from Asia Unbound

The Senate Torture Report’s Global Ramifications

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December 15, 2014

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The executive summary of the report released this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Central Intelligence Agency’s brutal detention interrogation practices after 9/11 offers the most damning assessment of the Agency in four decades. In the mid-1970s, the Church Committee, another Senate committee, issued reports that condemned the CIA for spying within the United States, attempting to assassinate foreign leaders, working with the Mafia on operations, and other abuses.

Like the Church Committee’s reports, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, which runs over 6,000 pages, will have vast repercussions for the CIA. The report likely will lead to greater congressional efforts to oversee the Agency, and possibly the appointment of a Justice Department special prosecutor to investigate specifically whether any Americans should be charged for the Agency’s detentions and interrogations after 9/11. The report also may have repercussions for U.S. promotion of human rights and the United States’ battle against the Islamic State. The Islamic State already has started using the report in recruiting, while even relatively moderate foreign leaders, like former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, have invoked the report as reasons that American officials should shut up about rights abuses in other countries.

Yet amidst the furor in Washington about how the torture report will impact the Agency, the United States, and even the 2016 presidential elections, little attention has been paid to another impact of the report’s release. The report is likely to have significant effects on politics in several of the countries home to the dungeon-like prisons where the Agency, and local intelligence officers, detained and harshly treated prisoners.

Find more on my analysis of the global implications of the torture report here at Bloomberg Businessweek.

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