For Immediate Release: January 4, 2013
Washington, DC – Human Rights First calls on President Obama and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Acting Director Mike Morell to work with the Senate intelligence committee (SSCI) to declassify and publish with as few redactions as possible the SSCI study on CIA interrogation and detention to inform the public debate about torture. The call comes just one day after Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) raised the ante on the torture debate, making public a letter sent to Acting Director Morell to provide any evidence that torture produced actionable intelligence that lead to the bin Laden operation.
“It is essential that there be no gray area when it comes to what torture has cost this nation,” said Human Rights First’s Dixon Osburn. “Telling the American people the truth about torture isn’t a task that should be left up to speculative reporting, Hollywood filmmakers, or publishing houses. It should be based on the facts. Thankfully, that report already exists. Now it should be made public.”
Acting Director Morell, who is considered a possible nominee to replace David Petraeus as CIA Director, recently said in a letter sent to CIA employees in response to the film Zero Dark Thirty that the CIA procured actionable intelligence from “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a euphemism for torture, or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Earlier in December, in a bipartisan vote, the Senate intelligence committee voted to adopt a 6,000 page study on CIA interrogation and detention that finds that torture did not lead to bin Laden and was counterproductive. The study has been sent to President Obama and the CIA for comments, which are due back to the committee by February 15, 2013. At that point, the committee will determine whether to make edits or vote to declassify the study.
Osburn concluded, “Retired generals, admirals and interrogators oppose torture. It puts our troops in harm’s way, gives our enemy the most powerful tool to recruit; it’s illegal, immoral and unreliable. Yet, popular culture has far too often given Americans the false impression that torture is essential. The President, Congress, and CIA should settle the debate once for all and make public the Senate intelligence committee’s study. So long as the U.S. torture program remains a secret, there will be those who claim that torture works, when it does not.”