The Straight Dope: The CIA Torture Report


You having a good Wednesday? Well, it’s about to get a whole lot more depressing.



So the CIA Torture report came out yesterday. Yeah… it’s best to approach this like your taking off a Band-Aid. An incredibly horrific Band-Aid. If you want to read the report in full, you can find it here. Otherwise here’s a very depressing rundown.   


Multiple Choice

multiple choice


Out of these “enhanced interrogation techniques” which one was NOT used by the CIA?

  1. a) Putting hummus in a detainee’s rectum.
  2. b) Forcing a detainee to stand on their broken feet.
  3. c) Keeping detainee’s awake for over 180 hours.
  4. d) Waterboarding some detainees over 150 times.
  5. e) A CIA interrogator threatening to sexually assault a detainee’s mother then kill her.


The Answer: It’s a trick question! They were all used during the CIA interrogation process…


laugh to cry



Sadly the CIA Torture Report Wasn’t the Most Depressing Thing I Read Yesterday

eeyore gloomy place


Poking around the Internet I stumbled onto this 2011 Pew Research Report that almost half (53%) of the public supported the government’s use of torture to gain information from suspected terrorists. What’s even more depressing, as Wonkblog figured out, 71% of Americans accept torture in one circumstance or another. With all that said…


what the hell is wrong with you people



The Fundamental Flaw of Torture Programs

Logical Flaw


Did you know that the CIA torture program was largely based on SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) the US’s torture resistance training program during the Korean War. Back in the days of the Cold War, torture programs – like those used in Chinese interrogation methods – was designed by Communist regimes to create false confessions from detainees. These false confessions were used as propaganda pieces by the government. In that CIA report, many tactics used by CIA operatives (waterboarding, sleep deprivation, ect) were the same tactics used by Communist regimes. Since the CIA torture program was reversed engineered from SERE and are similar to torture programs from Communist regimes that their sole purpose was to create false confessions, this then begs the question,





Some in Government are Having Their “I want to buy your rock” Moment



In the classic ‘Simpsons’ episode Much Apu About Nothing, the episode starts when Ned Flanders spots a bear in the neighborhood, which prompts mass hysteria by the town. To appease the citizens of Springfield, Mayor Quimby creates a task force simply known as the Bear Patrol. After spending millions of dollars of tax payer money on the program – equipped with fighter jets – Homer and Lisa have a conversation about the effectiveness of the Bear Patrol program.


Homer: Not a bear in sight. Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.

Lisa: That’s specious reasoning, Dad.

Homer: Thank you, dear.

Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.

Homer: Oh, how does it work?

Lisa: It doesn’t work.

Homer: Uh-huh.

Lisa: It’s just a stupid rock.

Homer: Uh-huh.

Lisa: But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?

[Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]

Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

[Lisa originally refuses, then takes the exchange]


In the past few years a similar argument has been made in terms of national security. Whether it was the implementation of the Patriot Act, the government surveillance on US citizens, the use of “enhanced interrogation” on terrorist suspects, or drone strikes overseas, the answer by the US government has always been the same. Because of the security measures put in by the government after September 11th, there hasn’t been a terrorist attack on US soil since. Most recently the same argument was used in terms of declassifying the CIA Torture report, as in “if we release the report, there surely will be a terrorist attack.”


Homer – along with many in Congress – are forgetting the golden rule of studying trends. Correlation does not imply causation. Much like Lisa’s rock or keeping the CIA torture report classified, these aren’t direct variables that keep tigers and terrorists at bay. There are multiple variables between both of them that analysts have to take into account. Next time someone uses national security as a scape goat, we should all keep that in mind.



(Photo Credit: Google Images)

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