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Shedding Light on the Dark Side – A Call to Congress to Release the SSCI Report

Amshula Jayaram,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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December 18, 2012

Last week, nearly four years after President Obama closed the CIA’s Detention, Interrogation and Rendition Program, the American public is one step closer to learning the truth about a program that sanctioned the torture of terrorism suspects. To date, it has remained shrouded in secrecy, tarnishing our international reputation and severely damaging our nation’s security. Under the leadership of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has voted to adopt a 6000-plus page report, based on an analysis of more than six million pages of CIA records, detailing the findings of the committee’s three-year investigation into the program. We urge the committee to publicly release the document with as few redactions as possible.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has fiercely criticized the torture tactics of the Bush administration, released a statement expressing his hopes for adoption and declassification of the report, calling the “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners” a “stain on our country’s conscience.” Feinstein stated, “I believe this report will settle the debate once and for all over whether our nation should ever employ coercive interrogation techniques such as those detailed in this report.”

The next step, of course, is for the commission to release the report and allow the American public to decide for themselves, based on a full understanding of the facts. As Obama stated in a White House Memorandum, “a democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency,” adding in simple but powerful terms that, “in the face of doubt, openness prevails.”

These are not just abstract terms for philosophers; they are the foundations of a healthy democracy. The demand for a public release of the committee’s findings has nothing to do with a desire for retribution or an obsession with the past, but it has absolutely everything to do with making sure that the use of torture has no place in our future.

More than a decade after the tragic events of 9/11 the stain of torture remains; a signal to the rest of the world of how far we departed from our commitment to human rights and the rule of law. An honest reckoning is the first step to repairing some of that damage and restoring our commitment to these long-standing principles. Having access to a comprehensive reporting of the facts – rather than relying on competing claims from both sides of the debate – will enable us to determine not only what was done in our name, but how we can ensure it never happens again.

See the press release here.

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