By Jess Ballance
Five years ago, the Senate intelligence committee launched what Sen. Dianne Feinstein, committee chair, has since called one of the most important oversight efforts in the history of the United States Senate: a comprehensive inquiry into the CIA’s use of torture and other abusive interrogation methods after 9/11. For years now the report has remained classified, hidden from the American public, while proponents of torture have gone on a PR crusade to bolster their position that torture saved American lives. Finally, this week, the Senate intelligence committee will hold a vote to declassify the report.
Last week, Human Rights First hosted a media briefing conference call to discuss recent developments in the Senate’s report, as well as the importance of public release of the study. The call served as an opportunity to discuss this important issue with three experts, Alberto Mora, former Navy general counsel, Col. Steve Kleinman, former senior intelligence officer with the U.S. Air Force, and Raha Wala, senior counsel for Defense and Intelligence at Human Rights First. For a full transcript of their comments, see here.
Although the controversy between Sen. Feinstein and CIA Director Brennan brings to light the important issue of the intelligence committee’s oversight authority, Mora stressed that the real scandal is our government’s embrace of torture and cruelty, and the acts that were taken under our name. Said Steve Kleinman, “If you think about the approach we’ve taken to interrogation policy post-9/11, it defies logic at a profound level.” These two experts, who have deep knowledge and experience in human intelligence and interrogation, adamantly call for the declassification of the torture report in order for the U.S. to show its willingness to identify and correct grave errors in both judgment and action and to show our courage to do what is right.
In a recent Miami Herald opinion piece, Alberto Mora again stressed the need for declassification of the torture report. In the opinion piece, Mora wrote:
Americans are less safe as a result of our government’s embrace of cruelty. Every military officer I have spoken with on this issue — including dozens of Service Chiefs and other four-star generals and admirals — describes the authorization of cruel interrogations as contemptible and contrary to U.S. security interests. The reason is obvious. It compromised key alliances and undermined our ability to sharply distinguish ourselves from our adversaries, who use our actions to gain members and sympathizers.
Human Rights First has been at the forefront of pushing for the release of the torture report with as few redactions as possible. With pressure mounting over the past few weeks, more supporters have come out to support declassification. The vote to declassify the Senate torture report has been scheduled for Thursday, April 3.