The US Senate’s CIA torture report was shocking. But no one was really prepared for the depravity and sheer lack of humanity laid out in the 580 pages released in Washington. It is the most disturbing scandal in recent American history.

The amount of different crimes committed by the CIA and documented by Senator Dianne Feinstein’s committee is truly extraordinary. Not only does the report detail the systematic torture of dozens of detainees - which included sexual assault, rape and homicide - but the amount of times the CIA allegedly obstructed justice, committed perjury and made false statements is hard to even count. The breaking of laws almost catches up with the breaking of bones, minds and bodies.

The question for everyone who read this essential textbook of CIA wrongdoing, even for those who never will, is: Where do we go from here? Transparency can’t possibly be the only punishment for an agency which has broken the law so systematically.

For the cowardly Obama administration, the CIA scandal can’t end fast enough.

Obama praised CIA employees as “patriots” to whom “we owe a profound debt of gratitude” for protecting the country after 9/11. He failed to reference the charges of torture that CIA officers and contractors inflicted on detainees.

The Justice Department already shamefully declined to prosecute CIA officers once and claims that the statute of limitations is now up. But as the ACLU’s Hina Shamsi wrote in the New York Times:

Prosecution is still possible despite the passage of time because there is no statute of limitations for the crime of torture when it risks or results in serious injury or death, or for the war crime of torture.

The ACLU has laid out a comprehensive accountability plan that calls on attorney general Eric Holder to immediately appoint another special prosecutor to investigate the architects of the torture regime, like the Dick Cheneys and John Yoos who were barely mentioned in the Senate’s report. The White House can also compensate victims, mandate more transparency and propose comprehensive CIA reform in Congress so this colossal failure of oversight and rampant criminality never happens again.

While it’s doubtful an Obama administration that still somehow stands by the CIA has the guts to uphold the law at this point, as Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin and Eli Lake reported, the report’s “real impact could be felt in courtrooms across the globe in the months and years to come”.

Whatever the avenue to justice, the battle will be uphill. As the Washington Post reported, the CIA has failed and failed and failed again over the decades, but they have as much power as ever:

Indeed, the CIA is in many ways at a position of unmatched power. Its budgets have been swollen by billions of dollars in counterterrorism expenditures. Its workforce has surged. Its overseas presence has expanded. And its arsenal now includes systems, including a fleet of armed drones, that would have made prior generations of CIA leaders gasp.



Related Story