POINT: Shock, Sadness and a New Opportunity

Updated 4 years ago

By Joseph J. Honick

Hold on there, folks.  Weird as it may sound, the confession of what was done in those torture chambers in the name of Americans but denied at the very top of government….yes this final opening of the books presents an opportunity.

 How, you  may ask logically, could such supposedly un-American actions in any possible way have the most minimal positive place?

As minimal as it may seem, to my knowledge, we will have been the first nation to confess so openly to such barbarous actions.

Had the allies failed to defeat the Nazis and the Japanese in WWII, does anyone even suggest that atrocities of the Holocaust and other prison ugliness would have been unearthed or their story told for tons of years?  After all, for some time, even some of the most prominent American industrialists, diplomats and others  chose to look the other way but offered support as Hitler not only made his way across Europe, committed to both power and what became known as the Holocaust, his published goal to destroy the Jews…all of them.

Comes now the suspected but insufficiently published story of our torture chambers in Guantanamo.  And what we have finally done that few if any other nations have done was to push, prod and demand that the ugliness of what we have done in the name of this great nation was  made public.  In other words, we are both strong enough and willing enough to hear the truth, people of good will from all sides of the political spectrum supported the exposure of this blot on our history and reputation.

While this terrible story was pushed to the front pages of media around the world, and we will take our deserved hits as a result, few of those same screaming foreign media or extremist folks right here in the United States have pressed for the kinds of inhumane realities that have characterized the conduct of the Syrian government, the tragedies of Liberia, Libya and Nigeria, among others.

Such revelations will do little to nothing to minimize the current revelations of our own conduct, but America has been willing to own up to its own actions.  The fact of those revelations should not and cannot argue for the slightest forgiveness or understanding for those in command who directed and accepted the actions revealed in the reports.  And it is vital that we place the responsibility for this disgraceful conduct right where it has belonged all along:  in the names of President George W. Bush and his collaborating Vice President Dick Cheney, who all along thought the torture was  necessary, legal and correct.

And just as inexplicable is the revelation that we made millionaires of two military psychologists who helped to conceive and implement the torture methods.

As to those abroad ready to toss both media and physical assaults on the United States for these revelations, let them all look to themselves.

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Honick is president of GMA International Ltd with offices on Bainbridge Island, WA.  He is an international consultant to business and writes on a variety of public affairs issues.


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COUNTERPOINT: Talk About CIA 'reclaiming'  'High Moral Ground' Is Absolute Rubbish; But Does It Bother Me?

By David M. Kinchen

“For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment,” wrote former President Harry Truman on the one-month anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, Dec. 22, 1963. “It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.” --http://jfkfacts.org/assassination/on-this-date/dec-22-1963-truman-calls-for-abolition-of-cia/


I was just a little bit surprised in the wake of the release of the Senate's report on CIA torture that one cable news network had a former director of central intelligence (that's the official title, not director of the CIA) calling on the agency to "reclaim its high moral ground."

What "high moral ground"? From its birth out of the remnants of the wartime (1942-1945) Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the CIA has been at the forefront in overthrowing legitimately elected governments in countries as widely diverse as Iraq, Guatemala and Chile. 

Harry Truman created the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947 because he wanted a news service, so he wouldn't be kept in the dark --- as he was by President Franklin D. Roosevelt when Truman was the vice president. When FDR died in April 1945, Truman didn't even know about the Atomic Bomb program! That's the account in Tim Weiner's excellent book about the agency "Legacy of Ashes". Published in 2007 by Doubleday, it's an outstandingly well-written, exhaustively researched by a reporter (for the New York Times) who's won the Pulitzer Prize.

Officially, the CIA was created, along with the Department of Defense and a separate air force, by the National Security Act of 1947

Truman wanted an end to the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services, formed in 1942 as an intelligence agency during WW II and headed by William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan, a WWI decorated hero.


The National Security Act of 1947 established the United States's first permanent peacetime intelligence agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, which then took up the functions of the OSS. The direct descendant of the paramilitary component of the OSS is the Special Activities Division of the CIA.[

Torture has been part of the CIA's culture from the very beginning, Weiner's book amply demonstrates, pointing to the replacement of a legitimately elected government in Iraq with Shah Reza Pahlavi, that the agency was comfortable with torturers. The Shah's SAVAK was notorious for torturing people.

The executive summary of the Senate report shows that the CIA has continued to use foreign countries in "enhanced interrogation", including such models of democracy as Egypt. Augusto Pinochet, who succeeded the murdered Salvador Allende in Chile, was an accomplished "enhanced interrogator." 

The countries that helped the CIA were blacked out in the executive summary, but people in the know acknowledge the participation of Egypt, Poland and Lithuania, among other countries.

I'm a movie buff: Any talk of the "Company" as its called by insiders reclaiming 'high moral ground" reminds me of the exchange in the classic 1942 movie "Casablanca between casino owner Rick Blaine and Vichy Captain Louis Renault: 

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds? 

Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! 

[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money

Croupier: Your winnings, sir. 

Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much. 


Captain Renault: Everybody out at once! 

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The bottom line for me, a guy who has admittedly not been "rectally hydrated" (I had to look that one up; it used to be called the Murphy Drip and was invented by a Wisconsin doctor to feed patients who could not be fed by mouth) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphy_drip:  I don't see any problem with what the CIA did.   More than 3,000 people were killed by Islamist terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, we haven't had significant deaths by terrorists: the death toll in Boston and at Fort Hood in Texas was horrific, but nowhere near the toll of 9/11. To borrow a catch line from another movie I like, "Body Heat": The CIA did whatever was necessary, with the approval of duly elected officials.

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Kinchen is a journalist with almost 49 years of experience on five daily newspapers, including The Milwaukee Sentinel and the Los Angeles Times. He has lived in Port Lavaca, TX since the summer of 2008.

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