Today, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) released a statement in honor of Sunshine Week—a national initiative promoting open government and access to information. While our government is more open than many, there is much room for improvement. Senator Leahy focused on the serious lack of transparency and accountability on a topic that will haunt our nation for years: torture.
Under the leadership of Dianne Feinstein, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was trying to clear away the shroud of secrecy when it released the “torture report,”—the executive summary, findings, and conclusions of the report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program. The report shed light on the CIA’s horrific treatment of detainees and prompted discussion on how to ensure that torture never again becomes official U.S. policy.
Senator Leahy says, “The importance of the public release of the torture report’s executive summary cannot be overstated. It was one of the most important oversight achievements of this body.”
However, almost immediately after the release, there was an aggressive effort by the report’s opponents to discredit, and ultimately, to bury it.
Several government agencies have not even read their copies of the full, classified report. Refusing to read this report sends the message that the U.S. government has no interest in addressing the errors of its past—and therefore no interest in ensuring they never happen again.
The Senate will soon have a chance to show where they stand. Senator Feinstein will introduce a bill that would solidify the legal ban on torture. Let’s hope that a strong majority of Senators follow the lead of Senators Feinstein and Leahy and help them ensure that the country never tortures again.