Friday, December 12, 2014


Isaiah 9:2
My response to the recently-released Senate report on interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency was deep sorrow. That we routinely brutalize and torture detainees is one more example of how in trying to wage a war on terror, we have become terrorists ourselves.

As former FBI agent Ali H. Soufan observed in a recent NYT article,“Imagine if we didn’t go down that road. Imagine. We played into the enemy’s hand. Now we have American hostages in orange jumpsuits because we put people in orange jumpsuits.”

On the Cross, Christ said, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do." But more and more, we DO know what we do.

I find it difficult to believe that Christ is going to buy our infantilized wilfully blind protestations that we were only trying to "protect the innocent." In an effort to maintain our status as the world's superpower, in fact we torture, kill, drop nuclear bombs on, shatter the families of, impoverish, traumatize and mass displace the innocent.

That includes the soldiers we recruit and condition to kill and torture on our behalf.

Excerpts from two articles, both on Page A3 of the Los Angeles Times, Thursday, December 11, 2014:

The first is entitled: "Malala: Books, not guns.At Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the new laureate, 17, calls for education for all."
"Why is it that countries which we call strong are so powerful in creating wars but are so weak in bringing peace," [Malala Yousafzai] asked. "Why is it that giving guns is so easy, but giving books is so hard? Why is it that making tanks is so easy, but building schools is so hard?"

The second is "Brazil report details abuses: The National Truth Commission reveals the crimes of the military dictatorship."

"'The practices were a human tragedy that cannot be justified by any kind of motivation,' the report concludes. 'At thd same time that these reports expose scenes of horror that are little known by millions of Brazilians, they also honor the victims of crimes committed by the Brazilian government and its armed forces, which during the dictatorship instituted the systematic violence of human rights and the condition of a police state.

The report also notes that hundreds of Brazilian military officers received training in torture from the United States at the School of the Americas in Panama."

Finally, here's the link to a NYT piece by Eric Fair, a former torturer-for-hire, aka "contract interrogator" employed by the United States government at Abu Ghraib. Let's ponder that as we prepare to pay our taxes. As he notes, the abuses delineated in the recent Senate report are only the tip of the iceberg.



  1. What are you talking about Anonymous? And what use is the ad hominum, which you will see isn't accurate if you reread the post.
    If you want to discuss the post, let's do so. I'd like to begin by asserting that Heather's use of the word terrorist is precise.

  2. Do to others as you would have them do to you?

  3. What? 300-350 million people in this country and how many - too many have been "conditioned" into a stuporous level of fear that can only respond with the demand for more torture for our protection. The darkness seems impenetrable. E.L. Refugio

  4. This is not torture. It is interrogation. The detainees wake up the next morning with all of their limbs intact...not bleeding....not mortally wounded. It is different than how these extremists treat us....with violent torture and even beheadings. By the way, the beheadings are not guillotine style.....the head is sawed off. THAT is what you call torture. If you insist on calling what the CIA report describes as "torture", I would submit that what the thousands of family members and friends of the 3,000 Americans that were burned alive or jumped from buildings wake to every single morning to picture in their minds over and over again for the last 13 years, I would submit to you that that, too, is "torture". Many of the actions of the CIA were morally wrong but they were done when the country was in a state of panic, not knowing when the next terrorist attack might take place. I believe that the mostly heroic actions of those determined to keep us safe have prevented a similar attack and saved countless lives. This one-sided and biased report, I am certain, has now endangered peace loving people all over the world.

    1. Your comment reduces torture to something physical. I don't think that is accurate.
      I agree the CIA has done many immoral actions that we know of, and it is generally known that the public knows very little of the extent of CIA activity worldwide. That it is the secret policing arm of the US/British (primarily) banking empire is obvious. And Islamic terrorists, evil as they are, have been used by those in power in the West to expand their capabilities.
      Do you sincerely believe one of the CIA's primary objectives is to stop terrorism? That is not what I hear from friends who come from 2nd and 3rd world countries regarding the CIA...they actually laugh if you ask them if they think that is a real task of the agency!

    2. Thank you, Paul. I echo your sentiments. And to "Anonymous," it is torture. It would be wrong even if applied to the known guilty and it is in fact applied to the innocent.
      Whatever you choose to call it, it is an egregious, unthinkable violation of Christ's commandment to "Love one another as I have loved you." It is not the mark of a people who love peace; but rather the mark of a people who love and idolize violence.

      You are not welcome to post comments promoting torture and violence on my blog, especially under cover of anonymity. If you do so again, your comment will be deleted and marked for spam.

      You are a coward. Yes, Jesus wept...

  5. Thank you for writing so clearly what I have been feeling. Jesus wept...

  6. Sorry that I posted as anonymous. I posted hurriedly the other day and, not being techie, I did not understand all of the profiles to choose from. Today I saw how easy it is just to print my name so now you know that I am not a coward. My name is Barbara and I stand by my comments. Upon 9/11/2011, our country was sadly forced into what has become a horrendous ongoing war with terrorism in which difficult decisions have had to be made in order to protect our country. I stand behind what I said about the politically motivated Senate Democrat report on the CIA. I would suggest that any fair minded person be willing to hear the other side (Christ was ALWAYS willing to listen to the other side) before prayerfully making a judgment. You will be able to hear from one of the actual interrogators, Dr. James Mitchell, about the interrogation process that was cited and the great lengths that were taken to protect the detainees in his interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News on He is the man who actually waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11. Here is the link: We are at war and terrible horrendous things happen during war. But I do believe that GOOD men and women were doing everything in their power to avoid similar attacks and keep our country safe. As I said the other day, mistakes were made. But that is not to say that in order to obtain information about possible future attacks, terrible things had to justifiably take place...terrible things that, yes, I do think made Jesus weep. and other websites have great articles on the doctrine of "just war" that, I believe, support my opinion. You, whether your opinion agrees with my opinion, at least now know that my name is Barbara, that I am not a coward and that now knowing my name you can pray for me as I will pray for you.

    1. Thank you, Barbara, and if I knew your last name, face, email address, profession, family, parish, personal history, sins, mistakes, wrong turns, story of ongoing conversion, employers and home city, I and the rest of the world would at least begin know as much about you as you and the rest of the world know about me, and that would help me to pray for you and maybe we could even meet some day!

      Either way, I do think it is cowardly to anonymously snipe--one of the perils of identifying as Anonymous is that other folks who may or may not be you may also identify as Anonymous and especially when the tone is similar, I assume the comments are from the same person--and I appreciate your coming forward, even if only with a first name.

      Christ was always willing to talk with those who were sincerely interested in seeking the truth but he also never minced words with those who weren't, and often called the Pharisees hypocrites and liars.

      I have a visceral revulsion to the sickening violence the United States wields in order to maintain its position as the world's #1 military and economic power. For better or worse, I just can't have a "nuanced" reaction to the CIA report. There is no way to put torture into a "context" that would make it acceptable which is to say, in accordance with the death, life and teachings of Christ. Who was himself tortured to death...

      To me, to say "We are at war and horrendous things happen during war" is to beg the fundamental question of whether we are willing to follow Christ or not. If horrendous things happen during war then we should do everything in our power not to be at war. We can't just shrug our shoulders and blame it on the "other," the "barbarians," the people who are REALLY violent. In a way, Christ's whole Crucifixion and Resurrection can be seen as a way to address the question of the horrific human tendency toward violence.

      To me we have a responsibility to dig way way deeper than superficial truisms (which are really falsisms) and allow ourselves to see that violence inevitably leads to more violence. We have a responsibility to refrain from making an idol of our political system by virtue of which we justify any amount of violence, murder, torture, any expenditure of money, any amount of lies. In a world of nuclear weapons, I don't think there is any such thing as a just war. There is certainly no such thing as a sane war, if there ever was.

      War or no, torture as detailed in the CIA report--the immediate subject at hand--is against all standards of common humanity. Period. I feel as strongly that torture is wrong as I feel abortion is wrong.

      To that end, I'd recommend to one and all the prison meditations of Fr. Alfred Delp, the bulk of which were written during Advent.

      “Unless a man has been shocked to his depths at himself and the things he is capable of, as well as the failings of humanity as a whole, he cannot understand the full import of Advent.”

      “The genuine dialogue no longer exists, because there are no genuine partners to engage in it. People are frightened. They are scared to stride out firmly and honestly to the boundaries of their potential powers because they are afraid of what they will find at the borderline.”

      --Fr. Alfred Delp, written from the Plotzensee prison, in which he was executed by the Nazis, at the age of 37, on February 2, 1945.

      Okay, I need to go eat!

  7. From a NYT Editorial, dated December 21, 2014, entitled "Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses":

    "Since the day President Obama took office, he has failed to bring to justice anyone responsible for the torture of terrorism suspects — an official government program conceived and carried out in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    He did allow his Justice Department to investigate the C.I.A.'s destruction of videotapes of torture sessions and those who may have gone beyond the torture techniques authorized by President George W. Bush. But the investigation did not lead to any charges being filed, or even any accounting of why they were not filed.

    Mr. Obama has said multiple times that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” as though the two were incompatible. They are not. The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down.

    Americans have known about many of these acts for years, but the 524-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report erases any lingering doubt about their depravity and illegality: In addition to new revelations of sadistic tactics like “rectal feeding,” scores of detainees were waterboarded, hung by their wrists, confined in coffins, sleep-deprived, threatened with death or brutally beaten. In November 2002, one detainee who was chained to a concrete floor died of “suspected hypothermia.”

    These are, simply, crimes. They are prohibited by federal law, which defines torture as the intentional infliction of “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” They are also banned by the Convention Against Torture, the international treaty that the United States ratified in 1994 and that requires prosecution of any acts of torture.

    So it is no wonder that today’s blinkered apologists are desperate to call these acts anything but torture, which they clearly were. As the report reveals, these claims fail for a simple reason: C.I.A. officials admitted at the time that what they intended to do was illegal."

    read the whole piece at


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