The CIA must be held accountable for its use of torture

Americans have a right to know what the government is doing in their name

Many thanks to retired Brigadier Gen. Leif H. Hendrickson for urging the prompt release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogation practices ("U.S. should release full torture report," Oct. 29).

Our military leaders have been on the record from the beginning — literally, dating back to Gen. George Washington — opposing the abuse and torture of prisoners. There are the obvious practical reasons: Information elicited by torture is unreliable; tales of torture are a strong recruiting tool for our enemies; the low standard we set by torturing is used as a model by despots in other countries.

There are other reasons as well: To allow or condone the use of torture violates our own laws, our treaties, our Constitution and the principles we say we stand for.

In my work in Bosnia after the war there, my presence as a witness deterred some from harassing others because to them I represented American values — fair play and the rule of law.

With the later revelations of American abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, I saw that my credibility as an American operating in a postwar country would forever be compromised.

Since that time I have worked with many others to urge accountability for our use of torture and transparency about what we did so that the American public will know and our elected leaders can never again permit torture.

An important step in that direction is the prompt release of the Senate report with minimal redactions. The American public must know what has been done in our name.

Suzanne H. O'Hatnick, Baltimore

The writer is chair of Interfaith Action for Human Rights.

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