The CIA Torture Report
On December 9th, 2014, the Democrats of the Senate Intelligence Committee published a report of the torture methods employed by the CIA during the War on Terror over the past decade, methods that were authorized under Bush, and carried on under Obama. My reaction can be broken down into three categories: the morality, the tactics, and the context. Let’s take these one by one.
Torture is evil. Torture comes from a sapient mind deliberately deciding to maximize the pain and misery felt in another sentient being.¹ Animals cannot torture because they cannot manifest the will to induce suffering for its own sake. A cat can toy with a mouse, causing it to suffer greatly, but it cannot conceive of making the mouse suffer merely for the sake of suffering; cruelty is a side-effect, not a primary goal. It cannot selflessly cause the mouse to suffer. Only a conscious being possessing free will can do that.
Torture is not justice. Justice inevitably demands that the guilty suffer during their punishment – whether it be caning, drawing and quartering, or merely imprisonment – but it is not suffering for suffering’s sake, it is suffering for justice’s sake. There are three basic schools of thought on how punishment should be meted out: the retributive (eye for an eye), the preventative (make an example of them), and the redemptive (reform the penitent in the penitentiary); we presently employ a mixture of all three. But regardless of which school one subscribes to, the administered punishment is always measured and exact: this crime that punishment. Torture is anything but; it is always arbitrary and inexact, whether it is being employed for the sake of vengeance, or for some instrumental end such as the extraction of information.
It is worth noting that it is not the suffering that makes torture evil; everything worthy and glorious in life demands suffering. Whether it’s a woman bleeding on the birthing bed, or a man bleeding on the battlefield, suffering must be embraced. Those who protest the CIA’s mistreatment of these villainous Mohammedans on the grounds that they suffered are misguided and callow. It speaks to the degeneracy of our culture. In every era, the Materialist has feared suffering, prioritizing luxury over strength, and accolades over achievement. He follows the path of the Bodhisattvas, escaping into nihilism and fantasy, refusing to pay the price for life. Suffering must be embraced, but it should not be celebrated.
Celebrating suffering is the path of the Sadist, the inverse the Materialist, his cruelty reflects the other’s cowardice. For the Sadist, suffering is always the end in itself, not the means to others. It cannot be used instrumentally due to its very nature; torture becomes its own end, and any information extracted is merely a side effect. Torture is wanton and extreme, not controlled and measured; it is about having no limits to what actions you’ll take, inspiring fear of your madness rather than awe of your genius. Its very methodology summons up the Abyss. The Sadist doesn’t say “Do this or I’ll hit you with a stick,” he says “Do this or… hmm… which implement shall I use this time?” The great crime of torture lies not in the suffering experienced by the victim, but in the twisting that occurs in the mind of the torturer. Sapient beings possess the ability to bring love, truth, and beauty into the world; the Sadist abuses this gift of to bring hate, lies, and misery.
Justice draws a line through the centre, in between cruelty and cowardice: instrumental coercion, to achieve an objective end, ultimately serving the higher goal of self defence. This has been this basis of Just War Theory since the beginning of Christendom. At times it might be necessary to shell the enemy with mustard gas; but when they surrender you do not mistreat them. A misbehaving prisoner demands correction – “bleeding from the forehead” as prison guards are wont to say – but that doesn’t mean you subject them to pointless indignities.
While the Left follows the primeval animism of savagery and barbarism, there are elements on the Right who haven’t risen beyond the pagan credo of “Might makes right”; the law is justified in using force because it’s capable of using force, and that’s all there is to it. Justice is nothing but [violence+organization]×time.
If that were the case, we never would have risen beyond the level of tribes; a chieftain’s arbitrary rules wouldn’t have survived his death if they didn’t appeal to something innate to all humanity. Lady Justice is the mother, not the child, of Law.
The CIA subjected to detainees to repeated waterboarding, slapping, stress positions and sleep deprivation, confinement in a coffin-sized boxes, force-feeding anally, rectal exams conducted with “excessive force”, and threats of more severe violence. This was torture, and it was done with conscious and sober intention. These were acts of evil.
The CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation Techniques have been an utter boondoggle; ineffective in the short-run, and detrimental over the long-run. As Carl von Clausewitz noted, “War is politics by other means.” Likewise, torture is war by other means – and politics? That’s nothing but bargaining by other means. Torture, then, is nothing more than an extreme form of negotiation; it’s an attempt to buy from somebody who doesn’t want to sell.
That’s what distinguishes torture from all other forms of bargaining, including warfare; the fact that the target refuses to sell. This stands out because almost everything is for sale. No country has ever waged total war – fighting to the last man, woman, and child – because no country has ever held that much conviction in their cause. They all wind up at the negotiating table long before that. Even most forms of personal loyalty can be bought; the price might be steep, but it’s seldom infinite; this is the basis of the prisoner’s dilemma. The mere suggestion of a partner’s defection is enough to erode cooperation in most people.
In all of these cases a negotiation is taking place; this for that. 1 year in prison versus 5 years in prison; these political concessions to stop that particular bloodshed. When it comes to torture, however, we’re dealing with absolutes.
Just about everything’s for sale – but there are a few exceptions. A mother’s love for her children. A saint’s devotion to his God. An idealist’s commitment to a cause. These are the targets of the torturer: things which are priceless because their value is infinite. So how does the torturer purchase them?
By threatening something infinite in return.2
Of course, the torturer can’t truly offer an infinite amount of suffering; all physical things have their limits, and merely inflicting pain is not enough for the torturer to succeed. This is the Sadist’s great secret – pain has very little to do with it!
To effectively torture somebody you cannot rely upon pain to motivate them; if pain were a motivation then you’ve got a straight-forward negotiation on your hands, and there are more reliable ways to garner your victim’s cooperation. The only time torture is ‘called for’ is when the victim swears allegiance to some metaphysical belief, something which cannot be measured in objective value. The goal of the torturer is to summon up their own threat of metaphysical torment; to imply a volume of pain so great that it drives the victim to panic.
Torture is about instilling irrational terror in your victim, not just inflicting pain on them! Pain is just one of your tools; the true Sadist knows that it’s all about corrupting and destroying another person’s soul. Let them imagine for themselves what you’re going to do to them (in the same manner that a good horror movie never shows you the monster) – that’s your real weapon!
And quite frankly, it’s not a weapon that the CIA is capable of using.
The CIA might have subjected these Mohammedans to torturous experiences, but they lack the capacity to truly instill terror. Each one of their victims, though they might have wailed and gnashed their teeth in misery, was never truly driven into Cthulhu’s maw. They had the United State’s reputation working against them; these terrorists knew deep down that nothing beyond the pale was going to happen to them, and the only way to ‘correct’ this delusion would have been to perform an act of heinous mutilation upon one of them.
The CIA just doesn’t have that in them – thank God!
That’s why – out of 119 detainees who were subjected to EIT – not a single item of demonstrably useful information was found out.
And if they had been capable of truly performing torture?
Maybe they would have found something out, but at that point it wouldn’t have mattered. Torture is never instrumental, even when it is; it’s always done for the Sadist’s own purposes: vileness and desecration.
These events aside, I have a grudging respect for the CIA, and most Western spooks for that matter. From where I sit they seem to embrace the philosophy of the Republican Pagan, and while that’s a far cry from the values of a civilized man, they’re still aligned with the brighter-half of the morality meter. When I criticize them I’m criticizing an ally in the fight against leftist barbarism.
Which is precisely why this report came out now.
Was there anything surprising in this report? We’ve known about the CIA waterboarding its detainees for almost a decade, and that’s widely recognized as a form of torture. This report fleshed out some details, but none of it was unexpected. Some have said the same about Edward Snowden – that his revelations merely proved what us Alternative Right ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ already suspected to be true – but nonetheless he proved these things, and brought them into the public sphere. Who amongst the semi-literate didn’t already know about waterboarding?
Are the Democrats publishing this report because waterboarding was one thing, but waterboarding and ‘anal feeding’ – that demands action?
Hardly. This was a cynical attack on the Republicans, meant to distract from their loss during the last election, and to fire up the youth over those ‘old, evil, racist, gun-lovers’. As Obama recently said on the Colbert Report: get the [naive and economically illiterate] youth on board with Obamacare, and it will ‘win’ [while still being a terrible plague upon the nation].
The Republicans might be immoral, but at least they live in reality; the Democrats care not one whit for what is actually going on, they’re only interested in how things appear to the herd of rabbits. EIT was evil, ineffective, and outright harmful to the United State’s long-term strategy – but at least it sort-of makes sense, if you’re spiritually autistic. Bringing up EIT to win talking points, after ignoring it for years?
That’s almost as bad as the torture itself.
1. Sapient comes from the Latin root meaning sagacity or wisdom; it refers to a being which possesses free will (to the best of our knowledge, humans are alone in possessing sapience). Sentient comes from the Latin root meaning sensing or feeling; all vertebrates are sentient to varying degrees, and certain insects might be as well.
2. This is the second great evil of torture, which I passed over in the first section: the fact that it is a direct attack on another person’s soul. A country which surrenders doesn’t violate their inner nature – they merely admit failure, and make concessions. A torture victim who is broken, however, violates their very selves by performing acts which – to them – are profane. They betray their sacred vows and destroy their own identity. Torture can be considered a form of temptation through force. I can’t help thinking of Matthew 18:6: But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Whether the usage of the atomic bomb on Japan in WWII, and their ensuing abandonment of their Emperor, qualifies as a form of international torture is a debate I’ll leave to others.