The recently released Senate Torture Report brings to my mind the “Grand Inquisitor” legend from Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov,” perhaps the greatest chapter in all of literature. At the height of the Spanish Inquisition, with the frail old Cardinal Inquisitor ordering the burning of hundreds of heretics a day, Christ returns, not for the second coming, but a visit. The common people instantly recognize and flock to him, and he performs healings, as in Scripture, yet the Cardinal arrests and interrogates Christ. “Why hast Thou come to hinder us?” the Cardinal implores. The Cardinal harkens back to Christ’s temptation in the desert, scolding Christ for refusing Satan’s offer to bow before him, thus, according to the Cardinal, burdening the flock with freedom, a freedom they fail at, forcing the Cardinal to burn heretics, lest doubt envelope and burden the faithful. For the good of humanity, ad majorem Dei gloriam, “We have rejected Thee [Christ] and followed him [Satan],” says the Cardinal.
The Senate Torture Report reveals that the CIA enacted its very own auto da fe against prisoners of war during the early years of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, viciously torturing these detainees, all at the behest of chickenhawk Vice President Dick Cheney, America’s Torquemada, who, like Dostoevsky’s version, in the name of American freedom, ad majorem Americae gloriam, chose to side with the demonic. These waterboardings, rectal feedings, and various other torture practices led to no significant intelligence findings, according to the Senate Report, and more than definitely engendered greater hatred towards the USA from its enemies. “Enhanced interrogation,” as it is brutally euphemized, joins slavery, the Trail of Tears, Jim Crow, Japanese American detention camps, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Iran Contra, My Lai, and the Iraq War to forever shatter the myth of American exceptionalism, a phrase that only fits in describing the USA’s sad legacy as the sole first world nation refusing to provide universal health care and the lone first world country that has not abolished the death penalty.