This evening, CBS’s 60 Minutes will air an interview with the former head of the CIA’s Clandestine Service, Jose Rodriguez. Unapologetic for his crimes including human rights violations, defying court orders, and obstructing justice, he claims that his decision to destroy over 90 videotapes of torture sessions was necessary to protect national security. Unspoken is his personal interest in his own job security, or remaining free from criminal prosecution that the tapes could have compelled if ever released.
Rodriguez is one among several Bush-era torturers disturbingly capitalizing on their violations of human rights. His book, Hard Measures, will likely see a spark in sales after its 60 Minutes exposure, and like John Yoo, Rodriguez will likely remain a public proponent of a regime of impunity that places powerful officials above the law—while forcing vulnerable communities to endure incarceration en masse.
Just last week, reports emerged that the Senate Intelligence Committee is nearing the end of an investigation revealing that torture never helped national security, while doing a lot to undermine it (and the international legal regime our nation once fought a world war to establish). According to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the committee chair, “I happen to know a good deal about how those interrogations were conducted, and, in my view, nothing justifies the kind of procedures that were used.” Yet the report may be withheld from the public, despite the efforts of groups including BORDC in calling for long overdue transparency.
Lost in that discussion is the fact that torture is—and has long been—a crime. While our federal institutions in DC have turned a blind eye to torture, however, other voices have continued to call for transparency and accountability. Chicago recently enacted the country’s first “torture-free zone” resolution, driven by a community of grassroots human rights activists. Grassroots actions around the country, including a mass demonstration in DC this January and Ft. Benning, GA, last November, have kept the discussion alive.
You can raise your voice by supporting Human Rights First’s campaign to publicly release the “real book on torture,” the forthcoming Senate report that will otherwise be buried.