Torture, secret prisons, kidnapping: The U.S. Senate wants to release previously secret reports about the CIA under George W. Bush. The action is controversial, there are security concerns, yet it is urgently required.
America again denies waterboarding, etc. But this time it's not about a ban on torture — President Obama already forbade the convoluted torture methods known as enhanced interrogation techniques six years ago, but how does one deal with the historical burden: make public what has happened, or keep it a secret?
The U.S. Senate is expected this Thursday to publish excerpts from an approximately 6,000-page, classified, comprehensive investigative report on torture and the mishandling of terror suspects during the tenure of George W. Bush. From just under 500 pages, new details on the brutal interrogation methods of the CIA in the years following 9/11 will be revealed.
Even more: From what we hear, the report not only lists methods of torture, but also expresses that the use of torture in the War on Terror was ineffective. That is a decisive point. The old warriors of Bush have always claimed the opposite. "The CIA program has saved lives," Bush wrote in his autobiography.
Now some Republicans, people around the former president, but also U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, warn that the world situation is too hot for the publication at this stage, that the report could trigger more violence in the Middle East, that it could cost the lives of American hostages. And a former CIA official explained that today's critics in Congress would have pushed for the intelligence service to do something after the attacks — whatever the cost.
However, the White House has just newly signaled support for the publication. Rightly so. There will never be a perfect time for such a report. Not in America, not in the Arab world. If it comes to it and the report is not to be published, Republicans could block the report in January with their new majority in Congress.
Rehabilitation must take place in public in a democracy, not in secret. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, is correct: These acts must be made public because everyone who reads them will never let it happen again. America must make itself honest in order to shake off the burden of the bad years under George W. Bush.
And the publication also contains a message for the opponents of America: The USA makes mistakes, sometimes terrible; but they have the strength to acknowledge and learn from it. Transparency has never hurt a democracy.