Accountability & transparency
The Senate Intelligence Committee approved on Dec. 13, after three and a half years of research, its “Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation.” But “We The People” can't read it yet. It's still classified.
More than 6,000 pages long, purportedly with details of how each CIA “detainee” was interrogated and the information they provided, it now goes to the White House and the executive branch for review and comment.
We already do have, however, a stingingly chilling glimpse of the report by the chair of the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on the day it was issued, shrouded in secrecy aside from her comments.
“I strongly believe that the creation of long-term, clandestine ‘black sites' (CIA secret prisons around the world after 9/11) and the use of so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques' (the plain word, senator, is torture) were terrible mistakes. The majority of the committee agrees.”
President Obama insists that he ended U.S. torture and renditions soon after taking office, but he has continued renditions that remain classified. We don't know who gets sent where and for what purpose. No wonder our re-elected commander-in-chief always insists on “looking forward” rather than back and insisting on investigating what a number of American constitutional lawyers and reporters, including this one, have documented as war crimes under international treaties we have signed and our own anti-torture laws.
I admire the emphasis with which Feinstein speaks in her additional statements about the report uncovering “startling details about the CIA detention and interrogation programs” and that it “raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight” (all of which Obama has ignored). I have no confidence in her rosy prediction of its great benefit to U.S. citizens and the world.
One Republican senator intensely interested in the Intelligence Committee report is John McCain, R-Ariz., who was continually tortured while a prisoner in North Vietnam.
In a letter to fellow members of the committee, McCain emphasized why the Senate report must be made public:
“At a moment when our country is once again debating the efficacy and morality of so-called ‘enhanced interrogation practices,' this report has the potential to set the record straight once and for all. What I have learned confirms for me ... that the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners is not only wrong in principle and a stain on our country's conscience, but also an ineffective and unreliable means of gathering evidence.”
He continues: “Our enemies may act without conscience, but we do not. It is indispensable to our success in this war that those we ask to fight it know that in the discharge of their dangerous responsibilities to our country, they are never expected to forget that they are Americans ... .”
As one of many examples of how the CIA renditions — which involve snatching terrorism suspects off foreign streets — have involved other nations, consider a Dec. 13 story from the New York Times: “A German who was mistaken for a terrorist and abducted nine years ago won a measure of redress when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that his rights had been violated and confirmed his account that he had been seized by the CIA, brutalized and detained for months in Afghanistan.”
Nat Hentoff is an authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. He is a member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Rutherford falling apart, too
- Missing Sewickley teen found safe
- Marathoner hit by vehicle in Murrysville recuperates
- Steelers veteran cornerback Ike Taylor announces retirement
- Butler County new home sales surge in 2014
- Mt. Pleasant Township home destroyed by fire
- 4 seek 3 nominations for Southwest Greensburg council
- Sanchez odd man out with Pirates recalling Stewart
- LaBar: WWE bans finishing move of top star
- Heroin overdoses kill two in Pittsburgh area; others revived with Narcan
- Mt. Lebanon police checking lead on Tenn. teen arrested in school threats