John McCain: Declassify the Torture Report

John McCain just released a very strong statement on the torture report–which is below. Of particular note, he called to declassify the report.

Will McCain’s call to declassify it provide the moral weight–and political cover, for the Administration–to do so?

I commend the members and staff of the Committee who have worked tirelessly over many years to produce the comprehensive study that you meet to discuss today. At a moment when our country is once again debating the efficacy and morality of so-called “enhanced interrogation” practices, this report has the potential to set the record straight once and for all. What I have learned confirms for me what I have always believed and insisted to be true – that the cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners is not only wrong in principle and a stain on our country’s conscience, but also an ineffective and unreliable means of gathering intelligence.

It is my sincerest hope that we Americans, for all of our many disagreements, can nonetheless manage to agree that torture of the kind described in this report is unworthy of our national honor and should no longer be a matter for discussion. It is my hope that we can reach a consensus in this country that we will never again engage in these horrific abuses, and that the mere suggestion of doing so should be ruled out of our political discourse, regardless of which party holds power. It is therefore my hope that this Committee will take whatever steps necessary to finalize and declassify this report, so that all Americans can see the record for themselves, which I believe will finally close this painful chapter for our country.

Our enemies may act without conscience, but we do not. 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.

Those of us who have given our protectors this onerous duty are obliged by our history, and the many terrible sacrifices made on our nation’s behalf, to make clear that we need not risk our country’s honor to prevail – that through the violence and chaos and heartache of war, through deprivation and cruelty and loss, we are always Americans, and different, stronger and better than those who would destroy us.

Update: DiFi has released a statement, along with announcing a 9-6 vote (meaning one Republican–though it could be McCain by proxy–voted for it). She says she’s not going to release it until the Executive Branch gets to review it.

Following the committee’s vote today, I will provide the report to President Obama and key executive branch officials for their review and comment. The report will remain classified and is not being released in whole or in part at this time. The committee will make those decisions after receiving the executive branch comments.

She says this in a statement that suggests this report should settle the debate about torture.

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.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

12 replies
  1. Greg Bean (@GregLBean) says:

    “Our enemies may act without conscience, but we do not.”

    I think McCain forgot thet part that goes, “However, don’t think for a moment that acting with conscience permits you to reveal war crimes and atrocities commited by US Troops. For that, Mr Manning, you will be tortured until we break you.”

  2. What Constitution? says:

    Maybe, just maybe, as the media “reports” on how this congressional investigative report “stirs up debate” about torture, and as the media is already reporting about how a new Hollywood movie may “stir up debate” about torture, that maybe instead of doing the “some say” thing and pretending it’s an “open question”, just maybe some of the media reports might say that those who want to “stir up” that “debate” seem to be overlooking the provisions of the International Convention Against Torture, which Ronald Reagan signed and the US ratified and which is the law and which specifically provides in Article 2 that:

    “2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

    “3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.”

    Mr. McCain isn’t a complete fool. And he has this one right. Could we please have a “debate” that acknowledges what the rules are?

  3. Peterr says:

    Re DiFi’s last comment in the post . . . As long as this report remains classified, it’s not going to settle anything. Even then, PaleoCons will remain unconvinced that torture isn’t the most awesome thing evah.

  4. Jeff Kaye says:

    6 million pages of documents and 6,000 pages of report is a lot of material (numbers quoted from Jason Leopold’s new article today), but that doesn’t mean it would be definitive on torture.

    Remember, they are equating the SERE-derived “enhanced interrogation techniques” program with “torture,” i.e., with their understanding of what torture is. Exposing and denouncing it leaves plenty of room for “torture-lite,” i.e., the KUBARK-derived program of DDD or psychological torture. It relies on isolation, sensory deprivation, debility, and the induction or manipulation of fears. It is the program that still exists today in its kernel-form in the Army Field Manual’s Appendix M.

    They could outlaw the EIT outright, and even Kit Bond fulminate about the evils of waterboarding forever. Cheney could even say, I was wrong about the EITs, and it would not end torture.

    This little, inconvenient fact is, I’m afraid, what those advocating a limited hang-out are counting on.

    Of course, I don’t think they’ll ever declassify this report, and not because there aren’t those who oppose the EIT-style torture, but because the CIA would be thoroughly demoralized by that. (Come to think of it, there may be some DIA or FBI-types who might not mind that.)

  5. joanneleon says:

    How long would it take for the executive branch to review this, and then for a declassified version of it to be prepared? I’m surprised that they did not prepare a declassified version at the same time that the created the original report.

    And how long did it take to create this report altogether (when did they start?) Here is yet another thing that was released after an election. The timing is simply amazing on these things! Afghanistan war report was delayed until after the election. This torture report was released after the election. DHS told federal agents not to arrest Sen. Menendez’s aide until after the election.

    Well, it sounds like the report won’t be released in time for the release of this movie or it’s Oscar ceremony. I do hope that the guild considers the words of these senators who are saying, every which way from Friday, that the conclusion of this classified report is that torture did not lead to finding bin Laden and that they do not even nominate this film. It will still do a lot of damage. Some huge percentage of the country will never know about the torture report and its conclusions.

    One last thing. If this report is classified, how can the senators leak information about its conclusion? Is there already a declassified summary level of information? I’m disappointed that even after the committee voted to declassify and release the report, Sen. Feinstein took it upon herself to hold it and not release it.

  6. joanneleon says:

    Will the declassified version of the report ever be released?

    I disagree with some other commenters who believe it will never be released. I think it will and that our govt. feels it is necessary to be able to point to this as a response to questions about the EU Human Rights court which is profoundly embarassing to the country and hopefully to the current and past administration.

    But a word on accountability: I think this is it — this is their idea of accountablity and justice for the people who ordered, designed and carried out the torture. We’ve already seen the lengths to which they went to prevent any real prosecution.

    I think that this administration and this Senate believes that the statement by McCain is the only punishment that needs be done, the only accountability that needs to be done for the torture. A sternly worded statement by a Senator is a harsh enough punishment for all of the torture freaks, top to bottom, and for all of their enablers and all who participated in the cover up and the stifling of prosecution (save the few token “bad apples” from Abu Ghraib) in this country with two different systems of justice. Hell, that’s the only real accountability dished out to Goldman Sachs for being caught red handed defrauding their customers. Some sternly worded questions and statements from some Senators in some committee meetings. Same goes for the Wall Street execs who crashed the economy. More stern words in a Senate committee meeting. It’s like they’ve formed their own little court system in cooperation with the executive branch. Exec makes sure it never gets prosecuted. Senate committees dish out the sentences. But who knows. Maybe another head or two will be required after this very embarrassing court case in Europe. I doubt it. This report feels like their idea of the end of it all, despite what might be still happening in black sites.

    And now I wonder if Cheney or baby Cheney will push themselves into the national conversation on this again, claiming that the report is wrong.

  7. Jeff Kaye says:

    There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

    ACLU just announced they are pursuing the autopsy reports for Latif, Awad Gul and Inayatullah (Hajii Nassim).

    ACLU singled out the Latif questions. I, of course, am glad because this precisely what Marcy, Jason Leopold, and I have been pursuing for some time, so it’s good to have one of the human rights groups jump more vigorously onboard.

    Information leaked about Latif’s autopsy report suggests that the government has ruled his death a suicide. But this conflicts with several previous statements by U.S. and Yemeni officials (Latif was a Yemeni citizen) stating that the U.S. government had seemed to rule out suicide and that there was no sign of self-harm on Latif’s body. Reports have also surfaced that Latif may have been given an injection for “chemical restraint” mere days before he died. The Yemeni government, despite having been provided a copy of the report, has also failed to disclose it, and the circumstances surrounding Latif’s death remain murky. [see links in this passage in the original]

    We and other organizations have long called for more thorough and transparent government investigations into detainee treatment and deaths in U.S. custody.

  8. eh says:

    How long would it take for the executive branch to review this

    I’m guessing about four years and four weeks.

  9. PeasantParty says:

    What? Caligula review torture? OMG!

    He hasn’t changed one tiny item of their program since he took office. In fact, he has helped to spread the use to military and domestic agencies.

    Go, Marcy! So very thankful that you have the guts to report on these issues like you do.

  10. DonS says:

    What’s needed is the equivalent of a Daniel Ellsberg to get this report out into the public. With electronic media what it is, should be a lot easier, I would think. Of course the NYT wouldn’t be a conduit without allowing the govt to edit it anyway.

    Of course with DiFi running interference, really squelching any thought of release, is there any question that the fix is and has been in with Obama from day one?

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