Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Rose by any Other Name

The following is a word-for-word transcript of a portion of Charles Gibson’s interview with CIA Director Porter Goss, which aired on November 29, 2005. You may check its accuracy by going to http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=1353449.

CHARLES GIBSON: Let me ask you about torture. You said the other day the CIA does not do torture, correct?

PORTER GOSS: That is correct.

GIBSON: How do you define it?

GOSS: Well, I define torture probably the way most people would — in the eye of the beholder. What we do does not come close because torture in terms of inflicting pain or something like that, physical pain or causing a disability, those kinds of things that probably would be a common definition for most Americans, sort of you know it when you see it, we don't do that because it doesn't get what you want. We do debriefings because debriefings are the nature of our business, is to get information. We want accurate information and we want to make sure that we have professional people doing that work, and we do all that, and we do it in a way that does not involve torture because torture is counterproductive.

GIBSON: We [ABC News] reported in the past two weeks about having talked to a number of people who have worked and did work in this agency, about six progressive techniques, each one harsher than the last, to get terrorists to talk, including things like long-term standing up, sleep deprivation, exposure for long periods of time to cold rooms or something called "water-boarding," which involves cellophane over the face and water being poured on an individual. Do those things take place?

GOSS: I've got to say there is a huge amount of disinformation out there on this whole subject because probably there's not very much accurate information available. And the reason there's not very much accurate information available about how we do debriefings and how we deal with people who are in detention is very simply, if we told you how we do that, we would be telling them, and that would lose the edge.

GIBSON: You know what water-boarding is though, right?

GOSS: I know what a lot of things are, but I'm not going to comment.

GIBSON: Would that come under the heading? Would that come under the heading of torture?

GOSS: I don't know. I have—

GIBSON: Well, under your definition that you just gave to me of inflicting pain?

GOSS: Let me put it this way, I'm not going to comment on any individual techniques that anybody has brought forward as an allegation, or dreamed up or anything like that. What we do, as I said many times, is professional, it's lawful, it yields good results and it is not torture.

The English translation of Goss’ comments can be distilled into a three-word statement:
We torture people.

Webster defines torture as:
1 a : anguish of body or mind : AGONY b : something that causes agony or pain2 : the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure.

Goss defines torture as “in the eye of the beholder.” Coincidentally, that’s a traditional definition of beauty. Goss can’t tell the difference.

Remember when we were the good guys? How do you spin this sow’s ear into a silk purse for the rest of the world when you’re telling them about us staking out the moral high ground?

How these guys can stand to look in a mirror is beyond me. Except for Cheney, who I’m pretty sure casts no reflection.

No comments: