Washington, DC â€“ Human Rights First applauds the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) for voting to adopt a 6,000 plus page report on the former CIA detention and torture program. This vote marks an important step towards ensuring that past policies and practices of torture and official cruelty in U.S. intelligence operations will not be repeated. The committee, led by Chair Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and joined by 8 members, including Republican Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), voted 9-6 to adopt the report, which will now go to the Obama Administration for review and comment.
â€œBy voting to adopt this report, the committee has sent a clear message that torture and abuse have no place in U.S. intelligence operations,â€ said Human Rights Firstâ€™s Melina Milazzo. â€œThe American people deserve to know the truth, and the committee should now commit to publicly releasing the report with as few redactions as possible.â€
In a statement released after the vote, Senator Feinstein stated, â€œThe report uncovers startling details about the CIA detention and interrogation program and raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight.â€ She concluded, â€œI strongly believe that the creation of long-term, clandestine â€˜black sitesâ€™ and the use of so-called â€˜enhanced-interrogation techniquesâ€™ were terrible mistakes. The majority of the Committee agrees.â€
In a statement sent to the committee today, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said, â€œIt is my hope that we can reach a consensus in this country that we will never again engage in these horrific abuses, and that the mere suggestion of doing so should be ruled out of our political discourse, regardless of which party holds power. It is therefore my hope that this Committee will take whatever steps necessary to finalize and declassify this report, so that all Americans can see the record for themselves, which I believe will finally close this painful chapter for our country. â€œ
Todayâ€™s vote comes in advance of the soon-to-be-released film â€œZero Dark Thirty,â€ which provides a fictionalized account of how the United States carried out its operation to find Osama bin Laden. The film has renewed the debate over the efficacy of torture in providing actionable intelligence, despite statements made to the contrary by senior government officials, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Senator Feinstein.
â€œItâ€™s high-time to put an end to this debate,â€ Milazzo noted. â€œThe committeeâ€™s comprehensive, factual review of the classified record â€“ information that no one else has â€“ can finally set the record straight. The committee has taken a critical first step by adopting its report. Now, it should work to publicly release it and let the facts speak for themselves.â€
As Brigadier General David R. Irvine (Ret.), a former Army strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner of war interrogation, said of the CIA Torture report earlier this week in a conference call, â€œ[It] wonâ€™t be made into a Hollywood movie, but it will be enormously valuable to the next generation of leaders who need to understand at the very highest levels that democracy and torture cannot exist in the same body politic.â€
â€œIt is only by having all the information available that the American public can understand how this failure of U.S. policy occurred and be better positioned to prevent it from happening again,â€ concluded Milazzo.