Today, on the CNN show, "Today's News," the former head of the CIA, General Michael Hayden, and Harvard Professor of Ethics, Greg Stiles, squared off against one another on the issue of torture.
The background of the debate centered on The Senate Intelligence Committee's releasing the results of a review of CIA interrogations of terrorist suspects after 9/11. The report concludes that the interrogations were more brutal than the CIA had previously disclosed. The report also claims that CIA torture was never effective in combating terrorism. Finally it asserts that the CIA mislead President Bush.
Hayden disputed the idea that "enhanced interrogation" doesn't work in gaining information to fight terrorism. He said he personally knew that waterboarding, causing people to freeze to death, threatening the victim's family with rape, and the use of anal feeding tubes, mentioned in the Senate report,"Work very well in eliciting useful facts." He further faulted the report for being "incomplete and deficient."
Surprisingly Professor Stiles agreed. He stated, "Yes, it's very incomplete and deficient. It doesn't deal with the major issue of the immorality of torture."
General Hayden responded, "Neither I or any other CIA director is qualified to comment on the morality of torture or other questions of ethics. We really don't know anything about those things. I just know torture works."
Stiles said, "Torturing human beings is the behavior of barbarians, and unless we wish to debase ourselves as such, we should concern ourselves more with the morality of our actions rather than their efficacy."
At that point CNN moderator Mary Matlin stepped in and asked Professor Stiles to, "Make your points using simple English so that the American CNN viewers can understand you."
Hayden then said that Senate Report public "damages the morale of American torturers. Isn't that a matter of ethics Professor? Isn't the well-being of our torturers a matter of morality?"
Stiles answered, "Torture offends us through its assault on human dignity, worth, and value. It deprives the victim of freedom, dehumanizes them, the torturer and society as a whole."
Hayden responded that he didn't understand what the Harvard Professor was saying. Moderator Matlin said that Stiles' statement was incomprehensible. "Once again I admonish you to use language that the American people can understand," exclaimed Matlin.