The Torture Report

It's been another huge day of data-gathering in the years-long bid to get to the bottom of the secret and illegal torture program set up by Bush and Cheney as their central tool in the war on Jihadist terrorism. You can download the leaked - and devastating International Committee of the Red Cross report here. You can read about the chilling similarities between the Bush-Cheney techniques and those used by the Soviet gulag here. You can read more details of how doctors were implicated in monitoring and measuring the torture of human beings here. If you need confirmation that this new data is real and dispositive, then go read the partisan right blogs. Their total radio silence tells you something.

But Mark Danner's superb piece, after years of superb reporting, comes to an important conclusion that we should not miss. It is that we need to put all the data on the table - including both the precise techniques and who authorized and perpetrated them and also the alleged intelligence gains from the program. Danner sees why this latter point, which I have also endorsed, is so important. Until we can examine the claims from Cheney et al. that torture saved lives, we will never be able to remove the danger of a president reinstigating torture on the same basis in the future. The GOP is not ashamed of using this as a political weapon. Cheney has all but declared that without torture, America cannot be safe. Gingrich is reiterating that. Rove tried to run the 2006 election on the question of who has the balls to torture terror suspects more brutally. Unless we have clear data that can judge these claims, we cannot dispositively prevent a recurrence.

I should be clear. I oppose all such torture as illegal and criminal and immoral even if tangible intelligence gains were included in the morass of lies and red herrings that we got. But if torture advocates really do insist that America needs to embrace this evil if it is to survive, then we need to see and judge the evidence that they keep pointing to off-stage. We need a real and thorough and definitive investigation. If Cheney is right, he has nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of. And the Congress should move to withdraw from the Geneva Conventions, withdraw from the UN Torture Treaty, amend domestic law to enshrine torture, and allow future presidents of the United States to torture suspects legally.

More sunlight please. Let us have this debate in full and in detail. And soon - before it is too late.