Of all the legacies left hanging at the conclusion of the Bush administration, perhaps none is more fraught and politically explosive, at home and especially abroad, as the use of torture techniques by the United States. It's not exactly a secret these days — President Obama admitted it himself, albeit in deeply tone-deaf fashion, and now an exhaustive Senate report on the CIA's use of torture should soon be made public. But the GOP doesn't want the CIA torture report released, or at least some members don't — Republican Rep. Mike Rogers is warning that its release could trigger anti-American violence across the world.
Whether or not Rogers is right about this, and it seems sensible enough that he could be — some extreme actions taken by the American military and intelligence agencies in the post-9/11 era have inspired a palpable amount of hostility, such as the Abu Ghraib prison scandal which emerged in 2003. But that accepted, it's fair to ask whether the ideal vision of American as a land that rebukes torture going forward is even possible without deliberately confronting such a dire violation of principles.
And, for that matter, whether anti-American sentiment in this regard could get much more inflamed than it already has been. It's not as though the U.S. use of torture methods like waterboarding — which some proponents have euphemistically and ahistorically dubbed "enhanced interrogation" — is an unknown around the world anymore, after all.
Regardless, GOP Rep. Mike Rogers doesn't agree with this line of pro-transparency thinking. With the country's use of torture already publicly disclosed by no less than the president himself, and citing those security concerns, Rogers wants to halt the report's public release.
I think this is a terrible idea. Our foreign partners are telling us this will cause violence and deaths...Foreign leaders have approached the government and said, 'You do this, this will cause violence and deaths.' Our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause violence and deaths.
According to CBS News, Rogers is correct on that second point. An anonymous intelligence official confirmed that CBS that Congress had been briefed on the risk "of the heightened potential that the release could stimulate a violent response — though, it must be said, the Bush "War on Terror" years provided nothing if not a critique of the predictive capabilities of anonymous intelligence sources.
However, it's not a purely partisan affair. Former Democratic Senator and Secretary of State John Kerry is also calling for Senator DIane Feinstein, who is in charge of the report, to delay the release. After over five years in the works, however, Feinstein has voiced determined to get the findings out, to the Los Angeles Times, to whatever extent possible — what's on the table right now is merely a 480-page summary of the findings, while the full report clocks in at over 6,000.
The problem with Kerry's request, and a possible explanation for Feinstein's urgency lies in the timing of all this. Any delay could prove costly to any effort to get this information out in the open, however — come January, we'll have a new Republican-controlled Congress, which figures to be reluctant to delve into these kinds of past misdeeds.
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