Hysteria about torture answered soberly

Porter Goss, who served as director of the CIA from September 2004 to May 2006 and was chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 1997 to 2004, wrote Saturday in the Washington Post about the current political climate concerning perceived torture by U.S. interrogators dealing with al-Qaeda suspects:

A disturbing epidemic of amnesia seems to be plaguing my former colleagues on Capitol Hill. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, members of the committees charged with overseeing our nation’s intelligence services had no higher priority than stopping al-Qaeda. In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA’s “High Value Terrorist Program,” including the development of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and what those techniques were. This was not a one-time briefing but an ongoing subject with lots of back and forth between those members and the briefers.

Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as “waterboarding” were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.

Let me be clear. It is my recollection that:

  •  The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.
  • We understood what the CIA was doing.
  • We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.
  • We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.                              
  •  On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.

I do not recall a single objection from my colleagues. They did not vote to stop authorizing CIA funding. And for those who now reveal filed “memorandums for the record” suggesting concern, real concern should have been expressed immediately — to the committee chairs, the briefers, the House speaker or minority leader, the CIA director or the president’s national security adviser — and not quietly filed away in case the day came when the political winds shifted. And shifted they have.

Related to that, in the video below, Liz Cheney absolutely destroys MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell as O’Donnell tries to feed more slop about the whole torture debate. Watch as Cheney uses sound argument to head off hysterical bluster.

Liz Cheney
Click on image to view video

One thought on “Hysteria about torture answered soberly

  1. Liz Cheney was brilliant in that interview. I was surprised at the virulence and bias coming from the newswoman. I suppose that is because I don’t watch MSNBC very often. They do not even try to hide their bias, do they?
    I wish people would just have an open discussion once in a while, instead of trying to shout the other side down.
    BTW; I wrote a tangential article on this subject at my blog, you may be interested.

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