Shortly after 9/11, the U.S. government made the fateful choice to use torture, which officials called “enhanced interrogation.” As retired four-star Marine generals, we’ve long known that the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” was a frontal assault on American ideals. But much key information about the program has been classified, inhibiting the sort of public reckoning the country needs.
Until now. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has released the executive summary of its report on the CIA torture program. The information in this document is voluminous and detailed, the conclusions unequivocal. The committee found that torture failed as a counterterrorism tool and was even more prevalent and brutal than Americans were led to believe.
The document is both a powerful indictment of the torture program and a victory for congressional oversight. The CIA had many months to vet the report and redact information that was inaccurate or harmful to national security. The released document is a product of months of give-and-take between the committee and the CIA. Senate committee chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who led the effort, calls it “one of the most significant oversight efforts in the history of the United States Senate,” and she’s right.
The committee did its job. Now the rest of us should come together to do ours by making sure that our government never makes the same mistake again.