To Obama: Don't Let the CIA Change the Findings of the Torture Report
President Obama with Director of CIA John Brennan. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has produced and adopted the most comprehensive report on the post-9/11 CIA torture program, based on a review of more than 6 million pages of official records. But the report remains classified. It’s currently with the Obama Administration, whose review of the report has been delayed.
Those who have read the report—including Senator John McCain and Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Senator Dianne Feinstein—say that it shows the CIA torture program was much more widespread and cruel than we thought, and much less effective at gathering actionable intelligence than torture proponents claim.
As the primary agency under review, the CIA has been invited to comment on the report. We must not let the CIA change or censor the key findings. In a joint letter to President Obama, Human Rights First and other groups urge the administration to provide an objective review of the report. “Your administration has a responsibility to ensure that the Executive Branch response to the study is not driven by individuals who might be implicated in the CIA’s use of torture,” the letter states.
Specifically, the joint letter asks the Obama Administration to independently review the study and to appoint a White House official to coordinate a single executive branch response.
Four years after President Obama signed an executive order banning torture, torture proponents are still selling the claim that it saved American lives and led to terrorists like bin Laden. Until we declassify the report, torture proponents will be able to make headway with their arguments despite a growing list of national security leaders who have publicly said that torture risked American lives.
Vice President Joe Biden recently said, “The only way you exorcise the demons is that you acknowledge exactly what happened straightforward.“ We agree. Knowing all the facts about the CIA’s abuse of prisoners is a step toward ensuring that our country never returns to torture.