What Can We Learn from the CIA Report?

What conclusions can be drawn from the recent USA Congress report – the one that ricochets in Poland?

1. Severe naivety

Our Polish politicians claim that they had not even the slightest idea that on the premises of the base any tortures took place. They also claim that, of course, no one has ever mentioned this issue beforehand. Did they really think that CIA intends to graze sheep on the lawn? Or maybe open a SPA (after all bathtubs and some sort of sound system were carried into the building)? Some of the commentators claim that as even Mr G.W. Bush didn’t know anything about that, then how on Earth were they supposed to know? We still remember an American president who claimed that he didn’t know anything at all about the measures taken by the US intelligence. He was nicknamed Tricky Dick and we all know how the story goes. Let’s see how this one will turn out. We may only speculate that it took a lot of effort NOT to find out anything about the tortures. Similar case scenario applies probably to our Polish leaders (ideological escalation after the attacks on the WTC is used as another excuse). Is that, however, a reason to allow a concentration camp to be established in Poland? If our politicians are so touchy feely and susceptible to such an escalation, they should probably stay at home and watch some reality shows rather than be in charge of the state. One way or another, now they claim that the trust towards Americans shall be “limited”. So it appears that if back then, CIA ordered them to insert their fingers into a paper shredder, they would gladly do that in accordance with this unconditional trust. Unfortunately, the consequences of such a behaviour may be far more serious than the Texas paper shredder massacre.

2. Control

Intelligence agencies gather people dealing with very sensitive and highly important matters. However, the long list of accomplishments and far more extensive knowledge than any John Q. Public has may sometimes lead to megalomania and a strong belief that the end justifies (their) means. Such attitude often results in disobeying or even breaking the law – ranging from small-scale swindles to torture, murders or even invading foreign countries. That’s why constant control of the intelligence and their aspirations is a must. They keep seeking independence whenever the opportunity arises. The moment any administration that believes in the high effectiveness of the intelligence a bit too strongly (just like in the times of President Bush) appears on the political scene, the state that shall be the bastion of freedom and democracy becomes the state that is responsible for using tortures. In Poland, on the other hand, the attitude towards the intelligence levitates between treating it as an instrument in the occasional political struggle (as in the times of Law and Justice) and a complete lack of interest, as it happens today. And, as we know, while the cat’s away the mice will play. And they keep on playing: does anyone happen to know on what exactly the money received from Americans for making it possible to establish a concentration camp on our territory was spent? Probably not on charity.

3. Cleaning the wounds

The Senate’s report may be, of course, analyzed in the context of the political struggle between the Democrats and Republicans. It shows, however, that the USA is capable of pleading guilty and being remorseful. The potential damages caused by the report are being investigated but this is the price that will probably have to be paid. That is, however, some sort of shining beacon of hope that such scenario will not be repeated (at least not in the near future). In Poland such attitude is completely inconceivable. The visit paid by Polish president to Jedwabne was deemed by many as disrespectful. Debate about historical events when Poland and Poles were the oppressors are covered up with a deafening silence and any attempt to discuss this matter is regarded as not in line with the “political/historical correctness”. We shall always be perceived as the flawless and the oppressed – never as the oppressors. Nonetheless, despite the fact that most of times we were the ones getting a hiding, our history shows that we were never this innocent. We are therefore mentally and culturally closer to Russia – a state that currently finds it difficult to take the responsibility for the Katyn massacre. And we, Poles, find it difficult just because it was carried out on our kinsmen. We are, however, familiar with the general rule. What we simply cannot understand are people who admit that they actually did make a mistake. This shows what a long journey is still ahead of us before we will finally move from the East to the West.


Translation: Olga Łabendowicz