrong with this country, and it’s time we start changing it.