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June 26, 2013

Congress, Administration Should Release CIA Torture Report to Prevent Future Abuses

Washington, D.C. – Today, as it marks International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Human Rights First calls for the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s (SSCI) report on the post-9/11 CIA interrogation and detention program as an important step towards reestablishing U.S. leadership in the global struggle to eradicate torture.

“If the United States is going to lead in the global struggle against torture, it needs to get its own house in order,” said Human Rights First’s Raha Wala.  “Releasing the intelligence committee’s report would send a clear message that torture and abuse have no place in U.S. intelligence operations.”

In December 2012, the Senate intelligence committee, chaired by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), in a bipartisan vote, adopted its 6,000 plus page report on the former CIA detention and torture program.  The report’s release would formally set the record straight on claims that torture played a significant role in gaining actionable intelligence, such as the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, an assertion that Feinstein has denied. Human Rights First notes that releasing the report to the public would be an important step forward in ensuring that past policies and practices of torture and official cruelty in U.S. intelligence operations are not be repeated.

“Senator Feinstein should work with the Obama Administration to declassify and make public the report in order to ensure that there is no gray area when it comes to what torture has cost this nation,” added Wala.

Human Rights First urges President Obama to make good on his commitment to transparency, a pledge he reiterated in last month’s address at the National Defense University, by cooperating with the Senate intelligence committee to allow public release of the CIA torture report. In a recent letter to President Obama, twenty-eight of the nation’s most respected retired military leaders, wrote, “Until the SSCI study is made public, those who argue that torture was necessary and instrumental in the fight against terrorism and the elimination of Osama bin Laden will continue to find adherents.”

“We must come to grips with what happened and what went wrong before we can truly say that we are committed to never repeating this shameful chapter in our nation’s history,” concluded Wala. “Americans deserve answers and this report is the only document that can provide them.”