The Central Intelligence Agency has faced strong scrutiny from the Senate in the wake of newly declassified reports and revelations of Bush-era “enhanced interrogation” techniques. (Photo courtesy of thetimes.co.uk)
The Senate intelligence committees recently voted on an extremely controversial decision to declassify a CIA torture report. The American public will not access the entire report, as the CIA (alongside other agencies) will most likely conduct the release, which includes a summary and conclusion. This move has been one that the American government has been delaying, and one that human rights groups have been yearning for. The process will most likely become extremely strenuous and long, and may not lead to any incriminating evidence. But is it an important step? Absolutely.
Despite the fact that the CIA and former President George W. Bush considered “enhanced interrogation” techniques as necessary to legal procedures, the rest of the world did not approve their minority view. To the dismay of American allies and the rest of the world, brutal interrogations and various forms of torture have long been hidden in the dark, mysterious time that characterized American intelligence (particularly post-9/11).
The cold, harsh truth behind the George W. Bush’s administration’s “alternative set of procedures” is not only horrifying but also unlawful. The American army and the CIA, have committee multiple human rights violations: from hypothermia used in secret prisons and waterboarding in black sites, to the Guantanamo Bay camps, to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse. Despite multiple international efforts, ranging from a 2006 UN Committee against Torture report to a Human Rights First press release, the facts of these abuses seem ignored or simply disregarded by many.
Many government officials have spoken about this behavior that sparked a massive international debate on human right and torture years ago. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi quickly linked the abuses towards the leading government at the time. Senator Dianne Feinstein from California denied the common excuse justifying these actions by announcing they were crucial to important operations and interests.
Some have spoken out, such as Republican Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, identifying a need for the American nation to move on from a chapter that “should’ve have already been closed”. But the votes have been cast, and the results, albeit troubling, are necessary for the country’s future and depiction of justice. One thing is sure: this chapter in the history of our country, the ever-powerful hyperpower, is far from being closed. In fact, if accountability and transparency are finally to emerge in light of recent events, it is perhaps just beginning.