A Mormon blogger is questioning whether the Senate report on the CIA’s use of torture is a condemnation not just of torture itself but also of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because two distinguished Mormons -- Bruce Jessen and Jay Bybee -- had prominent roles in the CIA’s detention and interrogation program under the George W. Bush administration.
“We contributed to this … Our brothers did this,” Crawford, also known as John C., wrote in a post on a Mormon blog site called By Common Consent, which was started in 2004 by a group of LDS church members to post and discuss Mormon topics.
Crawford wrote that Jessen, a former Mormon bishop, was paid $80 million for drafting the guidelines that developed the torture techniques used on suspected terrorists following the Sept. 11, 2001; and that Bybee, a federal judge at the time, signed the memorandums giving the CIA's controversial interrogation program and its brutal methods legal authorization.
“If we, as a people, are creating good men who do not understand that it is inherently wrong to torture even the worst offenders, then we are not doing a good job at creating good men. If we create men who understand that torture is wrong in the abstract, but when faced with the pressure of keeping a job, the greed of potential government largesse, the opportunity to justify revenge and torture in the name of national security, they fold and authorize it, we are not doing a good job at creating good men. This should not be a position for debate. I’m disgusted that it ever was,” Crawford wrote in the post published Wednesday.
Mormons, also known as Latter-day Saints, are heavily represented in national law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Returned Mormon missionaries are valued for their foreign language skills, abstinence from drugs and alcohol and respect for authority, a CIA recruiter reportedly told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Crawford concluded that if Jessen and Bybee, who are considered to be “good Mormons” by the church, represent the moral judgment of the church’s best and brightest, then “we are morally bankrupt.”
Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said people -- not the church to which they may belong -- are accountable for their own actions. “To suggest that any action by any individual should be laid at the feet of the faith they proclaim to follow is insupportable,” Hawkins wrote to International Business Times in an email Friday.