The Swarm

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December 13, 2012
Torture report approved, but public may never see it
The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 9-6 along party lines today to approve an exhaustive report on the CIA's interrogations of terrorism suspects.

But there's no telling how many of the 6,000-plus pages the public will ever get to see.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and the committee's chairwoman, promoted the document as one of the most sweeping oversight efforts ever by the U.S. Senate, if not the last word on torture during the war on terror.

"The report uncovers startling details about the CIA detention and interrogation program and raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight," she said in a statement.  

She said the report, which includes 20 findings and conclusions, is being sent to President Barack Obama and his national security team for their review. Only after they comment will the committee decide how much of the report can be declassified and whether to release any of it to the public.

Republicans boycotted the report, based on more than 6 million pages of CIA documents and other records, in part because they believed that review by intelligence agencies should have happened before it was approved.

One notable exception is GOP Sen. John McCain, who is joining some retired military officers and human rights groups in calling for the report's release. "It is indispensable to our success in this war that those we ask to fight it know that, in the discharge of their dangerous responsibilities to our country, they are never expected to forget that they are Americans, and the valiant defenders of a sacred idea of how nations should be governed and conduct their relations with others -- even our enemies," he said in a statement.

As I wrote about in an Editorial Notebook today, this whole topic has come to the fore again because of an award-winning movie that is about to come out on the hunt for Osama bin Laden. "Zero Dark Thirty" has left those who have seen it with the distinct impression that water boarding led to essential information to find the al-Qaida leader, who was killed at his Pakistan hideout in May 2011.

Feinstein says there is no evidence that torture helped lead to bin Laden.

"I also believe this report will settle the debate once and for all over whether our nation should ever employ coercive interrogation techniques such as those detailed in this report," she said in her statement today.

"I strongly believe that the creation of long-term, clandestine 'black sites' and the use of so-called 'enhanced-interrogation techniques' were terrible mistakes."

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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