“But if Americans are killed as a result of this report and they tell you that, I assume you would feel guilty about that.”

— CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to Sen. Diane Feinstein, Dec. 9

A Senate Intelligence Committee report released this week — and compiled exclusively by its Democratic staff — portrayed CIA-led terrorist interrogation techniques in ways that caused some to label them as “acts of torture” that violate Americans’ “core values” because they are “brutal” and even “barbaric.”

I won’t contest those descriptions for some of the now-forbidden actions depicted in the report — though acts that caused actual physical harm to terrorist captives seem to be occasional exceptions, and did not conform to guidelines issued by the Department of Justice.

Instead, I wanted to describe what I consider brutal and barbaric:

• Boarding civilian passenger planes while carrying razor-sharp box openers and using those tools to cut the throats of passengers and crew to gain control of those aircraft.

• Using those airplanes as flying bombs to destroy skyscrapers and damage a military headquarters, killing 3,000 people.


• Targeting civilian populations in Iraq and Syria for nerve gas attacks in contravention of universal international agreements, intentionally murdering thousands of noncombatants.

• Imposing the death penalty on people who exercise their inalienable human right to choose another faith, as well as on suspected adulterers and homosexuals.

• Holding down screaming 12-year-old girls or younger to amputate their sexual organs without anesthesia because women are not entitled to experience pleasure during sex — and then referring to that as “female circumcision,” an utterly (and intentionally?) deceptive phrase.

• Displaying captured hostages before cutting their throats or beheading them on camera as they plead for life.

• Bombing schools in which young girls are students because they aren’t worthy of an education, or kidnapping them to prevent such schooling.

• Forcing girls back into a burning school, resulting in the deaths of dozens of them, because they had not donned the body-covering robes they must wear in public.


• For that matter, forcing women and girls to wear such garments in the first place.

There’s more — God help us, there is much more — but we should turn to the genesis of this partisan document itself.

First, nearly all practices condemned in the report were disclosed to congressional leaders who approved them years ago, as retired CIA intelligence operative Jose Rodriguez noted Dec. 9 on the Hannity show on Fox.

Further, he said, the techniques yielded substantial “actionable intelligence” that prevented many attacks (something strongly affirmed, with specific examples, in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal by former CIA directors Michael Hayden, George Tenet and Porter Goss).

Rodriguez noted the staffers did not interview CIA personnel during their investigation, a more-than-curious lapse, and he added the obvious point that there have been no successful mass attacks on the American homeland since Sept. 11, 2001.

Do the report’s authors think that is a coincidence?


Finally, he noted that the current administration’s plan to handle terrorism is to launch drone strikes on jihadists that don’t leave them alive and well, as they are after water-boarding or sleep deprivation, but blown to bits — along with whoever they are standing beside when the drone explodes.

Of course, killing rather than capturing those terrorists means they can never tell us anything. When it comes to Americans’ core values, where does that fit in?

Finally, let’s quote a former Democratic governor and senator who also served on the intelligence committee. Nebraska’s Bob Kerrey wrote in USA Today Dec. 10 that “we are fighting a war that is different than any in our country’s past. The enemy does not have an easy to identify and analyze military. In the war against global jihadism, human intelligence and interrogation have become more important, and I worry that the partisan nature of this report could make this kind of collection more difficult.”

Because the report was written by “Democratic staff alone,” minority Republicans “checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.”

Because of that political focus, Kerrey said, the report’s worst consequence “can be seen in this disturbing fact: It contains no recommendations. This is perhaps the most significant missed opportunity, because no one would claim the program was perfect or without its problems. But equally, no one with real experience would claim it was the completely ineffective and superfluous effort this report alleges.”

Too bad so many without any real experience would rather lead our friends to distrust us, give our enemies ammunition against us, and make U.S. agents and allied foreign nationals vulnerable to both prosecution by unfriendly governments and assassination by jihadists.

A fine day’s work, progressives. You must be so proud.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. Email at: [email protected]

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