• Alexandra Neenan (CAS’16)

    Alexandra Neenan (CAS’16) Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 31 comments on POV: Recent Revelations of CIA Torture Were Unnecessary

  1. Without any evidence, or even and explanation for how this report harms our national security, your opinion is weak. Certainly you’ve made a fair case for why the release of the report may have been politically motivated- but you demonstrate in no way that it “poses a serious security threat” (Title caption).

    What’s even more frustrating is that I could argue that writing the above piece has been politically motivated- and that by writing it you simply attempted to shed light on the ‘despicable acts’ of Senator Feinstein and “her cronies”. As you mention the selfless sacrifice of Intelligence Officers, I could also remind you that even national legislators do these types of things because they have strong patriotic values.

    The report not only mentions the torture we already know about, but previously unknown cases, and very importantly too, the CIA leadership’s response to revelations of torture. Your blind support for the people in the service is naive. Public servants ought to be held accountable for their actions regardless of outcomes that we perceive as positive. (‘road to hell paved with good intentions’)

    If anything, the best defense of our national security (in this case) is not using torture at all, and publicly condemning it when it happens. Our credibility and perception as a Nation abroad depends on it. Our security benefits from the good intelligence and defense partnerships that we maintain by being faithful to our constitution and our values.

    1. “If anything, the best defense of our national security (in this case) is not using torture at all, and publicly condemning it when it happens.”

      Nailed it.

    2. This article’s argument is more sound than your response to it.

      1. Perhaps ‘serious’ is the wrong word in the caption, but the argument that it is a threat is substantiated by previous tactics practiced by ISIS to garner support. Perhaps everywhere a ‘will’ is should be a ‘may’ but regardless it is logical argument, and the evidence you are so in need of cannot be attained and the explanation is there you were just so distracted by the word cronies you forgot to read it

      2. The authors political motives aren’t equivalent to those in political office. It’s important to shed light on ulterior motives of politicians— she is claiming that these motives are in fact ulterior BECAUSE they were unnecessary, not vice versa

      3. The article shows no sign of ‘BLIND’ support as you claimed. In fact, it repeatedly mentions throughout the argument the exact thing you claim about holding people responsible. It even sheds light on irresponsible nature of the post 9/11 nationalist fervor

      1. You prove my point! – You gave evidence for why releasing the information could harm the United States by citing previous ISIS tactics, but the author did not! I read it a couple times- and certainly ‘cronies’ is a distracting word to use in the piece- but I know I read no support of what at the onset seems like the the point of the work.

  2. Torture is immoral and illegal. It is a violation of U.S. Federal Law, International Law, Treaties signed by the U.S. including the Geneva Conventions, the ICCPR and Convention Against Torture. In a free democratic society transparency and accountability are crucial to protecting human rights. State cover ups always claim “saving innocent lives” and “national security” to justify illegal acts. The entire Intelligence Committee report should be released. Those responsible for breaking the law should be prosecuted. Only such accountability will reflect the principles of our country.

    Michael A. Grodin, M.D.
    Professor of Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights
    Boston University School of Public Health

    1. A fair argument professor, yet, I tend to disagree with you.

      I think this is a case where there should be more practical wisdom, rather than the attempt at moral absolutism. What you mention here, would by extension apply to the mass murder of civilians correct? Following your logic, the answer would be yes, after all it is probably more immoral to kill scores of people than to torture a few hundred. Should we then have tried and condemned all Americans involved in the Dresden and Tokyo fire bombings? Or perhaps the scientists, politicians and air force officials behind the Nagasaki bombing?

      One could argue that the situation was extreme then, and that the country was at war. Wasn’t this exactly the mindset and perspective after 9/11? The truth is that the CIA was incredibly successful in quenching any further serious terrorist attack in the country. Could they have avoided torture? Possibly, yet no one knows. Would the American population have tolerated losing another 3,000 or perhaps another 20,000 civilian lives? Or would they have chosen the methods that were practiced to avoid that loss?

      The entire country decided that “Never Again” was a national mission. Given your background in law and bioethics, I’m sure you understand the error implications of a policy requiring 0 error.

      Hindsight is 20/20, and yet this case is so complicated that even hindsight is murky.

      Allowing our irresponsible media to take and spread an isolated report, within an ocean of unknown factors is, in my opinion, myopic. If such a report were to be released, so too should every single threat that has reached the country since 9/11, to give it context.

      The fact is that the US is not at war with a state or with a militia in uniform. There is a small (well, maybe not so small) group of people who are trying to harm American civilians. They are not fighting the country or the army. They apply a method of asymmetric warfare that begs for new rules to written. They are willing to give up their lives to take others, and to wrap explosives around their children’s and friends’ bodies to kill civilians from the other side. I would love to believe that one can fight this level of fanaticism without resorting to ordinarily ugly tactics. I doubt it is possible, at least, not without a large margin of civilian loss. Is this a cost Americans are willing to pay?

      That being said, I agree that the CIA should always be accountable to the citizens of the US. They should be accountable to congress and to the White House. That is indisputable. What is disputable is the idea that such communication should be offered to the media and the population at large without offering the context of the rest of the information that only the leadership and intelligence communities know.

  3. The democrats and neoconartist are the same political party

    The people who keep electing these entrenched self serving malfeasant oligarchs get the government they deserve

    The newest anointed members of this clan is Jeb Bush

    I expect nothing to change until the printing press that funds their curruptuon is shut down

    As you aptly point out the CIA agents that Diane Frankenstein threw under the bus are not benefiting personally from their actions but she and her congressional cronies who have served multiple terms have become filthy rich by virtue of their self dealing

    1. Shouldn’t you be out wheatpasting fliers or something? Or are you too busy telling anybody who will listen that you’re smarter than everybody else for sitting on the sideline and refusing to get involved as our country is taken over by a party that is so backwards and depraved that it tried to intentionally destroy our country’s credit rating and doesn’t even know why?

      1. I actually voted for Ron Paul in the past two primaries and for what its worth worked diligently to tell everyone I know to vote out entrenched incumbents.

        And your ad hominem remarks about me are helpful how?

  4. “Without any evidence, or even and explanation for how this report harms our national security, your opinion is weak. Certainly you’ve made a fair case for why the release of the report may have been politically motivated- but you demonstrate in no way that it “poses a serious security threat”

    Where did you study logic? Don’t you know that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.

    Next case please!

    1. You are a troll. If you think an opinion piece can rely on no evidence as evidence of an argument then…wait no….. I don’t get drawn into troll logic. Not happening.

  5. Torture is a crime at any time at any circumstances. Tell me enough is enough then all responsible are making “Made in America” jeans (I mean in prison).

    1. Levi’s no longer makes made in America jeans due to the devaluation of our currency which supports the livelihood of these incumbent crooks.

      At the end of the day it all comes down to motive and you rest assured those who support creating chaos profit from the problems they create by turning right around and offering for sale a solution that only they can supply.

      Vote the bums out!!

  6. This article assumes that the CIA and the US shouldn’t face any backlash or lose moral standing in the international community. Setting aside the question of what moral standing we have to lose, why should we be able to torture without backlash? Why should we be able to commit war crimes with no repercussions?

    You are bemoaning the fact that a messenger wasn’t shot, rather than that the crimes described in the message (a redacted summary of a message, by the way) were committed. Whatever handwringing you may have over the motivations of those who released the report and the potential reactions to the release, they cannot cover your basic message: US government agents ought to be able to act in secrecy with no regard for public will or international law.

    As to “security threat”, scare-mongering wears a little thin after 13 years.

    1. Let’s set the argument of torture being useful or ethically sound aside for a minute, and head towards a more broad topic, and that is the idea of taking a pragmatic approach to how the US should handle its global politics.

      ISIS is truly a force to be reckoned with. They have assets that are worth $2 billion. They have control of several oil fields in the Middle East. They’ve managed to invade a large portion of Syria and Iraq in merely a month’s span, why else do you think they’ve received so much attention from the media? Their influence across the globe is expanding.

      They use the internet to garner support from people in almost every country in the world. The situation has developed so much to the point in which they’re sending out tweets urging rioters in Ferguson to be-head police officers. Radical groups that sympathize with ISIS’s cause are calling for Sharia Law within the US, and they too are attempting to co-opt with Ferguson rioters. Releasing this information to the public adds more ammunition for ISIS’s anti-US rhetoric.

      I’m not saying the US public should jump into a state of hysteria because we are not in any immediate threat at the moment. US public opinion of ISIS is very low, so I personally doubt that they can gain enough influence within US soil. It’s intelligence gathering and military capabilities is also arguably the best in the world so ISIS can’t pose a threat to us militarily at the moment.

      I’m just asking everyone to think. Think of what can happen in the future. Events in International Relations have taken place plenty of times through a “snow-ball effect.” Small events could possibly lead to ISIS becoming a genuine threat without us even knowing it.

  7. You lost me with your third paragraph when you turned this into how much you hate the Democrats.

    I’m sorry your own political party has chosen to be on the wrong side this issue, has chosen to defend torture, and has chosen to be against transparency in government. But that’s on them, and it’s on you for aligning yourself with that party. It’s not the Democrats’ fault, and you disgrace yourself turning this into a partisan attack on them.

  8. It is important to hear both sides of a story. This article and the comments that follow assert the immorality and lack of justification of any torture or enhanced interrogation. This is not a universally held belief.

    First of all, the Geneva conventions were specifically enacted in this case to protect civilians, and lay down guidelines for the treatment of uniformed combatants from a nation. They do not apply to non-uniformed combatants who are not from a participating nation.

    Secondly, many argue that at the time the methods used were considered legal. You may disagree about the morality of it, but please look into what the legal views at the time were rather than just taking these internet opinions on the matter.

    Finally, moral high ground in retrospect is all well and good, but things are not always so clear when you are looking forward into an uncertain future. The video interview below provides an interesting counterpoint to the views above, presenting a hypothetical example of a nuclear explosive device placed somewhere in New York City, not enough time to evacuate, and a terrorist in captivity who knows its whereabouts. What would you be prepared to do vs. not do? It is a legitimate question, and clarifies that this is not a black and white issue, but more about judgement calls.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhKcNMOlh5E

  9. The Bush-Cheney administration committed war crimes in our name that did extensive damage to our country. This article is a heavy handed and obviously politically motivated attempt to avoid the long
    and painful process that is required to repair
    that damage.

  10. Regardless of whether you agree with the writer’s opinion or not, this comment thread should be one for debate over the issue at hand, or responses to specific content winin the piece. Instead, comments like, ‘I think it’s cute when they let students write an article,’ do nothing for anybody. This is a place for debate and ideas, not a place to just let rip with irrelevant, snide remarks. There’s already a large enough disconnect between the student body and the school’s administration/official media outlets as it is. At least BU Today is allowing students to contribute to their own school’s media outlet, and whether you agree with the student or not, it’s important that this practice be upheld and continued.

  11. Perhaps, crime or not, despicable or not, immoral or not isn’t the question that we should be asking…

    Monroe once asserted American responsibility for the safety and security of the Western Hemisphere. Bannan Republics aside, for the most part that has worked out alright….

    In 1947 the Truman Doctrine inserted America as the United Kingdoms replacement in its pursuit of the protection of democracy and human rights world wide.

    The protection of global security (as oversimplified and naive as it sounds) has been an American undertaking for some time, and the War on Terror is an extension of that mission.

    Perhaps, in this pursuit, it is necessary to do evil in hopes of benefitting the greater good? In this new age of cyber terrorism, globalization via the internet, blurred state lines and a decided lack of definitive uniformed armies, could the CIA be the hero the world doesn’t want, but needs? Could torture be the medium through which the world can instill in terrorists the same fear with which theyve shocked the world with their recent actions?

    I’m not sure about you, but the prospect of being decapitated with a dull knife in front of a camera for my family to see scares me a hell of a lot more than life in prison Guantanamo bay without a trial….just a thought.

    1. “protection of global security (as oversimplified and naive as it sounds) has been an American undertaking”

      Batman, how do you square your statement with the fact that, for much of the world, the US is the guarantor of INsecurity?

      We need more transparency & openness in government. Even if certain Democrats have some political motive for releasing an abstracted torture report, they’re not solely political. Especially when compared to republicans, who seem to want NO transparency or accountability for government decisions & actions.

      Despite flawed reasoning & scant evidence, Alexandra Neenan performs a valuable service in commencing this debate. Thanks to BU Today for including students’ opinion pieces.

  12. Thank you for writing this piece Alexandra. You were able to capture a complex topic and set of ideas very eloquently. Thank you for offering me a piece to share with acquaintances who fail to understand the gravity of the mistake of this report.

  13. Ms. Neenan’s thinking is that the senate committee’s collecting, studying, analyzing, and publishing of myriad primary and secondary sources of information on the enhanced interrogation techniques is the greater wrong. BY her argument, all the information was out there so why reiterate it? Why study it and try to make sense of it. Even if it was politically motivated (and what does that mean? that there are members of congress who think the whole sorry post 9/11 era needs to be understood by the American people. We need to know what our government has done in our name) it has been a service to the American people. Also, isn’t that what education and research are about, understanding our world and our society. One would think members of a university community would support this.

  14. The fact that you can’t even call a spade a spade – it’s complete and clear cut torture, not “enhanced interrogation techniques” – shows how deep in denial you are. Many other governments who the US pegged as using torture employed the same “less physically brutal” techniques as the CIA did during their interrogations. Why should the US be exempt from prosecution or transparency?

  15. Many of these non life threatening enhanced interrogation techniques which leave no physical residual sequelae that being defined by Diane Feinstein et al as torture would be called hazing if these were used by college fraternities on new initiates or by the military on their own soldiers.

    There is something called legislative intent and I find it hard to believe that they intended to precluding tactics that left no permanent residual sequelae or were not truly life threatening was the legislative intent at the time the laws pertaining to torture were written especially given the nature of the techniques commonly in practice at the time.

    The argument that these enemy combatants might be insulted or embarrassed by these techniques also does not seem consistent with the legislative intent.

    1. John, all torture leaves scars, mental if not physical. The CIA’s actions were life-threatening, because victims die from shock, aggravated chronic health conditions, etc.

      If it’s wrong for others to do something, it must be wrong for us to do it too. Two Wrongs don’t make a Right.

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