Monday, December 08, 2014

Shoot the messenger

This happens again and again. The U.S. does something terrible and then covers it up. Eventually there's an effort to publicize some of what the U.S. did wrong which prompts certain politicians and commentators to flip out, arguing that publicizing America's abuses will threaten the safety of Americans.

I don't know if the release of the CIA torture report will actually inspire any attacks. I'm not sure we will ever know. Even if there are subsequent attacks by groups that cite the report as their motive, will we really know for sure if they would not have attacked in the absence of the released report?

Counterfactuals aside, isn't the real issue that if the U.S. wants to avoid retaliatory attacks for the terrible things it does, it should stop doing those terrible things? If the fact that the U.S. tortured people after 9/11 is so explosive it will harm American interests, the remedy is to not torture people. The fix should not be to hide our country's misdeeds better. Every pol and bobblehead who talks about how damaging this report will be just seems to be missing the point.