opinion web
Conservative Opinion General Opinion
Joe Conason
Joe Conason
4 Dec 2014
What Voters Don't Know (Yet) About Jeb Bush

Whenever the deep thinkers of the Republican establishment glance at their bulging clown car of presidential … Read More.

20 Nov 2014
Fix Decaying Pipelines First for Jobs, Health and Safety

With the Keystone XL pipeline stalled again, now perhaps we can look ahead and consider more promising ways … Read More.

15 Nov 2014
Immigration, Impeachment and Insanity on the Republican Right

Obstructing, denouncing and demonizing Barack Obama are so central to the existence of the Republican Party … Read More.

Crimes Without Punishment


With the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the use of torture by the CIA after 9/11, the final defense of the indefensible by its perpetrators, advocates and publicists is falling apart before our eyes.

Not only did "enhanced interrogation," the Nazi euphemism adopted by the Bush-Cheney administration, include methods outlawed and prosecuted by our country for more than a century, such as waterboarding — and not only did those "activities," as Dick Cheney called them, violate American law, the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions and the conventions on torture — but also we now know with great certainty that the CIA executed this secret program with horrific incompetence and that it produced nothing of significant value.

Indeed, the SSCI report concludes — contrary to the boasting of Cheney and many others — that torture was proved "not an effective means of gathering intelligence," let alone saving millions of Americans from jihadi plots, and actually "complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions." The overseers of the torture program, themselves of dubious competence, were unable even to assess the impact or effectiveness of their orders.

As Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations points out, the CIA itself has admitted, in its otherwise aggressive response to the SSCI, that it lacked the "structure, expertise, and methodologies" to "systematically evaluate the effectiveness" of its "covert actions." The CIA didn't know what it was doing. But it was doing grave damage to itself and to us.

Unavoidably, the SSCI report dwells on the details of these true nightmares, revealing facts that anyone would regret learning: the "rectal rehydration" of detainees by shoving food up the wrong way, with the infliction of excruciating pain; the "black sites" where detainees were held for months in total darkness, with loud music constantly playing and only a bucket for their waste; the cells where detainees suffered such freezing temperatures that at least one died of hypothermia overnight; the beatings, the near drownings, the constant infliction of pain and hunger and threats of rape and murder.

According to the report, some episodes of interrogation were so blatantly sadistic and so obviously criminal that the men who witnessed them actually wept.

More than one officer broke down and fled, through retirement or transfer, while the White House and the Pentagon continued to lie about the extent — and the supposed necessity — of these unprecedented crimes. Those lies were designed to prevent investigations or oversight from revealing the horrific facts that are now emerging.

Yet despite a long and ongoing cover-up — and notwithstanding the specific revelations highlighted in the report — the basic outline has been known since 2009, when portions of the CIA inspector general's report on torture were released by the Obama Justice Department.

Back then, the spy agency's own investigation — in the words of a Bush appointee and torture enthusiast — found it "difficult to determine conclusively whether interrogations have provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks." In other words, the CIA could never prove any instance when the sole justification for these gross violations of U.S. and international law — breaking up a plot targeting American lives — had been fulfilled since 9/11. And unsurprisingly, that is still the case.

The searing issue we now confront, as a society governed by law, is that these lawbreakers will not be prosecuted or even required to testify publicly about their grave offenses. The Obama administration is apparently willing to expose their lawlessness but unable to do anything to punish it. Even the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Anthony Romero, has abandoned any hope of prosecutions, noting that the torturers have in effect been pardoned. Romero has urged President Obama to make those pardons official — which would at least stamp the actions of the torturers and their accomplices as crimes.

What we have needed for years — but evidently will never get — is a truth and reconciliation process that might have granted freedom from prosecution to witnesses who testified publicly, honestly and completely about the crimes of that mercifully departed era. Instead, those miscreants will escape accountability altogether — except in the pages of history, where the SSCI report will indict them over and over again.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



2 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... Crimes without punishment, or punishment without conviction, what does it matter so long as sadism multiplies in the equasion. Haven't you ever pulled the wings off a fly? Flies aren't angels, but if you pulled the wings off an angel could the angel still fly? I wonder if these people of faith and God feel they cannot reach God with winged hearts all aflutter with pain and doubt. Do they feel foresaken, and do they doubt God's will in his own defense. Who has the extra life to lose? What little life do we have to piss it all away in tears and sweat. Take away the only life these scarecrows know and feel, and give them horror instead, and they will lose the will to live, they will lose all meaning, and wish their hollow lives away. Invoking death with every baited breath and calling Allah vainly is better than death. Your victory, is our defeat.. When life is so little and that is all you have, and you are made to hate your life, you are done. Some times people keep on living, but they can't say why. Their souls are robbed out of them, and death waits.

This is the victory of men and money over mankind, and the world has seen. Maybe we should celebrate or something. Spin it in a positive light. What triumph is death? Why turn a catspaw into a corpse? Doesn't the cat deserve his play? Death is nothing and less than nothing because everybody dies. It a paradox of sorts, that you can't own a dead man. There must be some way to break that rule.

Can it be hard work? Is it hard to recruit. Does it go on your resume? They probably have to stay fit. Torture can't be a carreer, but must be a calling. And you have to imagine a civilian application for these skills, perhaps as private contractors. I hope it pays well. It would so suck having to work misery for humanity for no money. Imagine going home to the wife and the kids with them asking, whatd ja do today daddy? Did you really turn the screws?

We have lost it. It happens to societies some times where they lose their purpose and cannot discover it again. I would say liberty and justice, and for all, but definitly justice, and I wonder whose sense of justice torture serves. How ever you conceive of our purpose tell me how torture serves your purpose, for this, I have to hear.
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:34 PM
Re: James A, Sweeney,
Of all who comment here, you are one of the few whose opinion I respect and you are very close to the truth. Suggest some sites for you to visit: Zero Hedge: browse, but start with The media is focusing on the Wrong Senate Torture Report. Then browse America's Spooky New Money. Dr. Omar Zaid is a friend maybe visit & browse his site then watch his YT video on Foundations of Magic & Real Political Science.
Comment: #2
Posted by: steveM
Mon Dec 15, 2014 3:10 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Joe Conason
Dec. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
30 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31 1 2 3
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Jill Lawrence
Jill LawrenceUpdated 18 Dec 2014
Froma Harrop
Froma HarropUpdated 18 Dec 2014
Jim Hightower
Jim HightowerUpdated 17 Dec 2014

16 Feb 2012 Will Catholic Bishops and the Religious Right Save Obama?

7 Jan 2010 Partisan Hysteria Hypes (and Helps) al-Qaida

17 Oct 2014 Let Obama and Frieden Do Their Jobs