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If We Torture, What Makes Us Different From Those We Condemn?

Val Kerry
Creative Commons

Last month, the Senate Intelligence Committee Report released their report examining the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation after 9/11.

They found that the CIA was using harsher forms of torture that yielded less useful information than we were led to believe.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said, "Detainees were subjected to the most aggressive techniques immediately. They were stripped naked, diapered, physically struck, and put in various painful stress positions for long periods of time."  

That wasn’t all. They were also waterboarded, deprived of sleep for days on end, and exposed to noise that was just shy of deafening.

Many of us were stunned by the report, leading us to question America’s values when we could condone the same brutality we condemned in others. The answer is not that simple.

Fearing another attack in the aftermath of 9/11, it seems our government did things we’re not entirely comfortable with. But a lot of what we think comes down to the words we use: “enhanced interrogation” and “torture” are both incredibly loaded, and evoke different reactions.

But a bigger question might have been raised by President Obama, who said what was unveiled in the report was “contrary to who we are.” But is it really? This hour, we talk about what our use of torture says about us.

Jackie Filson, Lydia Brown, and Tucker Ives contributed to this show.


Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.
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