It wasn’t that bad, we’ve been told, over and over again, for more than a decade. “We only waterboarded three people” goes the line American officials have been force-feeding the world for years. “We tortured some folks,” Barack Obama admitted recently, still downplaying war crimes committed in America’s name. But we now know those statements do not even begin to do justice to the horrific activities carried out by the CIA for years — atrocities that now have been exposed by the US Senate’s historic report on the CIA’s torture program, finally released on Tuesday after years of delay.
There are stories in the CIA torture report of “rectal rehydration as a means of behavior control”, threats to murder and “threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee” — or cut a mother’s throat. There are details about detainees with broken bones forced to stand for days on end, detainees blindfolded, dragged down hallways while they were beaten. There were even torture sessions that ended in death. The list goes on and on, and on and on.
But beyond all the the depravity, perhaps the most shocking part of this exposed history is the action of US officials who knew these horrors were unfolding — and covered them up.
For years, as the 480-page executive summary of the report documents in meticulous detail, these officials lied to the Senate, the Justice Department, the White House, to the American public and to the world. They prevented CIA officers involved from being disciplined. Theyinvestigated and marginalized those who were investigating them. They happily leaked classified information to journalists — much of it false — without worry of consequence.
For the past few days, we have seen many of the same resentfulpoliticians and former CIA leaders in charge of the torture-denial regime being handed virtual royalty status by the American media to respond to pre-emptively respond to the report without much of any pushback. Dick Cheney basically got to write his own interview in the New York Times, while Michael Hayden, the former NSA and CIA director in charge of lying to the Senate for years, was handed softball after softball by Bob Schieffer of CBS News to make his case. It is borderline propaganda.