Aside from the report giving us an understanding of how deep the rabbit hole goes concerning who was involved in the torture program, it also highlights the extensive lengths the government went to creating and operating such a program. The reality being that the government didn't just accidentally allow such a program to occur, but carefully planned out each part with the backing of many key players should make every US citizen very concerned.
This report comes out months after the official torture report, which gave an in-depth description of the program and various methods that were used on detainees. The APA report follows after the Physicians for Human Rights report, which exposed the involvement of Health and Medical workers assisting and partaking in torture and experiments on prisoners in direct violation of the Nuremberg code.
The new report on the APA reveals that the psychologists drafted guidelines for the practice and use of torture, while the physicians were the ones who were involved in designing the tactics that were inflicting the harm. The importance of having these two groups involved in torture is that without them, torture never would have been able to happen. As Nathaniel Raymond, Research Ethics adviser for Physicians for Human Rights, said in a Democracy Now! interview: “The health professionals were the get-out-of-jail-free card, the legal indemnification for the White House.”
What’s troubling about this new report on the further collusion between the medical professionals and government is that we continue to see little to no reporting of it in the news. Many media personalities, if they mention torture, still debate whether or not we technically tortured, or that referring to it as ‘torture’ is being biased, as in the case with NPR. Other commentators argue that releasing the report was harmful to our national security, with no evidence to back their claim. And then there are those that argue that torture was necessary in fighting these types of wars and preventing future attacks -- ignoring the first two pages in the initial report that state torture did not provide actual information
When torture is discussed in the media, the rhetoric tiptoes its way around the ethical and legal concerns of the program. Without a proper and serious conversation on torture, we see polls that show the public to be in favor of the CIA use of torture following the 9/11 attacks. This reveals the distorted level of how we address these issues in public. The victims of false imprisonment, rendition, and torture are rarely, if ever, discussed when we talk about torture. In many cases, especially in Guantanamo, there are a lot of detainees that are innocent of their crimes, or have been held for over a decade without being convicted of anything.
Innocent victims that are released back into the public after being detained for a prolonged period of time receive little media attention and no acknowledgment of being wrongfully held captive. When they or their countries try to sue the US, the US government doesn't even allow the the case to go to court in order to keep the country’s actions abroad a secret from the public.
As our government continues to extend the use of “secrecy” and “national risks” as a defense against further evaluation into such programs, it will only become more and more difficult to enact change. Aside from the report on the APA's breach of trust and betraying their own ethical standards by providing information and being willing participants in the use of torture, we are furthering ourselves from the reality of what actually goes on in our military endeavors. Without an informed public and open dialogue, we fail to prevent these kind of things from happening again.
Even as we move closer to the election year and candidates for both the democratic and republican party surface, some are still questioning the validity of the invasion in Iraq and pushing for more dramatic military approach with Iran. Although Obama has ended the torture programs, renditions and illegal detentions continue. For those who only see this policy as a foreign issue fail to acknowledge the illegal detentions that have surfaced back home. Immigrant detention centers with horrid situations have popped up in Texas. Chicago is facing its own issues with their “black site” where torture by police and prison guards have surfaced in an ongoing report by The Guardian.
As we continue to confront the various organizations that helped cultivate the torture program, we must make sure the participants are held accountable. If anything, their reputation has already been tarnished by their complete disregard of maintaining their own standards. We should push to hold everyone accountable who purposefully misled our country into foreign affairs that left over a million dead, several million more displaced, and others who continue to linger in detention centers across the ocean. I even extend this accountability to people like Obama, who have only continued the growth of the cancer that is US foreign policy.
Moving forward into the next presidency, it should bother every citizen as to what power the next candidate will push for, regardless of party. To not alter and hold those accountable of wrongdoing leaves the path open for dissolving more civil liberties and freedoms of citizens abroad and at home. Our best push for change begins with denying the reenactment of the Patriot Act (which expires June 1st, unless it’s reauthorized before then). As Raymond said in Democracy Now!, “Until we restore the rule of law by holding those who gave the order accountable—not the people, the burger flippers at the bottom, not middle management, but the chain of command from the top—we have not done what the law requires.”