Reaction to the Senate’s CIA torture report

The Wisconsin Gazette

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Dec. 9 released a report on the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques at secret overseas facilities after the terror attack of Sept. 11, 2001.

A 600-page summary from the 6,000-page report has been declassified after months of disputes between the committee and the CIA over redactions. The summary concludes that the CIA repeatedly tortured detainees, including using the simulated drowning technique called “waterboarding.” The report also concludes that the information gathered using torture produced no security benefits and accuses the CIA of repeatedly lying to Congress, the White House and the American public.

The reaction:

“These techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners.” — President Barack Obama.

“This nation should never again engage in these tactics … The CIA program was far more brutal than people were led to believe.” — Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“This is a shocking report, and it is impossible to read it without feeling immense outrage that our government engaged in these terrible crimes. This report definitively drags into the light the horrific details of illegal torture, details that both the Bush and Obama administrations have worked hard to sweep under the rug. The government officials who authorized illegal activity need to be held accountable. The administration’s current position – doing absolutely nothing – is tantamount to issuing tacit pardons. Tacit pardons are worse than formal ones because they undermine the rule of law. The CIA’s wrongful acts violated basic human rights, served as a huge recruiting tool for our enemies, and alienated allies world-wide. Our response to the damning evidence in this report will define us as a nation.” — ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero.

“This disturbing report clearly demonstrates the need for those who approved of and carried out this campaign of torture to be held accountable for their actions. It also shows that strong legal and policy measures need to be enacted in order to prevent such illegal actions being taken during any future security crisis.” — the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.

“A great nation must be prepared to acknowledge its errors. This report details an ugly chapter in American history during which our leaders and the intelligence community dishonored our nation’s proud traditions. Of course we must aggressively pursue international terrorists who would do us harm, but we must do so in a way that is consistent with the basic respect for human rights which makes us proud to be Americans.” — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.

“This is a good start, but it is far from the whole picture. …We are still a long way from acknowledging the horrors of the CIA’s torture program, and achieving real accountability.” — Clare Algar, executive director at international human rights NGO Reprieve.

“When I was 12 years old, I was bundled onto a dark plane, separated from my parents, and told to keep my two younger brothers and younger sister quiet and calm. They were 11, nine and six years old. All we could hear was our mother crying, saying that we were being taken back to Libya to be executed by Colonel Gaddafi. When we landed, I was told to go and say goodbye to my father, who was bound up and had a needle in his arm. I fainted, because I was sure we were going to be killed. We now have the actual faxes and flight plans that prove that the CIA arranged the whole thing. That is what the rendition program involved, however hard the politicians try to black out the truth from their report.” — Khadija al Saadi, a victim of a CIA-MI6 rendition to Libya in 2004 when she was 12.