The Torture Report

The abusive interrogation practices of Bush-era CIA officials in the wake of 9/11 confirm that torture is wrong, and torture doesn't work.

Senate Releases Damning Report On CIA’s Use Of Torture After 9/11

The Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Senator Dianne Feinstein, today released a summary of a 6,000 page report investigating the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The report contains dozens of disgraceful facts about the CIA’s practices during the Bush era, including gruesome details of how detainees were tortured. Ultimately, the report demonstrates two fundamental truths: torture is always wrong, and torture doesn’t work.

Here are a few key findings from the report:

1. Torture didn’t stop a single terrorist attack. “At no time did the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques lead to the collection of imminent threat intelligence, such as the hypothetical ‘ticking time bomb’ information that many believe was the justification for the use of these techniques.”

2. Torture did not lead the CIA to the courier who ultimately helped capture Osama bin Laden. The best information about the courier who ultimately led to the discovery of the compound where Osama bin Laden was hiding “was provided by a CIA detainee who had not yet been subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.” The detainees who were subjected to torture “withheld and fabricated information” about the courier.

3. The torture methods were far more brutal than originally reported. They included forcing detainees to stay awake for up to 180 hours while “standing or in painful stress positions,” waterboarding detainees to the point of serious physical harm and “near drowning,” and rectally force-feeding detainees.

4. Not everyone approved of the torture policy. “Internally, CIA officers regularly called into question the effectiveness of the CIA’s interrogation techniques, noting how the techniques failed to elicit detainee cooperation or produce accurate intelligence.” But still nothing was done to stop it.

5. The CIA lied about the success of torture in obtaining intelligence. CIA reports that torture was successfully giving them information “were inaccurate and contradicted by the CIA’s own records.” The agency continues to stand by these discredited claims.

President Obama denounced the interrogation tactics in a statement after the report’s release, saying that “these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests.” Obama went on to say that these torture practices “did significant damage to America’s standing in the world.”

But Senator John McCain delivered perhaps the most forceful and eloquent condemnation of the CIA’s torture methods during the Bush era: “The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. It sometimes causes us difficulties at home and abroad. It is sometimes used by our enemies in attempts to hurt us. But the American people are entitled to it, nonetheless.” McCain continued, “Our enemies act without conscience. We must not. This executive summary of the Committee’s report makes clear that acting without conscience isn’t necessary, it isn’t even helpful, in winning this strange and long war we’re fighting. We should be grateful to have that truth affirmed.”

Despite the horrifying facts contained in the report, however, the reaction has not been the universal condemnation of torture. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, for one, continues to defend the practices as “absolutely, totally justified.” Senator Marco Rubio, disregarding McCain’s speech, called it “one sided” and “partisan.”

BOTTOM LINE: The Senate report reveals in horrifying detail the abusive interrogation practices of Bush-era CIA officials in the wake of 9/11. It confirms that torture is wrong, and that torture doesn’t work. There’s no doubt that this dark episode undermined our values as a nation, but the Senate’s efforts to be transparent and show the American people the facts will help us move past it and never repeat it.

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