WASHINGTON, D.C. – The executive summary known informally as “The Torture Report” was slated for release this week but has been further delayed, with a prospective release date of this fall. The delay is based on an appeal from the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) who claims that the current redactions of the document “…eliminate or obscure key facts that support the report’s findings and conclusions.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee had initially approved of the report over a year and a half ago. It was voted this spring to be declassified, and eventually made available to the public.
The 6,000 page report supposedly divulges, in selective detail, case studies of prisoners held by the CIA in a secretive program birthed in 2001, an evaluation of intelligence officials’ claims, and an account of interrogation operations including an “airing” of torture techniques such as water boarding, beatings and other inhumane tactics used at secret detention facilities, or “black sites.”
On the CBS news segment, Face the Nation, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) the leading Republican for the Senate Intelligence Committee argues that the report is a misrepresentation of the CIA’s treatment of detainees and “whether the information they provided helped stop terror attacks.”
“Information gleaned from these interrogations was in fact used to interrupt and disrupt terrorism plots,” Chambliss says, “including some information that took down Bin Laden.”
The question is asked of him, “Was torture futile?”
But is that the question the public is, or should really be, asking? Shouldn’t the real question be: was torture used at all?
On April 18, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the U.S. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In it is stated that the U.S. is opposed to torture, a practice that it considers abhorrent.
Article 2 of the Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”
Once the political ink was dry on this document, torture was thereby considered to be a criminal offense under U.S. civilian and military law. And yet in the shadowy aftermath of 9/11, a highly classified program was established in which, politely termed, “questionable interrogation tactics” and other methods tiptoed the line of legality, clouded the very definition of torture, and tested the limit to what we consider to be human rights violations.
Chambliss claims the CIA is not geared up for detention and interrogation programs but because of the war, they were tasked with it and went about it saying ‘ok, what can we legally do?’
Even with the U.S. “officially” being opposed to torture, the question is still being asked whether torture, politely termed “interrogation techniques,” were effective or not as an evaluation of its validity as an acceptable tool. Do the results justify the means? Does a positive result justify ignoring universal human rights?
Khadaja al-Saadi, who was herself and her family victims of a joint CIA-MI6 rendition program, in which she was kidnapped at 12 years old, calls on both the British and American governments to reveal the truth about what happened during those shadowy years through publishing the full, unredacted version of the report. She says this is the only way we can move forward and not repeat the mistakes of the past.
She states in her personal account available at Gawker, “These events took place. I am a witness. However many black lines President Obama or his editors try to draw over this report, the truth will not go away.”
Let the U.S., which expects transparency from corrupt governments, tyrants and dictators, from developing nations and their allies, expect it of themselves as well. Let us begin with unveiling the harsh, and hopefully minimally redacted report that will shed some light on a shadowy, less than flattering past. Let us paint ourselves with true colors so that we may begin that forward momentum that victims such as Khadaja call for, with honesty.
– Jack Todd
Sources: Yahoo News, The Torture Report, Open Society Foundation, NY Times, Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, CBS News, Gawker, Washington Post 1, Washington Post 2
Photo: The Nation