The usual hacks are defending the CIA’s torture of prisoners after 9/11. M.D. Harmon (“Information is vital currency in our war against global jihadism,” Dec. 13) builds his rant around the statements of Jose Rodriguez.

As chief of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, Rodriguez ordered the destruction of 90 videotapes showing interrogations of Abu Zubaydah. Those tapes might have settled two questions: Were prisoners “tortured” and did “enhanced” interrogation techniques really provide “actionable” intelligence”? Why were the tapes destroyed, if the CIA is telling the truth?

More disturbing is Joseph Reisert’s column (“Blatantly partisan tenor ensures CIA report serves no good purpose,” Dec. 12). You might expect a “professor of American constitutional law” to focus on the legal issues raised by the CIA report. Surely Reisert knows that torture is illegal under both American and international law.

Japanese soldiers were charged with war crimes for waterboarding American POWs during World War II. “Just following orders” was not a defense.

The Bush White House found a lawyer, John Yoo, willing to write an infamous memo authorizing torture, arguing that the president needn’t obey the War Crimes Act. Officials at the Justice Department later concluded that Yoo had “committed intentional professional misconduct” in approving torture.

German Justice Department lawyers were charged with war crimes after WWII.


Reisert shrugs off the torture of “a relatively small number of foreign detainees.” If he accepts the Republican/CIA line that torture was necessary to protect American lives, why stop there? How about a large number of foreigners? Why not torture American citizens, if that’s what it takes?

Starting from the top down, all those who approved, directed or engaged in the CIA’s torture of prisoners should be held legally accountable. Or doesn’t Reisert teach his students that no one is above the law?

John R. Merrill


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