The release of the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture methods confirms that former President George W. Bush sacrificed our country's values and demeaned our most cherished principles of justice, and for what? Ineffective torture that did more harm than good.
Instead of helping keep America safe, torture hurt the fight to stop terrorist plots, according to the report. Authorities were repeatedly sent on wild goose chases when false confessions yielded bad intel and phony information.
As reported by USA Today:
"The use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and chaining prisoners in cold dungeons led some detainees to give false confessions, sending U.S. law enforcement officials in the wrong direction as they chased bad information, the report says. One detainee interrogated by the CIA falsely confessed to trying to recruit African-American Muslims in Montana — a state where blacks make up less than 1% of the population. The report also refutes claims by the CIA that its harsh 'enhanced interrogation techniques' helped gain information that lad to the U.S. capture and killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. That information was actually elicited before the detainees were subjected to those methods, the report said."
Five years in the making, the Intelligence Committee report draws on more than 6 million pages of CIA documents. As expected, the declassified summary of the report condemns the methods used by the CIA to torture and imprison terrorism suspects under the Bush Administration, while concluding the information gained by torture didn't help stop terror plots. According to The New York Times:
"During his administration, President George W. Bush repeatedly said that the detention and interrogation program, which President Obama dismantled when he succeeded him, was humane and legal. The intelligence gleaned during interrogations, he said, was instrumental both in thwarting terrorism plots and in capturing senior figures of Al Qaeda. The Intelligence Committee’s report tries to refute each of these claims, using the C.I.A.'s internal records to present 20 case studies that bolster its conclusion that the most extreme interrogation methods played no role in disrupting terrorism plots, capturing terrorist leaders — even finding Bin Laden."
Top Republicans claimed the report's release by the still-Democratic-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee was "unconscionable," in the words of Florida's GOP Sen. Marco Rubio. But the only thing unconscionable about releasing the CIA torture report is the torture it reveals. On this issue, even former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was forced to stand up for the truth, owing to his history as a former POW and victim of torture at the hands of his captors during the Vietnam War. "The American people have a right - indeed the responsibility - to know what was done in their name," said McCain.
The real travesty is that by torturing terrorism suspects, the Bush Administration needlessly violated what America stands for in exchange for useless, unreliable information. For years, Bush apologists have insisted the "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized by George W. Bush's appointees were not torture, ignoring the verdicts of independent watchdog groups like Human Rights Watch and meticulous documentation by investigative journalists. Now there can be no doubt it was torture all along.