The Senate Report on CIA Torture and Why We Speak Out

It's been five years since the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence embarked on the most comprehensive review of the CIA's former detention and interrogation program following the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Under the leadership of Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Intelligence Committee meticulously gathered the facts about the program and produced a report that totals more than 6,000 pages and includes 35,000 footnotes. By a bipartisan vote, committee members approved the report in December 2012.

According to Senator Feinstein, "The report uncovers startling details about the CIA detention and interrogation program and raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight."

The next critical step is for the Committee to vote to finally make it public. Releasing this report will send a strong message to the American people that our elected officials are serious about getting the truth behind the tragic descent into illegal, ineffective, immoral, and misguided policies of torture and cruel treatment.

As an advocate for and defender of human rights around the world, the United States should be leading the way in uncovering the truth about its own past use of torture and cruel treatment.

The American people have been kept in the dark far too long about the extent of the torture once perpetrated in our name by the CIA. Full knowledge of these abuses, and official acknowledgement of them, is an essential first step in coming to terms with this dark chapter in our history. Only when all the facts are known can we understand what went wrong and prevent such abuses from happening again in the future.

The U.S. Senate publicly releasing details of the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody is not without precedent. On April 21, 2009, the Senate Committee on Armed Services released a declassified report approved by the committee in November 2008, INQUIRY INTO THE TREATMENT OF DETAINEES IN U.S. CUSTODY, investigating the role of the Department of Defense in abuses.

For years, the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) has repeatedly called for the report to be released with as few redactions as possible. We are joined by other torture survivor rehabilitation programs, human rights organizations, current or former Members of Congress, retired generals and admirals, national security experts, foreign policy experts, former interrogators, religious leaders, and many others who also support releasing the report.

CVT would not be true to our mission if we did not speak out against the use of torture and cruel treatment, including the by the U.S. government.

We speak out on behalf of torture survivors we heal who came to this country seeking safety from persecution in their home countries, and believing that the United States stands for the rule of law and human rights.

We speak out on behalf of our colleagues at other torture survivor rehabilitation programs working in countries that regularly use torture and are at risk simply because they provide rehabilitative care to victims of torture. They look to the United States to use its influence to prevent human rights abuses, especially torture.

We speak out on behalf of restoring our national consensus against torture and undoing the damage the terrible legacy of torture and cruel treatment which continues to trouble us today.

We speak out on behalf of a principled and credible U.S. human rights policy, which is clearly inconsistent with any use of torture. Moreover, military, national security, and intelligence experts have long warned that torture and cruel treatment jeopardize national security and place our courageous servicemen and women in danger.

We speak out on behalf of the need to ensure no future government officials slip back to policies of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

If the United States is to speak with any authority on human rights, our government's action must reflect its rhetoric. That means, in part, that we uphold our legal obligations to fully investigate credible reports of torture committed by our own officials, and make the results public.

For these reasons, CVT, once again, strongly urges the Intelligence Committee to vote in favor of releasing the report as soon as possible.

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