Should there be a public investigation of the Bush administration's and CIA's post-9/11 detention, rendition and interrogation programs of suspected terrorists?
A newly disclosed report by the International Committee of the Red Cross provides details about the interrogation methods that the CIA used on terror suspects and concludes that they "constituted torture." This comes as the Senate Intelligence Committee is beginning an investigation into the agency's conduct, but one with limited scope. The inquiry is not designed to determine whether White House personnel, other administration officials or agency employees broke the law or committed torture. It's also not clear whether the report will ever be made public.
Military officers have warned that if we do not publicly investigate the extent to which we stretched the laws of war to allow torture, we put our own troops at risk and will, in all likelihood, torture again. Current and former CIA officials, on the other hand, have warned that a public investigation into the agency's practices would push line agents into an uncontrollable political spectacle, chilling efforts to prevent future terrorist attacks.
Do we need a full investigation of the decisions made by officials at Justice, Defense, the White House and the CIA to allow these interrogation practices? If so, how should it be handled? Should it be public? Should the investigation be limited to policymakers? Should prosecutions be on the table, or would the ensuing political circus undermine our ability to come to grips with what we have done, and whether we want to do those things again?
-- Shane Harris, NationalJournal.com