Senate Report Concludes CIA Torture Brutal, Ineffective

December 9, 2014

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the executive summary of its long-anticipated report today, revealing details about the CIA’s brutal post-9/11 torture programs.

The report found that the CIA’s abuse of detainees was far more brutal and widespread than previously known, that CIA officials not only mismanaged the program, but lied to Congress and the public about the extent of the torture, and that the torture program itself was ineffective in producing intelligence.

“This document erases any doubt that CIA officials and contractors built a program of torture that was barbaric at its core,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “It destroys the Hollywood myth that torture is somehow brave and heroic instead of cowardly and immoral.

“The Bush administration’s torture program and the Obama administration’s long battle to keep the truth from coming out are among the most shameful chapters in our nation’s history,” Goitein continued. “But the true test of our nation’s character comes now. Will we make excuses and try to defend the indefensible? Or will we finally acknowledge that our nation crossed a terrible line, and start talking about accountability?”

“This report lays bare the brutality of the tactics used in the name of national security and thoroughly debunks claims that torture kept Americans safe, ” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “It’s time to stop debating whether torture works. It’s time to declare in no uncertain terms that the United States will never again give in to the temptation to use cruelty in a vain effort to obtain information. And to fully embed this commitment in our law and in our public discourse.”

“The release of a small portion of the Senate’s report on abusive CIA interrogations should only be the first step toward full accountability,” said Michael German, fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice. “The public needs to be fully informed and all involved need to be held responsible to ensure our country never embraces a policy of official cruelty again. It is also important to remember that there were those both inside and outside government who opposed the use of torture and cruel treatment from the very beginning on the grounds that it was illegal, immoral, ineffective, and would ultimately do great harm to our troops and our nation’s security. We should honor those who stood against torture when it was most difficult to do so.”

The report is the result of a five-year investigation by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. It was sent to the White House for declassification in April, but was so heavily redacted when the Obama administration sent it back in August that Committee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein refused to release it until certain evidence was brought to light.