What John Brennan Should Have Said about the Torture Report

Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan, December 11, 2014. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan, December 11, 2014. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

By Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA Director of Security with Human Rights

Today John Brennan, director of the CIA, gave a live press conference responding to the Senate’s landmark report on the CIA torture and secret detention program. He acknowledged “mistakes.” He said that the program was “flawed.” He said that the CIA had now improved “management” and “planning.”

But words like these do not reflect the full gravity of torture and enforced disappearances. They downgrade this program of systematic human rights violations to a series of unforeseen complications. They make torture seem like a bad choice – instead of the crime that it is.

Here’s what Brennan should have said, without qualification:

Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment can never be justified. They are never legal. Even in a time of war or threat of war, even in a in a state of emergency that threatens the life of the nation, there can be no exemption. The same is true of enforced disappearances.

When the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and enforced disappearances is violated, the United States has obligations. It has to be fully investigated — impartially and independently. Anyone found responsible must be brought to justice. 

No one can render these crimes lawful – no lawyer, no president, no doctor and no interrogator.

The release of the summary of the Senate torture report is a wake up call. It’s time to end impunity for human rights violations. It’s time for accountability.

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3 thoughts on “What John Brennan Should Have Said about the Torture Report

  1. Who will account the police, the prosecution, the high court and the congress or the president?

    The civils, the people should, however, no real tools are in hand and practice.

  2. There may be people who still think that torture can be justified, thinking any intelligence it leads to will keep them safe, keep their children safe. They are sadly mistaken, for one fundamental reason. If we allow our government to torture "them", we have also given the same people permission to torture any of us, including our children. It matters not if we have done anything wrong-the logic of the torturer is that he will soon get to the bottom of that, when he gets you to talk. Every American needs to think long and hard about the sort of thing they are giving the government permission to do to their children. That frightens me far more than the vague threats of some unknown, would be terrorist.

  3. I left my husband after 38 yrs of domestic violence. I made it to my mothers house for shelter.
    No car, job, money, waiting for SS income yes I'm a senior. After 6 mos my siblings that didn't even live
    with me, decided to evict me from my mothers house. She was 90 yrs old and needed my 24 hrs help.
    But no. they made me homeless. Evicition notice on my bedroom door. out in 30 days.
    When my mother became ill (91) dying I went to the house to see her. My siblings 3 sisters refused to
    let me in the house. My mother died, 2 days later. I wasn't allowed to see her. This was in Oct 2014
    not in a foreign county, in Cayucos, California My dignity, my heart, my life in me is gone..