Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Leon Panetta's Views on Torture

     The article from Newsweek, What Former CIA Head Leon Panetta Says Now About Torture, discusses the variance of opinions on the use of torture from some of the most important men in the industry.  Some believe it is a practice that needs to end while others believe the information gathered from the harsh methods are worth the ethical and moral stigma.  Panetta, who did not become head of the Central Intelligence Agency until after the water-boarding had been banned, ended up dealing more with the ramifications of the public's new insight into the torture from the release of previously classified documents. By giving Senate investigators access to those documents, Panetta received a lot of grief from the White House, leading to a conflict that has yet to be resolved between the Senate Intelligence Committee, the CIA, and the White House. 
     As for opinions, Panetta's is very equivocal.  He believes that a lot of the information gathered was useful, but that we will never know if that information could be gathered another way.  He does not want to join in on the arguments either for or against.  The arguments for torture tend to be filled with misinformation; for example, officials claimed a prisoner broke under the torture to reveal important information on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden but this later proved to be completely false. Those against the use of torture claim it is a waste of time because of the false leads often given by prisoners just for a break.  Many military officials have come out to denounce torture, going along with groups like Human Rights First who claim that torture only works in propaganda campaign.
     Torture is an incredibly prevalent topic in today's news and in this class. The outcome of extraordinary rendition is, more often than not, some form of torture to gain intelligence whether the prisoner has knowledge or not. Those prisoners subjected to torture wrongly will often try to take the government on in court but often get nowhere because of the risk of state secrets getting out. With the release of these documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee, however, it could lead to more settlements for the people who were wrongly detained in the name of United States intelligence.  I believe that there has to be a better way to gain this information, but I also have a hard time expecting that a better way will be utilized in the near future.

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