Despite torture report, US escapes censure

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-12-11 0:03:01

Wednesday was the United Nations Human Rights Day. The Senate Intelligence Committee released Tuesday a report on CIA interrogation techniques, accusing the agency of collecting information through torture methods in its post-9/11 practices. The report is a declassified 525-page summary of a still-confidential 6,000-page document.

The report comes as a bombshell that exploded just one day before Human Rights Day, which not only reveals gross violations of human rights by the CIA, but also exhibits the "strong self-supervision" of the US. It captured the lion's share of global attention on Human Rights Day, but did nothing to jeopardize the US image. Few other countries can do the same.    

The US Senate took a rather tough attitude toward the CIA's gruesome interrogations of terrorism suspects. However, such infringements of human rights are considered the most forgivable by Westerners. Therefore, the Senate's censure is probably no more than mere moral scrutiny.

Prisoner abuse scandals have been repeatedly exposed in the years after the 9/11 attacks. Although torturers were put on trial in exceptional cases, the US public did not heap much disapproval on them.

Ben Emmerson, UN special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, said Wednesday that individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy and senior US officials who authorized torture must be prosecuted and penalized. Emmerson is widely considered too naïve. 

Former US president George W. Bush publicly defended the CIA in a statement he made to CNN. "We are fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the CIA serving on our behalf," Bush said. "These are patriots, and whatever the report says - if it diminishes their contributions to our country - it is way off-base."This view apparently enjoys great popularity in US society.

President Barack Obama is equivocal. He said the torture program was contrary to US values and did not prove effective in the fight against terror or in keeping Americans safe. He also promised to make sure that something similar won't happen again, as a response to global concerns about how the US will punish the torturers. 

We won't know how many secrets will disappoint the public in the rest of the document. The US has powerful self-regulatory systems. There are many reports about prisoner abuse. But it's hard to say to what extent this has damaged the US image.

In many developing countries including China, there has even been applause for US democracy after the release of these reports. They have paid attention to the courage of the US rather than the crime of prisoner abuse.

The US is able to spin such wicked acts as prisoner abuse to become a positive through mobilizing pro-US forces worldwide. It's a result of US soft power. Positioned at the center of the global order, the US has incomparable abilities in controlling resources and discourse power.  

Posted in: Editorial

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