There’s been a lot of discussion in the last few days about the long-awaited (and twice-delayed) release of the 2004 CIA Inspector General’s Report, which, as Glenn Greenwald explained on Tuesday, “aggressively question[s] both the efficacy and legality” of the Bush administration’s interrogation tactics in the “War on Terror.” As Greenwald also explained,
In anticipation of the release of that report, there is an important effort underway — as part of the ACLU Accountability Project — to correct a critically important deficiency in the public debate over torture and accountability. So often, the premise of media discussions of torture is that “torture” is something that was confined to a single tactic (waterboarding) and used only on three “high-value” detainees accused of being high-level al-Qaeda operatives. The reality is completely different.
The interrogation and detention regime implemented by the US resulted in the deaths of over 100 detainees in US custody — at least [see “Command’s Responsibility,” a Human Rights First report from 2006, PDF]. While some of those deaths were the result of “rogue” interrogators and agents, many were caused by the methods authorized at the highest levels of the Bush White House, including extreme stress positions, hypothermia, sleep deprivation and others. Aside from the fact that they cause immense pain, that’s one reason we’ve always considered those tactics to be “torture” when used by others — because they inflict serious harm, and can even kill people. Those arguing against investigations and prosecutions — that we “Look to the Future, not the Past” — are thus literally advocating that numerous people get away with murder.