The recent release of a Senate report commissioned by Democrats regarding torture of terrorism suspects in order to obtain vital information was, in my opinion, a waste of $40 million of taxpayer money.
It already had been documented extensively that three suspects were waterboarded and that techniques such as sleep deprivation were used to extract vital information from terrorists. That information played a part in the apprehension or annihilation of many upper-echelon terrorist leaders, including Osama bin Laden. The high-profile release of this information at a time when we are engaged in war with various terrorist groups demonstrates a profound lack of wisdom, since this information will be undoubtedly used as an effective recruitment tool by our enemies.
Some of the people responsible for the release of this report have publicly acknowledged that it could put members of the military and other Americans at significant risk, because they would now become prized targets for revenge. It seems likely that the unwise timing of this information release was politically motivated, since the control of the Senate will be in Republican hands in January, making its release unlikely.
This is a prime example of a potentially lethal disease that has infected Washington, called blind partisanship. It is exhibited when people are more concerned about damaging the other party or enhancing their own party than they are about the welfare of their nation. Of course, we should all be concerned about cruel and unusual treatment of any human being, but we must have enough common sense to recognize that it is foolish to do anything that contributes to the long-term weakening of our military efforts, especially when we are engaged in a war, even though some may not want to call it that.
Unfortunately, conflicts and wars seem to be a parts of the human condition from which we cannot escape, even though we must never cease trying. However, when we are involved in a war, we should use every resource available to end it quickly and successfully, including the use of covert weapons and techniques that are not meant for public consumption. It is absolutely foolhardy to believe that everyone is going to abide by the rules of moral war, if there is such a thing. If we allow our enemies to do anything they want to do, including the beheadings of our citizens, but we feel that we must accord them every courtesy and comfort, our days of winning wars will be over. We should not put our military forces, our intelligence-gathering forces or any of our defensive and offensive personnel in a position of questioning whether we will back them up when a problem arises if they are using their best judgment on behalf of their fellow citizens. This will only cause them to be fearful and tentative at times when definitive and aggressive action is warranted.
The $40 million that was used on this study could have been better employed to study alternative techniques for extracting vital information from unwilling captives, which could be added to our armamentarium. We also need to understand that peace is much more likely to be realized if we are in a position of strength and possess a military force that cannot be challenged. We also might experience more peace if we try to anticipate and prepare for trouble than if we wait and simply react to ever-increasing problems.
Members of both parties need to take time to figure out who the real enemies are and stop trying to demonize each other. We have a lot to be proud of as Americans. Maybe we should spend time studying and talking about that.
• Ben S. Carson is author of the book “One Vote: Make Your Voice Heard” (Tyndale).