Key CIA official involved in Bush torture program criticizes “Zero Dark Thirty” for inaccurate depiction of “enhanced interrogation techniques”

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You can’t make this stuff up.

Jose Rodriguez, a former CIA official deeply involved in the Bush torture program, published an opinion piece in the Washington Post on January 3 in which he takes issue with the new film, “Zero Dark Thirty,” for inaccurately portraying the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” including waterboarding. These “techniques” amount to “torture” as that term is used in the U.N. Convention against Torture.

Rodriguez’ point is not that the techniques were not used, but rather that their use was inaccurately depicted in the film.

In what morally twisted universe are we living now?

Could it be that Rodriguez and other officials involved in the torture program (presumably including John Brennan, Obama’s in-house theologian of death and keeper of the drone “targeted killings” lists) have a bad conscience and are desperately looking for vindication?

Time is not on their side. The U.S. was obligated to prosecute them under the Convention Against Torture, but didn’t, leaving open the possibility that some prosecutor, somewhere, will issue an international arrest warrant for them to be arrested and brought to justice.

Within five years or so, they may need to be very careful with their travel plans.

In the meantime, the renewed debate over the efficacy of torture in general, and whether its use led to Bin Laden, continues.

The moral leaders of the nation are silent, too tired perhaps to make their points once again that the problem with torture is not its efficacy, but its morality.

As we wrote some time ago, “Torture will not be through with America until America is through with torture.”

For America to be through with torture would require that those responsible for its use be brought to account. That means removal of all officials responsible for torture and “extraordinary renditions”, including Brennan, from any high positions of authority in the government, prosecution of those who were complicit in torture, and perhaps a truth and reconciliation process through which those who admit their actions and cooperate with investigators might eventually receive reduced sentences or be pardoned.

The irony here, of course, is that by not prosecuting officials responsible for torture under Bush, those same officials cannot be acquitted or pardoned, leaving them exposed for the rest of their lives to the possibility that a prosecutor in another country will have them detained and brought to trial for commission of the international crime of torture.

The United States, in fighting terrorism, has wandered far off the track of the “rule of law” and its most fundamental values.   Will Barack Obama be the president who brings the country back to a strict adherence to the rule of law, who reintroduces “international law” (“law” as in “binding law”, not “standards” as in “aspirational standards”) into our political discourse and agenda, or will it be one of his successors?

Will foreign judges, such as the 17 judges of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, who just condemned Macedonia for complicity with the CIA in the “extraordinary rendition” and torture of a Khaled el-Masri, play a catalytic role?

Could Rodriguez himself one day be arrested, in Europe or Latin America, for his involvement in torture?

That is a profoundly interesting question.

The Trenchant Observer