Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Report on torture reveals moral stain

In the aftermath of 9/11, the United States used torture against detainees that was approved and facilitated by the nation's highest-ranking officials. This damning conclusion comes from a two-year review of evidence by the nonpartisan Constitution Project. Its 577-page report makes clear that the United States lost its moral compass when the Bush administration resorted to waterboarding detainees, slamming them against walls and other inhumane practices. This independent report is a valuable contribution to setting the record straight.

The 11-member task force that produced the study was co-chaired by Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman who was an undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security in the Bush administration. By putting his name to it, Hutchinson courageously stands against the apologists in his party who claim that abusing prisoners, especially the high-value detainees who suffered waterboarding, was essential to national security and finding Osama bin Laden.

The task force flatly rejects this, citing interviews with more than 100 people including former detainees, military and intelligence officers and interrogators, and investigations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other nations. The report concludes that there is "no firm or persuasive evidence" that using abusive interrogation techniques "produced significant information of value" and there is "substantial evidence" that what was gleaned "was not useful or reliable."

Using torture, the task force concludes, was damaging to the standing of our nation and our ability to convey moral censure. It says we endangered U.S. military personnel taken captive by foreign enemies.

Of course, there have been horrific acts by U.S. personnel in other wars. But this is the first time that torture was officially sanctioned as a tool of intelligence gathering. And for those convinced by the government lawyers who twisted the definition of torture to make it appear that what the United States did didn't rise to that level, there is a 22-page appendix listing situations where the United States declared similar treatment by other countries to be torture in violation of international law.

The Constitution Project took on this investigation because the Obama administration has shamefully kept up a campaign of secrecy surrounding exactly what happened to the men held in CIA and military prisons. The administration uses the state secrets defense to prevent former abused detainees from obtaining redress from the courts or informing the public of what happened to them. So too, the Senate Intelligence Committee has refused to declassify and make public a 6,000-page review of detainee treatment, based on CIA records. Without official Washington offering an authoritative and accurate account, the task force's report is the most comprehensive public record that exists. Only by acknowledging the grave mistakes that were made will the nation be less likely to repeat them when the next serious threat occurs.

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Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18