With so many issues confronting us, our nation’s involvement in acts of torture is fading from the public’s priorities for concern. Five years and $40 million in the making, the Senate Intelligence Committee 6,700-page report is the only official action to address the CIA’s 2001-2006 detention/interrogation program. Released in December 2014, the 500-page executive summary offers the following highlights of what is contained in the fuller version. According to the summary, the CIA:
- used techniques more brutal than the agency portrayed,
- was not subject to adequate oversight,
- misled members of Congress and the White House about the effectiveness and extent of its brutal interrogation techniques,
- wrongfully held at least 26 detainees, and
- leaked classified information to journalists, exaggerating the success of torture to gain public support.
This, even though torture is clearly banned under international and domestic laws which require nations that engage in it to hold their officials accountable.
At the request of Senate Intelligence Committee Chair, Richard Burr, all but three copies of the full report have been returned. The agencies with whom it was shared admit not having read it, despite having it for two-and-a-half years. Once all copies are returned to Senator Burr, the report can be “buried,” preventing anyone – even the Department of Defense, the State Department, or the CIA itself – from ever reading its full contents to ensure this does not happen again.
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye” (Matt. 7:5).
For those of us in North Carolina, this lesson is particularly germane because the planes transporting prisoners to and from the places where they were mistreated landed on our soil at the Johnston County Airport in Smithfield. We cannot presume to stand on high ground criticizing the behavior of other nations when we are a party to this.
Rather than continuing to cover up the truth about torture and our own implicit role in it, we need to confront the truth. As people of faith, such confession allows for forgiveness and restitution. Once forgiven we need no longer explain away the facts or make excuses for our behavior. We need only begin the restorative process for ourselves and those who were wronged. We call on Senator Burr to allow this kind of truth telling and confession to occur for the people of North Carolina and the United States.
The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture will hold public hearings November 30 and December 1 at the Raleigh Convention Center . Over the course of two days, they will hear testimony from witnesses and survivors who have firsthand knowledge of North Carolina’s involvement in the CIA Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program. These all-day hearings are open to the public, but registration is encouraged. To register, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. A public accounting of what the report holds is the only way for us to know the extent of the log in our eyes.