MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

‘The Report’ and Adam Driver drive home moral truths about torture

Posted by M. C. on November 19, 2019

In a poignant scene from the film, Bening — as Feinstein — asks why, if the torture program was supposedly working, did they have to waterboard someone 183 times.

Today, thanks to the leadership of the American faith community and many others, torture of the sort that occurred in the past is clearly prohibited by U.S. law.

Except when the UK performs torture to foreign nationals, like Julian Assange, for the US government.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/11/15/based-true-events-report-makes-compelling-case-against-torture-column/4191415002/

Have we finally learned the moral lesson on torture as a nation? The story Hollywood tells in ‘The Report’ drives home a truth we should already know.

Ron Stief
Opinion contributor

Nothing is easy about watching a torture scene in a film — especially as a Christian minister who hopes our better angels will prevail.

Yet the depiction of how the U.S. government and the public came to learn the fate of Gul Rahman and other detainees in the secret CIA torture program instituted after the attacks of 9/11 is the long overlooked story we must see. Rahman was stripped naked by his CIA handlers, short-chained to a cold cement floor in a painful bent position, doused in ice cold water and then left to freeze to death.

I’ve been motivated by my faith to work to end torture for over two decades, yet watching that scene still shook me to my core.

A six-year mission and a terrible truth

The subject of “The Report,” opening in theaters this weekend, is the Senate Intelligence Committee’s quest to uncover the story of the dark path the United States took with the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. Adam Driver gives a riveting performance as Daniel J. Jones, a staffer working for committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (portrayed by Annette Bening) who leads the investigation that produced the 6,700-page official record of CIA torture between 2002 and 2008.

“The Report” dramatizes Jones’ six-year mission — as a pastor, I’d refer to it as a calling — as he worked night and day with a skeletal staff in a Virginia basement in pursuit of evidence that revealed a terrible truth: The torture of detainees at theGuantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and secret CIA black site prisons around the globe produced no actionable intelligence in the war on terror.

Further, Jones discovered that the U.S. decision to go full steam ahead with the torture program disrupted, and in some cases ended, intelligence gathering operations conducted by the FBI and the U.S. military that might well have helped prevent further terrorist attacks where the torture of detainees could not.

Even Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the presumed architect of the 9/11 attacks and a detainee who endured an estimated 183 waterboarding sessions over one month at the hands of CIA contractors and operatives, had nothing of value to disclose. In a poignant scene from the film, Bening — as Feinstein — asks why, if the torture program was supposedly working, did they have to waterboard someone 183 times.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has never released its full report on torture, and it needs to so the U.S. public can see the full details to ensure that this never happens again.

A heavily redacted, 500-page executive summary was released in December 2014. As a direct result of the committee’s work, Feinstein and Sen. John McCain (who was tortured in a North Vietnamese prison) led a bipartisan effort resulting in a 78-21 Senate vote to amend the National Defense Authorization Act and permanently ban the CIA from ever torturing detainees again. President Barack Obama signed the act into law

Today, thanks to the leadership of the American faith community and many others, torture of the sort that occurred in the past is clearly prohibited by U.S. law. But have we finally learned the moral lesson on torture as a nation?

Hopefully, Hollywood telling the story with “The Report” helps drive home a truth we already knew: Torture is always wrong.

Be seeing you

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