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December 09, 2014

Senate Releases Landmark Report on CIA Torture Program

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today welcomed release of the executive summary of a landmark Senate intelligence committee report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program. The report is the result of an investigation launched with bipartisan support, and the report itself was both adopted and declassified in separate bipartisan votes in the committee. The report documents a program that was far more brutal and widespread than Americans were led to believe.  The report also reveals that the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” did not produce critical intelligence gains that had previously been claimed and that the CIA systematically misled the administration and Congress about the efficacy of the program. Human Rights First urges Congress and the administration to examine carefully the report’s key findings and take steps to ensure that torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment is never again the official policy of the United States. 

“This is how a strong democracy deals with its mistakes. We look at what we did, however painful that is, and we take the necessary steps to make it right. America is strongest when we keep faith with our ideals and uphold the rule of law. Thanks to the Senate’s report, Americans can now see for themselves how far we fell short of that standard, how little we gained—and how much we lost—because of it," said Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino.

"The test for our democracy now is what we will do with that knowledge. The Obama Administration and Congress should work together to build a durable consensus against torture by pursuing legislation that demonstrates bipartisan unity and fidelity to our ideals. We can’t leave room for loophole lawyering when it comes to what we stand for as a nation,” Massimino added.

The Senate intelligence committee’s 6,000-plus-page study of the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program is one of the most comprehensive and thorough oversight endeavors in congressional history. For months Senate staff and the CIA were engaged in protracted discussions about the extent to which the committee’s report on the post-9/11 CIA torture program should be redacted.

“As a career interrogator, I know that the lawful, humane methods for acquiring intelligence are also the most effective,” said Colonel Steven Kleinman, a former air force interrogator. “Today’s report only reinforces this fact and makes it publicly available to the American people. There is no need to debate this any longer. Now it’s time to chart a new course for the future, one that will not only respect human rights, but will also keep America safe.”

The report’s findings enjoy widespread support from political, national security, and intelligence leaders, including among Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The report was also initiated, adopted, and submitted for declassification on three independent, bipartisan votes. A nonpartisan group of retired generals and admirals who stood with President Obama in the Oval Office as he signed an executive order banning torture have tirelessly advocated for the report’s release.

“Torture violates our laws, principles, and core foreign policy and national security interests,” said Alberto Mora, former general counsel of the Navy. “We will now be defined by the steps we take to ensure that this brutal practice never occurs again."

For more information or to speak with Massimino, Kleinman, or Mora, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319