The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report by the Central Intelligence Agency on the investigation into interrogation practices, including torture, will come before the Senate Intelligence Committee soon. The committee will be voting on adoption of the report, including whether to declassify the report and make it available to the public.
We urge Sen. Olympia Snowe, a member of the select committee, to vote for adoption and declassification, and we ask that she urge her colleagues to do likewise.
Catholics understand that torture can never be rationalized. It is an intrinsic evil. Torture is, of its very nature, degrading. It serves to undermine human dignity, not only for the victim, but also for all of humanity. Furthermore, it has been well documented by military personnel that it fails to produce credible intelligence. Many would argue that the practice can have a counter effect — motivating terrorists to increase their clandestine activity.
Unlike so many other countries, the American government is always accountable to the people for its actions. If we, as citizens, are ill-informed or uninformed of the action of the military, we are substantially stripped of our right and obligation to ensure this important safeguard. Furthermore, a lack of transparency in this matter will erode the people’s confidence in its government.
As a child, I can remember that my father would often catch me in a lie and he would admonish me by saying “Don’t you understand that the truth will free you?” Over time, I discovered the wisdom in my father’s words. Indeed, I discovered that telling the truth was freeing, plus my father’s “punishment” was always far more lenient when I told the truth.
That same basic principle equally applies to national defense. Freely and openly admitting that mistakes have been made and that certain practices that were put into place were morally and ethically wrong is advantageous in the end. Not only will the truth free us, but it will also help ensure that these practices never again occur.
Sen. Snowe has a long and distinguished record in the Senate. She is respected and admired for her integrity and common sense. She has put aside party politics and done what she believed was right and just for America and for Maine, time and again.
We hope and pray that, once again, we can count on her to do the right thing and vote to accept the report and consent to the benefits of allowing it to be made available to the public.
Marc R. Mutty is director of the Office of Public Policy at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.