08.24.09

Comment On The Release Of The CIA IG Report On Detainee Interrogations

The claims of former Vice President Cheney and other Bush administration officials that the authorization of harsh interrogation techniques was legal and effective has been repeatedly disputed and disproven by experts in interrogation, law, the military and diplomacy.  Now the CIA’s own Inspector General during the Bush administration has rejected the claim.  The CIA Inspector General’s 2004 report released today provides clear evidence that interrogators overstepped the already loose legal boundaries they were given by the Bush administration through flawed Office of Legal Counsel memos that excused the use of coercive interrogation techniques.    
 
This report provides conclusive evidence of the concerns that I have long held about how this program was used, and it is why I fought for access to this and similar documents for years.  I support President Obama’s decision to prohibit the use of such tactics.  The conduct that is documented in this report illustrates the perils of the dark road of excusing torture down which the Bush administration took this nation.  I also believe it underscores why we need to move forward with a Commission of Inquiry, a nonpartisan review of exactly what happened in these areas, so that we can find out what happened and why.  Who justified these policies?  What was the role of the Bush White House?  How can we make sure it never happens again?  Information coming out in dribs and drabs will never paint the full picture.

The Office of Professional Responsibility has recommended reopening prisoner abuse cases closed by the Bush administration.  Attorney General Holder has already demonstrated the independence that was lacking in the Justice Department during the last administration.  I am confident he will continue to work to restore American confidence in the nation’s top law enforcement agency.

The inadequate legal justifications offered by earlier officials of our own Justice Department for these interrogation practices showed a disregard for our laws and values.  Now we see through the nonpartisan review conducted by the CIA’s Inspector General that even the permissive legal restrictions that those flawed memos allowed were disregarded when the techniques were actually applied, and that torturing detainees in U.S. custody did not make us safer.

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