Call us simple minded. But we fail to see the rationale behind the government’s delaying and denying tactics when it comes to the so-called torture report released Dec. 9 by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
One supposes that in Washington’s highly-politicized atmosphere, the CIA would have preferred to wait until California’s Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, gave up her committee chair in the new Congress so that a new Republican chair might have been persuaded to sit on the report for years.
But this report and its explosive conclusions about the cost, unclear effectiveness and lack of accountability for heinous acts was bound to see the light of day. We’d note that the release had the support of Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who was tortured by the North Vietnamese after his plane was shot down over Vietnam.
With more than a decade to reflect on what the country did in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, it was high time that the truth about torture and torture-like tactics see the light of day.
War is not a pretty thing. To read the descriptions of rectal force-feeding, spending $81 million on psychologists with no apparent public benefit and other outrages is sickening and revealing about the desperate times the nation faced in the aftermath of September 11.
“The CIA deployed officers who had history of personal, ethical and professional problems of a serious nature. These include histories of violence and abusive treatment of others, and should have called into question their employment with the United States government,” Feinstein said on the Senate floor in discussing the release of the report.
When enemies are not sovereign nations and where covert activities are the norm, there is a need for intelligence gathering. And the world is clearly a dangerous place.
But running a covert agency does not come with a blank check. Moreover, one of the few things that separates our democracy from the totalitarian governments of Iran, Russia and even China, is the ability of our elected officials and the press to investigate the government and bring bad behavior to light.
To those who suggest the torture report has opened a flood of potential litigation and legal liability, we offer little sympathy. America has the best lawyers in the world, and we’re sure the CIA will find competent lawyers to defend its employees, former employees and contractors.
Meanwhile, as to the wrongful detentions, wasted millions and lies told by the government to justify secret spending, at least now the American people have some idea of what the government did or didn’t do in the name of national security.