The US Senate has delivered a torture report. The way it is being reported, you’d be forgiven for thinking that every third American, way back in August of 2001, was sitting around in desperate agitation, wondering how to best reform the laws and regulations, so that he could torture suspicious Arabs.
The Senate report is being used to demonize our country and those who fought Jihad. It should not. On the contrary, while it shows that we did something wrong — we are not making excuse — it demonstrates exactly why we must continue to fight Jihad by every moral means.
The report is clear: We tortured people after 9/11. “We,” because it’s not all Dick Cheney's fault: We the people created the political climate that demanded it.
For several years following September 11, that mysterious forgotten context, Americans authorized their spies and soldiers to mistreat Captains of Jihad, should they find mistreatment necessary to the purpose of collection of vital information. Americans authorized certain tortures. We did this, and our spies and soldiers carried it out.
So for several years any Muslim who was thought by our agents to be a Captain of Jihad, might be abducted and subjected to abuse, isolation, deprivation, cruel manipulation. Mostly these abducted Muslims were indeed committed and active terrorist plotters; but on occasion (somewhere around 1 in 5 detainees) our men were wrong and innocents or pitiful dupes were tortured. That is a candid summary.
Now a Senate report has us all revisiting that frantic episode. It supplies an appalling wealth of gory details. Its focus is the Central Intelligence Agency, but of course the rot of torture spread. Numerous military units are implicated. Abuse by mercenaries has even reached federal courts. But this report should clearly settle for good the question: did America authorize torture, circa 2001-06? The answer is yes.
Still, one doubts that any real reflection or permanent good will come out of a rehashing of the episode, unless the proper context is always present in mind.
It’s useful for some narratives to overlook that September 11th supplies the context for the Senate report. It’s useful to pretend that crazy orders issued from on high, spurred by some nameless suspicion of the Islamic religion, and pliable agents and soldiers carried them out.
But if America had really been committed to the kind of bloodlust of which she is now accused, suspicious Arabs and other Muslims would have been randomly incinerated by superheated jet fuel, exsanguinated by jagged box cutters, or made to jump from a quarter mile onto pavement. These tortures were inflicted on thousands of Americans on September 11th, on the Jihadist principle that there is no innocent American.
If they could have, they would have made the falls farther and the deaths more prolonged and the pain greater. They would have shattered more bodies and filled more lungs with superheated gas.
They will not file reports and call for repentance. Our enemies count no American innocent. Thus all of us can be abducted and tortured to death, without qualification. Our corpses may be defiled for purposes of propaganda.
Its very existence, then, is the way in which the Senate report shows us that we must never give up the fight against the Jihad. We have every authorization of justice to wage war, to whatever end, that this wicked doctrine and all its adherents might be subdued and their evil restrained. We owe no justice to bloodthirsty dogmas of vengeance and retribution from an alien religion.