12.09.14

Rep. Adam Schiff Statement on Release of the Interrogation and Detention Report

Washington, DC Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, released the following statement following Senator Dianne Feinstein’s declassification and release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of the interrogation and detention report:

“Today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its long awaited report on the use of enhanced interrogation procedures by the CIA during the last decade – it was important that they do so.  America cannot put this dark chapter behind it without a full explanation to the American people of what was done in their name.  America does not torture – that is not who we are, nor who we want to be. But America did torture, and it is vital that we never do so again. Torture is immoral, contrary to our ideals, inconsistent with the rule of law and destructive of our democracy.

“Even now, there are prominent voices claiming that the enhanced interrogation techniques used to elicit information from terrorists did not amount to torture. I challenge anyone undergoing the techniques described in the report while in captivity to make such a claim. Nevertheless, while there is any dispute over what these procedures amounted to, it is all the more important that the American people know precisely what was involved so they can form their own judgment, and they can only do so through the publication of this information.

“The report states that the CIA misled or lied to Congress and the White House, not only about the effectiveness of the techniques used on detainees, but about the program more generally. Although I was not yet a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence at the time, I am deeply troubled by these allegations since Congressional oversight cannot function effectively without a willingness by the intelligence community to be open and candid – even if only in a classified session. 

“The report also concludes that torture was not effective in gaining critical intelligence.  This is unsurprising – those experienced in interrogations have long concluded that people will say anything under torture and for every good lead, you may get a hundred bad ones.  Some will dispute this conclusion and say the torture ‘worked,’ but the most fundamental point is that we should not be engaged in torture no matter what its efficacy.  To say we should do so because it works, is to say that America's most cherished values must give way to brutal expediency.  That would be a tragic outcome and one I hope this report will quickly put to rest.”

Schiff, along with forty Members of Congress, this past year sent a letter urging President Barack Obama to quickly declassify the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report's conclusions on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program, as well as the dissenting views and CIA response to the report. 

In the letter, the Members wrote: “Together we stand, as we know you do, for the proposition that our nation should set an example for the world in humane treatment of detainees and abiding by the rule of law. Part of that commitment means acknowledging times when we failed to live up to our values and our laws, even when doing so is uncomfortable. We urge you to take this opportunity to cast some new light on a dark period in our history. The sooner the summary of the report and its findings are made public in their entirety, the sooner we can move on from this unfortunate chapter in our history.” Read the full letter here.