Senate “Torture” Report

With the recent release of the Senate’s report on the CIA’s alleged use of “torture,” many Americans are preoccupied with the idea of what exactly counts as “torture” and whether America should be in the business of torturing prisoners. But in all this hand-wringing and self-righteous complaining, it is important to remember the context of all this supposed “torture” that the CIA committed. None of this happened in a vacuum, and what happens in a time of war does not necessarily need to be justified.

On September 11, 2001, America was attacked by inhuman, radical terrorists who murdered more than three thousand American men, women, and children. These were not soldiers of a foreign army who would be due careful and respectful treatment in return for similar treatment for our own soldiers. These were monsters and criminals who launched the deadliest attack in American history, and who intentionally targeted civilians. Millions of American troops were deployed to two hostile countries in order to track down the terrorists responsible and to ensure that America would never suffer an attack like the one that happened on 9/11 ever again. And they have been successful in this mission.

The CIA was given authority by President Bush to aggressively investigate terrorist threats around the world and do everything they can to neutralize them. An important part of this task is to anticipate any potential threats and work to prevent them, and if you are going to anticipate a threat from your enemies, you need to have knowledge about what your enemies are doing. With this as a goal, it is perfectly appropriate for the CIA to behave as it did. When our troops captured a high profile target, like senior members of Al Qaeda, the CIA used every legal method at their disposal to encourage detainees to cooperate and provide them with the information they needed to keep American lives safe. It is impossible to know how many attacks were stopped in their tracks and how many lives were saved by these brave men and women of the CIA, but it is safe to assume that we would be living in a different world today without their efforts.

What I find troubling about these proceedings is not the supposed “torture” that these terrorists suffered at the hands of the CIA. It is unfortunate that we live in a world where these sorts of activities are necessary, but I have no sympathy for these monsters who were responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent Americans. The troubling part for me is the vilification of our military men and women as well as our intelligence officers by the news media and by politicians who never had the courage to serve in the military.

We must be careful not to handcuff the people who are protecting us and our loved ones. Our intelligence agencies already face a huge number of challenges and obstacles in their task, including the fact that we are obligated to be careful and selective while dealing with enemies who would be happy to simply murder every American they can get their hands on. If our intelligence professionals believe that it is necessary to use enhanced interrogation methods to extract vital information from important or well-connected terrorist prisoners, then we need to allow them to do that.

As a former military man, I have the highest possible respect for the men and women who serve our country and put their lives on the line to protect us. We cannot ask them to put themselves in even more danger simply to appease armchair critics who have never been in the situation where it might be necessary to sacrifice themselves. I believe in trusting our men and women who put their lives on the line every single day for us. If you agree with me, I urge you to cast your vote for Art Drew in the 2016 Presidential election.