On December 9, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the executive summary, findings, and conclusions of the Committee study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s former detention and interrogation program during the period following September 11, 2001. Earlier this year, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had asked the White House to declassify this document in order to allow its public release. President Obama determined that the report should be declassified with appropriate redactions necessary to protect national security. In the interest of transparency, the public report was only lightly redacted – 93 percent of the report is entirely declassified.
As President Obama noted in his December 9 statement on the release of the Senate report, in the years after 9/11, with legitimate fears of further attacks and with the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life, the previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies. While the United States did many things right in those difficult years, some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values. The Committee’s report contains a review of a program that included interrogation methods used on terrorism suspects in facilities at locations outside the United States. In one of his first Executive Orders after taking office, President Obama prohibited the use of harsh interrogation techniques and ended the detention and interrogation program described in the report because they are inconsistent with American values. We value our partnerships around the world and have confidence that foreign governments and foreign publics will understand that this program ended years ago.
The United States will continue to be relentless in its fight against al Qaeda, its affiliates and other violent extremists. We will rely on all elements of our national power, including the power and example of our founding ideals. One measure of a country’s democratic institutions is whether it can be transparent about its past and its mistakes, learn from them, and change. That’s what the United States has done with respect to this program, and that’s why the President has consistently supported the declassification of the Senate committee’s executive summary and findings and conclusions. As President Obama stated, the report’s release is a reminder that upholding the values we profess doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us stronger, and that the United States of America will remain a force for freedom and human dignity.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Permanent Council, Vienna