Report should provide factual baseline to the public
Several unfolding events, in Washington and in the nation's popular culture, raise anew troubling questions about the use of torture by a democracy dedicated to the rule of law.
President Obama has nominated John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, to be CIA director. He has defended use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," the government's euphemism for torture.
Sen. John McCain, a torture victim while a prisoner of war in Vietnam and the Senate's foremost opponent of using torture, has vowed to examine that issue when Mr. Brennan seeks confirmation.
Meanwhile, the film "Zero Dark Thirty," about the killing of Osama bin Laden, strongly implies that torture produced information that helped find the al Qaida mastermind.
On Dec. 21, CIA Acting Director Michael Morell sent a message to CIA employees saying that "some information" relative to bin Laden's location "came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques."
Just a week earlier, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved a 6,000-page report finding the opposite - that enhanced techniques had failed to produce any actionable intelligence.
The debate over the morality and utility of torture will continue. But the Senate should release the report to the public to provide a factual baseline.