“The United States does not torture.” These are the words of a former president — words we now painfully know are not true. The Senate expressed its concern by undertaking an investigation into the growing number of media stories exposing the use of torture by the United States. After three years, on Dec. 13, 2012, the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by California’s own Sen. Dianne Feinstein, adopted its more than 6,000-page report. It has not yet been released to the public, however. It should be.
First portrayed as the crimes of a few “bad apples,” we have since have learned that the use of torture has been part of a systematic strategy in our war against terrorism. The justification? That it produces necessary information to combat terrorism. Unfortunately, popular TV shows like “24” and films like “Zero Dark Thirty,” which are fictional stories based only in part on historical events, reinforce much of that justification.
However, CIA and FBI experts have stated repeatedly that torture is not an effective technique for producing reliable information. Sen. John McCain, who has seen the Senate’s report, said, “It was not torture, or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees that got us the major leads that ultimately enabled our intelligence community to find Osama bin Laden.”
Rather than helping us attain good information to combat terrorism, our use of torture seems to have had the opposite effect of stirring more hatred of the United States.