By Gen. David Irvine, Ambassador James R. Jones, Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and Judge William S. Sessions
Shortly after the Abu Ghraib photographs became public, Secretary of State Colin Powell described telling foreign audiences, “Watch America. Watch how we deal with this. Watch how America will do the right thing. Watch what a nation of values and character, a nation that believes in justice, does to right this kind of wrong.”
Powell assured them that “they will see a free press and an independent Congress at work,” that there would be “multiple investigations to get to the facts,” and that “the world will see that we are still a nation with a moral code that defines our national character.”
Nine years later, these promises remain largely unfulfilled with respect to the CIA’s torture and abuse of “war on terror” detainees. But the Senate Intelligence Committee has before it the opportunity to take a significant step towards changing that. A year ago this month, under the leadership of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), members voted along bipartisan lines to adopt a 6,300 page oversight study of the CIA’s post 9/11 rendition, detention and interrogation program. That was an important moment. We urge the committee now to follow through by taking the next critical step: declassify and release the report.
We were members of the Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment, an 11-member bipartisan panel that spent two years examining the treatment of suspected terrorists under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. The task force was made up of former high-ranking officials with distinguished careers in the judiciary, Congress, the diplomatic service, law enforcement, the military and other parts of the executive branch, as well as recognized experts in law, medicine and ethics.