60 Minutes Producer: “The Nazis Did A Lot Of This”

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There are a couple of things worth knowing about Jose Rodriguez: that he is a war criminal and that he destroyed the evidence that would prove it without a doubt. The third thing you need to know is that he has no shame about any of this, and intends to make money off it.

This man personally oversaw the use of torture techniques known for centuries, universally regarded as torture under domestic and international law, and describes his destruction of critical evidence that would have been invaluable in prosecuting such war crimes as “just getting rid of some ugly visuals.” Another term for it is “obstruction of justice,” which is not a crime in America if you head the CIA. But the “ugly visuals” were destroyed not for aesthetic reasons:

It was later revealed that the deputy to Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, then Executive Director of the CIA, wrote in an e-mail that Rodriguez thought “the heat from destroying is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever got into public domain – he said that out of context they would make us look terrible; it would be ‘devastating’ to us.”

“Out of context?” You mean “out of the context that all this had been approved by the president”? One president who broke the law and tried to destroy evidence was impeached and resigned. Then there’s the small question of the Big Lie, created by the Cheney faction, that outrageously claims that Rodriguez’s war crimes helped catch Osama bin Laden many years and one administration later. The Senate investigation into the CIA Torture program – as exhaustive as one can get – comes to the opposite conclusion [PDF]. Money quote:

The roots of the UBL operation stretch back nearly a decade and involve hundreds, perhaps thousands, of intelligence professionals who worked non-stop to connect and analyze many fragments of information, eventually leading the United States to Usama Bin Laden’s location in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The suggestion that the operation was carried out based on information gained through the harsh treatment of CIA detainees is not only inaccurate, it trivializes the work of individuals across multiple U.S. agencies that led to UBL and the eventual operation.

We are also troubled by Mr. Rodriguez’s statements justifying the destruction of video tapes documenting the use of coercive interrogation techniques as “just getting rid of some ugly visuals.” His decision to order the destruction of the tapes was in violation of instructions from CIA and White House lawyers, illustrates a blatant disregard for the law, and unnecessarily caused damage to the CIA’s reputation.

More to the point, if Rodriguez has no regrets, if he believes the torture sessions he oversaw gave us critical valuable information, and that the Senate committee is lying, then why destroy the critical evidence that would allegedly vindicate him?

If this wasn’t torture, why didn’t he prove it by showing us the tapes? The question is farcical. This is a man who knew precisely what he was doing, committed war crimes anyway, and then, fully aware of how appalling the torture sessions would look on tape, destroyed them in order to go around the country spreading lies about their alleged effectiveness. One way we have of clearing this up would be for the Senate to publish the full report on the CIA’s torture program as soon as possible. I’m with the Los Angeles Times:

The Senate Intelligence Committee, which began its investigation of detention and interrogation policies in early 2008 and has sifted through millions of pages of documents, is in a position to provide the public with a comprehensive narrative of how torture insinuated itself into U.S. policy — along with the committee’s conclusions about whether enhanced interrogation produced useful information that couldn’t have been obtained in other ways.

That information is of more than historical interest. During his confirmation process, CIA Director David H. Petraeus told the panel that “a holistic and comprehensive review of the U.S. government’s detention and interrogation programs can lead to valuable lessons that might inform future policies.” Policymakers shouldn’t be the only ones to have the advantage of those lessons; so should the public.

He doesn’t need to be interviewed by a fawning Leslie Stahl, whose report was as supine as it was selective. But at least here, you have the producer simply stating about the torture techniques embraced by Rodriguez: “The Nazis did a lot of this, the Khmer Rouge did a lot of this.” So the producer realizes that he is featuring someone guilty of war crimes as bad as the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge, but wants him to give his side of the story. How about – you know – arresting him first? If this were a torturer from Iran, do you think he would have been treated so deferently? A reader writes:

The narrative by the CBS team was at points worse than Rodriguez himself. “We used to think waterboarding was a war crime” says Stahl–yes, as if John Yoo and Jay Bybee had changed all that forever. And indeed the DOJ memos are put up without any indication that these had been withdrawn by the Bush team before it even left and had been labeled by DOJ ethics people as failing to meet minimum professional standards … Not a hint. You’d think we still embrace waterboarding. Sickening.

And troubling. We know Romney has no problem with illegal torture. It could return – and if it does, Sixty Minutes can add that achievement to its roster of honors.