Tuesday, June 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: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18