Does the Public Have a Right to Know?

W1 Should Senate report be publicHAT DO YOU THINK? The Senate Committee Report on interrogation techniques used by the CIA raises huge questions about our values not only about the methods and whether they were effective and ethical but about generating such a report in the first place and making it public. Many people argue that publishing the report, like the Abu Graib photos of torture, will hurt and embarrass the U.S. and possibly jeopardize security without any offsetting benefit. And many claim that the only motive was political.

Sen. John McCain, who experienced torture, makes a different claim. Which do you agree with? Here’s McCain’s statement on the Senate floor on December 9:

“The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. It sometimes causes us difficulties at home and abroad. It is sometimes used by our enemies in attempts to hurt us. But the American people are entitled to it, nonetheless.

“They must know when the values that define our nation are intentionally disregarded by our security policies, even those policies that are conducted in secret. They must be able to make informed judgments about whether those policies and the personnel who supported them were justified in compromising our values; whether they served a greater good; or whether, as I believe, they stained our national honor, did much harm and little practical good.

“What were the policies? What was their purpose? Did they achieve it? Did they make us safer? Less safe? Or did they make no difference? What did they gain us? What did they cost us?

The American people need the answers to these questions. Yes, some things must be kept from public disclosure to protect clandestine operations, sources and methods, but not the answers to these questions.

“By providing them, the Committee has empowered the American people to come to their own decisions about whether we should have employed such practices in the past and whether we should consider permitting them in the future. This report strengthens self-government and, ultimately, I believe, America’s security and stature in the world.

Comments 2

  1. John McCain’s words are the most powerful I’ve ever heard from him.
    I did not vote for him but this is the most important speech he has given to the Senate, in my opinion. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Folks continue to incorrectly conflate the rights and protections of a US citizen w/ those of enemy combatants intent upon the mass-murder of Americans and other westerners. Their hateful goals are without limit, in contrast to any historical war that comes to mind. We are most certainly within a “new paradigm.”

    Imposing discomfort upon captured terrorists such as sleep deprivation and waterboarding in order to save civilized persons’ lives is a no-brainer. Polls already show a substantial majority of the public DOES NOT CARE about this issue.

    It is true that limits must be put in place. That said, I’ve yet to hear of any permanent mutilation, disfigurement, etc. wrought upon these scumballs to date. We should certainly NOT be in that business, so to speak, but if the cost of saving lives comes down to making captured terrorists quite uncomfortable for a while, I’m all for it. Waterboarding, for example, produces NO permanent effects, nor damage. You can do a search on YouTube for yourself, and you will likely be surprised, as I was, at what a BIG NOTHING it is, in contrast to all the media hysteria over it.

    Food for thought: Torture has not been universally employed throughout all known history because it DOESN’T work, folks. Sorry to be the one to say the awkward thing, but just THINK ABOUT IT.

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