when you have forgotten your aim
Someone must have been
telling lies about Joseph K.,
for without having done anything wrong
he was arrested one fine morning
--The Trial, Josef Kafka
Every man always has handy
a dozen glib little reasons
why he is right not to sacrifice himself
--The Gulag Archipelago,
Jose Rodriguez, the former chief of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations (since renamed the National Clandestine Service), twisted logic in his defense of torture (="Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" or EIT), obstruction of justice and contempt of court in his appearance on 60 Minutes this weekend to hawk his new book, Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.
In his book, Rodriguez defends his destruction of 92 videotapes recording the agency’s crimes like the 2002 waterboarding and torture of Abu Zubaydah, who the CIA initially described as Al Qaeda’s chief of operations and responsible for planning the 9/11 attacks (they have since rescinded that allegation.) Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in the space of a month (Jose Rodriguez and the Ninety-Two Tapes .)
Rodriguez's stated reason for destruction of evidence is that it would put the perpetrators in danger, but the truth may be more self-serving. An internal CIA email obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2010 reads:
“Jose raised with [CIA Chief Porter Goss]…and explained that he (Jose) felt it was extremely important to destroy the tapes … As Jose said, the heat from destroying is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever got into the public domain—he said that out of context, they would make us look terrible; it would be ‘devastating’ to us.”
So Jose is a dutiful fall guy who will make a few bucks off of his hoorah book. But anyone with a lick of sense would see through the holes in his obedient fear-mongering. For instance, he said that torture kept al Qaeda from blowing up the Brooklyn Bridge -- does he or anyone in the intelligence world think before they talk?
Think how many truckloads of military-grade explosives would have to be strategically placed on the bridge in order to bring it down -- or even just to severely damage it? Think about the Ludendorf bridge over the Rhine: It did not drop when a German Army engineer rigged it for demolition; also bear in mind that German bridges are designed for ease of demolition (unlike U.S. bridges.)
How would al Qaeda find the explosives and personnel to transport, place and detonate the charges? This event could only occur in a deluded mind . . . the sort of mind that seem to occupy supervisory positions in our intelligence agencies.
Recent reportage quotes a study that al Qaeda has been degraded to a point that they are no longer capable of a significant attack on the U.S., but Ranger maintains even this is fantasy, as al Qaeda was incapable of a follow-on attack immediately after the events of 9-11-01, nor did they have the intent. They had accomplished what they set out to do, as America spun out of control in overreaction born of fear and anger.
Rodriguez continued in his fantasy construction by referencing an al Qaeda anthrax program that torture also helped short-circuit, but what program is he talking about? There is no linkage of al Qaeda to any anthrax events.
Contrast the treatment of torture apologist Rodriguez to that of State Department whistleblower Peter Van Buren. Both men have written books vetted by their respective agencies, but Van Buren exposed graft, corruption and incompetence in an Iraqi Provisional Reconstruction Team which he helped lead in his book, We Meant Well. For his courageous stand, Van Buren has been hounded and is now persona non grata in a Department which he served faithfully for 24 years.
OTOH, Rodriguez will be another hero of the Right for his defense of and participation in illegal behavior. When torturers become heroes and whistleblowers enemies, we as a people have transvalued our beliefs in the worst possible way. We are not Nietzsche's Ubermensch, and should not be thinking in that way.
Defending torture is defending totalitarianism. Torture is never legal in our democracy. The US military has held that waterboarding constitutes torture since the Spanish-American War.
There is no way to wend your way out of that fact.
--Jim and Lisa