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.

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