Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today praises Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) speech on the Senate floor in which she addressed the need for a strong oversight mechanism in Congress and noted the importance of the Senate intelligence committee’s report on the post-9/11 CIA torture program. Sen. Feinstein, chair of the intelligence committee, responded to recent allegations that the CIA spied on computers provided to committee staff investigating the agency’s program. Human Rights First applauds Sen. Feinstein’s decision to move forward with a vote to declassify the report and welcomes the White House’s support for its release.
Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino noted, “The American people deserve to know the truth about the CIA torture program. This important report was adopted by the committee in a bipartisan vote, and we applaud Senator Feinstein’s tenacity in ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to read it. The CIA will be a stronger and more effective institution as a result. We fully support the committee and the White House in their effort to set the record straight on this dark chapter of our history. A healthy democracy examines its past and learns from it. As Americans, we must fully understand what was done in our names. That is the only way to ensure that, when we are tested again, we remain true to our ideals.”
The study is the culmination of an oversight effort that the Senate intelligence committee began five years ago. Lack of cooperation from the CIA and White House has complicated efforts to finalize and release the study, which cost taxpayers $40 million.
The 6,000-plus page report on the former CIA detention and torture program was adopted by a bipartisan vote of 9-6 in December 2012. The report’s public release promises to 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. Sen. Feinstein has denied that torture or other abusive interrogation techniques played any such role.
“When the Senate report is released, America will very likely discover that torture and enhanced interrogation techniques did little to keep us safe and in fact were counterproductive and put deployed forces at risk,” said Major General Michael Lehnert (ret.), the first commander at Guantanamo Bay. “Moreover, if the report reveals that torture was used, the practice is anathema to all of the values we claim as Americans. Our citizens deserve to know what was done in our names and what—if anything—was gained from it. Release of the report is a national security imperative. I welcome Senator Feinstein’s commitment to telling the American people the truth.”