To the editor:
Tribune columnist John Kass’ response to the release of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture is a bit baffling given the source. Less than a month ago, Mr. Kass used his column to lambaste President Obama’s executive orders on immigration as “bending the Constitution to his most divine will.” That rhetoric responds to the President using his authority in a manner consistent with numerous previous Presidents of both parties. Yet, because of the nature of our enemies such as ISIS or al-Qaida, Kass urges America to move on, ignoring the fact that officials in the Bush Administration violated American law in ordering the horrific treatment of detainees after the 9/11 attacks.
The Senate report is worthy of publication, of full discussion and should trigger a vigorous investigation of those who ordered treatment that resulted in the death of a number of detainees. First, the report makes clear that the use of torture was far more pervasive that was ever revealed. Moreover, the Senate Committee notes that the Administration and the CIA lied to the public, lied to the Congress and lied to the courts about how widespread torture was being used and the graphic nature of the abuse. And, finally, the report refutes the oft-repeated claims that this illegal abuse assisted in interdicting imminent attacks on American soil or provided other valuable information.
Rather than dismiss this report as “old news,” the American people should view the release of the report as an opportunity to prompt the government to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law and to the principle that no one, no matter how senior, should be beyond its reach. This is a principle that Mr. Kass seems to endorse in some instances; he should stand on principle and endorse it in this instance as well.
Edwin C. Yohnka ACLU of Illinois Director of Communications and Public Policy