Monday, February 19, 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: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Editorial: Scott, Cabinet cannot be trusted on felonsí voting rights

Gov. Rick Scott always has been grudging and imperious about restoring the voting rights of felons, requiring them to wait for years before begging the governor and Cabinet to be recognized again as citizens. That arrogance is on full display in a le...
Published: 02/13/18
Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Another voice: ĎDreamersí donít know whom to trust on immigration

Immigrants brought into this country illegally as children by their parents may be wondering whom to trust. The political theater being played out in Washington hasnít settled the status of either the "Dreamers" or the estimated 11 million other undo...
Published: 02/13/18
Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

Editorial: Promising Tampa stadium site for Rays

While it came as little surprise, the Tampa Bay Raysí selection of an Ybor City site near Tampaís Channel District as the best spot for a new stadium is an important milestone in the effort to keep Major League Baseball. Now comes the hard work of de...
Published: 02/09/18
Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

Editorial: Senate should reject Houseís attack on public schools

After pummeling public education so soundly last year, itís little surprise Republican state legislators are mounting another attack on public schools, teachers and local districts. The mammoth education bill passed by the House last week is loaded w...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/13/18