Torture: the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.

This is certainly not the only place you will be reading about torture today.   With the Senate report of the events torture1undertaken by the CIA since 9/11/01, the news media has been overwhelming with articles and commentary.   The people of this nation are either horrified by what they are reading and hearing or rushing to justify the stories.  I have to admit to being one of those who is horrified.  Not that I didn’t expect there to be revelations of the truth about US officials condoning torture, even in the face of overwhelming legislation and regulation against it.   But I didn’t expect it to be as dramatic as it is reported to have been.

The big question before us as a nation now has to do with what the global reaction will be to these revelations.  There is already an alert having been issued to US installations across the globe.   There is some expectation that there may be violence against our embassies and military installations as people discover that our country has been intentional in afflicting prisoners with torture in order to elicit military and diplomatic information.

Others, such as former VP Dick Cheney, have been quick to deny the accuracy of the reports, although it is clear that they are factual and revealing.   Some have acknowledged the torture, but have indicated that the use of it has provided much-needed information that saved the lives of thousands of innocent people.   The report says just the opposite…that there is no indication that any of the “advanced interrogation methods” produced anything of value in terms of our carrying on the war against terrorism.

We, as Americans, have long prided ourselves on the adherence to strict standards which forbid this kind of treatment of the enemy.  It is embarrassing, and more than embarrassing, to have to admit that it was done with the knowledge and consent of people at the very top of the administration of our government.   You don’t have to be a person from a foreign country to have strong feelings about the apparent failure of democracy in the face of these revelations.  If  this is what democracy, freedom, justice, integrity and compassion look like, what are the options?

I am proud of those who have brought forth this information that has been secreted by the government until now.   There was strong opposition by some to the release of this information.  But it is in keeping with our national integrity that we do so.   It is now our job to admit our culpability, withstand the criticism that comes with it, and to more forward with honest pledges to overcome this weakness in our democratic fabric.

Our guilt and our culpability is horrifying to admit, but it is necessary.   We will not heal if we do not embrace the truth and our weakness.   The criticism we will receive is deserved, especially the criticism of our lying about the truth.  It is even more dastardly than the actual actions we undertook, although they are terribly horrifying to admit to.

These are not going to be happy days for America for some time.

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