A CIA Eyewitness blows the Whistle on Bushie Torturers still Justifying Crimes

By John Kiriakou | (Foreign Policy in Focus/ Otherwords.org) | – –

The CIA’s torture-era leadership just won’t repent.

Even after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report saying in no uncertain terms that the CIA had tortured its prisoners, that torture was official U.S. government policy, and that torture never elicited any actionable intelligence that saved American lives, Bush-era CIA Directors George Tenet, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, and several of their underlings announced plans to release a book justifying torture.

They intend to repeat a lie over and over again in this book: that torture worked. They hope that the American people are either so gullible or so stupid that they’ll believe it. It’s up to the rest of us to ensure that our government swears off committing this crime against humanity.

I know that these former intelligence leaders are lying because I worked with them at the CIA. When I blew the whistle on the CIA’s torture program in 2007, they came down on me like a ton of bricks.

It’s not necessarily news that these former CIA heavyweights believe in torture, even if they refuse to call it what it is. Many television news outlets still run clips of George Tenet’s 2007 appearance on CBS’s “60 Minutes” in which he repeats “We do not torture! We do not torture!” as though he were unhinged and living in a dream world. Perhaps what Tenet needs to do is to read the United Nations Convention on Torture, to which the United States is a signatory.

This global accord says that torture is “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining…information or a confession, punishing him for an act…or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or when such pain or suffering is inflicted by…a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

It’s plain and simple: The CIA tortured its prisoners. They can call it anything they want. It’s still torture.

These same former CIA leaders already have set up a propaganda website to accompany their book. The site explains away their violations of international law with the lie that torture worked, that it was legal, and that it was smart policy.

President Barack Obama decided to ignore these officers’ violations of the law, to “look forward as opposed to backwards.” I disagree.

If these folks want to talk about torture, let’s talk about torture.

Let’s talk about the prisoners who were killed — murdered — by CIA officers during questioning and why those officers were never brought to trial. Let’s talk about the sexual assault perpetrated against prisoners by CIA officers, but described as “rectal rehydration.” Let’s talk about the CIA’s secret prisons around the world. Let’s talk about the CIA’s doctors involved in the torture program who violated their Hippocratic oaths to “first do no harm.” Let’s talk about the targeting and murder of U.S. citizens overseas without the benefit of trial.

I have no doubt that these former CIA leaders think they are patriots. They believe they have bravely served the country. But what they’re missing is that they didn’t take an oath to protect the CIA. They took an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution. They didn’t do that. Instead, they committed crimes against humanity, and for that they should be prosecuted.

John Kiriakou is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He’s also a former CIA counterterrorism officer and former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

This commentary is a joint publication of Foreign Policy In Focus and OtherWords.

Related video added by Juan Cole:

VICE News from last spring: “Ex-CIA Officer John Kiriakou: “The Government Turned Me Into a Dissident”

6 Responses

  1. Kiriakou, you are a hero for sanity and moral clarity and transparency and justice.


  2. Obama has worked very hard to immunise and impunify torture by governmental personell. That was the meaning and the purpose of his “look forward and not back”. The Obama Administration is very much an extension and a routinization of the Bush Administration in terms of transforming bold experiments in UnConstitutional governance into standard operating procedure. People will look back in due time and refer to these 16 years as the BushCoBama Administration.

    • Early on during the Obama Administration, George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley pointed out that if Obama failed to act to bring known torturers to justice, he was guilty of a war crime. This is one of the darkest stains on his presidency. Failing to bring these criminals to justice almost insures that at some time in the future some US official will do this again. I wish some foreign court would bring war crimes charges against these evil people who are still running around free.

      • “I wish some foreign court would bring war crimes charges against these evil people who are still running around free.”

        This is next to impossible where CIA officers operate under diplomatic cover out of the local U.S. Embassy and are protected via immunity.

        It was reported that CIA undercover officers had shadowed a Hezbollah leader, Imad Mughniyeh, in Damascus, Syria in 2008 before killing him in a car bombing in a joint mission with the Mossad:

        link to timesofisrael.com

        It would be highly unlikely that the CIA would undertake such an operation without diplomatic immunity protection for its personnel involved with its execution. The same logic applies to torture situations.

        The use of torture was documented in the “Family Jewels” report issued in the 1970s which gave special attention to the extended detention and torture perpetrated upon KGB defector Yuri Nosenko; the CIA conceded that laws appeared to have been broken in the Nosenko case. No CIA employee was prosecuted, however, as a result of such torture activities.

  3. ‘President Barack Obama decided to ignore these officers’ violations of the law, to “look forward as opposed to backwards.” I disagree.’

    This sums up my #1 issue with Obama. I hoped. I did have hope… that we’d clean up the mess at some point. As a constitutional scholar, Obama knew the law had been broken. War Crimes were committed and he knew it. He didn’t have the courage to bring them to justice, however, and I can never forgive him for letting this infection fester for 8 more years. Bush et al are clearly guilty and until they are held accountable we are in serious danger of repeating these mistakes and many others in the future.

  4. Forward instead of backward? I don’t see much “forward.”
    Someone should ask Bernie if he’ll prosecute torturers. A dollar to a doughnut says he’ll deflect the question.

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