Middle Eastern social media users responded with vehemence on Tuesday to the Senate’s report on CIA interrogation practices, calling America “barbaric” and protesting their own governments’ complicity.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s 525-page executive summary listed specific countries that secretly assisted in what has been described as torture, including many in the Middle East, and provided gruesome details on the CIA’s treatment of detainees in the war on terror.
In a series of tweets, an ISIS-sympathizing Twitter user with the alias “Shami Witness” wrote: “They shoved pipes up the anus of Muslims,then shot up food through it ! [sic] AND THEN THESE FILTH HAVE THE AUDACITY OF LECTURING MUSLIMS ABOUT BRUTALITY… Getting beheaded is 100 times more humane, more dignified than what these filthy scumbags do to Muslims… May Allaah destroy these filthy bastards.May I get to see that day in my lifetime.” In another rant, he tweeted, “These filthy bastards use these torture practices on Muslims because THESE BASTARDS ENJOY DOING IT.NOTHING MORE.”
Another urged his followers: “Cross reference the 54 nations that were involved in the torture program with the 60 nation coalition to fight ISIS.” A third wrote that “The U.S. is bringing the western civilization back to the middle ages.”
With their country’s relative Internet freedom, an active and divisive political landscape and one of the Arab world’s largest Twitter user bases, Egyptians dominated the initial civilian conversation on the report.
They were especially humiliated to hear that their country facilitated CIA-ordered torture of detainees. One Egyptian liberal wrote, “Will those who are disturbed by the CIA torture report be equally disturbed when reports show how Arab countries helped facilitate the torture?”
A pro-military Egyptian shared a screenshot of American Twitter users’ callous reactions to the news of wildly inhumane treatment (“good! who cares. obv he deserved it”), saying “This is Americans’ opinion of CIA torture. No scumbag denounces his own country or army, except here [in Egypt],” in a reference to some Egyptians’ criticism of perceived heavy-handedness by their country’s security forces.
And a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that has faced harsh punishment over the last 18 months in Egypt, told his audience: “After seeing the report on CIA torture of detainees to elicit confession, I became convinced that Egypt is the professor and department chair of torture, next to America. We have more hideous things in our prisons than the CIA.”
Minutes after the report was released, Senator John McCain, himself a survivor of torture in North Vietnam, said on the Senate floor that he knew “from personal experience” torture was most likely to lead to unreliable intelligence. He went on to say the CIA’s willingness to torture “stained our national honor, did much harm and little practical good.”
He also recognized that “Terrorists might use the report’s re-identification of the practices as an excuse to attack Americans,” but acknowledged that it “doesn’t mean we will be telling the world something it will be shocked to learn.”
Likewise, the report itself asserted that the torture program “caused immeasurable damage to the United States’ public standing” in the world, “as well as to the United States’ longstanding global leadership on human rights in general and the prevention of torture in particular.”
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