Washington, D.C. – Thirty-one of the nation’s most respected retired admirals and generals sent a letter today to members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence urging them to vote to declassify and make public the committee’s report on post-9/11 CIA torture tactics.
“As retired flag officers of the United States Armed Forces, we believe that our nation is on its strongest footing when our defense and security policies adhere to our values and obligations under domestic and international law,” stated the generals and admirals in their letter. “To promote congressional oversight, public transparency, and effective and lawful policy choices on this critical national security issue, we urge you to vote in favor of declassifying and releasing the SSCI’s study on the post-9/11 CIA rendition, detention, and interrogation program.”
The letter comes as speculation about an impending vote grows and as the retired generals and admirals renew their public push for the report’s release, an effort that has also included paid advertisements in the Portland Press Herald, Bangor Daily News, and Politico.
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. Senate intelligence committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has denied that torture or other abusive interrogation techniques played any such role.
“The SSCI study, based on a review of over 6 million pages of official documents, is the most comprehensive analysis of the classified record, and is therefore well-positioned to shed light on these claims and other key aspects of the post-9/11 CIA interrogation program that have not yet faced public scrutiny,” wrote the generals and admirals.
The letter’s signatories are part of a larger group of retired generals and admirals who speak out against torture and work to ensure that U.S. policy reflects a single standard of prisoner treatment consistent with the Geneva Conventions. The group worked closely with Senator McCain in 2005 to pass the Detainee Treatment Act which banned torture and limited lawful interrogation to techniques listed in the Army Field Manual. In 2008, they shared their insights with eight presidential candidates from both parties that torture does immense harm to the reputation of the United States and undermines efforts to combat terrorism.