The recent revelations emerging from the CIA about the 92 tapes they destroyed – tapes that documented their interrogations of two Al Qaida terrorist suspects – evoke a hard-to-explain anger. It is an emotional reaction that comes from somewhere primal, and I don’t completely understand it. I had this same reaction upon hearing of the “lost” emails of the Whitehouse back in 2007.
It is beyond frustrating this loss of information and evidence. In order for us to learn from our mistakes, to better ourselves as a nation, and to restore our standing with the world community, we must constantly analyze our actions and mistakes. The most effective way to do this is through a historical record built on a foundation of first-hand, unbiased, evidence. Without the tapes and email records of the men in power, we have no such evidence. We are forced to rely on second hand accounts of witnesses who, as often as not, clam up behind claims of national security and “Executive Privilege”, and what testimony they do give is far too often colored by biases that are difficult to discern. Instead of questioning our Country’s actions, we are forced to squabble over what the hidden agendas of these petty men were.
What turns this frustration into a true sense of anger though, is the effrontery and ego of the men who authorized these actions. These are men who work behind closed doors, shielded by layer upon layer of national security and executive privilege. They work in a gray world where the ideals of our society often come into conflict with the pragmatic demands of our country’s interests. Because of this, these men must be held to a higher degree of accountability for leaving a record of their actions and the choices they make. I am not calling for this information tob e made public, merely that it must exist, so that someday, when appropriate, it may be brought to light. For these men to act in a way so flagrantly in violation of these principles, of our right to better ourselves by examining our nation’s actions, by destroying the evidence of their acts is simply Evil. There is no other word for it.
Jose Rodriguez Jr., the man who (apparently) ordered the destruction of these tapes, must be brought to justice. Not because the interrogation practices the tapes documented may or may not have been inhumane torture, but because they were an essential element in making that determination.