The Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI) welcomes the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s publication today of the executive summary of a study of the detention and interrogation program carried out by the CIA from 2001- 2009.
JBI has long called for the public release of the Committee’s study, in keeping with its commitment to ensuring that counterterrorism measures are effective and consistent with human rights and civil liberties. In May 2013, for example, JBI called for the declassification and prompt release of the entire 6,700-page report.
JBI deeply regrets the report’s findings. In particular, the report finds that the CIA brutally interrogated and held detainees in extremely harsh conditions of confinement that were “far worse than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.” It finds inaccurate the CIA’s repeated claims that these brutal interrogation techniques were necessary to acquire “otherwise unavailable” actionable intelligence that “saved lives.”
We welcome President Obama’s statement in response to the release of the report that the practices it documents “were not only inconsistent with our values as a nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests” and “did significant damage to America’s standing in the world.” We welcome his pledge to “make sure we never resort to those methods again.”
We also appreciate the personal conclusion reached by Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein in the foreword to the report released today, echoed on the Senate floor by Senator John McCain, that some of these brutal interrogation methods documented in the report amounted to torture. JBI has repeatedly expressed unequivocal opposition to the use of torture by interrogators representing our nation. We have also called on the United States to fully comply with its international human rights obligations under the UN Convention against Torture and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In November and March 2014, respectively, the independent expert committees that oversee the implementation of these two treaties evaluated the record of the United States. Both committees called for the publication of the Senate committee report and for the United States to ensure that abuses revealed in the reports are effectively investigated.
JBI called on members of the Senate and the Executive Branch to take steps in response to these troubling findings in order to ensure that the United States never again violates its domestic and international obligations to prevent and prohibit torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Said JBI Director Felice Gaer, “I commend the release of this report as well as the statements made today by Senators Feinstein and McCain affirming the need for steps to be taken to ensure that its appalling findings – that the US government failed to prevent the use of torture by those acting in its name, as well as to detect and eliminate it promptly – will spur meaningful reforms to ensure that such actions are never again taken.”