It appears that the big news story of the week will be the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings in its investigation into the CIA interrogation (i.e. torture) program that lasted through most of the Bush administration. The executive summary (it only runs to 528 pages!) contains 20 key findings which can mostly be summarized as: the program involved immoral and almost certainly illegal interrogation techniques that can be legitimately described as torture; the CIA avoided proper oversight from Congress, agencies within the Executive Branch, and even internal dissent; and the program wasn’t even effective at gaining useful intelligence or protecting the US and its interests. These are pretty damning conclusions. You can find the executive summary (the full report hasn’t been declassified at this time), and some responses/rebuttals here. The story dominated Tuesday’s news cycle and the opinion pages of many newspapers (at the time of writing this, Wednesday’s papers aren’t out yet).
Obviously, at least some of this has been known for years, but having the imprimatur of a Senate committee adds a great deal of legitimacy to criticisms of the CIA and the various programs put in place after the 9/11 terror attacks. Already some are decrying the report as a partisan attack on the CIA or are questioning why it’s necessary to even release any information at all. However, we’ve already largely been prevented from having an honest conversation about these programs for more than a decade. Had American society properly discussed and debated many of the issues raised in the report before these programs were even implemented maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation today.