Local Lawmakers Mostly Silent on CIA Torture Report

The Senate's long-anticipated report on the CIA's use of torture against detainees following the 9/11 terrorist attacks is worse than previously imagined. And yet the response from the Bay Area's elected representatives has been mostly silent, save for the senator who initiated the investigation and one House representative (see update below).

The report, which you can read here, found that the methods employed by the intelligence community included: anal feedings, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, putting prisoners in prolonged pressure positions and rape threats, among a myriad of other sickening techniques. These "enhanced interrogation" methods were ineffective and undeniably torture—and only an apologist would argue they fall outside the lines of war crimes.

Cue CIA director John Brennan, who on Thursday defended the agency's practices, adding that it was "unprepared" for its interrogation program, and that it had ventured into "uncharted territory."

Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who spearheaded the report, took to Twitter with the hashtag #ReadTheReport to lob point-by-point rebuttals to Brennan's address.

So far Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) is the only local congress member to publicly applaud Feinstein for ordering the report, and he voiced his anger about the CIA's secretive torture techniques.                                                         

Honda Mug

Rep. Mike Honda

"I am outraged by the revelations provided in the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the secretive CIA interrogation program," he wrote in a statement sent out Wednesday, the day after Feinstein's 500-page summary report was made public. "This report gives us the clearest picture yet of just how barbaric and ineffective the CIA interrogations were. The report found that the CIA continually misrepresented this program to Congress, the White House, and the American public, while actively avoiding and impeding Congressional and White House oversight."

The nation must own up to the "misguided and brutal practices" detailed in the report, Honda continued.

"Let us demonstrate the strength of our democracy by acknowledging our failing and working to ensure that such an egregious violation of human rights is never again the practice of the United States government," he wrote. "We, as a nation and a government, must commit ourselves to the idea that torture is inconsistent with our American values, does not produce accurate information, and emboldens those who want to do harm to the United States."

San Jose Inside looked for other nationally elected leaders who represent the Bay Area and took a position on the issue, but none could be found.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Atherton) put out three press releases Thursday and not one of them mentioned one of the biggest stains in our nation's history. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) put out a joint press release with Honda on Thursday asking the county to reject the sale of six hospitals from Daughters of Charity Health System to Prime Healthcare Services. She was silent on CIA torture.

Considering the significance of the issue, saying nothing—when elected officials rarely miss an opportunity to throw in their two cents—could be equated to doing nothing. Similar to discussions on race in America, and how law enforcement interacts with public, and in particular minorities, issues as important as whether the US condones torture shouldn't be avoided.

UPDATE: Rep. Zoe Lofgren sent a prepared statement after being contacted by San Jose Inside. “Torture is immoral, contrary to our nation’s values, and inconsistent with the rule of law," Lofgren said. "Moreover, as this report shows—torture is not effective in gaining critical intelligence that protects our nation. In the future, I hope our intelligence agencies will work with Congress to improve transparency, openness, and rebuild trust with our nation’s public.”

Correction: We missed statements put out by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough). San Jose Inside regrets the error.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

4 Comments

  1. I literally just finished watching The Dark Knight on DVD, where The Joker won because Batman played by a kindlier set of rules than The Joker did. The Joker knew Batman would not intentionally kill bad guys, and he used that weakness against Batman.

    If George Washington and the colonial army had played by the same rules of war at the time that the British did, we’d still be a British colony.

  2. The use of torture was approved for political, not security reasons, and given the aim of its architects it should be viewed as a success. The American embrace of torture, much to the delight of Israel-firsters like Alan Dershowitz and Richard Perle, was primarily intended to aid in the manufacture of villains (we need an unending supply of high-ranking targets to justify the costs of our inexhaustible supply of smart weapons), produce more enemies (who hate us for waterboarding their uncles) and to sink us so deep into that immoral, European-engineered Muslim quagmire that we become indistinguishable from that most immoral of states, Israel.

    Those politicians, including Dianne Feinstein, who sent our brave warriors into Iraq to avenge an attack committed by others are war criminals who have no moral authority to speak about right and wrong. But, of course, neither does the news media, which was more that willing to stand silent as lie upon warmongering lie was foisted upon the American public.

    Although I’m too much of a hateful brute to have any qualms about using torture as a tool for improving the human condition, my conscience restricts me to wishing it upon only the evil who prey on the good, so other than scoundrels elected to office, traitors working in the media, and criminals stalking our streets, I can’t think of anyone who really deserves it.

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