Friday, December 02, 2005

CIA Head on Torture

I was reading the Wall Street Journal Europe over lunch just now (5pm - late lunch...missed lunch because of shopping), and I came across this article which I found interesting. Its parts of an interview with CIA head Porter Goss. Heres interesting bits of it....the first one is about the US having 'secret' prisons in certain Eastern European (and other) states:

'Asked why the US needed secret prisons, Mr. Goss said: "We're fighting a war on terror. We're doing quite well in it. Inevitably, we aer going to have to capture some terrorists, and inevitably, they are going to have to have some due proces, and inevitably, that is going to happen, and its going to be done lawfully under all of the law and order and protections of due process that this country affords."'

Thats a very ambiguous statement, and to be honest I cant make heads or tails of it. It doesnt answer why they need to be secret, why they need to be abroad in countries with shady legal systems. And whats more suprising is the international community's suprising and yet obvious lack of genitalia when dealing with the issue:

'On Monday, the European Union's justice commissioner, Franco Frattini, warned that he would call on the organisation to suspend the voting rights of any EU member state found to have hosted a secret CIA prison in violation of EU human-rights principles.'

Notice the absolute lack of condemnation about the actual practice of these secret prisons. Not a word is said about the US having these prisons, no sir, only about the EU countries that host them.

I quite like what Goss said about torture (like=its funny):

'Regarding torture, the CIA director said: "What we do does not come close because torture, in terms of inflicting pain or something like that, physical pain or causing a disability, those kinds of thigns that probably would be a common definition for most Americans, sort of, you know it when you see it, we don't do that because it doesn't get you what you want."

Of course it doesnt, sunshine. All that gets you is needless hassle and finger pointing. Notice how first he twists and distorts the definition, rather clumsily, to be only physical pain or disability. He doesnt include mental pain, or the kind of thing that doesnt leave a mark. He then goes on to relate that to the common definition of most Americans. The common definition of torture is the most extreme case: finger screws and what not - but thats not all torture is. The cherry on top is where he says they dont do it because "it doesnt get you what you want". I think that might be something of a slip - hes basically said they dont do it not because its immoral, but because its impractical. It takes little effort to make the assumption that, were it useful, they would use it (according to his words). He later reiterates this by saying "...we do not do it because its counterproductive."

Hmmm. Conclusion: if we were to assume the truth is being told (and that is what we must do in this kind of analysis, else its pointless), we need to take it apart word for word, which is what I've tried to do, and what I find is that, to me, hes essentially skirted the topic of secret prisons and torture. Hes defined each of them in very strict, unrealistic terms (in the case of prisons hes just gone all over the place), and according to those terms, denied any wrongdoing. Which doesnt necessarily mean nothing wrong has been done.

Posted by illogicist at 9:10 AM


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