17. NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg proclaims she’s “ashamed of my country” after it was revealed that major terrorism suspects were housed in secret CIA prisons (2005).
On November 2, 2005, The Washington Post published leaks from within the CIA that the agency had a series of secret prisons for terrorist suspects. In September 2006, President Bush acknowledged a small number of high-level terrorism suspects were held by the CIA, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. But the 2005 Post report was limited. Reporter Dana Priest acknowledged: “Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long.”
Nevertheless, NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg quickly decided this entire program sickened her and made her ashamed of the United States. On the November 4 edition of the PBS show Inside Washington, she proclaimed: “I just want to say: Who are we? We are people who have always been for inspections of prisons, for some degree of human rights and now we’re defending neither.”
Evan Thomas of Newsweek suggested it was warranted right after 9/11, and Totenberg added. “I agree, and I don’t blame anybody for anything that was done in the first six months to a year. But this is after that and we keep expanding the program. We have now violated everything that we stand for. It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country.”
The idea that the Bush administration felt this program helped contain mass murderers like KSM and glean information on planned new attacks didn’t seem to enter Totenberg’s mind. Neither did the concept that information from enhanced interrogation techniques might eventually lead to the hideout of Osama bin Laden.
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