Saturday, June 15, 2024

Comentarios From Maria: Our National Integrity and the CIA Torture Report


Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee published a report detailing the alarming tactics employed by the CIA in the aftermath of September 11th. The brutality of the actions described in the report was undoubtedly, inconsistent with the principles and ideals that we cherish as Americans.  The report reminds us that as a country, we are not infallible. Yet it also reaffirms the strength of our democracy that allows us to confront our mistakes of the past and continue fighting to prevent these mistakes from ever happening again.

The report concluded that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the CIA between 2001 and 2009 did not advance the national security interests of the United States. A fundamental part of our national security is to ensure that our actions reflect the values and ideals of our country. Furthermore, an important underpinning of our national security is the ability to continue urging the international community to respect and adhere to global international human rights standards. Therefore, one of the first actions Obama took as president was to unequivocally prohibit the use of torture, which is clearly counter to our values and weakens our global standing.

Many republicans and critics will argue that the report’s publication is exclusively motivated by politics. Yet what many conveniently omit is that the decision to declassify the executive summary was approved by a bipartisan vote back in April.

Defenders of the methods used will also argue that these techniques were necessary to combat global terrorism. However, one of the most powerful defenses of the report came from a republican, Senator John McCain, who affirmed: “I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence. I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I know they will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering.”

Perhaps there will never be an “ideal” time to publish a report of this nature. Yet the president and many members of the committee understand that it is absolutely vital to make the conclusions of the report available to the public in order to strengthen and preserve the integrity of our government and our country.

We must not allow the mistakes of a few devalue the tremendous sacrifices of our intelligence community and men and women in our Armed Forces, many of whom are Latino, and have dedicated their lives to protecting our country. We have an essential responsibility to keep the service of these men and women in mind as we continue this transparent dialogue about our national security.

The implications of this report transcend politics. What differentiates us as a country is that we are willing to examine our actions and mistakes publically. No other country in the world has taken this step.

The publication of this report constitutes an important moment for the United States; it not only represents an opportunity to recognize when we are wrong, but it is also an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to upholding the principles of justice and human dignity above all.

This piece originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic.