Human rights activists are pressing for the public release of a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's post-Sept. 11 detention and "enhanced interrogation" practices, hoping that it will answer the question once and for all of whether torture played a role in locating Osama bin Laden. Whatever the document might say about that question, releasing it would add to public knowledge about what President Obama rightly has called a "dark and painful chapter in our history."
Next week, almost a year to the day after the killing of Bin Laden, Jose Rodriguez, the former director of the CIA's National Clandestine Service, will publish a book titled "Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives." According to a preview by the Washington Post, Rodriguez asserts that interrogation techniques later repudiated by the Obama administration "shielded the people of the United States from harm and led to the capture [and] killing of Osama bin Laden."
Noting that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have disputed the notion that torture produced information leading to Bin Laden's whereabouts, the group Human Rights First suggests that the committee report will contradict Rodriguez's assertions. Perhaps so, although we would also note for the record that even if torture "worked" and helped the U.S. find Bin Laden, that wouldn't justify waterboarding and other acts of cruelty.