Uncovered CIA abuses from the not-so-distant past

A recent LA Times article and a recent New York Times article detail some rather horrifying abuses by the CIA from a long-secret CIA report released this week.

The specific acts in question include:

  • Brandishing of weapons, including a gun and a power drill, during interrogation sessions;
  • Firing a gun in the room next door to a detainee in an attempt to convince the prisoner another suspect had been executed;
  • Threats against family members of a suspect (two incidents);
  • The use of cigar smoke during interrogations (two incidents, during one smoke was intentionally used to induce vomiting);
  • Forcing a detainee into stressful positions;
  • Bathing a detainee with a stiff brush of the sort used to clean bathrooms;
  • Waterboarding;
  • A “pressure point” technique: restricting a detainee’s carotid artery to the point where he/she would start to pass out, then shaking the detainee to wake him/her; and
  • A mock execution.

I’m glad to see the reports detailing these horrific and inhumane acts declassified and brought to the attention of the public. I do believe sunlight is the best disinfectant, and hopefully the shame brought on by the publicity of these incidents will deter others from similarly inhumane treatment of future prisoners.

I find the stuff brush bath, weapon brandishing, and mock execution to be the most disturbing of the incidents. That’s not to say the rest aren’t disturbing as well, just those incidents in particular are things I would hope decent people would not do. And I still hold out hope that our government is run by decent people.

But I have to ask the question: If these things aren’t torture, what is?