With today's release of the details of Bush administration-sanctioned torturing, not to mention the report's admission that there is not a single case of prevention of imminent threat, the notion of being "proud to be an American" gets yet more complicated.
I'm ashamed of some of the actions taken in my name as an American -- we are, after all, a nation that condoned slavery and nearly killed off the Native Americans; I am proud that our legislators have found a rare bit of courage in admitting that we were wrong to torture. The idea of America remains remarkable, even if it's a Platonic ideal we might never match. Let's hope that torture never sullies us again, and that its defenders can admit that they are wrong about the value of torture. If all of these cases yield no instance of gathering useful information, what value could torture possibly have, its moral repugnance aside?
The potential for such abuse certainly remains. One need read no farther than CIA Director John Brennan's carefully worded statement to see that deceit is still the order of the day:
"Our review indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom EITs [enhanced interrogation techniques] were used did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives."
Catch that? He's not claiming that so-called "enhanced interrogation techniqes" produced the intelligence. He's claiming that some "detainees" (i.e., people) who gave up critical information were also those who were tortured. Definitely a straight-shooter, Brennan. The report makes this much clearer, stating that no information, despite CIA claims, that wasn't otherwise available came out of the torture program. It also states explicitly that the rest of the info the CIA claimed to have gained as a result of torture was gained before the torture.