The release of the Senate Select Committee report on CIA torture of detainees has exposed America to great peril. But the danger of publication lies not in the threat of some sort of violent backlash from the Muslim world. The real peril is that Americans will dismiss the devastating revelations, falling into line with an official narrative that seeks to whitewash the practice of torture as the country drifts towards a complete moral collapse.
Fully half of the U.S. population believes torture can be justified in order to extract information from terror suspects, according to a New York Times poll published last Wednesday. In fact, the poll showed that Americans have become more accepting of torture than they were a decade ago. And that’s hardly surprising. The corporate media and political leadership overwhelmingly evade the reality of what torture involves and insist that the public trust their security services to act within the confines of the America’s laws and values.
CIA Director John Brennan refers to brutal beatings and waterboarding as “EIT’s,” or enhanced interrogation techniques, while the anal rape inflicted on prisoners by CIA employees is routinely described by media as “rectal rehydration.” Meanwhile, President Barack Obama insists the public forgive and forget after they are forced to acknowledge the wanton transgressions of law and basic democratic principles.
This is not an America that can provide global leadership. But it is an America that’s true to itself. It’s a frightened America, terrorized since the 9/11 attacks into abandoning the values it claims to represent. If it has abrogated the rule of law, justice, transparency and accountability – and it appears it has – then, to put it crudely, the terrorists have won.