"More than seven years ago, a suspected Afghan militant was brought to a dimly lit CIA compound northeast of the airport in Kabul. The CIA called it the Salt Pit. Inmates knew it as the dark prison.Anyone who likes perfection, instant gratification, and universal niceness, will not like the CIA, or the American judicial system. I'm no fan of America's Department of Justice myself: largely because of what I continue to view as ideologically-motivated efforts to achieve social engineering. A catchphrase describing that sort of thing has been "legislating from the bench." We may be emerging from that - interesting - period. Which is another topic.
"Inside a chilly cell, the man was shackled and left half-naked. He was found dead, exposed to the cold, in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2002.
"The Salt Pit death was the only fatality known to have occurred inside the secret prison network the CIA operated abroad after the Sept. 11 attacks. The death had strong repercussions inside the CIA. It helped lead to a review that uncovered abuses in detention and interrogation procedures, and forced the agency to change those procedures...."
(The Associated Press)
What, if Anything, does This Article Show?I don't know that I'd fault The Associated Press for the article's second paragraph:
"Inside a chilly cell, the man was shackled and left half-naked. He was found dead, exposed to the cold, in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2002."Yes, it paints a vivid picture, and uses emotive terms when more clinical ones could have been employed. But news services are businesses. One of their primary goals is to make a profit. Experience seems to show that strumming on people's heartstrings is an effective way to sell newspapers.
And The Associated Press made what might be viewed as a remarkable statement in the third paragraph:
"...The death had strong repercussions inside the CIA. It helped lead to a review that uncovered abuses in detention and interrogation procedures, and forced the agency to change those procedures...."Reform? CIA?? As something that's happened?! Not as something tearfully called for by the Society for the Liberation of Chilly Half-Naked Prisoners? There are days when I think that an acknowledgment by a traditional news service that the CIA did something right is news in itself.
The AP makes up for that (error?) a bit later in this article:
"...The CIA's program of waterboarding and other harsh treatment of suspected terrorists has been debated since it ended in 2006. The Salt Pit case stands as a cautionary tale about the unfettered use of such practices. The Obama administration shut the CIA's prisons last year.I'll repeat the first paragraph of that excerpt again.
"It remains uncertain whether any intelligence officers have been punished as a result of the Afghan's death, raising questions about the CIA's accountability in the case. The CIA's then-station chief in Afghanistan was promoted after Rahman's death, and the officer who ran the prison went on to other assignments, including one overseas, several former intelligence officials said.
"The CIA declined to discuss the Salt Pit case and denied a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the AP...."
(The Associated Press)
"...The CIA's program of waterboarding and other harsh treatment of suspected terrorists has been debated since it ended in 2006. The Salt Pit case stands as a cautionary tale about the unfettered use of such practices. The Obama administration shut the CIA's prisons last year...."The AP doesn't actually say that waterboarding is what killed that "militant." But I think an argument can be made that it's implied. Hats off, in a way: the paragraph is, to the best of my knowledge, factually accurate.
And, I think just as important: the AP acknowledges that the CIA has reformed its practices. Yes, it was "forced to:" but I suspect that since the article does not mention who or what applied the force, it wasn't the Obama administration or a 'concerned citizens' outfit.
I learned about "checks and balances" in high school. The American system has them built into its government. The people who wrote the Constitution apparently realized that this new country's government would be staffed by human beings: and that we're not perfect. Oversight - intelligent oversight - is important.
Although it's the "fourth estate," and not a formally-recognized part of government, I think the press is in effect a sort of 'check and balance' on governmental institutions. Which is one reason why I think the Freedom of Information Act was a good idea.
I also think that allowing some requests for information to be denied is a good idea.
"...The CIA declined to discuss the Salt Pit case and denied a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the AP...."Do I think the CIA is trying to cover up something? Of course I do! They'd jolly well better be trying to cover up those details of their operation which could get their agents and American citizens killed.
It's possible, of course, that the CIA is engaged in some sort of plot to enslave the world, stifle freedom, and kill fur seals. Maybe that's why they denied the AP's request. Or maybe the CIA is more interested in protecting Americans, than in selling newspapers.
- "Police Abuse: America isn't Russia"
(February 19, 2010)
- "News Stories You're Not Supposed to Know About"
(December 31, 2009)
- "Imperialist American Aggressors Attack Poland?"
(October 30, 2009)
- "Attack on New York City Thwarted; or Your Constitutional Rights Threatened: Depends on Your Point of View"
(October 6, 2009)
- "Afghanistan, a Reporter and a Couple of Dead Guys, and the News"
(September 9, 2009)
- "'America Tortured Prisoners' - Here We Go Again"
(August 25, 2009)
- "What is an Information Gatekeeper?"
(August 14, 2009)
- "Abu Ghraib: Abuse and Sexual Humiliation by American Soldiers in the News Again"
(January 25, 2009)
- "Emotions, the Frontal Cortex, The War on Terror, Anarchists, and the Illuminati"
(December 23, 2008)
- "Army Report: Big Mistakes in Iraq!"
(June 30, 2008)
- "Waterboarding, Moralizing, Politics, and Security"
(April 23, 2009)
- "Japanese Court, Okinawa, Kenzaburo Oe: There's a Lesson Here"
(April 5, 2008)
- " 'The Army is Unraveling' - Just Like Vietnam!"
(March 19, 2008)
- "Top Newspaper's Journalists Praised: Blackout Imposed on Praise"
(October 15, 2007)
- "AP INVESTIGATION: Details in CIA detainee's death"
The Associated Press (March 28, 2010)