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Dec. 11, 2014 — A loud silence

It’s been a couple of days since the release of a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the role of the CIA and other intelligence agencies in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks, and how their use of torture and other enhanced interrogation techniques have yielded, or failed to yield, actionable intelligence.

And yet, in the streets of Middle Eastern and Arab states, there has been — silence.

In the past, when pictures of the Abu Grahib detention center were made public, or when a Danish publication published cartoons showing Muhammad, or when word got out that an interrogator allegedly flushed a Koran down a toilet in a prison, reaction in the Middle East has been swift and violent.

There has not been riotous demonstrations, marches, suicide bombs, or anything resembling the enormous popular uprising as was feared by CIA apologists earlier this week.

What’s going on here?

I think what many people are realizing is that perhaps the United States government, in allowing the release of these findings, is beginning to right the ship when it comes to global diplomacy.

The term in play here is “moral authority.” The term is not packaged in a neat box, but the way I see it, it’s about the degree to which state actors, in the name of the people of the United States, hold to the values by which its citizens live.

One can argue that the erosion of the moral authority of the United States occurred far before the prosecution of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan led to the creation of black sites and the re-occupation of the ultimate black site, the Guantanamo Bay area in Cuba.

The erosion occurred throughout the last century as the United States was involved in many destabilization efforts in Central and South American nations to protect the United Fruit Company and oil interests. And when destabilization didn’t work, outright invasions of nations like Haiti, Grenada, and Panama ensued.

The Obama executive order in 2009 ending enhanced interrogation is just one step, however, in the rebuilding of American moral authority. There may have to be hearings and perhaps even a judicial panel to figure out whether officials prosecuting the so-called “War On Terror” committed war crimes.

Meanwhile, it was estimated by the BBC yesterday that Islamic jihadi activity in November 2014 resulted in the deaths of roughly 5,000 people.

It’s not easy maintaining your moral authority against those without morals, for sure.

But to show that your government is willing to admit its mistaken belief in a misguided policy is a start.


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