The public debate over the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” during the Bush-Cheney administration will be reignited in the coming days, thanks to a new congressional report and a new movie.
President Obama banned the use of torture as one of his first acts in office. But some (though not all) Republicans claim that “enhanced interrogation techniques” on al Qaida operatives following 9/11 kept the country safe.
And a few more, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, even go as far to argue that intelligence from “enhanced interrogation techniques” made it possible for Obama to order the killing of Osama bin Laden.
But a 6,000-page report, scheduled to be approved on Thursday by the Senate Intelligence Committee, is expected to conclude that “none of this enhanced interrogation worked,” according to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff at the State Department during Gen. Colin Powell’s term.
“[Torture techniques] did not, as Cheney has alleged, lead to the killing of bin Laden,” Wilkerson, a frequent Cheney critic, told Ed Schultz on Tuesday’s edition of The Ed Show on msnbc. “It was counterproductive. It was damaging to our reputation and he’s still lying about it.”
Wilkerson, who is currently an adjunct Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary, cited former FBI agent Ali Soufan and former CIA agent Glenn Carle as among his “expert” sources on the report.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, however, is not planning to make the findings of the report immediately public, The Hill reports. Even if the secretive panel approves the report on Thursday, there will still be a lengthy review process in which the White House, the intelligence community and members of the panel will determine what information can be declassified and released to the public.
Wilkerson believes at least “portions” of the report should be made public.
“We should have some reckoning,” Wilkerson told Schultz. “If we’re not going to hold people accountable, we should at least let the American people know what was done in their name that basically constituted war crimes.”
Then, just six days after Thursday’s Senate Intelligence Committee vote, a new film will arrive in U.S. theaters that suggests that Cheney was right, and that torture played a key role in hunting down bin Laden.
Critics such as Frank Bruni, an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, have condemned Zero Dark Thirty for making the case that “we would never have been able to raid that compound; we would never have gotten there” without resorting to “enhanced interrogation techniques”—something they say the evidence doesn’t bear out.
Directed by The Hurt Locker’s Oscar-winning Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty will be released Dec. 19 in New York and Los Angeles and nationally on Jan. 11, 2013.