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Break It Out into the Open!

Break It Out Into the Open!

By Dennis Loo (3/3/14)

Update at the end 9 pm PDT

MSNBC reported yesterday:

A Senate intelligence committee investigation found that the Central Intelligence Agency employed brutal interrogation methods that turned out to be largely useless and then lied about their effectiveness, according to The Washington Post

As described to the Post, the Senate report contradicts the main defenses of the Bush-era torture program: That harsh methods were needed to produce actionable results, and that the program itself helped save American lives by foiling terror attacks. Instead, the CIA overstated the effectiveness of the program and concealed the harshness of the methods they used. Intelligence breakthroughs credited to the “enhanced interrogation” program by the CIA were instead gleaned through other means, and then used by the agency to bolster defenses of the program. The intelligence committee is set to vote on submitting the report for declassification on Thursday.

I will update and comment further on the significance and background to this later today. Stay tuned. In the meantime, if you haven't already read them, here are some background articles: Sen. Feinstein to CIA: Don't Gore My Ox, "Justifiable" Torture and the "Ends Justify the Means," The Academy Awards: The CIA and the National Security State in Fact and Film, and Zero Dark Thirty: Journalism? Art? Propaganda?

The Guardian reported yesterday that:

The committee is not going to release the 6,300-page report. Its chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein of California, said on the Senate floor three weeks ago that only the “findings, conclusions and the executive summary of the report” were the subject of the committee’s declassification efforts. The vast majority of the Senate report – effectively, an alternative post-9/11 history detailing of years’ worth of CIA torture and cover-up – will remain shielded from public view.

Who will decide what will be released and in what language? Despite the fact that the CIA secretly hacked into the Senate intelligence committee's computers and has contradicted in its public statements its own internal report that the Senate Committee has seen (the "Panetta Report") which is what sparked Sen. Feinstein's public rebuke of the CIA in March, none other than the CIA itself will be involved in deciding, along with the White House, what will be made public.

I am reminded of the pseudo-drama that characterizes soap operas when observing the struggle going on between the Senate intelligence committee and the CIA. While Feinstein was finally pushed to the breaking point after years of CIA deception and strong-arm tactics against the Senate investigation and publicly defended the committee against the CIA, they will at this point nonetheless collude together in trying to keep the grotesque details of the CIA's torture and murder of detainees from being aired to the public. The reality of what has been done and still is being done to those being held by the US government is too atrocious to be revealed in its terrible graphic literal nature. This glimpse behind the scenes underscores how ugly the practices and policies of this government are in truth, something they dare not display before the public, particularly the American public who is more ill-informed about its own government than anyone else in the world. I will end with a picture that came out of Iraq and the Abu Ghraib scandal that Dr. Philip Zimbardo released:

abu ghraib photo of dead detainee


+1 # shannon barkley 2014-04-05 05:06
Well in the beginning it is expressed that the methods were useless but the Ageny lied about it, that just shows their integrity and how shady the Agency can be just to lookk good in teh eyes of the people. Also with the declassificatio n effotrts all I see is them trying to cover their tracks in every angle.
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0 # deltoro 2014-04-06 16:06
Soc 302 i agree with you. i just wan to add we us society we need to know whats going on we our govemnet and the way they tortute prisoners. we have the right to know. we put them in office. we gave them the power. But we did not gave them the right to lie to us. Quoting shannon barkley:
Well in the beginning it is expressed that the methods were useless but the Ageny lied about it, that just shows their integrity and how shady the Agency can be just to lookk good in teh eyes of the people. Also with the declassification effotrts all I see is them trying to cover their tracks in every angle.
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0 # vices 2014-04-05 19:18
"...the news has tended to frame the crime issue in terms of the alleged unwillingness of the criminal justice system to truly get tough on criminal offenders, and to focus on the most sensational types of violent crime, ignoring the less frightening and far more petty offenses for which an increasing number of Americans are incarcerated. (p. 8 Beckett) " This is similar to how the CIA is stating that the program was very effective and emphasizing how important it is to take these measure. The Beckett book explains how the government, through media, portrays only violent crimes as their main focus of their enhanced crack down on crime which lead to increased incarceration. In actuality, they ignore the fact that their crack down is incarcerating an increasing amount of citizens for far less serious offenses that may not even involve violence.
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+1 # sadiez 2014-04-06 04:19
In your first lecture, you explained that a social structure is "the organized patterns of social interaction and social relationships in a group or society." I believe that this definition and overall phenomenon can assist us in understanding how left in the dark as a SOCIETY we are in regards to our government and the decisions that they make without informing the general public. The report from The Guardian which contained the statement "...will remain shielded from public view" makes this pretty evident. This comment's wording indicates, and leads me to believe, that this is not and will not be the only thing being covered up and hidden from us.
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0 # Sarah Heitz 2014-04-06 20:26
I would have to agree with this comment because this is surely not the first time that something has been hidden from the public by the government. In this article it states that the American public are the most ill-informed about their government than anyone else in the world. This statement reinforces the belief that this is NOT the only thing that has been hidden from the American public.
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0 # Soc 123 2014-04-14 06:43
Yes, agreed. The government does hide many things from its country. Its something that will continue unfortunately. Maybe its because many of us can't handle the truth, or because many of the issues are dealt within a day or two; it still doesn't justify why important and crucial issues are not spoken of. We have no choice but to put trust in our government and have faith that everything they do is sincerely the best for the public.
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0 # Dennis Lo 2014-04-14 15:22
Quoting Soc 123:
Maybe its because many of us can't handle the truth... it still doesn't justify why important and crucial issues are not spoken of. We have no choice but to put trust in our government and have faith that everything they do is sincerely the best for the public.
The gov't and corporations hope that we will blindly trust them so that they can continue to do terrible things. Why do you think that we have "no choice" but to put our faith in them? Is that what democratic rule is supposed to entail, blind faith? Actually, in a way, that is exactly how democracies operate, even tho they rhetorically claim that the peo have ways of "throwing the rascals out" in actual fact, if the peo are being systematically lied to - which is what bureaucracies do by their nature - then there really is no solution within the confines of the existing channels and the only solution is outside of those channels.
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0 # ch2782 2014-04-06 05:55
Most of the time when politicians argue or comment “ It is for the protection of the people” or “ This will help save Americans lives,” hearing or reading these sayings make me question their intend and position he/she is trying to advocate. To what extend is it right to torture human beings and make them suffer to “save” American’s lives? When politicians or the president state doing inhumane torture is necessary to protect civilians, they have another intention behind it all.
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0 # Dbug 2014-04-07 06:26
I agree with your comment, politicians justify the torturing and murder of many individuals for the sake of the "American people". Like you mentioned to what extent is the torture of other human beings be legitimized? The government does not use inhumane torture to simply protect the American people. On the other hand it is used as an excuse to continue the violent crime against others. The government and the media will continue to misled the people and only report what they want us to hear. If they were truly concern for the American people, many wouldn't suffering in unemployment or poverty.
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0 # deltoro 2014-04-06 15:56
soc 305. People lie every day and more people lie when they have power. infact the goverment lie and cover to each other in order to keep themselve in the power. It make me think that the govermnet have their our society. Many of this people are being torture in order to keep our society save according ot the U.S.A. govermnet. The goverment dont tell or show us how this people are being torture. they only show their fact. but Are those facts are real?
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0 # Thatdude 2014-04-06 17:52
Reading about this "enhanced interrogation" program that the CIA implemented is just another example of our government devaluing others lives. It's just awful to hear the cover up comments and slowly finding out what really is going on behind closed doors that the government is authorizing. This reminds me about one of the points made in the first lecture about conformity in war tactics and the fact that in general 80% of people conform even when they know it is wrong. I'm sure that this phenomenon is present within the people actually involved in the torturing of individuals. Conforming to an act that goes against moral principles must be hard for some but when its government authorized it makes it seem "okay" because their main goal is acquiring information. Then it comes out that the CIA lied about the effectiveness of these programs and it makes me question those with authority and power that are making these decisions.
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0 # cutemeow 2014-04-14 03:09
I completely agree with your points about conformity. I think in this case, the government's authorization is the main factor in these individuals blindly following commands to torture, even if they felt it was wrong. We are taught that our government is the ultimate and supreme authority, so when the government says to do something, then people will do it. After the fact, these people still did not want to take responsibility to admit that it was wrong in doing so. By trying to cover up what happened, is like an admission of guilt because they knew it was not ethical.
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0 # Elizabeth Arroyo 2014-04-06 19:08
This article shows the corruption and inhumane treatment of prisoners of war. The government tries to say that it is a necessary tacit to save American lives, but where is the prove that lives where saved because of those shameful torture? The United States strives to be fair and establish peace, but they are the cause of war and destruction in other countries as well as our own. The government has and will always try to cover up their lies and what they have done wrong and people will never stand up to make a change because they will never know the real truth.
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0 # zzchi 2014-04-06 20:10
The government tends to cover up operations that leak out to the public. Nevertheless, it is not feasible to protect the American lives from terrorists when the government issued American's to do the torturing. "We avenge ourselves only upon what has harmed us, and what has harmed us is always a threat.(P.187 McIntosh)" The government takes any terrorist as a threat and acts accordingly. They acted with extreme force and are now scrambling to cover up the details in which they acted.
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0 # martha n. 2014-04-07 02:26
I agree that extreme force was used and now the government is finding ways to keep it from being further leaked.

I thought of the quote from the McIntosh text, page 186, regarding punishment, "punishment has changed it character, it is no longer to avenge itself that society punishes, it is to defend itself." Punishment is so cruel and sick, as seen in this photo, because it sends a message that WE WILL DEFEND instead of simply avenging.
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0 # Sarah Heitz 2014-04-06 20:33
The world has many paradigms, yet if the ones that are shown to the public by the government are the only ones being believed there is no further thought or evaluation of this issue which can pacify societies. Without meta-analysis of different paradigms we will believe everything the government wants us to believe. As individuals, you have to make your own value assumptions for different paradigms and figure out what is important to you. Along with figuring out what value assumptions you have, you have to look deeper and analyze the data that is presented to you. Don't just accept others ideas and paradigms without thinking for yourself and evaluating the data in different ways.
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0 # tiffany 2014-04-07 00:11
The US government has a long history of being secretive, shady and corrupt. It does not surprise me that this is going on today. As much as we believe that the US gov't is the best, which it really is, there is still A LOT that is wrong with it. We have our basic freedoms, we've fought for so much, yet the people are being lied to everyday. The news only tells the people what the gov't wants the people to hear and with this torture situation it just shows the lengths they are willing to go with out trying to ruin the humanitarian reputation we have built. This is not new and this will probably not stop. As people we do have a right to know the extent of torture for we are the ones who elected the people but we must also remember that we elected people who we believed could make the best decisions for us. They know more of situations and issues than we do, so in order to keep faith in our country we must trust their judgement. With out the trust, our gov't just might fall apart.
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0 # flr9d 2014-04-07 00:48
The article stated the the guardian reported that the committee was not going to the release the 6,300 page report, this makes it questionable, what else are they trying to hide.We as American need to become more involved in what the government is doing behind doors. Reading the article and finishing off with the picture at the bottom made the me really sad and made it more real.In the in-class discussion it was said that most people (80%) conform to the group, people within the government are examples of this because even those who believe is it wrong, they are still agreeing to it by hiding and thinking that is the best thing to do.
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0 # Guy 2014-04-07 02:37
This is just a piece of the massive truth that civilians would most likely not know about. There are always three sides to a story of which the real truth is usually untold. Of course there are going to be flaws in the actions taken by anyone if we take the time to assess it after the fact. It might have been justified to the CIA agents at that time of action but after everything is said and done they might have realized that it was most likely not justified at all. Being such a big government agency they probably did not want to admit to any wrong doing because when it comes down to it, I think it is the funding they need/want to continue on doing whatever they are doing. No one is going to continue to give money to anyone that has admitted to wrong doing. It seems to be a big power struggle where the Senate has the upper hand.
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0 # Christine Lopez 2014-04-07 03:02
# soc 305
We torture people from other countries. To get from them this information could be used for the war on terrorism or any other malorcy the goverment invents. On the other hand The United States does not like it when one of their citizens is captured and tortured for any reason. The U.S. does not follow the rule do to others as you wan them to do upon you. The U.S. thinks that they are the highest authority in the planet.
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0 # Jane Doe 2014-04-07 04:57
I agree when you say that the US does not like it when one of it's soldiers/citize ns are captured and tortured, than why should we do the same? Two wrongs does not make a right. The torturing of other people who government thinks is an enemy or knows information that can be used against terrorist is inhumane. I kind of compare this to the video seen in the SOC 302 course,The collateral murder from Iraq where the soldiers were following orders and shot, killed and injured innocent people, in which two were children. The US soldiers shot and killed/injured innocent Iraq people because they were believed to be a threat. Two of those people were holding cameras in which were mistaken as guns and under no hesitation soldiers were given the order to shoot and kill without any remorse of what they had done. On solider actually said , "That is what they get for bringing their children to a war zone," after founding out that two of the people injured were children.
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0 # Yoshi 2014-04-07 03:58
News like this frustrates me a lot. Our government hides way too much from its people, which is why a lot of people do not trust our government. This isn't the first time they have tried to hide something like this. They tell America that we are above torture, yet do it behind closed doors. This reminds me of the video we watched in class about the collateral murder in Iraq. The government tried to cover themselves up saying it was justified.
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0 # draen 2014-04-07 04:06
I feel that the fact that the CIA refuses to give out information on their enhanced interrogation techniques shows how unreliable the government is. We expect to be informed about what our government is doing, but much of this news is hidden from us. Also,the fact that the effectiveness of the methods has been lied about sure makes the whole situation a lot more questionable. We expect the government to do what is necessary to protect its people, but in this case, what they're doing is not effective and is actually just cruel, so what is the real purpose?
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0 # Jane Doe 2014-04-07 04:37
I find it a bit disgusting on how our own government stoops that low to try to get information out of someone. Torturing someone to get you to say something is not, as most people know, a good way to get the information acquired. Most likely the prisoners being kept and tortured will eventually reveal what the CIA wants to hear, not necessarily being the truth.For the CIA not to release the reports or any information of what is occurring is a bit sickening, and the fact that only the CIA and the government will be involved in making that decision of whether or not the public should know this information is a on the shady side. The government should not keep secrets from it's citizens a secret. I personally do not agree and find it sad that other countries know more about our government than we do.
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0 # soad 2014-04-07 05:13
We think we know what our government is doing, but we don't. They have so many secrets and try to keep it hidden. Is it protection when we go to different countries and kill innocent civilians?! No. We're allegedly this great country that isn't corrupt, but hacking into other departments computers, and having a torture program is ok? This is absolutely ridiculous. We might be a super power but our government shouldn't succumb to such crude tactics to get information.
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0 # Lomonaco 2014-04-07 05:26
“Punishment is, first and for most, an emotional reaction” (Mcintosh, 186). I think the government feels threatened, so they have taken precautions to ensure the safety of the world. For some reason the United States feels responsible to control or meddle in anything that does not meet their agenda. “Punishment has changed it's character; it is no longer to avenge itself that society punishes, it is to defend itself” (Mcintosh, 186). I feel when people are faced with differences they can become intimidated. They are afraid of the unknown, so they want to ensure some form of solidarity. Mutual expectations is what holds people together, when there is someone that is threatening solidarity there is a natural reaction to defend and protect. However; they are disregarding the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. We have laws and rules to ensure the rights of the people. These people have had their human rights violated at the hands of the United States.
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0 # cutemeow 2014-04-07 06:11
Scandals and cover-ups within our own government is nothing new, although I think that we have been blindly complacent for too long. Politicians are increasingly advocating for "get tough" policies for street crimes, but who will advocate for policing our own government's practices? Many of these incidents get swept under the rug or covered up before the public can find out about it. Our government must be more transparent, so that the citizens of the US can have confidence and trust in its decisions.
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0 # minnie 2014-04-07 06:40
When I read this article, one phrase popped into my head. "Ignorance is bliss." Throughout my years in grade school and high school I looked up to the CIA as a department of the U.S. government. I believed that people were using their intelligence to better the world. However, scandals like these make members of society (like me) question the morality of their society and the government's intentions. I would expect that the government would not want the public to know about the realities of war and the torture that is happening. The last thing the government would want is for the public to know the truth because they want to prevent questions, protests, and uprisings.
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0 # Aria 2014-04-07 06:49
I thought it was interesting how these methods could be used and lied about so easily. Since this seems like a huge scandal, it is odd how it has not leaked out so easily into the public. I had not known this was happening and I do not think most people did. It is strange how we live in a place where the truth can be hidden so easily.
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0 # minnie 2014-04-07 06:59
Looking back to the picture at the end of the article, I was mortified at the sight of the man on the table, discolored with the appearance of a zombie, literally! I cannot believe that the soldier on the right is smiling for the camera. Who is held responsible here for the crime of brutally torturing a man to death and mocking him with a photograph? Sure, a policeman will be quick to stop a black man on the streets for the sake of his appearance and the neighborhood he lives in, but no one is quick to publicly prosecute the people responsible for war crimes.
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0 # Brandon Vildosola 2014-04-08 20:05
The fact that the CIA used methods of torture to gain information is one thing, but that they were rendered useless and the agency lied about its effectiveness is another. If studies showed that coercive measures of debriefing people are not effective (that the person who is being tortured will say anything to stop the attack) then it should be taught in agencies that they will not use those methods. I believe, rather, that scare tactics should be used to gain information. tactics that will not actually harm anyone but rather make the suspect believe that they will be or others that they are close to will be harmed in order to gain information that way.
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0 # Karen Cornejo 2014-04-09 23:13
I believe the only reason why they lied about how effective their interrogation methods were was because they were probably going to continue using them or make them even more brutal until they found a method that might actually work but they were never going to inform anyone about it the real results because then everyone would be against it. This article just shows how in the the dark we as Americans really are.
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0 # Sherlock 2014-04-13 07:50
I believe that anything that the CIA uncovers should be release to the public. Yes, we are uniformed. Therefore, we do not understand or even comprehend what is going on on the other side of the country. We don't understand what impact the war and our tactics have had on people and if everything was uncovered, more would be knowledgeable and more would have a say.
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0 # Daniel Gomezzzzz 2014-04-13 19:45
(1/2) The fact that the CIA does not want to release their grotesque photos and proof of the breaking of international law (crimes against humanity) is also reflective in the reactions the government has on whistle blowers(the people that release information to the public that would otherwise be uncovered). From Snowden to Manning, we must support these people with full force so more people will rise up and expose the crimes of our government.
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0 # Daniel Gomezzzzzz 2014-04-13 19:46
(2/2) As you and Mao have mentioned: the U.S government is a paper tiger, and the aspect that reveals the paper like foundation of the government is its need to persuade.This involves lying, and being caught red-handed. The U.S empire is powerful, but not all-powerful. The fact that third world countries and other industrialized nations know more than we do displays this fact as well.
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0 # jnc 2014-04-13 21:33
I believe that the CIA needs to share all information and plans of war with the entire country. If they hide their tactics of torture and interrogation from the rest of the country then the CIA is only proving how distrustful they can be to the citizens of this country. The CIA holding back on information with the rest of the country makes this agency look suspicious of all of their involvement in war relations.
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0 # LA305302 2014-04-14 01:14
It is a shame that street crime is constantly being monitored and policed, but we are completely useless when it comes to policing the harm the government does to society and other nations. We discussed how the more one causes harm to another, the more numb be becomes to do it. I believe this thought is something that is so embedded within our politics. So much violence goes on that we do not even hear about because it is being hidden, but the morality of it is that it is under different circumstances. Murder or torture amongst society is condemned, but when government does it, it is some how excusable.
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0 # Princess Peach 2014-04-14 03:55
Many consequences arise when tactics like the tactics utilized in the Ahu Ghraib scandal are concealed from the public. The government tries to conceal issues like these because they think it will protect the American people. However as discussed in the Criminology textbook, media coverage and the concealment of these issues creates public ignorance as well as public fear and concern. The American people deserve to know the truth, however government officials continue to tell the American people lies and more problems arise due to the lies that we are being told.
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0 # Michelle Ngo 2014-04-14 06:18
It seems like since 9/11, Americans have bonded over patriotism; by which I mean we tend to believe that everyone from the Middle Eastern countries are terrorists and we want to do everything that we can to protect our nation. What we do not see is that they are human beings and not everyone is a terrorist. The things that the media displays are sometimes distorted and we believe in it without questioning. The fact that the CIA lies about their tactics, does that not make people question what our government does to get information from others? Scare tactics are sometimes useful, but using brutal forces should not be a way to get information out of people. We do not put a great image on ourselves to other because of the things that have been displayed by the media.
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0 # Slovebee 2014-04-14 07:03
I don't know whether to be taken aback by how this is not surprising to read. It's terrible that these things have to happen and are in some way justified because these people work for the government. I hope that this case gets the justice it deserves. And I hope those involved get punished. I'm sure there are definitely power and authority issues going on in this case. I'm sure the people involved felt entitled to it because of their place in the government. I hope we can reach one day where someone's status and power does not justify horrific actions toward another human being.
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0 # Ambularnpink 2014-04-16 00:41
I definitely agree with you but the sad part is the most that will come of this will probably be a slight slap on the wrist. After business will carry on as usual and a few months from now (or days) there will be another scandal they will have to justify.
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0 # marcam 2014-04-14 16:14
I don’t understand why the government is so secretive about what it does behind closed doors. If we have a republic here then shouldn’t the people have the right to know what its own government is doing in exact detail. Why does the CIA have the right to conceal its documents and why do they want to conceal them. Are they doing something so harmful that they don’t want people to know. And the worst thing isn’t that the CIA isn’t going to tell what they did, the worst thing is that the government is allowing it to happen. Instead of letting the American population know what exactly the CIA is doing they help by selecting what news will be out to the public.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-14 16:56
Quoting marcam:
Why does the CIA have the right to conceal its documents and why do they want to conceal them. Are they doing something so harmful that they don’t want people to know. And the worst thing isn’t that the CIA isn’t going to tell what they did, the worst thing is that the government is allowing it to happen.

This article will help to explain why this is going on and what the larger picture is that the public needs to be conscious of which the gov't seeks to conceal from us: it's called "Is Bureaucracy Here to Stay?" and it's on this site. Here's the url: I recommend this highly not only on your question but to everyone on the question of "human nature" and the nature of society.
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0 # Ambularnpink 2014-04-16 00:38
I understand the governments need to keep a certain amount of secrecy to keep national affairs running smoothly. However, when they are committing such atrocious acts on other nations and people in general then smacking the label of the American People on it, where is the line drawn. And for that matter is there even a line to be drawn? Its sad (but not shocking) to hear that our government, one that we are brought up to trust and have faith in as our leaders, can be abusing such power. We the people, have a right to know about these "safety issues" they are protecting us from. Extreme forms of torture cannot be the only way of creating a safe country.
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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12